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A CADEMICUS REVIEW CENTER

Dean Ferdinand A. Tan


LEGAL ETHICS CASES (2012-2016)


J. BERSAMIN

RE: Verified Complaint of Engr. Oscar L. Ongjoco, Chairman of the Board/CEO of FH-GYMN Multi-
Purpose and Transport Service Cooperative, against Hon. Juan Enriquez, Jr., Hon. Ramon Bato, Jr.,
and Hon. Florito S. Macalino, Associate Justices, Court of Appeals
A.M. OCA IPI No. 11-184-CA-J, January 31, 2012

BERSAMIN, J.:
Judicial officers do not have to suffer the brunt of unsuccessful or dissatisfied litigants baseless and false
imputations of their violating the Constitution in resolving their cases and of harboring bias and partiality
towards the adverse parties. The litigant who baselessly accuses them of such violations is not immune from
appropriate sanctions if he thereby affronts the administration of justice and manifests a disrespect towards the
judicial office.
FACTS:
On June 7, 2011, the Court received a letter from Engr. Oscar L. Ongjoco, claiming himself to be the Chairman
of the Board and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the FH-GYMN Multi-Purpose and Transport Service
Cooperative (FH-GYMN). The letter included a complaint-affidavit, whereby Ongjoco charged the CAs Sixth
Division composed of Associate Justice Juan Q. Enriquez, Jr. (as Chairman), Associate Justice Ramon M. Bato,
Jr., and Associate Justice Florito S. Macalino as Members for rendering an arbitrary and baseless decision in
CA-G.R. SP No. 102289 entitled FH-GYMN Multi-Purpose and Transport Service Cooperative v. Allan Ray A.
Baluyut, et al.
The genesis of CA-G.R. SP No. 102289 started when FH-GYMN requested the amendment of Kautusang
Bayan Blg. 37-02-97 of the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan through the Committee on Transportation and
Communications (Committee) of the Sangguniang Panlungsod in order to include the authorization of FH-
GYMNs Chairman to issue motorized tricycle operators permit (MTOP) to its members. During the ensuing
scheduled public hearings, City Councilors Allan Ray A. Baluyut and Nolly Concepcion, together with ABC
President Bartolome B. Aguirre and one Noel Mendoza (an employee of the Sanggunian), were alleged to have
uttered statements exhibiting their bias against FH-GYMN. Indeed, the Sanggunian, acting upon the
recommendation of the Committee, denied the request of FH-GYMN.
FH-GYMN brought a complaint in the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon charging Baluyut,
Concepcion, Aguirre, Mendoza with violations of Article 124(2)(d) of the Cooperative Code, Section 3(e) and
(f) of the Republic Act No. 3019 (Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act), and Section 5(a) of Republic Act No.
6713 (Code of Conduct for Public Officials and Employees). The complaint also charged Eduardo de Guzman
(FRAHTODA President) and Wilson de Guzman (BMTODA President). Eventually, the complaint of FH-
GYMN was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence as to the public officials, and for lack of merit and lack of
jurisdiction as to the private respondents. FH-GYMN sought reconsideration, but its motion to that effect was
denied. CAs Sixth Division denied the petition for review. Ongjoco initiated this administrative case against the
aforenamed member of the CAs Sixth Division.
Ongjoco insists that the decision promulgated on January 31, 2011 by the CAs Sixth Division had no legal
foundation and did not even address the five issues presented in the petition for review; and that the
respondents as members of the CAs Sixth Division thereby violated Section 14, Article VIII of the
Constitution.

ISSUE: Whether or not the administrative complaint must be dismissed


RULING: Yes
The insistence of Ongjoco is unfounded. The essential purpose of the constitutional provision is to
require that a judicial decision be clear on why a party has prevailed under the law as applied to the facts as
proved; the provision nowhere demands that a point-by-point consideration and resolution of the issues raised
by the parties are necessary. Its decision shows that the CAs Sixth Division complied with the requirements of
the constitutional provision. Indeed, the definitive pronouncement of the CAs Sixth Division that the Deputy

Ombudsman found no substantial evidence to prove that there was interference in the internal affairs of FH-
GYMN nor was there a violation of the law by the respondents met the constitutional demand for a clear and
distinct statement of the facts and the law on which the decision was based. The CAs Sixth Division did not
have to point out and discuss the flaws of FH-GYMNs petition considering that the decision of the Deputy
Ombudsman sufficiently detailed the factual and legal bases for the denial of the petition. Moreover, the CAs
Sixth Division expressly found that FH-GYMN had not discharged its burden as the petitioner of proving its
allegations with substantial evidence. In administrative cases involving judicial officers, the complainants
always carried on their shoulders the burden of proof to substantiate their allegations through substantial
evidence.
Ongjoco ought to know, if he genuinely wanted the Court to sustain his allegations of misconduct against
respondent Justices, that his administrative complaint must rest on the quality of the evidence; and that his
basing his plain accusations on hunches and speculations would not suffice to hold them administratively liable
for rendering the adverse decision. Nonetheless, he exhibited disrespect for respondent Justices judicial office
by still filing this administrative complaint against them despite conceding in the administrative complaint
itself his having no proof of his charges. We seize this occasion, therefore, to stress once again that disciplinary
proceedings and criminal actions brought against any judge in relation to the performance of his official
functions are neither complementary to nor suppletory of appropriate judicial remedies, nor a substitute for
such remedies. Any party who may feel aggrieved should resort to these remedies, and exhaust them, instead of
resorting to disciplinary proceedings and criminal actions.
A judges failure to correctly interpret the law or to properly appreciate the evidence presented does not
necessarily incur administrative liability for to hold him administratively accountable for every erroneous
ruling or decision he renders, assuming he has erred, will be nothing short of harassment and will make his
position doubly unbearable. His judicial office will then be rendered untenable, because no one called upon to
try the facts or to interpret the law in the process of administering justice can be infallible in his
judgment. Administrative sanction and criminal liability should be visited on him only when the error is so
gross, deliberate and malicious, or is committed with evident bad faith, or only in clear cases of violations by
him of the standards and norms of propriety and good behavior prescribed by law and the rules of procedure, or
fixed and defined by pertinent jurisprudence.

Ferdinand Samson vs. Atty. Edgardo Era


A.C. No. 6664, July 16, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
An attorney who wittingly represents and serves conflicting interests may be suspended from the practice of
law, or even disbarred when circumstances so warrant.
FACTS:
Ferdinand A. Samson has brought this complaint for disbarment charging respondent Atty. Edgardo 0. Era with
violation of his trust and confidence of a client by representing the interest of Emilia C. Sison, his present
client, in a manner that blatantly conflicted with his interest. Samson and his relatives were among the investors
who fell prey to the pyramiding scam perpetrated by ICS Exports, Inc. Exporter, Importer, and Multi-Level
Marketing Business. Samson engaged Atty. Era to represent and assist him and his relatives in the criminal
prosecution of Sison and her group. Pursuant to the engagement, Atty. Era prepared the demand letter dated
July 19, 2002 demanding the return or refund of the money subject of their complaints. He also prepared the
complaint-affidavit that Samson signed and swore to on July 26, 2002. After the preliminary investigation, the
OCPQC formally charged Sison and the others with several counts of estafa in the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 96 (RTC), in Quezon City.
In April 2003, Atty. Era called a meeting with Samson and his relatives to discuss the possibility of an amicable
settlement with Sison and her cohorts. He told Samson and the others that undergoing a trial of the cases would
just be a waste of time, money and effort for them, and that they could settle the cases with Sison and her
group, with him guaranteeing the turnover to them of a certain property located in Antipolo City belonging to
ICS Corporation in exchange for their desistance. They acceded and executed the affidavit of desistance he
prepared, and in turn they received a deed of assignment covering land registered under Transfer Certificate of
Title No. R-4475 executed by Sison in behalf of ICS Corporation.
Samson and his relatives later demanded from Atty. Era that they be given instead a deed of absolute sale to
enable them to liquidate the property among themselves. It took some period of negotiations between them and
Atty. Era before the latter delivered to them on November 27, 2003 five copies of a deed of absolute sale
involving the property. However, Atty. Era told them that whether or not the title of the property had been
encumbered or free from lien or defect would no longer be his responsibility. He further told them that as far as
he was concerned he had already accomplished his professional responsibility towards them upon the amicable
settlement of the cases between them and ICS Corporation. When Samson and his co-complainants verified the

title of the property at the Registry of Deeds and the Assessors Office of Antipolo City, they were dismayed to
learn that they could not liquidate the property because it was no longer registered under the name of ICS
Corporation but was already under the name of Bank Wise Inc. Upon their urging, Atty. Era negotiated as their
counsel with ICS Corporation. Due to the silence of Atty. Era for sometime thereafter, Samson and his group
wrote to him on September 8, 2004 to remind him about his guarantee and the promise to settle the issues with
Sison and her cohorts. But they did not hear from Atty. Era at all. During the hearings in the RTC, Atty. Era did
not anymore appear for Samson and his group. This forced them to engage another lawyer. They were shocked
to find out later on, however, that Atty. Era had already been entering his appearance as the counsel for Sison in
her other criminal cases in the other branches of the RTC in Quezon City involving the same pyramiding scam
that she and her ICS Corporation had perpetrated. On January 20, 2005, Samson executed an affidavit alleging
the foregoing antecedents, and praying for Atty. Eras disbarment on the ground of his violation of the trust,
confidence and respect reposed in him as their counsel.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Era violated the Code of Professional Responsibility

RULING: Yes
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that: A lawyer shall not represent
conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Atty.
Era thus owed to Samson and his group entire devotion to their genuine interest, and warm zeal in the
maintenance and defense of their rights. He was expected to exert his best efforts and ability to preserve the
clients cause, for the unwavering loyalty displayed to his clients likewise served the ends of justice. The rule
prohibiting conflict of interest was fashioned to prevent situations wherein a lawyer would be representing a
client whose interest is directly adverse to any of his present or former clients. In the same way, a lawyer may
only be allowed to represent a client involving the same or a substantially related matter that is materially
adverse to the former client only if the former client consents to it after consultation. The rule is grounded in
the fiduciary obligation of loyalty. Throughout the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all
the facts connected with the client's case, including the weak and strong points of the case. Knowledge and
information gathered in the course of the relationship must be treated as sacred and guarded with care. It
behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of
treachery and double-dealing, for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers,
which is paramount in the administration of justice. The nature of that relationship is, therefore, one of trust and
confidence of the highest degree.
Contrary to Atty. Eras ill-conceived attempt to explain his disloyalty to Samson and his group, the termination
of the attorney-client relationship does not justify a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with
that of the former client. The spirit behind this rule is that the clients confidence once given should not be
stripped by the mere expiration of the professional employment. Even after the severance of the relation, a
lawyer should not do anything that will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which the lawyer
previously represented the client. Nor should the lawyer disclose or use any of the clients confidences acquired
in the previous relation. In this regard, Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Responsibility expressly declares
that: A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence
reposed in him.
The lawyers highest and most unquestioned duty is to protect the client at all hazards and costs even to
himself. The protection given to the client is perpetual and does not cease with the termination of the litigation,
nor is it affected by the clients ceasing to employ the attorney and retaining another, or by any other change of
relation between them. It even survives the death of the client. In the absence of the express consent from
Samson and his group after full disclosure to them of the conflict of interest, therefore, the most ethical thing
for Atty. Era to have done was either to outrightly decline representing and entering his appearance as counsel
for Sison, or to advice Sison to engage another lawyer for herself. Unfortunately, he did neither, and should
now suffer the proper sanction.

Czarina Malvar vs. Kraft Food Phils. Inc.


G.R. No. 183952, September 9, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
Although the practice of law is not a business, an attorney is entitled to be properly compensated for the
professional services rendered for the client, who is bound by her express agreement to duly compensate the
attorney. The client may not deny her attorney such just compensation.
FACTS:
Kraft Foods (Phils.), Inc. (KFPI) hired Czarina Malvar as its Corporate Planning Manager. From then on, she
gradually rose from the ranks, becoming in 1996 the Vice President for Finance in the Southeast Asia Region

of Kraft Foods International (KFI), KFPIs mother company. On November 29, 1999, respondent Bienvenido
S. Bautista, as Chairman of the Board of KFPI and concurrently the Vice President and Area Director for
Southeast Asia of KFI, sent Malvar a memo directing her to explain why no administrative sanctions should be
imposed on her for possible breach of trust and confidence and for willful violation of company rules and
regulations. Following the submission of her written explanation, an investigating body was formed. In due
time, she was placed under preventive suspension with pay. Ultimately, on March 16, 2000, she was served a
notice of termination. Obviously aggrieved, Malvar filed a complaint for illegal suspension and illegal
dismissal against KFPI and Bautista in the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Labor Arbiter found
and declared her suspension and dismissal illegal, and ordered her reinstatement, and the payment of her full
backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits, plus attorneys fees. NLRC affirmed the decision of the
Labor Arbiter but additionally ruled that Malvar was entitled to any and all stock options and bonuses she was
entitled to or would have been entitled to had she not been illegally dismissed from her employment, as
well as to moral and exemplary damages. Labor Arbiter Jaime M. Reyno issued an order, finding that the
RCUs computation lacked legal basis for including the salary increases that the decision promulgated in CA-
G.R. SP No. 69660 did not include. Hence, Labor Arbiter Reyno reduced Malvars total monetary award to
P27,786,378.11 Malvar and the respondents entered into a compromise agreement. the Court received on
February 15, 2011 a so-called Motion for Intervention to Protect Attorneys Rights from The Law Firm of
Dasal, Llasos and Associates, through its Of Counsel Retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Josue N.
Bellosillo18 (Intervenor), whereby the Intervenor sought, among others, that both Malvar and KFPI be held and
ordered to pay jointly and severally the Intervenors contingent fees.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Motion for Intervention to protect attorneys rights can prosper, and, if so, how
much could it recover as attorneys fees.

RULING:
A client has the absolute right to terminate the attorney-client relationship at any time with or without cause.
But this right of the client is not unlimited because good faith is required in terminating the relationship. The
limitation is based on Article 19 of the Civil Code, which mandates that [e]very person must, in the exercise of
his rights and in the performance of his duties, act with justice, give everyone his due, and observe honesty and
good faith. The right is also subject to the right of the attorney to be compensated. This is clear from Section
26, Rule 138 of the Rules of CourtIt is basic that an attorney is entitled to have and to receive a just and
reasonable compensation for services performed at the special instance and request of his client. The attorney
who has acted in good faith and honesty in representing and serving the interests of the client should be
reasonably compensated for his service.
In the absence of the lawyers fault, consent or waiver, a client cannot deprive the lawyer of his just fees
already earned in the guise of a justifiable reason. Here, Malvar not only downplayed the worth of the
Intervenors legal service to her but also attempted to camouflage her intent to defraud her lawyer by offering
excuses that were not only inconsistent with her actions but, most importantly, fell short of being justifiable.
It is necessary to state that no court can shirk from enforcing the contractual stipulations in the manner they
have agreed upon and written. As a rule, the courts, whether trial or appellate, have no power to make or
modify contracts between the parties. Nor can the courts save the parties from disadvantageous provisions. The
same precepts hold sway when it comes to enforcing fee arrangements entered into in writing between clients
and attorneys. In the exercise of their supervisory authority over attorneys as officers of the Court, the courts
are bound to respect and protect the attorneys lien as a necessary means to preserve the decorum and
respectability of the Law Profession. Hence, the Court must thwart any and every effort of clients already
served by their attorneys worthy services to deprive them of their hard-earned compensation. Truly, the duty
of the courts is not only to see to it that attorneys act in a proper and lawful manner, but also to see to it that
attorneys are paid their just and lawful fees.

Atty. Oscar Embido, Regional Director National Bureau of Investigation, Western Visayas Regional
Officevs. Atty. Salvador Pe, Jr. Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of San Jose, Antique
A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
A lawyer who forges a court decision and represents it as that of a court of law is guilty of the gravest
misconduct and deserves the supreme penalty of disbarment.
FACTS:
Atty. Ronel F. Sustituya, Clerk of Court of the RTC, received a written communication from Mr. Ballam
Delaney Hunt, a Solicitor in the United Kingdom (UK). The letter requested a copy of the decision dated
February 12, 1997 rendered by Judge Rafael O. Penuela in Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the

Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna, whose petitioner was one Shirley Quioyo. On
September 9, 2004, the RTC received another letter from Mr. Hunt, reiterating the request for a copy of the
decision in Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of
Rey Laserna. Judge Penuela instructed the civil docket clerk to retrieve the records of Special Proceedings Case
No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna. It was then discovered
that the RTC had no record of Special Proceedings No. 084 wherein Shirley Quioyo was the petitioner. Instead,
the court files revealed that Judge Penuela had decided Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter of
the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rolando Austria, whose petitioner was one Serena Catin Austria.
Informed that the requested decision and case records did not exist, Mr. Hunt sent a letter dated October 12,
2004 attaching a machine copy of the purported decision in Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter
of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna that had been presented by Shirley Quioyo in court
proceedings in the UK. After comparing the two documents and ascertaining that the document attached to the
October 12, 2004 letter was a falsified court document, Judge Penuela wrote Mr. Hunt to apprise him of the
situation. Dy Quioyo, a brother of Shirley Quioyo, executed an affidavit on March 4, 2005,7 wherein he stated
that it was the respondent who had facilitated the issuance of the falsified decision in Special Proceedings No.
084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna for a fee of P60,000.00.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent was guilty of grave misconduct

RULING:
The respondent was guilty of grave misconduct for having authored the falsification of the decision in a non-
existent court proceeding. Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility demands that all lawyers should
uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of the Legal Profession. Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility states that a lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession. Lawyers are further required by Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility not to
engage in any unlawful, dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct. Gross immorality, conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude, or fraudulent transactions can justify a lawyers disbarment or suspension from the
practice of law. Specifically, the deliberate falsification of the court decision by the respondent was an act that
reflected a high degree of moral turpitude on his part. Worse, the act made a mockery of the administration of
justice in this country, given the purpose of the falsification, which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the
personal status of a person. He thereby became unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.
It then becomes timely to remind all members of the Philippine Bar that they should do nothing that may in
any way or degree lessen the confidence of the public in their professional fidelity and integrity. The Court
will not hesitate to wield its heavy hand of discipline on those among them who wittingly and willingly fail to
meet the enduring demands of their Attorneys Oath.
No lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal profession is always a privilege that
the Court extends only to the deserving, and that the Court may withdraw or deny the privilege to him who fails
to observe and respect the Lawyers Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in his professional and private
capacities. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law not only for acts and omissions of
malpractice and for dishonesty in his professional dealings, but also for gross misconduct not directly
connected with his professional duties that reveal his unfitness for the office and his unworthiness of the
principles that the privilege to practice law confers upon him. Verily, no lawyer is immune from the
disciplinary authority of the Court whose duty and obligation are to investigate and punish lawyer misconduct
committed either in a professional or private capacity. The test is whether the conduct shows the lawyer to be
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, and whether the conduct renders the lawyer
unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court.

Jocelyn de Leon vs. Atty. Tyrone Pedrea


A.C. No 9401, October 22, 2013
BERSAMIN, J.:
A lawyer who commits overt acts of sexual harassment against a female client is guilty of reprehensible
conduct that is unbecoming of a member of the Bar, and may be condignly punished with suspension from the
practice of law.
FACTS:
Jocelyn de Leon filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a complaint for disbarment or suspension
from the practice of law against Atty. Tyrone Pedrea, a Public Attorney. She averred in her complaintaffidavit
that Atty. Pedrea had sexually harassed her.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. Pedrea is liable

RULING:
The records show that Atty. Pedrea rubbed the complainants right leg with his hand; tried to insert his finger
into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area; and pressed his finger
against her private part. Given the circumstances in which he committed them, his acts were not merely
offensive and undesirable but repulsive, disgraceful and grossly immoral. They constituted misconduct on the
part of any lawyer. In this regard, it bears stressing that immoral conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to
constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed under
such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the communitys sense of decency. The possession of
good moral character is both a condition precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant admission to the
Bar and to retain membership in the Legal Profession. Members of the Bar are clearly duty bound to observe
the highest degree of morality and integrity in order to safeguard the reputation of the Bar. Any errant behavior
on the part of a lawyer that tends to expose a deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor,
be it in the lawyers public or private activities, is sufficient to warrant the lawyers suspension or
disbarment.17 Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, provides that a member of the Bar may be disbarred
or suspended for grossly immoral conduct, or violation of his oath as a lawyer. Towards that end, we have not
been remiss in reminding members of the Bar to live up to the standards and norms of the Legal Profession by
upholding the ideals and principles embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Atty. Pedreas misconduct was aggravated by the fact that he was then a Public Attorney mandated to provide
free legal service to indigent litigants, and by the fact that De Leon was then such a client. He also disregarded
his oath as a public officer to serve others and to be accountable at all times, because he thereby took advantage
of her vulnerability as a client then in desperate need of his legal assistance.

Heinz Heck vs. City Prosecutor Casiano Gamotin Jr,


A.C. No. 5329, March 18, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
A lawyer like the respondent is not to be sanctioned for every perceived misconduct or wrong actuation. He is
still to be presumed innocent of wrongdoing until the proof arrayed against him establishes otherwise. It is the
burden of the complainant to properly show that the assailed conduct or actuation constituted a breach of the
norms of professional conduct and legal ethics. Otherwise, the lawyer merits exoneration.
FACTS:
Heck filed of a criminal case for unjust vexation against Cabrera in the Office of the City Prosecutor
(OCP) in Cagayan de Oro City but the case was dismissed. Cabrera countered with two criminal cases against
Heck one charging the latter with illegal possession of firearms (I.S. No. 20001860) and the other with
unlawful incrimination of an innocent person (Criminal Case No. 1232). Atty. Adaza represented Cabrera in
both cases. The OCP initially dismissed I.S. No. 20001860 for insufficiency of evidence, but Atty. Adaza
moved for the reconsideration of the dismissal which was granted by the respondent. Heck challenged the order
of the respondent.
Heck claimed that the respondent scheduled a meeting at his office to be attended by Heck, his lawyer,
his wife and Atty. Adaza. However, Atty. Adaza did not attend the meeting. Heck alleged, however, that Atty.
Adaza and the respondent held their own separate private meeting, for which reason Heck questioned the
propriety of the private meeting and the possibility of connivance between the respondent and Atty. Adaza.
Heck went to the respondents office to pick up documents supposedly promised to him. But he was
denied the documents. He further alleged that Prosecutor Gamotin, Jr. entered his office, the door was held
open by a chair. Passing the door, Prosecutor Gamotin, Jr. furiously KICKED the chair who was holding the
door to his office open, sending the chair flying onto the other chairs at his conference table. Then he
SLAMMED the door, almost hitting the face of Mr. Coufal. Heck then asked why the respondent was still
entertaining Atty. Adaza despite his having been already suspended from the practice of law by the Supreme
Court.
It appears that Heck had filed administrative complaints against the respondent in the Department of
Justice (DOJ); as well as in the Office of the Ombudsman. The records were first referred to the Office of the
Court Administrator, then to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation of the merits of the
disbarment case against the respondent. The OBC observed that although there was no clear, convincing and
satisfactory evidence of misconduct as to warrant the penalty of disbarment, the respondents conduct should
be sanctioned; that his act of privately entertaining Atty. Adaza and his brother, as well as allowing his office to
be used for a meeting even in his absence raised doubt on his integrity; that the respondents reaction to Hecks
tirade against the countrys justice system, particularly the respondents retort that Heck should go back to his

country if he did not believe in the Philippine authorities, constituted decorum that was so unbecoming of a
lawyer.

ISSUE: Whether or not City Prosecutor Gamotin should be disbarred.

RULING: NO
We consider that the evidence adduced by the complainant insufficient to warrant the disbarment of the
respondent. A lawyer like the respondent is not to be sanctioned for every perceived misconduct or wrong
actuation. He is still to be presumed innocent of wrongdoing until the proof arrayed against him establishes
otherwise. It is the burden of the complainant to properly show that the assailed conduct or actuation
constituted a breach of the norms of professional conduct and legal ethics. Otherwise, the lawyer merits
exoneration.
To begin with, the holding of the meeting between Atty. Babarin, Hecks counsel, and Atty. Adaza in
the respondents office was not suspicious or irregular, contrary to the insinuation of Heck. We are not
unmindful of the practice of some legal practitioners to arrange to meet with their opposing counsels and their
clients in the premises of the offices of the public prosecutors or in the courthouses primarily because such
premises are either a convenient or a neutral ground for both sides
Secondly, we cannot sanction the respondent for having angrily reacted to Hecks unexpected tirade in
his presence. The respondent was not then reacting to an attack on his person, but to Hecks disrespectful
remark against Philippine authorities in general. Lawyers may be expected to maintain their composure and
decorum at all times, but they are still human, and their emotions are like those of other normal people placed
in unexpected situations that can crack their veneer of selfcontrol. The Court will not permit the respondents
good record to be tarnished by his having promptly reacted to Hecks remark.
Lastly, Heck complains that the respondent still entertained Atty. Adaza despite the latter having been
already suspended from the practice of law. The respondent explains, however, that he had no personal
knowledge of Atty. Adazas suspension and that such information was not properly disseminated to the proper
offices.
We are inclined to believe the respondents explanation. We believe that the respondent was not yet aware of
the suspension at that time. It was possible that at the occasion when Atty. Adaza appeared before the
respondent on September 15, 2000, his suspension had not yet attained finality, or that the order of suspension
had not yet been known to the respondent. Accordingly, it will be unjustified to hold the respondent liable for
allowing Atty. Adaza to practice law and to represent his client in the OCP of Cagayan de Oro City.

Benjamin Ong vs. Atty. William Delos Santos


A.C. No. 10179 (Formerly CBD 112985), March 04, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
Every lawyer is an officer of the Court. He has the duty and responsibility to maintain his good moral
character. In this regard, good moral character is not only a condition precedent relating to his admission into
the practice of law, but is a continuing imposition in order for him to maintain his membership in the
Philippine Bar. Any gross misconduct that puts his moral character in serious doubt renders him unfit to
continue in the practice of law.
FACTS:
According to complainant Ong, Atty. Delos Santos asked him to encash his postdated check inasmuch
as he was in dire need of cash. To reassure Ong that the check would be funded upon maturity, Atty. Delos
Santos bragged about his lucrative practice and his good paying clients. Convinced of Atty. Delos Santos
financial stability, Ong handed to Atty. Delos Santos on January 29, 2008 the amount of P100,000.00 in
exchange for the latters Metrobank Check No. 0110268 postdated February 29, 2008. However, the check was
dishonored upon presentment for the reason that the account was closed. Ong demanded immediate payment to
Atty. Delos Santos, but the latter just ignored him. When efforts to collect remained futile, Ong brought a
criminal complaint for estafa and for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Ong also brought this disbarment
complaint against Atty. Delos Santos in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). IBP Bar Commissioner
Jose I. Dela Rama, Jr. stated that Ong had sufficiently established the existence of the dishonored check. He
recommended that Atty. Delos Santos be held liable for violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution adopting and
approving the findings of IBP Commissioner.

ISSUE: Whether or not Atty. William F. Delos Santos shall be held administratively liable.

RULING:
We agree with the findings of the IBP but modify the recommended penalty.
Every lawyer is an officer of the Court. He has the duty and responsibility to maintain his good moral
character. In this regard, good moral character is not only a condition precedent relating to his admission into
the practice of law, but is a continuing imposition in order for him to maintain his membership in the Philippine
Bar. Any gross misconduct that puts his moral character in serious doubt renders him unfit to continue in the
practice of law.
Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 has been enacted in order to safeguard the interest of the banking system and
the legitimate public checking account users. The effects of the issuance of a worthless check transcends the
private interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at
large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public. Being
a lawyer, Atty. Delos Santos was well aware of the objectives and coverage of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. If he
did not, he was nonetheless presumed to know them, for the law was penal in character and application. His
issuance of the unfunded check involved herein knowingly violated Batas Pambansa Blg. 22, and exhibited his
indifference towards the pernicious effect of his illegal act to public interest and public order.16 He thereby
swept aside his Lawyers Oath that enjoined him to support the Constitution and obey the laws. He also took
for granted the express commands of the Code of Professional Responsibility, specifically Canon 1, Rule 1.01
and Canon 7, Rule 7.03.
Moreover, in issuing the dishonored check, Atty. Delos Santos put into serious question not only his
personal integrity but also the integrity of the entire Integrated Bar. It cannot be denied that Ong acceded to
Atty. Delos Santos request for encashment of the check because of his complete reliance on the nobility of the
Legal Profession.
Accordingly, Atty. Delos Santos was guilty of serious misconduct, warranting appropriate administrative
sanction. Noting that the criminal complaint charging him with the violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was
already dismissed, and that he already repaid to Ong the full amount of P100,000.00,23 both of which are
treated as mitigating circumstances in his favor, we find the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to
suspend him from the practice of law for a period of three years harsh. Thus, we reduce the penalty to
suspension from the practice of law to six months in order to accord with the ruling in Philippine Amusement
and Gaming Corporation v. Carandang.

Henry Samonte vs. Atty. Gines Abellana


A.C. No. 3452, June 23, 2014
BERSAMIN, J.:
A lawyer who willfully resorts to any falsehood in order to mislead the courts or his clients on the
status of their causes exhibits his unworthiness to remain a member of the Law Profession. This is because he
is always expected to be honest and forthright in his dealings with them. He thereby merits the condign
sanction of suspension from the practice of law, if not disbarment.
FACTS:
Complainant Henry E. Samonte brought this administrative complaint against respondent Atty. Gines N.
AbelJana who had represented him as the plaintiff in Civil Case entitled Capt. Henry E. Samonte v.
Authographics, Inc., and Nelson Yu of the Regional Trial Court in Cebu City. In the administrative complaint,
Samonte enumerated the serious acts of professional misconduct by Atty. Abellana, to wit:
1. Falsification of documents, when Atty. Abellana made it appear that he had filed Civil Case No. CEB-
6970 on June 10, 1988, conformably with their agreement, although the complaint was actually filed on
June 14, 1988;
2. Dereliction of duty, when Atty. Abellana failed to: (a) file the reply vis--vis the answer with
counterclaim, with his omission having delayed the pre-trial of the case; (b) inform the trial court
beforehand that Samonte could not be available on a scheduled hearing, thereby incurring for the
plaintiffs side an unexplained absence detrimental to Samonte as the plaintiff; and (c) submit an
exhibit required by the trial judge, only to eventually submit it three months later;
3. Gross negligence and tardiness in attending the scheduled hearings;
and
4. Dishonesty for not issuing official receipts for every cash payments made by Samonte for his court
appearances and his acceptance of the case.

In his comment, Atty. Abellana denied the charge of falsification of documents, clarifying that the actual
filing of the complaint could be made only on June 14, 1988 instead of on June 10, 1988 because Samonte had
not given enough money to cover the filing fees and other charges.

On February 7, 2005, the IBP received a motion to quash from Atty. Abellana, seeking the dismissal of
the administrative complaint because of the lack of interest on the part of Samonte. On May 1, 2008, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline found Atty. Abellana negligent in handling certain aspects of his clients case.
The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the disbarment of Atty. Abellana, observing that
apart from his negligent handling of portions of the civil case, said respondent has shown a facility for utilizing
false and deceitful practices as a means to cover-up his delay and lack of diligence in pursuing the case of his
client. On June 5, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors, albeit adopting the findings of the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, suspended Atty. Abellana from the practice of law for one year.

ISSUE: Whether or not the suspension of Atty. Abellana shall be upheld.

RULING: YES
A lawyer who willfully resorts to any falsehood in order to mislead the courts or his clients on the
status of their causes exhibits his unworthiness to remain a member of the Law Profession. This is because
he is always expected to be honest and forthright in his dealings with them. He thereby merits the condign
sanction of suspension from the practice of law, if not disbarment.
In his dealings with his client and with the courts, every lawyer is expected to be honest, imbued with
integrity, and trustworthy. These expectations, though high and demanding, are the professional and ethical
burdens of every member of the Philippine Bar, for they have been given full expression in the Lawyers Oath
that every lawyer of this country has taken upon admission as a bona fide member of the Law Profession. By
the Lawyers Oath is every lawyer enjoined not only to obey the laws of the land but also to refrain from doing
any falsehood in or out of court or from consenting to the doing of any in court, and to conduct himself
according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his
clients. It is by no means a coincidence; therefore, that honesty, integrity and trustworthiness are emphatically
reiterated by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Atty. Abellana abjectly failed the expectations of honesty, integrity and trustworthiness in his dealings
with Samonte as the client, and with the RTC as the trial court. He resorted to outright falsification by
superimposing 0 on 4 in order to mislead Samonte into believing that he had already filed the complaint in
court on June 10, 1988 as promised, instead of on June 14, 1988, the date when he had actually done so.
Atty. Abellanas perfidy towards Samonte did not stop there. He continued misleading Samonte in
explaining his mishandling of the latters civil case. Worse, he also foisted his dishonesty on the Court no less.
The finding on Atty. Abellanas neglect in the handling of Samontes case was entirely warranted. He admitted
being tardy in attending the hearings of the civil case. He filed the formal offer of evidence in behalf of his
client way beyond the period to do so, a fact that he could not deny because the RTC Judge had himself
expressly noted the belated filing in the order issued in the case.
In the motion for reconsideration that he filed in the IBP Board of Governors, Atty. Abellana
challenged the sufficiency of the proof presented against him by Samonte, contending that such proof had
consisted of merely hearsay and self-serving evidence.
The contention of Atty. Abellana is bereft of substance. In disciplinary proceedings against lawyers,
clearly preponderant evidence is required to overcome the presumption of innocence in favor of the respondent
lawyers. Preponderant evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has
greater weight than that of the other. In order to determine if the evidence of one party is greater than that of the
other, Section 1, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court instructs that the court may consider the following, namely: (a)
all the facts and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their
means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they
testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses interest or want of interest, and
also their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the number of
witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the greater number. The
complainants evidence preponderantly established the administrative sins of Atty. Abellana.
The falsehoods committed by Atty. Abellana, being aimed at misleading his client and the Court to
bolster his unworthy denial of his neglect in the handling of the client's case, were unmitigated. Still, the Court
must not close its eyes to the fact that Atty. Abellana actually finished presenting his client's case; and that the
latter initiated the termination of Atty. Abellana's engagement as his counsel only after their relationship had
been tainted with mistrust. Thus, we determine the proper sanction. For Atty. Abellana, therefore, suspension
from the practice of law for six months with warning of a more severe sanction upon a repetition suffices.

Presiding Judge Jose Madrid vs. Atty. Juan Dealca


A.C. No. 7474, September 09, 2014

BERSAMIN, J.:
Although the Court always admires members of the Bar who are imbued with a high sense of vigilance to weed
out from the Judiciary the undesirable judges and inefficient or undeserving court personnel, any acts taken in
that direction should be unsullied by any taint of insincerity or self-interest.
FACTS:
On February 7, 2007, Atty. Juan S. Dealca entered his appearance in Criminal Case No. 2006-6795,
entitled People of the Philippines v. Philip William Arsenault presided by complainant Judge Jose L.
Madrid. But aside from entering his appearance as counsel for the accused, Atty. Dealca also moved that
Criminal Case No. 2006-6795 be re-raffled to another Branch of the RTC considering the adverse incidents
between the incumbent Presiding Judge and the undersigned, where he does not appear before the
incumbent Presiding Judge, and the latter does not also hear cases handled by the undersigned. Judge Madrid
denied Atty. Dealcas motion to re-raffle.
Consequently, Judge Madrid filed a letter complaint in the Office of the Bar Confidant citing Atty.
Dealcas unethical practice of entering his appearance and then moving for the inhibition of the presiding judge
on the pretext of previous adverse incidents between them. We treated the complaint as a regular administrative
complaint. On July 17, 2007, the Court referred the matter to the IBP for appropriate investigation, report and
recommendation.
On June 6, 2007, the Court in Yap v. Judge Madrid dismissed for its lack of merit the administrative
complaint against Judge Madrid for allegedly falsifying the transcript of stenographic notes of the hearing on
March 4, 2005 in Civil Case No. 2001-6842 entitled Joseph D. Yap V, et al. v. Joseph H. Yap III, but referred to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation the propensity of
Atty. Dealca to file administrative or criminal complaints against judges and court personnel whenever
decisions, orders or processes were issued adversely to him and his clients.
In compliance with the referral, the IBP-Sorsogon Chapter submitted its report. The documentary
evidence offered by complainants show that respondent Atty. Juan S. Dealca filed by himself five (5) cases
which are factual evidence of the cases that respondent had filed by himself and as counsel for the
complainants against court officers, judges and personnel as a consequence of the IBP Election and incidents in
cases that respondent had handled as counsel for the parties in the said cases.
All these cases are precipitated by the adverse ruling rendered by the court against the clients of the
respondent that instead of resorting to the remedies available under the Rules of Procedure, respondent assisted
his clients in filing administrative and criminal case against the judges and personnel of the court. All these
documentary evidence from (a) to (e) are helpful in determining the PROPENSITY of the respondent as a
member of the bar in resorting to harassment cases instead of going through the procedures provided for by the
Rules of Court in the event of adverse ruling, order or decision of the court.
IBP Commissioner Salvador B. Hababag ultimately submitted his Report and Recommendation finding
Atty. Dealca guilty of violating the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility by filing
frivolous administrative and criminal complaints; and recommending that Atty. Dealca be suspended from the
practice of law for one year because. In Resolution No. XVIII-2008-41, the IBP Board of Governors modified
the recommendation and dismissed the administrative complaint for its lack of merit.

ISSUES:
(1) Whether or not Atty. Dealca filed frivolous administrative and criminal complaints against judges and court
personnel in violation of the Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility

(2) Whether or not Atty. Dealca guilty of unethical practice in seeking the inhibition of Judge Madrid in
Criminal Case No. 2006-6795.

RULING:
Atty. Dealca must guard against his own impulse of initiating unfounded suits

Although the Court always admires members of the Bar who are imbued with a high sense of vigilance to
weed out from the Judiciary the undesirable judges and inefficient or undeserving court personnel, any acts
taken in that direction should be unsullied by any taint of insincerity or self-interest. It is for that reason that
Atty. Dealcas complaint against Judge Madrid has failed our judicious scrutiny, for the Court cannot find any
trace of idealism or altruism in the motivations for initiating it. Instead, Atty. Dealca exhibited his proclivity for
vindictiveness and penchant for harassment, considering that, as IBP Commissioner Hababag pointed out, his
bringing of charges against judges, court personnel and even his colleagues in the Law Profession had all
stemmed from decisions or rulings being adverse to his clients or his side. The Lawyers Oath is a source of
obligations and duties for every lawyer, and any violation thereof by an attorney constitutes a ground for
disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. These are not mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a

10

sacred trust that must be upheld and keep inviolable. As a lawyer, therefore, Atty. Dealca was aware of his duty
under his Lawyers Oath not to initiate groundless, false or unlawful suits. The duty has also been expressly
embodied in Rule 1.03, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Moreover, Atty. Dealca must be mindful of his mission to assist the courts in the proper administration
of justice. He disregarded his mission because his filing of the unfounded complaints, including this one against
Judge Madrid, increased the workload of the Judiciary. Although no person should be penalized for the
exercise of the right to litigate, the right must nonetheless be exercised in good faith. Atty. Dealcas bringing of
the numerous administrative and criminal complaints against judges, court personnel and his fellow lawyers did
not evince any good faith on his part, considering that he made allegations against them therein that he could
not substantially prove, and are rightfully deemed frivolous and unworthy of the Courts precious time and
serious consideration.
Atty. Dealca was apparently referring to the minute resolutions the Court could have promulgated in
frequently dismissing his unmeritorious petitions. His arrogant posturing would not advance his cause now. He
thereby demonstrated his plain ignorance of the rules of procedure applicable to the Court. The minute
resolutions have been issued for the prompt dispatch of the actions by the Court. Whenever the Court then
dismisses a petition for review for its lack of merit through a minute resolution, it is understood that the
challenged decision or order, together with all its findings of fact and law, is deemed sustained or upheld, and
the minute resolution then constitutes the actual adjudication on the merits of the case. The dismissal of the
petition, or its denial of due course indicates the Courts agreement with and its adoption of the findings and
conclusions of the court a quo.
The requirement for stating the facts and the law does not apply to the minute resolutions that the Court
issues in disposing of a case. The Court explained why in Borromeo v. Court of Appeals: The [Supreme] Court
x x x disposes of the bulk of its cases by minute resolutions and decrees them as final and executory, as where a
case is patently without merit, where the issues raised are factual in nature, where the decision appealed from is
supported by substantial evidence and is in accord with the facts of the case and the applicable laws, where it is
clear from the records that the petition is filed merely to forestall the early execution of judgment and for non-
compliance with the rules. The resolution denying due course or dismissing the petition always gives the legal
basis.

YES. Atty. Dealca violated Canon 11 and Rule 11.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility

Atty. Dealca maintains that Judge Madrid should have in good grace inhibited himself upon his
motion to inhibit in order to preserve confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary. However, IBP
Commissioner Hababag has recommended that Atty. Dealca be sanctioned for filing the motion to inhibit
considering that the motion, being purely based on his personal whims, was bereft of factual and legal bases.
The recommendation of IBP Commissioner Hababag is warranted.
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts empowered to appear, prosecute and defend the legal causes
for their clients. As a consequence, peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved upon them by
law. Verily, their membership in the Bar imposes certain obligations upon them.
Atty. Dealcas averment that Judge Madrid did not hear cases being handled by him directly insinuated
that judges could choose the cases they heard, and could refuse to hear the cases in which hostility existed
between the judges and the litigants or their counsel. Such averment, if true at all, should have been assiduously
substantiated by him because it put in bad light not only Judge Madrid but all judges in general. Yet, he did not
even include any particulars that could have validated the averment. Nor did he attach any document to support
it. It was incumbent upon Atty. Dealca to establish by clear and convincing evidence the ground of bias and
prejudice in order to disqualify Judge Madrid from participating in a particular trial in which Atty. Dealca was
participating as a counsel. The latters bare allegations of Judge Madrids partiality or hostility did not suffice.
As such, Atty. Dealca clearly contravened his duties as a lawyer as expressly stated in Canon 11 and Rule
11.04.
On a final note, it cannot escape our attention that this is not the first administrative complaint to be
ever brought against Atty. Dealca. In Montano v. Integrated Bar of the Philippines, we reprimanded him for
violating Canon 22 and Rule 20.4, Canon 20 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and warned him that a
repetition of the same offense would be dealt with more severely. Accordingly, based on the penalties the Court
imposed on erring lawyers found violating Canon 1, Rule 1.03, and Canon 11, Rule 11.04 of the Code, we
deem appropriate to suspend Atty. Dealca from the practice of law for a period one year.

Re: Anonymous Letter-Complaint on the Alleged Involvement and for Engaging in the Business of
Lending Money at Usurious Rates of Interest of Ms. Dolores Lopes
A.M. No. 2010-21-SC, September 30, 2014

11

BERSAMIN, J.:
An anonymous complaint is always received with great caution, originating as it does from a source unwilling
to identify himself or herself. But the mere anonymity of the source should not call for the outright dismissal of
the complaint on the ground of its being baseless or unfounded provided its allegations can be reliably verified
and properly substantiated by competent evidence.
FACTS:
An undated letter-complaint addressed to the Complaints and Investigation Division of the Office of
Administrative Services of the Supreme Court triggered this administrative matter. The letter-complaint,
purportedly sent by a concerned employee who chose to remain anonymous, assailed the profitable money-
lending with usurious interest scheme engaged in by respondents Dolores T. Lope, and Fernando M. Montalvo,
both of the Checks Disbursement Division of the Courts Fiscal Management and Budget Office, alleging that
the respondents had been involved in the money-lending activities targeting the low-salaried employees of the
Court; that such money-lending had been going on with the help of the personnel of the Checks Disbursement
Division of FMBO by enticing employees of the Court to pledge forthcoming benefits at a discounted rate.
In her memorandum, Lopez neither denied nor admitted the allegations against her. She dared the OAS
instead to allow her to confront the complainant head on and to openly address each issue. In his memorandum,
Montalvo dismissed the letter-complaint as maliciously sent for the purpose of tarnishing his reputation and the
reputation of his office. He denied being engaged in the lending business in the Court. Like Lopez, he
insinuated that the OAS had not required any comments from other employees and officials of the Court
against whom more serious accusations had been raised.
Lopez and Montalvo appeared before the CID for the clarificatory hearing. Specifically, Lopez denied
the allegation that she had lent money to around 300 court employees, and that she had held their ATM cards in
her custody as collateral; but admitted having lent money to only about 20 personnel of the janitorial agency
and to some low-ranking employees of the Court. Lopez acknowledged that she was the only person in the
Checks Disbursement Division of FMBO who had lent money, absolving Montalvo and the other members of
the staff of that office by saying that they had nothing to do with her transactions.
The OAS submitted its report, recommending dismissal of the letter-complaint against Montalvo for
lack of merit; but endorsed Lopezs suspension for thirty (30) days for lending money with interest to a number
of economically challenged employees and janitors; and directed her to immediately cease and desist from
engaging in any form of personal business and other financial transactions, with a warning that a repetition of
the same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.

ISSUE: Whether or not the Lopez should be held administratively liable based on the anonymous letter
complaint.

RULING: YES
An anonymous complaint is always received with great caution, originating as it does from a source
unwilling to identify himself or herself. But the mere anonymity of the source should not call for the outright
dismissal of the complaint on the ground of its being baseless or unfounded provided its allegations can be
reliably verified and properly substantiated by competent evidence.
Here, therefore, the anonymous complaint has to be dealt with, and its veracity tested with utmost care,
for it points the finger of accusation at two employees of the Court for engaging in money-lending activities at
unconscionable rates of interest, with low-ranking employees of the Court as their targets. That such a
complaint, albeit anonymous, has been made impacts on their reputations as individuals as well as on their
integrity as personnel of the Court itself. We cannot ignore the complaint, hoping that it will be forgotten, but
must inquire into it and decide it despite the anonymity of the complainant.

Re: Montalvo

The Court concurs with the findings of the OAS that the complaint against Montalvo had no factual
basis. His involvement in money lending was not shown to be habitual, going on only as far as accommodating
his friends during their personal emergencies without imposing any interests. It is notable that Montalvo firmly
denied the allegations against him, and that Lopez corroborated his denial. Accordingly, the complaint against
Montalvo should be dismissed.

Re: Lopez
As to Lopez, no witnesses appeared during the investigation to prove the allegations of the complaint.
But the complaint should still be assessed on the basis of her several admissions in the course of the December
8, 2010 investigation.

12

The Court agrees with the observations and findings of the OAS about Lopez having engaged in
money-lending activities. Her various admissions entirely belied her insistence that her activities did not
constitute money lending. The fact of her parting with her money in favor of another upon the condition that
the same amount would be paid back was exactly what constituted a loan under the law, particularly Article
1933 of the Civil Code.

Did Lopezs money-lending activities render her administratively liable?


Administrative Circular No. 5 (Re: Prohibition for All Officials and Employees of the Judiciary to
Work as Insurance Agents), has prohibited all officials and employees of the Judiciary from engaging directly
in any private business, vocation or profession, even outside their office hours. The prohibition has been at
ensuring that full-time officers and employees of the courts render full-time service, for only thereby could any
undue delays in the administration of justice and in the disposition of court cases be avoided.
Although many moonlighting activities were themselves legal acts that would be permitted or
tolerated had the actors not been employed in the public sector, moonlighting, albeit not usually treated as a
serious misconduct, can amount to a malfeasance in office by the very nature of the position held. In the case of
Lopez, her being the Chief of the Checks Disbursement Division of the FMBO, a major office of the Court
itself, surely put the integrity of the Checks Disbursement Division and the entire FMBO under so much
undeserved suspicion. We do not need to stress that she was expected to be circumspect about her acts and
actuations, knowing that the impression of her having taken advantage of her position and her having abused
the confidence reposed in her office and functions as such would thereby become unavoidable. There is no
doubt about her onerous lending activities greatly diminishing the reputation of her office and of the Court
itself in the esteem of the public.
No less that the Constitution itself impresses this expectation in Section 1 of its Article XI, to wit:
Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times, be accountable to the people,
serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and
lead modest lives. Lopez was quite aware that the foregoing declarative language of the Constitution on the
nature of her public office and her responsibilities as a public officer was not mere rhetoric expressing idealistic
sentiments, but a definite working standard and a statement of attainable goals that the actual deeds of the
public officers and employees should match. She plainly disregarded the Constitution.
The Court has invariably imposed commensurate sanctions upon court employees found and declared
to be violating Administrative Circular No. 5. The sanctions have depended on the gravity of the violations
committed and on the careful consideration of the personal records of the employees concerned, like their prior
administrative cases.
Based on the foregoing, Lopez committed simple misconduct, a less grave offense that is punishable
under Rule IV, Section 52 of the Revised Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service by
suspension from one month and one day to six months for the first offense, and dismissal for the second
offense. Yet, although a first-time offender, she could not be punished with the minimum of the imposable
penalty because she clearly abused her being a high-ranking officer in the FMBO in conducting her private
transactions within court premises during office hours, thereby putting the image of the Judiciary in a bad light.
Hence, her appropriate penalty is suspension from office for three months without pay.

In ordering their investigation upon the anonymous complaint, the Court did not discriminate and
unfairly act against the respondents

In ordering the administrative investigation of the respondents, the Court was moved only by the most
laudable of purposes. To start with, the investigation would never be unfair because they would thereby be
accorded the full opportunity to be heard in order to clear themselves. And, secondly, they were not being
singled out because the Court has always acted upon every appropriate complaint or grievance anonymous or
not brought against officials and employees of the Judiciary without regard to their ranks or responsibilities,
including any of its sitting Members, the incumbent Justices of the third-level courts, and other active judges of
the first and second levels of the courts. Only last week did the Court remove a very senior Justice of the
Sandiganbayan for cause, and in his case there was not even any formal complaint brought against him. To
accuse the Court of unfairness and discrimination was, therefore, censurable.
Nonetheless, the Court accords to Montalvo and Lopez the reasonable opportunity to show cause why
they should not be disciplined or otherwise sanctioned for their censurable statements.

Jessie Campugan vs. Atty. Federico Tolentino Jr.


A.C. No. 8261, March 11, 2015
BERSAMIN, J.:

13

A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his professional or private capacity. The test is
whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or
whether his conduct renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court.
FACTS:
Atty. Victorio, Jr. had replaced Atty. Edgardo Abad as counsel of the complainants in a civil action they
brought to seek the annulment of Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. N-290546 of the Registry of Deeds of
Quezon City in the first week of January 2007 in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City. They
impleaded as defendants Ramon and Josefina Ricafort, Juliet Vargas and the Register of Deeds of Quezon City.
They caused to be annotated on TCT No. N-290546 their affidavit of adverse claim, as well as the notice of lis
pendens. Atty. Tolentino, Jr. was the counsel of defendant Ramon and Josefina Ricafort. As the surviving
children of the late Spouses Antonio and Nemesia Torres, they inherited upon the deaths of their parents a
residential lotL that they discovered that TCT No. RT64333(35652) had been unlawfully cancelled and
replaced by TCT No. N290546 of the Register of Deeds of Quezon City under the names of Ramon and
Josefina Ricafort; and that, accordingly, they immediately caused the annotation of their affidavit of adverse
claim on TCT No. N-290546. It appears that the parties entered into an amicable settlement during the
pendency of Civil Case No. Q-07-59598 in order to end their dispute, whereby the complainants agreed to sell
the property and the proceeds thereof would be equally divided between the parties, and the complaint and
counterclaim would be withdrawn respectively by the complainants (as the plaintiffs) and the defendants.
Pursuant to the terms of the amicable settlement, Atty. Victorio, Jr. filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint
dated February 26, 2008, which the RTC granted in its order dated May 16, 2008 upon noting the defendants
lack of objection thereto and the defendants willingness to similarly withdraw their counterclaim. The
complainants alleged that from the time of the issuance by the RTC of the order dated May 16, 2008, they
could no longer locate or contact Atty. Victorio, Jr. despite making several phone calls and visits to his office;
that they found out upon verification at the Register of Deeds of Quezon City that new annotations were made
on TCT No. N-290546.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent must be disbarred

RULING:
A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in his professional or private capacity. The test is
whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or
whether his conduct renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court. Verily, Canon 7 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility mandates all lawyers to uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of the Legal
Profession. Lawyers are similarly required under Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the same Code not to engage in any
unlawful, dishonest and immoral or deceitful conduct. Failure to observe these tenets of the Code of
Professional Responsibility exposes the lawyer to disciplinary sanctions as provided in Section 27, Rule 138 of
the Rules of Court.
The complainants allegations of the respondents acts and omissions are insufficient to establish any
censurable conduct against them. The duty of the Register of Deeds is ministerial in nature under Section 10 of
Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree). A purely ministerial act or duty is one that an
officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a
legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the
act done. If the law imposes a duty upon a public officer and gives him the right to decide how or when the
duty shall be performed, such duty is discretionary, not ministerial. The duty is ministerial only when its
discharge requires neither the exercise of official discretion nor the exercise of judgment.
The Court finds no abuse of authority or irregularity committed by Atty. Quilala, Atty. Cunanan, and Atty.
Caluya, Jr. with respect to the cancellation of the notice of adverse claim and the notice of lis pendens
annotated on TCT No. N-290546. Whether or not the RTC order dated May 16, 2008 or the letter-request
dated June 30, 2008 had been falsified, fraudulent or invalid was not for them to determine inasmuch as their
duty to examine documents presented for registration was limited only to what appears on the face of the
documents. If, upon their evaluation of the letter-request and the RTC order, they found the same to be
sufficient in law and to be in conformity with existing requirements, it became obligatory for them to perform
their ministerial duty without unnecessary delay

Angelito Ramiscal and Mercedes Orzame vs. Atty. Edgar Orro


A.C. No. 10945, February 23, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
The fiduciary duty of every lawyer towards his client requires him to conscientiously act in advancing and
safeguarding the latter's interest. His failure or neglect to do so constitutes a serious breach of his Lawyer's

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Oath and the canons of professional ethics, and renders him liable for gross misconduct that may warrant his
suspension from the practice of law.
FACTS:
Complainants Spouses Angelito Ramiscal and Mercedes Orzame (Ramiscals) engaged the legal services of
respondent Atty. Edgar S. Orro to handle a case in which they were the defendants seeking the declaration of
the nullity of title to a parcel of land situated in the Province of Isabela. Upon receiving the P10,000.00
acceptance fee from them, the respondent handled the trial of the case until the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
decided it in their favor. As expected, the plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeals (CA), and they ultimately
filed their appellants brief. Upon receipt of the appellants brief, the respondent requested from the
complainants an additional amount of P30,000.00 for the preparation and submission of their appellees brief in
the CA. They obliged and paid him the amount requested. CA reversed the decision of the RTC. The
respondent did not inform the Ramiscals of the adverse decision of the CA which they only learned about from
their neighbors. They endeavored to communicate with the respondent but their efforts were initially in vain.
When they finally reached him, he asked an additional P7,000.00 from them as his fee in filing a motion for
reconsideration in their behalf, albeit telling them that such motion would already be belated. Even so, they
paid to him the amount sought. 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
measuring 8.479 hectares with a probable worth of P3,391,600.00. Ramiscals brought this administrative
complaint against the respondent.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent competently and diligently discharge his duties as the lawyer of the
Ramiscals

RULING:
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. 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. 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. We further underscore that the
respondent owed it to himself and to the entire Legal Profession of the Philippines to exhibit due respect
towards the IBP as the national organization of all the members of the Legal Profession.

The Christian Spiritists in the Philippines, Inc. vs. Atty. Daniel Mangallay
A.C. No. 10483, March 16, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
Under the revisions of Rule 139-B, the administrative complaints against attorneys are generally not dismissed
outright but are instead referred for investigation, report and recommendation either to the IBP, or the Office
of the Bar Confidant (OBC), or any office of the Court or even a judge of a lower court.
FACTS:
Pante avers that the CSP-PLC constructed its church building on the land located in JE 176 Pico, La Trinidad,
Benguet, which was owned by Maria Omiles who had bought it from Larry Ogas; that Omiles and Pastor Elvis
Maliked received the summons issued by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of La Trinidad, Benguet requiring

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them to answer the complaint for unlawful detainer filed against them by the respondent; that based on the
allegations of the complaint, the respondent claimed ownership of the land where the church of the CSP-PLC
had been erected, attaching the copy of deed of absolute sale executed between him and one Pedro Loy; that the
MTC later on decided the case by declaring the respondent to have the better right of possession. As earlier
mentioned, the respondent sought and obtained the writ of execution from the MTC after the defendants,
including the complainant, reneged on the promise to voluntarily vacate and surrender the premises in
consideration of the respondents financial assistance of P300,000.00. The writ of execution was issued and the
writ of demolition. Sheriffs Joselito S. Tumbaga and John Marie O. Ocasla, accompanied by the respondent
and elements of the Philippine National Police, implemented the writ of execution and writ of demolition.
Pante now insists that the demolition was done without a demolition order from the MTC; that the dismantled
materials worth P462,236.00 were forcibly taken away by the respondent, who had taken advantage of his legal
knowledge to cause the premature demolition of the structures sans the demolition order; that such taking away
of the dismantled materials constituted robbery and malicious mischief; and that his act warranted his
disbarment.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent must be disbarred

RULING: No
Under the revisions of Rule 139-B, the administrative complaints against attorneys are generally not dismissed
outright but are instead referred for investigation, report and recommendation either to the IBP, or the Office of
the Bar Confidant (OBC), or any office of the Court or even a judge of a lower court. Such referral ensures that
the parties right to due process is respected as to matters that require further inquiry and which cannot be
resolved by the mere evaluation of the documents attached to the pleadings. Consequently, whenever the
referral is made by the Court, the IBP, the OBC or other authorized office or individual must conduct the
formal investigation of the administrative complaint, and this investigation is a mandatory requirement that
cannot be dispensed with except for valid and compelling reasons because it serves the purpose of threshing out
all the factual issues that no cursory evaluation of the pleadings can determine. However, the referral to the IBP
is not compulsory when the administrative case can be decided on the basis of the pleadings filed with the
Court, or when the referral to the IBP for the conduct of formal investigation would be redundant or
unnecessary, such as when the protraction of the investigation equates to undue delay. Dismissal of the case
may even be directed at the outset should the Court find the complaint to be clearly wanting in merit. Indeed,
the Rules of Court should not be read as preventing the giving of speedy relief whenever such speedy relief is
warranted. It is upon this that we dispense with the need to refer the complaint against the respondent to the
IBP for the conduct of the formal investigation. The documents he submitted to substantiate his denial of
professional wrongdoing are part of the records of the trial court, and, as such, are sufficient to establish the
unworthiness of the complaint as well as his lawful entitlement to the demolition of the structures of the
defendants in Civil Case No. R-1256.
Specifically, the demolition was authorized by the order issued by the MTC on December 19, 2013. 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.

Nenita Sanchez vs. Atty Romeo Aguilos


A.C. No. 10543, March 16, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
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. In the absence of the written agreement, the lawyers compensation
shall be based on quantum meruit, which means as much as he deserved.
FACTS:
Complainant Nenita D. Sanchez has charged respondent with misconduct for the latter's refusal to return the
amount of P70,000.00 she had paid for his professional services despite his not having performed the

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contemplated professional services. She avers that in March 2005, she sought the legal services of the
respondent to represent her in the annulment of her marriage with her estranged husband, Jovencio C. Sanchez;
that the respondent accepted the engagement, fixing his fee at P150,000.00, plus the appearance fee of
P5,000.00/hearing; that she then gave to him the initial amount of P90,000.00; that she had gone to his
residence in May 2005 to inquire on the developments in her case, but he told her that he would only start
working on the case upon her full payment of the acceptance fee; that she had only learned then that what he
had contemplated to file for her was a petition for legal separation, not one for the annulment of her marriage;
that he further told her that she would have to pay a higher acceptance fee for the annulment of her marriage;
that she subsequently withdrew the case from him, and requested the refund of the amounts already paid, but he
refused to do the same as he had already started working on the case; that she had sent him a letter, through
Atty. Isidro S.C. Martinez, to demand the return of her payment less whatever amount corresponded to the legal
services he had already performed; that the respondent did not heed her demand letter despite his not having
rendered any appreciable legal services to her; and that his constant refusal to return the amounts prompted her
to bring an administrative complaint against him in the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

ISSUE: Does quantum meruit attach when an attorney fails to accomplish tasks which he is naturally expected
to perform during his professional engagement?

RULING:
Respondent was liable for misconduct, and he should be ordered to return the entire amount received
from the client
Respondent misrepresented his professional competence and skill to the complainant. As the foregoing findings
reveal, he did not know the distinction between the grounds for legal separation and for annulment of marriage.
Such knowledge would have been basic and expected of him as a lawyer accepting a professional engagement
for either causes of action. His explanation that the client initially intended to pursue the action for legal
separation should be disbelieved. The case unquestionably contemplated by the parties and for which his
services was engaged, was no other than an action for annulment of the complainants marriage with her
husband with the intention of marrying her British fiance. They did not contemplate legal separation at all, for
legal separation would still render her incapacitated to re-marry. That the respondent was insisting in his
answer that he had prepared a petition for legal separation, and that she had to pay more as attorneys fees if she
desired to have the action for annulment was, therefore, beyond comprehension other than to serve as a hallow
afterthought to justify his claim for services rendered. As such, the respondent failed to live up to the standards
imposed on him as an attorney. He thus transgressed Canon 18, and Rules 18.01, 18.02 and 18.03 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility.
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. 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.
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.

Ma. Cecilia Advincula vs. Atty. Leonardo Advincula


A.C. No. 9226, June 14, 2016
BERSAMIN, J.:
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. 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

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be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
community.
FACTS:
Dr. Advincula has averred that Atty. Advincula committed unlawful and immoral acts; that while Atty.
Advincula was still married to her, he had extra-marital sexual relations with Ma. Judith Ortiz Gonzaga; that
the extra-marital relations bore a child in the name of Ma. Alexandria Gonzaga Advincula; that Atty. Advincula
failed to give financial support to their own children, namely: Ma. Samantha Paulina, Ma. Andrea Lana, and
Jose Leandro, despite his having sufficient financial resources; that he admitted in the affidavit of late
registration of birth of Alexandria that he had contracted another marriage with Ms. Gonzaga; that even should
Atty. Advincula prove that his declaration in the affidavit of late registration of birth was motivated by some
reason other than the fact that he truly entered into a subsequent marriage with Ms. Gonzaga, then making such
a declaration was in itself still unlawful; that siring a child with a woman other than his lawful wife was
conduct way below the standards of morality required of every lawyer; that contracting a subsequent marriage
while the first marriage had not been dissolved was also an unlawful conduct; that making a false declaration
before a notary public was an unlawful conduct punishable under the Revised Penal Code; and that the failure
of Atty. Advincula to provide proper support to his children showed his moral character to be below the
standards set by law for every lawyer. Dr. Advincula prayed that Atty. Advincula be disbarred.

ISSUE: Whether or not respondent must be disbarred.

RULING: 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. 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.
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.
Atty. Advincula manifested in his compliance dated February 26, 2013 that he had immediately accepted the
resolution of the IBP Board of Governors suspending him from the practice of law for two months as final and
executory; that he had then gone on leave from work in the NBI for two months starting in November and
lasting until the end of December, 2012; and that such leave from work involved refraining from performing
his duties as a Legal Officer of the NBI. A lawyer like him ought to know that it is only the Court that wields
the power to discipline lawyers. The IBP Board of Governors did not possess such power, rendering its
recommendation against him incapable of finality. It is the Court's final determination of his liability as a
lawyer that is the reckoning point for the service of sanctions and penalties. As such, his supposed compliance
with the recommended two-month suspension could not be satisfied by his going on leave from his work at the
NBI. Moreover, his being a government employee necessitates that his suspension from the practice of law
should include his suspension from office. A leave of absence will not suffice. This is so considering that his
position mandated him to be a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing. The suspension from the
practice of law will not be a penalty if it does not negate his continuance in office for the period of the
suspension. If the rule is different, this exercise of reprobation of an erring lawyer by the Court is rendered
inutile and becomes a mockery because he can continue to receive his salaries and other benefits by simply
going on leave for the duration of his suspension from the practice of law.

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