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AC. No.

10912, January 19, 2016 -


PAULINA T. YU, Complainant, v. ATTY. BERLIN
R. DELA CRUZ, Respondent.

Republic of the Philippines

SC MANILA

EN BANC

AC. No. 10912, January 19, 2016

PAULINA T. YU, Complainant, v. ATTY. BERLIN


R. DELA CRUZ, Respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Subject of this disposition is the September


28, 2014 Resolution1 of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines Board of Governors (IBP-
BOG) which adopted and approved the
findings and the recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner for the
disbarment of Atty. Berlin Dela
Cruz(respondent lawyer).

It appears from the records that respondent


lawyer agreed to represent Paulina T.
Yu (complainant) in several cases after
having received various amounts as
acceptance fees, to
wit:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Case Title Acceptance Fees

People v.
Tortona for
attempted
homicide (Case No.
P 20,000.00
06-359) filed with
the Metropolitan
Trial Court, Bacoor,
Cavite

Paulina T. Yu v. P 8,000.00
Pablo and Rodel
Gamboa for
qualified
theft/estafa (I.S.
No. XV-07-INV-116-
05339) filed with
the City Prosecutor
of Manila

Paulino T. Yu v.
Roberto Tuazon et
al. (Civil Case No.
LP-00-0087) filed P 15,000.00
before the
Regional Trial Court
of Las Pias2

cralawlawlibrary

On November 29, 2011, while the lawyer-


client relationship was subsisting,
respondent lawyer borrowed pieces of
jewelry from complainant and pledged the
same with the Citystate Savings Bank, Inc.
for the amount of P29,945.50, as shown in
the Promissory Note with Deed of
Pledge.3 Respondent lawyer appropriated
the proceeds of the pledge to his personal
use. In order to facilitate the redemption of
the said jewelry, respondent lawyer issued to
complainant, Citystate Savings Bank Check
No. 0088551, dated August 31, 2011, in the
amount of P34,500.00. Upon presentment,
however, complainant was shocked to learn
that the check was dishonored for the
reason, "Account Closed."4 Complainant
immediately notified respondent lawyer of
the dishonor of the check.

In a letter,5 dated March 23, 2012,


complainant demanded for the refund of the
acceptance fees received by respondent
lawyer prior to the "abandonment" of the
cases and the payment of the value of the
jewelry, but to no avail.

In another letter,6 dated April 18, 2012, this


time represented by another lawyer, Atty.
Francisco C. Miralles, complainant yet again
demanded the redemption of the check in
cash within five days from notice; the refund
of the paid acceptance fees, in exchange for
which no service was rendered; the payment
of the value of the pledged jewelry in the
amount of PI00,000.00 in order to avoid the
interests due and the possible foreclosure of
the pledge; and moral damages of P
300,000.00.

For his failure to heed the repeated


demands, a criminal case for violation of
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed with the
Office of the City Prosecutor, Las Pinas City,
against him.7

On June 7, 2012, a verified complaint was


filed with the IBP-Commission on Bar
Discipline (IBP-CBD),8where complainant
prayed for the disbarment of respondent
lawyer on account of grave misconduct,
conduct unbecoming of a lawyer and
commission of acts in violation of the
lawyer's oath. The IBP-CBD required
respondent lawyer to submit his answer to
the complaint.9 Despite having been duly
served with a copy of the complaint and the
order to file his answer, as shown in a
certification10 issued by the Post Master of
the Las Pias Central Post Office, respondent
still failed to file an answer.

Respondent lawyer was likewise notified of


the scheduled mandatory
conference/hearing on November 23, 2012,
but only the complainant and her counsel
appeared on the said day. The IBP-CBD then
ordered the resetting of the mandatory
conference for the last time to January 11,
2013 and the personal service of the notice
thereof to respondent lawyer's given
address.11 Notwithstanding the receipt of
the notice by respondent lawyer's
mother,12 he still failed to appear during the
conference, prompting complainant to move
for the termination of the conference and the
submission of the case for report and
recommendation.

On June 7, 2013, the Investigating


Commissioner recommended the disbarment
of respondent lawyer from the practice of
law.13 Based on the evidence on record,
respondent lawyer was found to have
violated Rule 16.04 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR), which
proscribed the borrowing of money from a
client, unless the latter's interests were fully
protected by the nature of the case or by
independent advice. Worse, respondent
lawyer had clearly issued a worthless check
in violation of law which was against Rule
1.01 of Canon 1 of the CPR stating that, "[a]
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct."

On September 28, 2014, the IBP-BOG


affirmed the said recommendation in
Resolution No. XXI-2014-698.14

Neither a motion for reconsideration before


the BOG nor a petition for review before this
Court was filed. Nonetheless, the IBP
elevated to this Court the entire records of
the case for appropriate action with the IBP
Resolution being merely recommendatory
and, therefore, would not attain finality,
pursuant to par. (b), Section 12, Rule 139-B
of the Rules of Court.15

The Court acknowledges the fact that


respondent lawyer failed to refute the
accusations against him despite the
numerous opportunities afforded to him to
explain his side. All means were exhausted
to give respondent lawyer a chance to
oppose the charges against him but to no
avail and for reasons only for known to him.
Whether respondent lawyer had personally
read the orders by the IBP-CBD or his mother
failed to forward the same for his personal
consideration may only be an object of
surmise in which the Court cannot indulge.
"Disbarment of lawyers is a proceeding that
aims to purge the law profession of unworthy
members of the bar. It is intended to
preserve the nobility and honor of the legal
profession."16 Surely, respondent lawyer's
failure or refusal to participate in the IBP-
CBD proceedings does not hinder the Court
from determining the full extent of his
liability and imposing an appropriate
sanction, if any.

After a judicious review of the records, the


Court finds no reason to deviate from the
findings of the Investigating Commissioner
with respect to respondent lawyer's violation
of Canons 1,17 16,18 17,19and Rules
1.01,20 16.04,21 of the CPR.

In the case at bench, the complaint


stemmed from the use by respondent lawyer
of his client's property. He had, indeed, come
into possession of valuable pieces of jewelry
which he presented as security in a contract
of pledge. Complainant voluntarily and
willingly delivered her jewelry worth
P135,000.00 to respondent lawyer who
meant to borrow it and pawn it thereafter.
This act alone shows respondent lawyer's
blatant disregard of Rule 16.04.
Complainant's acquiescence to the
"pawning" of her jewelry becomes
immaterial considering that the CPR is clear
in that lawyers are proscribed from
borrowing money or property from clients,
unless the latter's interests are fully
protected by the nature of the case or by
independent advice. Here, respondent
lawyer's act of borrowing does not constitute
an exception. Respondent lawyer used his
client's jewelry in order to obtain, and then
appropriate for himself, the proceeds from
the pledge. In so doing, he had abused the
trust and confidence reposed upon him by
his client. That he might have intended to
subsequently pay his client the value of the
jewelry is inconsequential. What deserves
detestation was the very act of his exercising
influence and persuasion over his client in
order to gain undue benefits from the latter's
property. The Court has repeatedly
emphasized that the relationship between a
lawyer and his client is one imbued with
trust and confidence. And as true as any
natural tendency goes, this "trust and
confidence" is prone to abuse.22 The rule
against borrowing of money by a lawyer
from his client is intended to prevent the
lawyer from taking advantage of his
influence over his client.23 The rule
presumes that the client is disadvantaged by
the lawyer's ability to use all the legal
maneuverings to renege on his
obligation.24 Suffice it to say, the borrowing
of money or property from a client outside
the limits laid down in the CPR is an
unethical act that warrants sanction.

Due to complainant's respect for respondent


lawyer, she trusted his representation that
the subject jewelry would be redeemed upon
maturity. She accepted respondent lawyer's
check, which was eventually dishonored
upon presentment. Despite notice of the
dishonor, respondent lawyer did not take
steps to remedy the situation and, on the
whole, reneged on his obligation,
constraining complainant to avail of legal
remedies against him.

Given the circumstances, the Court does not


harbor any doubt in favor of respondent
lawyer. Obviously, his unfulfilled promise to
facilitate the redemption of the jewelry and
his act of issuing a worthless check
constitute grave violations of the CPR and
the lawyer's oath. These shortcomings on his
part have seriously breached the highly
fiduciary relationship between lawyers and
clients. Specifically, his act of issuing
worthless checks patently violated Rule 1.01
of Canon 1 of the CPR which requires that
"[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
This indicates a lawyer's unfitness for the
trust and confidence reposed on him, shows
such lack of personal honesty and good
moral character as to render him unworthy
of public confidence, and constitutes a
ground for disciplinary action,25 and thus
seriously and irreparably tarnishes the image
of the profession.26 Such conduct, while
already off-putting when attributed to an
ordinary person, is much more abhorrent
when exhibited by a member of the Bar.27 In
this case, respondent lawyer turned his back
from the promise that he once made upon
admission to the Bar. As "vanguards of the
law and the legal system, lawyers must at all
times conduct themselves, especially in their
dealings with their clients and the public at
large, with honesty and integrity in a manner
beyond reproach."28

As to the penalty commensurate to


respondent lawyer's actions, the Court takes
heed of the guidepost provided by
jurisprudence, viz.: "Disbarment should not
be decreed where any punishment less
severe, such as reprimand, suspension, or
fine, would accomplish the end desired. This
is as it should be considering the
consequence of disbarment on the economic
life and honor of the erring person."29Hence,
caution is called for amidst the Court's
plenary power to discipline erring lawyers. In
line with prevailing jurisprudence,30 the
Court finds it proper to impose the penalty of
three-year suspension against respondent
lawyer, with a stern warning that a repetition
of any of the infractions attributed to him in
this case, or any similar act, shall merit a
heavier penalty.

Anent the monetary demands made by


complainant, the Court reiterates the rule
that in disciplinary proceedings against
lawyers, the only issue is whether the officer
of the court is still fit to be allowed to
continue as a member of the Bar.31 Thus,
the Court is not concerned with the erring
lawyer's civil liability for money received
from his client in a transaction separate,
distinct, and not intrinsically linked to his
professional engagement. Accordingly, it
cannot order respondent lawyer to make the
payment for the subject jewelry he pawned,
the value of which is yet to be determined in
the appropriate proceeding.

As to the return of acceptance fees, a


clarification is in order. The Investigating
Commissioner erred in referring to them as
"attorney's fees"
As to the charge that respondent abandoned
the cases he accepted after payment of
attorney's fees, this commission is not fully
satisfied that the complainant was able to
prove it with substantial or clear evidence. It
was not fully explained in the complaint how
or in what manner were the cases
"abandoned" by the respondent; and what
prejudice was caused to the complainant.
This Commission noted that not a single
document or order coming from the court of
prosecutor's office was appended to the
Complaint-Affidavit that would at least
apprise this body of what the respondent
actually did with the cases he
represented.32cralawlawlibrary

There is a distinction between attorney's fee


and acceptance fee. It is well-settled that
attorney's fee is understood both in its
ordinary and extraordinary concept.33 In its
ordinary sense, attorney's fee refers to the
reasonable compensation paid to a lawyer
by his client for legal services rendered.
Meanwhile, in its extraordinary concept,
attorney's fee is awarded by the court to the
successful litigant to be paid by the losing
party as indemnity for damages.34 On the
other hand, acceptance fee refers to the
charge imposed by the lawyer for merely
accepting the case. This is because once the
lawyer agrees to represent a client, he is
precluded from handling cases of the
opposing party based on the prohibition on
conflict of interest. Thus, this incurs an
opportunity cost by merely accepting the
case of the client which is therefore
indemnified by the payment of acceptance
fee. Since the acceptance fee only seeks to
compensate the lawyer for the lost
opportunity, it is not measured by the nature
and extent of the legal services rendered.35

In the case at bench, the amounts of


P20,000.00, P18,000.00, and P15,000.00,
respectively, were in the nature of
acceptance fees for cases in which
respondent lawyer agreed to represent
complainant. Despite this oversight of the
Investigating Commissioner, the Court
affirms the finding that aside from her bare
allegations, complainant failed to present
any evidence showing that respondent
lawyer committed abandonment or neglect
of duty in handling of cases. Hence, the
Court sees no legal basis for the return of
the subject acceptance fees.
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Berlin
R. Dela Cruz GUILTY of violating Canons 1,
16, 17, and Rules 1.01 and 16.04 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, the Court
hereby SUSPENDS him from the practice of
law for THREE YEARS with a STERN
WARNING

that a repetition of the same or similar act


would be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this decision be furnished the


Bar Confidant to be entered in the personal
record of the respondent as a member of the
Philippine Bar; the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for distribution to all its chapters;
and the Office of the Court Administrator for
circulation to all courts throughout the
country.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De


Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez,
Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe,
Leonen and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.
Brion, J., on leave.

C. No. 10952, January 26, 2016 - ENGEL PAUL ACA, Complainant, v. ATTY.
RONALDO P. SALVADO, Respondent.

SC MANILA

EN BANC

A.C. No. 10952, January 26, 2016

ENGEL PAUL ACA, Complainant, v. ATTY. RONALDO P. SALVADO, Respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

This refers to the October 11, 2014 Resolution1 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Board of Governors (IBP-BOG) which adopted and approved with modification the Report
and Recommendation2 of the Investigating Commissioner suspending Atty. Ronaldo P.
Salvado (Atty. Salvado) from the practice of law.

The Complaint:

On May 30, 2012, Engel Paul Aca filed an administrative complaint3 for disbarment against
Atty. Salvado for violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.014 and Canon 7, Rule 7.035 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Complainant alleged, among others, that sometime in 2010, he met Atty. Salvado through
Atty. Samuel Divina (Atty. Divina), his childhood friend; that Atty. Salvado introduced
himself as a lawyer and a businessman engaged in several businesses including but not
limited to the lending business; that on the same occasion, Atty. Salvado enticed the
complainant to invest in his business with a guarantee that he would be given a high
interest rate of 5% to 6% every month; and that he was assured of a profitable investment
due by Atty. Salvado as the latter had various clients and investors.

Because of these representations coupled by the assurance of Atty. Salvado that he would
not place his reputation as a lawyer on the line, complainant made an initial investment in
his business. This initial investment yielded an amount corresponding to the principal plus
the promised interest. On various dates from 2010 to 2011, complainant claimed that he
was again induced by Atty. Salvado to invest with promises of high rates of return.

As consideration for these investments, Atty. Salvado issued several post-dated checks in
the total amount of P6,107,000.00, representing the principal amount plus interests. All
checks were drawn from PSBank Account number 040331-00087-9, fully described as
follows:

Check
Date Issued Amount
Number

August 14,
0060144 P 657,000.00
2011

September
0060147 P 530,000.00
29, 2011

September
0060190 P 60,000.00
29, 2011

October 16,
0060194 P 90,000.00
2011

October 17,
0060206 P 2,120,000.00
2011

October 29,
0060191 P 1,060,000.00
2011

November
0060195 P 1,590,000.00
16, 2011

Upon presentment, however, complainant was shocked to learn that the aforementioned
checks were dishonored as these were drawn from insufficient funds or a closed account.

Complainant made several verbal and written demands upon Atty. Salvado, who at first,
openly communicated with him, assuring him that he would not abscond from his
obligations and that he was just having difficulty liquidating his assets and collecting from
his own creditors. Complainant was even informed by Atty. Salvado that he owned real
properties that could serve as payment for his obligations. As time went by, however, Atty.
Salvado began to avoid complainant's calls and text messages. Attempts to meet up with
him through common friends also proved futile. This prompted complainant to refer the
matter to his lawyer Atty. Divina, for appropriate legal action.

On December 26, 2011, Atty. Divina personally served the Notice of Dishonor on Atty.
Salvado, directing him to settle his total obligation in the amount of P747,000.00,
corresponding to the cash value of the first two (2) PSBank checks, within seven (7) days
from receipt of the said notice.6Nevertheless, Atty. Salvado refused to receive the said
notice when Atty. Divina's messenger attempted to serve it on him.

Sometime in April 2012, complainant yet again engaged the services of Atty. Divina, who,
with his filing clerk and the complainant's family, went to Atty. Salvado's house to
personally serve the demand letter. A certain "Mark" who opened the gate told the filing
clerk that Atty. Salvado was no longer residing there and had been staying in the province
already.

As they were about to leave, a red vehicle arrived bearing Atty. Salvado. Complainant
quickly alighted from his vehicle and confronted him as he was about to enter the gate of
the house. Obviously startled, Atty. Salvado told him that he had not forgotten his debt and
invited complainant to enter the house so they could talk. Complainant refused the
invitation and instead told Atty. Salvado that they should talk inside his vehicle where his
companions were.

During this conversation, Atty. Salvado assured complainant that he was working on
"something" to pay his obligations. He still refused to personally receive or, at the least,
read the demand letter.

Despite his promises, Atty. Salvado failed to settle his obligations.

For complainant, Atty. Salvado's act of issuing worthless checks not only constituted a
violation ofBatas Pambansa Bilang 22 (B.P. 22) or the "Anti-Bouncing Checks Law," but also
reflected his depraved character as a lawyer. Atty. Salvado not only refused to comply with
his obligation, but also used his knowledge of the law to evade criminal prosecution. He
had obviously instructed his household staff to lie as to his whereabouts and to reject any
correspondence sent to him. This resort to deceitful ways showed that Atty. Salvado was
not fit to remain as a member of the Bar.

The Defense of the Respondent

On July 24, 2012, Atty. Salvado filed his Answer,7 denying that he told complainant that he
had previously entered into various government contracts and that he was previously
engaged in some other businesses prior to engaging in the lending and rediscounting
business. Atty. Salvado asserted that he never enticed complainant to invest in his
business, but it was Atty. Divina's earnings of good interest that attracted him into making
an investment. He further stated that during their initial meeting, it was complainant who
inquired if he still needed additional investments; that it was Atty. Divina who assured
complainant of high returns; and that complainant was fully aware that the money invested
in his businesses constituted a loan to his clients and/or borrowers. Thus, from time to
time, the return of investment and accrued interest when due - as reflected in the maturity
dates of the checks issued to complainant- could be delayed, whenever Atty. Salvado's
clients requested for an extension or renewal of their respective loans. In other words, the
checks he issued were merely intended as security or evidence of investment.

Atty. Salvado also claimed that, in the past, there were instances when he would request
complainant not to deposit a check knowing that it was not backed up by sufficient funds.
This arrangement had worked until the dishonor of the checks, for which he readily offered
his house and lot located in Marikina City as collateral.

The Reply of Complainant


On August 30, 2012, complainant filed his Reply,8 pointing out that Atty. Salvado did not
deny receiving money from him by way of investment. Thus, he must be deemed to have
admitted that he had issued several postdated checks which were eventually
dishonored. Atty. Salvado's claim that it was complainant himself who prodded him about
making investments must be brushed aside for being self-serving and baseless.
Assuming arguendo, that complainant indeed made offers of investment, Atty. Salvado
should have easily refused knowing fully well that he could not fund the checks that he
would be issuing when they become due. If it were true that the checks were issued for
complainant's security, Atty. Salvado could have drafted a document evidencing such
agreement. His failure to present such document, if one existed at all, only proved that the
subject checks were issued as payment for complainant's investment.
Complainant also clarified that his complaint against Atty. Salvado was never meant to
harass him. Despite the dishonor of the checks, he still tried to settle the dispute with Atty.
Salvado who left him with no choice after he refused to communicate with him properly.

Thereafter, the parties were required to file their respective mandatory conference briefs
and position papers. Atty. Salvado insisted that he had acted in all honesty and good faith
in his dealings with the complainant. He also emphasized that the title to his house and lot
in Greenheights Subdivision, Marikina City, had been transferred in the name of
complainant after he executed a deed of sale as an expression of his "desire and
willingness to settle whatever is due to the complainant."10chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Report and Recommendation of


Investigating Commissioner

On January 2, 2014, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that Atty. Salvado be


meted a penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six (6) months for engaging in a
conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law and for behaving in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. Atty. Salvado's act of issuing
checks without sufficient funds to cover the same constituted willful dishonesty and
immoral conduct which undermine the public confidence in the legal profession.

The IBP-BOG Resolution

On October 11, 2014, the IBP-BOG adopted and approved the recommendation with
modification as to the period of suspension. The IBP-BOG increased the period of Atty.
Salvado's suspension from six (6) months to two (2) years.

Neither a motion for reconsideration before the IBP-BOG nor a petition for review before
this Court was filed. Nonetheless, the IBP elevated to this Court the entire records of the
case for appropriate action with the IBP Resolution being merely recommendatory and,
therefore, would not attain finality, pursuant to par. (b), Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules
of Court.11chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The Court's Ruling

The parties gave conflicting versions of the controversy. Complainant, claimed to have
been lured by Atty. Salvado into investing in his businesses with the promise of yielding
high interests, which he believed because he was a lawyer who was expected to protect his
public image at all times. Atty. Salvado, on the other hand, denied having enticed the
complainant, whom he claimed had invested by virtue of his own desire to gain profits. He
insisted that the checks that he issued in favor of complainant were in the form of security
or evidence of investment. It followed, according to Atty. Salvado, that he must be
considered to have never ensured the payment of the checks upon maturity. Atty. Salvado
strongly added that the dishonor of the subject checks was "purely a result of his gullibility
and inadvertence, with the unfortunate result that he himself was a victim of failed lending
transactions xxx."12chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
The Court sustains the findings of the IBP-BOG and adopts its recommendation in part.

First. A perusal of the records reveals that complainant's version deserves credence, not
only due to the unambiguous manner by which the narrative of events was laid down, but
also by the coherent reasoning the narrative has employed. The public is, indeed, inclined
to rely on representations made by lawyers. As a man of law, a lawyer is necessarily a
leader of the community, looked up to as a model citizen.13 A man, learned in the law like
Atty. Salvado, is expected to make truthful representations when dealing with persons,
clients or otherwise. For the Court, and as the IBP-BOG had observed, complainant's being
beguiled to part with his money and believe Atty. .Salvado as a lawyer and businessman
was typical human behavior worthy of belief. The Court finds it hard to believe that a
person like the complainant would not find the profession of the person on whose
businesses he would invest as important to consider. Simply put, Atty. Salvado's stature as
a member of the Bar had, in one way or another, influenced complainant's decision to
invest.

Second. It must be pointed out that the denials proffered by Atty. Salvado cannot belie the
dishonor of the checks. His strained explanation that the checks were mere securities
cannot be countenanced. Of all people, lawyers are expected to fully comprehend the legal
import of bouncing checks. InLozano v. Martinez,14 the Court ruled that the gravamen of
the offense punished by B.P. 22 is the act of making and issuing a worthless check; that is,
a check that is dishonored upon its presentation for payment. The thrust of the law is to
prohibit, under pain of penal sanctions, the making and circulation of worthless checks.
Because of its deleterious effects on the public interest, the practice is proscribed by the
law.

Hence, the excuse of "gullibility and inadvertence" deserves scant consideration. Surely,
Atty. Salvado is aware that promoting obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the
land is the primary obligation of lawyers. When he issued the worthless checks, he
discredited the legal profession and created the public impression that laws were mere
tools of convenience that could be used, bended and abused to satisfy personal whims and
desires. In Lao v. Medel,15 the Court wrote that the issuance of worthless checks
constituted gross misconduct, and put the erring lawyer's moral character in serious doubt,
though it was not related to his professional duties as a member of the Bar. Covered by this
dictum is Atty. Salvado's business relationship with complainant. His issuance of the subject
checks display his doubtful fitness as an officer of the court. Clearly, he violated Rule 1.01
and Rule 7.03 of the CPR.

Third. Parenthetically, the Court cannot overlook Atty. Salvado's deceiving attempts to
evade payment of his obligations. Instead of displaying a committed attitude to his
creditor, Atty. Salvado refused to answer complainant's demands. He even tried to make
the complainant believe that he was no longer residing at his given address. These acts
demonstrate lack of moral character to satisfy the responsibilities and duties imposed on
lawyers as professionals and as officers of the court. The subsequent offers he had made
and the eventual sale of his properties to the complainant, unfortunately cannot overturn
his acts unbecoming of a member of the Bar.

Fourth. The Court need not elaborate on the correctness of the Investigating
Commissioner's reliance on jurisprudence stating that administrative cases against lawyers
belong to a class of their own and may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases,
including violations of B.P. 22.

Accordingly, the only issue in disciplinary proceedings against lawyers is the respondent's
fitness to remain as a member of the Bar. The Court's findings have no material bearing on
other judicial actions which the parties may choose to file against each
other.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
All told, the Court finds that Atty. Salvado's reprehensible conduct warrants a penalty
commensurate to his violation of the CPR and the Lawyer's Oath.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Atty. Ronaldo P. Salvado GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01, Canon
1 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, the
Court SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.

Let copies of this decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines, and all courts all over the country. Let a copy of this decision be attached
to the personal records of the respondent.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo,
Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.cralawlawlibrary