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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 7325

January 21, 2015

DR. DOMICIANO F. VILLAHERMOSA, SR., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ISIDRO L. CARACOL, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Dr. Domiciano F. Villahermosa, Sr., against Atty. Isidro
L. Caracol for deceit, gross misconduct and violation of oath under Section 27, 2 Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court.
Villahermosa is respondent in two land cases3 involving cancellation of emancipation patents and transfer
certificates of title, cancellation of special power of attorney and deeds of absolute sale and recovery of
ownership and possession of parcels of land derived from Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 433
which covered 23.3018 hectares of land in Valencia, Bukidnon. Counsel on record for plaintiff was Atty.
Fidel Aquino.
OCT No. 433 was a homestead patent granted to Micael Babela who had two sons, Fernando and Efren.
As legal heirs of Micael, Fernando received 53,298 square meters while Efren received 33,296 square
meters. Subsequently, Transfer Certificates of Title (TCTs) were issued in their respective names.
When the agrarian reform law4 was enacted on October 21, 1972, emancipation patents and titles were
issued to Hermogena and Danilo Nipotnipot, beneficiaries of the program,who in turn sold the parcels of
land to complainants spouse, Raymunda Villahermosa. A deed of absolute sale was executed in favor of
Raymunda.
On March 2, 1994, the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB) issued a decision
ordering the cancellation of the emancipation patents and TCTs derived from OCT No. 433 stating that it
was not covered by the agrarian reform law. This decision was appealed to and affirmed by the DARAB
Central Board and the Court of Appeals.
On September 25, 2002, Atty. Caracol, as "Addl Counsel for the Plaintiffs-Movant," filed a motion for
execution with the DARAB, Malaybalay, Bukidnon praying for the full implementation of the March 2,
1994 decision.5
On December 20, 2005, Atty. Caracol filed a Motion for Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and
Demolition6 which he signed as "Counsel for the Plaintiff Efren Babela" 7. Villahermosa filed this
complaint8 alleging that Atty. Caracol had no authority to file the motions since he obtained no authority

from the plaintiffs and the counsel of record. Villahermosa posited that Efren could not have authorized
Atty. Caracol to file the second motion because Efren had already been dead 9 for more than a year. He
claimed that Atty. Caracols real client was a certain Ernesto I. Aguirre, who had allegedly bought the
same parcel of land. Villahermosa presented affidavits of Efrens widow 10 and daughter11 both stating that
Efren never executed a waiver of rights and that the parcel of land was sold to Villahermosa through a
deed of sale. Both also stated that they werefamiliar with Efrens signature. They state that the signature
inthe waiver was different from his usual signature. Villahermosa averred that Atty. Caracol committed
deceit and gross misconduct.
In addition, Villahermosa claimed that Atty. Caracol introduced falsified and manufactured evidence
intothe proceedings. Atty. Caracol, in introducing a document denominated asWaiver of Rights where
Efren waived all his rights in favor of Ernesto Aguirre, was able to secure the execution of the judgment
in one of the cases12 in favor of Ernesto Aguirre. Villahermosa also filed a case 13 for falsification of public
document and use of falsified document against Ernesto Aguirre and Atty. Caracol. 14
Atty. Caracol insists that Efren and Ernesto authorized him to appear as "additional counsel". He said that
he had consulted Atty. Aquino who advised him to go ahead with the filing. Moreover, he stated that he
was not aware that there was a waiver of rights executed in Ernesto Aguirres favor.
In its Report and Recommendation,15 the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline
(IBP CBD) found that Atty. Caracol committed deceitful acts and misconduct. It found that respondent
did not present credible evidence to controvert the allegation that he was not authorized by plaintiff or
counsel of record. Respondent admitted that at the time of the filing of the second motion, Efren was
dead. It noted that Atty. Caracol did not explain how he obtained the authority nor did he present any
proof of the authority. However, there was insufficient evidence to hold him liable for falsification.
The IBP CBD stated that Atty. Caracol clearly misled and misrepresented to the DARAB, Region X that
he was counsel of Efren to protect the interest of Ernesto Aguirre, his real client, violating his oath as a
lawyer. It thus recommended that Atty. Caracol be suspended from the practice of law for a period of five
years.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted the report and recommendation but modified the penalty to one year
suspension from the practice of law.16 Atty. Caracol moved for reconsideration17 but was denied.18
Atty. Caracol filed a notice of appeal19 which this Court returned to him since no legal fees are required in
administrative cases.20
We adopt the findings of the IBP.
The Rules of Court under Rule 138, Section 21 provides for a presumption of a lawyers appearance on
behalf of his client, hence:
SEC. 21. Authority of attorney to appear. An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent
any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney isrequired to authorize him to appear in
court for his client, butthe presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds
therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove
the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the

person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney willfully
appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for
contemptas an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. (Emphases supplied)
In Land Bank of the Philippines v. Pamintuan Devt. Co.,21 this Court said that while a lawyer is not
required to present proof of his representation, when a court requires that he show suchauthorization, it is
imperative that he show his authority to act. Thus:
A lawyer is not even required to present a written authorization from the client. In fact, the absence of a
formal notice of entry of appearance will not invalidate the acts performed by the counsel in his clients
name. However, [a] court, on its own initiative or on motion of the other party may require a lawyer to
adduce authorization from the client.22
Lawyers must be mindful that an attorney has no power to act as counsel for a person without being
retained nor may he appear in court without being employed unless by leave of court. 23 If an attorney
appears on a clients behalf without a retainer or the requisite authority neither the litigant whom he
purports to represent nor the adverse party may be bound or affected by his appearance unless the
purported client ratifies or is estopped to deny his assumed authority.24 If a lawyer corruptly or willfully
appears as an attorney for a party toa case without authority, he may be disciplined or punished for
contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transaction. 25
We must also take into consideration that even if a lawyer is retained by a client, an attorney-client
relationship terminates upon death of either client or the lawyer.26
Here, Atty. Caracol was presumed to have authority when he appeared in the proceedings before the
DARAB. The records are unclear at what point his authority to appear for Efren was questioned. Neither
is there any indication that Villahermosa in fact questioned his authority during the course of the
proceedings.
However, Atty. Caracol knew that Efren had already passed away at the time he filed the Motion for
Issuance of Second Alias Writ of Execution and Demolition. As an honest, prudent and conscientious
lawyer, he should have informed the Court of his clients passing and presented authority that he was
retained by the clients successors-in-interest and thus the parties may have been substituted. 27
We also note the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz in People v. Mendoza 28 where he stated:
I am bothered by the improvident plea of guilty made by accused Juan Magalop, presumably upon the
adviceof his counsel, Atty. Isidro L. Caracol of the CLAO (now the PAO). It would seem that this lawyer
was less than conscientious when he advised his indigent client to admit a crime the man did no[t]
commit. As the ponenciaobserves, "outside of his improvident plea of guilt, there is absolutely no
evidence against him presented or forthcoming. From the evidence of the prosecution, there is no way
by which Magalop could have been implicated."
It seems to me that if any one is guilty in this case, it is the PAO lawyer who, through an incredible lack
of zeal in the discharge of his duties, was apparently willing, without any moral compunctions at all, and
without proof, to consign an innocent man to prison.

The PAO is supposed to defend the accused, not to condemn them without cause. The defense counsel
in this case did not seem to appreciate this responsibility when he prodded Magalop to plead guilty and
waived the right to submit evidence in his behalf. 29
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While this observation does not serve to exacerbate Atty. Caracols liability under the present
circumstances, we would like to highlight the important role of an attorney in our judicial system.
Because of the particular nature of an attorneys function it is essential that they should act with fairness,
honesty and candor towards the courts and his clients. 30 Under Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility:
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or
allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
This flows out from the lawyer's oath which each lawyer solemnly swears to uphold the law and court
processes in the pursuit of justice. Thus, a lawyer must be more circumspect in his demeanor and attitude
towards the public in general as agents of the judicial system.
Here, Atty. Caracol, as observed by the IBP CBD, has been less than candid about his representation. We
also observe that he has used underhanded means to attain his purpose. Atty. Caracol's blatant disregard of
his duties as a lawyer cannot be countenanced. In view of his actions of contravening his lawyer's oath
and in violation of Canons 8 and 10 and Rule 10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility we deem it
proper to suspend him from the practice of law for a period of one year.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol GUILTY. Accordingly, we SUSPEND
respondent Atty. Isidro L. Caracol from the practice of law for ONE YEAR effective upon finality of this
Resolution, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more
severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to respondent's
personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all
courts in the country for their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
A.C. No. 4545

February 5, 2014

CARLITO ANG, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. JAMES JOSEPH GUPANA, Respondent.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review under Rule 139-B, Section 12(c) of the Rules of Court assailing
Resolution Nos. XVII-2005-1411 and XVIII-2008-6982 of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP). The IBP Board of Governors found respondent Atty. James Joseph Gupana
administratively liable and imposed on him the penalty of suspension for one year from the practice of
law and the revocation of his notarial commission and disqualification from reappointment as notary
public for two years.
The case stemmed from an affidavit-complaint 3 filed by complainant Carlito Ang against respondent. Ang
alleged that on May 31, 1991, he and the other heirs of the late Candelaria Magpayo, namely Purificacion
Diamante and William Magpayo, executed an Extra-judicial Declaration of Heirs and Partition 4 involving
Lot No. 2066-B-2-B which had an area of 6,258 square meters and was covered by Transfer Certificate of
Title (TCT) No. (T-22409)-6433. He was given his share of 2,003 square meters designated as Lot No.
2066-B-2-B-4, together with all the improvements thereon. 5 However, when he tried to secure a TCT in
his name, he found out that said TCT No. (T-22409)-6433 had already been cancelled and in lieu thereof,
new TCTs6 had been issued in the names of William Magpayo, Antonio Diamante, Patricia Diamante,
Lolita D. Canque, Gregorio Diamante, Jr. and Fe D. Montero.
Ang alleged that there is reasonable ground to believe that respondent had a direct participation in the
commission of forgeries and falsifications because he was the one who prepared and notarized the
Affidavit of Loss7 and Deed of Absolute Sale8 that led to the transfer and issuance of the new TCTs. Ang
pointed out that the Deed of Absolute Sale which was allegedly executed by Candelaria Magpayo on
April 17, 1989, was antedated and Candelaria Magpayos signature was forged as clearly shown by the
Certification9 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Cebu.

Further, the certified true copy of page 37, Book No. XII, Series of 1989 of respondents Notarial Report
indubitably showed that Doc. No. 181 did not refer to the Deed of Absolute Sale, but to an affidavit. 10 As
to the Affidavit of Loss, which was allegedly executed by the late Candelaria Magpayo on April 29, 1994,
it could not have been executed by her as she Died 11 three years prior to the execution of the said affidavit
of loss.
Ang further alleged that on September 22, 1995, respondent made himself the attorney-in-fact of William
Magpayo, Antonio Diamante, Patricia Diamante, Lolita Canque, Gregorio Diamante, Jr. and Fe D.
Montero, and pursuant to the Special Power of Attorney in his favor, executed a Deed of Sale 12 selling Lot
No. 2066-B-2-B-4 to Lim Kim So Mercantile Co. on October 10, 1995. Ang complained that the sale was
made even though a civil case involving the said parcel of land was pending before the RTC of Mandaue
City, Cebu.13
In his Comment,14 respondent denied any wrongdoing and argued that Ang is merely using the present
administrative complaint as a tool to force the defendants in a pending civil case and their counsel, herein
respondent, to accede to his wishes. Respondent averred that Ang had filed Civil Case No. Man-2202
before Branch 55 of the Mandaue City RTC. He anchored his claim on the Extra-judicial Declaration of
Heirs and Partition and sought to annul the deed of sale and prayed for reconveyance of the subject parcel
of land. During the pre-trial conference in Civil Case No. Man-2202, Ang admitted that he is not an heir
of the late Candelaria Magpayo but insisted on his claim for a share of the lot because he is allegedly the
son of the late Isaias Ang, the common-law husband of Candelaria Magpayo. Because of his admission,
the notice of lis pendens annotated in the four certificates of title of the land in question were ordered
cancelled and the land effectively became available for disposition. Ang sought reconsideration of the
order, but a compromise was reached that only one TCT (TCT No. 34266) will be annotated with a notice
of lis pendens. Respondent surmised that these developments in Civil Case No. Man-2202 meant that Ang
would lose his case so Ang resorted to the filing of the present administrative complaint. Thus, respondent
prayed for the dismissal of the case for being devoid of any factual or legal basis, or in the alternative,
holding resolution of the instant case in abeyance pending resolution of Civil Case No. Man-2202
allegedly because the issues in the present administrative case are similar to the issues or subject matters
involved in said civil case.
Investigating Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, to whom the
case was referred for investigation, report and recommendation, submitted her Report and
Recommendation15 finding respondent administratively liable. She recommended that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for three months. She held that respondent committed an unethical act
when he allowed himself to be an instrument in the disposal of the subject property through a deed of sale
executed between him as attorney-in-fact of his client and Lim Kim So Mercantile Co. despite his
knowledge that said property is the subject of a pending litigation before the RTC of Mandaue City, Cebu.
The Investigating Commissioner additionally found that respondent "delegated the notarial functions to
the clerical staff of their office before being brought to him for his signature." This, according to the
commissioner, "must have been the reason for the forged signatures of the parties in the questioned
documentas well as the erroneous entry in his notarial register." 16 Nonetheless, the Investigating
Commissioner merely reminded respondent to be more cautious in the performance of his duties as
regards his infraction of his notarial duties. She held, Respondent should have been more cautious in his
duty as notary public which requires that the party subscribing to the authenticity of the document should
personally appear and sign the same before respondents actual presence. As such notary public
respondent should not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which by law may

only be performed by a member of the bar in accordance with Rule 9.01 17 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.18
On November 12, 2005, the Board of Governors of the IBP issued Resolution No. XVII-2005141,19 adopting the findings of the Investigating Commissioner but modifying the recommended penalty.
Instead of suspension for three months, the Board recommended the penalty of suspension from the
practice of law for one year and revocation of respondents notarial commission and disqualification from
reappointment as notary public for two years.
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration,20 arguing that it was neither illegal nor unethical for a
lawyer to accept appointment as attorney-in-fact of a client to sell a property involved in a pending
litigation and to act as such. He further contended that granting that his act was unethical, the modified
penalty was evidently too harsh and extremely excessive considering that the act complained of was not
unlawful and done without malice.
On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors adopted Resolution No. XVIII-2008-698 21 denying
respondents motion for reconsideration and affirming Resolution No. XVII-2005-141. Hence, this
petition for review.
Respondent reiterates that being commissioned by his own clients to sell a portion of a parcel of land, part
of which is involved in litigation, is not per se illegal or unethical. According to him, his clients got his
help to sell part of the land and because they were residing in different provinces, they executed a Special
Power of Attorney in his favor.22
We affirm the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors finding respondent administratively liable.
After reviewing the records of the case, the Court finds that respondent did not act unethically when he
sold the property in dispute as the sellers attorney-in-fact because there was no more notice of lis
pendens annotated on the particular lot sold. Likewise, the Court finds no sufficient evidence to show that
the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Candelaria Magpayo on April 17, 1989 was antedated.
However, the Court finds respondent administratively liable for violation of his notarial duties when he
failed to require the personal presence of Candelaria Magpayo when he notarized the Affidavit of Loss
which Candelaria allegedly executed on April 29, 1994. Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103, otherwise
known as the Notarial Law, explicitly provides:
Sec. 1. x x x
(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of the
country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The
notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the
instrument or document is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, and
acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under his official seal,
if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state.
From the foregoing, it is clear that the party acknowledging must appear before the notary public or any
other person authorized to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents. 23 In the case at bar, the

jurat of the Affidavit of Loss stated that Candelaria subscribed to the affidavit before respondent on April
29, 1994, at Mandaue City. Candelaria, however, was already dead since March 26, 1991. Hence, it is
clear that the jurat was made in violation of the notarial law. Indeed, respondent averred in his position
paper before the IBP that he did not in fact know Candelaria personally before, during and after the
notarization24 thus admitting that Candelaria was not present when he notarized the documents.
Time and again, we have held that notarization of a document is not an empty act or routine. 25 Thus, in
Bernardo v. Atty. Ramos,26 the Court emphasized the significance of the act of notarization, to wit:
The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be overemphasized. Notarization is not an
empty, meaningless, routinary act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those who
are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization converts a private document into a
public document thus making that document admissible in evidence without further proof of its
authenticity. A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. Courts,
administrative agencies and the public at large must be able to rely upon the acknowledgment executed by
a notary public and appended to a private instrument.
For this reason notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the performance
of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the integrity of this form of conveyance would
be undermined. Hence a notary public should not notarize a document unless the persons who signed the
same are the very same persons who xecuted and personally appeared before him to attest to the contents
and truth of what are stated therein. The purpose of this requirement is to enable the notary public to
verify the genuineness of the signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is
the partys free act and deed.
A notary publics function should not be trivialized and a notary public must discharge his powers and
duties which are impressed with public interest, with accuracy and fidelity.27 It devolves upon respondent
to act with due care and diligence in stamping fiat on the questioned documents. Respondents failure to
perform his duty as a notary public resulted in undermining the integrity of a notary public and in
degrading the function of notarization. Hence, he should be liable for his infraction, not only as a notary
public but also as a lawyer.
As a lawyer commissioned as notary public, respondent is mandated to subscribe to the sacred duties
appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated by public policy impressed with public interest.
Faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of the oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is
sacrosanct. Simply put, such responsibility is incumbent upon respondent and failing therein, he must
now accept the commensurate consequences of his professional indiscretion. 28 As the Court has held in
Flores v. Chua,29
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Where the notary public is a lawyer, a graver responsibility is placed upon his shoulder by reason of his
solemn oath to obey the laws and to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any. The Code of
Professional Responsibility also commands him not to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct and to uphold at all times the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. (Emphasis
supplied.)
Respondent likewise violated Rule 9.01, Canon 9, of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
provides that "[a] lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task which

by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing." Respondent averred in his
position paper that it had been his consistent practice to course through clerical staff documents to be
notarized. Upon referral, said clerical staff investigates whether the documents are complete as to the
fundamental requirements and inquires as to the identity of the individual signatories thereto. If
everything is in order, they ask the parties to sign the documents and forward them to him and he again
inquires about the identities of the parties before affixing his notarial signature. 30 It is also his clerical staff
who records entries in his notarial report. As aforesaid, respondent is mandated to observe with utmost
care the basic requirements in the performance of his duties as a notary and to ascertain that the persons
who signed the documents are the very same persons who executed and personally appeared before him
to attest to the contents and truth of what are stated therein. In merely relying on his clerical staff to
determine the completeness of documents brought to him for notarization, limiting his participation in the
notarization process to simply inquiring about the identities of the persons appearing before him, and in
notarizing an affidavit executed by a dead person, respondent is liable for misconduct. Under the facts and
circumstances of the case, the revocation of his notarial commission, disqualification from being
commissioned as a notary public for a period of two years and suspension from the practice of law for one
year are in order.31
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. James Joseph Gupana is found administratively liable for misconduct
and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one year. Further, his notarial commission, if any, is
REVOKED and he is disqualified from reappointment as Notary Public for a period of two years, with a
stem warning that repetition of the same or similar conduct in the future will be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, and all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this Decision likewise be attached to the
personal records of respondent.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No. 10583
February 18, 2015
[Formerly CBD 09-2555]
ROBERTO BERNARDINO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, Respondent.
x-----------------------x
A.C. No. 10584
[Formerly CBD 10-2827]
ATTY. JOSE MANGASER CARINGAL, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. VICTOR REY SANTOS, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
These cases involve administrative Complaints 1 against Atty. Victor Rey Santos for violation of Canon 10,
Rule 10.012 and Canon 15, Rule 15 .033 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

In A.C. No. 10583, complainant Roberto C. Bernardino (Bernardino) filed a Letter-Complaint 4 against
Atty. Victor Rey Santos (Atty. Santos) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, praying that Atty.
Santos be investigated and subjected to disciplinary action. 5
Bernardino alleged that the death certificate of his aunt, Rufina de Castro Turla, was falsified by Atty.
Santos. Atty. Santos made it appear that Rufina Turla died in 1992, when in fact, she died in 1990. 6
Atty. Santos used the falsified death certificate to -support the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication 7 executed by
Mariano Turla, husband of Rufina Turla.8 Paragraph 6 of the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication prepared by
Atty. Santos states:
Being her surviving spouse, I am. the sole legal heir entitled to succeed to and inherit the estate of said
deceased who did not leave any descendant or any other heir entitled to her estate. 9 (Emphasis in the
original underscoring supplied)
Years later, Atty. Santos, on behalf of Marilu Turla, daughter of Rufina and Mariano Turla, 10 filed a
Complaint11 for sum of money with prayer for Writ of Preliminary Injunction and temporary restraining
order against Bernardino, docketed as Civil Case No. 09-269. 12
The Complaint in Civil Case No. 09-269 alleged that Marilu Turla is an heir of Mariano Turla, 13 which
allegedly contradicts the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication that Atty. Santos drafted. 14 Hence, Atty. Santos
represented clients with conflicting interests. 15
In Civil Case No. 09-269, Atty. Santos testified during cross-examination:
CROSS-EXAMINATION BY:
ATTY. CARINGAL
....
Q : In your Judicial Affidavit[,] you mentioned that you know Marilu C. Turla[,] the plaintiff[,] since she
was about four years old.
A : Yes, sir.
Q : As a matter of fact[,] you know her very well[,] considering that you are a Ninong of the plaintiff,
isnt it?
A : I was not a Ninong when I first knew Marilu Turla, I was just recently married to one of her cousins.
....
Q : Now, the parents of Marilu Turla are Mariano C. Turla and Rufina C. Turla?
THE WITNESS

: Yes, sir. As per my study and as per my knowledge of her relationship[s].


THE COURT
: Whats the name of the mother?
ATTY. CARINGAL
: Rufina, your Honor. Rufina Turla.
Q : And wife died ahead of Mariano, isnt it?
THE WITNESS
: Yes, sir.
Q : And of course, being the daughter of Rufina Turla, Marilu is also an heir of Rufina Turla, isnt it?
A : Of course.
Q : Now, we go by the ethics of the profession, Mr. Witness.
You recall[,] of course[,] and admitted [sic] in court that you drafted this document which you requested
to be marked as Exhibit B.
THE COURT
: Exhibit?
ATTY. CARINGAL
: "B", your Honor, in particular reference to the Affidavit of Adjudication for the extra judicial settlement
of the intestate estate of the late Rufina De Castro Turla[,] and I have just learned from you as you just
testified. Rufina is the mother of the plaintiff here[,] Marilu Turla.
THE WITNESS
: Yes, sir.
Q : And as you admitted, you prepared you drafted [sic] this Extra Judicial.
A : Yes, sir.
Q : Or this Affidavit of Adjudication.
ATTY. REY SANTOS

: At this point in time, your Honor, I would object to the question regarding my legal ethics because it is
not the issue in this case.
....
ATTY. CARINGAL
....
Q : . . . In this document consisting of one, two, three, four and appearing to have been duly notarized on
or about 29th [of] June 1994 with document number 28, page number 7, book
number 23, series of 1994 before Notary Public Hernando P. Angara. I call your attention to the
document[,] more particularly[,] paragraph 6 thereof and marked as Exhibit 7-A for the defendants[.] I
read into the record and I quote, "Being her surviving spouse, I am the sole legal heir entitled to succeed
to and inherit the estate of the said deceased who did not leave any descendant, ascendant or any other
heir entitled to her estate."16 Mr. Witness, is this particular provision that you have drafted into this
document . . . true or false?
ATTY. REY SANTOS
: Your Honor, I would like to reiterate that any question regarding the matter that would impugn the
legitimacy of the plaintiff, Marilu Turla[,]is impertinent and immaterial in this case[.] [I]t was only the
wife Rufina Turla [who] ha[s] the right to impugn the legitimacy of the plaintiff[,] and that has been the
subject of my continuing objection from the very beginning.
THE COURT
: But then again[,] you have presented this document as your Exhibit B[.] [Y]ou have practically opened
the floodgate to . . . questions on this document.
ATTY. REY SANTOS
: Only for the purposes [sic] of showing one or two . . . properties owned by the late Mariano Turla, your
Honor. That is why thats only [sic] portion I have referred to in marking the said documents, your Honor.
THE COURT
: So, you now refused [sic] to answer the question?
ATTY. REY SANTOS
: No, I am not refusing to answer, I am just making a manifestation.
ATTY. CARINGAL
: What is the answer, is it true or false, your Honor[?]

ATTY. REY SANTOS


: My answer regarding the same would be subject to my objection on the materiality and impertinency
and relevancy of this question, your Honor[,] to this case.
THE COURT
: So anyway, the court has observed the continuing objection before[,] and to be consistent with the ruling
of the court[,] I will allow you to answer the question[.] [I]s it true or false?
THE WITNESS
: No, that is not true.
ATTY. CARINGAL
: That is not true. Mr. Witness, being a lawyer[,] you admit before this court that you have drafted a
document that caused the transfer of the estate of the decease[d] Rufina Turla.
THE WITNESS
: Yes, sir.
....
ATTY. CARINGAL
Q : This document, this particular provision that you said was false, you did not tell anybody[,] ten or five
years later[,] that this is false, is it not?
THE WITNESS
: I called the attention of Mr. Mariano Turla[.] I . . . asked him what about Lulu 17 she is entitled [sic] to a
share of properties and he . . . told me, "Ako na ang bahala kay Lulu[,] hindi ko pababayaan yan". So, he
asked me to proceed with the Affidavit of Adjudication wherein he claimed the whole [sic]properties for
himself.18 (Emphasis supplied)
Another Complaint19 was filed against Atty. Santos by Atty. Jose Mangaser Caringal (Atty. Caringal). This
was docketed as A.C. No. 10584.20 Similar to Bernardinos Complaint, Atty. Caringal alleged that Atty.
Santos represented clients with conflicting interests. 21 He also alleged that in representing Marilu Turla,
Atty. Santos would necessarily go against the claims of Mariano Turla. 22
Also, in representing Marilu Turla, Atty. Santos was allegedly violating the so-called "Dead Mans
Statute"23because "he [would] be utilizing information or matters of fact occurring before the death of his
deceased client. Similarly, he . . . [would] be unscrupulously utilizing information acquired during his
professional relation with his said client . . . that [would] constitute a breach of trust . . . or of privileged
communication[.]"24

Atty. Caringal further alleged that Atty. Santos violated Canon 12 25 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he filed several cases against the other claimants of Mariano Turlas estate. 26 In other
words, he engaged in forum shopping.27
In addition, Atty. Santos allegedly violated Canon 10, Rule 10.0128 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility when he drafted Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. The Affidavit states that
Mariano Turla is the sole heir of Rufina Turla, but Atty. Santos knew this to be false. 29 Atty. Santos wife,
Lynn Batac, is Mariano Turlas niece.30 As part of the family, Atty. Santos knew that Rufina Turla had
other heirs.31 Atty. Caringal further alleged:
14.4 Being the lawyer of Mariano Turla in the drafting of the document some fifteen years ago, he is fully
aware of all the circumstances therein recited. Moreover at that time, the [sic] Lynn Batac Santos was
then employed at the BIR[sic] who arranged for the payment of the taxes due. There is some peculiarity
in the neat set up [sic] of a husband and wife team where the lawyer makes the document while the wife
who is a BIIR [sic] employee arranges for the payment of the taxes due the government;
14.5 Respondent attorney could not have been mistaken about the fact recited in the Affidavit of
Adjudication, etc. that said deceased (Rufina de Castro Turla) "did not leave any descendant, xxx, or any
other heir entitled to her estate [sic] . . . [.] 32 (Emphasis in the original)
Atty. Caringal argued that Atty. Santos was bound by the statement in Mariano Turlas affidavit that
Rufina Turla had no other heir.33
Moreover, Atty. Santos allegedly converted funds belonging to the heirs of Mariano Turla for his own
benefit. The funds involved were rental income from Mariano Turlas properties that were supposed to be
distributed to the heirs. Instead, Atty. Santos received the rental income. 34 Lastly, Atty. Caringal alleged
that Atty. Santos cited the repealed Article 262 of the Civil Code in his arguments. 35
In his Answer,36 Atty. Santos denied having falsified the death certificate. 37 He explained that the death
certificate and the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication were given to him by Mariano Turla and that he was not
aware that there was a falsified entry in the death certificate. 38
As regards the issue on conflict of interest, Atty. Santos argued that he did not represent and was not
representing conflicting interests since Mariano Turla was already dead. 39 Further, "he [was] representing
Marilu Turla against those who ha[d] an interest in her fathers estate." 40 Mariano Turlas Affidavit of SelfAdjudication never stated that there was no other legal heir but only "that Mariano Turla was the sole heir
of Rufina Turla."41
Regarding the allegations of Atty. Caringal, Atty. Santos insisted that he did not commit forum shopping
because the various cases filed had different issues. 42
As to the conversion of funds, Atty. Santos explained that the funds used were being held by his client as
the special administratrix of the estate of Mariano Turla. 43 According to Atty. Santos, payment of
attorneys fees out of the estates funds could be considered as "expenses of administration." 44 Also,
payment of Atty. Santos legal services was a matter which Atty. Caringal had no standing to question. 45

On the allegation that Atty. Santos cited a repealed provision of law, he discussed that Article 262 of the
Civil Code is applicable because it was in force when Marilu Turlas birth certificate was registered. 46
The Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines recommended that Atty.
Santos be suspended for three (3) months.47
It found that Bernardino failed to prove his allegation that Atty. Santos knew that the death certificate was
falsified and used it to support Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. 48 Likewise, Atty. Caringal
failed to prove that Atty. Santos converted funds from Mariano Turlas estate. 49
With regard to the citation of a repealed provision, the Commission on Bar Discipline stated that the
evidence presented did not prove that Atty. Santos "knowingly cited a repealed law." 50 Further, Atty.
Santos did not engage in forum shopping. The various cases filed involved different parties and prayed
for different reliefs.51
However, the Commission on Bar Discipline agreed with Bernardino and Atty. Caringal that Atty. Santos
represented clients with conflicting interests. 52 The Report and Recommendation53 of the Commission on
Bar Discipline stated:
. . . Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility particularly Rule 15.03 specifically proscribes
members of the bar from representing conflicting interests. The Supreme Court has explained that "the
proscription against representation of conflicting interest finds application where the conflicting interests
arise with respect to the same general matter and is applicable however slight such adverse interest may
be; the fact that the conflict of interests is remote or merely probable does not make the prohibition
inoperative."
....
. . . In the case at bar, the fact that the respondent represented Mariano Turla is no secret. The respondent
has in a number of pleadings/motions/documents and evenon the witness stand admitted that he drafted
Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Adjudication which expressly states that he was the sole heir of Rufina Turla.
And then he afterwards agreed to represent Marilu Turla who claimed to be Mariano Turlas daughter. To
substantiate her claim that she is Mariano Turlas daughter, the respondent admitted that he relied on the
birth certificate presented by Marilu Turla[,] which indicates that she is not only the daughter of Mariano
Turla but also of Rufina Turla as evidenced by the Birth Certificate presented stating that Rufina Turla is
Marilu Turlas mother. This means that Marilu Turla was also a rightful heir to Rufina Turlas inheritance
and was deprived of the same because of the Affidavit of Adjudication which he drafted for Mariano
Turla[,] stating that he is his wifes sole heir.
. . . To further explain, the respondent[,] in agreeing to represent Marilu Turla[,] placed himself in a
position where he is to refute the claim in Mariano Turlas Affidavit of Adjudication that he is the only
heir of Rufina Turla.54(Citations omitted)
In the Resolution55 dated May 10, 2013, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP Board of Governors) adopted and approved the findings and recommendations of the Commission
on Bar Discipline.

Atty. Santos filed a Motion for Partial Reconsideration, 56 which was denied by the IBP Board of
Governors in the Resolution57 dated March 22, 2014.
This administrative case was forwarded to this court through a letter of transmittal dated July 15,
2014,58 pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 12(b) of the Rules of Court which provides:
RULE 139-B
DISBARMENT AND DISCIPLINE OF ATTORNEYS
SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors.
....
(b) If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should
be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and
recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the
Supreme Court for final action.
The issues in this case are: (1) whether respondent Atty. Santos violated the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and (2) whether the penalty of suspension of three (3) months from the practice of law is
proper.
This court accepts and adopts the findings of fact of the IBP Board of Governors Resolution. However,
this court modifies the recommended penalty of suspension from the practice of law from three (3)
months to one (1) year.
Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states:
CANON 15 A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions
with his client.
....
Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned
given after a full disclosure of the facts.
The rule on conflict of interest is based on the fiduciary obligation in a lawyer-client relationship.
Lawyers must treat all information received from their clients with utmost confidentiality in order to
encourage clients to fully inform their counsels of the facts of their case. 59 In Hornilla v. Atty.
Salunat,60 this court explained what conflict of interest means:
There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests of two or more opposing
parties. The test is "whether or not in behalf of one client, it is the lawyers duty to fight for an issue or
claim, but it is his duty to oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument
will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client." This rule covers not only cases in which
confidential communications have been confided, but also those in which no confidence has been
bestowed or will be used. Also, there is conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will

require the attorney to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in which
he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new relation to use against his first client
any knowledge acquired through their connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether
the acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of his duty of undivided
fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance
thereof.61 (Emphasis supplied, citations omitted)
Applying the test to determine whether conflict of interest exists, respondent would necessarily refute
Mariano Turlas claim that he is Rufina Turlas sole heir when he agreed to represent Marilu Turla. Worse,
he knew that Mariano Turla was not the only heir. As stated in the Report of the Commission on Bar
Discipline:
Worse[,] the respondent himself on the witness stand during his April 14, 2009 testimony in the Civil
Case for Sum of Money with Prayer of Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order
docketed as Civil Case No. 09-269 filed with the RTC of Makati City admitted as follows: "I called the
attention of Mr. Mariano Turla[.] I . . . asked him what about Lulu she is entitled [sic] to a share of
properties and he . . . told me, Ako na ang bahala kay Lulu[,] hindi ko pababayaan yan. So he asked me
to proceed with the Affidavit of Adjudication wherein he claimed the whole [sic] properties for himself."
This very admission proves that the respondent was privy to Marilu Turlas standing as a legal and
rightful heir to Rufina Turlas estate.62 (Citation omitted)
However, Rule 15.03 provides for an exception, specifically, "by written consent of all concerned given
after a full disclosure of the facts."63 Respondent had the duty to inform Mariano Turla and Marilu Turla
that there is a conflict of interest and to obtain their written consent.
Mariano Turla died on February 5, 2009,64 while respondent represented Marilu Turla in March 2009. 65 It
is understandable why respondent was unable to obtain Mariano Turlas consent. Still, respondent did not
present evidence showing that he disclosed to Marilu Turla that he previously represented Mariano Turla
and assisted him in executing the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication. Thus, the allegation of conflict of
interest against respondent was sufficiently proven.
Likewise, we accept and adopt the IBP Board of Governors finding that respondent violated Canon 10,
Rule10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which states:
CANON 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he
mislead or allow the court to be mislead by any artifice.
In the Report, the Commission on Bar Discipline explained:
Corollary to the foregoing, the Commission by virtue of the doctrine res ipsa loquitor[sic] finds that the
respondents act of failing to thwart his client Mariano Turla from filing the Affidavit of Adjudication
despite . . . his knowledge of the existence of Marilu Turla as a possible heir to the estate of Rufina Turla,
the respondent failed to uphold his obligation as a member of the bar to be the stewards of justice and
protectors of what is just, legal and proper. Thus in failing to do his duty and acting dishonestly[,] not

only was he in contravention of the Lawyers Oath but was also in violation of Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility.66 (Emphasis in the original)
As officers of the court, lawyers have the duty to uphold the rule of law. In doing so, lawyers are expected
to be honest in all their dealings.67 Unfortunately, respondent was far from being honest. With full
knowledge that Rufina Turla had another heir, he acceded to Mariano Turlas request to prepare the
Affidavit of Self-Adjudication.68
This court notes that the wording of the IBP Board of Governors Resolutions dated May 10, 2013 and
March 22, 2014 seems to imply that it is the Integrated Bar of the Philippines that has the authority to
impose sanctions on lawyers. This is wrong.
The authority to discipline members of the Bar is vested in this court under the 1987 Constitution:
ARTICLE VIII
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
....
Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:
....
(5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal
assistance to the underprivileged. . . . (Emphasis supplied)
Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan69 elucidated on this courts "plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys" 70 and
discussed:
We begin by referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline officers of the court and
members of the court and members of the Bar. The Supreme Court, as regular and guardian of the legal
profession, has plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline lawyers stems
from the Courts constitutional mandate to regulate admission to the practice of law, which includes as
well authority to regulate the practice itself of law. Quite apart from this constitutional mandate, the
disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members of the Bar is an inherent power incidental to
the proper administration of justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial functions. . . .
. . . The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the Bar is but corollary to the Courts
exclusive power of admission to the Bar. A lawyers [sic] is not merely a professional but also an officer of
the court and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibility of dispensing justice and
resolving disputes in society.71(Citations omitted)
This courts authority is restated under Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, specifically:
RULE 138
ATTORNEYS AND ADMISSION TO BAR

....
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 wilful 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. (Emphasis supplied)
In Ramirez v. Buhayang-Margallo,72 this court emphasized the authority of this court to impose
disciplinary action on those admitted to the practice of law.
Parenthetically, it is this court that has the constitutionally mandated duty to discipline lawyers. 73 Under
the current rules, the duty to assist fact finding can be delegated to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
The findings of the Integrated Bar, however, can only be recommendatory, consistent with the
constitutional powers of this court.
Its recommended penalties are also, by its nature, recommendatory.74
The authority given to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is based on Rule 139-B, Section 1 of the
Rules of Court, which provides that "[p]roceedings for the disbarment, suspension or discipline of
attorneys may be taken by the Supreme Court motu proprio, or by the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines . . . upon the verified complaint of any person." However, this authority is only to assist this
court with the investigation of the case, to determine factual findings, and to recommend, at best, the
penalty that may be imposed on the erring lawyer.
We reiterate the discussion in Tenoso v. Atty. Echanez: 75
Time and again, this Court emphasizes that the practice of law is imbued with public interest and that "a
lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the
courts, and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions of the Statethe
administration of justiceas an officer of the court." Accordingly, "[l]awyers are bound to maintain not
only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair
dealing."76 (Citations omitted)
Only this court can impose sanctions on members of the Bar. This disciplinary authority is granted by
the Constitution and cannot be relinquished by this court. 77 The Resolutions of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines are, at best, recommendatory, and its findings and recommendations should not be equated
with Decisions and Resolutions rendered by this court. WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Victor
Rey Santos guilty of violating Canon 15, Rule 15.03 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. The findings of fact and recommendations of the Board of Governors of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated May 10, 2013 and March 22, 2014 are ACCEPTED and
ADOPTED with the MODIFICATION that the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for one (1)
year is imposed upon Atty. Victor Rey Santos. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar act
shall be dealt with more severely.
1wphi1

Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to respondents
personal record as attorney, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and to the Office of the Court
Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
Adm. Case No. 8108

July 15, 2014

DANTE LA JIMENEZ & LAURO G. VIZCONDE, Complainants,


vs.
ATTY. FELISBERTO L. VERANO, JR., Respondent.
x-----------------------x
Adm. Case No. 10299
ATTY. OLIVER O. LOZANO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. FELISBERTO L. VERANO, JR., Respondent.
RESOLUTION
SERENO, CJ:
Before this Court is the Resolution1 of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) finding respondent Atty. Felisberto Verano liable for improper and inappropriate conduct tending to
influence and/or giving the appearance of influence upon a public official. The Joint Report and
Recommendation submitted by Commissioner Felimon C. Abelita III recommended that respondent
beissued a warning not to repeat the same nor any similar action, otherwise the Commission will impose a
more severe penalty. The Commission adopted the said ruling on 16 April 2013. 2
The complainants in Administrative Case (A.C.) No. 8108 are Dante La Jimenez and Lauro G. Vizconde,
while complainant in Adm. Case No. 10299 is Atty. Oliver O. Lozano. At the time of the filing of the
complaints, respondent Atty. Verano was representing his clients Richard S. Brodett and Joseph R.
Tecson.
FACTUAL ANTECEDENTS
Brodett and Tecson (identified in media reports attached to the Complaint as the "Alabang Boys") werethe
accused in cases filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for the illegal sale and use of
dangerous drugs.3 In a Joint Inquest Resolution issued on 2 December 2008, the charges were dropped for
lack of probable cause.4
Because of the failure of Prosecutor John R. Resado to ask clarificatory questions during the evaluation of
the case, several media outlets reported on incidents of bribery and "cover-up" allegedly prevalent in
investigations of the drug trade.This prompted the House Committee on Illegal Drugs to conduct its own
congressional hearings. It was revealed during one such hearing that respondenthad prepared the release
order for his three clients using the letterhead ofthe Department of Justice (DOJ) and the stationery of
then Secretary Raul Gonzales.5
Jimenez and Vizconde, in their capacity as founders of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC),
sent a letter of complaint to Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno. They stated that respondent had admitted to
drafting the release order, and had thereby committed a highly irregular and unethical act. They argued
that respondent had no authority to use the DOJ letterhead and should be penalized for acts unbecoming a
member of the bar.6

For his part, Atty. Lozano anchoredhis Complaint on respondents alleged violation of Canon 1 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which states that a lawyer shall upholdthe Constitution, obey the
laws of the land, and promote respectfor legal processes. 7 Atty. Lozano contended that respondent showed
disrespect for the law and legal processes in drafting the said order and sending it to a high-ranking public
official, even though the latter was not a government prosecutor.8 Atty. Lozanos verified
ComplaintAffidavit was filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the IBP and docketed as CBD
Case No. 09-2356.9
Officers of the IBP, Cebu CityChapter, issued a Resolution condemning the unethical conduct of
respondent and showing unqualified support for the VACCs filing of disbarment proceedings. 10 On 27
February 2009, Atty. Lozano withdrew his Complaint on the ground that a similar action had been filed
by Dante Jimenez.11 On 2 June 2009, the Court referred both cases to the IBP for consolidation, as well as
for investigation, report and recommendation. RESPONDENTS VERSION
In his Comment, respondent alludes to the Joint Inquest Resolution dropping the charges against his
clients for lack of probable cause, arguing that the resolution also ordered the immediate release of
Brodett and Tecson. He reasoned that the high hopes of the accused, together with their families, came
crashing down when the PDEA still refused to release his clients. 12 Sheer faith in the innocence of his
clients and fidelity to their cause prompted him to prepare and draft the release order. Respondent admits
that perhaps he was overzealous; yet, "if the Secretary of Justice approves it, then everything may be
expedited."13 In any case, respondent continues, the drafted release order was not signed by the Secretary
and therefore remained "a mere scrap of paper with no effect at all." 14
FINDINGS OF THE INVESTIGATING COMMISSIONER
The Commissioner noted that both complaints remained unsubstantiated, while the letter-complaint of
Jimenez and Vizconde had not been verified. Therefore, no evidence was adduced to prove the charges.
However, by his own admissions inparagraphs 11 and 12 of his Comment, respondent drafted the release
order specifically for the signature of the DOJ Secretary. This act of "feeding" the draft order to the latter
was found to be highly irregular, as it tended to influence a public official. Hence, Commissioner Abelita
found respondent guilty of violating Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
recommended that he be issued a warning not to repeat the same or any similar action. 15
RULING OF THE COURT
We emphasize at the outset thatthe Court may conduct its own investigation into charges against members
of the bar, irrespective of the form of initiatory complaints brought before it. Thus, a complainant in a
disbarment case is not a direct party to the case, but a witness who brought the matter to the attention of
the Court.16 By now, it is basic that there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor in disciplinary proceedings
against lawyers. The real question for determination in these proceedings is whether or not the attorney is
still a fit person to be allowed the privileges of a member of the bar.17
As to Atty. Lozanos withdrawal of his verified Complaint, we reiterate our ruling in Rayos-Ombac v.
Rayos:

The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any
way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or
lack of interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the
record, the charge of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven x x x. The complainant or
the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense a party,
and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice.Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or
disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. 18 (Emphasis supplied)
After a careful review of the records,we agree with the IBP in finding reasonable grounds to hold
respondent administratively liable. Canon 13, the provision applied by the Investigating Commissioner,
states that "a lawyer shall rely upon the merits of his cause and refrain from any impropriety which tends
to influence, or gives the appearance of influencing the court." We believe that other provisions in the
Code of Professional Responsibility likewise prohibit acts of influence-peddling not limited to the regular
courts, but even in all other venues in the justice sector, where respect for the rule of law is at all times
demanded from a member of the bar.
During the mandatory hearing conducted by the Committee on Bar Discipline, respondent stated that the
PDEA refused to release his clients unless it received a direct order from the DOJ Secretary. This refusal
purportedly impelled him to take more serious action, viz.:
ATTY VERANO: x x x By Monday December 22 I think my only recourse was to see the Secretary
himself personally. The Secretary is the type of a person who opens his [sic] kasihe is very political also
so he opens his office. If Im not mistaken that day because of the timing we will afraid [sic] that
Christmas time is coming and that baka nga sila maipit sa loob ng Christmas time. So the family was very
sad x x x kung pwede ko raw gawan ng paraan na total na-dismissed na ang kaso. So, what I did was
thinking as a lawyer nowI prepared the staff to make it easy, to make it convenient for signing authority
that if he agrees with our appeal he will just sign it and send it over to PDEA. So hinanda ko ho yon. And
then I sent it first to the Office of the other Secretary si Blancaflor.
xxxx
So I think its a Tuesday I had to do something and I said I will see the Secretary first with the parents of
Rodette, yong nanay at saka tatay, so we went to see him after 1:00 oclock or 1:30 in the afternoon. By
then, that draft was still with Blancaflor. Andon ho ang Secretary tinanggap naman kami, so we sat down
with him x x x Pinaliwanag ho namin inexplain x x x Anyway, sabi niya what can I do if I move on this,
they will think that kasama rin ako dyan sa Fifty Million na yan. Sabi ko, Your Honor, wala akong Fifty
Million, hindi naman ho milyonaryo ang mga pamilyang ito. So, sabi ko pwede ho bang maki-usapsabi
niya okay I will see what I can do. I will study the matter, those particular words, I will study the matter.
Tumuloy pa ho ang kwentuhan, as a matter of fact, 2 oras ho kami ron eh. They were not pushing us
away, he was entertaining us, and we were discussing the case. 19
Respondent likewise stated that his "experience with Secretary Gonzales is, he is very open;" and that
"because of my practice and well, candidly I belong also to a political family, my father was a
Congressman. So, he (Gonzalez) knows of the family and he knows my sister was a Congresswoman of
Pasay and they weretogether in Congress. In other words, I am not a complete stranger to him." 20 Upon

questioning by Commissioner Rico A. Limpingco, respondent admitted that he was personally acquainted
with the Secretary; however, they were not that close. 21
These statements and others made during the hearing establish respondents admission that 1) he
personally approached the DOJ Secretary despite the fact that the case was still pending before the latter;
and 2) respondent caused the preparation of the draft release order on official DOJ stationery despite
being unauthorized to do so, with the end in view of "expediting the case."
The way respondent conducted himself manifested a clear intent to gain special treatment and
consideration from a government agency. This is precisely the type of improper behavior sought to be
regulated by the codified norms for the bar. Respondentis duty-bound to actively avoid any act that tends
to influence, or may be seen to influence, the outcome of an ongoing case, lest the peoples faith inthe
judicial process is diluted.
The primary duty of lawyers is not to their clients but to the administration of justice. To that end, their
clients success is wholly subordinate. The conduct of a member of the bar ought to and must always be
scrupulously observant of the law and ethics. Any means, not honorable, fair and honest which is resorted
to bythe lawyer, even inthe pursuit of his devotion to his clients cause, is condemnable and unethical. 22
1wphi1

Rule 1.02 states: "A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening
confidence in the legal system." Further, according to Rule 15.06, "a lawyershall not state or imply that he
is able to influence any public official, tribunal or legislative body." The succeeding rule, Rule 15.07,
mandates a lawyer "to impress upon his client compliance with the laws and the principles of fairness."
Zeal and persistence in advancing a clients cause must always be within the bounds of the law.23 A selfrespecting independence in the exercise of the profession is expected if an attorney is to remain a member
of the bar. In the present case, we find that respondent fell short of these exacting standards. Given the
import of the case, a warning is a mere slap on the wrist that would not serve as commensurate penalty for
the offense.
In Sylvia Santos vs. Judge Evelyn S. Arcaya- Chua, the Court saw fit to impose a six-month suspension
against a judge who likewise committed acts of influence peddling whenshe solicited P100,000.00 from
complainant Santos when the latter asked for her help in the case of her friend Emerita Muoz, who had a
pendingcase with the Supreme Court, because respondent judge was a former court attorney of the high
court.24 We find that the same penalty is appropriate in the present case.
WHEREFORE,in view of the foregoing, Atty. Felisberto L. Verano, Jr. is found GUILTYof violating
Rules 1.02 and 15.07, in relation to Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for which he is
SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for six (6) months effective immediately. This also serves as an
emphaticWARNING that repetition of any similar offense shall be dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Decision be appended to the respondents bar records. The Court Administrator is
hereby directed to inform the different courts of this suspension.
SO ORDERED.