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Case Digests



Paras, J


The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:

There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six

Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time
of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and
must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding
-elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of
the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten
years. (Emphasis supplied)

Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law as a

legal qualification to an appointive office.

Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the position
of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on
Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod
does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at
least ten years.


Ruling: We now proceed:

The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's
confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required
by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged
power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only
where such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the
Commission's judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's
corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to
lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been
clearly shown.

Finally, one significant legal maxim is:

We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of Judea asked Delilah
(who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that

No blade shall touch his skin;

No blood shall flow from his veins.

When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed an iron rod
burning white-hot two or three inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the
man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside herself with
anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his word. The
procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?"
The procurator was clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.

UlepvLegal Clinic, Bar MatterNo.553,


Facts: It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are
champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of
the community in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal

In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said advertisement at
its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal
support services" through paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic
machines. Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised are legal
services, the act of advertising these services should be allowed supposedly
in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona,

Issue: whether or not the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by
it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject
of the advertisements herein complained of.

The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A lawyer
cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession advertise his talents or skill as in a manner
similar to a merchant advertising his goods.

IBP: Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to distinguish the
two terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would readily
dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that
document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of basic institutional
services from government or non-government agencies like birth, marriage, property, or
business registration, obtaining documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas,
constitutes practice of law?

We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a
well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the
outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community
has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of
effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus
to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by-
product of able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda.

CRUZ v. Cabrera

Facts: In an administrative complaint dated July 7, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz charges Atty. Stanley
Cabrera with misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of 2001, he
instituted several actions against his neighbors; he appeared for and in his behalf in his own
cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during a hearing on
January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court

Ruling: Issue:

Whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the Philippine bar when he
gave up his Philippine citizenship

B.M. No. 1678, December 17, 2007

Dacanay Case (RA 9225: Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003.)


The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited
to Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law. Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and,
consequently, the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino
citizenship ipso jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of
law is a privilege denied to foreigners.

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of

another country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because all
Philippine citizens who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost
their Philippine citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225]. Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who
becomes a citizen of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if
he reacquires it in accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have
terminated his membership in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he
reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions (he) shall apply with the proper
authority for a license or permit to engage in such practice.

Pentecostes v. Marasigan


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

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

From the above provisions, it is clear that as clerk of court of the RTC, Kabacan, respondent
was charged with the custody and safekeeping of Pentecostes motorcycle, and to keep it until
the termination of the case, barring circumstances that would justify its safekeeping elsewhere,
and upon the prior authority of the trial court.

No explanation was offered by respondent, however, for turning over the motorcycle. But
whatever the reason was, respondent was mandated to secure prior consultations with and
approval of the trial court.

This Court has repeatedly emphasized that clerks of court are essential and ranking officers of
our judicial system who perform delicate functions vital to the prompt and proper
administration of justice. Their duties include the efficient recording, filing and management of
court records and, as previously pointed out, the safekeeping of exhibits and public property
committed to their charge.

Misconduct is a transgression of some established or definite rule of action; more particularly,

it is an unlawful behavior by the public officer. The misconduct is grave if it involves any of the
additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law or to disregard established
rules, which must be proved by substantial evidence. Otherwise, the misconduct is only simple,
as in this case.
Jaime Quitain

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

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

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

In this case, Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively

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

No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge Quitain was
dismissed from the service and that he deliberately withheld this information. His
insistence that he had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183 is belied by the newspaper
items published relative to his dismissal. It bears emphasis that in the Mindanao
Times dated April 18, 1995,[18] Judge Quitain stated in one of his interviews that I
was dismissed from the (Napolcom) office without due process. It also reads:
Quitain, who was one of the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept
unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal from the
government service.

Sps Amador v. Palaa

We find that the complainants could not have been defrauded without the
representations of respondent that he can easily have the torrens title of his lot
reconstituted with his special knowledge as a legal practitioner as long as he is
provided PhP 100,000 to finance the reconstitution. Respondent knew that his
representations were false since the filing fee for a petition for reconstitution in
2001 was only PhP 3,145, and other expenses including the publication of the
filing of the petition could not have cost more than PhP 20,000. It is clear that he
employed deceit in convincing complainants to part with their hard earned money
and the latter could not have been easily swayed to lend the money were it not for
his misrepresentations and failed promises as a member of the bar. Moreover,
when he failed to pay his just and legal obligation, he disobeyed the provisions of
the Civil Code which is one of the substantive laws he vowed to uphold when he
took his oath as a lawyer. Lastly, to aggravate his misconduct, he totally ignored
the directives of the IBP to answer the complaint when he fully knew as a lawyer
that the compulsory bar organization was merely deputized by this Court to
undertake the investigation of complaints against lawyers, among which is the
instant complaint. In short, his disobedience to the IBP is in reality a gross and
blatant disrespect to the Court. Lawyers fully know, as respondent is aware or at
least is assumed to know, that lawyers like him cannot disobey the orders and
resolutions of the Court. Failing in this duty as a member of the bar which is being
supervised by the Court under the Constitution, we find that a heavier sanction
should fall on respondent.

Ruthie Lim vs Atty Sagucio


Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and Special Administratrix
of his estate. 1 Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the former President of Taggat Industries, Inc. 2

Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel Manager and Retained
Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. 3

until his appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992.

Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees") filed a criminal complaint
against Ruthie Lim-Santiago

Taggat employees alleged that complainant, who took over the management and control of
Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of their salaries and wages without valid

Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the preliminary

investigation. He resolved the criminal complaint by recommending the filing of 651
Informations 10 for violation of Labor Code.

1. WON Atty Sugucio violated Rule 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
2. WON Atty was guilty of engaging in private practice of law while serving as public

In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the preliminary
investigation of the criminal complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the
criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July
1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period since he
resigned sometime in 1992.
The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of
Taggat and the case he resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient
basis to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests. A lawyers immutable duty to
a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the lawyers employment
with the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the
clients interests only on matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for
matters that arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated.