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CONSTITUTIONAL LAW>Rights of the Accused>Bail

JUAN PONCE ENRILE, Petitioner, vs.


SANDIGANBAYAN (THIRD DIVISION), AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondents.

G.R. No. 213847, August 18, 2015

(En Banc)

FACTS:
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile has been charged with plunder in the Sandiganbayan
on the purported misuse of appropriations under the Priority Development Assistance
Fund (PDAF). Enrile filed a Motion for Detention at the PNP General Hospital and his
Motion to Fix Bail on the ground that he was not a flight risk and his age and physical
condition must further be seriously considered, among others. However, the
Sandiganbayan denied the motion since it is premature for the Court to fix the amount of
bail without an anterior showing that the evidence of guilt is not strong.

ISSUE: Whether Enriles poor health justifies his admission to bail.

HELD: YES

In now granting Enriles petition for certiorari, the Court is guided by the earlier
mentioned principal purpose of bail, which is to guarantee the appearance of the accused
at the trial, or whenever so required by the court. The Court is further mindful of the
Philippines responsibility in the international community arising from the national
commitment under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to:

x x x uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the worth and dignity of every person.
This commitment is enshrined in Section II, Article II of our Constitution which provides: "The State
values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights." The
Philippines, therefore, has the responsibility of protecting and promoting the right of every person to
liberty and due process, ensuring that those detained or arrested can participate in the proceedings
before a court, to enable it to decide without delay on the legality of the detention and order their
release if justified. In other words, the Philippine authorities are under obligation to make available
to every person under detention such remedies which safeguard their fundamental right to liberty.
These remedies include the right to be admitted to bail.

This national commitment to uphold the fundamental human rights as well as value the
worth and dignity of every person has authorized the grant of bail not only to those
charged in criminal proceedings but also to extraditees upon a clear and convincing
showing: (1) that the detainee will not be a flight risk or a danger to the community; and
(2) that there exist special, humanitarian and compelling circumstances.
In our view, his social and political standing and his having immediately surrendered to
the authorities upon his being charged in court indicate that the risk of his flight or
escape from this jurisdiction is highly unlikely. His personal disposition from the onset of
his indictment for plunder, formal or otherwise, has demonstrated his utter respect for
the legal processes of this country. We also do not ignore that at an earlier time many
years ago when he had been charged with rebellion with murder and multiple frustrated
murder, he already evinced a similar personal disposition of respect for the legal
processes, and was granted bail during the pendency of his trial because he was not seen
as a flight risk. With his solid reputation in both his public and his private lives, his long
years of public service, and historys judgment of him being at stake, he should be
granted bail.

The currently fragile state of Enriles health presents another compelling justification for
his admission to bail, but which the Sandiganbayan did not recognize.

It is relevant to observe that granting provisional liberty to Enrile will then enable him to
have his medical condition be properly addressed and better attended to by competent
physicians in the hospitals of his choice. This will not only aid in his adequate
preparation of his defense but, more importantly, will guarantee his appearance in court
for the trial.

On the other hand, to mark time in order to wait for the trial to finish before a
meaningful consideration of the application for bail can be had is to defeat the objective
of bail, which is to entitle the accused to provisional liberty pending the trial. There may
be circumstances decisive of the issue of bail whose existence is either admitted by the
Prosecution, or is properly the subject of judicial notice that the courts can already
consider in resolving the application for bail without awaiting the trial to finish. The
Court thus balances the scales of justice by protecting the interest of the People through
ensuring his personal appearance at the trial, and at the same time realizing for him the
guarantees of due process as well as to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

LEGAL & JUDICIAL ETHICS>Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer

MA. CECILIA CLARISSA C. ADVINCULA, Complainant, vs.


ATTY. LEONARDO C. ADVINCULA, Respondent.
A.C. No. 9226 June 14, 2016
(En Banc)

FACTS:

This administrative case stemmed from the complaint for disbarment against
respondent by no less than his wife. She averred that respondent committed unlawful
and immoral acts: he sired a child with a woman other than his lawful wife was a
conduct way below the standards of morality required of every lawyer, among others.

ISSUE: Whether the respondents act of siring a child outside a lawful marriage
constitute an immoral conduct which is prohibited in the Code that would warrant a
disbarment.
HELD: NO

The good moral conduct or character must be possessed by lawyers at the time of their
application for admission to the Bar, and must be maintained until retirement from the
practice of law. In this regard, the Code of Professional Responsibility states:

Rule 1.0 I - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
xx xx
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.
xx xx
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

Accordingly, it is expected that every lawyer, being an officer of the Court, must not only
be in fact 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. More
specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the Court is required not only to refrain
from adulterous relationships or keeping mistresses but also to conduct himself as to
avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral
standards. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic
ideals, whoever is enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles
but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of
good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned,
than the possession of legal learning.

Immoral conduct has been described as conduct that is so willful, flagrant, or shameless
as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community. To be the basis of disciplinary action, such conduct must not only be
immoral, but grossly immoral, that is, it must be so corrupt as to virtually 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.

On different occasions, we have disbarred or suspended lawyers for immorality based on


the surrounding circumstances of each case. In Bustamante-Alejandro v. Alejandro, the
extreme penalty of disbarment was imposed on the respondent who had abandoned his
wife and maintained an illicit affair with another woman. Likewise, disbarment was the
penalty for a lawyer who carried on an extra-marital affair with a married woman prior to
the judicial declaration that her marriage was null and void, while he himself was also
married. In another case we have suspended for two years, a married attorney who had
sired a child with a former client. In Samaniego v. Ferrer, suspension of six months from
the practice of law was meted on the philandering lawyer.

Yet, we cannot sanction Atty. Advincula with the same gravity. Although his siring the
child with a woman other than his legitimate wife constituted immorality, he committed
the immoral conduct when he was not yet a lawyer. The degree of his immoral conduct
was not as grave than if he had committed the immorality when already a member of the
Philippine Bar. Even so, he cannot escape administrative liability. Taking all the
circumstances of this case into proper context, the Court considers suspension from the
practice of law for three months to be condign and appropriate.

REMEDIAL LAW>Civil Procedure>Post-judgment remedies>Appeals from judgments


or final orders of the NLRC

SUGARSTEEL INDUSTRIAL, INC. and MR. BEN YAPJOCO, Petitioners, vs.


VICTOR ALBINA, VINCENT UY and ALEX VELASQUEZ, Respondents.
G.R. No. 168749, June 6, 2016
(First Division)
FACTS:
Respondents Albina, Uy, and Velasquez charged the petitioners in the Regional
Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) with having
illegally dismissed them as kettleman, assistant kettleman and inspector, respectively.
The Labor Arbiter (LA) ruled that the dismissal of the respondents was justified. NLRC
affirmed the decision of the LA. Aggrieved, the respondents assailed the result through
their petition for certiorari in the CA.

CA granted the petition for certiorari. It ruled that the NLRC's affirmance of the
LA's decision did not accord with the evidence on record and the applicable law and
jurisprudence.

ISSUE: Whether CA gravely abused its discretion by disregarding the factual findings of
the Labor Arbiter that the NLRC affirmed?

HELD: NO

As a rule, the certiorari proceeding, being confined to the correction of acts rendered
without jurisdiction, in excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion that
amounts to lack or excess of jurisdiction, is limited in scope and narrow in character. As
such, the judicial inquiry in a special civil action for certiorari in labor litigation
ascertains only whether or not the NLRC acted without jurisdiction or in excess of its
jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of
jurisdiction.

We find that the CA did not exceed its jurisdiction by reviewing the evidence and deciding
the case on the merits despite the judgment of the NLRC already being final. We have
frequently expounded on the competence of the CA in a special civil action for certiorari to
review the factual findings of the NLRC. In Univac Development, Inc. v. Soriano, for
instance, we have pronounced that the CA is "given the power to pass upon the evidence,
if and when necessary, to resolve factual issues," without contravening the doctrine of
the immutability of judgments. The power of the CA to pass upon the evidence flows from
its original jurisdiction over the special civil action for certiorari, by which it can grant the
writ of certiorari to correct errors of jurisdiction on the part of the NLRC should the
latter's factual findings be not supported by the evidence on record; or when the granting
of the writ of certiorari is necessary to do substantial justice or to prevent a substantial
wrong; or when the findings of the NLRC contradict those of the LA; or when the granting
of the writ of certiorari is necessary to arrive at a just decision in the case. The premise is
that any decision by the NLRC that is not supported by substantial evidence is a decision
definitely tainted with grave abuse of discretion. Should the CA annul the decision of the
NLRC upon its finding of jurisdictional error on the part of the latter, then it has the
power to fully lay down whatever the latter ought to have decreed instead as the records
warranted. The judicial function of the CA in the exercise of its certiorari jurisdiction over
the NLRC extends to the careful review of the NLRC's evaluation of the evidence because
the factual findings of the NLRC are accorded great respect and finality only when they
rest on substantial evidence. Accordingly, the CA is not to be restrained from revising or
correcting such factual findings whenever warranted by the circumstances simply
because the NLRC is not infallible. Indeed, to deny to the CA this power is to diminish its
corrective jurisdiction through the writ of certiorari.

The policy of practicing comity towards the factual findings of the labor tribunals does
not preclude the CA from reviewing the findings, and from disregarding the findings upon
a clear showing of the NLRC's capricious, whimsical or arbitrary disregard of the
evidence or of circumstances of considerable importance crucial or decisive of the
controversy. In such eventuality, the writ of certiorari should issue, and the CA, being
also a court of equity, then enjoys the leeway to make its own independent evaluation of
the evidence of the parties as well as to ascertain whether or not substantial evidence
supported the NLRC's ruling.
CIVIL LAW>Obligations>Novation

INTERPORT RESOURCES CORPORATION, Petitioner, vs.


SECURITIES SPECIALIST, INC., and R.C. LEE SECURITIES INC., Respondents.
G.R. No. 154069, June 6, 2016
(First Division)

FACTS:

Oceanic Oil and Mineral Resources, Inc. entered into a subscription agreement
with R.C. Lee, covering 5,000,000 of its shares. Thereupon, R.C. Lee paid 25% of the
subscription, leaving 75% unpaid. Consequently, Oceanic issued the subscription
agreements to R.C. Lee.
Oceanic merged with Interport, with the latter as the surviving corporation. In
1979, respondent SSI, a dealer in securities, received in the ordinary course of business
the Oceanic subscription agreements. Then R.C. Lee paid its unpaid subscriptions and
was accordingly issued stock certificates corresponding thereto despite failure of
INterport to show the list of subscription agreements under his name.
SSI tendered payment prior to the deadline when Interport issued a call for the full
payment of the subscription receivables but Interport rejected it. SSI then wrote R.C. Lee
demanding delivery of the 5,000,000 Interport shares on the basis of the purported
assignment of the subscription agreements covering the shares made in 1979 but the
latter failed to return the subject shares inasmuch it had already sold the same to other
parties. SSI also made demands upon Interport and R.C. Lee for the cancellation of the
shares issued to R.C. Lee and for the delivery of the shares to SSI.
After its demands were not met, SSI commenced an action before the SEC to
compel respondents to deliver the 5,000,000 shares and to pay damages. It alleged fraud
and collusion between Interport and R.C. Lee in rejecting the tendered payment and the
transfer of the shares covered by the subscription agreements. SEC ruled in favor of SSI
but the same was revered by the SEC En Banc.

ISSUE: Whether the assignment of the subscription agreements to SSI effectively


extinguished the obligation of R.C. Lee to Oceanic.

HELD: YES
The SEC correctly categorized the assignment of the subscription agreements as a form
of novation by substitution of a new debtor and which required the consent of or notice of
the creditor. We agree. Under the Civil Code, obligations may be modified by: (1) changing
their object or principal conditions; or (2) substituting the person of the debtor; or (3)
subrogating a third person in the rights of the creditor. Novation, which consists in
substituting a new debtor In the place of the original one, may be made even without the
knowledge or against the will of the latter, but not without the consent of the creditor. In
this case, the change of debtor took place when R.C. Lee assigned the Oceanic shares
under the Subscription Agreement Nos. 1805, and 1808 to 1811 to SSI so that the latter
became obliged to settle the 75% unpaid balance on the subscription.

The SEC likewise did not err in appreciating the fact that Interport was duly notified of
the assignment when SSI tendered its payment for the 75% unpaid balance, and that it
could not anymore refuse to recognize the transfer of the subscription that SSI
sufficiently established by documentary evidence.

Yet, Interport claims that SSI waived its rights over the 5,000,000 shares due to its
failure to register the assignment in the books of Interport; and that SSI was stopped
from claiming the assigned shares, inasmuch as the assignor, R.C. Lee, had already
transferred the same to third parties.
Interports claim cannot be upheld. It should be stress that novation extinguished an
obligation between two parties.

Clearly the effect of the assignment of the subscription agreements to SSI was to
extinguish the obligation of R.C. Lee to Oceanic, now Interport, to settle the unpaid
balance on the subscription. As a result of the assignment, Interport was no longer
obliged to accept any payment from R.C. Lee because the latter had ceased to be privy to
Subscription Agreements Nos. 1805, 1808 to 1811 for having been extinguished insofar
as it was concerned. On the other hand, Interport was legally bound to accept SSIs
tender of payment for the 75% balance on the subscription price because SSI had
become the new debtor under Subscription Agreements Nos. 1805, 1808 to 1811. As
such, the issuance of the stock certificates in the name of R.C. Lee had no legal basis in
the absence of a contractual agreement.
LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS>Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer>attorneys
fees

NENITA D. SANCHEZ, Petitioner, vs.


ATTY. ROMEO G. AGUILOS, Respondent.
A.C. No. 10543, March 16, 2016
(First Division)
FACTS:

Complainant has charged respondent with misconduct for the latters refusal to
return the amount of P70,000 she had paid for his professional services despite not
having performed the contemplated professional services. IBP recommended that
respondent to return to the complainant the amount of P30,000 which he received
because it is excessive.

ISSUE: Whether respondent should return the entire amount received from the client
despite failure to accomplish tasks which he is naturally expected to perform during his
professional engagement?

HELD: YES

We can easily agree that every attorney is entitled to have and receive a just and
reasonable compensation for services performed at the special instance and request of
his client. As long as the attorney is in good faith and honestly trying to represent and
serve the interests of the client, he should have a reasonable compensation for such
services.

The attorneys fees shall be those stipulated in the retainers agreement between the
client and the attorney, which constitutes the law between the parties for as long as it is
not contrary to law, good morals, good customs, public policy or public order. The
underlying theory is that the retainers agreement between them gives to the client the
reasonable notice of the arrangement on the fees. Once the attorney has performed the
task assigned to him in a valid agreement, his compensation is determined on the basis
of what he and the client agreed. In the absence of the written agreement, the lawyers
compensation shall be based on quantum meruit, which means as much as he deserved.
The determination of attorneys fees on the basis of quantum meruit is also authorized
when the counsel, for justifiable cause, was not able to finish the case to its conclusion.
Moreover, quantum meruit becomes the basis of recovery of compensation by the attorney
where the circumstances of the engagement indicate that it will be contrary to the
parties expectation to deprive the attorney of all compensation.

Nevertheless, the court shall determine in every case what is reasonable compensation
based on the obtaining circumstances, provided that the attorney does not receive more
than what is reasonable, in keeping with Section 24 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
The courts supervision of the lawyers compensation for legal services rendered is not
only for the purpose of ensuring the reasonableness of the amount of attorneys fees
charged, but also for the purpose of preserving the dignity and integrity of the legal
profession.

The respondent should not have accepted the engagement because as it was later
revealed, it was way above his ability and competence to handle the case for annulment
of marriage. As a consequence, he had no basis to accept any amount as attorneys fees
from the complainant. He did not even begin to perform the contemplated task he
undertook for the complainant because it was improbable that the agreement with her
was to bring the action for legal separation. His having supposedly prepared the petition
for legal separation instead of the petition for annulment of marriage was either his way
of covering up for his incompetence, or his means of charging her more. Either way did
not entitle him to retain the amount he had already received.

LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS>Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer

THE CHRISTIAN SPIRITISTS IN THE PHILIPPINES, INC., PICO LOCAL CENTER


(CSP-PLC), Complainant, vs.
ATTY. DANIEL D. MANGALLAY, Respondent.
A.C. No. 10483 March 16, 2016
(First Division)

FACTS:

Respondent Attorney, as the plaintiff, successfully defeated the local congregation


of the CSP-PLC, whose church building and other structures were the objects of the
action. After the defendants filed a notice of appeal, parties agreed to settle among
themselves, wherein the defendants will withdraw the notice of appeal and voluntarily
vacate and remove the structures in consideration of respondents financial assistance.
But despite receiving the financial assistance, the defendants reneged on their end of the
agreement. At the respondents instance, the trial court issued the writ of execution and
the writ of demolition.

The demolition impelled CSP-PLC to bring disbarment complaint against


respondent on his alleged gross misconduct and deceit in causing the demolition of the
structures without the demolition order from the court. They alleged that respondent
took advantage of his legal knowledge to cause the premature demolition of the
structures sans the demolition order, among others.

ISSUE: Whether respondent erred when it appropriated the dismantled materials as


compensation for the expenses incurred in the demolition.

HELD: NO

Specifically, the demolition was authorized by the order issued by the MTC on December
19, 2013.18 in the execution of the final and executory decision in Civil Case No. R-1256,
the sheriffs dutifully discharged their functions. The presence of the respondent during
the execution proceedings was by no means irregular or improper, for he was the plaintiff
in Civil Case No. R-1256. The complainant was then represented by Pante and some
other members of the congregation, who did not manifest any resistance or objection to
any irregularity in the conduct of the execution. After all, elements of the Philippine
National Police were also present to ensure the peaceful implementation of the writ of
execution.

Neither do we find anything wrong, least of all criminal, in the act of the respondent of
taking away the materials of the demolished structures. The parties put an end to their
dispute by the defendants, including the complainant and Pante, opting to withdraw their
notice of appeal and undertaking to voluntarily vacate and to peacefully turn over the
premises to the respondent by August 31, 2013 in exchange for the latters financial
assistance of the P300,000.00. The respondent paid the amount in the MTC on March
20, 2013, and the amount was later on received by Maria Omiles, Feliciano Omiles, Jr.,
and Noralyn T. Abad as the representatives of the CSP-PLC on the same day. But the
latter reneged on their part of the agreement without returning the P300,000.00 to the
respondent, who was left to exhaust his legal remedies to enforce the judgment against
them. It is notable that the judgment expressly directed him "to exercise his option
pursuant to the provisions of Article 448 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines within
thirty (30) days from the finality of this judgment insofar as the improvements introduced
by the defendants on the subject property." Article 448 of the Civil Code granted to him
as the owner of the premises, among others, "the right to appropriate as his own the
works, sowing or planting, after payment of the indemnity provided for in articles 546
and 548." His act of taking the materials of the demolished structures was undoubtedly
the exercise of the right of appropriating them in light of the fact that the P300,000.00
earlier delivered as financial assistance was most likely meant to indemnify the supposed
builders in good faith.
REMEDIAL LAW>Post-judgment remedies>Annulment of judgments or final orders

TUNG HUI CHUNG and TONG HONG CHUNG, Petitioners, vs.


SHIH CHIU HUAN a.k.a. JAMES SHIH, Respondent.
G.R. No. 170679 March 9, 2016
(First Division)

FACTS:

Petitioners, both Australian citizens, filed in the RTC a complaint to recover from
the respondent a sum of money and damages which involved a contract to sell. In said
contract, respondent, as the vendor, undertook to deliver to the petitioners, as the
vendees, shares of stock worth P10M in a publicly listed corporation.
After respondent failed to deliver the shares, they entered into a compromise
agreement which was approved by the RTC. In said agreement, respondent acknowledged
his obligation to the petitioners in the amount of $250,000 which he promised to pay in
US currency by installment.
However, after the payment of the initial amount of $20,000, respondent failed to
pay the second installment despite demand. Petitioners then sought the execution of the
judgement upon the compromise agreement through their motion for execution. RTC
then granted said motion and issued the writ of execution.
Respondent then filed a motion to quash writ of execution but was denied by the
RTC. Respondent then went to the CA on certiorari alleging that the RTC committed
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the writ of execution, the order denying the motion to
quash the writ of execution, claiming that the compromise agreement was patently
unjust, one-sided, unfair, fraudulent and unconscionable; hence the RTC should not
have issued the writ of execution.
CA annulled the judicially-approved compromise agreement. Hence, this petition.

ISSUE: Whether the CA was correct in nullifying and setting aside the judgment based
on the compromise agreement.

HELD: NO

To start with, a compromise agreement is a contract whereby the parties make reciprocal
concessions to avoid litigation or to put an end to one already commenced. It is an
accepted, nay, even highly encouraged practice in the courts of law of this jurisdiction. It
attains the authority and effect of res judicata upon the parties upon its execution, and
becomes immediately final and executory, unless rescinded by grounds which vitiate
consent. Once stamped with judicial imprimatur, it ceases to be a mere contract between
the parties, and becomes a judgment of the court, to be enforced through writ of
execution.

The CA did not recognize that what it was asked to annul and set aside in C.A.-G.R. SP
No. 88804 was no longer the compromise agreement of the parties but already the
judgment based on the compromise agreement. The failure to recognize led the CA into
granting the unprecedented relief of annulling the compromise agreement on the ground
of fraud and lack of consent. In so doing, the CA acted without jurisdiction. First of all,
the action before the CA was a special civil action for certiorari that had been brought on
March 7, 2005, which was way beyond the period of 60 days from the rendition of the
judgment based on the compromise agreement on October 20, 2003. The long delay
grossly violated Section 4, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, which allowed the petition for
certiorari to be filed not later than 60 days from notice of the judgment being assailed.
Moreover, the grounds relied upon by the respondent in his petition for certiorari in C.A.-
G.R. SP No. 88804 that the RTC had committed grave abuse of discretion tantamount
to excess or lack of jurisdiction for issuing the writ of execution that was patently unjust,
one-side, unfair, fraudulent and unconscionable compromise agreement; and for issuing
the writ of execution of the compromise agreement that lacked consideration were not
proper grounds for assailing the judgment based on the compromise agreement. Even
assuming that such grounds for the petition for certiorari were true, which they were not,
the judgment based on the compromise agreement could not be assailed on that basis.
As the foregoing excerpt of the assailed decision bears out, the annulment of the
judgment based on the compromise agreement was premised on fraud and lack of
consent on the part of the respondent as a contracting party, which were far from the
jurisdictional error on which the petition for certiorari should have rested.

LABOR LAW>Termination of employment>Employer-employee relationship

ALUMAMAY JAMIAS, et al., Petitioners, vs.


NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION, et al., Respondent.
G.R. No. 159350, March 9, 2016
(First Division)

FACTS:
Respondent Innodata Philippines, Inc, a domestic corporation engaged in the
business of data processing and conversion for foreign clients hired petitioners on
various dates and under a one-year term.
After their respective contracts expired, petitioners filed a complaint for illegal
dismissal claiming that Innodata had made it appear that they had been hired as project
employees in order to prevent them from becoming regular employees.
The Labor Arbiter dismissed the compliant on the ground that petitioners had
knowingly signed their respective contracts in which the durations of their engagements
were clearly stated and that their fixed term contracts, being exemptions to Article 280 of
the Labor Code, precluded their claiming regularization.
On appeal, the NLRC affirmed the decision of the Labor Arbiter. CA upheld the
NLRC.

ISSUE: Whether a fixed period in a contract of employment in itself signify intention to


circumvent Article 280 of the Labor Code.

HELD: NO

The provision1 contemplates three kinds of employees, namely: (a) regular employees; (b)
project employees; and (c) casuals who are neither regular nor project employees. The
nature of employment of a worker is determined by the factors provided in Article 280 of
the Labor Code, regardless of any stipulation in the contract to the contrary. Thus, in
Brent School, Inc. v. Zamora, we explained that the clause referring to written contracts
should be construed to refer to agreements entered into for the purpose of circumventing
the security of tenure. Obviously, Article 280 does not preclude an agreement providing
for a fixed term of employment knowingly and voluntarily executed by the parties.

A fixed term agreement, to be valid, must strictly conform with the requirements and
conditions provided in Article 280 of the Labor Code. The test to determine whether a
particular employee is engaged as a project or regular employee is whether or not
the employee is assigned to carry out a specific project or undertaking, the
duration or scope of which was specified at the time of his engagement. There must
be a determination of, or a clear agreement on, the completion or termination of the
project at the time the employee is engaged. Otherwise put, the fixed period of
employment must be knowingly and voluntarily agreed upon by the parties, without any
force, duress or improper pressure being brought to bear upon the employee and absent
any other circumstances vitiating his consent, or it must satisfactorily appear that the

1 Article 280 of the Labor Code


employer and employee dealt with each other on more or less equal terms with no moral
dominance whatsoever being exercised by the former on the latter engagement as well as
their respective project assignments (i.e., Jamias being assigned to the CD-ROM project;
Cruz and Matuguinas to the TSET project). There is no indication that the petitioners
were made to sign the contracts against their will. Neither did they refute Innodatas
assertion that it did not employ force, intimidate or fraudulently manipulate the
petitioners into signing their contracts, and that the terms thereof had been explained
and made known to them. Hence, the petitioners knowingly agreed to the terms of and
voluntarily signed their respective contracts.

That Innodata drafted the contracts with its business interest as the overriding
consideration did not necessarily warrant the holding that the contracts were prejudicial
against the petitioners.47 The fixing by Innodata of the period specified in the contracts
of employment did not also indicate its ill-motive to circumvent the petitioners security of
tenure. Indeed, the petitioners could not presume that the fixing of the one-year term
was intended to evade or avoid the protection to tenure under Article 280 of the Labor
Code in the absence of other evidence establishing such intention. This presumption
must ordinarily be based on some aspect of the agreement other than the mere
specification of the fixed term of the employment agreement, or on evidence aliunde of
the intent to evade.

REMEDIAL LAW>Execution of Judgments

SIMPLECIO A. MARSADA, Complainant, vs.


ROMEO M. MONTEROSO, Sheriff, IV, Regional Trial Court, Branch 34, Cabadbaran,
Agusan del Norte, Respondent.
A.M. No. P-10-2793 March 8, 2016
(En Banc)
FACTS:

A complaint for misconduct and dishonesty was filed by petitioner against respondent in
relation to the latters conduct in the service of the writ of execution in an action for the
collection of a monetary obligation.

A decision was held in favor of Marsada, the judge issued a writ of execution only
as far as the amount of P35,000 is concerned. When the writ was implemented,
Monteroso delivered only P25,000 to Marsada, but he requested the latter to sign a
prepared typewritten receipt indicating that he received the said amount as full and
entire satisfaction of the defendants obligation. Marsada later asked for the balance but
Monteroso informed him that the defendant no longer had any property or money with
which to fully satisfy the judgment. Thus, Marsada went to see the judge to seek another
writ of execution showing the receipt he had signed at Monterosos request. At this, the
judge blamed Marsada for signing the receipt. Hence, Marsada brought his
administrative complaint against respondent.

ISSUE: Whether the sheriff erred when it unilaterally discontinued the effort to recover
the balance of the subject of the writ of execution.

HELD: YES

The writ of execution should mirror the judgment that it enforces. The form and contents
of the writ of execution are specified in Section 8, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.

Under this provision of the Rules of Court, Monteroso could enforce the writ of execution
only according to its terms, in the manner herein after provided. However, he was
remiss in his duty to enforce the writ by collecting only P25,000.00. Even assuming that
he had only been successful in collecting P25,000.00 from the defendant, he still
exceeded his authority in requesting Marsada to sign the typewritten acknowledgment
receipt reflecting the P25,000.00 as the full and complete satisfaction of the writ of
execution. He had neither basis nor reason to have Marsada sign the receipt in that tenor
because the text and tenor of the writ of execution expressly required the recovery of
P35,000.00 from the losing party.

Also, Marsada claimed that Monteroso had represented to him that the defendant could
no longer pay the balance. The representation, even if true, did not justify Monterosos
unilateral decision to discontinue the effort to recover the balance. It clearly devolved
upon him as the sheriff to levy upon the execution debtors properties, if any, as well as
to garnish the debts due to the latter and the credits belonging to the latter. The duty to
exhaust all efforts to recover the balance was laid down in Section 9, Rule 39 of the Rules
of Court.

Thus, Monteroso was guilty of misconduct, which the Court has defined in Dela Cruz v.
Malunao in the following manner:

Misconduct is a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more particularly,
unlawful behavior or gross negligence by the public officer. 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. Corruption, as an element of grave misconduct, consists in the act of an official or fiduciary
person who unlawfully and wrongfully uses his position or office to procure some benefit for himself
or for another person, contrary to duty and the rights of others. Section 2, Canon 1 of the Code of
Conduct for Court Personnel states: "Court personnel shall not solicit or accept any gift, favor or
benefit based on any or explicit understanding that such gift, favor or benefit shall influence their
official actions."

Marsada did not establish that the act complained of was tainted with corruption, willful
intent to violate the law, or disregard of established rules. Consequently, Monterosos
lability only amounted to simple misconduct2.

LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS>Adjudicative Responsibilities

SPOUSES CESAR AND THELMA SUSTENTO, Complainants, vs.


JUDGE FRISCO T. LILAGAN, Respondent.
A.M. No. RTJ-11-2275, March 8, 2016 (En Banc)

FACTS:
On January 26, 2009, complainants filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari before the
RTC. Almost 6 months had elapsed and only after complainants filed for Early Resolution
before the Respondent dismissed the Petition. On December 1, 2009, complainants then
filed a Motion for Reconsideration. On December 8, 2009, complainants filed a Reply on
the Comments/Answer submitted by their opposing party. On December 10, 2009,
respondent judge issued an Order deeming the MR submitted for resolution.

Complainant then charged the respondent with undue delay in the resolution of
the petition for certiorari and undue delay in the resolution of their MR beyond the 90-
day period in violation of AC No. 38-98 and Section 15, Article VIII of the Constitution.
However, up to the date of the instant administrative matter was filed; respondent judge
has still yet to resolve the MR.

ISSUE: Whether the respondent is guilty of the less serious offense of undue delay in
rendering an order by not resolving the complainants motion for reconsideration within
the prescribed period.

2Section 46, D, of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative cases in the Civil
Service.
HELD: YES

What is obvious is that the respondent judge took too much time in disposing of the
petition for certiorari and the ensuing motion for reconsideration. The delays were plainly
violative of the injunction to him to act expeditiously on the matters 90 days from their
submission.

The respondent judge sought to justify his delay by citing the voluminous caseload he
had as the presiding judge. The justification does not persuade. Although we are not
insensitive to the heavy caseloads of the trial judges, we have allowed reasonable
extensions of the periods for the trial judges to resolve their cases. If the heavy caseload
of any judge should preclude his disposition of cases within the reglementary period, he
should notify the Court, through the Court Administrator, of the reasons or causes for
the delay, and request in writing a reasonable extension of the time to dispose of the
affected cases. No judge should arrogate unto himself the prerogative to extend the
period for deciding cases beyond the mandatory 90-day period.

The respondent judge insists that that he did not need to act on the resulting motion for
reconsideration because the petition for certiorari, being a prohibited pleading, was a
contravention of the rules of procedure. Such insistence did not justify his inability to act
promptly. The fact that the petition for certiorari was a prohibited pleading furnished him
a better reason to act promptly on the petition for certiorari and the motion for
reconsideration.

We are also not swayed by his other excuses of not having then a legal researcher
assigned to him; and of his branch clerk of court being recently appointed. The court's
business did not stop because of such events; hence, he could not use such excuses to
delay his actions on the pending matters before his court. Verily, the responsibility for the
prompt and expeditious action on the case, which belonged first and foremost to him as
the presiding judge, could not be shifted to others like the legal researcher or the recently
appointed branch clerk of court.

The respondent cannot be spared from the consequences of his undue delays in the case
of the complainants. He did not show that he ever requested the Court for the additional
time within which to dispose of the matters therein. It then becomes inescapable for him
to face the consequences of his inexplicable inaction. He was guilty of gross inefficiency
and neglect of duty. Failure to render a decision within the 90-day period from the
submission of a case for decision is detrimental to the honor and integrity of the judicial
office, and constitutes a derogation of the speedy administration of justice

LEGAL ETHICS>Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer

ANGELITO RAMISCAL and MERCEDES ORZAME, Complainants, vs.


ATTY. EDGAR S. ORRO, Respondent.

A.C. No. 10945 (Formerly CBD 09-2507), February 23, 2016 (En Banc)

FACTS:
Complainants Spouses Angelito and Mercedes Ramiscal engaged the legal services
of respondent Atty. Edgar Orro to handle a case in which they were the defendants filed
in the Regional Trial Court. RTC decided in their favor. As expected, the plaintiff filed an
appeal to the Court of Appeals.

Later on, respondent did not inform them that the CA reversed the decision of the
RTC which they only learned from their neighbors. After much effort, they finally reached
the respondent. He asked for P7,000 as his fee in filing the motion for reconsideration in
their behalf and then they paid to him the said amount. To their dismay, they later
discovered that he did not file the motion for reconsideration; hence, the decision
attained finality, eventually resulting in the loss of their property. Consequently, the
Ramiscals brought this administrative complaint against the respondent. The IBP
suspended respondent from the practice of law for two years.

ISSUE: Whether respondent did not competently and diligently discharge his duties as a
lawyer.

HELD: YES

Every lawyer, upon becoming a member of the Philippine Bar, solemnly takes the
Lawyers Oath, by which he vows, among others, that: "I will delay no man for money or
malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients." If he should violate
the vow, he contravenes the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly its Canon 17,
and Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of Canon 18, viz.:

CANON 17 - A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of
the trust and confidence reposed in him.

CANON 18 A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence. x x x x

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

Rule 18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall
respond within a reasonable time to the client's request for information.

It is beyond debate, therefore, that the relationship of the lawyer and the client becomes
imbued with trust and confidence from the moment that the lawyer-client relationship
commences, with the lawyer being bound to serve his clients with full competence, and to
attend to their cause with utmost diligence, care and devotion. To accord with this highly
fiduciary relationship, the client expects the lawyer to be always mindful of the formers
cause and to be diligent in handling the formers legal affairs. As an essential part of
their highly fiduciary relationship, the client is entitled to the periodic and full updates
from the lawyer on the developments of the case. The lawyer who neglects to perform his
obligations violates Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

As a member of the Law Profession in the Philippines, the respondent had the foregoing
professional and ethical burdens. But he obviously failed to discharge his burdens to the
best of his knowledge and discretion and with all good fidelity to his clients. By
voluntarily taking up their cause, he gave his unqualified commitment to advance and
defend their interest therein. Even if he could not thereby guarantee to them the
favorable outcome of the litigation, he reneged on his commitment nonetheless because
he did not file the motion for reconsideration in their behalf despite receiving from them
the P7,000.00 he had requested for that purpose. He further neglected to regularly
update them on the status of the case, particularly on the adverse result, thereby leaving
them in the dark on the proceedings that were gradually turning against their interest.
Updating the clients could have prevented their substantial prejudice by enabling them to
engage another competent lawyer to handle their case. As it happened, his neglect in that
respect lost for them whatever legal remedies were then available. His various omissions
manifested his utter lack of professionalism towards them.