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LEGAL ETHICS CASES

(Case Digest)
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#1 : Cayetano vs. Monsod 201 SCRA 210

September 1991

Facts: Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to


the position of chairman of the COMELEC. Petitioner opposed the nomination because
allegedly Monsod does not posses required qualification of having been engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years. The 1987 constitution provides in Section 1, Article IXC: There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six
Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have
been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding elections. However, a
majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Issue: Whether the respondent does not posses the required qualification of having engaged
in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Held: In the case of Philippine Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, 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 proceeding, 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 judicial body, the foreclosure of mortgage, enforcement of a creditors
claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment,
and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice. Practice of
law means any activity, in or out court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure,
knowledge, training and experience.
The contention that Atty. Monsod does not posses the required qualification of having
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years is incorrect since Atty. Monsods past
work experience as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry,
a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both rich and the poor verily
more than satisfy the constitutional requirement for the position of COMELEC chairman, The
respondent has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years does In the view of
the foregoing, the petition is DISMISSED.
*** The Supreme Court held that the appointment of Monsod is in accordance with the
requirement of law as having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Monsods past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyerentrepreneur of industry, a lawyer negotiator of contracts and a lawyer-legislator of both the
rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. Again, in the case of Philippine
Lawyers Association vs. Agrava, the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases
and litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to
actions and social proceedings and other similar work which involves the determination by a
legal mind the legal effects of facts and conditions.
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#2: PHILIPPINE LAWYERS ASSOCIATION VS. CELEDONIO AGRAVA,


in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office
FACTS:A petition was filed by the petitioner for prohibition and injunction against
Celedonio
Agrava, in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office. On May 27, 1957,
respondent
Director issued a circular announcing that he had scheduled for June 27, 1957 an
examination for
the purpose of determining who are qualified to practice as patent attorneys before the
Philippines Patent Office. The petitioner contends that one who has passed the bar
examinations
and is licensed by the Supreme Court to practice law in the Philippines and who is in
good
standing, is duly qualified to practice before the Philippines Patent Office and that the
respondent
Directors holding an examination for the purpose is in excess of his jurisdiction and
is in violation
of the law.
The respondent, in reply, maintains the prosecution of patent cases does not involve
entirely or purely the practice of law but includes the application of scientific and
technical knowledge and training as a matter of actual practice so as to include
engineers and other individuals who passed the examination can practice before the
Patent office. Furthermore, he stressed that for the long time he is holding tests, this is
the first time that his right has been questioned formally.
ISSUE: Whether or not the appearance before the patent Office and the preparation
and the
prosecution of patent application, etc., constitutes or is included in the practice of law.
HELD: The Supreme Court held that the practice of law includes such appearance
before the
Patent Office, the representation of applicants, oppositors, and other persons, and the
prosecution of their applications for patent, their opposition thereto, or the enforcement
of their
rights in patent cases. Moreover, the practice before the patent Office involves the
interpretation and application of other laws and legal principles, as well as the
existence of facts to be established in accordance with the law of evidence and
procedure. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in
court but also embraces all other matters connected with the law and any work
involving the determination by the legal mind of the legal effects of facts and
conditions. Furthermore, the law provides that any party may appeal to the Supreme
Court from any final order or decision of the director. Thus, if the transactions of
business in the Patent Office involved exclusively or mostly technical and scientific
knowledge and training, then logically, the appeal should be taken not to a court or
judicial body, but rather to a board of
scientists, engineers or technical men, which is not the case.
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ALAWI V ALAUYA
PARTIES
ALAWI, sales rep of E.B. Villarosa
ALAUYA, incumbent executive clerk of court
FACTS
Through ALAWIS agency, a contract was executed for the purchase on
installments by ALAUYA of a housing unit
A housing loan was also granted to ALAUYA by the National Home Mortgage
Finance Corporation (NHMFC)
Subsequently, ALAUYA wrote a letter to the President of Villarosa advising
termination of his contract on the grounds that his consent was vitiated by
gross misrepresentation, deceit, fraud, dishonesty and abuse of confidence by
ALAWI and proceeded to expound using acerbic language
A copy of the letter, which bore no stamps, was sent to the VP of Villarosa
ALAUYA also wrote the NHMFC repudiating as void his contract with
Villarosa and asking for cancellation of his loan
Finally, ALAUYA wrote 3 other letters to officers of the SC to stop deductions
from his salary regarding the loan from NHMFC
NHMFC also wrote the SC requesting it to stop said deductions
Learning of the letters, ALAWI filed a complaint alleging that ALAUYA
o Committed malicious and libelous charges
o Usurped the title of attorney
ISSUE

HELD

W/N ALAUYA VIOLATED THE CODE OF CONDUCT AND


ETHICAL STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND
EMPLOYEES
YES, PARTICULARLY SECTION 4

RATIO
Section 4 public officials and employees at all times respect the rights of
others, and refrain from doing acts contrary to law, public order, public safety
and public interest
ALAUYA, being a member of the Sharia Bar and an officer of the Court,
may not use language which is abusive, offensive, scandalous, menacing or
otherwise improper
His radical deviation from these norms cannot be excused
ISSUE

W/N ALAUYA BEING A MEMBER OF THE SHARIA BAR CAN


USE THE TITLE ATTORNEY

HELD

NO, RESERVED ONLY FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN


ADMITTED AS MEMBERS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR

RATIO

Court has already had an occasion to declare that persons who pass the
Sharia Bar are not full-fledged members of the Philippine Bar and may
practice law only before Sharia courts
ALAUYAS wish of not using counsellor because of confusion with
councilor is immaterial because disinclination to use said title does not
warrant his use of the title attorney

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AGUIRRE vs. RANA
FACTS:
Respondent Edwin L. Rana was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations.
Respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May
2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers of Mandaon,
Masbate and filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal
Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in some Precincts for the Office
of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as "counsel for and in
behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan," and signed the pleading as
counsel for George Bunan. Furthermore, respondent also signed as counsel for Emily
Estipona-Hao on 19 May 2001 in the petition filed before the MBEC praying for the
proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon,
Masbate. On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of
successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie
Aguirre filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. On 22
May 2001, respondent was allowed to take the lawyer s oath but was disallowed from
signing the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him.
ISSUE:
Whether or not respondent shall be denied Admission to the Bar.
RULING:
Respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the proceedings
before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence
clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself
"counsel" knowing fully well that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held
himself out as "counsel" knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent
has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is
limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained
and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal
knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust since a lawyer is an officer of
the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing
the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from
one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had
practiced law without a license. True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar
Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of
Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed
the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to
become an attorney-at-law. Respondent should know that two essential requisites for
becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyer s oath to be
administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.

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IN RE: PETITION TO SIGN IN THE ROLL OF ATTORNEYS
BM No. 2540 September 24, 2013
Statement of Facts:
Petitioner Michael Medado, who obtained his law degree in the year 1979, took
and passed the same years bar examinations and took the Attorneys Oath, failed to
sign the Attorneys Roll. After more than 30 years of practicing the profession of law,
he filed the instant Petition on February 2012, praying that he be allowed to sign in the
Roll of Attorneys. Medado said that he was not able to sign the Roll of Attorneys
because he misplaced the notice given to him and he believed that since he had already
taken the oath, the signing of the Roll of Attorneys is not urgent, nor as crucial to his
status as a lawyer.
The Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) after conducting clarificatory conference
on the matter recommended to the Supreme Court that the instant petition be denied for
petitioners gross negligence, gross misconduct and utter lack of merit.
Issue:
WON the petitioner be allowed to sign in the roll of attorneys?
Ruling:
Yes, the Court allowed the petitioner to sign the Roll of Attorneys subject to the
payment of a fine and the imposition of a penalty equivalent to suspension from the
practice of law.
The Court cannot forbid the petitioner from signing the Roll of Attorneys because
such action constitutes disbarment. Such penalty is reserved to the most serious ethical
transgressions of members of the Bar.
The Court cited three main points which demonstrate Medados worth to become
a full-fledged member of the Philippine Bar. First, Medado demonstrated good faith
and good moral character when he finally filed the instant Petition to Sign in the Roll
of Attorneys. It was Medado himself who admitted his own error and not any third
person. Second, petitioner has not been subject to any action for disqualification from
the practice of law. He strove to adhere to the strict requirements of the ethics of the
profession and that he has prima facie shown that he possesses the character required
to be a member of the Philippine Bar. Third, Medado appears to have been a competent
and able legal practitioner, having held various positions at the Laurel Law Office,
Petron, Petrophil Corporation, the Philippine National Oil Company, and the Energy
Development Corporation.
However, the Court cannot fully free Medado from all liability for his years of
inaction. His justification of his action, that it was neither willful nor intentional but
based on a mistaken belief and an honest error of judgment was opposed by the
Court.
A mistake of law cannot be utilized as a lawful justification, because everyone
is presumed to know the law and its consequences. Although an honest mistake of
fact could be used to excuse a person from the legal consequences of his acts he could
no longer claim it as a valid justification by the moment he realized that what he had
signed was merely an attendance record. His action of continuing the practice of law in

spite of his knowledge of the need to take the necessary steps to complete all
requirements for the admission to the bar constitutes unauthorized practice of law.
Such action transgresses Canon 9 of 'the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
provides:
CANON 9 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly, assist in the unauthorized
practice of law.
With respect to the penalty, previous violations of Canon 9 have warranted the
penalty of suspension from the practice of law. However, in the instant case the Court
could not warrant the penalty of suspension from the practice of law to Medado
because he is not yet a full-fledged lawyer. Instead, the Court see it fit to impose upon
him a penalty similar to suspension by allowing him to sign in the Roll of Attorneys
one ( 1) year after receipt of the Resolution and to fine him in the amount of P32,000.
The instant Petition to Sign in the Roll of Attorneys is Affirmed. Petitioner
Michael A. Medado is ALLOWED to sign in the Roll of Attorneys ONE (1) YEAR
after receipt of the Resolution. Petitioner is likewise ORDERED to pay a FINE of
P32,000 for his unauthorized practice of law. During the one year period, petitioner is
NOT ALLOWED to practice law, and is STERNLY WARNED that doing any act that
constitutes practice of law before he has signed in the Roll of Attorneys will be dealt
with severely by the Court.
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Petition for Leave To Resume Practice of Law, Benjamin M. Dacanay


B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007
Facts: Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law
until he migrated to Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for his
ailments. He subsequently applied for Canadian citizenship to avail of Canadas free
medical aid program. His application was approved and he became a Canadian citizen
in May 2004.
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and ReAcquisition Act of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine citizenship. On that day,
he took his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate
General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he returned to the Philippines and now
intends to resume his law practice.
Issue: Whether or not petitioner lost his membership in the bar when he gave up his
Philippine citizenship.
Holding: The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the
Philippines shall be limited to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law. Since
Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates
membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently, the privilege to engage in the
practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso jure terminates the
privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege denied to
foreigners.

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a


citizen of another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is
because "all Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be
deemed not to have lost their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA
9225]." Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen of another country is
deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in accordance
with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership
in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues.
Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines
and he reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply
with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice." Stated
otherwise, before a lawyer who reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225
can resume his law practice, he must first secure from this Court the authority to do
so, conditioned on:
(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;
(b) the payment of professional tax;
(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education;
this is specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioners knowledge of
Philippine laws and update him of legal developments and
(d) the retaking of the lawyers oath which will not only remind him of his duties
and responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his
pledge to maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.
The Court granted the petition subject to compliance with the conditions stated above
and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar Confidant, after which he may
retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.
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IN RE: PETITION TO RE-ACQUIRE THE PRIVILEGE TO PRACTICE LAW


IN THE PHILIPPINES, EPIFANIO B. MUNESES, Petitioner.
IN RE EPIFANIO MUNESES
(Reacquisition of Philippine Citizenship)
B.M. No. 2112

Keywords:

Petitioner Epifanio B.
Muneses became a lawyer
in 1966 but acquired
American citizenship in
1981

Restored citizenship in
2006 by virtue of RA 9225

A Filipino lawyer who


re-acquires
citizenship
remains to be a member
of the Philippine Bar but
must apply for a license or
permit to engage in law
practice.

On June 8, 2009, petitioner Epifanio B. Muneses with the Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) praying that he be granted the privilege to practice law in the Philippines.
Petitioner became a member of the IBP in 1966 but lost his privilege to practice law
when he became a American citizen in 1981. In 2006, he re-acquired his Philippine
citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 or the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition
Act of 2003 by taking his oath of allegiance as a Filipino citizen before the
Philippine Consulate in Washington, D.C. He intends to retire in the Philippines and if
granted, to resume the practice of law.
The Court reiterates that Filipino citizenship is a requirement for admission to the bar
and is, in fact, a continuing requirement for the practice of law. The loss thereof
means termination of the petitioners membership in the bar; ipso jure the privilege
to engage in the practice of law. Under R.A. No. 9225, natural-born citizens who have
lost their Philippine citizenship by reason of their naturalization as citizens of a
foreign country are deemed to have re-acquired their Philippine citizenship upon
taking the oath of allegiance to the Republic. Thus, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a
citizen of another country and later re-acquires his Philippine citizenship under R.A.
No. 9225, remains to be a member of the Philippine Bar. However, as stated in
Dacanay, the right to resume the practice of law is not automatic. R.A. No. 9225
provides that a person who intends to practice his profession in the Philippines must
apply with the proper authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice.
Thus, in pursuance to the qualifications laid down by the Court for the practice of law,
the OBC required, and incompliance thereof, petitioner submitted the following:
1. Petition for Re-Acquisition of Philippine Citizenship;
2. Order (for Re-Acquisition of Philippine citizenship);
3. Oath of Allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines;
4. Certificate of Re-Acquisition/Retention of Philippine Citizenship issued by the
Bureau of Immigration, in lieu of the IC;
5. Certification dated May 19, 2010 of the IBP-Surigao City
Chapter attesting to his good moral character as well as his updated payment of
annual membership dues;
6. Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) for the year 2010;
7. Certificate of Compliance with the MCLE for the 2nd compliance period; and
8. Certification dated December 5, 2008 of Atty. Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Coordinator,
UC-MCLE Program,
University of Cebu, College of Law attesting to his compliance with the MCLE.
The OBC further required the petitioner to update his compliance, particularly with
the MCLE. After all the requirements were satisfactorily complied with and finding
that the petitioner has met all the qualifications, the OBC recommended that the
petitioner be allowed to resume his practice of law.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Epifanio B. Muneses is hereby GRANTED,
subject to the condition that he shall re-take the Lawyer's Oath on a date to be set by
the Court and subject to the payment of appropriate fees.

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Javellana vs. DILG
Facts:
This petition for review on certiorari involves the right of a public official to engage
inthe practice of his profession while employed in the Government. Attorney Erwin B.
Javellanawas an elected City Councilor of Bago City, Negros Occidental. City
Engineer Ernesto C.Divinagracia filed Administrative Case No. C-10-90 against
Javellana for: (1) violation of Department of Local Government (DLG) Memorandum
Circular No. 80-38 dated June 10, 1980in relation to DLG Memorandum Circular No.
74-58 and of Section 7, paragraph b, No. 2 of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known
as the "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees,"
and (2) for oppression, misconduct and abuse of authority.Divinagracia's complaint
alleged that Javellana, an incumbent member of the City Council or Sanggunian
Panglungsod of Bago City, and a lawyer by profession, has continuously engaged inthe
practice of law without securing authority for that purpose from the Regional
Director,Department of Local Government, as required by DLG Memorandum Circular
No. 80-38 inrelation to DLG Memorandum Circular No. 74-58 of the same
department.On the other hand, Javellana filed a Motion to Dismiss the administrative
case againsthim on the ground mainly that DLG Memorandum Circulars Nos. 80-38
and 90-81 areunconstitutional because the Supreme Court has the sole and exclusive
authority to regulate the practice of law
Held:
Petitioner's contention that Section 90 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and
DLGMemorandum Circular No. 90-81 violate Article VIII, Section 5 of the
Constitution iscompletely off tangent. Neither the statute nor the circular trenches upon
the Supreme Court's power and authority to prescribe rules on the practice of law. The
Local Government Code andDLG Memorandum Circular No. 90-81 simply prescribe
rules of conduct for public officials toavoid conflicts of interest between the discharge
of their public duties and the private practice of their profession, in those instances
where the law allows it.Section 90 of the Local Government Code does not
discriminate against lawyers anddoctors. It applies to all provincial and municipal
officials in the professions or engaged in anyoccupation. Section 90 explicitly provides
that sanggunian members "may practice their professions, engage in any occupation,
or teach in schools expect during session hours." If thereare some prohibitions that
apply particularly to lawyers, it is because of all the professions, the practice of law is
more likely than others to relate to, or affect, the area of public service
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WILFREDO M. CATU vs. ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA
A.C. No. 5738, February 19, 2008
Facts.
Petitioner initiated a complaint against Elizabeth Catu and Antonio Pastor who were
occupying one of the units in a building in Malate which was owned by the former. The said
complaint was filed in the
Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay 723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila where
Respondent was the

punong barangay. The parties, having been summoned for conciliation proceedings and
failing to arrive at an amicable settlement, were issued by the respondent a certification for
the filing of the appropriate action in court.
Petitioner, thus, filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor in the
Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila where respondent entered his appearance as counsel for
the defendants. Because of this, petitioner filed the instant administrative complaint against
the respondent on the ground that he committed an act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a
public officer when he stood as counsel for the defendants despite the fact that he presided
over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as punong barangay.
In his defense, respondent claimed that as punong barangay, he performed his task without
bias and that he acceded to Elizabeths request to handle the case for free as she was
financially distressed.
The complaint was then referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) where after
evaluation, they found sufficient ground to discipline respondent. According to them,
respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and, as an elective
official, the prohibition under Section 7(b) (2) of RA6713. Consequently, for the violation of
the latter prohibition, respondent committed a breach of Canon 1. Respondent was then
recommended for suspension from the practice of law.
Issue. Whether or not Atty. Rellosa violated the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Ruling. Yes.
A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his time to be fully
at the disposal of the government can engage in the private practice of law only with the
written permission of the head of the department concerned in accordance with Section 12,
Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules.
Notwithstanding all of these, respondent still should have procured a prior permission or
authorization from the head of his Department, as required by civil service regulations. For
this failure, responded violated his oath as a lawyer, that is, to obey the laws, Rule 1.01, CPR
and, for not complying with the ethical standards of the legal profession, Canon 7, CPR.
Respondent was found GUILTY of professional misconduct, SUSPENDED from the practice
of law and was strongly advised to look up and take to heart the meaning of the word
delicadeza.
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ATTY. EVELYN J. MAGNO V. ATTY. OLIVIA VELASCO-JACOBA


A.C. No. 6296, 22 November 2005, THIRD DIVISION (Garcia, J.)
Atty. Evelyn Magno (Magno) had a disagreement with her uncle, Lorenzo
Inos (inos) over a landscaping contract they had entered into. In order to set things
right, Magno addressed a letter, styled Sumbong to Bonifacio Alcantara
(Alcantara), their barangay captain. During the conciliation/confrontation
proceedings, Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba (Jacoba) appeared for Inos, on the strength
of a Special Power of Attorney, together with Inos son, Lorenzito. When Magno

objected to Jacobas appearance, the latter said that she was there not as counsel, but
only as attorney-in-fact.
However, Jacoba, according to Magnos evidence, acted as counsel during
the proceedings, asserting her procedural know-how into every stage thereof, which
made the proceedings drag on longer than normal. It was because of these numerous
instances that Magno charged Jacoba with willful violation of the Local Government
Code and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Olivia Velasco-Jacoba is guilty of violating the Code of
Professional Responsibility
HELD:
Jacoba alleged that the administrative complaint was filed with the Office of
the Punong Barangay, instead of before the Lupong Tagapamayapa, and heard by
Punong Barangay Bonifacio Alcantara alone, instead of the collegial Lupon or a
conciliation panel known as pangkat. Prescinding from this premise, she submits that
the prohibition against a lawyer appearing to assist a client in katarungan
pambarangay proceedings does not apply. Further, she argued that her appearance
was not as a lawyer, but only as an attorney-in-fact.
The rationale behind the personal appearance requirement in the LGC is to
enable the lupon to secure first hand and direct information about the facts and issues,
the exception being in cases where minors or incompetents are parties. There can be
no quibbling that laymen of goodwill can easily agree to conciliate and settle their
disputes between themselves without what sometimes is the unsettling assistance of
lawyers whose presence could sometimes obfuscate and confuse issues. Worse still,
the participation of lawyers with their penchant to use their analytical skills and legal
knowledge tend to prolong instead of expedite settlement of the case.
The prohibition against the presence of a lawyer in a barangay conciliation
proceedings was not, to be sure, lost on respondent. Her defense that the aforequoted
Section 415 of the LGC does not apply since complainant addressed her Sumbong to
the barangay captain of Brgy. San Pascual who thereafter proceeded to hear the same
is specious at best. In this regard, suffice it to state that complainant wrote her
Sumbong with the end in view of availing herself of the benefits of barangay justice.
That she addressed her Sumbong to the barangay captain is really of little moment
since the latter chairs the Lupong Tagapamayapa.
Given the above perspective, the Supreme Court joins the IBP Commission on
Bar Discipline in its determination that respondent transgressed the prohibition
prescribed in Section 415 of the LGC. However, its recommended penalty of mere
admonition must have to be modified. Doubtless, respondents conduct tended to
undermine the laudable purpose of the katarungan pambarangay system. What
compounded matters was when respondent repeatedly ignored complainants
protestation against her continued appearance in the barangay conciliation
proceedings.