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FATHER RANHILIO C. AQUINO, ET AL. VS ATTY.

EDWIN PASCUA
A.C. NO. 5095 NOVEMBER 29, 2007
DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic
Head of the Philippine Judicial Academy, joined by Lina M. Garan and the other above-named complainants, against
Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.
In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two documents committed as
follows:
(1) He made it appear that he had notarized the Affidavit-Complaint of one Joseph
B. Acorda entering the same as Doc. No. 1213, Page No. 243, Book III, Series of 1998,
dated December 10, 1998.
(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the Affidavit-Complaint of one Remigio B.
Domingo entering the same as Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December
10, 1998.

Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel Beltran, Clerk of Court,
Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of
Atty. Pascua; that the last entry therein was Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; and that,
therefore, he could not have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998.
In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. Pascua admitted having notarized the
two documents on December 10, 1998, but they were not entered in his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his
legal secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was attached to his comment.

The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed by Atty. Pascua with the Civil
Service Commission. Impleaded as respondents therein were LinaM. Garan and the other above-named
complainants. They filed with this Court a Motion to Join the Complaint and Reply to Respondents Comment. They
maintain that Atty. Pascuas omission was not due to inadvertence but a clear case of falsification. [1] On November
16, 1999, we granted their motion.[2]

Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for investigation, report and
recommendation.

On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and Recommendation partly reproduced
as follows:

A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. For this reason,
notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply with the formalities and the basic
requirement in the performance of their duties (Realino v. Villamor, 87 SCRA 318).
Under the notarial law, the notary public shall enter in such register, in chronological order,
the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him, the person
executing, swearing to, or acknowledging the instrument, xxx xxx. The notary shall give to each

instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number corresponding to the one in
his register, and shall also state on the instrument the page or pages of his register on which the
same is recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries (Sec. 246, Article V, Title IV, Chapter II
of the Revised Administrative Code).
Failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial register touching
his notarial acts in the manner required by law is a ground for revocation of his commission (Sec.
249, Article VI).
In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents allegedly notarized by
Atty. Pascua were not recorded in his notarial register.
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due to oversight of his
staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape liability. His failure to enter into
his notarialregister the documents that he admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty on his part as
a notary public and he is bound by the acts of his staff.
The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true.
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he notarized
on December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. On the other hand, the two affidavitcomplaints allegedly notarized on December 10, 1998 are Document Nos. 1213 and 1214,
respectively, under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the other complainants are,
therefore, correct in maintaining that Atty. Pascua falsely assigned fictitious numbers to the
questioned affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not only as a Notary Public, but also
as a member of the Bar.
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of inadvertence by
Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which is hardly credible since the latter cannot be
considered a disinterested witness or party.
Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. No. 1213) was
submitted only when Domingos affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) was withdrawn in the administrative case
filed by Atty. Pascua against Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This circumstance lends credence to
the submission of herein complainants that Atty. Pascua ante-dated another affidavit-complaint
making it appear as notarized on December 10, 1998 and entered as Document No. 1213. It may
not be sheer coincidence then that both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered as
1213 and 1214.
A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which might lessen in any
degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the
legal profession (Maligsa v. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 409).
As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is mandated to subscribe to
the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated by public policy and
impressed with public interest.
A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any misconduct in his
professional or private capacity. The Court has invariably imposed a penalty for notaries public
who were found guilty of dishonesty or misconduct in the performance of their duties.
In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was suspended from his
Commission as Notary Public for a period of one year for notarizing a document without affiants
appearing before him, and for notarizing the same instrument of which he was one of the
signatories. The Court held that respondent lawyer failed to exercise due diligence in upholding his
duties as a notary public.
In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who certified under oath a Deed of
Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors were dead was suspended from the practice of law

for a period of six (6) months, with a warning that another infraction would be dealt with more
severely. In said case, the Court did not impose the supreme penalty of disbarment, it being the
respondents first offense.
In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was disbarred from the practice
of law, after being found guilty of notarizing a fictitious or spurious document. The Court considered
the seriousness of the offense and his previous misconduct for which he was suspended for six
months from the practice of law.
It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a suspension from the practice of law
for a period of six (6) months may be considered enough penalty for him as a lawyer.Considering
that his offense is also a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be
imposed upon him.
PREMISES
CONSIDERED,
it
is
most
respectfully
recommended
that
the notarial commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still existing, be REVOKED and that he be
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months. [3]

After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the findings of facts and conclusion of
law by the Office of the Bar Confidant. We find Atty. Pascuaguilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties for
failing to register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-complaints of Joseph B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.

Misconduct generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a premeditated, obstinate
or intentional purpose.[4] The term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent. [5]

The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a lawyer is addressed to the sound
discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v. Llosa,[6] wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing
that some of the vendors were already dead, this Court held that such wrongful act constitutes misconduct and thus
imposed upon him the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six months, this being his first
administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,[7] we revoked the notarial commission of Atty. Mario G.
Ramos and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating the Notarial Law in not registering in
his notarial book the Deed of Absolute Sale he notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia,[8] however, a lesser penalty of one
month suspension from the practice of law was imposed on Atty. Vivian G. Rubiafor making a false declaration in the
document she notarized.

In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascuas first offense, we believe that the imposition of a
three-month suspension from the practice of law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a ground for
revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be imposed upon him.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for three (3) months with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be
dealt with more severely. His notarial commission, if still existing, is ordered REVOKED.

SO ORDERED.

Re: Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Administrative Case Filed Against Judge
Jaime V. Quitain, in His Capacity as the then Asst. Regional Director of the National Police Commission,
Regional Office XI, Davao City.
JBC No. 013 August 22, 2007

DECISION
PER CURIAM:
Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
10, Davao City on May 17, 2003.[1] Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) received
confidential information that administrative and criminal charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as
then Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a
result of which he was dismissed from the service per Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 183 dated April 10, 1995.

In the Personal Data Sheet (PDS)[2] submitted to the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) on November 26, 2001,
Judge Quitain declared that there were five criminal cases (Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439, 22812, 22813, and
22814) filed against him before the Sandiganbayan, which were all dismissed. No administrative case was disclosed
by Judge Qutain in his PDS.

To confirm the veracity of the information, then Deputy Court Administrator (DCA) Christopher O. Lock (now
Court Administrator) requested from the Sandiganbayan certified copies of the Order(s) dismissing the criminal
cases.[3] On even date, letters[4] were sent to the NAPOLCOM requesting for certified true copies of documents
relative to the administrative complaints filed against Judge Quitain, particularly A.O. No. 183 dated April 10,
1995 dismissing him from the service. Likewise, DCA Lock required Judge Quitain to explain the alleged
misrepresentation and deception he committed before the JBC.[5]

In a letter[6] dated November 28, 2003, the NAPOLCOM furnished the Office of the Court Administrator
(OCA) a copy of A.O. No. 183 showing that respondent Judge was indeed dismissed from the service for Grave
Misconduct for falsifying or altering the amounts reflected in disbursement vouchers in support of his claim for
reimbursement of expenses. A.O. 183 partly reads:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 183
DISMISSING FROM THE SERVICE ASSISTANT REGIONAL DIRECTOR JAIME VEGA QUITAIN,
NATIONAL POLICE COMMISSION, REGIONAL OFFICE NO. 11
This refers to the administrative complaint against Jaime Vega Quitain, Assistant Regional
Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office No. 11, Davao City, for Grave
Misconduct (Violation of Art. 48, in relation to Arts. 171 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code and Art.
IX of the Civil Service Law) filed by the NAPOLCOM.
xxxx
After circumspect study, I am in complete accord with the above findings and
recommendation of the NAPOLCOM.
It was established that the falsification could not have been consummated without
respondents direct participation, as it was upon his direction and approval that disbursement
vouchers were prepared showing the falsified amount. The subsequent endorsement and
encashment of the check by respondent only shows his complete disregard for the truth which per
se constitutes misconduct and dishonesty of the highest order. By any standard, respondent had
manifestly shown that he is unfit to discharge the functions of his office. Needless to stress, a public
office is a position of trust and public service demands of every government official or employee, no
matter how lowly his position may be, the highest degree of responsibility and integrity and he must
remain accountable to the people. Moreover, his failure to adduce evidence in support of his defense
is a tacit admission of his guilt. Let this be a final reminder to him that the government is serious
enough to [weed out] misfits in the government service, and it will not be irresolute to impose the
severest sanction regardless of personalities involved. Accordingly, respondents continuance in
office becomes untenable.
WHEREFORE, and as recommended by the NAPOLCOM, Assistant Regional Director
Jaime Vega Quitain is hereby DISMISSED from the service, with forfeiture of pay and benefits,
effective upon receipt of a copy hereof.
Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of April in the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and
ninety-five.
(Sgd. by President Fidel V. Ramos)
By the President:
(Sgd.)
TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.
Executive Secretary[7]
In a letter[8] dated October 22, 2003 addressed to DCA Lock, Judge Quitain denied having committed any
misrepresentation before the JBC. He alleged that during his interview, the members thereof only inquired about the

status of the criminal cases filed by the NAPOLCOM before the Sandiganbayan, and not about the administrative
case simultaneously filed against him. He also alleged that he never received from the Office of the President an
official copy of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him from the service.

Thereafter, DCA Lock directed Judge Quitain to explain within ten (10) days from notice why he did not
include in his PDS, which was sworn to before a notary public on November 22, 2001, the administrative case filed
against him, and the fact of his dismissal from the service.[9]

In his letters[10] dated March 13, 2004 and June 17, 2004, respondent explained that during the investigation
of his administrative case by the NAPOLCOM Ad HocCommittee, one of its members suggested to him that if he
resigns from the government service, he will no longer be prosecuted; that following such suggestion, he tendered
his irrevocable resignation from NAPOLCOM on June 1, 1993 [11] which was immediately accepted by the Secretary
of the Department of Interior and Local Governments; that he did not disclose the case in his PDS because he was
of the honest belief that he had no more pending administrative case by reason of his resignation; that his
resignation amounted to an automatic dismissal of his administrative case considering that the issues raised therein
became moot and academic; and that had he known that he would be dismissed from the service, he should not
have applied for the position of a judge since he knew he would never be appointed.

Finding reasonable ground to hold him administratively liable, then Court Administrator Presbitero J.
Velasco, Jr. (now a member of this Court) and then DCA Lock submitted a Memorandum [12] dated September 3,
2004 to then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which states:

In order that this Office may thoroughly and properly evaluate the matter, we deemed it
necessary to go over the records of the subject administrative case against Judge Jaime V. Quitain,
particularly the matter that pertains to Administrative Order No. 183 dated 10 April 1995. On 15 May
2004, we examined the records of said administrative case on file with the NAPOLCOM, Legal
Affairs Service, and secured certified [true] copies of pertinent documents.
After careful perusal of the documents and records available, including the lettersexplanations of Judge Jaime V. Quitain, this Office finds that there are reasonable grounds to hold
him administratively liable.
An examination of the Personal Data Sheet submitted by Judge Quitain with the Judicial
and Bar Council, which was subscribed and sworn to before Notary Public Bibiano M. Bustamante of
Davao City on 22 November 2001, reveals that he concealed material facts and even committed
perjury in having answered yes to Question No. 24, but without disclosing the fact that he
was dismissed from the government service. Question No. 24 and his answer thereto are
hereunder quoted as follows:
24. Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or otherwise imposed
a sanction for the violation of any law, decree, ordinance or regulation by any
court, tribunal or any other government office, agency or instrumentality in the
Philippines or in any foreign country or found guilty of an administrative offense
or imposed any administrative sanction? [ /] Yes [ ] No. If your answer is Yes to
any of the questions, give particulars.
But all dismissed (acquitted)
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439
Date of [Dismissal] August 2, 1995
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 22812, 22813, 22814
Date of [Dismissal] July 17, 2000

As borne out by the records, Judge Quitain deliberately did not disclose the fact that he was
dismissed from the government service. At the time he filled up and submitted his Personal Data
Sheet with the Judicial and Bar Council, he had full knowledge of the subject administrative case, as
well as Administrative Order No. 183 dismissing him from the government service.Based on the
certified documents secured from the Office of the NAPOLCOM, the following data were gathered:
1. In compliance with the Summons dated 19 March 1993, signed by Commissioner Alexis
C. Canonizado, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee of the NAPOLCOM, Judge Jaime V. Quitain, through
Atty. Pedro S. Castillo, filed his Answer (dated 29 March 1993) to the administrative complaint
lodged against him by the Napolcom;
2. On 30 March 1993, Judge Quitain received a copy of the Notice of Hearing of even date,
signed by Mr. Canonizado, in connection with the formal hearing of the subject administrative case
scheduled on 30 April 1993;
3. Administrative Order No. 183, dismissing Judge Quitain from the service, was dated 10
April 1995. On 18 April 1995, newspaper items relative to the dismissal of Judge Quitain were
separately published in the Mindanao Daily Mirror and in the Mindanao Times, the contents of which
read as follows:
Mindanao Times:
Dismissed NAPOLCOM chief airs appeal
Former National Police Commission (Napolcom) acting regional director
Jaime Quitain yesterday appealed for understanding to those allegedly behind his
ouster from his post two years ago. Quitain, who was one of the guests in
yesterdays Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared
statement on his dismissal from government service.
Quitain claimed that after Secretary Luis Santos resigned from the
Department of Interior and Local Governments in 1991, a series of administrative
charges were hurled against him by some regional employees.
I was dismissed from the Napolcom Office without due process, Quitain said.
He also said he had no idea as to who the people (sic) are behind the alleged
smear campaign leveled against him.
Whoever is behind all this, I have long forgiven you. My only appeal to you,
give me my day in court, give me the chance to clear my name, the only legacy that I
can leave to my children, Quitain said in his statement.
It is my constitutional right to be present in all proceedings of the
administrative case, he also said.
Quitain was appointed Assistant Regional Director of Napolcom in 1991 by
then President Corazon Aquino upon the recommendation of Secretary Santos. He
was later designated Napolcom acting regional director for Region XI.
Mindanao Daily Mirror:
Quitain vows to clear name

Former assistant regional director Jaime Quitain of the National Police


Commission (Napolcom) vowed yesterday to clear his name in court from charges of
tampering with an official receipt.

Quitain[,] who is running for a council seat, expressed confidence that he


would soon be vindicated in court against the group that plotted his ouster from
office: He said his only appeal was for Interior and Local Government Secretary
Rafael Alunan to grant him his day in court to answer the charges.
Whoever was behind all of these things, I have long forgiven them, Quitain
said.
Just give me the chance to clear my name because this is the only legacy
that I can give my children, Quitain said.
While the records of the subject administrative case on file with the NAPOLCOM Office does
not bear proof of receipt of Administrative Order No. 183 by Judge Quitain, the same does not
necessarily mean that he is totally unaware of said Administrative Order. As shown by the abovequoted newspaper clippings, Judge Quitain even aired his appeal and protest to said Administrative
Order.
xxxx
Judge Quitain asseverated that he should not have applied with the JBC had he known that
he was administratively charged and was consequently dismissed from the service since he will not
be considered. But this may be the reason why he deliberately concealed said fact. His claim that he
did not declare the administrative case in his Personal Data Sheet because of his honest belief that
there is no administrative or criminal case that would be filed against him by reason of his
resignation and the assurance made by the NAPOLCOM that no administrative case will be filed,
does not hold water. It is rather absurd for him to state that his resignation from the NAPOLCOM
amounts to an automatic dismissal of whatever administrative case filed against him because when
he resigned and relinquished his position, the issues raised therein became moot and academic. He
claims that he did not bother to follow up the formal dismissal of the administrative case because of
said belief. All these are but futile attempts to exonerate himself from administrative culpability in
concealing facts relevant and material to his application in the Judiciary. As a member of the Bar, he
should know that his resignation from the NAPOLCOM would not obliterate any administrative
liability he may have incurred[,] much less, would it result to the automatic dismissal of the
administrative case filed against him. The acceptance of his resignation is definitely without
prejudice to the continuation of the administrative case filed against him. If such would be the case,
anyone charged administratively could easily escape from administrative sanctions by the simple
expedient of resigning from the service. Had it been true that Judge Quitain honestly believes that
his resignation amounts to the automatic dismissal of his administrative case, the least he could
have done was to personally verify the status thereof. He should not have relied on the alleged
assurance made by the NAPOLCOM.

On the strength of his misrepresentation, Judge Quitain misled the Judicial and Bar Council
by making it appear that he had a clean record and was qualified to join the Judiciary. His prior
dismissal from the government service is a blot on his record, which has gone [worse] and has
spread even more because of his concealment of it. Had he not concealed said vital fact, it could
have been taken into consideration when the Council acted on his application. His act of dishonesty
renders him unfit to join the Judiciary, much less remain sitting as a judge. It even appears that he
was dismissed by the NAPOLCOM for misconduct and dishonesty.
Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case against respondent be docketed as an
administrative matter; and (2) that he be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any
position in the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all
retirement benefits except accrued leave credits.

Respondent was required to Comment.[13]

In compliance with the Courts Resolution respondent filed his Comment [14] contending that before he filed his
application for RTC Judge with the JBC, he had no knowledge that he was administratively dismissed from the
NAPOLCOM service as the case was secretly heard and decided. He averred that:
1. Being a religious lay head and eventually the Pastoral Head of the Redemptorist
Eucharistic Lay Ministry in Davao City and the surrounding provinces, he was recruited as one of the
political followers of then Mayor Luis T. Santos of Davao City, who later became the Secretary of the
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and was instrumental in his appointment as
Assistant Regional Director of the National Police Commission, Region XI;
2. After Secretary Luis T. Santos was replaced as DILG Secretary, the political followers of
his successor, who were the same followers involved in the chain of corruption prevalent in their
department, began quietly pressing for his (Quitain) resignation as Assistant Regional Director;

3. Finding difficulty in attacking his honesty and personal integrity, his detractors went to the
extent of filing criminal charges against him;
4. Before these criminal charges were scheduled for trial, he was being convinced to resign
in exchange for the dismissal of said criminal charges, but when he refused to do so, he was
unjustifiably detailed or exiled at the DILG central office in Manila;
5. Upon his exile in Manila for several months, he realized that even his immediate superiors
cooperated with his detractors in instigating for his removal. Hence, upon advice of his relatives,
friends and the heads of their pastoral congregation, he resigned from his position in NAPOLCOM
on condition that all pending cases filed against him, consisting of criminal cases only, shall be
dismissed, as in fact they were dismissed;
6. From then on he was never formally aware of any administrative case filed against
him. Hence, when he submitted his Personal Data Sheet before the Judicial and Bar Council in
support of his application as RTC judge, he made the following answer in Question No. 23:
23. Is there any pending civil, criminal, or administrative (including
disbarment) case or complaint filed against you pending before any court,
prosecution office, any other office, agency or instrumentality of the government, or
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines?
He could only give a negative answer since there was no pending administrative case filed
against him that he knows;
7. Had he known that there was an administrative case filed against him he would have
desisted from applying as a judge and would have given his full attention to the said administrative
case, if only to avoid ensuing embarrassment; and
8. The filing of the administrative case against him as well as the proceedings had thereon
and the decision rendered therein, without his knowledge, could have probably occurred during his
exile period when he was detailed indefinitely in Manila. The proceedings had in the said
administrative case are null and void since he was denied due process.

Respondents Comment was submitted to the OCA for evaluation, report and recommendation. [15]

OCA submitted its Memorandum[16] dated August 11, 2005 stating therein that it was adopting its earlier
findings contained in its Memorandum dated September 3, 2004. Based on the documents presented, it can not be
denied that at the time Judge Quitain applied as an RTC judge, he had full knowledge of A.O. No. 183 dismissing
him from government service. Considering that Judge Quitains explanations in his Comment are but mere

reiterations of his allegations in the previous letters to the OCA, the OCA maintained its recommendation that Judge
Quitain be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government,
including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued
leave credits.

The Court fully agrees with the disquisition and the recommendation of the OCA.

It behooves every prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the appointing authority of every matter
bearing on his fitness for judicial office, including such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and
probity. These are qualifications specifically required of appointees to the Judiciary by Sec. 7(3), Article VIII of the
Constitution.[17]

In this case, Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively charged and dismissed from the
service for grave misconduct per A.O. No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 by no less than the former President of
the Philippines. He insists that on November 26, 2001 or before he filed with the JBC his verified PDS in support of
his application for RTC Judge, he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183; and that he was denied due process. He
further argues that since all the criminal cases filed against him were dismissed on August 2, 1995 and July 17,
2000, and considering the fact that he resigned from office, his administrative case had become moot and
academic.

Respondents contentions utterly lack merit.

No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge Quitain was dismissed from the
service and that he deliberately withheld this information. His insistence that he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183 is
belied by the newspaper items published relative to his dismissal. It bears emphasis that in the Mindanao
Times dated April 18, 1995,[18] Judge Quitain stated in one of his interviews that I was dismissed from the
(Napolcom) office without due process. It also reads: Quitain, who was one of the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa
Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal from the government
service. Neither can we give credence to the contention that he was denied due process. The documents submitted
by the NAPOLCOM to the OCA reveal that Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Chairman Ad Hoc Committee, sent
him summons on March 19, 1993 informing him that an administrative complaint had been filed against him and
required him to file an answer.[19] Then on March 29, 1993, respondent, through his counsel, Atty. Pedro Castillo,
filed an Answer.[20] In administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard,
or an opportunity to explain ones side or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained
of. Where opportunity to be heard either through oral arguments or through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial
of due process.[21] Furthermore, as we have earlier mentioned and which Judge Quitain ought to know, cessation
from office by his resignation does not warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him while
he was still in the service nor does it render said administrative case moot and academic. [22] Judge Quitain was
removed from office after investigation and was found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal from the service is a
clear proof of his lack of the required qualifications to be a member of the Bench.

More importantly, it is clear that Judge Quitain deliberately misled the JBC in his bid to gain an exalted
position in the Judiciary. In Office of the Court Administrator v. Estacion, Jr.,[23] this Court stressed:
x x x The important consideration is that he had a duty to inform the appointing
authority and this Court of the pending criminal charges against him to enable them to
determine on the basis of his record, eligibility for the position he was seeking. He did not
discharge that duty. His record did not contain the important information in question because he
deliberately withheld and thus effectively hid it. His lack of candor is as obvious as his reason for

the suppression of such a vital fact, which he knew would have been taken into account
against him if it had been disclosed.
Thus, we find respondent guilty of dishonesty. Dishonesty means disposition to lie, cheat or defraud;
unworthiness; lack of integrity.[24]

Section 8(2), Rule 140[25] of the Rules of Court classifies dishonesty as a serious charge. Section 11, same
Rules, provides the following sanctions:

SEC. 11. Sanctions. A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge, any of the following
sanctions may be imposed:
1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as the
Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or appointment to any
public office, including government-owned or controlled corporations. Provided,
however, That the forfeiture of benefits shall in no case include accrued leave
credits;
2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than
three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or
3. A fine of not less than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.

In Re: Inquiry on the Appointment of Judge Enrique A. Cube,[26] we held:


By his concealment of his previous dismissal from the public service, which the Judicial and
Bar Council would have taken into consideration in acting on his application, Judge Cube committed
an act of dishonesty that rendered him unfit to be appointed to, and to remain now in, the Judiciary
he has tarnished with his falsehood.
WHEREFORE, Judge Enrique A. Cube of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila is
DISMISSED with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the government, including
government-owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits. This
decision is immediately executory.

We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of all those who are in the service
of the Judiciary.[27] We have often stressed that the conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to
the lowliest clerk of court, must always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy burden of
responsibility as to let them be free from any suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn, and will never
countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those involved in the administration of justice, which
would violate the norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in
the Judiciary.[28]

Considering the foregoing, Judge Quitain is hereby found guilty of grave misconduct. He deserves the
supreme penalty of dismissal.

However, on August 9, 2007, the Court received a letter from Judge Quitain addressed to the Chief Justice
stating that he is tendering his irrevocable resignation effective immediately as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial

Court, Branch 10, Davao City. Acting on said letter, the Court Resolved to accept the irrevocable resignation of
Judge Jaime V. Quitain effective August 15, 2007, without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case. [29]

Verily, the resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice does not render
moot and academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the filing of the
administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent
acceptance without prejudice by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the pendency of this case. The Court
retains its authority to pronounce the respondent official innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule
would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. [30] Indeed, if innocent, the
respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government which he has served
well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable
under the situation.[31]

WHEREFORE, in view of our finding that JUDGE JAIME V. QUITAIN is guilty of grave misconduct which
would have warranted his dismissal from the service had he not resigned during the pendency of this
case, he is hereby meted the penalty of a fine of P40,000.00. It appearing that he has yet to apply for his retirement
benefits and other privileges, if any, the Court likewise ORDERS the FORFEITURE of all benefits, except earned
leave credits which Judge Quitain may be entitled to, and he is PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reinstatement
and appointment to any branch, instrumentality or agency of the government, including government-owned and/or
controlled corporations.
This Decision is immediately executory.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Judge Jaime V. Quitains 201 File.

SO ORDERED.

RODOLFO M. BERNARDO VS ATTY. ISMAEL F. MEJIA


Adm. Case No. 2984

August 31, 2007


RESOLUTION

NACHURA, J.:

Before the Court is a petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with plea for reinstatement in the practice
of law filed by Ismael F. Mejia (Mejia) who is already seventy-one years old and barred from the practice of law for
fifteen years.
The antecedent facts that led to Mejias disbarment are as follows.
On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained attorney, Ismael F. Mejia, of the following
administrative offenses:
1) misappropriating and converting to his personal use:
a) part of the sum of P27,710.00 entrusted to him for payment of real estate taxes on
property belonging to Bernardo, situated in a subdivision known as Valle Verde I; and

b) part of another sum of P40,000.00 entrusted to him for payment of taxes and
expenses in connection with the registration of title of Bernardo to another property in
a subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
2) falsification of certain documents, to wit:
a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985, purportedly executed in his favor by
Bernardo (Annex P, par. 51, complainants affidavit dates October 4, 1989);
b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48, id.); and
c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the spouses Tomas and Remedios
Pastor, in Bernardos favor (Annex Q, par. 52, id.);
3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in payment of a loan obtained
from Bernardo in the amount of P50,000.00, and thereafter, replacing said check with others known
also to be insufficiently funded.[1]
On July 29, 1992, the Supreme Court En Banc rendered a Decision Per Curiam, the dispositive portion of
which reads:

WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the [sic] respondent, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia, guilty of all the
charges against him and hereby imposes on him the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending finality of
this judgment, and effective immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his record in the Bar Confidants Office, and
notice thereof furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court Administrator who
is DIRECTED to inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

On June 1, 1999, Mejia filed a Petition praying that he be allowed to reengage in the practice of law. On July 6,
1999, the Supreme Court En Banc issued a Resolution denying the petition for reinstatement.
On January 23, 2007, Mejia filed the present petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984 with a plea for
reinstatement in the practice of law. No comment or opposition was filed against the petition. [2]
Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a great extent on the sound discretion of
the Court. The action will depend on whether or not the Court decides that the public interest in the orderly and
impartial administration of justice will continue to be preserved even with the applicants reentry as a counselor at
law. The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral
character, a fit and proper person to practice law. The Court will take into consideration the applicants character and
standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character of the charge/s for which he was disbarred, his conduct
subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed between the disbarment and the application for
reinstatement.[3]
In the petition, Mejia acknowledged his indiscretions in the law profession. Fifteen years had already elapsed since
Mejias name was dropped from the Roll of Attorneys. At the age of seventy-one, he is begging for forgiveness and
pleading for reinstatement. According to him, he has long repented and he has suffered enough. Through his
reinstatement, he wants to leave a legacy to his children and redeem the indignity that they have suffered due to his
disbarment.
After his disbarment, he put up the Mejia Law Journal, a publication containing his religious and social writings. He
also organized a religious organization and named it El Cristo Movement and Crusade on Miracle of Heart and
Mind.

The Court is inclined to grant the present petition. Fifteen years has passed since Mejia was punished with the
severe penalty of disbarment. Although the Court does not lightly take the bases for Mejias disbarment, it also
cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced years. While the age of the petitioner and the
length of time during which he has endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in allowing a
petition for reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no
other transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown remorse. Obviously, he has learned his lesson
from this experience, and his punishment has lasted long enough. Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to
discipline its erring officers, it also knows how to show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its
purpose. After all, penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.
We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.
Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful
compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the continuing requirements for enjoying the privilege to
practice law.[4]
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for reinstatement in the Roll of Attorneys by Ismael F. Mejia is
hereby GRANTED.
SO ORDERED.

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ VS ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA


A.C. No. 6697

Bar Matter No. 1227

A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC

RE: OATH-TAKING OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA, INCOMING PRESIDENT OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF
THE PHILIPPINES
IN THE MATTER OF THE REMOVAL OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA FROM THE IBP BOARD OF
GOVERNORS AS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT AND GOVERNOR
IN THE MATTER OF THE LETTER-COMPLAINT OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA DATED MAY 18, 2005 TO
FORTHWITH DENY/DISAPPROVE THE IBP RESOLUTION UNJUSTLY, ILLEGALLY, ARBITRARILY, AND
ABRUPTLY REMOVING HIM FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE IBP FOR ABSOLUTE LACK OF
BASIS AND FOR FLAGRANT DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS.

DECISION
Per Curiam:
Before Us are three consolidated cases revolving around Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Governor
and Executive Vice-President (EVP) Atty. Leonard de Vera. The first pertains to a disbarment case questioning Atty.
de Veras moral fitness to remain as a member of the Philippine Bar, the second refers to Atty. de Veras letterrequest to schedule his oath taking as IBP National President, and the third case concerns the validity of his
removal as Governor and EVP of the IBP by the IBP Board. The resolution of these cases will determine the
national presidency of the IBP for the term 2005-2007.

A.C. No. 6697


The Office of the Bar Confidant, which this Court tasked to make an investigation, report and recommendation on
subject case,[1] summarized the antecedents thereof as follows:

In a Complaint dated 11 April 2005, complainant Zoilo Antonio Velez moved for the
suspension and/or disbarment of respondent Atty. Leonard de Vera based on the following grounds:

1)

respondents alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension


order rendered against him by the State Bar of California; and

2)

respondents alleged violation of the so-called rotation rule enunciated in


Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (in the Matter: 1989
IBP Elections).

Complainant averred that the respondent, in appropriating for his own benefit funds due his
client, was found to have performed an act constituting moral turpitude by the Hearing Referee Bill
Dozier, Hearing Department San Francisco, State Bar of California in Administrative Case No. 86-0-

18429. Complainant alleged that the respondent was then forced to resign or surrender his license to
practice law in the said state in order to evade the recommended three (3) year
suspension. Complainant asserted that the respondent lacks the moral competence necessary to
lead the countrys most noble profession.

Complainant, likewise, contended that the respondent violated the so-called rotation rule
provided for in Administrative Matter No. 491 when he transferred to IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter. He
claimed that the respondent failed to meet the requirements outlined in the IBP By-Laws pertaining to
transfer of Chapter Membership. He surmised that the respondents transfer was intended only for the
purpose of becoming the next IBP National President. Complainant prayed that the respondent be
enjoined from assuming office as IBP National President.

Meanwhile, in his Comment dated 2 May 2005, respondent stated that the issues raised in
above-mentioned Complaint were the very issues raised in an earlier administrative case filed by the
same complainant against him. In fact, according to him, the said issues were already extensively
discussed and categorically ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11 December 2005 in
Administrative Case No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard De Vera). Respondent
prayed that the instant administrative complaint be dismissed following the principle of res judicata.

On 15 June 2005, both parties appeared before the Office of the Bar Confidant for
presentation of evidence in support of their respective allegations.

Subsequently, in a Memorandum dated 20 June 2005, complainant maintained that there is


substantial evidence showing respondents moral baseness, vileness and depravity, which could be
used as a basis for his disbarment. Complainant stressed that the respondent never denied that he
used his clients money. Complainant argued that the respondent failed to present evidence that the
Supreme Court of California accepted the latters resignation and even if such was accepted,
complainant posited that this should not absolve the respondent from liability.

Moreover, complainant added that the principle of res judicata would not apply in the case at
bar. He asserted that the first administrative case filed against the respondent was one for his
disqualification. x x x.

Bar Matter No. 1227


A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC

As earlier adverted to, Bar Matter No. 1227 refers to Atty. de Veras letter-request to this Court to schedule his oath
taking as IBP National President. A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC, on the other hand, is a letter-report dated 19 May 2005 of
IBP National President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (IBP President Cadiz) furnishing this Court with the IBPs Resolution,
dated 13 May 2005, removing Atty. De Vera as member of the IBP Board and as IBP EVP, for committing acts
inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP in general.[2]
The controversy in Bar Matter No. 1227 and A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC arose from the regular meeting of the IBP Board
of Governors held on 14 January 2005. In said meeting, by 2/3 vote (6 voting in favor and 2 against), the IBP Board
approved the withdrawal of the Petition filed before this Court docketed as Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Jose
Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. Senate of the Philippines, et al. Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the
Issuance of Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, SC-R165108. The Petition was intended
to question the legality and/or constitutionality of Republic Act No. 9227, authorizing the increase in the salaries of
judges and justices, and to increase filing fees.[3]
The two IBP Governors who opposed the said Resolution approving the withdrawal of the above-described Petition
were herein respondent Governor and EVP de Vera and Governor Carlos L. Valdez. [4]
On 19 January 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed this Court of the decision taken by the IBP Board to withdraw
the afore-mentioned Petition. Attached to his letter was a copy of the IBP Boards 14 January 2005 Resolution.[5]
On 15 April 2005, Bar Matter No. 1227, pertaining to Atty. de Veras request for oathtaking as National President,
was filed. The same was subsequently consolidated with A.C. No. 6697, the disbarment case filed against Atty. de
Vera.[6]
On 22 April 2005, a plenary session was held at the 10 th National IBP Convention at the CAPCamp John Hay Convention Center, Baguio City. It was at this forum where Atty. de Vera allegedly made some
untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in connection with the IBP Boards Resolution to withdraw the
Petition questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227.[7]
On 10 May 2005, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Atty. de Vera from assuming
office as IBP National President.[8]
On 12 May 2005, IBP Gov. Romulo A. Rivera wrote IBP National President Cadiz a letter wherein he prayed for the
removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the IBP Board for having committed acts which were inimical to the IBP Board
and the IBP.[9]

On 13 May 2005, in the 20 th Regular Meeting of the Board held at the Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, the IBP Board,
by 2/3 vote, resolved to remove Atty. de Vera as member of the IBP Board of Governors and as IBP Executive Vice
President.[10] Quoted hereunder is the dispositive portion of said Resolution:

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED, that Governor


Leonard S. de Vera is REMOVED as a member of the IBP Board of Governors and Executive Vice
President for committing acts inimical to the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP, to wit:

1.
For making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in public
about the Supreme Court and members of the IBP Board of Governors, during the
Plenary Session of the IBP 10 th National Convention of Lawyers, held at CAP-Camp
John Hay Convention Center on 22 April 2005, making it appear that the decision of
the IBP Board of Governors to withdraw the PETITION docketed as Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. The Senate of the Philippines, et al.,

Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition With Prayer for the Issuance of A Temporary
Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, S.C.-R. 165108, was due to
influence and pressure from the Supreme Court of the Philippines;

2.
For making said untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies that
brought the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP as a whole in public contempt and
disrepute;

3.
For violating Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for
Lawyers which mandates that A lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to
the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by others, by
making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies during the Plenary Session
of the IBP 10thNational Convention of Lawyers in Baguio City;

4.
For instigating and provoking some IBP chapters to embarrass and
humiliate the IBP Board of Governors in order to coerce and compel the latter to
pursue the aforesaid PETITION;

5.
For falsely accusing the IBP National President, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz,
during the Plenary Session of the 10th National Convention in Baguio City of
withholding from him a copy of Supreme Court Resolution, dated 25 January 2005,
granting the withdrawal of the PETITION, thereby creating the wrong impression that
the IBP National President deliberately prevented him from taking the appropriate
remedies with respect thereto, thus compromising the reputation and integrity of the
IBP National President and the IBP as a whole.[11]

On 18 May 2005, Atty. de Vera aired his sentiments to this Court by writing the then Hon. Chief Justice
Hilario G. Davide, Jr. a letter captioned as Urgent Plea to Correct a Glaring Injustice of the IBP Board of Governors;
Vehement Protest to the Board Resolution Abruptly Removing Atty. Leonard de Vera from the Board of Governors in
Patent Violation of Due Process; Petition to Deny/Disapprove the Completely Unjustified and Highly Arbitrary
Resolution Precipitately Ousting Atty. de Vera from the Board of Governors in Less Than Twenty Four (24) Hours
from Notice and Judgment Without Formal Investigation.[12]
In the said letter, Atty. de Vera strongly and categorically denied having committed acts inimical to the IBP and its
Board. He alleged that on the basis of an unverified letter-complaint filed by IBP Governor Rivera, the IBP Board
voted to expel him posthaste, without just cause and in complete disregard of even the minimum standards of due
process. Pertinent portions of his letter read:

It is evident that the Board of Governors has committed a grave and serious injustice against
me especially when, as the incumbent Executive Vice President of the IBP, I am scheduled to
assume my position as National President of the IBP on July 1, 2005. x x x

I was denied the very basic rights of due process recognized by the Supreme Court even in
administrative cases:

1.
2.
3.
4.

5.
6.
7.

The denial of the right to answer the charges formally or in writing. The
complaint against me was in writing.
The denial of the right to answer the charges within a reasonable period of
time after receipt of the complaint.
The denial of the right to a fair hearing.
The denial of the right to confront the accuser and the witnesses against
me. I challenged Gov. Rivera to testify under oath so I could question him. He
refused. I offered to testify under oath so I could be questioned. My request
was denied.
The denial of my right to present witnesses on my behalf.
The denial of my right to an impartial judge. Governor Rivera was my
accuser, prosecutor, and judge all at the same time.
Gov. Riveras prejudgment of my case becomes even more evident because
when his motion to expel me was lost in a 5-3 votes (due to his inhibition to
vote), Gov. Rivera asked for another round of voting so he can vote to
support his own complaint and motion to expel me. [13] (Emphasis and
underscoring in original.)

On 27 May 2005, the IBP Board responded to the 18 May 2005 letter of Atty. de Vera.[14] In their
Reply, the IBP Board explained to this Court that their decision to remove Atty. de Vera was based
on valid grounds and was intended to protect itself from a recalcitrant member. Among the grounds
cited and elucidated by the IBP Board were the following:

(i)

Atty. de Vera engaged himself in a negative media campaign and solicited resolutions
from IBP Chapters to condemn the IBP Board of Governors for its decision to withdraw
the PETITION, all with the end in view of compelling or coercing the IBP Board of Governors
to reconsider the decision to withdraw the PETITION.

(ii)

Atty. de Vera embarrassed, humiliated and maligned the IBP Board of Governors and
the IBP National President in public or during the Plenary Session at the 10 th National
Convention of Lawyers.

(iii)

Rather than pacify the already agitated solicited speakers (at the plenary session), Atty.
de Vera fanned the fire, so to speak, and went to the extent of making untruthful statements,
innuendos and blatant lies about the Supreme Court and some members of the IBP Board of
Governors. He deliberately and intentionally did so to provoke the members of the IBP Board
of Governors to engage him in an acrimonious public debate and expose the IBP Board of
Governors to public ridicule.

(iv)

Atty. de Vera uttered untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies, e.g., that some of
the members of the IBP Board of Governors voted in favor of the withdrawal of the petition
(without mentioning names) because nakakahiya kasi sa Supreme Court, nakakaawa kasi
ang Supreme Court, kasi may mga kaibigan tayo sa Court. He made it appear that the IBP
Board of Governors approved the resolution, withdrawing the petition, due to influence or
pressure from the Supreme Court.[15]

The IBP Board explained that Atty. de Veras actuation during the Plenary Session was the last straw that
broke the camels back. He committed acts inimical to the interest of the IBP Board and the IBP; hence, the IBP
Board decided to remove him.
On 3 June 2005, Atty. de Vera furnished the Court with copies of resolutions and a position paper coming
from various IBP Chapters all condemning his expulsion from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP.[16]
On 15 June 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed Chief Justice Davide that in a special meeting of the IBP
Board held at the EDSA Shangri-la Plaza on 13 June 2005, the IBP Board took note of the vacancy in the position
of the IBP EVP brought about by Atty. de Veras removal. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura Angelica Y. Santiago was
formally elected and declared as IBP EVP.[17]

On 17 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested against the election of Atty. Santiago. [18] On 20 June 2005, Atty.
Santiago voluntarily relinquished the EVP position through a letter addressed to the IBP Board. [19] Thus, on 25 June
2005, during its last regular meeting, the IBP Board elected a new EVP in the person of IBP Governor Jose Vicente
B. Salazar to replace Atty. Santiago.

On 28 June 2005, IBP National President Cadiz, through a letter addressed to Chief Justice Davide,
reported to this Court Atty. Salazars election. [20] IBP National President Cadiz also requested, among other things,
that Atty. Salazars election be approved and that he be allowed to assume as National President in the event that
Atty. de Vera is disbarred or suspended from the practice of law or should his removal from the 2003-2005 Board of
Governors and as EVP is approved by this Court. [21] Also on 28 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested the election of
Atty. Salazar.[22]

In his Extended Comment[23] dated 25 July 2005, Atty. de Vera maintained that there was absolutely no
factual or legal basis to sustain the motion to remove him from the IBP Board because he violated no law. He
argued that if the basis for his removal as EVP was based on the same grounds as his removal from the IBP Board,
then his removal as EVP was likewise executed without due notice and without the least compliance with the
minimum standards of due process of law.

Atty. de Vera strongly averred that, contrary to the utterly false and malicious charges filed against him, the
speakers at the Plenary Session of the Baguio Convention, although undeniably impassioned and articulate, were
respectful in their language and exhortations, not once undermining the stature of the IBP in general and the IBP
Board of Governors in particular. He posited that speaking in disagreement with the Resolution of the Board during
the Conventions Plenary Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of the IBP Board of
Governors; and the decision to remove him only shows that the right to freedom of speech or the right to dissent is
not recognized by the incumbent IBP Board.

Anent the charges that he accused the National President of withholding a copy of this Courts Resolution
granting the withdrawal of the Petition questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227, Atty. de Vera avowed that

he made no such remarks. As regards the election of a new IBP EVP, Atty. de Vera contended that the said election
was illegal as it was contrary to the provisions of the IBP By-Laws concerning national officers, to wit:

Section. 49. Term of office. - The President and the Executive Vice President shall hold
office for a term of two years from July 1 following their election until 30 June of their second year in
office and until their successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.

In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his functions and duties shall be
performed by the Executive Vice President, and in the event of death, resignation, or removal of the
President, the Executive Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the unexpired portion of
the term. In the event of death, resignation, removal or disability of both the President and the
Executive Vice President, the Board of Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold office for
the unexpired portion of the term or during the period of disability.

Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other officers and employees appointed by
the President with the consent of the Board shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board or for such
term as the Board may fix.[24]

To bolster his position, Atty. de Vera stressed that when both the President and the EVP die, resign, are
removed, or are disabled, the IBP By-Laws only provides for the election of an Acting President and that no mention
for an election for EVP was made. Thus, when such election for EVP occurs, such is contrary to the express
provision of the IBP By-Laws.

Atty. de Vera also argued that even if he were validly removed as IBP EVP, his replacement should come
from Eastern Mindanao and not from any other region, due to the Rotation Rule embodied in par. 2, Section 47,
Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

In response to Atty. de Veras averments, the 2003-2005 IBP Board, through its counsel, submitted a Reply
dated 27 January 2006 and clarified as follows:

(i)

The IBP Board of Governors is vested with sufficient power and authority to protect itself
from an intractable member by virtue of Article VI, Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws;

(ii)

Atty. de Vera was removed as a member of the IBP Board and as IBP EVP not because
of his disagreement with the IBP Boards position but because of the various acts that he

committed which the IBP Board determined to be inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP as a
whole;

(iii)

Atty. de Vera cannot exculpate himself from liability by invoking his constitutional right to
Free Speech because, as a member of the Bar, it is his sworn duty to observe and maintain
the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and to insist on similar conduct by others;

(iv)

The IBP Board, in effecting the removal of Atty. de Vera, observed the fundamental
principles of due process. As the records would bear, Atty. de Vera was duly notified of the
Regular Meeting of the IBP Board held on 13 May 2004; was furnished a copy of Governor
Riveras Letter-Complaint the day before the said meeting; was furnished a copy of the said
Meetings Agenda; and was allowed to personally defend himself and his accuser, Gov.
Rivera;

(v)

Atty. de Vera was validly removed because the required number of votes under Section
44 of the IBP By-Laws to remove Atty. de Vera as a member of the IBP Board and as IBP
EVP was duly complied with;

(vi)

Atty. de Veras replacement as IBP EVP need not come from Eastern Mindanao Region
because: (a) the rotation rule under Article VII, Section 47, par. 2 of the IBP By-Laws had
already been complied with when Atty. de Vera, who hails from Eastern Mindanao, was
elected IBP EVP; and (b) the rotation rule need not be enforced if the same will not be
practicable, possible, feasible, doable or viable; and, finally, that

(vii)

Atty. Salazar was validly elected as IBP EVP and, thus, should now be allowed to take his
oath as IBP National President.[25]

The Courts Ruling

AC No. 6697

In his Memorandum[26] dated 20 June 2005, complainant tendered the following issues for the consideration
of the Court:

I.

WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic) COMMITED


MALPRACTICE WHICH AMOUNTED TO MORAL T[U]RPITUDE IN THE STATE BAR OF
CALIFORNIA AND IN THE PHILIPPINES, IN THE COURSE OF HIS PRACTICE OF LAW.

II.

WHETHER OR NOT THE OATH OF OFFICE AS LAWYER IS ATTACHED TO THE PERSON OF


ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic) WHEREVER HE MAY GO AND NOT NECESSARILY
BOUND BY THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE PHILIPPINES.

III.

WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE MORAL


T[U]RPITUDE, AS BASIS FOR DISBARMENT OF RESPONDENT IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE
PROCEEDING.

IV.

WHETHER OR NOT RES JUDICATA APPLIES IN THIS CASE, DUE TO ADMIN. CASE NO. [6052]
[27]

The disposition of the first three related issues hinges on the resolution of the fourth issue. Consequently,
we will start with the last issue.

A.C. No. 6052 is not a bar to the filing of the present administrative
case.

In disposing of the question of res judicata, the Bar Confidant opined:

To reiterate, the instant case for suspension and/or disbarment against respondent Leonard
De Vera is grounded on the following:

1)

respondents alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension order


rendered against him by the State Bar in California; and

2)

respondents alleged violation of the so-called rotation rule enunciated in


Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (In the Matter: 1989 IBP
Elections).

It appears that the complainant already raised the said issues in an earlier administrative
case against the respondent. Verily, these issues were already argued upon by the parties in their
respective pleadings, and discussed and ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11 December
2003 in Administrative Matter No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard de Vera).

As such, with respect to the first issue, this Court held that:

As for the administrative complaint filed against him by one of his clients when he
was practicing law in California, which in turn compelled him to surrender his
California license to practice law, he maintains that it cannot serve as basis for
determining his moral qualification (or lack of it) to run for the position he is aspiring
for. He explains that there is as yet no final judgment finding him guilty of the
administrative charge, as the records relied upon by the petitioners are mere
preliminary findings of a hearing referee which are recommendatory findings of an
IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline which are subject to the review of and the final
decision of the Supreme Court. He also stresses that the complainant in
the California administrative case has retracted the accusation that he
misappropriated the complainants money, but unfortunately the retraction was not
considered by the investigating officer. xxx

On the administrative complaint that was filed against respondent De Vera while he
was still practicing law in California, he explained that no final judgment was rendered
by the California Supreme Court finding him guilty of the charge. He surrendered his
license to protest the discrimination he suffered at the hands of the investigator and
he found it impractical to pursue the case to the end. We find these explanations
satisfactory in the absence of contrary proof. It is a basic rule on evidence that he
who alleges a fact has the burden to prove the same. In this case, the petitioners
have not shown how the administrative complaint affects respondent De Vera's moral
fitness to run for governor.

On the other hand, as regards the second issue:

Petitioners contend that respondent de Vera is disqualified for the post


because he is not really from Eastern Mindanao. His place of residence is in
Paraaque and he was originally a member of the PPLM IBP Chapter. He only
changed his IBP Chapter membership to pave the way for his ultimate goal of
attaining the highest IBP post, which is the national presidency. Petitioners aver that
in changing his IBP membership, respondent De Vera violated the domicile rule.

The contention has no merit. Under the last paragraph of Section 19, Article II, a
lawyer included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court can register with the
particular IBP Chapter of his preference or choice, thus:

xxx

It is clearly stated in the aforequoted section of the By-Laws that it is not automatic
that a lawyer will become a member of the chapter where his place of residence or
work is located. He has the discretion to choose the particular chapter where he
wishes to gain membership. Only when he does not register his preference that he
will become a member of the Chapter of the place where he resides or maintains
office. The only proscription in registering one's preference is that a lawyer cannot be
a member of more than one chapter at the same time.

The same is provided in Section 29-2 of the IBP By-Laws. In fact, under this Section,
transfer of IBP membership is allowed as long as the lawyer complies with the
conditions set forth therein, thus:

xxx

The only condition required under the foregoing rule is that the transfer must be made
not less than three months prior to the election of officers in the chapter to which the
lawyer wishes to transfer.

In the case at bar, respondent De Vera requested the transfer of his IBP membership
to Agusan del Sur on 1 August 2001. One month thereafter, IBP National Secretary
Jaime M. Vibar wrote a letter addressed to Atty. Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr., Secretary of
IBP PPLM Chapter and Atty. Lyndon J. Romero, Secretary of IBP Agusan del Sur
Chapter, informing them of respondent de Vera's transfer and advising them to make
the necessary notation in their respective records. This letter is a substantial
compliance with the certification mentioned in Section 29-2 as aforequoted. Note that
de Vera's transfer was made effective sometime between 1 August 2001 and 3
September 2001. On 27 February 2003, the elections of the IBP Chapter Officers
were simultaneously held all over the Philippines, as mandated by Section 29.a of the
IBP By-Laws which provides that elections of Chapter Officers and Directors shall be
held on the last Saturday of February of every other year. Between 3 September
2001 and 27 February 2003, seventeen months had elapsed. This makes respondent
de Vera's transfer valid as it was done more than three months ahead of the chapter
elections held on 27 February 2003.

In the case of Romulo G. Dinsay vs. Atty. Leopoldo D. Cioco (Administrative Case No. 2995,
27 November 1996), this Court declared that:

The doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial proceedings and not
to the exercise of the [Courts] administrative powers.

In the said case, respondent Clerk of Court Cioco was dismissed from service for grave misconduct
highly prejudicial to the service for surreptitiously substituting the bid price in a Certificate of Sale
from P3,263,182.67 to only P730,000.00. Thereafter a complaint for disbarment was filed against the
respondent on the basis of the same incident. Respondent, interposing res judicata, argued that he
may no longer be charged on the basis of the same incident. This Court held that while the
respondent is in effect being indicted twice for the same misconduct, this does not amount to double
jeopardy as both proceedings are admittedly administrative in nature. This Court qualified that, in the
first case, the respondent was proceeded against as an erring court personnel under the Courts
supervisory power over courts while, in the second case, he was disciplined as a lawyer under the
Courts plenary authority over membersof the legal profession.

In subsequent decisions of this Court, however, it appears that res judicata still applies in
administrative cases. Thus, in the case of Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera vs. Judge William Layague
(Administrastive Matter No. RTJ-93-986), this Court ruled that:

While double jeopardy does not lie in administrative cases, it would be contrary to
equity and substantial justice to penalize respondent judge a second time for an act
which he had already answered for.

Likewise, in the recent case of Executive Judge Henry B. Basilia vs. Judge Amado L.
Becamon, Lolita Delos Reyes and Eddie Delos Reyes (Administrative Matter No. MTJ-02-1404, 14
December 2004), this Court held that:

Applying the principle of res judicata or bar by prior judgment, the present
administrative case becomes dismissible.

xxx

Under the said doctrine, a matter that has been adjudicated by a court of competent
jurisdiction must be deemed to have been finally and conclusively settled if it arises in
any subsequent litigation between the same parties and for the same cause. It
provides that
[a] final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent jurisdiction is
conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies; and constitutes an absolute
bar to subsequent actions involving the same claim, demand, or cause of action. Res
judicata is based on the ground that the party to be affected, or some other with
whom he is in privity, has litigated the same matter in the former action in a court of
competent jurisdiction, and should not be permitted to litigate it again.

This principle frees the parties from undergoing all over again the rigors of
unnecessary suits and repetitious trials. At the same time, it prevents the clogging of
court dockets.Equally important, res judicata stabilizes rights and promotes the rule of
law.

In the instant administrative case, it is clear that the issues raised by the complainant had
already been resolved by this Court in an earlier administrative case. The complainants contention
that the principle of res judicata would not apply in the case at bar as the first administrative case was

one for disqualification while the instant administrative complaint is one for suspension and/or
disbarment should be given least credence. It is worthy to note that while the instant administrative
complaint is denominated as one for suspension and/or disbarment, it prayed neither the suspension
nor the disbarment of the respondent but instead merely sought to enjoin the respondent from
assuming office as IBP National President.[28]

Contrary to the findings of the Bar Confidant, Adm. Case No. 6052 entitled, In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty.
Leonard de Vera, on Legal and Moral Grounds, From Being Elected IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao in the May
31 IBP Election and promulgated on 11 December 2003 does not constitute a bar to the filing of Adm. Case No.
6697.Although the parties in the present administrative case and in Adm. Case No. 6052 are identical, their
capacities in these cases and the issues presented therein are not the same, thereby barring the application of res
judicata.

In order that the principle of res judicata may be made to apply, four essential conditions must concur,
namely: (1) the judgment sought to bar the new action must be final; (2) the decision must have been rendered by a
court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) the disposition of the case must be a judgment
or order on the merits, and (4) there must be between the first and second action identity of parties, identity of
subject matter, and identity of causes of action.[29] In the absence of any one of these elements, Atty. de Vera cannot
argue res judicata in his favor.

It is noteworthy that the two administrative cases involve different subject matters and causes of action. In Adm.
Case No. 6052, the subject matter was the qualification of Atty. de Vera to run as a candidate for the position of IBP
Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present administrative complaint, the subject matter is his privilege to
practice law. In the first administrative case, complainants cause of action was Atty. de Veras alleged violation or
circumvention of the IBP By-laws. In the present administrative case, the primary cause of action is Atty. de Veras
alleged violation of lawyers oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Finally, the two administrative cases do not seek the same relief. In the first case, the complainants sought to
prevent Atty. de Vera from assuming his post as IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present case, as
clarified by complainant in his Memorandum, what is being principally sought is Atty. de Veras suspension or
disbarment.

The distinctions between the two cases are far from trivial. The previous case was resolved on the basis of the
parties rights and obligations under the IBP By-laws. We held therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified from
running as Regional Governor as there is nothing in the present IBP By-laws that sanctions the disqualification of
candidates for IBP governors. Consequently, we stressed that the petition had no firm ground to stand on. Likewise,
we held that the complainants therein were not the proper parties to bring the suit as the IBP By-laws prescribes that
only nominees - which the complainants were not - can file with the IBP President a written protest against the
candidate. The Courts statement, therefore, that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground that he was not
morally fit was mere obiter dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not allow for pre-election disqualification
proceedings; hence, Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the basis of the administrative findings of a hearing
officer of the State Bar of California suspending him from the practice of law for three years. We held in that case
that

There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly provides that one must be morally fit before
he can run for IBP governorship. For one, this is so because the determination of moral fitness of a
candidate lies in the individual judgment of the members of the House of Delegates. Indeed, based
on each member's standard of morality, he is free to nominate and elect any member, so long as the
latter possesses the basic requirements under the law. For another, basically the disqualification of a
candidate involving lack of moral fitness should emanate from his disbarment or suspension from the
practice of law by this Court, or conviction by final judgment of an offense which involves moral
turpitude.[30]

What this simply means is that absent a final judgment by the Supreme Court in a proper case declaring
otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold the position of IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any person
who begs to disagree will not be able to find a receptive audience in the IBP through a petition for disqualification
but must first file the necessary disbarment or suspension proceeding against the lawyer concerned.

And this is precisely what complainant has chosen to do in the instant case. As his petition is sufficient in form and
substance, we have given it due course pursuant to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. And, considering that this case
is not barred by the prior judgment in Adm. Case No. 6052, the only issue left for consideration is whether or not
Atty. de Vera can be suspended or disbarred under the facts of the case and the evidence submitted by
complainant.
The recommendation of the hearing officer of the State Bar of California, standing alone, is not proof of
malpractice.
In the case of the Suspension From The Practice of Law In The Territory of Guam of Atty. Leon G. Maquera, [31] we
were confronted with the question of whether or not a member of the Philippine Bar, who is concomitantly an
attorney in a foreign jurisdiction and who was suspended from the practice of law in said foreign jurisdiction, can be
sanctioned as member of the Philippine Bar for the same infraction committed in the foreign jurisdiction.

We take the issue in Atty. Maquera one notch higher in the case of Atty. de Vera who was admitted to the
practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction (State Bar of California, U.S.A.) and against whom charges were filed in
connection with his practice in said jurisdiction. However, unlike the case of Atty. Maquera, no final judgment for
suspension or disbarment was meted against Atty. de Vera despite a recommendation of suspension of three years
as he surrendered his license to practice law before his case could be taken up by the Supreme Court of California.

In Maquera, we emphasized that the judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer in a foreign
jurisdiction does not automatically result in his suspension or disbarment in the Philippines as the acts giving rise to
his suspension are not grounds for disbarment and suspension in this jurisdiction. Judgment of suspension against
a Filipino lawyer may transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in the Philippines only if the basis of the
foreign courts action includes any of the grounds for disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. We likewise held
that the judgment of the foreign court merely constitutes prima facie evidence of unethical acts as lawyer.

The Maquera ruling is consistent with Rule 39, Section 48, of the Rules of Court which provides:
Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. - The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a
foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:

xxxx
(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment or final order is presumptive
evidence of a right as between the parties and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want
of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of law or fact.
In Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises, Inc.,[32] we explained that [a] foreign judgment is
presumed to be valid and binding in the country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, on the basis of a
presumption of regularity of proceedings and the giving of due notice in the foreign forum.
In herein case, considering that there is technically no foreign judgment to speak of, the recommendation by
the hearing officer of the State Bar of California does not constitute prima facie evidence of unethical behavior by
Atty. de Vera. Complainant must prove by substantial evidence the facts upon which the recommendation by the
hearing officer was based. If he is successful in this, he must then prove that these acts are likewise unethical under
Philippine law.

There is substantial evidence of malpractice on the part of Atty. de Vera independent of the
recommendation of suspension by the hearing officer of the State Bar of California

Section 27 of Rule 138 of our Rules of Court states:

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 of any lawful order of a
superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without
authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or


other disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a
ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts
hereinabove enumerated.

The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima
facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension. [33]

Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to protect the court and the public from the misconduct of
officers of the court and to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important
function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence. [34] The
statutory enunciation of the grounds for disbarment on suspension is not to be taken as a limitation on the general
power of courts to suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent power of the court over its officers cannot be restricted.
[35]

Malpractice ordinarily refers to any malfeasance or dereliction of duty committed by a lawyer. Section 27
gives a special and technical meaning to the term Malpractice. [36] That meaning is in consonance with the
elementary notion that the practice of law is a profession, not a business. [37]
Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on ethical code of his profession or
which is unbecoming a member of that profession.[38]

Now, the undisputed facts:


1.

2.
3.

An administrative case against Atty. de Vera was filed before the State Bar of California, docketed then as
Adm. Case No. 86-0-18429. It arose from an insurance case Atty. de Vera handled involving Julius Willis,
III who figured in an automobile accident in 1986. Atty. de Vera was authorized by the elder Willis (father of
Julius who was given authority by the son to control the case because the latter was then studying in San
Diego California) for the release of the funds in settlement of the case. Atty. de Vera received a check in
settlement of the case which he then deposited to his personal account; [39]
The Hearing referee in the said administrative case recommended that Atty. de Vera be suspended from
the practice of law for three years;[40] and
Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar which resignation was accepted by the Supreme Court of
California.[41]

Atty. de Vera vehemently insists that the foregoing facts do not prove that he misappropriated his clients
funds as the latters father (the elder Willis) gave him authority to use the same and that, unfortunately, the hearing
officer did not consider this explanation notwithstanding the fact that the elder Willis testified under oath that he
expected de Vera might use the money for a few days.
By insisting that he was authorized by his clients father and attorney-in-fact to use the funds, Atty. de Vera
has impliedly admitted the use of the Willis funds for his own personal use.
In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainants allegation in the latters memorandum that he (de Vera)
received US$12,000.00 intended for his client and that he deposited said amount in his personal account and not in
a separate trust account and that, finally, he spent the amount for personal purposes. [42]
At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed before administrative and quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may
be deemed established if it is supported by substantial evidence or that amount of relevant evidence which a
reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion. [43] It means such evidence which affords a
substantial basis from which the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred. [44]
Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his clients funds is highly unethical. Canon 16 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about this, thus:
CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS
CLIENT THAT MAY COME TO HIS POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or from the
client.
Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own and those
of others kept by him.

In Espiritu v. Ulep[45] we held that


The relation between attorney and client is highly fiduciary in nature. Being such, it requires
utmost good faith, loyalty, fidelity and disinterestedness on the part of the attorney. Its fiduciary nature
is intended for the protection of the client.
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates every lawyer to hold in trust all money and
properties of his client that may come into his possession. Accordingly, he shall account for all money
or property collected or received for or from the client. Even more specific is the Canon of
Professional Ethics:
The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal benefit or
gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.
Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property coming
into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted for promptly and
should not under any circumstances be commingled with his own or be used by him.

Consequently, a lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds or property held by him on
behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the same for his own use to
the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. It is a gross violation of
general morality as well as of professional ethics; it impairs the public confidence in the legal
profession and deserves punishment.
Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to them are in gross violation of professional
ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession. Those who are guilty of
such infraction may be disbarred or suspended indefinitely from the practice of law. (Emphases
supplied.)

In herein case, as it is admitted by Atty. de Vera himself that he used his clients money for personal use, he
has unwittingly sealed his own fate since this admission constitutes more than substantial evidence of
malpractice. Consequently, Atty. de Vera now has the burden of rebutting the evidence which he himself supplied.

In his defense, Atty. de Vera claims that he was duly authorized by the elder Willis to use the funds intended
for the latters son. Atty. de Vera also points out that he had restituted the full amount of US$12,000.00 even
before the filing of the administrative case against him in the State Bar of California. [46]
Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we cannot find anywhere in the records of this case proof that
indeed Atty. de Vera was duly authorized to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty. Alovera[47] we declared
that
When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges
against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof
that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of him.
Atty. de Vera cannot rely on the statement made by the hearing officer that the elder Willis had indeed
testified that he expected de Vera might use the money for a few days. As Atty. de Vera had vigorously
objected to the admissibility of the document containing this statement, he is now estopped from relying
thereon. Besides, that the elder Willis expected de Vera might use the money for a few days was not so
much an acknowledgment of consent to the use by Atty. de Vera of his clients funds as it was an acceptance
of the probability that Atty. de Vera might, indeed, use his clients funds, which by itself did not speak well of
the character of Atty. de Vera or the way such character was perceived.

In the instant case, the act of Atty. de Vera in holding on to his clients money without the latters acquiescence is
conduct indicative of lack of integrity and propriety. It is clear that Atty. de Vera, by depositing the check in his own
account and using the same for his own benefit is guilty of deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct and unethical
behavior. He caused dishonor, not only to himself but to the noble profession to which he belongs. For, it cannot be
denied that the respect of litigants to the profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the profession
betrays their trust and confidence. [48] Respondent violated his oath to conduct himself with all good fidelity to his
client.
Nevertheless, we do not agree with complainants plea to disbar respondent from the practice of law. The power to
disbar must be exercised with great caution. [49] Where any lesser penalty can accomplish the end desired,
disbarment should not be decreed.
In Mortera v. Pagatpatan,[50] we imposed upon Atty. Pagatpatan two years suspension from his practice of law for
depositing the funds meant for his client to his personal account without the latters knowledge. In Reyes v. Maglaya;
[51]
Castillo v. Taguines;[52] Espiritu v. Atty. Cabredo IV,[53] the respondents were meted one year suspension each for
failing to remit to their clients monies in the amounts of P1,500.00; P500.00, and P51,161.00, respectively, received
by them for their clients without the latters permission. In Dumadag v. Atty. Lumaya,[54] we indefinitely suspended
respondent for failure to remit to his client the amount of the measly sum of P4,344.00 representing the amount
received pursuant to a writ of execution. Considering the amount involved here US$12,000.00, we believe that the
penalty of suspension for two (2) years is appropriate.

Transferring IBP membership to a chapter where the lawyer is not a


resident of is not a ground for his suspension or disbarment

Complainant insists that Atty. de Veras transfer of membership from the Pasay, Paraaque, Las Pias and
Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter to the Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter is a circumvention of the rotation rule as it was made
for the sole purpose of becoming IBP National President. Complainant stresses that Atty. de Vera is not a resident of
Agusan del Sur nor does he hold office therein.

In Adm. Case No. 6052, we held that Atty. de Veras act of transferring to another IBP Chapter is not a ground
for his disqualification for the post of IBP Governor as the same is allowed under Section 19 of the IBP By-Laws with
the qualification only that the transfer be made not less than three months immediately preceding any chapter
election.

As it was perfectly within Atty. de Veras right to transfer his membership, it cannot be said that he is guilty of
unethical conduct or behavior. And while one may incessantly argue that a legal act may not necessarily be ethical,
in herein case, we do not see anything wrong in transferring to an IBP chapter that -- based on the rotation rule will
produce the next IBP EVP who will automatically succeed to the National Presidency for the next term. Our Code of
Professional Responsibility as well as the Lawyers Oath do not prohibit nor punish lawyers from aspiring to be IBP
National President and from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing such goal.

Bar Matter No. 1227


Administrative Matter No. 05-5-15-SC

To resolve Bar Matter No. 1227 and Administrative Matter No. 05-5- 15-SC, the following issues must be addressed:

I.

Whether the IBP Board of Governors acted with grave abuse of discretion in removing Atty. de Vera as
Governor and EVP of the IBP on 13 May 2005.
i.
ii.

II.

Whether the IBP Board of Governors complied with administrative due process in removing Atty.
de Vera.
Whether the IBP removed Atty. De Vera for just and valid cause.

Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP of the IBP on 25 June 2005, and can
consequently assume the Presidency of the IBP for the term 2005-2007.

The IBP Board observed due process in its removal of Atty. de Vera as
IBP Governor

We start the discussion with the veritable fact that the IBP Board is vested with the power to remove any of
its members pursuant to Section 44, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, which states:

Sec. 44. Removal of members. If the Board of Governors should determine after proper inquiry that
any of its members, elective or otherwise, has for any reason become unable to perform his duties,
the Board, by resolution of the Majority of the remaining members, may declare his position vacant,
subject to the approval of the Supreme Court.

Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for cause, including
three consecutive absences from Board meetings without justifiable excuse, by resolution
adopted by two-thirds of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court.

In case of any vacancy in the office of Governor for whatever cause, the delegates from the
region shall by majority vote, elect a successor from among the members of the Chapter to which
the resigned governor is a member to serve as governor for the unexpired portion of the term.
(Emphasis supplied)

Under the aforementioned section, a member of the IBP Board may be removed for cause by resolution adopted by
two-thirds (2/3) of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of this Court.
In the main, Atty. de Vera questions his removal from the Board of Governors on procedural and substantive
grounds. He argues that he was denied very basic rights of due process recognized by the Honorable Court even in
administrative cases like the right to answer formally or in writing and within reasonable time, the right to present
witnesses in his behalf, the right to a fair hearing. Atty. de Vera protests the fact that he was not able to crossexamine the complainant, IBP Gov. Romulo H. Rivera (Atty. Rivera) and that Atty. Rivera voted as well for his
expulsion which made him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera emphasized the fact that
Atty. Rivera initially inhibited himself from voting on his own motion. However, when his inhibition resulted in the
defeat of his motion as the necessary 2/3 votes could not be mustered, Atty. Rivera asked for another round of
voting so he could vote to support his own motion.
The IBP Board counters that since its members were present during the plenary session, and personally
witnessed and heard Atty. de Veras actuations, an evidentiary or formal hearing was no longer necessary. Since
they all witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera, it was enough that he was given an opportunity to refute and answer all
the charges imputed against him. They emphasized that Atty. de Vera was given a copy of the complaint and that he

was present at the Board Meeting on 13 May 2005 wherein the letter-complaint against him was part of the
agenda. Therein, he was given the opportunity to be heard and that, in fact, Atty. de Vera did argue his case.
We are in agreement with the IBP Board.
First, it needs stressing that the constitutional provision on due process safeguards life, liberty and property. [55] It
cannot be said that the position of EVP of the IBP is property within the constitutional sense especially since there is
no right to security of tenure over said position as, in fact, all that is required to remove any member of the board of
governors for cause is a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members of the board.
Secondly, even if the right of due process could be rightfully invoked, still, in administrative proceedings, the
essence of due process is simply the opportunity to explain ones side. [56] At the outset, it is here emphasized that the
term due process of law as used in the Constitution has no fixed meaning for all purposes due to the very nature of
the doctrine which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice rather than a specific rule of law, is not susceptible of
more than one general statement. [57] The phrase is so elusive of exact apprehension, [58] because it depends on
circumstances and varies with the subject matter and the necessities of the situation. [59]
Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with judicial process for a trial in court is not always
essential to due process. While a day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in
administrative proceedings since they rest upon different principles. The due process clause guarantees no particular
form of procedure and its requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of administrative character,
the right to a notice or hearing are not essential to due process of law. The constitutional requirement of due process
is met by a fair hearing before a regularly established administrative agency or tribunal. It is not essential that
hearings be had before the making of a determination if thereafter, there is available trial and tribunal before which all
objections and defenses to the making of such determination may be raised and considered. One adequate hearing
is all that due process requires. What is required for hearing may differ as the functions of the administrative bodies
differ.[60]
The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due process. [61] Nor is an actual hearing always
essential[62] especially under the factual milieu of this case where the members of the IBP Board -- upon whose
shoulders the determination of the cause for removal of an IBP governor is placed subject to the approval of the
Supreme Court all witnessed Atty. de Veras actuations in the IBP National Convention in question.
It is undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of the complaint against him and that he was present when the
matter was taken up. From the transcript of the stenographic notes of the 13 May 2005 meeting wherein Atty. de
Vera was removed, it is patent that Atty. de Vera was given fair opportunity to defend himself against the accusations
made by Atty. Rivera.

Atty. de Vera, however, additionally questions the fact that Atty. Rivera, who authored the complaint against him, also
voted for his expulsion making him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera likewise laments
the fact that Atty. Rivera initially inhibited himself from voting but when this resulted in the defeat of his motion for lack
of the necessary 2/3 vote, he agreed to another round of voting and that, this time, he voted in favor of his motion.
For the record, of the nine governors comprising the IBP Board, six voted for Atty. de Veras expulsion (including Atty.
Rivera) while 3 voted against it (including Atty. de Vera).
Section 44 (second paragraph) of the IBP By-Laws provides:

Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for cause, including three
consecutive absences from Board meetings without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted by twothirds of the remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the Supreme
Court. (Emphasis supplied.)

Under the rules, a resolution for expulsion of an IBP Governor is done via a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the
remaining members. The phrase remaining members refers to the members exclusive of the complainant member

and the respondent member. The reason therefore is that such members are interested parties and are thus
presumed to be unable to resolve said motion impartially. This being the case, the votes of Attys. Rivera and de Vera
should be stricken-off which means that only the votes of the seven remaining members are to be counted. Of the
seven remaining members, five voted for expulsion while two voted against it which still adds up to the 2/3 vote
requirement for expulsion.

The IBP Board removed Atty. de Vera as IBP Governor for just and valid cause
All the concerned parties to this case agree that what constitutes cause for the removal of an IBP Governor has not
been defined by Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws albeit it includes three consecutive absences from Board meetings
without justifiable excuse. Thus, the IBP Board argues that it is vested with sufficient power and authority to protect
itself from an intractable member whose removal was caused not by his disagreement with the IBP Board but due to
various acts committed by him which the IBP Board considered as inimical to the IBP Board in particular and the
IBP in general.
Atty. de Vera, on the other hand, insists that speaking in disagreement with the Resolution of the Board
during the Conventions Plenary Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of the IBP
Board of Governors and the decision to remove him only shows that the right to freedom of speech or the right to
dissent is not recognized by the IBP Board.

After weighing the arguments of the parties and in keeping with the fundamental objective of the IBP to
discharge its public responsibility more effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP Board
was not capricious or arbitrary.

Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in the
internal life of an organization, but especially of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they agree.
However, the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is diluted if the conflicts are brought outside its
governing body for then there would be the impression that the IBP, which speaks through the Board of Governors,
does not and cannot speak for its members in an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly diminish the IBPs
prestige and repute with the lawyers as well as with the general public.

As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be adjusted within the governing board itself so as
to free it from the stresses that invariably arise when internal cleavages are made public.
The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism for adjusting and resolving conflicts and
disagreements within the group after the members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While it does not
efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious matter is reached by a majority vote, the dissenting
minority is bound thereby so that the board can speak with one voice, for those elected to the governing board are
deemed to implicitly contract that the will of the majority shall govern in matters within the authority of the board. [63]
The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in removing Atty. de Vera as the latters actuations during the
10th National IBP Convention were detrimental to the role of the IBP Board as the governing body of the IBP. When
the IBP Board is not seen by the bar and the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively perform its duty of
helping the Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the standards of legal practice as well as improve
the administration of justice.
In view of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion of a member of the board who
insists on bringing to the public his disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by the majority after due
discussion, cannot be faulted. The effectiveness of the board as a governing body will be negated if its
pronouncements are resisted in public by a board member.

Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot accept the voice of the majority, he should resign therefrom so
that he could criticize in public the majority opinion/decision to his hearts content; otherwise, he subjects himself to
disciplinary action by the body.
The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal as EVP as
well
The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal as EVP as well.
Section 47, Article VII of the By-Laws of the IBP provides:

SEC. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall have a President and
Executive Vice President to be chosen by the Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional
governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x
Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of IBP Board of Governors. Atty. de Veras removal
from the Board of Governors, automatically disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To insist otherwise would be
contrary to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

The Court will not interfere with the Resolution of the IBP Board to remove Atty. de Vera since it was
rendered without grave abuse of discretion
While it is true that the Supreme Court has been granted an extensive power of supervision over the IBP, [64] it is
axiomatic that such power should be exercised prudently. The power of supervision of the Supreme Court over the
IBP should not preclude the IBP from exercising its reasonable discretion especially in the administration of its
internal affairs governed by the provisions of its By-Laws. The IBP By-Laws were precisely drafted and promulgated
so as to define the powers and functions of the IBP and its officers, establish its organizational structure, and govern
relations and transactions among its officers and members. With these By-Laws in place, the Supreme Court could
be assured that the IBP shall be able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the Courts interference.
It should be noted that the general charge of the affairs and activities of the IBP has been vested in the Board of
Governors. The members of the Board are elective and representative of each of the nine regions of the IBP as
delineated in its By-Laws.[65] The Board acts as a collegiate body and decides in accordance with the will of the
majority.The foregoing rules serve to negate the possibility of the IBP Board acting on the basis of personal interest
or malice of its individual members. Hence, the actions and resolutions of the IBP Board deserve to be accorded the
disputable presumption[66] of validity, which shall continue, until and unless it is overcome by substantial evidence
and actually declared invalid by the Supreme Court. In the absence of any allegation and substantial proof that the
IBP Board has acted without or in excess of its authority or with grave abuse of discretion, we shall not be
persuaded to overturn and set aside the Boards action or resolution.
There is no question that the IBP Board has the authority to remove its members as provided in Article VI, Section
44[67] of the IBP By-Laws. Issue arises only as to whether the IBP Board abused its authority and discretion in
resolving to remove Atty. de Vera from his post as an IBP Governor and EVP. As has been previously established
herein, Atty. de Veras removal from the IBP Board was in accordance with due process and the IBP Board acted
well within the authority and discretion granted to it by its By-Laws. There being no grave abuse of discretion on the
part of the IBP Board, we find no reason to interfere in the Boards resolution to remove Atty. de Vera.
The election of Atty. Salazar by the IBP Board as IBP EVP in replacement of Atty. De Vera was conducted in
accordance with the authority granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws
In the same manner, we find no reason to disturb the action taken by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors
in holding a special election to fill-in the vacant post resulting from the removal of Atty. de Vera as EVP of the IBP
since the same is a purely internal matter, done without grave abuse of discretion, and implemented without
violating the Rules and By-Laws of the IBP.
With the removal of Atty. de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005,
he was also removed from his post as EVP; thus, there was a resultant vacancy in the position of IBP EVP.

Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the Board the authority to fill vacancies, however
arising, in the IBP positions, subject to the provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule, [68] and Section 11
(Vacancies),[69] Section 44 (Removal of members),[70] Section 47 (National officers),[71] Section 48 (other officers),
[72]
and Section 49 (Terms of Office) [73] of the By-Laws. The IBP Board has specific and sufficient guidelines in its
Rules and By-Laws on how to fill-in the vacancies after the removal of Atty. de Vera. We have faith and confidence
in the intellectual, emotional and ethical competencies of the remaining members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing
with the situation within the bounds of the IBP Rules and By-Laws.

The election by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors of a new EVP, who will assume the Presidency for
the term 2005-2007, was well within the authority and prerogative granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws,
particularly Article VII, Section 47, which provides that [t]he EVP shall automatically become President for the next
succeeding term. The phrase for the next succeeding term necessarily implies that the EVP that should succeed
Atty. Cadiz as IBP President for the next succeeding term (i.e.,2005-2007) should come from the members of the
2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors. Hence, in A.M. No. 05-7-19-SC, we restrained now IBP EVP Feliciano Bautista
from assuming the position of Acting President because we have yet to resolve the question as to who shall
succeed Atty. Cadiz from the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors.
Accordingly, the elections of Governor Santiago on 13 June 2005 as IBP EVP, and thereafter, Governor Salazar
on 25 June 2005, as the new IBP EVP, upon the relinquishment of Gov. Santiago of the position, were valid.
Neither can this Court give credence to the argument of Atty. De Vera that, assuming his removal as IBP Governor
and EVP was valid, his replacement as IBP EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao Region pursuant to the
rotation rule set forth in Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws.
According to Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws, the EVP shall be chosen by the Board of Governors
from among the nine Regional Governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. This is based on our
pronouncements in Bar Matter 491, wherein we ruled:

ORDER

xxxx

3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-President elected by the
Board of Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among themselves
(as provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored. The right of automatic
succession by the Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the expiration of their two-year
term (which was abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287)
should be as it is hereby restored.

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall automatically
succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive
Vice-President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-President shall be
rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions .One who has served as president may not run for election
as Executive Vice-President in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among
the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.

xxxx

(Emphasis Supplied)

In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is actually rotated among the nine
Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession rule
of the IBP EVP to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule pertains in particular to the position of IBP EVP, while the
automatic succession rule pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with respect to the Presidency is but a
consequence of the automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon the election of Atty. De Vera as IBP
EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was completed. It is only
unfortunate that the supervening event of Atty. de Veras removal as IBP Governor and EVP rendered it impossible
for him to assume the IBP Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the rotation rule had been completed despite
the non-assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.

Moreover, the application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard the spirit and purpose of the
automatic succession rule, but should be applied in harmony with the latter. The automatic succession rule affords
the IBP leadership transition seamless and enables the new IBP National President to attend to pressing and urgent
matters without having to expend valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership consolidation period. The
time that an IBP EVP spends assisting a sitting IBP President on matters national in scope is in fact a valuable and
indispensable preparation for the eventual succession. It should also be pointed out that this wisdom is further
underscored by the fact that an IBP EVP is elected from among the members of the IBP Board of Governors, who
are serving in a national capacity, and not from the members at large. It is intrinsic in the IBP By-Laws that one who
is to assume the highest position in the IBP must have been exposed to the demands and responsibilities of national
leadership.
It would therefore be consistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic succession rule for Governor
Salazar to assume the post of IBP President. By electing the replacement EVP from among the members of the
2003-2005 Board of Governors, the IBP benefits from the experience of the IBP EVP of 2003-2005 in this case,
Governor Salazar who would have served in a national capacity prior to his assumption of the highest position.

It will also be inconsistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic succession rule if the EVP for the term
2003-2005 will be elected exclusively by the members of the House of Delegates of the Eastern
Mindanao region. This Court notes that the removal of Atty. De Vera in 13 May 2005 was about a month before the
expiration of the term of office of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors. Hence, the replacement Governor would not
have been able to serve in a national capacity for two years prior to assuming the IBP Presidency.

In any case, Section 47 of the IBP Rules uses the phrase as much as practicable to clearly indicate that the
rotation rule is not a rigid and inflexible rule as to bar exceptions in compelling and exceptional circumstances.

It is in view of the foregoing that the argument advanced by Atty. De Vera that the IBP national presidency
should be assumed by a nominee from Eastern Mindanao region from where he comes, can not hold water. It would

go against the intent of the IBP By-Laws for such a nominee would be bereft of the wealth of experience and the
perspective that only one who is honed in service while serving in a national post in the IBP would have.

We therefore rule that the IBP Board of Governors acted in accordance with the IBP By-Laws, in electing
Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP and in ensuring a succession in the leadership of the IBP. Had the Board of Governors not
done so, there would have been no one qualified to assume the Presidency of the IBP on 1 July 2005, pursuant to
Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we rule as follows:

1)

SUSPEND Atty. Leonard de Vera in A.C. No. 6697 from the practice of law for TWO (2)
YEARS, effective from the finality of this Resolution. Let a copy of this Resolution be
attached to the personal record of Atty. Leonard de Vera and copies furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts;

2)

DISMISS the letter-complaint of Atty. Leonard de Vera, dated 18 May 2005, in A.M. No.
05-5-15-SC, praying for the disapproval of the Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, of the Board
of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines removing him from his posts as
Governor and Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the said
Resolution having been rendered without grave abuse of discretion;

3)

AFFIRM the election by the Board of Governors of Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar as
Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the remainder of the
term 2003-2005, such having been conducted in accordance with its By-Laws and absent
any showing of grave abuse of discretion; and

4)

DIRECT Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar to immediately take his oath of office and assume
the Presidency of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for the term 2005-2007 in accordance
with the automatic succession rule in Article VII, Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws, upon receipt
of this Resolution.

SO ORDERED.

ROLLY PENTECOSTES VS ATTY. HERMENEGILDO MARASIGAN, Clerk of Court VI, Office of the Clerk of
Court, Regional Trial Court, Kabacan, North Cotabato

A.M. No. P-07-2337 August 3, 2007

DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Atty. Hermenegildo Marasigan (respondent), Clerk of Court VI of the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Kabacan, North Cotabato, standsadministratively charged with grave misconduct and conduct
unbecoming a public officer for the loss of a motorcycle-subject matter of a criminal case which was placed under
his care and custody.
The administrative case against respondent stemmed from a sworn affidavit-complaint [1] filed on November
11, 2004 by Rolly Pentecostes (Pentecostes), the owner of a Kawasaki motorcycle, which was recovered by
members of the Philippine National Police (PNP) of Mlang, North Cotabato from suspected carnappers against
whom a criminal case for carnapping, Criminal Case No. 1010, was lodged at Branch 22, RTC, Kabacan,
North Cotabato.
On the order of the trial court, the chief of police of Mlang, North Cotabato turned over the motorcycle to
respondent who acknowledged receipt thereof on August 1, 1995.
After the conduct of hearings to determine the true owner of the motorcycle, the trial court issued an
Order[2] of November 15, 2000 for its release to Pentecostes.
Pentecostes immediately asked respondent to release the motorcycle to him. Respondent, however, told
him to wait and come back repeatedly from 2001 up to the filing of the complaint.
In his Comment[3] filed on February 9, 2005, respondent gave the following explanation:
After the motorcycle was delivered to him by the Mlang chief of police on August 1, 1995, he requested Alex
Pedroso, a utility worker, to inspect the engine, chassis, and make, after which he issued an acknowledgement
receipt thereof.
He thereafter instructed Pedroso to bring the motorcycle to the Kabacan police station for which he
(respondent) prepared a receipt.
He and Pedroso visited and inspected the motorcycle every time a hearing on the criminal case was
conducted. When the court finally ordered the release of the motorcycle to Pentecostes on November 15, 2000, the
latter refused to receive it, claiming that it was already cannibalized and unserviceable.
From that time on until 2003, Pentecostes harassed him, demanding that he be responsible for
reconditioning the vehicle. During the latter part of 2004, upon the advice of the executive judge, he accompanied
Pentecostes to the Kabacan police station only to discover that the motorcycle was missing.
As no explanation could be offered by then Kabacan police chief Nestor Bastareche for the loss, he
prepared a letter-complaint requesting for assistance in the recovery of the motorcycle and for the conduct of an
investigation. Pentecostes refused to sign the letter, however.
He later discovered that the turnover receipt attached to the record of the criminal case and the page of the
blotter where the turnover was recorded were missing. Hence, he submitted the sworn statements of Pedroso [4] and
SPO4 Alex Ocampo[5] who confirmed the transfer of the vehicle from his custody to that of the Kabacan chief of
police.

Belying respondents averments, Pentecostes, in his Rejoinder,[6] contended as follows:

The vehicle was in good running condition when it was delivered to respondent by police operatives [7] of
Mlang.

Respondents act of passing the blame to the PNP of Kabacan was a clear case of hand washing as the
records showed that respondent was responsible for the safekeeping of the motorcycle. It was for this reason that
he (Pentecostes) refused to sign the letter to the chief of police of Kabacan protesting the loss. Moreover, the police
blotter of PNP Kabacan has no entry or record of the alleged turn over.
By Resolution of October 19, 2005,[8] this Court referred the case to the Executive Judge of RTC,
Kabacan, North Cotabato, for investigation, report and recommendation.
Then Executive Judge Francisco G. Rabang, Jr. of the RTC, Kabacan, North Cotabato submitted on
January 16, 2006 his findings and recommendation for the dismissal of the administrative complaint against
respondent.[9]
In his report, Judge Rabang noted that Pentecostes denied any knowledge about the turnover of the
motorcycle to the PNP of Kabacan.
On the evidence for the defense, the investigating judge found that the motorcycle was delivered by the
PNP of Mlang, North Cotabato to respondent who in turn transferred it to the PNP of Kabacan.
To Judge Rabang, what remained an issue was the actual physical condition of the motorcycle when it was
turned over to the PNP of Kabacan. The judge noted that there was no proof of Pentecostes claim that the vehicle
was cannibalized from the time it was under respondents custody until its transfer to the PNP of Kabacan.
In light of the peace and order situation in Kabacan in the late 1990s and in the early part of 2000 and the
absence of a suitable courthouse then, Judge Rabang believed that respondent had made a wise decision in turning
over the custody of the vehicle to the PNP of Kabacan.
To Judge Rabangs report and recommendation, Pentecostes filed a Motion for Reconsideration[10] in which
he assailed the conclusion that the motorcycle was no longer roadworthy and was already cannibalized when it was
delivered to the office of the clerk of court from the Mlang police station.
Moreover, Pentecostes maintained that the alleged turnover of the motorcycle to the police station of
Kabacan was irrelevant because the proper custodian of the vehicle was respondent who should be held
responsible for its eventual loss.
The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) found the investigating judges recommendation to be sufficiently
supported by the evidence.[11]
The OCA thus concurred with Judge Rabangs recommendation for the dismissal of the complaint against
respondent, subject to certain qualifications with respect to the physical condition of the vehicle upon its delivery to
respondent and the latters lack of authority for the turn over of the vehicle to the PNP of Kabacan.
While the investigating judge found no evidence to show the actual condition of the motorcycle at the time it
was turned over to respondent, the OCA observed that the evidence presented during the investigation supported a
finding that the vehicle had missing parts when it was delivered to respondent.
From the testimony of Pentecostes witness SPO2 Servando Guadalupe, the OCA noted, the motorcycle was
loaded into a service vehicle for delivery to respondent. This fact, according to the OCA, could only mean that the
vehicle could not run by itself.
Although the OCA agreed with the investigating judge that the evidence sufficiently proved that the vehicle
was turned over to the PNP of Kabacan where it got lost, it noted that respondent failed to ask prior authority from
the trial court to transfer its custody. Only when respondent was having problems with Pentecostes did he bring the
matter to the attention of the executive judge, the OCA added.
Accordingly, the OCA recommended that respondent be reminded to secure prior authority from the court
before evidence is turned over to any authorized government office or agency and that he be warned to be more
careful to prevent any similar incident from arising in the future.

The finding of the OCA insofar as respondents lack of authority to transfer the motorcycle is well taken, on
account of which respondent is administratively liable for simple misconduct.

It is the duty of the clerk of court to keep safely all records, papers, files, exhibits and public property
committed to his charge.[12] Section D (4), Chapter VII of the 1991 Manual For Clerks of Court (now Section E[2],
paragraph 2.2.3, Chapter VI of the 2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court) provides:
All exhibits used as evidence and turned over to the court and before the case/s involving such
evidence shall have been terminated shall be under the custody and safekeeping of the Clerk of Court.

Similarly, Section 7 of Rule 136 of the Rules of Court, provides:

SEC. 7. Safekeeping of property. The clerk shall safely keep all record, papers, files, exhibits
and public property committed to his charge, including the library of the court, and the seals and
furniture belonging to his office.

From the above provisions, it is clear that as clerk of court of the RTC, Kabacan, respondent was charged
with the custody and safekeeping of Pentecostes motorcycle, and to keep it until the termination of the case, barring
circumstances that would justify its safekeeping elsewhere, and upon the prior authority of the trial court.
No explanation was offered by respondent, however, for turning over the motorcycle. But whatever the
reason was, respondent was mandated to secure prior consultations with and approval of the trial court.
Moreover disconcerting is the fact that the acknowledgment receipt evidencing the turnover of the
motorcycle from the trial court to the Kabacan police station was lost from the records of Criminal Case No. 1010,
[13]
with nary a lead as to who was responsible for it. This circumstance is viewed with disfavor as it reflects badly on
the safekeeping of court records, a duty entrusted to respondent as clerk of court.
With regard to the condition of the vehicle upon its delivery to respondent, the evidence indicates that it was
still serviceable when it was delivered by the Mlang police to respondent and at the time it was turned over by
respondent to the Kabacan police station. The Joint Affidavit[14] of SPO2 Guadalupe and Police Inspector Romeo
Banaybanay categorically stated that the motorcycle was in good running condition when they delivered it to
respondent. Later during his testimony, Guadalupe narrated that he was the the driver of the service jeep while
Chief Banaybanay was on board the motorcycle when the vehicle was turned over to respondent on August 1,
1995.[15]
Even respondents following testimony that:
x x x when x x x [he] received the motorcycle for safekeeping, he immediately delivered together
with Alex Pedroso [sic] because it could be noted that respondent do[es] not know how to drive a
motorcycle, I requested x x x Alex Pedroso to accompany me and deliver [it] to [the] chief of police of
Kabacan[16] (Italics supplied)
suggests that the vehicle was in running condition when respondent took and subsequently transferred its custody
to the Kabacan police.
This Court has repeatedly emphasized that clerks of court are essential and ranking officers of our judicial system
who perform delicate functions vital to the prompt and proper administration of justice. [17] Their duties include the
efficient recording, filing and management of court records and, as previously pointed out, the safekeeping of
exhibits and public property committed to their charge.
Clearly, they play a key role in the complement of the court and cannot be permitted to slacken on their jobs
under one pretext or another.[18] They cannot err without affecting the integrity of the court or the efficient
administration of justice.[19]
The same responsibility bears upon all court personnel in view of their exalted positions as keepers of public
faith.[20] The exacting standards of ethics and morality imposed upon court employees are reflective of the premium
placed on the image of the court of justice, and that image is necessarily mirrored in the conduct, official or
otherwise, of court personnel.[21] It becomes the imperative and sacred duty of everyone charged with the

dispensation of justice, from the judge to the lowliest clerk, to maintain the courts good name and standing as true
temples of justice.[22]
By transferring Pentecostes motorcycle without authority, respondent failed to give premium to his avowed
duty of keeping it under his care and possession. He must, therefore, suffer the consequences of his act or
omission, which is akin to misconduct.
Misconduct is a transgression of some established or definite rule of action; more particularly, it is an
unlawful behavior by the public officer.[23] The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the additional elements of
corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established rules, which must be proved by substantial
evidence. Otherwise, the misconduct is only simple, as in this case.
The Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service (Memorandum Circular No. 19,
Series of 1999) classifies simple misconduct as a less grave offense, punishable by suspension of One Month and
One Day to Six Months. Considering that this is respondents first offense and no taint of bad faith has been shown
by his actuations, a 15-day suspension without pay is deemed appropriate.

WHEREFORE, respondent, Clerk of Court Hermenegildo Marasigan, is found guilty of Simple Misconduct.
He is SUSPENDED for 15 days without pay, with a stern WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act shall
be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM VS HON. VICENTE A. PACQUING, Presiding Judge, Branch
28 and MARIO ANACLETO M. BAEZ, JR., Clerk of Court, RTC, San Fernando City, La Union
A.M. No. RTJ-04-1831

February 2, 2007

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.

In 1971, Bengson Commercial Building, Inc. (Bengson) borrowed P4,250,000 from petitioner Government Service
Insurance System (GSIS), secured by real estate and chattel mortgages. When Bengson defaulted in the payment
of the amortizations, petitioner extrajudicially foreclosed the mortgaged properties and sold them at public auction
where it emerged as the highest bidder.
In 1977, Bengson filed an action in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, La Union, Branch 26 [1] to annul
the extrajudicial foreclosure. The trial court, through Judge Antonio Fineza, declared the foreclosure void and
directed petitioner to restore to Bengson the foreclosed properties, pay damages and costs of suit.
Petitioner appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals (CA). The CA affirmed with modification the trial courts
decision and remanded the case for reception of evidence on the costs of suit and determination of the replacement
value of the properties should petitioner fail to return them. The CA decision became final and executory on
February 10, 1988.
When petitioner failed to return the foreclosed properties, the new presiding judge of Branch 26, respondent Judge
Vicente A. Pacquing, ordered it to pay Bengson the equivalent value of the foreclosed properties. Thereafter,
Bengson moved that it be permitted to present evidence on the costs of suit. On April 6, 1995, the trial court directed
petitioner to pay Bengson P31 million as costs of suit. This order became final on April 24, 1995.
Petitioner filed an urgent omnibus motion with the court a quo stating that its counsel, Atty. Rogelio Terrado, went on
AWOL and never informed it of respondent judges order. [2] This motion, treated as petition for relief from judgment
by respondent judge, was dismissed on January 16, 1997. [3]
Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration (MR) but respondent judge denied the same on April 23, 1998.
Petitioner then instituted a special civil action for certiorari in the CA docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 47669 [4] assailing
the court a quos denial of its petition for relief from judgment. The CA, however, dismissed CA-G.R. SP No. 47669
for having been filed out of time as three years had elapsed since the order awarding Bengson P31 million as costs
of suit became final and executory.[5]
Petitioner filed an MR of the above decision and, while it was pending resolution at the CA, respondent judge, on
December 16, 1998, issued an alias writ of execution ordering petitioner to pay Bengson the P31 million.[6] Pursuant
thereto, respondent Atty. Mario Anacleto M. Baez, acting as sheriff of Branch 26, executed the writ and levied on
petitioners shares of stock in San Miguel Corporation (SMC) worth P6.2 million. The garnished shares were later
sold at public auction with Bengson as the only bidder.
Aggrieved, petitioner moved to quash the writ on the ground that its funds and properties were exempt from
garnishment, levy and execution under Section 39 of RA 8291. [7] Respondent judge denied the motion stating that
only funds and properties that were necessary to maintain petitioners actuarial solvency, like contributions of GSIS
members, were exempt from garnishment, levy and execution under RA 8291. [8]
Petitioner filed its MR of the trial courts denial of its motion to quash the writ but this was rejected as well.
Via a special civil action for certiorari with an urgent motion for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or
restraining order (TRO), petitioner came to us questioning the garnishment and sale on execution of its SMC
shares. The petition was docketed as G.R. No. 136874. [9]
We referred G.R. No. 136874 to the CA for consideration and adjudication on the merits. In the CA, it was redocketed as CA-G.R. SP. No. 51131 and was consolidated with CA-G.R. SP. No. 47669. [10]
Later, the CA dismissed both petitions.[11]

Petitioner questioned the CAs dismissal of CA-G.R. SP. No. 47669 via a petition for review in this Court docketed as
G.R. No. 137448,[12] the ultimate issue of which was the existence of grounds for relief from the P31 million costs of
suit judgment by respondent judge.
Later, petitioner filed another case, a special civil action for certiorari in this Court, this time contesting the CAs
dismissal of its petition in CA-G.R. No. 51131. Docketed as G.R. No. 141454, [13] the petition ascribed grave abuse of
discretion on the part of the CA for upholding the trial courts issuance of the alias writ of execution and the
subsequent garnishment and sale of its shares in SMC.
Petitioner also filed this administrative complaint [14] against respondents for ignorance of the law, bias and partiality,
and for violation of RA 8291. In its complaint, petitioner alleged:
In fine, [respondent judge] refused to take cognizance of [Section 39, RA 8291]. He refused to await
an authoritative and definitive resolution of the issues [on the exemption of GSISs funds and
properties] from execution or the issue of whether GSIS is entitled to a relief from judgment of his
[P]31 million peso cost[s] of suit. [H]e was in a hurry, as Bengson, to execute the P31 million costs of
suit[O]n the other hand, Sheriff Mario Anacleto M. Baez, seemed to have the same objective when
he refused to take heed of [GSISs request] to hold in abeyance the execution sale on the basis of
Section 39 (RA 8291).
The foregoing only shows [respondent judges] deliberate disregard of the express provisions of [RA
8291], specifically Section 39and his bias, given his exorbitant award for cost[s] of suit, bereft, as it
is, of any legal basis. It evidently reveals a malicious scheme that seriously undermines the very
integrity and impartiality of his court.
The same can be said of the acts of Sheriff Baez in garnishing and selling [GSISs shares of stock in
SMC] to Bengson, characterized by an unusual swiftness and in clear disregard of the express
provision of Section 39, RA 8291[15]
We referred the complaint to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) for investigation, report and
recommendation. In its report[16] to the Court, the OCA found nothing in the records to support petitioners
accusations against both respondents. According to the OCA, even assuming that respondent judge erred in
interpreting RA 8291, such error did not constitute gross ignorance of the law. It added that the records also failed to
prove malice, fraud, dishonesty or bad faith on the part of respondent judge in issuing the assailed alias writ of
execution.
On petitioners allegations against respondent Atty. Baez, the OCA likewise found no reason to hold him liable for
failing to defer the execution of the writ.
The OCA then recommended the dismissal of petitioners complaint against respondents. [17]
On petitioners motion, we referred the case to the CA for further investigation. It was assigned to Associate
Justice Roberto A. Barrios, who acted as investigating officer. Before a hearing on the case could be conducted,
respondent judge died.[18] The hearing proceeded but we withheld his benefits pending the completion of the
investigation of his case by Justice Barrios.
Subsequently, Justice Barrios submitted his report [19] to us agreeing with OCAs findings that petitioners
complaint against respondents was unfounded. According to Justice Barrios:
Assuming for the nonce that [respondent judge] erred in issuing the Order of 16 December
1998 without awaiting the resolution of [petitioners motion for reconsideration], and in holding that
[its] properties are not exempt from execution, these would not be errors that are gross and patent,
or done maliciously, deliberately or in evident bad faith. [Petitioner] has not presented proof to the
contrary, which with the factual milieu would call for administrative sanctions against [respondent
judge]. As a matter of public policy, the acts of the judge in his official capacity are not subject to
disciplinary action, even though such acts are erroneous. Good faith and absence of malice, corrupt
motives or improper considerations are sufficient defenses in which a judge charged with ignorance
of [the] law can find refuge.[20]

He added that the filing of the administrative charges against respondents was premature because this Court at that
time had yet to decide G.R. No. 137448 and G.R. No. 141454. He thus recommended the dismissal of the
administrative charges against respondents.
On January 31, 2002,[21] we handed down our decision in the above cases nullifying the CAs resolutions dismissing
G.R. Nos. 51131[22] and 47669.[23] In the same decision, we set aside respondent judges January 16, 1997 order
dismissing petitioners petition for relief from judgment and his April 23, 1998 order denying the MR. [24]
Notwithstanding the nullification of respondent judges orders, we are adopting the findings and recommendations of
the OCA and Justice Barrios.
For a judge to be administratively liable for ignorance of the law, the acts complained of must be gross or patent.
[25]
To constitute gross ignorance of the law, such acts must not only be contrary to existing law and jurisprudence
but also motivated by bad faith, fraud, malice or dishonesty.[26] That certainly does not appear to be the case here as
petitioners complaint was spawned merely by the honest divergence of opinion between petitioner and respondent
judge as to the legal issues and applicable laws involved. [27]Petitioner also proffered no evidence that respondent
judges acts were imbued with malice or bad faith.
In the same vein, we hold that respondent judge was neither biased nor partial against petitioner when he issued
the alias writ of execution. Petitioners assertion that respondent judge precipitately issued the alias writ is not
supported by the records. On the contrary, the records indicate that the writ was issued more than three years from
the finality of the order directing petitioner to pay Bengson P31 million as costs of suit. Its issuance was not all
tainted with undue haste. In the exercise of his judicial discretion, respondent judge believed that the issuance of the
alias writ had become forthwith a matter of right following the finality of said order. The rule is that once a judgment
becomes final, the winning party is entitled to a writ of execution and the issuance thereof becomes a courts
ministerial duty.[28]
Assuming ex gratia argumenti that respondent judge erred in issuing the alias writ, his act would still not merit
administrative sanction absent malice or bad faith. [29] Bad faith does not simply connote poor or flawed judgment; it
imports a dishonest purpose, moral obliquity or conscious doing of a wrong.
Furthermore, for allegations of bias and partiality to stand, petitioner should have demonstrated that respondent
judges decisions and orders came from extrajudicial sources or from some bases other than what he had learned
from his study of the case.[30] Decisions formed in the course of judicial proceedings, although they appear
erroneous, are not necessarily partial as long as they are culled from the arguments and evidence of the parties.
[31]
The party who alleges partiality must prove it with clear and convincing evidence. Petitioner failed in that aspect.
Interestingly, this Court, in our decision in G.R. Nos. 137448 and 141454, nullified the orders of respondent judge
only to give petitioner another chance to seek redress from the gross negligence and mistake of its then counsel,
Atty. Terrado. We did not at all declare respondent judges orders as erroneous or tainted with malice or bad faith. In
our decision, we said:

It is readily apparent that part of [petitioners] predicament stemmed from the negligence or
mistake, to put it mildly, of its former counsels.

Indeed, it is undisputed that despite ample opportunity, [petitioners] counsel, Atty. Rogelio
Terrado, did not rebut BENGSONs evidence on the costs of suit or, at the very least, verify the
schedule of costs and cross-examine BENGSONs witnesses. Much worse, he allowed the 6 April
1995 Order awarding BENGSON P31 million costs of suit to attain finality by not filing a motion for
reconsideration with the trial court or a petition with the Court of Appeals. Instead, he went AWOL
without informing petitioner of the said Order. These acts constituted gross negligence, if not fraud,
and resulted in the deprivation of petitioner of an opportunity to move to reconsider or appeal the
adverse order.

[A]s a general rule, the negligence or mistake of a counsel binds the client for otherwise
there would be never be no end to a suit so long as new counsel could be employed who could
allege and show that the former counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, experienced, or learned.
But if under the circumstances of the case, the rule deserts its proper office as an aid to justice and
becomes a great hindrance and chief enemy, its rigors must be relaxed to admit exceptions thereto
and prevent miscarriage of justice. In other words, the court has the power to except a particular
case from the operation of the rule whenever the purposes of justice require it.

Moreover, the filing of an administrative complaint is not the proper remedy for correcting the actions of a judge
perceived to have gone beyond the norms of propriety, where a sufficient remedy exists. [32] The actions against
judges should not be considered as complementary or suppletory to, or substitute for, the judicial remedies which
can be availed of by a party in a case.[33]
Regarding the accusations against respondent Atty. Baez, the Court finds no basis to hold him liable for executing
the assailed writ at that time. Undeniably, the most difficult phase of any proceeding is the execution of judgment.
[34]
Charged with this task, he must act with considerable dispatch to administer justice. Otherwise, a judgment, if not
executed at once, would just be an empty victory on the part of the prevailing party. [35] In executing the writ, Atty.
Baez merely carried out a ministerial duty. He had no discretion to implement the writ or not.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for ignorance of the law, bias and partiality, and violation of RA 8291 against
the late Judge Vicente A. Pacquing and Atty. Mario Anacleto M. Baez, is hereby DISMISSED.

Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Office of the Court Administrator so that the benefits due the
late respondent judge can be promptly released to his heirs, unless there exists some other lawful cause to withhold
the same.

SO ORDERED.

CYNTHIA ADVINCULA VS ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA


A.C. No. 7204

March 7, 2007
RESOLUTION

CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
Before Us is a complaint[1] for disbarment filed by Cynthia Advincula against respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata,
charging the latter with Gross Immorality.

Complainant alleged the following:


Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant [Cynthia Advincula] seek the legal advice of
the respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours. As
promised, he sent Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy attached as Annex I) to the
concerned parties.
On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in Tomas Morato, Quezon City to discuss the
possibility of filing the complaint against Queensway Travel and Tours because they did not settle
their accounts as demanded. After the dinner, respondent sent complainant home and while she is
about to step out of the car, respondent hold (sic) her arm and kissed her on the cheek and
embraced her very tightly.

Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the morning, she met respondent at Starbucks
coffee shop in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize the draft of the complaint to be filed in
Court. After the meeting, respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did every time they met.
Along the way, complainant was wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where in fact she just got up
from bed a few hours ago. At along Roosevelt Avenue immediately after corner of Felipe St., in San
Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when she was almost restless respondent stopped his car and
forcefully hold (sic) her face and kissed her lips while the other hand was holding her
breast. Complainant even in a state of shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting his criminal attempt and
immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of the car.

In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message to respondent informing him that she decided
to refer the case with another lawyer and needs (sic) to get back the case folder from him. The
communications transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and read as follows:

Sent by complainant

- forget the case. I decided to refer it with

other lawyer
At 5:33:46 pm

replied by respondent

- does this mean I can not c u anymore

at 6:16:11 pm

(Does this mean I cannot see you


anymore)

sent by complainant
at 6:17:59 pm
Follow-up message
Sent by complainant

- I feel bad. I cant expect that u will take


advantage of the situation.

- wrong to kiss a girl especially in the lips


if you dont have relationship with
her.

At 6:29:30 pm
Replied by respondent
At 6:32:43 pm

Follow up message
by respondent
at 6:42:25 pm

- Im veri sri. Its not tking advantage of the


situation, 2 put it rightly it s an
expression of feeling. S sri (Im very
sorry. Its not taking advantage of the
situation, to put it rightly it is an
expression of feeling)

- Im s sri. Il not do it again. Wil u stil c me


s I can show u my sincerity (Im so
sorry. Ill not do it again. Will you still
see me so I can show you my
sincerity)

On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent another message to complainant
at 3:55:32 pm saying I dont know wat 2 do s u may 4give me. Im realy sri. Puede bati na tyo. (I dont
know what to do so you may forgive me. Im really sorry. Puede bati na tayo).

Respondent replied talk to my lawyer in due time. Then another message was received by
her at 4:06:33 pm saying Ano k ba. Im really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n me. (Ano ka ba. Im really
sorry. Please next time behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of admission of guilt. [2]

In his answer,[3] respondent admitted that he agreed to provide legal services to the complainant; that he met with
complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6 March 2005, to discuss the relevant matters relative to the case which
complainant was intending to file against the owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of a sum of
money; that on both occasions, complainant rode with him in his car where he held and kissed complainant on the
lips as the former offered her lips to him; and, that the corner of Cooper Street and Roosevelt Avenue, where he
dropped off the complainant, was a busy street teeming with people, thus, it would have been impossible to commit
the acts imputed to him.

By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that: 1) there was a criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness filed
by complainant against respondent pending before the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City; 2) the legal
name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula Toriana since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana because the
civil case for the nullification of their marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6 December 2000 issued by
the Regional Trial Court of Maburao, Occidental Mindoro; 3) the complainant was living with a man not her husband;
and 4) the complainant never bothered to discuss respondents fees and it was respondent who always paid for their
bills every time they met and ate at a restaurant.
A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at
the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 26 July 2005.

On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report and Recommendation,
[4]
recommending the imposition of the penalty of one (1) month suspension on respondent for violation of the Code
of Professional Responsibility.
Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117 dated 20 March 2006, approving and adopting, with
modification, the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, thus:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with


modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the aboveentitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering the
behavior of Respondent went beyond the norms of conduct required of a lawyer when dealing with
or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three
(3) months.[5]

The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether respondent committed acts that are grossly immoral or
which constitute serious moral depravity that would warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice of law.

Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by which we deal with respondents actuations shall have a
rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal
society today is a far cry from what it used to be. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public
faith, are burdened with a high degree of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with
greater caution.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
CANON I x x x
Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and
support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xxx
Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of
the legal profession.

As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their possession of good moral character is a continuing condition to
preserve their membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued possession of good moral character is a
requisite condition for remaining in the practice of law.[6] In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr.,[7] we emphasized that:

This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of
members of the Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed
by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal
profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of
the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court,
which made him one of its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to
withdraw the privilege.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal
profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free
from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less
than the highest degree of morality.[8] We explained in Barrientos v. Daarol[9] that, as officers of the court, lawyers
must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading
lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community.

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also
throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They
may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private
activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.[10]

In Bar Matter No. 1154,[11] good moral character was defined as what a person really is, as distinguished
from good reputation, or from the opinion generally entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held by the
public in the place where he is known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to
objective reality.

It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to
protect the public; (2) to protect the public image of lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to protect
errant lawyers from themselves.[12]

In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing complainant on the lips.


In his Answer,[13] respondent confessed, thus:

27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I kiss you goodnight. She offered her
left cheek and I kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled her right face towards me and kissed
her gently on the lips. We said goodnight and she got off the car.
xxxx
35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered (sic) her left cheek and I lightly
kissed it and with my right hand slightly pulled her right cheek towards me and plant (sic) a light kiss
on her lips. There was no force used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs displayed. No breast
holding was done. Everything happened very spontaneously with no reaction from her except saying
sexual harassment.

During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, IBP Building, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City,
respondent candidly recalled the following events:

ATTY. MACABATA:
That time in February, we met I fetched her I should say, somewhere along the corner of
Edsa and Kamuning because it was then raining so we are texting each other. So I parked
my car somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to
fifteen minutes then she arrived. And so I said she opened my car and then she went inside
so I said, would you like that we have a Japanese dinner? And she said yes, okay. So I
brought her to Zensho which is along Tomas Morato. When we were there, we discussed
about her case, we ordered food and then a little while I told her, would it be okay for you
of I (sic) order wine? She said yes so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After that, after
discussing matters about her case, so I said its about 9:00 or beyond that time already, so I
said okay, lets go. So when I said lets go so I stood up and then I went to the car. I went
ahead of my car and she followed me then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She
told me just drop me at the same place where you have been dropping me for the last
meetings that we had and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt Avenue. So,
before she went down, I told her can I kiss you goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I
kissed it and with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say tilted her face
towards me and when shes already facing me I lightly kissed her on the lips. And then I
said good night. She went down the car, thats it.

COMM. FUNA:
February 10 iyan.
xxxx
ATTY. MACABATA:
Okay. After that were through so I said lets go because I have an appointment. So we went
out, we went inside my car and I said where to? Same place, she said, so then at the same
corner. So before she went down , before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered
her left cheek. So I kissed her again.

COMM. FUNA:
Pardon?
ATTY. MACABATA:

I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her again and then with the use of my
left hand, pushed a little bit her face and then kissed her again softly on the lips and
thats it. x x x.[14] (Emphases supplied.)

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is grossly immoral conduct or to
specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the
bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral
conduct that warrants disbarment.[15]
In Zaguirre v. Castillo,[16] we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, as such conduct which is so willful,
flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community.
Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must not simply be immoral, but grossly
immoral. It must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.
The following cases were considered by this Court as constitutive of grossly immoral conduct:
In Toledo v. Toledo,[17] a lawyer was disbarred from the practice of law, when he abandoned his lawful wife and
cohabited with another woman who had borne him a child.
In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,[18] a lawyer was disbarred after complainant proved that he had abandoned her and
maintained an adulterous relationship with a married woman. This court declared that respondent failed to maintain
the highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the bar.

In Dantes v. Dantes,[19] respondents act of engaging in illicit relationships with two different women during the
subsistence of his marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the imposition of
appropriate sanctions. Complainants testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently
established that respondent breached the high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession.
In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,[20] it was ruled that it was highly immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to
have taken advantage of his position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in said
college, to go with him to Manila where he had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would flank in all
her subjects in case she refused.
In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,[21] respondent lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife and three
children, lured an innocent woman into marrying him and misrepresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract
marriage in a foreign land.
In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,[22] respondent entered into multiple marriages and then resorted to legal remedies to
sever them. There, we ruled that [s]uch pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage
and family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values
essential to the survival and well-being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. As
such, there can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be disbarred.
In Tucay v. Tucay,[23] respondent contracted marriage with another married woman and left complainant with whom
he has been married for thirty years. We ruled that such acts constitute a grossly immoral conduct and only
indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession, warranting respondents
disbarment.
In Villasanta v. Peralta,[24] respondent married complainant while his first wife was still alive, their marriage still valid
and subsisting. We held that the act of respondent of contracting the second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice,
decency and morality. Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the Rules of Court, respondent was
disqualified from being admitted to the bar.
In Cabrera v. Agustin,[25] respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied his
lust. We held that respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality and integrity which, at all times, is expected
of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred from the practice of law.

Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but includes conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or indicative of
corruption, indecency, depravity and dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless conduct showing moral
indifference to opinions of respectable members of the community, and an inconsiderate attitude toward good order
and public welfare.[26]
Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of
friendship and camaraderie,[27] forms of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in turning
the head of complainant towards him and kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if
considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be considered grossly immoral.
Complainants bare allegation that respondent made use and took advantage of his position as a lawyer to lure her
to agree to have sexual relations with him, deserves no credit. The burden of proof rests on the complainant, and
she must establish the case against the respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof, [28] disclosing a case
that is free from doubt as to compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary power. [29] Thus, the adage that he
who asserts not he who denies, must prove.[30] As a basic rule in evidence, the burden of proof lies on the party who
makes the allegationsei incumbit probation, qui decit, non qui negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis
probation nulla sit.[31] In the case at bar, complainant miserably failed to comply with the burden of proof required of
her. A mere charge or allegation of wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not synonymous with guilt.[32]
Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed complainant on the lips, the same was not motivated by
malice. We come to this conclusion because right after the complainant expressed her annoyance at being kissed
by the respondent through a cellular phone text message, respondent immediately extended an apology to
complainant also via cellular phone text message. The exchange of text messages between complainant and
respondent bears this out.

Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place where there were several people in the vicinity
considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious designs
on complainant, he could have brought her to a private place or a more remote place where he could freely
accomplish the same.

All told, as shown by the above circumstances, respondents acts are not grossly immoral nor highly
reprehensible to warrant disbarment or suspension.

The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct
requires consideration of a number of factors.[33] When deciding upon the appropriate sanction, the Court must
consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public confidence
in the Bar; to preserve the integrity of the profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar misconduct.
[34]
Disciplinary proceedings are means of protecting the administration of justice by requiring those who carry out
this important function to be competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients may repose
confidence.[35] While it is discretionary upon the Court to impose a particular sanction that it may deem proper
against an erring lawyer, it should neither be arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal animosity or
prejudice, but should ever be controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and independence
of the bar and to exact from the lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the court, to his client, to his brethren in
the profession and to the public.

The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive
principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct which

seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar. Only
those acts which cause loss of moral character should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts which
neither affect nor erode the moral character of the lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless they are of
such nature and to such extent as to clearly show the lawyers unfitness to continue in the practice of law. The
dubious character of the act charged as well as the motivation which induced the lawyer to commit it must be clearly
demonstrated before suspension or disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating circumstances that
attended the commission of the offense should also be considered.[36]

Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an isolated act of misconduct of a lesser nature. It is also imposed for
some minor infraction of the lawyers duty to the court or the client. [37] In the Matter of Darell Adams,[38] a lawyer was
publicly reprimanded for grabbing a female client, kissing her, and raising her blouse which constituted illegal
conduct involving moral turpitude and conduct which adversely reflected on his fitness to practice law.

Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed and considering that this is respondents first offense,
reprimand would suffice.

We laud complainants effort to seek redress for what she honestly believed to be an affront to her
honor. Surely, it was difficult and agonizing on her part to come out in the open and accuse her lawyer of gross
immoral conduct. However, her own assessment of the incidents is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to
be corroborated or supported by more objective evidence.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged
immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and
cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on him
for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.

SO ORDERED.