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2/3/2017 ChuavsMesinaJr:AC4904:August12,2004:PerCuriam:EnBanc:Decision

ENBANC

[A.C.No.4904.August12,2004]

ANA A. CHUA and MARCELINA HSIA, complainants, vs. ATTY. SIMEON M.


MESINA,JR.,respondent.

DECISION
PERCURIAM:

By a verified complaint[1] received by the Office of the Bar Confidant on May 5, 1998,[2]Ana
AlvaranChuaandMarcelinaHsiaadministrativelychargedAtty.SimeonM.Mesina,Jr.,forbreachof
professionalethics,grossprofessionalmisconduct,andculpablemalpractice.
Asrelatedbycomplainants,thefollowingfactsgaverisetothefilingofthecomplaint.
Respondent was, for years, Ana Alvaran Chua and her now deceased husband Chua Yap Ans
legalcounselandadviseruponwhomtheyreposedtrustandconfidence.Theywereinfactlesseesof
abuildingsituatedatBurgosStreet,CabanatuanCity(Burgosproperty)ownedbyrespondentsfamily,
andanotherpropertycontaininganareaof854sq.m.,situatedatMelencioStreet,CabanatuanCity
(Melencio property), also owned by respondents family whereon they (spouses Chua) constructed
their house. These two properties were mortgaged by the registered owner, respondents mother
Felicisima Melencio vda. de Mesina (Mrs. Mesina), in favor of the Planters Development Bank to
securealoansheobtained.
AsMrs.Mesinafailedtomeetherobligationtothebank,respondentconvincedcomplainantAna
ChuaandherhusbandtohelpMrs.Mesinabywayofsettlingherobligationinconsiderationforwhich
theMelenciopropertywouldbesoldtothematP850.00/sq.m.
Accommodating respondents request, the spouses Chua and their business partner, herein co
complainantMarcelinaHsia,settledMrs.MesinasbankobligationintheamountofP983,125.40.

A Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 19, 1985[3] conveying the Melencio property for
P85,400.00wasthereafterexecutedbyMrs.Mesina,whosenameappearsthereinasFelicisimaM.
Melencio,infavorofcomplainants.
As complainants were later apprised of the amount of capital gains tax they were to pay, they
consulted respondent about it. Respondent thus suggested to them that another Deed of Absolute
Saleshouldbeexecuted,antedatedto1979beforetheeffectivityofthelawmandatingthepaymentof
capitalgainstax.Assuggestedbyrespondent,anotherDeedofAbsoluteSaleantedatedFebruary9,
1979[4]wasexecutedbyMrs.Mesina,whosenameagainappearsthereinasFelicisimaM.Melencio,
infavorofcomplainantswhereinthepurchasepricewasalsoindicatedtobeP85,400.00.
After liquidating the advances made by the Chua spouses in the redemption of the MESINA
properties, Mrs. Mesina was found to have an existing balance due the spouses in the amount of
P400,000.00, on account of which they advised respondent about it. Respondent, by Affidavit of
February18,1986,acknowledgedsuchobligationtobehisandundertooktosettleitwithintwoyears.
ComplainantsweresubsequentlyissuedonJanuary21,1986atitleovertheMelencioproperty.
NotlongaftertheexecutionoftheFebruary9,1979DeedofAbsoluteSaleorinFebruary1986,
oneJuanitoTecson(Tecson)filedanAffidavit[5]datedFebruary20,1986beforetheCabanatuanCity
Prosecutors Office charging respondents mother, the spouses Chua, Marcelina Hsia and the two
witnessestothesaidDeedofAbsoluteSale,forFalsificationofPublicDocumentandviolationofthe
Internal Revenue Code. In his complaint affidavit, Tecson alleged that he was also a lessee of the
Melenciopropertyandwas,alongwiththeChuaspouses,supposedtopurchaseitbutthatcontraryto
theiragreement,thepropertywassoldonlytocomplainantandhercocomplainant,tohisexclusion.
TecsonwentontorelatethattheFebruary9,1979DeedofAbsoluteSaledidnotreflectthetruevalue
oftheMelenciopropertyandwasantedatedtoevadepaymentofcapitalgainstax.
Tecson submitted documents showing that indeed the July 9, 1979 Deed of Absolute Sale was
antedated.
RespondentthereuponhatchedaplantododgethefalsificationchargeagainstMrs.Mesinaetal.
He proposed to complainants that they would simulate a deed of sale of the Melencio property
whereincomplainantswouldresellittoMrs.Mesina.
Heedingtheproposalofrespondent,complainantsexecutedaDeedofAbsoluteSaledatedApril
1,1986[6]conveyingtoFelicisimaM.MelenciotheMelenciopropertyforP85,400.00.
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A new title was accordingly issued on April 4, 1986 in the name of Felicisima M. Melencio, the
ownerscopyofwhichwasentrustedtocomplainants.
Tecson subsequently filed before the Cabanatuan City Prosecutors Office an Affidavit of
DesistancedatedSeptember5,1986[7]allegingthathisfilingofthecriminalcomplaintaroseoutof
meremisunderstandinganddifferencewithhereincomplainantsandtheircorespondentsandhehad
nosufficientevidenceagainstthem.
SomeyearslateroronMay2,1990,respondentapproachedcomplainantsandtoldthemthathe
would borrow the owners copy of Mrs. Mesinas title with the undertaking that he would, in four
months,letMrs.MesinaexecuteadeedofsaleovertheMelenciopropertyincomplainantsfavor.In
fact,respondentgavecomplainantsawrittenundertaking[8]datedMay2,1990reading:

ReceivedtheownersduplicatecopyofTCTNo.4383issuedbytheRegisterofDeeds,CabanatuanCity
registeredinthenameofFelicisimaMesina,widow,consistingofabout854squaremetersmoreorlesslocated
atcalleMelencio,CabanatuanCityfromMrs.AnaChuaandMarcelinaHsia.

IpromisetoandundertaketohavetheDeedofSaleoftheabovementionedpropertyinfavorofAnaChuaand
MarcelinaHsiatobesignedbyMrs.FelicisimaMesina,withinfour(4)monthsfromdatehereofsothatthe
abovementionedpropertyandtitlemaybetransferredinthenameofAnaChuaandMacelinaHsia.
(Underscoringsupplied)

Inthemeantime,Mrs.Mesinadiedintheearlypartof1991.
Despite respondents repeated promises to effect the transfer of title in complainants name, he
failed to do so. Complainants were later informed that the Melencio property was being offered for
saletothepublic.

ThespousesChuaandcomplainantMarcelinaHsiathusfiledonAugust24,1992aComplaint[9]
against respondent and his two siblings before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Nueva Ecija in
CabanatuanCity,forDeclarationofNullityofSaleandReconveyanceofRealProperty.
Asofthetimeofthefilingofthepresentadministrativecomplaintin1998,thecivilcaseagainst
theMesinasiblingswasstillpending.

This Court, by Resolution of July 13, 1998,[10] directed respondent to file Comment on the
complaintwithintendays.

ByResolutionofDecember2,1998,[11]thisCourt,notingthatthecopyoftheResolutionofJuly
13,1998requiringrespondenttocommentonthecomplaintsenttohimathisofficeaddressatS.M.
MesinaLawOffice,30JupiterSt.,PaseodeRoxas,BelAirSubd.,MakatiCitywasreturnedunserved
with the notation Moved, considered the Resolution of July 13, 1998 served on respondent by
substitutedservicepursuanttoRule13,Section8ofthe1997RulesofCivilProcedure.Respondent
wasaccordinglydeemedtohavewaivedthefilingoftherequiredcomment.
BythesameResolutionofDecember2,1998,thecasewasreferredtotheIntegratedBarofthe
Philippines(IBP)forinvestigation,reportandrecommendationwithinninetydays.

TheIBP,actingonthecomplaint,issuedanoticeofhearingonSeptember14,2001,[12]copyof
whichwassenttorespondentathisofficeaddressviaregisteredmail,coveredbyRegistryReceipt
No.2605oftheMeralcoPostOffice.[13]Onthescheduleddateofhearing,complainantspersonally
appearedwiththeircounsel.Respondentfailedtoshowup.
Given the length of time that the case remained pending from its filing, the IBP Commission on
BarDiscipline,byOrderofOctober12,2001,[14]directedcomplainantstojustfiletheirpositionpaper
with affidavits and supporting documents in lieu of actual presentation of witnesses and to serve a
copythereoftorespondentathislastknownaddress.

In compliance with the IBP Order, complainants filed on April 1, 2002 their position paper,[15]
annexed to which were photocopies of:1) a May 5, 1993 Certification[16] issued by the Metrobank
Cabanatuan Branch certifying that it issued the demand drafts to the payees enumerated below,
whichweredebitedfromtheaccountofMr.ChuaYapAnunderSavingsAccountNo.760:
D/DNo.PayeeAmountDateofIssue
214597PlantersDev.BankP805,299.54121985
214760PlantersDev.Bank100,000.00011486
214761Atty.SimeonMesina,Jr.77,826.10011486

2) Affidavit dated February 18, 1986[17] of respondent acknowledging a debt of P400,000.00 to


complainant AnaAlvaran Chua and promising to pay interest thereon within 2 years to commence
upon the signing thereof [February 16, 1998] and, in the event no partial or full payment of the
principal is made within 2 years, Ana Alvaran Chua is under no obligation to pay any lease rentals
over the lot situated in Burgos Avenue, Cabanatuan City where the Oceanic Hardware Bldg. is
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erected3) Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 19, 1985[18]and4)Deed of Absolute Sale dated
July 9, 1979,[19] both executed by Felicisima M. Melencio in favor of complainant 5) TCT No. T
48114[20] issued by the Cabanatuan City in the name of complainants on January 21, 1986 6)
AffidavitofJuanitoC.Tecson[21]datedJanuary20,1986chargingcomplainantsetal.forFalsification
ofPublicDocuments7)DeedofAbsoluteSaledatedApril1,1986executedbycomplainantsinfavor
of Mrs. Mesina[22] and 8) TCT No. T48383issued on April 4, 1986 in the name of Felicisima M.
Melencio[23]and9)ComplaintofspousesChuaYapAnandAnaAlvaranChuaandMarcelinaHsia,
forDeclarationofNullityofDeedofSaleandReconveyanceofRealPropertyagainstrespondentand
histwosiblings.[24]
A copy of complainants position paper was sent on March 18, 2002 to respondent at his office
address by registered mail covered by Registry Receipt No. 5278.[25] There is no showing if
respondentreceivedthismailmatter.

The IBP once more scheduled, by notice of December 13, 2002,[26] a hearing of the
administrative case to January 15, 2003, copy of which notice was sent to respondent at his office
addressbyregisteredmailcoveredbyRegistryReceiptNo.2953issuedbytheMeralcoPostOffice.
[27]
OnthescheduledhearingonJanuary15,2003,theIBPInvestigatingCommissioner,byOrderof
even date,[28] noted the presence of complainants, and the absence of respondent, copy of the
notice of hearing to whom was returned unserved with the notation RTSMoved. The case was
thereupondeemedsubmittedforreportandrecommendation.

OnJune21,2003,theIBPpassedResolutionNo.XV2003342[29]adoptingandapprovingthe
reportandrecommendationofAtty.RebeccaVillanuevaMaala,theInvestigatingCommissionerofthe
case.

In her March 3, 2003 Report and Recommendation,[30] Investigation Commissioner Maala


observedasfollows:

Alawyershouldnotengageorparticipateonanyunlawful,dishonest,immoralordeceitfulconduct.Themoral
characterhedisplayedwhenheappliedforadmissionattheBarmustbemaintainedincessantly.Otherwise,his
privilegetopracticethelegalprofessionmaybewithdrawnfromhim(Rule1.01,CodeofProfessional
Responsibility).Onthebasisoftheuncontrovertedfactsandevidencepresented,respondentAtty.SimeonM.
Mesinahascommittedgrossmisconductwhichshowshimtobeunfitfortheofficeandunworthyofthe
privilegewhichhislicenseandlawconferuponhim,

andrecommendedthatrespondentbesuspendedforaperiodofOne(1)Year.
ThisCourtfindsthatindeed,respondentisguiltyofgrossmisconduct.
First, by advising complainants to execute another Deed ofAbsolute Sale antedated to 1979 to
evade payment of capital gains taxes, he violated his duty to promote respect for law and legal
processes,28andnottoabetactivitiesaimedatdefianceofthelaw29Thatrespondentintendedto,
ashediddefraudnotaprivatepartybutthegovernmentisaggravating.30
Second, when respondent convinced complainants to execute another document, a simulated
Deed of Absolute Sale wherein they made it appear that complainants reconveyed the Melencio
propertytohismother,hecommitteddishonesty.31
Third,whenonMay2,1990respondentinveigledhisownclients,theChuaspouses,intoturning
over to him the owners copy of his mothers title upon the misrepresentation that he would, in four
months,haveadeedofsaleexecutedbyhismotherinfavorofcomplainants,helikewisecommitted
dishonesty.

That the signature of Felicisima M. Melencio in the 1985 document32 and that in the 1979
document33aremarkedlydifferentisinfactisabadgeoffalsificationofeitherthe1979orthe1985
documentorevenboth.

AproposisthisCourtsfollowingpronouncementinNakpilv.Valdez34

Asarule,alawyerisnotbarredfromdealingwithhisclientbutthebusinesstransactionmustbecharacterized
withutmosthonestyandgoodfaith.Themeasureofgoodfaithwhichanattorneyisrequiredtoexerciseinhis
dealingswithhisclientisamuchhigherstandardthatisrequiredinbusinessdealingswherethepartiestradeat
armslength.Businesstransactionsbetweenanattorneyandhisclientaredisfavoredanddiscouragedbythe
policyofthelaw.Hence,courtscarefullywatchthesetransactionstoassurethatnoadvantageistakenbya
lawyeroverhisclient.Thisruleisfoundedonpublicpolicyfor,byvirtueofhisoffice,anattorneyisinaneasy

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positiontotakeadvantageofthecredulityandignoranceofhisclient.Thus,nopresumptionofinnocenceor
improbabilityofwrongdoingisconsideredinanattorneysfavor.35(Underscoringsupplied)

RespondenthavingwelchedonhispromisetocausethereconveyanceoftheMelencioproperty
to complainants, consideration of whether he should be ordered to honor such promise should be
takenupinthecivilcasefiledforthepurpose,theissuetherebeingoneofownershipwhilethatinthe
caseatbarismoralfitness.37
In fine, respondent violated his oath of office and, more specifically, the following canons of the
CodeofProfessionalResponsibility:

CANON1.ALAWYERSHALLUPHOLDTHECONSTITUTION,OBEYTHELAWSOFTHELANDAND
PROMOTERESPECTFORLAWANDLEGALPROCESSES.

Rule1.01.Alawyershallnotengageinunlawful,dishonest,immoralordeceitfulconduct.

Rule1.02.Alawyershallnotcounselorabetactivitiesaimedatdefianceofthelaworatlesseningconfidence
inthelegalsystem.

CANON7.ALAWYERSHALLATALLTIMESUPHOLDTHEINTEGRITYANDDIGNITYOFTHE
LEGALPROFESSIONANDSUPPORTTHEACTIVITIESOFTHEINTEGRATEDBAR.

Rule7.03.Alawyershallnotengageinconductthatadverselyreflectsonhisfitnesstopracticelaw,norshall
he,whetherinpublicorprivatelife,behaveinascandalousmannertothediscreditofthelegalprofession.

CANON15.ALAWYERSHALLOBSERVECANDOR,FAIRNESSANDLOYALTYINALLHIS
DEALINGSANDTRANSACTIONSWITHHISCLIENTS.

Rule15.07.Alawyershallimpressuponhisclientcompliancewiththelawsandtheprinciplesoffairness.

CANON17.ALAWYEROWESFIDELITYTOTHECAUSEOFHISCLIENTANDHESHALLBE
MINDFULOFTHETRUSTANDCONFIDENCEREPOSEDINHIM.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. SIMEON M. MESINA, JR. is, for gross misconduct, hereby
DISBARRED.
LetcopiesofthisDecisionbefurnishedallcourts,theIntegratedBarofthePhilippines,andthe
OfficeoftheBarConfidant.
SOORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, YnaresSantiago, Carpio, AustriaMartinez,
Corona,CarpioMorales,Callejo,Sr.,Azcuna,Tinga,andChicoNazario,JJ.,concur.
SandovalGutierrez,J.,onleave.

[1]Rolloat1.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Id.at561718.The document shows that it was in 1985 that it was executed and notarized.The complaint alleged,
however,thatthedocumentwasexecutedin1986.
[4]Id.at7.

[5]Id.at8.

[6]Id.at1011.

[7]Id.at12.

[8]Id.at15.

[9]Id.at4857.

[10]Id.at16.

[11]Id.at19.

[12]Id.at22.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Id.at2627.

[15]Id.at2835.

[16]Id.at36.
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[17]Id.at37.

[18]Id.at3839.

[19]Id.at40.

[20]Id.at41.

[21]Id.at4243Videnote5.

[22]Rolloat4445.

[23]Id.at4647.

[24]Id.at4857.

[25]Id.at35.

[26]Id.at58.

[27]Id.

[28]Id.at60.

[29]Id.at64.

[30]Id.at6567.

28CanonI,CodeofProfessionalResponsibility.

29Rule1.02.

30InreRovero,92Phil.128(1952).

31Sabaylev.Tandayag,158SCRA497(1988).

32Rolloat38.

33Rolloat40.

34286SCRA758(1998).

35Id.at768,citationsomitted.

37Id.

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