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A.C. No.

378 March 30, 1962


JOSE G. MEJIA and EMILIA N. ABRERA, complainants,
vs.
FRANCISCO S. REYES, respondent.
PADILLA, J.:
This is a disbarment proceedings against attorney Francisco S. Reyes for malpractice.
On 27 September 1947, Francisco S. Reyes, a practicing lawyer, was appointed bank attor
ney and notary public for the Baguio Branch of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit H), as f
ollows:
Atty. Francisco S. Reyes
Baguio City, Mt. Province
(Thru: The Manager, Phil. National Bank
Baguio Branch) .
Sir:
Please be advised that you are hereby appointed as Bank Attorney and Notary Public of ou
r Baguio Branch, effective September 19, 1947, and as such you are to perform the followin
g: .
1) To ratify documents covering bank transactions;
2) To represent the Bank in cases filed in the local courts when, in the opinion of the Gover
nment Corporation Counsel, there is a necessity for an attorney for the purpose; and
3) To give legal advise on ordinary routinary matters to our Branch Manager thereat and sig
n collection letters when so requested by the latter.
It is understood that you shall receive no regular compensation from the Bank but that you
will be allowed to collect fees authorized by the Notarial Law when ratifying documents and
5% of the amount of judgment in cases where your appearance for the Bank is requested, i
f and when actually collected, which fees, however, may be changed as circumstances ma
y warrant. Furthermore, it is also understood that under this appoinment,you are not entitle
d to any other form of compensation or privileges accorded to regularly appointed employe
es of this Bank.
Yours very truly, .
(Sgd.) V. CARMONA
President
I AGREE:
(Sgd.) FRANCISCO S. REYES
In June 1955 while still holding such position his professional services were engaged by Jo
se G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera, residents of Baguio City, to bring an action in court again
st the Philippine National Bank and the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation (now the Develo
pment Bank of the Philippines) as successor-in-interest of the defunct Agricultural and Indu
strial Bank for the cancellation of a mortgage on a parcel of land situated in Baguio City rec
orded on their certificate of title No. 2499 (civil No. 532). On 28 June 1955 a complaint, sign
ed by Attorney Francisco S. Reyes for the law firm of Reyes and Cabato, was filed in the C
ourt of First Instance of Baguio against the two banks, praying that the sum in Japanese wa
r notes of P2,693.53 paid on 27 October 1944 by Jose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera to the
Agricultural and Industrial Bank and received by the Philippines National Bank, Baguio Bra
nch, to pay the balance of real estate mortgage loan, be credited by the Rehabilitation Fina
nce Corporation as successor-in-interest of the defunct Agricultural and Industrial Bank and
that the mortgage annotated on transfer certificate of title No. 2499 be cancelled (Exhibit A
). After trial, on 4 August 1956 the Court rendered judgment declaring valid the payment in
Japanese war notes of P2,693.53 on 27 October 1944 but crediting only the sum of P67.34
, Philippine currency, the equivalent value of P2,693.53 under the Ballantyne Schedule (Ex
hibit 8). On 31 August 1956 the Reyes and Cabato law firm filed a motion for reconsideratio
n (Exhibit 9) and the Philippine National Bank on 5 September 1956 (Exhibit 10), to which o
n 15 September 1956 the former filed a written objection (Exhibit 11). On 15 September 19
56 the Court denied both motion for reconsideration (Exhibit 12). No appeal was taken by ei
ther party.
In this administrative proceedings, the complainants Jose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera all
ege that they had desired to take an appeal from the judgment rendered by the Court of Fir
st Instance of Baguio but did not, upon the respondent's advice; that thereafter for the first ti
me they learned that the respondent was counsel and notary public of the Baguio Branch of
the Philippine National Bank; that his representing them against the Philippine National Ba
nk, in whose Baguio Branch he was bank attorney and notary public, without revealing to th
em such connection with the Bank, constitutes malpractice; and pray this Court to disbar hi
m.
In his answer filed on 2 March 1959 respondent Francisco S. Reyes avers that after a conf
erence among the complainants, attorney Federico L. Cabato and himself, they agreed not
to appeal the judgment rendered by the Court and, instead, to take advantage of the provisi
ons of Republic Act No. 1286 that condoned interests accruing on debts to the Government
provided that the principal was paid on or before 31 December 1956; that all the time he w
as handling their case the complainants knew his professional connection with the Baguio
Branch of the Philippine National Bank; that he worked hard with attorney Cabato on their c
ase, for which he was paid by them a meager sum of P90 as attorney fees; that he is not g
uilty of malpractice, because he was not a retainer lawyer of the Philippine National Bank b
ut represented it only in collection cases where he was paid 5% of any amount collected; th
at the malpractice charge is just to harrass, embarrass and force him to pay the complainan
ts' debt to the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation; and praysthat the complaint be dismisse
d..
On 4 March 1959 the Court referred the administrative case to the City Attorney of Baguio f
or investigation, report and recommendation. After conducting the investigation during whic
h the parties presented their evidence, on 23 March 1960, Sixto A. Domondo, City Attorney
of Baguio, rendered a report finding the respondent guilty of malpractice and recommendin
g reprimand..1wph1.t
Lawyers are prohibited from representing conflicting interests in a case (Cantorne vs. Ducu
sin, 57 Phil. 23 and In re: De la Rosa, 27 Phil. 258). The respondent's act of appearing and
acting as counsel for the complainantsJose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera in the civil case
against the Philippine National Bank, that had appointed him bank attorney and notary publi
c, constitutes malpractice. However, it does not appear satisfactorily proventhat during the
pendency of their case the complaints did not know of the respondents connection with the
bank as attorney and notary public. On the other hand, it appears that notwithstanding the l
etter dated 21 July 1955 written by Mr. L.D. Herrera, manager of the BaguioBranch, quoting
a part of a previous letter sent to him (Herrera) by attorney Ramon B. de los Reyes, chief l
egal counsel of the Philippine National Bank, stating that
We note that the complaint is signed by our Bank Attorney and Notary Public, Atty. Francis
co S. Reyes, in behalf of the Law Office of Reyes and Cabato. Needless to say, it is unethic
al for Atty. Reyes, who is presently the attorney of the Bank, to represent the plaintiffs here
whose interest are diametrically opposed to those of the Bank. As this is certainly embarras
sing both for Atty. Reyes and for the Bank, it is requested that you please take this matter w
ith Atty. Reyes with the end in view of advising him to desist from representing the plaintiffs
in this case, otherwise, we will be compelled, much to our regret, to recommend severance
of his official connection with this Bank,.
which shows that the Philippine National Bank knew that the respondent was appearing as
counsel for the complainants, yet it did not revoke or cancel his appointment as bank attorn
ey and notary public; that in the civil case the respondent did not appear as counsel for the
Bank which was represented by attorneys Ramon B. de los Reyes and Nemesio P. Libuna
o; that no appeal was taken from the judgment rendered by the Court of First Instance of B
aguio, because the complainants had chosen to pay the principal of their loan on or before
31 December 1956 in order that the interests thereon be condoned as provided for in Repu
blic Act No. 1286 (Exhibits 13 to 17); and that the respondent was deeply devoted to his dut
ies as counsel for the complainants and collected a very small attorney's fees of P90, the m
alpractice committed by the respondent is not so serious. He is just admonished and warne
d not to repeat it.

A.C. No. 396 July 31, 1964


IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR THE DISBARMENT OF ATTORNEY EDUARD
O M. TUASON. EMILIO C. STA. MARIA, petitioner.

PAREDES, J.:
Sometime in June, 1955, respondent Atty. Eduardo M. Tuason represented petitioner Emili
o C. Sta. Maria. and his two partners Andres Guanzon and Fausto E. Chincuanco in prosec
uting Civil Case No. 894, CFI of Pampanga, entitled "Fausto E. Chincuanco, et al. v. Enriqu
eta M. de Hidalgo, et al", a collection case involving a promissory note of P50,000.00. Defe
ndant Enriqueta M. de Hidalgo was declared in default, and the Court rendered judgment o
n October 8, 1955, ordering the defendant de Hidalgo to pay:
(a) Plaintiffs the sum of P30,000.00 with interests thereon at the rate of six percent (6%) pe
r annum from June 18, 1955, the date of the filing of the complaint, until the same shall hav
e been fully paid, plus the sum of P3,500.00 as plaintiffs' attorney's fees;
(b) Plaintiff Andres A. Guanzon the other sum of P3,000.00 as compensation for the injury
caused to him in his credit standing; and
(c) Plaintiff Fausto E. Chincuanco another sum of P3,000.00 as compensation for the injury
caused to him in his credit standing.
On December 9, 1955, a writ of execution was issued. Sufficient amount of money to satisf
y the judgment, came into the hands of the Provincial Sheriff of Pampanga. Respondent Tu
ason, on September 10, 1958, obtained from the Sheriff, the amount of P22,930.64, which
he (Tuason) applied in the following manner: (1) P10,000.00 for his alleged attorney's fees;
(2) P1,648.00 to supposed expenses of litigation, which he claimed to have advanced in th
e prosecution of the case; and (3) the balance of P11,282.64, to plaintiff Fausto E. Chincua
nco, his uncle.
Petitioner claims that respondent Tuason deprived him of his lawful share in the judgment
which was P25,511.62; that respondent was not entitled to P10,000.00 as attorney's fees b
ecause even the lower court awarded him only P3,500.00; that the foregoing acts were don
e, without the prior knowledge and consent of petitioner.
Upon finding that the respondent withdrew the P22,930.64 from the Office of the Provincial
Sheriff, complainant Sta. Maria repaired to the office of Atty. Tuason and demanded the am
ount to be turned over to him, or to the Sheriff for proper disposition by the Court; that upon
failure of respondent to comply with any of the two things, contempt proceedings were insti
tuted against respondent Tuason. In view, however, of the claim of Tuason that he gave the
money to Guanzon and Chincuanco, petitioner filed with the CFI of Pampanga, Civil Case
No. 1704, against said Tuason, Guanzon and Chincuanco, for collection of his rightful shar
e in the judgment in Civil Case No. 894.
Respondent, in his Answer, admitted having received the amounts in question from the She
riff of Pampanga, and disbursed the same in the manner stated by petitioner, but he denied
that he obtained and disbursed the amounts, without the knowledge and consent of the pet
itioner; the truth of the matter being that he was given full authority by petitioner's partners (
Guanzon and Chincuanco) to receive P10,000.00 for his services; that the two were the on
es who engaged his services in the prosecution of Civil Case No. 894, for their own behalf
and in behalf of petitioner himself; that he delivered the balance of the amount, to Chincuan
co, who was the one who had actually retained his services and who took charge of liquidat
ing the accounts with his partners.
The matter was referred to the Office of the Solicitor General who made the following findin
gs and recommendations:
The foregoing evidence presented by the parties involves two issues, namely; (1) Whether t
he respondent was in connivance with Fausto Chincuanco and Andres Guanzon in deliveri
ng to them the full amount of P22,930.64 and thereby deprived the petitioner from getting hi
s rightful share in the liquidation of assets of the partnership and (2) whether the responden
t was guilty of malpractice and gross misconduct in withholding the amount of P10,000 as h
is attorney's fees and also the amount of P1,648 as alleged expenses in the litigation.
The complainant in this case contends that the respondent committed malpractice in deliver
ing the proceeds of the judgment money to Fausto Chincuanco, his uncle, and Andres Gua
nzon, his close business associate (p. 17, tsn, July 10, 1961; p. 6, rec.).
As to the first issue, the petitioner claims that he was unable to collect his rightful share in t
he liquidation of the funds of the partnership as agreed upon by the partners (Exh. E, pp. 3-
4, tsn, June 15, 1960) for which reason, he had to file a civil case against his partners. He a
ttributes this failure mainly to the respondent who delivered the judgment money to Chincua
nco, his partner, who disposed of the whole amount in the manner already indicated earlier.
While it is true that Fausto Chincuanco and Guanzon, the latter being the general manager
from the Sheriff (Exh. C, p. 14, rec.), there is no clear evidence presented to show that the
respondent connived with either Chincuanco or Guanzon on delivering the judgment money
to them for the purpose of depriving the complainant of his rightful share in the partnership.
What the respondent did in this case was to deliver the judgment money to the partnership
through Chincuanco and Guanzons the latter being the general manager. The proper actio
n for the complainant was to demand his share from Guanzon, the managing partner, or fro
m Chincuanco, the other partner. This he did by filing a complaint in the Court of First Insta
nce of Pampanga (see Civil Case No. 1704, Exh. 2). In this case Atty. Eduardo Tuason, the
herein respondent, was included as defendant. A contempt proceeding was also filed by c
omplainant, citing Atty. Tuason and the Sheriff of Pampanga as respondents. It appears, ho
wever, that an amicable settlement was finally agreed upon by the parties in this civil case r
esulting in a compromise agreement, duly approved by the Court of First Instance of Pamp
anga, wherein the plaintiff waived all his claim against his other partners. In said compromis
e agreement the plaintiff also agreed not to proceed with the contempt case he filed against
Atty. Tuason and the Sheriff of Pampanga (Exhs. 2, 3 and 5, folder of exhibits).
The issue, therefore, revolves more on the division of the partnership assets rather than on
the right of the complainant to compel the respondent to turn over to him part of the judgme
nt money which respondent applied as his attorney's fees and reimbursement for his expen
ses in connection with the litigation he handled for the partners. Under the foregoing circum
stances, the undersigned investigator is of the opinion that the respondent Tuason has not
committed any act that will constitute malpractice or gross misconduct in office.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted a
nd approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evide
nce to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t
As to the second issue, there is no dispute that the respondent collected the amount of P10
,000 as attorney's fees for a collection suit in the amount of P50,000.00 based on a promiss
ory note. It appears that since the defendant was declared in default, the case was terminat
ed after one brief hearing. The respondent also collected P1,648 as alleged expenses incur
red in connection with the litigation. No satisfactory evidence, however, was presented to s
how that the respondent actually spent that amount. On the other hand, there was the undi
sputed evidence which shows that the case represented by the respondent was terminated
with one brief hearing after the defendant was declared in default. There is, likewise, no dis
pute that said attorney's fees and litigation expenses were deducted from the judgment mo
ney collected by the respondent from the Sheriff of Pampanga. This act of the respondent s
eems to be irregular, if not suspicious, considering his close relationship with Mr. Chincuan
co. Notwithstanding the opinion of Mr. Guanzon, the amount of P10,000 for attorney's fees i
s, to our mind, also unreasonable under the circumstances. It is to be noted in this connecti
on that the respondent himself alleged in the complaint he filed for the partnership that "the
plaintiffs will incur for attorney's fees and expenses of the litigation P6,000" (u 9, Rec.).
Moreover, the circumstances of the case show that the respondent took advantage of the f
act that he was a nephew of Fausto Chincuanco and a close associate of Andres Guanzon
in collecting his lawyer's fees. Even at the time that the respondent was already representin
g the partnership, the complainant inquired from Chincuanco about the respondent's fees. I
n reply Chincuanco said that he (Sta. Maria) should not worry about it because the respond
ent is a nephew of his. On this assurance, the complainant could be said to have assumed
that the respondent would not collect an excessive amount, much less take advantage of hi
s relationship with one of the partners by retaining the funds, considering that the case was
one of a simple collection based on a promissory note. The act of the respondent in collecti
ng P10,000 for attorney's fees and alleged expenses he incurred in the litigation, aggravate
d the burden of the complainant who claims that he was not given his due share in the distri
bution of the assets of the partnership as his two partners were already in possession of th
e money. While it is true that the partners of the complainant apparently acceded to the res
pondent's acts, it cannot be denied that the latter acted with indiscretion, induced by his clo
se relationship with Chincuanco to the prejudice of the complainant. In effect, respondent's
act constituted a retention of the funds of his client, an act of professional indiscretion borde
ring on misbehaviour.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted a
nd approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evide
nce to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts. 1wph1.t
It may be stated, however, that the respondent may have felt justified in his acts, since they
were done with apparent acquiescence of his clients, Fausto Chincuanco and Andres Gua
nzon. Moreover, an amicable settlement of all the suits filed by the herein complainant resul
ted in a compromise agreement, whereby the complainant waived any and all claims again
st his partners and the respondent arising from the transactions which are the subject matte
r of the controversy, as well as from the incidents thereof (Exh. 2, folder of exhibits). While i
t may be said that this compromise agreement may not affect the misconduct of the respon
dent as a member of the bar, at least, it cannot be denied that the complainant has, in effec
t, condoned respondent's acts.
RECOMMENDATION
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, it is respectfully recommended that instead of a more sev
ere penalty which he would otherwise deserve, the respondent be reprimanded for professi
onal indiscretion, with the warning that a more severe penalty be imposed for a repetition of
same or similar acts.
The report of the Solicitor General was duly set for hearing, by this Court. Respondent exce
pted from the recommendation which called for the imposition of a reprimand. Respondent
points out that the findings of the Solicitor General did not warrant his recommendation, sin
ce he found that respondent "has not committed any act that will constitute malpractice or g
ross misconduct in office." Respondent also claims that the filing of different proceedings a
gainst him was simply intended to harass and embarrass him, because of petitioner's dissat
isfaction over the disposition by his partners, of the award in Civil Case No. 894.
After an overall consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, We find
that the findings and conclusions of the Solicitor General are supported by the evidence of
record. The fact that the respondent has placed his private and personal interest over and a
bove that of his clients constitutes a breach of a lawyer's oath, to say the least. Call it profe
ssional indiscretion or any other name, but the cold fact remains that the act, as found by th
e Solicitor General, is not conducive to a healthy growth of the legal profession. The respon
dent is hereby admonished that a repetition of similar acts will merit more drastic action.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted a
nd approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evide
nce to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of facts.

G.R. No. 105938 September 20, 1996


TEODORO R. REGALA, EDGARDO J. ANGARA, AVELINO V. CRUZ, JOSE
C. CONCEPCION, ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, VICTOR P. LAZATIN and EDUAR
D O U . E S C U E T A , p e t i t i o n e r s ,
v s .
THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN, First Division, REPUBLIC OF THE P
HILIPPINES, ACTING THROUGH THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON G
OOD GOVERNMENT, and RAUL S. ROCO, respondents.
G.R. No. 108113 September 20, 1996
P A R A J A G . H A Y U D I N I , p e t i t i o n e r ,
v s .
THE SANDIGANBAYAN and THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respon
dents.

KAPUNAN, J.:
These case touch the very cornerstone of every State's judicial system, upon w
hich the workings of the contentious and adversarial system in the Philippine leg
al process are based the sanctity of fiduciary duty in the client-lawyer relation
ship. The fiduciary duty of a counsel and advocate is also what makes the law p
rofession a unique position of trust and confidence, which distinguishes it from a
ny other calling. In this instance, we have no recourse but to uphold and strengt
hen the mantle of protection accorded to the confidentiality that proceeds from t
he performance of the lawyer's duty to his client.
The facts of the case are undisputed.
The matters raised herein are an offshoot of the institution of the Complaint on J
uly 31, 1987 before the Sandiganbayan by the Republic of the Philippines, throu
gh the Presidential Commission on Good Government against Eduardo M. Coju
angco, Jr., as one of the principal defendants, for the recovery of alleged ill-gott
en wealth, which includes shares of stocks in the named corporations in PCGG
Case No. 33 (Civil Case No. 0033), entitled "Republic of the Philippines versus
Eduardo Cojuangco, et al." 1
Among the dependants named in the case are herein petitioners Teodoro Regal
a, Edgardo J. Angara, Avelino V. Cruz, Jose C. Concepcion, Rogelio A. Vinluan
, Victor P. Lazatin, Eduardo U. Escueta and Paraja G. Hayudini, and herein priv
ate respondent Raul S. Roco, who all were then partners of the law firm Angara,
Abello, Concepcion, Regala and Cruz Law Offices (hereinafter referred to as th
e ACCRA Law Firm). ACCRA Law Firm performed legal services for its clients,
which included, among others, the organization and acquisition of business ass
ociations and/or organizations, with the correlative and incidental services wher
e its members acted as incorporators, or simply, as stockholders. More specific
ally, in the performance of these services, the members of the law firm delivered
to its client documents which substantiate the client's equity holdings, i.e., stock
certificates endorsed in blank representing the shares registered in the client's
name, and a blank deed of trust or assignment covering said shares. In the cour
se of their dealings with their clients, the members of the law firm acquire inform
ation relative to the assets of clients as well as their personal and business circu
mstances. As members of the ACCRA Law Firm, petitioners and private respon
dent Raul Roco admit that they assisted in the organization and acquisition of th
e companies included in Civil Case No. 0033, and in keeping with the office pra
ctice, ACCRA lawyers acted as nominees-stockholders of the said corporations
involved in sequestration proceedings. 2
On August 20, 1991, respondent Presidential Commission on Good Governmen
t (hereinafter referred to as respondent PCGG) filed a "Motion to Admit Third A
mended Complaint" and "Third Amended Complaint" which excluded private res
pondent Raul S. Roco from the complaint in PCGG Case No. 33 as party-defen
dant. 3Respondent PCGG based its exclusion of private respondent Roco as par
ty-defendant on his undertaking that he will reveal the identity of the principal/s f
or whom he acted as nominee/stockholder in the companies involved in PCGG
Case No. 33. 4
Petitioners were included in the Third Amended Complaint on the strength of th
e following allegations:
14. Defendants Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., Edgardo J. Angara, Jose C. Concepcion, Teodoro Re
gala, Avelino V. Cruz, Rogelio A. Vinluan, Eduardo U. Escueta, Paraja G. Hayudini and Raul Ro
co of the Angara Concepcion Cruz Regala and Abello law offices (ACCRA) plotted, devised, sc
hemed conspired and confederated with each other in setting up, through the use of the coconu
t levy funds, the financial and corporate framework and structures that led to the establishment
of UCPB, UNICOM, COCOLIFE, COCOMARK, CIC, and more than twenty other coconut levy f
unded corporations, including the acquisition of San Miguel Corporation shares and its institutio
nalization through presidential directives of the coconut monopoly. Through insidious means an
d machinations, ACCRA, being the wholly-owned investment arm, ACCRA Investments Corpora
tion, became the holder of approximately fifteen million shares representing roughly 3.3% of the
total outstanding capital stock of UCPB as of 31 March 1987. This ranks ACCRA Investments C
orporation number 44 among the top 100 biggest stockholders of UCPB which has approximatel
y 1,400,000 shareholders. On the other hand, corporate books show the name Edgardo J. Anga
ra as holding approximately 3,744 shares as of February, 1984. 5
In their answer to the Expanded Amended Complaint, petitioners ACCRA lawye
rs alleged that:
4.4 Defendants-ACCRA lawyers' participation in the acts with which their codefendants are ch
arged, was in furtherance of legitimate lawyering.
4.4.1 In the course of rendering professional and legal services to clients, defendants-ACCRA l
awyers, Jose C. Concepcion, Teodoro D. Regala, Rogelio A. Vinluan and Eduardo U. Escueta,
became holders of shares of stock in the corporations listed under their respective names in An
nex "A" of the expanded Amended Complaint as incorporating or acquiring stockholders only an
d, as such, they do not claim any proprietary interest in the said shares of stock.
4.5 Defendant ACCRA-lawyer Avelino V. Cruz was one of the incorporators in 1976 of Mermai
d Marketing Corporation, which was organized for legitimate business purposes not related to th
e allegations of the expanded Amended Complaint. However, he has long ago transferred any
material interest therein and therefore denies that the "shares" appearing in his name in Annex "
A" of the expanded Amended Complaint are his assets. 6
Petitioner Paraja Hayudini, who had separated from ACCRA law firm, filed a se
parate answer denying the allegations in the complaint implicating him in the all
eged ill-gotten wealth. 7
Petitioners ACCRA lawyers subsequently filed their "COMMENT AND/OR OPP
OSITION" dated October 8, 1991 with Counter-Motion that respondent PCGG si
milarly grant the same treatment to them (exclusion as parties-defendants) as a
ccorded private respondent Roco. 8 The Counter-Motion for dropping petitioners
from the complaint was duly set for hearing on October 18, 1991 in accordance
with the requirements of Rule 15 of the Rules of Court.
In its "Comment," respondent PCGG set the following conditions precedent for t
he exclusion of petitioners, namely: (a) the disclosure of the identity of its clients
; (b) submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship; and
(c) the submission of the deeds of assignments petitioners executed in favor of i
t s c l i e n t c o v e r i n g t h e i r r e s p e c t i v e
shareholdings. 9
Consequently, respondent PCGG presented supposed proof to substantiate co
mpliance by private respondent Roco of the conditions precedent to warrant the
latter's exclusion as party-defendant in PCGG Case No. 33, to wit: (a) Letter to
respondent PCGG of the counsel of respondent Roco dated May 24, 1989 reiter
ating a previous request for reinvestigation by the PCGG in PCGG Case No. 33
; (b) Affidavit dated March 8, 1989 executed by private respondent Roco as Atta
chment to the letter aforestated in (a); and (c) Letter of the Roco, Bunag, and K
apunan Law Offices dated September 21, 1988 to the respondent PCGG in beh
alf of private respondent Roco originally requesting the reinvestigation and/or re
-examination of the evidence of the PCGG against Roco in its Complaint in PC
GG Case No. 33. 10
It is noteworthy that during said proceedings, private respondent Roco did not r
efute petitioners' contention that he did actually not reveal the identity of the clie
nt involved in PCGG Case No. 33, nor had he undertaken to reveal the identity
of the client for whom he acted as nominee-stockholder. 11
On March 18, 1992, respondent Sandiganbayan promulgated the Resolution, h
erein questioned, denying the exclusion of petitioners in PCGG Case No. 33, for
their refusal to comply with the conditions required by respondent PCGG. It hel
d:
xxx xxx xxx
ACCRA lawyers may take the heroic stance of not revealing the identity of the client for whom t
hey have acted, i.e. their principal, and that will be their choice. But until they do identify their cli
ents, considerations of whether or not the privilege claimed by the ACCRA lawyers exists canno
t even begin to be debated. The ACCRA lawyers cannot excuse themselves from the conseque
nces of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege; the e
xistence and identity of the client.
This is what appears to be the cause for which they have been impleaded by the PCGG as defe
ndants herein.
5. The PCGG is satisfied that defendant Roco has demonstrated his agency and that Roco ha
s apparently identified his principal, which revelation could show the lack of cause against him.
This in turn has allowed the PCGG to exercise its power both under the rules of Agency and un
der Section 5 of E.O. No. 14-A in relation to the Supreme Court's ruling in Republic v. Sandigan
bayan (173 SCRA 72).
The PCGG has apparently offered to the ACCRA lawyers the same conditions availed of by Ro
co; full disclosure in exchange for exclusion from these proceedings (par. 7, PCGG's COMMEN
T dated November 4, 1991). The ACCRA lawyers have preferred not to make the disclosures re
quired by the PCGG.
The ACCRA lawyers cannot, therefore, begrudge the PCGG for keeping them as party defenda
nts. In the same vein, they cannot compel the PCGG to be accorded the same treatment accor
ded to Roco.
Neither can this Court.
WHEREFORE, the Counter Motion dated October 8, 1991 filed by the ACCRA lawyers and join
ed in by Atty. Paraja G. Hayudini for the same treatment by the PCGG as accorded to Raul S. R
oco is DENIED for lack of merit. 12
ACCRA lawyers moved for a reconsideration of the above resolution but the sa
me was denied by the respondent Sandiganbayan. Hence, the ACCRA lawyers
filed the petition for certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 105938, invoking the followi
ng grounds:
I
The Honorable Sandiganbayan gravely abused its discretion in subjecting petitioners ACCRA la
wyers who undisputably acted as lawyers in serving as nominee-stockholders, to the strict appli
cation of the law of agency.
II
The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not considering petitione
rs ACCRA lawyers and Mr. Roco as similarly situated and, therefore, deserving of equal treatme
nt.
1. There is absolutely no evidence that Mr. Roco had revealed, or had undertaken to reveal, th
e identities of the client(s) for whom he acted as nominee-stockholder.
2. Even assuming that Mr. Roco had revealed, or had undertaken to reveal, the identities of th
e client(s), the disclosure does not constitute a substantial distinction as would make the classifi
cation reasonable under the equal protection clause.
3. Respondent Sandiganbayan sanctioned favoritism and undue preference in favor of Mr. Roc
o in violation of the equal protection clause.
III
The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not holding that, under t
he facts of this case, the attorney-client privilege prohibits petitioners ACCRA lawyers from reve
aling the identity of their client(s) and the other information requested by the PCGG.
1. Under the peculiar facts of this case, the attorney-client privilege includes the identity of the
client(s).
2. The factual disclosures required by the PCGG are not limited to the identity of petitioners A
CCRA lawyers' alleged client(s) but extend to other privileged matters.
IV
The Honorable Sandiganbayan committed grave abuse of discretion in not requiring that the dro
pping of party-defendants by the PCGG must be based on reasonable and just grounds and wit
h due consideration to the constitutional right of petitioners ACCRA lawyers to the equal protecti
on of the law.
Petitioner Paraja G. Hayudini, likewise, filed his own motion for reconsideration
of the March 18, 1991 resolution which was denied by respondent Sandiganbay
an. Thus, he filed a separate petition for certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 10811
3, assailing respondent Sandiganbayan's resolution on essentially the same gro
unds averred by petitioners in G.R. No. 105938.
Petitioners contend that the exclusion of respondent Roco as party-defendant in
PCGG Case No. 33 grants him a favorable treatment, on the pretext of his alle
ged undertaking to divulge the identity of his client, giving him an advantage ove
r them who are in the same footing as partners in the ACCRA law firm. Petitione
rs further argue that even granting that such an undertaking has been assumed
by private respondent Roco, they are prohibited from revealing the identity of th
eir principal under their sworn mandate and fiduciary duty as lawyers to uphold
at all times the confidentiality of information obtained during such lawyer-client r
elationship.
Respondent PCGG, through its counsel, refutes petitioners' contention, alleging
that the revelation of the identity of the client is not within the ambit of the lawye
r-client confidentiality privilege, nor are the documents it required (deeds of assi
gnment) protected, because they are evidence of nominee status. 13
In his comment, respondent Roco asseverates that respondent PCGG acted co
rrectly in excluding him as party-defendant because he "(Roco) has not filed an
Answer. PCGG had therefore the right to dismiss Civil Case No. 0033 as to Roc
o 'without an order of court by filing a notice of dismissal'," 14 and he has underta
ken to identify his principal. 15
Petitioners' contentions are impressed with merit.
I
It is quite apparent that petitioners were impleaded by the PCGG as co-defenda
nts to force them to disclose the identity of their clients. Clearly, respondent PC
GG is not after petitioners but the "bigger fish" as they say in street parlance. Th
is ploy is quite clear from the PCGG's willingness to cut a deal with petitioners
the names of their clients in exchange for exclusion from the complaint. The
statement of the Sandiganbayan in its questioned resolution dated March 18, 19
92 is explicit:
ACCRA lawyers may take the heroic stance of not revealing the identity of the client for whom t
hey have acted, i.e, their principal, and that will be their choice. But until they do identify their cli
ents, considerations of whether or not the privilege claimed by the ACCRA lawyers exists canno
t even begin to be debated. The ACCRA lawyers cannot excuse themselves from the conseque
nces of their acts until they have begun to establish the basis for recognizing the privilege; the e
xistence and identity of the client.
This is what appears to be the cause for which they have been impleaded by the PCGG as defe
ndants herein. (Emphasis ours)
In a closely related case, Civil Case No. 0110 of the Sandiganbayan, Third Divis
ion, entitled "Primavera Farms, Inc., et al. vs. Presidential Commission on Good
Government" respondent PCGG, through counsel Mario Ongkiko, manifested a
t the hearing on December 5, 1991 that the PCGG wanted to establish through t
he ACCRA that their "so called client is Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco;" that "it was Mr
. Eduardo Cojuangco who furnished all the monies to those subscription payme
nts in corporations included in Annex "A" of the Third Amended Complaint; that
the ACCRA lawyers executed deeds of trust and deeds of assignment, some in
the name of particular persons; some in blank.
We quote Atty. Ongkiko:
ATTY. ONGKIKO:
With the permission of this Hon. Court. I propose to establish through these ACCRA lawyers tha
t, one, their so-called client is Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco. Second, it was Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco
who furnished all the monies to these subscription payments of these corporations who are now
the petitioners in this case. Third, that these lawyers executed deeds of trust, some in the name
of a particular person, some in blank. Now, these blank deeds are important to our claim that s
ome of the shares are actually being held by the nominees for the late President Marcos. Fourth
, they also executed deeds of assignment and some of these assignments have also blank assi
gnees. Again, this is important to our claim that some of the shares are for Mr. Conjuangco and
some are for Mr. Marcos. Fifth, that most of thes e corporations are really just paper corporation
s. Why do we say that? One: There are no really fixed sets of officers, no fixed sets of directors
at the time of incorporation and even up to 1986, which is the crucial year. And not only that, the
y have no permits from the municipal authorities in Makati. Next, actually all their addresses no
w are care of Villareal Law Office. They really have no address on records. These are some of t
he principal things that we would ask of these nominees stockholders, as they called themselve
s. 16
It would seem that petitioners are merely standing in for their clients as defenda
nts in the complaint. Petitioners are being prosecuted solely on the basis of acti
vities and services performed in the course of their duties as lawyers. Quite obvi
ously, petitioners' inclusion as co-defendants in the complaint is merely being us
ed as leverage to compel them to name their clients and consequently to enable
the PCGG to nail these clients. Such being the case, respondent PCGG has no
valid cause of action as against petitioners and should exclude them from the T
hird Amended Complaint.
II
The nature of lawyer-client relationship is premised on the Roman Law concept
s of locatio conductio operarum(contract of lease of services) where one person
lets his services and another hires them without reference to the object of whic
h the services are to be performed, wherein lawyers' services may be compens
ated by honorarium or for hire, 17 and mandato (contract of agency) wherein a fri
end on whom reliance could be placed makes a contract in his name, but gives
up all that he gained by the contract to the person who requested him. 18 But the
lawyer-client relationship is more than that of the principal-agent and lessor-les
see.
In modern day perception of the lawyer-client relationship, an attorney is more t
han a mere agent or servant, because he possesses special powers of trust an
d confidence reposed on him by his client. 19 A lawyer is also as independent as
the judge of the court, thus his powers are entirely different from and superior t
o those of an ordinary agent. 20 Moreover, an attorney also occupies what may b
e considered as a "quasi-judicial office" since he is in fact an officer of the Court
21
and exercises his judgment in the choice of courses of action to be taken fav
orable to his client.
Thus, in the creation of lawyer-client relationship, there are rules, ethical conduc
t and duties that breathe life into it, among those, the fiduciary duty to his client
which is of a very delicate, exacting and confidential character, requiring a very
high degree of fidelity and good faith, 22 that is required by reason of necessity a
nd public interest23 based on the hypothesis that abstinence from seeking legal
advice in a good cause is an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice. 24
It is also the strict sense of fidelity of a lawyer to his client that distinguishes him from any other
professional in society. This conception is entrenched and embodies centuries of established an
d stable tradition. 25 InStockton v. Ford, 26 the U. S. Supreme Court held:
There are few of the business relations of life involving a higher trust and confidence than that o
f attorney and client, or generally speaking, one more honorably and faithfully discharged; few
more anxiously guarded by the law, or governed by the sterner principles of morality and justice;
and it is the duty of the court to administer them in a corresponding spirit, and to be watchful an
d industrious, to see that confidence thus reposed shall not be used to the detriment or prejudic
e of the rights of the party bestowing it. 27
In our jurisdiction, this privilege takes off from the old Code of Civil Procedure e
nacted by the Philippine Commission on August 7, 1901. Section 383 of the Co
de specifically "forbids counsel, without authority of his client to reveal any com
munication made by the client to him or his advice given thereon in the course o
f professional employment." 28 Passed on into various provisions of the Rules of
Court, the attorney-client privilege, as currently worded provides:
Sec. 24. Disqualification by reason of privileged communication. The following persons can
not testify as to matters learned in confidence in the following cases:
xxx xxx xxx
An attorney cannot, without the consent of his client, be examined as to any communication ma
de by the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the course of, or with a view to, profession
al employment, can an attorney's secretary, stenographer, or clerk be examined, without the co
nsent of the client and his employer, concerning any fact the knowledge of which has been acqu
ired in such capacity. 29
Further, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states:
Sec. 20. It is the duty of an attorney: (e) to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril
to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection wit
h his client's business except from him or with his knowledge and approval.
This duty is explicitly mandated in Canon 17 of the Code of Professional Respo
nsibility which provides that:
Canon 17. A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust a
nd confidence reposed in him.
Canon 15 of the Canons of Professional Ethics also demands a lawyer's fidelity
to client:
The lawyers owes "entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance an
d defense of his rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability," to the end that nothin
g be taken or be withheld from him, save by the rules of law, legally applied. No fear of judicial d
isfavor or public popularity should restrain him from the full discharge of his duty. In the judicial f
orum the client is entitled to the benefit of any and every remedy and defense that is authorized
by the law of the land, and he may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. B
ut it is steadfastly to be borne in mind that the great trust of the lawyer is to be performed within
and not without the bounds of the law. The office of attorney does not permit, much less does it
demand of him for any client, violation of law or any manner of fraud or chicanery. He must obe
y his own conscience and not that of his client.
Considerations favoring confidentially in lawyer-client relationships are many an
d serve several constitutional and policy concerns. In the constitutional sphere, t
he privilege gives flesh to one of the most sacrosanct rights available to the acc
used, the right to counsel. If a client were made to choose between legal repres
entation without effective communication and disclosure and legal representatio
n with all his secrets revealed then he might be compelled, in some instances, t
o either opt to stay away from the judicial system or to lose the right to counsel.
If the price of disclosure is too high, or if it amounts to self incrimination, then th
e flow of information would be curtailed thereby rendering the right practically nu
gatory. The threat this represents against another sacrosanct individual right, th
e right to be presumed innocent is at once self-evident.
Encouraging full disclosure to a lawyer by one seeking legal services opens the
door to a whole spectrum of legal options which would otherwise be circumscrib
ed by limited information engendered by a fear of disclosure. An effective lawye
r-client relationship is largely dependent upon the degree of confidence which e
xists between lawyer and client which in turn requires a situation which encoura
ges a dynamic and fruitful exchange and flow of information. It necessarily follo
ws that in order to attain effective representation, the lawyer must invoke the pri
vilege not as a matter of option but as a matter of duty and professional respons
ibility.
The question now arises whether or not this duty may be asserted in refusing to
disclose the name of petitioners' client(s) in the case at bar. Under the facts an
d circumstances obtaining in the instant case, the answer must be in the affirma
tive.
As a matter of public policy, a client's identity should not be shrouded in mystery
30
Under this premise, the general rule in our jurisdiction as well as in the United
States is that a lawyer may not invoke the privilege and refuse to divulge the na
me or identity of this client. 31
The reasons advanced for the general rule are well established.
First, the court has a right to know that the client whose privileged information is
sought to be protected is flesh and blood.
Second, the privilege begins to exist only after the attorney-client relationship ha
s been established. The attorney-client privilege does not attach until there is a
client.
Third, the privilege generally pertains to the subject matter of the relationship.
Finally, due process considerations require that the opposing party should, as a
general rule, know his adversary. "A party suing or sued is entitled to know who
his opponent is." 32 He cannot be obliged to grope in the dark against unknown f
orces. 33
Notwithstanding these considerations, the general rule is however qualified by s
ome important exceptions.
1) Client identity is privileged where a strong probability exists that revealing th
e client's name would implicate that client in the very activity for which he sough
t the lawyer's advice.
In Ex-Parte Enzor, 34 a state supreme court reversed a lower court order requirin
g a lawyer to divulge the name of her client on the ground that the subject matte
r of the relationship was so closely related to the issue of the client's identity that
the privilege actually attached to both. In Enzor, the unidentified client, an electi
on official, informed his attorney in confidence that he had been offered a bribe t
o violate election laws or that he had accepted a bribe to that end. In her testim
ony, the attorney revealed that she had advised her client to count the votes cor
rectly, but averred that she could not remember whether her client had been, in
fact, bribed. The lawyer was cited for contempt for her refusal to reveal his client
's identity before a grand jury. Reversing the lower court's contempt orders, the
state supreme court held that under the circumstances of the case, and under t
he exceptions described above, even the name of the client was privileged.
U .S. v. Hodge and Zweig, 35 involved the same exception, i.e. that client identity
is privileged in those instances where a strong probability exists that the disclos
ure of the client's identity would implicate the client in the very criminal activity fo
r which the lawyer's legal advice was obtained.
The Hodge case involved federal grand jury proceedings inquiring into the activi
ties of the "Sandino Gang," a gang involved in the illegal importation of drugs in
the United States. The respondents, law partners, represented key witnesses a
nd suspects including the leader of the gang, Joe Sandino.
In connection with a tax investigation in November of 1973, the IRS issued sum
mons to Hodge and Zweig, requiring them to produce documents and informatio
n regarding payment received by Sandino on behalf of any other person, and vi
ce versa. The lawyers refused to divulge the names. The Ninth Circuit of the Uni
ted States Court of Appeals, upholding non-disclosure under the facts and circu
mstances of the case, held:
A client's identity and the nature of that client's fee arrangements may be privileged where the p
erson invoking the privilege can show that a strong probability exists that disclosure of such info
rmation would implicate that client in the very criminal activity for which legal advice was sought
Baird v.Koerner, 279 F. 2d at 680. While in Baird Owe enunciated this rule as a matter of Califor
nia law, the rule also reflects federal law. Appellants contend that the Baird exception applies to
this case.
The Baird exception is entirely consonant with the principal policy behind the attorney-client privi
lege. "In order to promote freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clients, the apprehension
of compelled disclosure from the legal advisors must be removed; hence, the law must prohibit
such disclosure except on the client's consent." 8 J. Wigmore, supra sec. 2291, at 545. In furthe
rance of this policy, the client's identity and the nature of his fee arrangements are, in exception
al cases, protected as confidential communications.36
2) Where disclosure would open the client to civil liability; his identity is privileg
ed. For instance, the peculiar facts and circumstances of Neugass v. Terminal
Cab Corporation, 37 prompted the New York Supreme Court to allow a lawyer's c
laim to the effect that he could not reveal the name of his client because this wo
uld expose the latter to civil litigation.
In the said case, Neugass, the plaintiff, suffered injury when the taxicab she wa
s riding, owned by respondent corporation, collided with a second taxicab, whos
e owner was unknown. Plaintiff brought action both against defendant corporati
on and the owner of the second cab, identified in the information only as John D
oe. It turned out that when the attorney of defendant corporation appeared on pr
eliminary examination, the fact was somehow revealed that the lawyer came to
know the name of the owner of the second cab when a man, a client of the insur
ance company, prior to the institution of legal action, came to him and reported t
hat he was involved in a car accident. It was apparent under the circumstances
that the man was the owner of the second cab. The state supreme court held th
at the reports were clearly made to the lawyer in his professional capacity. The
court said:
That his employment came about through the fact that the insurance company had hired him to
defend its policyholders seems immaterial. The attorney is such cases is clearly the attorney for
the policyholder when the policyholder goes to him to report an occurrence contemplating that it
would be used in an action or claim against him. 38
xxx xxx xxx
All communications made by a client to his counsel, for the purpose of professional advice or as
sistance, are privileged, whether they relate to a suit pending or contemplated, or to any other m
atter proper for such advice or aid; . . . And whenever the communication made, relates to a mat
ter so connected with the employment as attorney or counsel as to afford presumption that it wa
s the ground of the address by the client, then it is privileged from disclosure. . .
It appears . . . that the name and address of the owner of the second cab came to the attorney i
n this case as a confidential communication. His client is not seeking to use the courts, and his
address cannot be disclosed on that theory, nor is the present action pending against him as se
rvice of the summons on him has not been effected. The objections on which the court reserved
decision are sustained. 39
In the case of Matter of Shawmut Mining Company, 40 the lawyer involved was r
equired by a lower court to disclose whether he represented certain clients in a
certain transaction. The purpose of the court's request was to determine whethe
r the unnamed persons as interested parties were connected with the purchase
of properties involved in the action. The lawyer refused and brought the questio
n to the State Supreme Court. Upholding the lawyer's refusal to divulge the nam
es of his clients the court held:
If it can compel the witness to state, as directed by the order appealed from, that he represente
d certain persons in the purchase or sale of these mines, it has made progress in establishing b
y such evidence their version of the litigation. As already suggested, such testimony by the witn
ess would compel him to disclose not only that he was attorney for certain people, but that, as t
he result of communications made to him in the course of such employment as such attorney, h
e knew that they were interested in certain transactions. We feel sure that under such condition
s no case has ever gone to the length of compelling an attorney, at the instance of a hostile litig
ant, to disclose not only his retainer, but the nature of the transactions to which it related, when
such information could be made the basis of a suit against his client. 41
3) Where the government's lawyers have no case against an attorney's client u
nless, by revealing the client's name, the said name would furnish the only link t
hat would form the chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a cri
me, the client's name is privileged.
In Baird vs. Korner, 42 a lawyer was consulted by the accountants and the lawyer
of certain undisclosed taxpayers regarding steps to be taken to place the undis
closed taxpayers in a favorable position in case criminal charges were brought
against them by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
It appeared that the taxpayers' returns of previous years were probably incorrect
and the taxes understated. The clients themselves were unsure about whether
or not they violated tax laws and sought advice from Baird on the hypothetical p
ossibility that they had. No investigation was then being undertaken by the IRS
of the taxpayers. Subsequently, the attorney of the taxpayers delivered to Baird
the sum of $12, 706.85, which had been previously assessed as the tax due, an
d another amount of money representing his fee for the advice given. Baird then
sent a check for $12,706.85 to the IRS in Baltimore, Maryland, with a note expl
aining the payment, but without naming his clients. The IRS demanded that Bair
d identify the lawyers, accountants, and other clients involved. Baird refused on
the ground that he did not know their names, and declined to name the attorney
and accountants because this constituted privileged communication. A petition
was filed for the enforcement of the IRS summons. For Baird's repeated refusal
to name his clients he was found guilty of civil contempt. The Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals held that, a lawyer could not be forced to reveal the names of client
s who employed him to pay sums of money to the government voluntarily in sett
lement of undetermined income taxes, unsued on, and with no government audi
t or investigation into that client's income tax liability pending. The court emphas
ized the exception that a client's name is privileged when so much has been rev
ealed concerning the legal services rendered that the disclosure of the client's i
dentity exposes him to possible investigation and sanction by government agen
cies. The Court held:
The facts of the instant case bring it squarely within that exception to the general rule. Here mon
ey was received by the government, paid by persons who thereby admitted they had not paid a
sufficient amount in income taxes some one or more years in the past. The names of the clients
are useful to the government for but one purpose to ascertain which taxpayers think they we
re delinquent, so that it may check the records for that one year or several years. The voluntary
nature of the payment indicates a belief by the taxpayers that more taxes or interest or penalties
are due than the sum previously paid, if any. It indicates a feeling of guilt for nonpayment of tax
es, though whether it is criminal guilt is undisclosed. But it may well be the link that could form t
he chain of testimony necessary to convict an individual of a federal crime. Certainly the payme
nt and the feeling of guilt are the reasons the attorney here involved was employed to advise
his clients what, under the circumstances, should be done. 43
Apart from these principal exceptions, there exist other situations which could q
ualify as exceptions to the general rule.
For example, the content of any client communication to a lawyer lies within the
privilege if it is relevant to the subject matter of the legal problem on which the cl
ient seeks legal assistance. 44 Moreover, where the nature of the attorney-client
relationship has been previously disclosed and it is the identity which is intende
d to be confidential, the identity of the client has been held to be privileged, sinc
e such revelation would otherwise result in disclosure of the entire transaction. 4
5

Summarizing these exceptions, information relating to the identity of a client ma


y fall within the ambit of the privilege when the client's name itself has an indepe
ndent significance, such that disclosure would then reveal client confidences. 46
The circumstances involving the engagement of lawyers in the case at bench, t
herefore, clearly reveal that the instant case falls under at least two exceptions t
o the general rule. First, disclosure of the alleged client's name would lead to es
tablish said client's connection with the very fact in issue of the case, which is pr
ivileged information, because the privilege, as stated earlier, protects the subjec
t matter or the substance (without which there would be not attorney-client relati
onship).
The link between the alleged criminal offense and the legal advice or legal servi
ce sought was duly establishes in the case at bar, by no less than the PCGG its
elf. The key lies in the three specific conditions laid down by the PCGG which c
onstitutes petitioners' ticket to non-prosecution should they accede thereto:
(a) the disclosure of the identity of its clients;
(b) submission of documents substantiating the lawyer-client relationship; and
(c) the submission of the deeds of assignment petitioners executed in favor of their clients cov
ering their respective shareholdings.
From these conditions, particularly the third, we can readily deduce that the clie
nts indeed consulted the petitioners, in their capacity as lawyers, regarding the f
inancial and corporate structure, framework and set-up of the corporations in qu
estion. In turn, petitioners gave their professional advice in the form of, among o
thers, the aforementioned deeds of assignment covering their client's shareholdi
ngs.
There is no question that the preparation of the aforestated documents was part
and parcel of petitioners' legal service to their clients. More important, it constit
uted an integral part of their duties as lawyers. Petitioners, therefore, have a legi
timate fear that identifying their clients would implicate them in the very activity f
or which legal advice had been sought, i.e., the alleged accumulation of ill-gotte
n wealth in the aforementioned corporations.
Furthermore, under the third main exception, revelation of the client's name wou
ld obviously provide the necessary link for the prosecution to build its case, whe
re none otherwise exists. It is the link, in the words of Baird, "that would inevitabl
y form the chain of testimony necessary to convict the (client) of a . . . crime." 47
An important distinction must be made between a case where a client takes on t
he services of an attorney for illicit purposes, seeking advice about how to go ar
ound the law for the purpose of committing illegal activities and a case where a
client thinks he might have previously committed something illegal and consults
his attorney about it. The first case clearly does not fall within the privilege beca
use the same cannot be invoked for purposes illegal. The second case falls with
in the exception because whether or not the act for which the client sought advi
ce turns out to be illegal, his name cannot be used or disclosed if the disclosure
leads to evidence, not yet in the hands of the prosecution, which might lead to p
ossible action against him.
These cases may be readily distinguished, because the privilege cannot be invo
ked or used as a shield for an illegal act, as in the first example; while the prose
cution may not have a case against the client in the second example and canno
t use the attorney client relationship to build up a case against the latter. The re
ason for the first rule is that it is not within the professional character of a lawyer
to give advice on the commission of a crime. 48The reason for the second has b
een stated in the cases above discussed and are founded on the same policy gr
ounds for which the attorney-client privilege, in general, exists.
In Matter of Shawmut Mining Co., supra, the appellate court therein stated that "
under such conditions no case has ever yet gone to the length of compelling an
attorney, at the instance of a hostile litigant, to disclose not only his retainer, but
the nature of the transactions to which it related, when such information could b
e made the basis of a suit against his client." 49 "Communications made to an att
orney in the course of any personal employment, relating to the subject thereof,
and which may be supposed to be drawn out in consequence of the relation in
which the parties stand to each other, are under the seal of confidence and entit
led to protection as privileged communications." 50 Where the communicated inf
ormation, which clearly falls within the privilege, would suggest possible criminal
activity but there would be not much in the information known to the prosecutio
n which would sustain a charge except that revealing the name of the client wou
ld open up other privileged information which would substantiate the prosecutio
n's suspicions, then the client's identity is so inextricably linked to the subject m
atter itself that it falls within the protection. The Baird exception, applicable to th
e instant case, is consonant with the principal policy behind the privilege, i.e., th
at for the purpose of promoting freedom of consultation of legal advisors by clie
nts, apprehension of compelled disclosure from attorneys must be eliminated. T
his exception has likewise been sustained in In re Grand Jury Proceedings 51 an
d Tillotson v. Boughner. 52 What these cases unanimously seek to avoid is the e
xploitation of the general rule in what may amount to a fishing expedition by the
prosecution.
There are, after all, alternative source of information available to the prosecutor
which do not depend on utilizing a defendant's counsel as a convenient and rea
dily available source of information in the building of a case against the latter. C
ompelling disclosure of the client's name in circumstances such as the one whic
h exists in the case at bench amounts to sanctioning fishing expeditions by lazy
prosecutors and litigants which we cannot and will not countenance. When the
nature of the transaction would be revealed by disclosure of an attorney's retain
er, such retainer is obviously protected by the privilege. 53 It follows that petition
er attorneys in the instant case owe their client(s) a duty and an obligation not to
disclose the latter's identity which in turn requires them to invoke the privilege.
In fine, the crux of petitioners' objections ultimately hinges on their expectation t
hat if the prosecution has a case against their clients, the latter's case should be
built upon evidence painstakingly gathered by them from their own sources and
not from compelled testimony requiring them to reveal the name of their clients,
information which unavoidably reveals much about the nature of the transaction
which may or may not be illegal. The logical nexus between name and nature o
f transaction is so intimate in this case the it would be difficult to simply dissociat
e one from the other. In this sense, the name is as much "communication" as inf
ormation revealed directly about the transaction in question itself, a communicat
ion which is clearly and distinctly privileged. A lawyer cannot reveal such comm
unication without exposing himself to charges of violating a principle which form
s the bulwark of the entire attorney-client relationship.
The uberrimei fidei relationship between a lawyer and his client therefore impos
es a strict liability for negligence on the former. The ethical duties owing to the cl
ient, including confidentiality, loyalty, competence, diligence as well as the resp
onsibility to keep clients informed and protect their rights to make decisions hav
e been zealously sustained. In Milbank, Tweed, Hadley and McCloy v. Boon, 54 t
he US Second District Court rejected the plea of the petitioner law firm that it br
eached its fiduciary duty to its client by helping the latter's former agent in closin
g a deal for the agent's benefit only after its client hesitated in proceeding with t
he transaction, thus causing no harm to its client. The Court instead ruled that b
reaches of a fiduciary relationship in any context comprise a special breed of ca
ses that often loosen normally stringent requirements of causation and damage
s, and found in favor of the client.
To the same effect is the ruling in Searcy, Denney, Scarola, Barnhart, and Shipl
ey P.A. v. Scheller 55 requiring strict obligation of lawyers vis-a-vis clients. In this
case, a contingent fee lawyer was fired shortly before the end of completion of h
is work, and sought payment quantum meruit of work done. The court, however,
found that the lawyer was fired for cause after he sought to pressure his client i
nto signing a new fee agreement while settlement negotiations were at a critical
stage. While the client found a new lawyer during the interregnum, events force
d the client to settle for less than what was originally offered. Reiterating the prin
ciple of fiduciary duty of lawyers to clients in Meinhard v. Salmon 56 famously attr
ibuted to Justice Benjamin Cardozo that "Not honesty alone, but thepunctilio of
an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior," the US Court fou
nd that the lawyer involved was fired for cause, thus deserved no attorney's fee
s at all.
The utmost zeal given by Courts to the protection of the lawyer-client confidenti
ality privilege and lawyer's loyalty to his client is evident in the duration of the pr
otection, which exists not only during the relationship, but extends even after th
e termination of the relationship. 57
Such are the unrelenting duties required by lawyers vis-a-vis their clients becau
se the law, which the lawyers are sworn to uphold, in the words of Oliver Wende
ll Holmes, 58 ". . . is an exacting goddess, demanding of her votaries in intellectu
al and moral discipline." The Court, no less, is not prepared to accept responde
nts' position without denigrating the noble profession that is lawyering, so extoll
ed by Justice Holmes in this wise:
Every calling is great when greatly pursued. But what other gives such scope to realize the spon
taneous energy of one's soul? In what other does one plunge so deep in the stream of life so
share its passions its battles, its despair, its triumphs, both as witness and actor? . . . But that is
not all. What a subject is this in which we are united this abstraction called the Law, wherein
as in a magic mirror, we see reflected, not only in our lives, but the lives of all men that have be
en. When I think on this majestic theme my eyes dazzle. If we are to speak of the law as our mis
tress, we who are here know that she is a mistress only to be won with sustained and lonely pas
sion only to be won by straining all the faculties by which man is likened to God.
We have no choice but to uphold petitioners' right not to reveal the identity of th
eir clients under pain of the breach of fiduciary duty owing to their clients, becau
se the facts of the instant case clearly fall within recognized exceptions to the ru
le that the client's name is not privileged information.
If we were to sustain respondent PCGG that the lawyer-client confidential privile
ge under the circumstances obtaining here does not cover the identity of the clie
nt, then it would expose the lawyers themselves to possible litigation by their cli
ents in view of the strict fiduciary responsibility imposed on them in the exercise
of their duties.
The complaint in Civil Case No. 0033 alleged that the defendants therein, includ
ing herein petitioners and Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. conspired with each other in
setting up through the use of coconut levy funds the financial and corporate fra
mework and structures that led to the establishment of UCPB, UNICOM and oth
ers and that through insidious means and machinations, ACCRA, using its wholl
y-owned investment arm, ACCRA Investment Corporation, became the holder o
f approximately fifteen million shares representing roughly 3.3% of the total capi
tal stock of UCPB as of 31 March 1987. The PCGG wanted to establish through
the ACCRA lawyers that Mr. Cojuangco is their client and it was Cojuangco wh
o furnished all the monies to the subscription payment; hence, petitioners acted
as dummies, nominees and/or agents by allowing themselves, among others, to
be used as instrument in accumulating ill-gotten wealth through government co
ncessions, etc., which acts constitute gross abuse of official position and authori
ty, flagrant breach of public trust, unjust enrichment, violation of the Constitution
and laws of the Republic of the Philippines.
By compelling petitioners, not only to reveal the identity of their clients, but wors
e, to submit to the PCGG documents substantiating the client-lawyer relationshi
p, as well as deeds of assignment petitioners executed in favor of its clients cov
ering their respective shareholdings, the PCGG would exact from petitioners a li
nk "that would inevitably form the chain of testimony necessary to convict the (cl
ient) of a crime."
III
In response to petitioners' last assignment of error, respondents alleged that the
private respondent was dropped as party defendant not only because of his ad
mission that he acted merely as a nominee but also because of his undertaking
to testify to such facts and circumstances "as the interest of truth may require, w
hich includes . . . the identity of the principal." 59
First, as to the bare statement that private respondent merely acted as a lawyer
and nominee, a statement made in his out-of-court settlement with the PCGG, it
is sufficient to state that petitioners have likewise made the same claim not mer
ely out-of-court but also in the Answer to plaintiff's Expanded Amended Complai
nt, signed by counsel, claiming that their acts were made in furtherance of "legiti
mate lawyering." 60Being "similarly situated" in this regard, public respondents m
ust show that there exist other conditions and circumstances which would warra
nt their treating the private respondent differently from petitioners in the case at
bench in order to evade a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitu
tion.
To this end, public respondents contend that the primary consideration behind t
heir decision to sustain the PCGG's dropping of private respondent as a defend
ant was his promise to disclose the identities of the clients in question. However
, respondents failed to show and absolute nothing exists in the records of the
case at bar that private respondent actually revealed the identity of his client
(s) to the PCGG. Since the undertaking happens to be the leitmotif of the entire
arrangement between Mr. Roco and the PCGG, an undertaking which is so mat
erial as to have justified PCGG's special treatment exempting the private respon
dent from prosecution, respondent Sandiganbayan should have required proof
of the undertaking more substantial than a "bare assertion" that private respond
ent did indeed comply with the undertaking. Instead, as manifested by the PCG
G, only three documents were submitted for the purpose, two of which were me
re requests for re-investigation and one simply disclosed certain clients which p
etitioners (ACCRA lawyers) were themselves willing to reveal. These were clien
ts to whom both petitioners and private respondent rendered legal services whil
e all of them were partners at ACCRA, and were not the clients which the PCG
G wanted disclosed for the alleged questioned transactions. 61
To justify the dropping of the private respondent from the case or the filing of th
e suit in the respondent court without him, therefore, the PCGG should conclusi
vely show that Mr. Roco was treated as species apart from the rest of the ACC
RA lawyers on the basis of a classification which made substantial distinctions b
ased on real differences. No such substantial distinctions exist from the records
of the case at bench, in violation of the equal protection clause.
The equal protection clause is a guarantee which provides a wall of protection a
gainst uneven application of status and regulations. In the broader sense, the g
u a ra n tee op e ra te s a ga in st un e ven ap p lica t io n of le ga l n o rm s so
that all persons under similar circumstances would be accorded the same treat
ment. 62 Those who fall within a particular class ought to be treated alike not onl
y as to privileges granted but also as to the liabilities imposed.
. . . What is required under this constitutional guarantee is the uniform operation of legal norms
so that all persons under similar circumstances would be accorded the same treatment both in t
he privileges conferred and the liabilities imposed. As was noted in a recent decision: "Favoritis
m and undue preference cannot be allowed. For the principle is that equal protection and securit
y shall be given to every person under circumstances, which if not identical are analogous. If la
w be looked upon in terms of burden or charges, those that fall within a class should be treated i
n the same fashion, whatever restrictions cast on some in the group equally binding the rest. 63
We find that the condition precedent required by the respondent PCGG of the p
etitioners for their exclusion as parties-defendants in PCGG Case No. 33 violate
s the lawyer-client confidentiality privilege. The condition also constitutes a trans
gression by respondents Sandiganbayan and PCGG of the equal protection cla
use of the Constitution. 64 It is grossly unfair to exempt one similarly situated litig
ant from prosecution without allowing the same exemption to the others. Moreo
ver, the PCGG's demand not only touches upon the question of the identity of th
eir clients but also on documents related to the suspected transactions, not only
in violation of the attorney-client privilege but also of the constitutional right agai
nst self-incrimination. Whichever way one looks at it, this is a fishing expedition,
a free ride at the expense of such rights.
An argument is advanced that the invocation by petitioners of the privilege of att
orney-client confidentiality at this stage of the proceedings is premature and that
they should wait until they are called to testify and examine as witnesses as to
matters learned in confidence before they can raise their objections. But petition
ers are not mere witnesses. They are co-principals in the case for recovery of al
leged ill-gotten wealth. They have made their position clear from the very begin
ning that they are not willing to testify and they cannot be compelled to testify in
view of their constitutional right against self-incrimination and of their fundament
al legal right to maintain inviolate the privilege of attorney-client confidentiality.
It is clear then that the case against petitioners should never be allowed to take
its full course in the Sandiganbayan. Petitioners should not be made to suffer th
e effects of further litigation when it is obvious that their inclusion in the complai
nt arose from a privileged attorney-client relationship and as a means of coercin
g them to disclose the identities of their clients. To allow the case to continue wit
h respect to them when this Court could nip the problem in the bud at this early
opportunity would be to sanction an unjust situation which we should not here c
ountenance. The case hangs as a real and palpable threat, a proverbial Sword
of Damocles over petitioners' heads. It should not be allowed to continue a day l
onger.
While we are aware of respondent PCGG's legal mandate to recover ill-gotten w
ealth, we will not sanction acts which violate the equal protection guarantee and
the right against self-incrimination and subvert the lawyer-client confidentiality p
rivilege.
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Resolutions of respondent
Sandiganbayan (First Division) promulgated on March 18, 1992 and May 21, 19
92 are hereby ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Respondent Sandiganbayan is furt
her ordered to exclude petitioners Teodoro D. Regala, Edgardo J. Angara, Aveli
no V. Cruz, Jose C. Concepcion, Victor P. Lazatin, Eduardo U. Escueta and Par
aja G. Hayuduni as parties-defendants in SB Civil Case No. 0033 entitled "Repu
blic of the Philippines v. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr., et al."
Adm. Case No. 6708 August 25, 2005
(CBD Case No. 01-874)
F E L I C I T A S S . Q U I A M B A O , C o m p l a i n a n t ,
v s .
ATTY. NESTOR A. BAMBA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
We are aware of the hapless fact that there are not enough lawyers to serve an exploding p
opulation. This unfortunate state of affairs, however, will not seize this Court from exercisin
g its disciplinary power over lawyers culpable of serious indiscretions. The incidence of publ
ic force must be deployed to bear upon the community to eventually forge a legal professio
n that provides quality, ethical, accessible, and cost-effective legal service to our people an
d whose members are willing and able to answer the call to public service.
In this administrative case for disbarment, complainant Felicitas S. Quiambao charges resp
ondent Atty. Nestor A. Bamba with violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility for r
epresenting conflicting interests when the latter filed a case against her while he was at that
time representing her in another case, and for committing other acts of disloyalty and doubl
e-dealing.
From June 2000 to January 2001, the complainant was the president and managing directo
r of Allied Investigation Bureau, Inc. (AIB), a family-owned corporation engaged in providing
security and investigation services. She avers that she procured the legal services of the r
espondent not only for the corporate affairs of AIB but also for her personal case. Particular
ly, the respondent acted as her counsel of record in an ejectment case against Spouses Sa
ntiago and Florita Torroba filed by her on 29 December 2000 before the Metropolitan Trial
Court (MeTC) of Paraaque City, which was docketed as Civil Case No. 11928. She paid at
torneys fees for respondents legal services in that case.1 About six months after she resig
ned as AIB president, or on 14 June 2001, the respondent filed on behalf of AIB a complain
t for replevin and damages against her before the MeTC of Quezon City for the purpose of r
ecovering from her the car of AIB assigned to her as a service vehicle. This he did without
withdrawing as counsel of record in the ejectment case, which was then still pending.2
Apart from the foregoing litigation matter, the complainant, in her Position Paper, charges t
he respondent with acts of disloyalty and double-dealing. She avers that the respondent pr
oposed to her that she organize her own security agency and that he would assist her in its
organization, causing her to resign as president of AIB. The respondent indeed assisted he
r in December 2000 in the formation of another security agency, Quiambao Risk Managem
ent Specialists, Inc., (QRMSI), which was later registered under complainants name, with t
he respondent as a "silent partner" represented by his associate Atty. Gerardo P. Hernande
z. The respondent was paid attorneys fees for his legal services in organizing and incorpor
ating QRMSI. He also planned to "steal" or "pirate" some of the more important clients of AI
B. While serving as legal counsel for AIB and a "silent partner" of QRMSI, he convinced co
mplainants brother Leodegario Quiambao to organize another security agency, San Esteb
an Security Services, Inc. (SESSI) where he (the respondent) served as its incorporator, dir
ector, and president. The respondent and Leodegario then illegally diverted the funds of AI
B to fund the incorporation of SESSI, and likewise planned to eventually close down the op
erations of AIB and transfer the business to SESSI.3
For his part, the respondent admits that he represented the complainant in the aforementio
ned ejectment case and later represented AIB in the replevin case against her. He, howeve
r, denies that he was the "personal lawyer" of the complainant, and avers that he was made
to believe that it was part of his function as counsel for AIB to handle even the "personal ca
ses" of its officers. Even assuming that the complainant confided to him privileged informati
on about her legal interests, the ejectment case and the replevin case are unrelated cases i
nvolving different issues and parties and, therefore, the privileged information which might
have been gathered from one case would have no use in the other. At any rate, it was the c
omplainant herself who insisted that he stay as her counsel despite the perceived differenc
es among her, her brother, and AIB over the motor vehicle subject of the replevin case. The
complainant even asked him to assist her in her monetary claims against AIB.4
The respondent also denies the charge raised by the complainant in her position paper that
he agreed to be a "silent partner" of QRMSI through his nominee, Atty. Gerardo P. Hernan
dez, who was his former law partner. He declined complainants offer to assume that role a
nd suggested Atty. Hernandez in his place; thus, 375 shares of stock were registered in Att
y. Hernandezs name as consideration of his (Atty. Hernandezs) legal services as corporat
e secretary and legal counsel of QRMSI. The respondent also denies that he convinced co
mplainants brother Leodegario to organize another security agency and that the funds of A
IB were unlawfully diverted to SESSI. It was to complement the business of AIB, which was
then in danger of collapse, that SESSI was established. Leodegarios wife and her son hav
e the effective control over SESSI. Respondents subscribed shareholdings in SESSI comp
rise only 800 shares out of 12,500 subscribed shares. He serves AIB and SESSI in differen
t capacities: as legal counsel of the former and as president of the latter.5
In his Report and Recommendation6 dated 31 August 2004, the investigating commissioner
of the IBP found the respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests based on the foll
owing undisputed facts: first, the respondent was still complainants counsel of record in th
e ejectment case when he filed, as legal counsel of AIB, the replevin case against her; and
second, the respondent was still the legal counsel of AIB when he advised the complainant
on the incorporation of another security agency, QRMSI, and recommended his former law
partner, Atty. Gerardo Hernandez, to be its corporate secretary and legal counsel and also
when he conferred with Leodegario to organize another security agency, SESSI, where the
respondent became an incorporator, stockholder, and president. Thus, the investigating co
mmissioner recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for o
ne year.
The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the investigating commissioners repor
t and recommendation, but reduced the penalty from one year to a stern reprimand.7
The issue in this case is whether the respondent is guilty of misconduct for representing co
nflicting interests in contravention of the basic tenets of the legal profession.
Rule 15.03, Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides: "A lawyer shall no
t represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full
disclosure of the facts." This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy and good t
aste.8 In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the facts connected
with the clients case, including the weak and strong points of the case. The nature of that r
elationship is, therefore, one of trust and confidence of the highest degree.9 It behooves la
wyers 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 secr
ets to their lawyers, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.10
In broad terms, lawyers are deemed to represent conflicting interests when, in behalf of one
client, it is their duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires them to oppos
e.11 Developments in jurisprudence have particularized various tests to determine whether
a lawyers conduct lies within this proscription. One test is whether a lawyer is duty-bound t
o fight for an issue or claim in behalf of one client and, at the same time, to oppose that clai
m for the other client.12 Thus, if a lawyers argument for one client has to be opposed by th
at same lawyer in arguing for the other client, there is a violation of the rule.
Another test of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would
prevent the full discharge of the lawyers duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client o
r invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.13 Still
another test is whether the lawyer would be called upon in the new relation to use against a
former client any confidential information acquired through their connection or previous em
ployment.14
The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where t
he opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of
no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which th
e lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the co
nfidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions
are wholly unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would
lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyers respective ret
ainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to bo
th clients.15
In this case, it is undisputed that at the time the respondent filed the replevin case on behalf
of AIB he was still the counsel of record of the complainant in the pending ejectment case.
We do not sustain respondents theory that since the ejectment case and the replevin case
are unrelated cases fraught with different issues, parties, and subject matters, the prohibitio
n is inapplicable. His representation of opposing clients in both cases, though unrelated, ob
viously constitutes conflict of interest or, at the least, invites suspicion of double-dealing. W
hile the respondent may assert that the complainant expressly consented to his continued r
epresentation in the ejectment case, the respondent failed to show that he fully disclosed th
e facts to both his clients and he failed to present any written consent of the complainant an
d AIB as required under Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Neither can we accept respondents plea that he was duty-bound to handle all the cases re
ferred to him by AIB, including the personal cases of its officers which had no connection to
its corporate affairs. That the representation of conflicting interest is in good faith and with
honest intention on the part of the lawyer does not make the prohibition inoperative.16 More
over, lawyers are not obliged to act either as an adviser or advocate for every person who
may wish to become their client. They have the right to decline such employment, subject,
however, to Canon 14 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.17 Although there are insta
nces where lawyers cannot decline representation,18 they cannot be made to labor under c
onflict of interest between a present client and a prospective one.19
Additionally, in his position paper, the respondent alleges that when the complainant invited
the respondent to join QRMSI, he "vehemently refused to join them due to his perception o
f conflicting interest as he was then (and still is at present) the Legal Counsel" of AIB, whi
ch is also a security agency.20 To bolster his allegation, he invoked the affidavits of complai
nants witnesses which contained statements of his apprehension of conflict of interest sho
uld he join QRMSI.21
Surprisingly, despite his apprehension or awareness of a possible conflict of interest should
he join QRMSI, the respondent later allowed himself to become an incorporator, stockhold
er, and president of SESSI, which is also a security agency. He justified his act by claiming
that that while both AIB and SESSI are engaged in security agency business, he is serving
in different capacities. As the in-house legal counsel of AIB, he "serves its legal interest the
parameter of which evolves around legal matters" such as protecting the legal rights and int
erest of the corporation; conducting an investigation or a hearing on violations of company r
ules and regulations of their office employees and security guards; sending demand letters
in collection cases; and representing the corporation in any litigation for or against it. And a
s president of SESSI, he serves the operational aspects of the business such as "how does
it operate[], how much do they price their services, what kind or how do they train[] their se
curity guards, how they solicit clients." Thus, conflict of interest is far-fetched. Moreover, the
respondent argues that the complainant, not being a stockholder of AIB and SESSI, has n
o right to question his alleged conflict of interest in serving the two security agencies.22
While the complainant lacks personality to question the alleged conflict of interests on the p
art of the respondent in serving both security agencies, we cannot just turn a blind eye to re
spondents act. It must be noted that the proscription against representation of conflicting in
terests finds application where the conflicting interests arise with respect to the same gener
al matter however slight the adverse interest may be. It applies even if the conflict pertains t
o the lawyers private activity or in the performance of a function in a non-professional capa
city.23 In the process of determining whether there is a conflict of interest, an important crite
rion is probability, not certainty, of conflict.
Since the respondent has financial or pecuniary interest in SESSI, which is engaged in a bu
siness competing with his clients, and, more importantly, he occupies the highest position i
n SESSI, one cannot help entertaining a doubt on his loyalty to his client AIB. This kind of si
tuation passes the second test of conflict of interest, which is whether the acceptance of a n
ew relationship would prevent the full discharge of the lawyers duty of undivided fidelity an
d loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performan
ce of that duty. The close relationship of the majority stockholders of both companies does
not negate the conflict of interest. Neither does his protestation that his shareholding in SE
SSI is "a mere pebble among the sands."
In view of all of the foregoing, we find the respondent guilty of serious misconduct for repre
senting conflicting interests.
Furthermore, it must be noted that Republic Act No. 5487, otherwise known as the Private
Security Agency Law, prohibits a person from organizing or having an interest in more than
one security agency. From respondents position paper, it can be culled that Leodegario Q
uiambao is the president and managing director of AIB, holding 60% of the outstanding sha
res; while his four other siblings who are permanent residents in the United States own the
remaining 40%.24 This prohibition notwithstanding, the respondent organized SESSI, with L
eodegarios wife and son as majority stockholders holding about 70% of the outstanding sh
ares and with him (the respondent), as well as the rest of the stockholders, holding minimal
shares.25 In doing so, the respondent virtually allowed Leodegario and the latters wife to vi
olate or circumvent the law by having an interest in more than one security agency. It must
be noted that in the affidavit26 of Leodegarios wife, she mentioned of their conjugal propert
y. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the property relation of Leodegario and his wi
fe can be presumed to be that of conjugal partnership of gains; hence, the majority shares i
n AIB and SESSI are the conjugal property of Leodegario and his wife, thereby placing the
mselves in possession of an interest in more than one security agency in contravention of
R.A. No. 5487. Thus, in organizing SESSI, the respondent violated Rule 1.02, Canon 1 of t
he Code of Professional Responsibility, which mandates lawyers to promote respect for the
law and refrain from counseling or abetting activities aimed at defiance of the law.
As to the recommendation that the penalty be reduced from a suspension of one year to a
stern warning, we find the same to be without basis. We are disturbed by the reduction mad
e by the IBP Board of Governors of the penalty recommended by the investigating commiss
ioner without clearly and distinctly stating the facts and reasons on which that reduction is b
ased.
Section 12(a), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court reads in part as follows:
SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors.
(a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors u
pon the record and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report. The decisio
n of the Board upon such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state the f
acts and the reasons on which it is based.
We may consider the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors as a memorandum decision
adopting by reference the report of the investigating commissioner. However, we look with
disfavor the change in the recommended penalty without any explanation therefor. Again, w
e remind the IBP Board of Governors of the importance of the requirement to announce in
plain terms its legal reasoning, since the requirement that its decision in disciplinary procee
dings must state the facts and the reasons on which its decision is based is akin to what is r
equired of the decisions of courts of record.27 The reasons for handing down a penalty occu
py no lesser station than any other portion of the ratio.
In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing conflicting interests
a penalty ranging from one to three years suspension was imposed.28 In this case, we find
that a suspension from the practice of law for one year is warranted.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nestor A. Bamba is hereby held GUILTY of violation of Ru
le 15.03 of Canon 15 and Rule 1.02 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR effective from re
ceipt of this Resolution, with a warning that a similar infraction in the future shall be dealt wi
th more severely.
A.C. No. 6836 January 23, 2006
LETICIA GONZALES, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. MARCELINO CABUCANA, Respondent.
RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before this Court is a complaint filed by Leticia Gonzales (Gonzales) praying that Atty. Marc
elino Cabucana, (respondent) be disbarred for representing conflicting interests.
On January 8, 2004, Gonzales filed a petition before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (I
BP) alleging that: she was the complainant in a case for sum of money and damages filed b
efore the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) of Santiago City, docketed as Civil Case N
o. 1-567 where she was represented by the law firm CABUCANA, CABUCANA, DE GUZM
AN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, with Atty. Edmar Cabucana handling the case and her
ein respondent as an associate/partner; on February 26, 2001, a decision was rendered in t
he civil case ordering the losing party to pay Gonzales the amount of P17,310.00 with inter
est and P6,000.00 as attorneys fees; Sheriff Romeo Gatcheco, failed to fully implement the
writ of execution issued in connection with the judgment which prompted Gonzales to file a
complaint against the said sheriff with this Court; in September 2003, Sheriff Gatcheco and
his wife went to the house of Gonzales; they harassed Gonzales and asked her to execute
an affidavit of desistance regarding her complaint before this Court; Gonzales thereafter fil
ed against the Gatchecos criminal cases for trespass, grave threats, grave oral defamation,
simple coercion and unjust vexation; notwithstanding the pendency of Civil Case No. 1-567
, where respondents law firm was still representing Gonzales, herein respondent represent
ed the Gatchecos in the cases filed by Gonzales against the said spouses; respondent sho
uld be disbarred from the practice of law since respondents acceptance of the cases of the
Gatchecos violates the lawyer-client relationship between complainant and respondents la
w firm and renders respondent liable under the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR)
particularly Rules 10.01,1 13.01,2 15.02,3 15.03,4 21.015 and 21.02.6
On January 9, 2004, the IBP-Commission on Bar Discipline ordered Atty. Marcelino Cabuc
ana, Jr. to submit his Answer to the complaint.7
In his Answer, respondent averred: He never appeared and represented complainant in Civ
il Case No. 1-567 since it was his brother, Atty. Edmar Cabucana who appeared and repres
ented Gonzales in said case. He admitted that he is representing Sheriff Gatcheco and his
wife in the cases filed against them but claimed that his appearance is pro bono and that th
e spouses pleaded with him as no other counsel was willing to take their case. He entered
his appearance in good faith and opted to represent the spouses rather than leave them de
fenseless. When the Gatchecos asked for his assistance, the spouses said that the cases fi
led against them by Gonzales were merely instigated by a high ranking official who wanted
to get even with them for their refusal to testify in favor of the said official in another case. A
t first, respondent declined to serve as counsel of the spouses as he too did not want to inc
ur the ire of the high-ranking official, but after realizing that he would be abdicating a sworn
duty to delay no man for money or malice, respondent entered his appearance as defense
counsel of the spouses free of any charge. Not long after, the present complaint was crafte
d against respondent which shows that respondent is now the subject of a demolition job.
The civil case filed by Gonzales where respondents brother served as counsel is different
and distinct from the criminal cases filed by complainant against the Gatcheco spouses, thu
s, he did not violate any canon on legal ethics. 8
Gonzales filed a Reply contending that the civil case handled by respondents brother is clo
sely connected with the cases of the Gatchecos which the respondent is handling; that the
claim of respondent that he is handling the cases of the spouses pro bono is not true since
he has his own agenda in offering his services to the spouses; and that the allegation that s
he is filing the cases against the spouses because she is being used by a powerful person i
s not true since she filed the said cases out of her own free will.9
The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP sent to the parties a Notice of Mandatory Con
ference dated March 1, 2004.10 On the scheduled conference, only a representative of com
plainant appeared.11 Commissioner Demaree Raval of the IBP-CBD then directed both part
ies to file their respective verified position papers.12
Complainant filed a Memorandum reiterating her earlier assertions and added that respond
ent prepared and notarized counter-affidavits of the Gatcheco spouses; that the high-rankin
g official referred to by respondent is Judge Ruben Plata and the accusations of responden
t against the said judge is an attack against a brother in the profession which is a violation o
f the CPR; and that respondent continues to use the name of De Guzman in their law firm d
espite the fact that said partner has already been appointed as Assistant Prosecutor of San
tiago City, again in violation of the CPR.13
Respondent filed his Position Paper restating his allegations in his Answer.14
On August 23, 2004, Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes issued an Order notifying both p
arties to appear before his office on October 28, 2004 for a clarificatory question regarding
said case.15 On the said date, only respondent appeared16 presenting a sworn affidavit exe
cuted by Gonzales withdrawing her complaint against respondent. It reads:

SINUMPAANG SALAYSAY
TUNGKOL SA PAG-UURONG NG DEMANDA
Ako, si LETICIA GONZALES, nasa tamang edad, Pilipino, may asawa, at nakatira sa Bara
ngay Dubinan East, Santiago City, makaraang manumpa ayon sa batas ay nagsasabing:
Ako ang nagdedemanda o petitioner sa CBD Case No. 04-1186 na may pamagat na "Letic
ia Gonzales versus Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr." na kasalukuyang nahaharap sa Com
mission on Bar Disciplineng Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Ang pagkakahain ng naturang demanda ay nag-ugat sa di-pagkakaintindihan na namama
gitan sa akin at nina Mr. and Mrs. Romeo and Anita Gatcheco.
Dahil sa aking galit sa naturang mag-asawa, idinawit ko si Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr
. sa sigalot na namamagitan sa akin at sa mag-asawang Gatcheco, gayong nalalaman ko
na si Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana ay walang nalalaman sa naturang di pagkakaintindihan.
Makaraang pag-isipang mabuti ang paghain ko ng demanda kontra kay Atty. Marcelino C.
Cabucana, Jr., nakumbinsi ako na ang pagdedemanda ko kay Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucan
a, Jr. ay isang malaking pagkakamali dahil siya ay walang kinalalaman (sic) sa di pagkakai
ntindihan naming(sic) ng mag-asawang Gatcheco.
Si Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. ay di ko rin naging abogado sa Civil Case No. 1-567 (
MTCC Br. I Santiago City) na inihain ko kontra kay Eduardo Mangano.
Nais kong ituwid ang lahat kung kayat aking iniuurong ang naturang kasong inihain ko kon
tra kayAtty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. at dahil dito ay hindi na ako interesado pang ituloy
and naturang kaso, at aking hinihiling sa kinauukulan na dismisin na ang naturang kaso.
Ginawa ko ang sinumpaang salaysay na ito upang patotohanan sa lahat ng nakasaad dito.
17

Commissioner Reyes issued an Order dated October 28, 2004 requiring Gonzales to appe
ar before him on November 25, 2004, to affirm her statements and to be subject to clarificat
ory questioning.18 However, none of the parties appeared.19 On February 17, 2005, only re
spondent was present. Commissioner Reyes then considered the case as submitted for res
olution.20
On February 24, 2005, Commissioner Reyes submitted his Report and Recommendation, p
ortions of which are quoted hereunder:
The Undersigned Commissioner believes that the respondent made a mistake in the accept
ance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatcheco, however, the Commission (sic) believ
es that there was no malice and bad faith in the said acceptance and this can be shown by
the move of the complainant to unilaterally withdraw the case which she filed against Atty.
Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. However, Atty. Cabucana is reminded to be more careful in the
acceptance of cases as conflict of interests might arise.
It is respectfully recommended that Atty. Marcelino C. Cabucana, Jr. (be) sternly warned an
d reprimanded andadvised to be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases which
might result in conflict of interests.21
On June 25, 2005, a Resolution was passed by the Board of Governors of the IBP, to wit:
RESOLUTION NO. XVI-2005-153
CBD CASE NO. 03-1186
L e t i c i a G o n z a l e s v s .
Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr.
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Re
port and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, h
erein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully sup
ported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that re
spondent made (a) mistake in the acceptance of the administrative case of Romeo Gatchec
o, Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is hereby WARNED and REPRIMANDED and advised to
be more circumspect and careful in accepting cases which might result in conflict of interest
s.22
Before going to the merits, let it be clarified that contrary to the report of Commissioner Rey
es, respondent did not only represent the Gatcheco spouses in the administrative case filed
by Gonzales against them. As respondent himself narrated in his Position Paper, he likewi
se acted as their counsel in the criminal cases filed by Gonzales against them.23
With that settled, we find respondent guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of Canon 15 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, to wit:
Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of al
l concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.
It is well-settled that a lawyer is barred from representing conflicting interests except by writ
ten consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts.24 Such prohibition is fo
unded on principles of public policy and good taste as the nature of the lawyer-client relatio
ns is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree.25Lawyers are expected not only to
keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and do
uble-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyer
s, which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.26
One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation w
ould prevent the full discharge of the lawyers duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the cli
ent or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of that duty.27
As we expounded in the recent case of Quiambao vs. Bamba,28
The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where t
he opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of
no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which th
e lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the co
nfidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions
are wholly unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would
lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyers respective ret
ainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to bo
th clients.29
The claim of respondent that there is no conflict of interests in this case, as the civil case ha
ndled by their law firm where Gonzales is the complainant and the criminal cases filed by G
onzales against the Gatcheco spouses are not related, has no merit. The representation of
opposing clients in said cases, though unrelated, constitutes conflict of interests or, at the v
ery least, invites suspicion of double-dealing which this Court cannot allow.30
Respondent further argued that it was his brother who represented Gonzales in the civil cas
e and not him, thus, there could be no conflict of interests. We do not agree. As respondent
admitted, it was their law firm which represented Gonzales in the civil case. Such being the
case, the rule against representing conflicting interests applies.
As we explained in the case of Hilado vs. David:31
[W]e can not sanction his taking up the cause of the adversary of the party who had so
ught and obtained legal advice from his firm; this, not necessarily to prevent any injustice to
the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar.
Without condemning the respondents conduct as dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent, we do
believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly inexpedient. It had the tendency to bring the
profession, of which he is a distinguished member, "into public disrepute and suspicion and
undermine the integrity of justice."32
The claim of respondent that he acted in good faith and with honest intention will also not e
xculpate him as such claim does not render the prohibition inoperative.33
In the same manner, his claim that he could not turn down the spouses as no other lawyer i
s willing to take their case cannot prosper as it is settled that while there may be instances
where lawyers cannot decline representation they cannot be made to labor under conflict of
interest between a present client and a prospective one.34 Granting also that there really w
as no other lawyer who could handle the spouses case other than him, still he should have
observed the requirements laid down by the rules by conferring with the prospective client t
o ascertain as soon as practicable whether the matter would involve a conflict with another
client then seek the written consent of all concerned after a full disclosure of the facts.35 Th
ese respondent failed to do thus exposing himself to the charge of double-dealing.
We note the affidavit of desistance filed by Gonzales. However, we are not bound by such
desistance as the present case involves public interest.36 Indeed, the Courts exercise of its
power to take cognizance of administrative cases against lawyers is not for the purpose of
enforcing civil remedies between parties, but to protect the court and the public against an
attorney guilty of unworthy practices in his profession.37
In similar cases where the respondent was found guilty of representing conflicting interests
a penalty ranging from one to three years suspension was imposed.38
We shall consider however as mitigating circumstances the fact that he is representing the
Gatcheco spouses pro bono and that it was his firm and not respondent personally, which h
andled the civil case of Gonzales. As recounted by complainant herself, Atty. Edmar Cabuc
ana signed the civil case of complainant by stating first the name of the law firm CABUCAN
A, CABUCANA, DE GUZMAN AND CABUCANA LAW OFFICE, under which, his name and
signature appear; while herein respondent signed the pleadings for the Gatcheco spouses
only with his name,39 without any mention of the law firm. We also note the observation of t
he IBP Commissioner Reyes that there was no malice and bad faith in respondents accept
ance of the Gatchecos cases as shown by the move of complainant to withdraw the case.
Thus, for violation of Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and t
aking into consideration the aforementioned mitigating circumstances, we impose the penal
ty of fine of P2,000.00.
WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVI-2005-153 of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is AP
PROVED with MODIFICATION that respondent Atty. Marcelino Cabucana, Jr. is FINED the
amount of Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) with a STERN WARNING that a commission
of the same or similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949
BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner,
vs.
JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JAC
OB ASSAD, respondents.
Delgado, Dizon and Flores for petitioner.
Vicente J. Francisco for respondents.
TUASON, J.:
It appears that on April 23, 1945, Blandina Gamboa Hilado brought an action against Selim
Jacob Assad to annul the sale of several houses and lot executed during the Japanese occ
upation by Mrs. Hilado's now deceased husband.
On May 14, Attorneys Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita filed an answer on behalf of the defend
ant; and on June 15, Attorneys Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo registered their appear
ance as counsel for the plaintiff. On October 5, these attorneys filed an amended complaint
by including Jacob Assad as party defendant.
On January 28, 1946, Attorney Francisco entered his appearance as attorney of record for t
he defendant in substitution for Attorney Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita who had withdrawn fr
om the case.
On May 29, Attorney Dizon, in the name of his firm, wrote Attorney Francisco urging him to
discontinue representing the defendants on the ground that their client had consulted with h
im about her case, on which occasion, it was alleged, "she turned over the papers" to Attor
ney Francisco, and the latter sent her a written opinion. Not receiving any answer to this su
ggestion, Attorney Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo on June 3, 1946, filed a formal moti
on with the court, wherein the case was and is pending, to disqualify Attorney Francisco.
Attorney Francisco's letter to plaintiff, mentioned above and identified as Exhibit A, is in full
as follows:
VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
Attorney-at-Law
1462 Estrada, Manila
July 13, 1945.
M r s . B l a n d i n a G a m b o a H i l a d o
Manila, Philippines
My dear Mrs. Hilado:
From the papers you submitted to me in connection with civil case No. 70075 of the Court o
f First Instance of Manila, entitled "Blandina Gamboa Hilado vs. S. J. Assad," I find that the
basic facts which brought about the controversy between you and the defendant therein are
as follows:
(a) That you were the equitable owner of the property described in the complaint, as the s
ame was purchased and/or built with funds exclusively belonging to you, that is to say, the
houses and lot pertained to your paraphernal estate;
(b) That on May 3, 1943, the legal title to the property was with your husband, Mr. Serafin
P. Hilado; and
(c) That the property was sold by Mr. Hilado without your knowledge on the aforesaid date
of May 3, 1943.
Upon the foregoing facts, I am of the opinion that your action against Mr. Assad will not ordi
narily prosper. Mr. Assad had the right to presume that your husband had the legal right to
dispose of the property as the transfer certificate of title was in his name. Moreover, the pric
e of P110,000 in Japanese military notes, as of May 3, 1943, does not quite strike me as so
grossly inadequate as to warrant the annulment of the sale. I believe, lastly, that the transa
ction cannot be avoided merely because it was made during the Japanese occupation, nor
on the simple allegation that the real purchaser was not a citizen of the Philippines. On his l
ast point, furthermore, I expect that you will have great difficulty in proving that the real purc
haser was other than Mr. Assad, considering that death has already sealed your husband's
lips and he cannot now testify as to the circumstances of the sale.
For the foregoing reasons, I regret to advise you that I cannot appear in the proceedings in
your behalf. The records of the case you loaned to me are herewith returned.
Yours very truly,
(Sgd.) VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
VJF/Rag.
In his answer to plaintiff's attorneys' complaint, Attorney Francisco alleged that about May,
1945, a real estate broker came to his office in connection with the legal separation of a wo
man who had been deserted by her husband, and also told him (Francisco) that there was
a pending suit brought by Mrs. Hilado against a certain Syrian to annul the sale of a real est
ate which the deceased Serafin Hilado had made to the Syrian during the Japanese occup
ation; that this woman asked him if he was willing to accept the case if the Syrian should gi
ve it to him; that he told the woman that the sales of real property during the Japanese regi
me were valid even though it was paid for in Japanese military notes; that this being his opi
nion, he told his visitor he would have no objection to defending the Syrian;
That one month afterwards, Mrs. Hilado came to see him about a suit she had instituted ag
ainst a certain Syrian to annul the conveyance of a real estate which her husband had mad
e; that according to her the case was in the hands of Attorneys Delgado and Dizon, but she
wanted to take it away from them; that as he had known the plaintiff's deceased husband h
e did not hesitate to tell her frankly that hers was a lost case for the same reason he had tol
d the broker; that Mrs. Hilado retorted that the basis of her action was not that the money p
aid her husband was Japanese military notes, but that the premises were her private and e
xclusive property; that she requested him to read the complaint to be convinced that this wa
s the theory of her suit; that he then asked Mrs. Hilado if there was a Torrens title to the pro
perty and she answered yes, in the name of her husband; that he told Mrs. Hilado that if the
property was registered in her husband's favor, her case would not prosper either;
That some days afterward, upon arrival at his law office on Estrada street, he was informed
by Attorney Federico Agrava, his assistant, that Mrs. Hilado had dropped in looking for him
and that when he, Agrava, learned that Mrs. Hilado's visit concerned legal matters he atten
ded to her and requested her to leave the "expediente" which she was carrying, and she di
d; that he told Attorney Agrava that the firm should not handle Mrs. Hilado's case and he sh
ould return the papers, calling Agrava's attention to what he (Francisco) already had said to
Mrs. Hilado;
That several days later, the stenographer in his law office, Teofilo Ragodon, showed him a l
etter which had been dictated in English by Mr. Agrava, returning the "expedients" to Mrs.
Hilado; that Ragodon told him (Attorney Francisco) upon Attorney Agrava's request that Agr
ava thought it more proper to explain to Mrs. Hilado the reasons why her case was rejected
; that he forthwith signed the letter without reading it and without keeping it for a minute in h
is possession; that he never saw Mrs. Hilado since their last meeting until she talked to him
at the Manila Hotel about a proposed extrajudicial settlement of the case;
That in January, 1946, Assad was in his office to request him to handle his case stating that
his American lawyer had gone to the States and left the case in the hands of other attorney
s; that he accepted the retainer and on January 28, 1946, entered his appearance.
Attorney Francisco filed an affidavit of stenographer Ragodon in corroboration of his answe
r.
The judge trying the case, Honorable Jose Gutierrez David, later promoted to the Court of
Appeals, dismissed the complaint. His Honor believed that no information other than that al
ready alleged in plaintiff's complaint in the main cause was conveyed to Attorney Francisco,
and concluded that the intercourse between the plaintiff and the respondent did not attain t
he point of creating the relation of attorney and client.
Stripped of disputed details and collateral matters, this much is undoubted: That Attorney F
rancisco's law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his signature on the merits of
her case; that this opinion was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted at his offi
ce; that Mrs. Hilado's purpose in submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco'
s professional services. Granting the facts to be no more than these, we agree with petition
er's counsel that the relation of attorney and client between Attorney Francisco and Mrs. Hil
ado ensued. The following rules accord with the ethics of the legal profession and meet wit
h our approval:
In order to constitute the relation (of attorney and client) a professional one and not merely
one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to give advice upon a leg
al point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of justice, or to prepare and draft, in legal
form such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the like. (Atkinson vs. Howlett, 11 Ky. Law
Rep. (abstract), 364; cited in Vol. 88, A. L. R., p. 6.)
To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have employ
ed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . . It is not necessary that any ret
ainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for; neither is it material that the attorne
y consulted did not afterward undertake the case about which the consultation was had. If a
person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney i
n his professional capacity with the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and
the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional e
mployment must be regarded as established. . . . (5 Jones Commentaries on Evidence, pp.
4118-4119.)
An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or c
ounselor-when he is listening to his client's preliminary statement of his case, or when he is
giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or advocati
ng his client's cause in open court. (Denver Tramway Co. vs. Owens, 20 Colo., 107; 36 P.,
848.)
Formality is not an essential element of the employment of an attorney. The contract may b
e express or implied and it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of the attorney is sou
ght and received, in matters pertinent to his profession. An acceptance of the relation is imp
lied on the part of the attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a reque
st by the latter. (7 C. J. S., 848-849; see Hirach Bros. and Co. vs. R. E. Kennington Co., 88
A. L. R., 1.)
Section 26 (e), Rule 123 of the Rules of Court provides that "an attorney cannot, without th
e consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or
his advice given thereon in the course of professional employment;" and section 19 (e) of R
ule 127 imposes upon an attorney the duty "to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at eve
ry peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client." There is no law or provision in the R
ules of Court prohibiting attorneys in express terms from acting on behalf of both parties to
a controversy whose interests are opposed to each other, but such prohibition is necessaril
y implied in the injunctions above quoted. (In re De la Rosa, 27 Phil., 258.) In fact the prohi
bition derives validity from sources higher than written laws and rules. As has been aptly sa
id in In re Merron, 22 N. M., 252, L.R.A., 1917B, 378, "information so received is sacred to t
he employment to which it pertains," and "to permit it to be used in the interest of another, o
r, worse still, in the interest of the adverse party, is to strike at the element of confidence wh
ich lies at the basis of, and affords the essential security in, the relation of attorney and clie
nt."
That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney Agrava and t
hat, this being so, no secret communication was transmitted to him by the plaintiff, would n
ot vary the situation even if we should discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, pe
rsonal and private in character, were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support th
e doctrine that the mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from a
ccepting the opposite party's retainer in the same litigation regardless of what information w
as received by him from his first client.
The principle which forbids an attorney who has been engaged to represent a client from th
ereafter appearing on behalf of the client's opponent applies equally even though during th
e continuance of the employment nothing of a confidential nature was revealed to the attorn
ey by the client. (Christian vs. Waialua Agricultural Co., 30 Hawaii, 553, Footnote 7, C. J. S.
, 828.)
Where it appeared that an attorney, representing one party in litigation, had formerly repres
ented the adverse party with respect to the same matter involved in the litigation, the court
need not inquire as to how much knowledge the attorney acquired from his former during th
at relationship, before refusing to permit the attorney to represent the adverse party. (Brow
n vs. Miller, 52 App. D. C. 330; 286, F. 994.)
In order that a court may prevent an attorney from appearing against a former client, it is un
necessary that the ascertain in detail the extent to which the former client's affairs might ha
ve a bearing on the matters involved in the subsequent litigation on the attorney's knowledg
e thereof. (Boyd vs. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 274 P., 7; 51 Nev., 264.)
This rule has been so strictly that it has been held an attorney, on terminating his employm
ent, cannot thereafter act as counsel against his client in the same general matter, even tho
ugh, while acting for his former client, he acquired no knowledge which could operate to his
client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment. (Pierce vs. Palmer [1910], 3
1 R. I., 432; 77 Atl., 201, Ann. Cas., 1912S, 181.)
Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a complic
ated affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In t
he complexity of what is said in the course of the dealings between an attorney and a client
, inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of othe
r matters that might only further prejudice the complainant's cause. And the theory would b
e productive of other un salutary results. To make the passing of confidential communicatio
n a condition precedent; i.e., to make the employment conditioned on the scope and charac
ter of the knowledge acquired by an attorney in determining his right to change sides, woul
d not enhance the freedom of litigants, which is to be sedulously fostered, to consult with la
wyers upon what they believe are their rights in litigation. The condition would of necessity
call for an investigation of what information the attorney has received and in what way it is o
r it is not in conflict with his new position. Litigants would in consequence be wary in going t
o an attorney, lest by an unfortunate turn of the proceedings, if an investigation be held, the
court should accept the attorney's inaccurate version of the facts that came to him. "Now th
e abstinence from seeking legal advice in a good cause is by hypothesis an evil which is fat
al to the administration of justice." (John H. Wigmore's Evidence, 1923, Section 2285, 2290
, 2291.)
Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and c
lient as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not al
one to prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the
honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. (Strong vs. Int. Bldg., e
tc.; Ass'n, 183 Ill., 97; 47 L.R.A., 792.) It is founded on principles of public policy, on good ta
ste. As has been said in another case, the question is not necessarily one of the rights of th
e parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With
these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate
the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing.
Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of p
aramount importance in the administration of justice.
So without impugning respondent's good faith, we nevertheless can not sanction his taking
up the cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from
his firm; this, not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above repro
ach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the bar. Without condemning the responden
ts conduct as dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it
is highly in expedient. It had the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is a distingui
shed member, "into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice."
There is in legal practice what called "retaining fee," the purpose of which stems from the re
alization that the attorney is disabled from acting as counsel for the other side after he has
given professional advice to the opposite party, even if he should decline to perform the co
ntemplated services on behalf of the latter. It is to prevent undue hardship on the attorney r
esulting from the rigid observance of the rule that a separate and independent fee for consu
ltation and advice was conceived and authorized. "A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given
to an attorney or counsel to insure and secure his future services, and induce him to act for
the client. It is intended to remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one
party, of the opportunity of rendering services to the other and of receiving pay from him, a
nd the payment of such fee, in the absence of an express understanding to the contrary, is
neither made nor received in payment of the services contemplated; its payment has no rel
ation to the obligation of the client to pay his attorney for the services which he has retained
him to perform." (7 C.J.S., 1019.)
The defense that Attorney Agrava wrote the letter Exhibit A and that Attorney Francisco did
not take the trouble of reading it, would not take the case out of the interdiction. If this letter
was written under the circumstances explained by Attorney Francisco and he was unaware
of its contents, the fact remains that his firm did give Mrs. Hilado a formal professional advi
ce from which, as heretofore demonstrated, emerged the relation of attorney and client. Thi
s letter binds and estop him in the same manner and to the same degree as if he personall
y had written it. An information obtained from a client by a member or assistant of a law firm
is information imparted to the firm. (6 C. J., 628; 7 C. J. S., 986.) This is not a mere fiction
or an arbitrary rule; for such member or assistant, as in our case, not only acts in the name
and interest of the firm, but his information, by the nature of his connection with the firm is a
vailable to his associates or employers. The rule is all the more to be adhered to where, as
in the present instance, the opinion was actually signed by the head of the firm and carries
his initials intended to convey the impression that it was dictated by him personally. No pro
gress could be hoped for in "the public policy that the client in consulting his legal adviser o
ught to be free from apprehension of disclosure of his confidence," if the prohibition were n
ot extended to the attorney's partners, employers or assistants.
The fact that petitioner did not object until after four months had passed from the date Attor
ney Francisco first appeared for the defendants does not operate as a waiver of her right to
ask for his disqualification. In one case, objection to the appearance of an attorney was all
owed even on appeal as a ground for reversal of the judgment. In that case, in which throu
ghout the conduct of the cause in the court below the attorney had been suffered so to act
without objection, the court said: "We are all of the one mind, that the right of the appellee t
o make his objection has not lapsed by reason of failure to make it sooner; that professiona
l confidence once reposed can never be divested by expiration of professional employment.
" (Nickels vs. Griffin, 1 Wash. Terr., 374, 321 A. L. R. 1316.)
The complaint that petitioner's remedy is by appeal and not by certiorari deserves scant att
ention. The courts have summary jurisdiction to protect the rights of the parties and the pub
lic from any conduct of attorneys prejudicial to the administration of the justice. The summa
ry jurisdiction of the courts over attorneys is not confined to requiring them to pay over mon
ey collected by them but embraces authority to compel them to do whatever specific acts m
ay be incumbent upon them in their capacity of attorneys to perform. The courts from the g
eneral principles of equity and policy, will always look into the dealings between attorneys a
nd clients and guard the latter from any undue consequences resulting from a situation in w
hich they may stand unequal. The courts acts on the same principles whether the undertaki
ng is to appear, or, for that matter, not to appear, to answer declaration, etc. (6 C.J., 718 C.
J.S., 1005.) This summary remedy against attorneys flows from the facts that they are offic
ers of the court where they practice, forming a part of the machinery of the law for the admi
nistration of justice and as such subject to the disciplinary authority of the courts and to its o
rders and directions with respect to their relations to the court as well as to their clients. (Ch
arest vs. Bishop, 137 Minn., 102; 162, N.W., 1062, Note 26, 7 C. J. S., 1007.) Attorney stan
d on the same footing as sheriffs and other court officers in respect of matters just mention
ed.
We conclude therefore that the motion for disqualification should be allowed. It is so ordere
d, without costs.

G.R. No. L-9473 November 28, 1959


ROSARIO DE JESUS-ALANO, petitioner,
vs.
HON. BIENVENIDO A. TAN, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Manila, and TRINI
DAD DE LEON VDA. DE ROXAS,respondents.
Angel S. Alvir for petitioner.
Jose T. Nueno for respondents.
GUTIERREZ DAVID, J.:
Sometime in 1953, Mrs. Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas filed an action in the Court of First
Instance of Manila for the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage made in her favor by the
espouses Fernando Ocampo and Lourdes Luciano Ocampo for a security of a debt of P120
,000.00 payable with 10% interest. As several months elapsed without the case being hear
d, the plaintiff Mrs. Roxas, after consulting Judge Gavino S. Abaya, then presiding one of th
e branches of the court, withdrew her suit, and availing of the services of herein petitioner A
tty. Rosario de Jesus-Alano upon the recommendation of Judge Abaya, sought extrajudicial
foreclosure, pursuant of Act No. 3135, as amended, by filing the necessary application with
the Sheriff of Manila. Acting on the application, the sheriff sold the mortgaged property at p
ublic auction and out of the net proceeds of the sale delivered to Mrs. Roxas the sum of P1
53,020.00 representing the principal of the mortgage loan and its compounded interest. But
it appears that, in addition to the said sum, Mrs. Roxas claimed that she was entitled to 10
% attorney's fees, or P15,302.00, for on April 27, 1954 the her in petitioner Rosario de Jesu
s-Alano acting "for and in behalf" of Mrs. Roxas and signing as her attorney, so informed th
e sheriff by letter and even asked that the claim for attorney's fees be given preference over
other claims. Due to this claim of Mrs. Roxas, the sheriff refused to satisfy fully from the bal
ance of the proceeds still in his hands the claims of various creditors against the Ocampo e
spouses until the said claim could be decided by the court. And the sheriff having in particul
ar declined to pay a part of the claim of judgment creditor Pacita de los Reyes Philipps, the
latter brought suit in the Court of First Instance of Manila (civil case No. 22881) impleading
among others, the sheriff and Mrs. Roxas, as defendants for the payment of the balance of
her claim amounting to P5,145.50, plus damages. The complaint alleged that Mrs. Roxas w
as not entitled to any attorney's fees because the mortgage provided for the payment of suc
h fee only in case of judicial foreclosure. In her answer, which was signed by herein petition
er Rosario de Jesus-Alano as attorney, Mrs. Roxas reiterated her claim for attorney's fees a
nd citing Art. 2208 of the new Civil Code, contended that it was only just and equitable that
such fees be paid to her. The answer also contained a counterclaim for moral damages. Aft
er hearing, the court, in its decision dated January 31, 1955, denied the claim for damages
and fixed the amount to be paid by the sheriff out of the money still in his hands to the differ
ent claimants. And considering the extrajudicial as but a continuation of the judicial foreclos
ure previously filed and on the authority of articles 1167, 1247, and 2208 of the new Civil C
ode, the court made the following adjudication in favor of Mrs. Roxas:
PREMISED CONSIDERED, the Sheriff of the City of Manila is hereby ordered to deliver the
corresponding claims of the claimants in the following order of priority:
1. To Mrs. Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas, the amount of P2,500.00 representing her att
orney's fees and other expenses incurred in the foreclosure proceedings;
Two months thereafter, or on March 31, 1955, on motion of herein petitioner Rosario de Je
sus-Alano, the court issued the following order of execution:
Petition for execution dated March 30, 1955, filed by counsel for defendant Mrs. Trinidad de
Leon Vda. de Roxas being meritorious, the same is granted. Let a writ of execution issue i
n this case and the amount of P2,500.00 be delivered to Atty. Rosario de Jesus-Alano bein
g the lawyer of defendant Mrs. Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas.
SO ORDERED.
In obedience to this order, the sheriff on April 21, 1955, delivered to herein petitioner Centr
al Bank Check No. CB-063360 in the sum of P2,497.00.
Some 55 days thereafter, or on June 15, 1955, Atty. Jose Topacio Nueno, as attorney of Mr
s. Roxas, filed in the same court a petition on her behalf, alleging in substance that the sum
adjudge to her in Civil Case No. 22881 as attorney's fee belong to her and not to Rosario d
e Jesus-Alano, who had no right to the same because she had never engaged the latter's p
rofessional services as a lawyer and if the latter had any claim for such services, said claim
had already been fully satisfied with the P350.00 paid to her; that the motion for execution
was filed by Rosario de Jesus-Alano without her, Mrs. Roxas', knowledge and consent; and
that she was not even notified thereof. Mrs. Roxas therefore, asked that Atty. Rosario de J
esus- Alano be ordered to deliver the sum of P2,500.00 to her. By way of answer to this pet
ition, Atty. Rosario de Jesus-Alano filed a manifestation stating, among other things, that th
e court had already become final; that the order of execution directing the delivery to her of
the amount of P2,500.00 was based on the fact that she acted as counsel for Mrs. Roxas in
the extrajudicial foreclosure proceedings against the Ocampo espouses, and the amount w
as awarded upon her petition, in her favor, "as her lien for her attorney's fees"; that all she r
eceived from Mrs. Roxas for fees and expenses was the amount of P350.00; and that in th
e case instituted by Pacita de los Reyes Philipps she again represented Mrs. Roxas but onl
y to get her attorney's fees. After hearing, the court rendered on June 18, 1955 an order wh
ich reads in part as follows:
In view of the sworn statement submitted by Mrs. Roxas and in order to determine, first, if A
tty. Alano was really the lawyer of Mrs. Roxas or not, and second if the answer is in the affir
mative, to what amount said Mrs. Alano is entitled for her services in accordance with the a
ccepted rules as laid down in the case of Delgado vs. De la Rama, the Court hereby orders
Atty. Alano to return and deposit with the Clerk of Court the amount of P2,500.00 within 5 d
ays from today and upon her failure to do so, the Court will declare said Atty. Alano in conte
mpt of court and order her immediate arrest.
The Court hereby sets the hearing of this motion on Saturday, June 25, 1955, at 8:00 o'cloc
k in the morning, for the reception of evidence of both parties in support of their respective
contentions.
Atty. Rosario de Jesus-Alano asked for reconsideration of the order, contending that the co
urt acted without jurisdiction because the decision of January 31, 1955 is not only final but
was already executed and the court had no power to modify it as no motion to set it aside u
nder Rule 38 of the Rules of Court had been presented; that as counsel to Mrs. Roxas, she
is unquestionably entitled to receive the amount of P2,500.00 since the latter does not clai
m the amount as her own but as fees for her attorney; that the petition of Mrs. Roxas is in t
he nature of the suit, and that the order of the court requiring her, petitioner, to deposit the
amount with the clerk of court is in the nature of preliminary attachment, which is illegal bec
ause it is not based on any of the grounds provided for in the Rules of Court; that the order
was issued without the hearing evidence and therefore violative of the due process clause
of the Constitution; and that the order is likewise violative of the constitutional provision that
not person shall be imprisoned for debt and that the accused is presumed innocent until th
e contrary is proved, since in the event that she, petitioner, has no money now to deposit wi
th the clerk of court, she would be arrested in accordance with the tenor of the order. The m
otion having been denied, Atty. Rosario de Jesus-Alano has now come to this court through
a petition for certiorari to have the order of June 18, 1955 annulled "as issued without juris
diction, besides being manifestly arbitrary, unjust, and unconstitutional."
The petition, we think, should be granted.
Examining the decision of January 31, 1955 in Civil Case No. 22881, we there find that the
lower court, in awarding the amount of P2,500.00 in favor of the respondent Mrs. Roxas as
attorney's fees and other expenses incurred in the foreclosure proceedings took into accou
nt the standing of her attorney obviously referring to herein petitioner Rosario de Jesus-
Alano and actually considered that amount as the "equitable and just attorney's fees". Th
us the court said:
With respect to this point, the Court believes and so holds that the amount of P2,500.00 is
a reasonable amount that can be given to Mrs. Roxas as her attorney's fees and other incid
ental expenses incurred by her in the foreclosure of the mortgage judicially and extrajudicial
ly. Under the circumstances and taking into account the standing of her attorney, the Court
considers this amount of P2,500.00 as the equitable and just attorney's fees.
The respondent Mrs. Roxas, who appears to be claiming the amount of P2,500.00 not for h
erself but for her attorney, has not contested the value of the professional; services rendere
d by her lawyer, herein petitioner, as fixed by the lower court. Indeed, the decision has alre
ady become final and therefore conclusive as to the parties. Neither has Mrs. Roxas claime
d that she engaged the legal services of an attorney other than herein petitioner Atty. Rosar
io de Jesus-Alano for the foreclosure of the real estate mortgage made in her favor. Anothe
r attorney, it is true represented her, Mrs. Roxas, in the action filed for judicial foreclosure
which was later withdrawn without the case being heard that it does not appear that t
his attorney has ever asserted any claim for attorney's fees. This could very well be the exp
lanation why Mrs. Roxas did not insist upon her original claim of P15,032.00 for attorney's f
ees and instead had it reduced to only P3,000.00. Upon the other hand, it is not disputed th
at petitioner had actually rendered professional services to Mrs. Roxas in the foreclosure pr
oceedings which resulted in the latter being able to recover the total sum of P153,020.00 re
presenting the principal of the mortgage loan and its compounded interest. The record also
shows that petitioner appeared as counsel for Mrs. Roxas in Civil Case No. 22881, which a
ppearance, in the absence of any showing to the contrary, is presumed to be authorized. (S
ec. 20, Rule 127, Rules of Court.)
It will thus be seen that the lower court has, in its decision of January 31, 1955 in Civil Case
No. 22881, already fixed at P2,500.00 the value of herein petitioner's legal services render
ed to Mrs. Roxas. Apparently, the court was familiar with the nature and extent of petitioner'
s professional services to Mrs. Roxas, for it expressly found that amount "under the circums
tances and taking into account the standing of her attorney ... as the equitable and just attor
ney's fees." Such being the case, and considering the facts on record, we see no valid reas
on why the court should still require a hearing to determine, as stated in the order complain
ed of, petitioner's right to attorney's fees and compel her to pay the sum of P2,500.00 into t
he court preliminary to that hearing under pain of contempt and imprisonment in case of fail
ure to do so. To hold such a hearing would only result in duplicity of proceedings and would
furthermore have the effect of permitting the reopening of a case which has already becom
e final.
In any event, it is to be observed that the amount of P2,500.00 in question was by the writ o
f execution ordered delivered to petitioner, she "being the lawyer of defendant Mrs. Trinidad
de Leon Vda. de Roxas." Petitioner has, therefore, acquired, and may validly exercise, a g
eneral or retaining lien over the amount of P2,500.00. As provided in the first sentence of s
ection 33 of Rule 127 of the Rules of Court, "An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, d
ocuments and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession, and may r
etain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply suc
h funds to the satisfaction thereof." Such lien has been held to extend to moneys collected
by the attorney for his client in the course of his employment, whether or not upon a judgme
nt or award. (5 Am. Jur. p.389.) The petitioner being in possession of general or retaining li
en conceded to her by the first part of section 33 of Rule 127, there can be no question that
she had the right to retain the amount of P2,500.00 and to apply it to the satisfaction of her
claim for attorney's fees, the same having been already adjudicated as the reasonable valu
e of her professional services to the respondent Mrs. Roxas. Courts, in the exercise of their
exclusive and supervisory authority over attorneys as officers of the court, are bound to res
pect and protect the attorney's lien, which as held in the case of Rustia vs. Abeto (72 Phil.,
133), "is necessary to preserve the decorum and respectability of the profession." (See also
Ulanday vs. Manila Railroad Co., 45 Phil., 540.)
We note, however, that petitioner had already been paid by the respondent Mrs. Roxas the
amount of P350.00 during the foreclosure proceedings. The amount, in the light of the view
we have taken of the case not to mention the fact that there is no claim that the amount
of P2,500.00 adjudicated as professional fees is unreasonable or insufficient should be r
eturned to the respondent Mrs. Roxas.
Wherefore, it being understood that the amount of P350.00 shall be returned by petitioner t
o the respondent Mrs. Trinidad de Leon Vda. de Roxas, the petition for certiorari is granted,
and the preliminary injunction heretofore issued made permanent. Without costs.

Adm. Case No. 5831 January 13, 2003


CESAR A. ESPIRITU, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. JUAN CABREDO IV, respondent.
MENDOZA, J.:
This is an administrative complaint filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on
May 8, 2001 by complainant Cesar A. Espiritu against Atty. Juan Cabredo IV for failure to f
ulfill a fiduciary obligation to a client.
The complaint alleges the following facts:
On November 5, 1999, the BPI Family Savings Bank Inc. (BPI-FSB) filed two complaints for
replevin and damages against Esphar Medical Center (Esphar) Inc. and its president Cesa
r Espiritu and a certain John Doe. In the first complaint, the BPI-FSB alleged that, on July 1
4, 1997, Esphar, Cesar Espiritu, and a certain John Doe executed in favor of Gencars, Inc.
(Gencars) a promissory note in which they obligated themselves jointly and severally to pay
the latter P511,956 in monthly installments pursuant to a schedule they had agreed upon. I
t was provided that failure on the part of the makers to pay any installment when due shall
make subsequent installments and the balance of the obligation immediately due and dema
ndable. The promissory note was secured by a chattel mortgage on an Isuzu "Close Van" (
1997 model) and registered with the Register of Deeds and the Land Transportation Comm
ission. On July 14, 1997, Gencars executed a deed of assignment in favor of the BPI-FSB,
assigning to the latter all of its rights, title and interest in the promissory note secured by the
chattel mortgage. In 1999, Esphar, Espiritu and John Doe failed to pay installments for thre
e consecutive months, for which reason demands were made on the three to pay the entire
balance of P186,806.28, with accrued interest at the rate of 36% per annum or to give to B
PI-FSB the possession of the Isuzu van in order to foreclose the mortgage. As the three fail
ed to comply with the demands, the BPI-FSB brought suit for replevin and damages against
them.1
The second complaint alleged similar facts involving Citimotors, Inc. as the payee of anothe
r promissory note in which Esphar, Espiritu and John Doe, as makers, obligated themselve
s solidarily to pay the former P674,640.00 in monthly installments. The promissory note wa
s secured by a chattel mortgage on a Mitsubishi L-300 "Exceed Montone Van" (1997 model
), which BPI-FSB, as holder of the said promissory note, sought to foreclose due to the mak
ers' failure to comply with its terms and conditions.2
On December 10, 1999, Espiritu engaged the services of Atty. Juan Cabredo IV, herein res
pondent, to represent him in the two civil cases. On same day, Cabredo's secretary, Rose
Tria, picked up copies of the complaints from Espiritu's office and, on December 14, 1999,
his representative Reynaldo Nuez received from Esphar P16,000.00 for use as filing and
acceptance fees. While the cases were pending in court, Atty. Cabredo advised Esphar to r
emit money and update payments to BPI-FSB through the trial court. Accordingly, on Dece
mber 28, 1999 and again January 28, 2000, Esphar's representative, Maritess Alejandrino,
delivered a total of P51,161.00 to Atty. Cabredo's office. Later on, when Atty. Cabredo faile
d to appear at a hearing of the civil cases, the management of Esphar found out that he did
not deliver the sum of P51,161.00 to the court or BPI-FSB. The management of Esphar the
n agreed to settle the cases amicably. For this reason, a joint motion to dismiss was filed by
the parties, and the cases were dismissed on May 15, 2000. Thereafter, on May 8, 2001, E
spiritu filed a complaint against Atty. Cabredo for fraud.3
In his answer dated June 6, 2001, respondent Cabredo admitted that his secretary, Rose T
ria, had indeed received P51,161.00 from Esphar, but claimed that Tria failed to inform him
about it. It was only when he read Esphar's first demand letter dated March 21, 2000 that h
e learned for the first time about the receipt of the money. Respondent claimed that he faile
d to get complainant's demand letters of March 24, 2000 and January 5, 2001 because of l
apses on the part of his staff. He thus shifted the blame on his staff.
7. It is quite unfortunate that this incident happened all thru the fault of the law firm person
nel. In spite of respondent's candid, honest and sincere desire to faithfully and religiously se
rve good clients, [his efforts have been] rendered inutile by lapses of his staff;
8. Respondent believes that complainant Cesar A. Espiritu would not have resorted to this
present action had the firm personnel been vigilant enough to inform respondent of this ma
tter.
Respondent said he was willing to reimburse complainant to show his good faith and "to er
ase the suspicion that respondent intentionally spent the amount for his own use and benefi
t."4
Acting on the complaint, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Dis
cipline scheduled a hearing on September 24, 2001. However, the hearing had to be resch
eduled three times on November 14, 2001, December 14, 2001, and January 18, 2002
because of respondent's failure to appear despite due notice to him. In orders dated Nov
ember 14, 20015 and December 14, 2001,6 respondent was warned that the investigator wo
uld proceed with the case if he failed to appear again in subsequent hearings. Finally, in the
order dated January 18, 2002, Investigating Commissioner Wilfred Reyes ordered:
Considering that this is the fifth (5th) time that the respondent has failed to appear despite n
otice, the undersigned Commissioner has no option but to decide the case on the basis of t
he pleadings submitted. It must be noted that despite receipt of the Orders of the Commissi
on, the respondent Atty. Juan Cabredo IV has failed to appear before the Commission on B
ar Discipline.
This case is deemed submitted for resolution based on the pleadings submitted by the parti
es.7
On February 13, 2002, Commissioner Reyes submitted his report and recommendation. He
found respondent guilty of violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recomm
ended that the latter be suspended from the practice of law for three months and ordered to
return the amount of P51,161.00 to Esphar.8 In a resolution dated August 3, 2002, the IBP
Board of Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the investigating commi
ssioner.9
Except for the penalty, we find the recommendation is well taken.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
CANON 16 A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES O
F HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
Rule 16.01 A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or received for or fr
om the client.
Rule 16.02 A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and apart from his own
and those of others kept by him.
Rule 16.03 A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of his client when due or upon d
emand. However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as m
ay be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving notice promptly thereaf
ter to his client. He shall also have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and execution
s he has secured for his client as provided for in the Rules of Court.
The relationship between a lawyer and a client is highly fiduciary; it requires a high degree
of fidelity and good faith.10 Hence, in dealing with trust property, a lawyer should be very scr
upulous. Money or other trust property of the client coming into the possession of the lawye
r should be reported by the latter and account any circumstances, be commingled with his
own or be used by him.11
In this case, respondent claims that he did not know about the receipt by his secretary on th
e amount of P51,161.00 received from Esphar until he read the first demand letter of the co
mpany, which stated:
March 21, 2000
J U D G E J U A N C A B R E D O
Cubao, Quezon City
Dear Judge Cabredo:
Due to your failure to make an interbank deposit as what we have agreed upon yesterday,
March 20, 2000, we are sending bearer, MRS. MARITESS ALEJANDRINO, to collect the a
mount of P51,161.00 representing payment intended for BPI FAMILY BANK which was our
coursed through your office per your instruction.
We are hoping that you will not fail to return the money through bearer thereof. Her specim
en signature is shown below for identification purposes.
Thank you.
Very truly yours,
ESPHAR MEDICAL CENTER, INC.
(signed)
AUTHORIZED SIGNATURE
Specimen Signature of:
(signed)
MARITESS ALEJANDRINO
However, even after receiving this notice and two other demand letters, respondent never r
eturned the money of complainant nor paid it to the bank. Indeed, it is improbable that resp
ondent's secretary failed to inform complainant about the receipt of such a substantial sum
of money. In failing to account for the money of his client, respondent violated not only the
Code of Professional Responsibility but also his oath to conduct himself with all good fidelit
y to his clients.12 Like judges, lawyers must not only be proper but they must also appear to
be so. This way, the people's faith in the justice system would remain unshaken.13
It appears that respondent, while now a practicing lawyer, was a former judge.14 Thus, he s
hould have known the ethical precepts guiding lawyers who handle money given to them in
trust by their clients and the necessary consequences thereof. Rule 138 of the Rules of Co
urt provides,
Sec. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefore.
A member of the bar maybe disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supr
eme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly im
moral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilful
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing a
s an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases
at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitut
es malpractice. [emphasis supplied.]
From the evidence presented by complainant, which respondent failed to rebut, it is clear th
at the breach of trust committed by respondent amounted to deceit, as well as a violation of
his oath, for which he should be penalized with either disbarment or suspension. While we
agree with the findings of the investigating commissioner, we find the recommended penalt
y of suspension for three months to be too light. In Reyes v. Maglaya15 a lawyer was suspe
nded for one year for failing to return P1,500.00 belonging to his client despite numerous d
emands. InCastillo v. Taguines,16 a lawyer failed to deliver to his client P500.00, representi
ng the monetary settlement of a civil suit despite demands. To make matters worse, he fool
ed the client by issuing a bouncing check. He was suspended for one year.
For his failure to account for P51,161.00 received from his client and to restitute it without a
ny reason, respondent should be suspended for one year.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Juan Cabredo IV is hereby SUSPENDED for one (1) year and ORDE
RED to immediately return to Esphar Medical Center, Inc. the sum of P51,161.00, with WA
RNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Let cop
ies of the Decision be entered in his record as an attorney and be furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and all the courts in the country for their information and guidan
ce.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 3745 October 2, 1995


CYNTHIA B. ROSACIA, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. BENJAMIN B. BULALACAO, respondent.
RESOLUTION

FRANCISCO, J.:
Complainant Cynthia B. Rosacia, president of Tacma, Phils., Inc., a duly registe
red corporation, filed a complaint for disbarment dated October 25, 1991, again
st herein respondent Atty. Benjamin B. Bulalacao. Acting on the complaint, the
Court in a resolution dated February 24, 1992, resolved to refer the case to the I
ntegrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendat
ion. Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez, the IBP investigating commissioner, fo
und that respondent breached his oath of office and accordingly recommended
respondent's suspension from the practice of law for three (3) months. 1 In a res
olution dated July 30, 1994, the IBP Board of Governors resolved to adopt and
approve the commissioner's report and recommendation. 2
As found by the IBP, the undisputed facts are as follows:
On June 1, 1990, by virtue of a written Agreement (Exh. "3-a"), respondent Atty. Benjamin B. Bu
lalacao was hired as retained counsel of a corporation by the name of Tacma Phils., Inc.
On October 31, 1990, the lawyer-client relationship between the respondent and Tacma Phils., I
nc. was severed as shown by another agreement of even date (Exh. "3-b").
On July, 1991, or after almost nine (9) months from the date respondent's retainer agreement wi
th Tacma, Phils., Inc. was terminated, several employees of the corporation consulted the respo
ndent for the purpose of filing an action for illegal dismissal. Thereafter, he agreed to handle the
case for the said employees as against Tacma, Phils., Inc. by filing a complaint before the Nati
onal Labor Relations Commission, and appearing in their behalf. 3
The sole issue to be addressed is whether or not respondent breached his oath
of office for representing the employees of his former client, Tacma, Phils., Inc.,
after the termination of their attorney-client relationship. We agree with the findi
ngs of the IBP that respondent breached his oath of office. Respondent does no
t now dispute this. In fact, in his motion for reconsideration, respondent admitted
that he "did commit an act bordering on grave misconduct, if not outright violati
on of his attorney's oath". 4 However, respondent is pleading for the Court's com
passion and leniency to reduce the IBP recommended three months suspensio
n to either fine or admonition with the following proffered grounds: that he is rela
tively new in the profession having been admitted to the Philippine Bar on April
10, 1990 at the age of 46 when the complained conduct was committed on Aug
ust 1991; that he is of humble beginnings and his suspension will deprive his fa
mily of its only source of livelihood he being the sole bread winner in the family;
that he has fully realized his mistake and the gravity of his offense for which he i
s fully repentant; that he has severed his attorney-client relationship with the em
ployees of Tacma, Phils., Inc. by inhibiting himself and withdrawing his appeara
nce as counsel in the labor case against Tacma, Phils., Inc.; and that he pledge
s not to commit the same mistake and to henceforth strictly adhere to the profes
sional standards set forth by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The Court reiterates that an attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the ca
se in which he has represented him but also after the relation of attorney and cli
ent has terminated as it is not good practice to permit him afterwards to defend i
n another case other person against his former client under the pretext that the
case is distinct from, and independent of the former case. 5 It behooves respond
ent not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appea
rance of treachery and double dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged
to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in th
e administration of justice. 6 The relation of attorney and client is one of confiden
ce and trust in the highest degree. 7 A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his cli
ent and he ought to be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. 8 An
attorney not only becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client's c
ause, but also learns from his client the weak and strong points of the case. No
opportunity must be given attorneys to take advantage of the secrets of clients o
btained while the confidential relation of attorney and client exists. Otherwise, th
e legal profession will suffer by the loss of the confidence of the people. 9
Respondent's plea for leniency cannot be granted. We note that respondent is n
ew in the profession as he was just admitted to the Philippine Bar on April 10, 1
990, when the breach of his oath of office occurred more than a year after. Havi
ng just hurdled the bar examinations which included an examination in legal ethi
cs, surely the precepts of the Code of Professional Responsibility to keep inviol
ate the client's trust and confidence even after the attorney-client relation is term
inated 10 must have been still fresh in his mind. A lawyer starting to establish his
stature in the legal profession must start right and dutifully abide by the norms o
f conduct of the profession. This will ineluctably redound to his benefit and to th
e upliftment of the legal profession as well.
ACCORDINGLY, respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law f
or three months. Let this resolution be attached to respondent's record in the Of
fice of the Bar Confidant and copies thereof furnished to all courts and to the Int
egrated Bar of the Philippines.

G.R. No. L-23956 July 21, 1967


ELPIDIO JAVELLANA, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
NICOLAS LUTERO, Judge of the Municipal Court of Iloilo City and the ROMAN CATH
OLIC ARCHBISHOP OF JARO,defendants-appellees.
Hautea and Hinojales for plaintiff-appellant.
Luisito C. Hofilea for defendants-appellees.
CASTRO, J.:
This is an appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Iloilo (CC 6425) dismissin
g a petition for relief directed against the judgment rendered by the municipal court of Iloilo
City in its civil case 7220.
On March 29, 1963 the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jaro, Iloilo filed a detainer complaint
against Elpidio Javellana with the municipal court of Iloilo City, presided by Judge Nicolas
Lutero. The hearing, originally set for April 30, 1963, was postponed to May 24 for failure of
the defendant to receive summons, and then postponed again to June 27 for the same rea
son. It was thereafter postponed to July 16, then to July 24, and finally to August 27, all at t
he behest of the defendant's Atty. Jose Hautea, on the grounds that "he has not finished hi
s business transactions in Manila" and that "he hurt his right foot toe." The last postponeme
nt was granted by the municipal court with the warning that no further postponement would
be entertained.
When the case was called for trial on August 27, 1963, neither the defendant nor his couns
el Atty. Hautea appeared although one Atty. Romy Pea who was present in court verbally
moved for the postponement of the trial on the ground that Atty. Hautea was in Manila atten
ding to a business transaction. The plaintiff's counsel objected to the motion on the ground t
hat the defendant and his counsel were well aware of the court's previous admonition that n
o further postponement of the case would be granted, and then manifested that the witness
es and the evidence for the plaintiff were ready for presentation on that date. The verbal mo
tion for postponement was denied and the plaintiff was directed to adduce his evidence. Du
ring the presentation of the plaintiff's evidence, the municipal court received a telegram fro
m Atty. Hautea requesting postponement of the hearing. The trial proceeded nevertheless,
and, on the basis of the plaintiff's evidence, the court on the same date rendered judgment f
or the plaintiff and against the defendant. The latter's counsel received a copy of the decisio
n on September 9, 1963. On the following September 11, he filed a motion to set aside judg
ment and for new trial. This motion was denied on September 26; a copy of the order of de
nial was received by him on the same date.
On November 16, 1963, or about 50 days later, the defendant thru his same counsel filed a
petition for relief (from the judgment of the municipal court)with the Court of First Instance
of Iloilo, praying that the decision in question be set aside, that the detainer case be set for
trial on the merits, and, pending determination of the petition, that an injunction issue restrai
ning the enforcement of the decision. Counsel for the petitioner averred that his absence on
the date of the trial was excusable as he attended to a very urgent business transaction in
Manila; that before his departure for the latter city, he verbally informed the respondent judg
e that his return to Iloilo might be delayed and that he might not arrive on time for the trial of
the case as set; that he called at both the law office and the residence of the counsel for th
e private respondent to inform him of the desired postponement and the reason therefor, bu
t the latter was in Bacolod at the time; that he exercised utmost diligence and precaution in
the sense that while in Manila he sent a telegram to the respondent judge, asking for postp
onement; and that notwithstanding all the foregoing, the municipal court nevertheless proce
eded with the trial in his absence and that of his client, allowed the private respondent to pr
esent his evidence ex parte, and rendered a decision against the petitioner, thus depriving t
he latter of his day in court. Counsel for the petitioner further asserted that his client has a g
ood and substantial defense, which is, that the complainant had given his client an option to
buy the premises subject-matter of the complaint below, and that a reopening of the case
would cause the private respondent no real injury.
This petition was given due course, the respondents were required to file their answers, an
d a cease-and-desist order was issued as prayed for. On February 22, 1964, after due hear
ing, the Court of First Instance rendered judgment dismissing the petition.1wph1.t
Hence the present recourse.
From the perspective of the environmental circumstances obtaining in this case, the presen
t appeal is palpably devoid of merit.
A counsel for any party in a judicial controversy, by mandate of the canons of legal ethics, a
nd with due regard for the elementary standards of fair play, is duty bound to prepare for tri
al with diligence and deliberate speed. This norm of conduct is no less applicable in a detai
ner case, such as the one at bar, even if the issues are essentially simple and uncomplicat
ed. It is obvious that the counsel for the petitioner-appellant has been remiss in this respect
.
The case was set for trial six times. Thrice it was postponed at the behest of the said couns
el. The last postponement was granted on July 24, 1963 with the unequivocal admonition b
y the judgment that no further postponement would be countenanced. The case was reset f
or hearing on August 27, 1963, which means that the appellant's counsel had more than a
month's time to so adjust his schedule of activities as to obviate a conflict between his busi
ness transactions and his calendar of hearings. Came August 27, and neither he nor the ap
pellant appeared at the trial. His absence on the latter date was not occasioned by illness o
r some other supervening occurrence which unavoidably and justifiably prevented him from
appearing in court.
In our view, it was the bounden duty of the said counsel, under the circumstances, to give p
referential attention to the case. As things were, he regarded the municipal court as a mere
marionette that must ever await his pleasure. This attitude on his part is censurable as it re
veals more than just a modicum of disrespect for the judiciary and the established machiner
y of justice.
Nor is his censurable conduct mitigated by the appearance in court on August 27 of anothe
r attorney who verbally moved for postponement nor by his telegram received by the munici
pal judge on the same date asking for continuance. These circumstances, upon the contrar
y, emphasize his presumptuousness vis-a-vis the municipal judge.
It is thus crystal-clear from the foregoing disquisition that the petitioner-appellant was not d
eprived of his day in court, and that the respondent municipal judge did not err in proceedin
g with the trial, allowing the private respondent to present his evidence ex parte, and therea
fter rendering decision for the plaintiff-appellee. It follows that the petitioner was not entitled
to the remedy of a petition for relief.
Moreover, after the denial of his motion to set aside judgment and for new trial, the appella
nt had ample time to appeal; instead he allowed the judgment to become final and executor
y. His argument that an appeal would have been futile as there was no evidence upon whic
h such appeal could be based, merits scant consideration. An appeal from the decision of a
municipal court to the Court of First Instance has the effect of vacating the decision (sec. 9,
Rule 40, view Rules of Court; sec. 9, Rule 40, of the old Rules), and the action is to be trie
d de novo without regard to the proof presented in the municipal court or the conclusions re
ached thereon (Colegio de San Jose vs. Sison, 56 Phil. 344, 351; Lizo vs. Carandang, 73 P
hil. 649; Crisostomo vs. Director of Prisons, 41 Phil. 368). To grant the appellant's petition f
or relief would amount to reviving his right to appeal which he had irretrievably lost through
the gross inaction of his counsel (see Espinosa vs. Yatco, etc., et al., L-16435, Jan. 31, 196
3, and the cases therein cited). This in law cannot be done.
Accordingly, the decision appealed from is affirmed. As this appeal is patently frivolous and
dilatory, this Court, under the authority of section 3 of Rule 142 of the Rules of Court, hereb
y assesses treble costs against the petitioner-appellant Elpidio Javellana, said costs to be p
aid by his counsel, Atty. Jose Hautea.

A.C. No. 6504 August 9, 2005


G E O R G E C . S O L A T A N , C o m p l a i n a n t ,
v s .
ATTYS. OSCAR A. INOCENTES and JOSE C. CAMANO, Respondent.
DECISION
Tinga, J.:
The present case focuses on a critical aspect of the lawyer-client relationshipthe duty of l
oyalty. The fidelity lawyers owe their clients is traditionally characterized as "undivided." Thi
s means that lawyers must represent their clients and serve their needs without interferenc
e or impairment from any conflicting interest.
This administrative case traces its roots from the manner by which Attys. Jose C. Camano
and Oscar A. Inocentes responded to the efforts of complainant, George C. Solatan, to leas
e a certain Quezon City apartment belonging to the attorneys clients. On the basis of acts
branded by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) as "bordering on technical extortion,"
accepting funds and giving unsolicited advice to an adverse party, and casting doubts as t
o the procedure of levy, the IBP resolved1 to recommend the suspension of Atty. Camano fr
om the practice of law for one (1) year. It likewise recommended the reprimand of Atty. Inoc
entes, whom it held liable for the aforementioned acts of his associate, under the principle o
f command responsibility.
Only Atty. Inocentes has elected to contest the resolution of the IBP, as he questions the pr
opriety of his being held administratively liable for acts done by Atty. Camano.2 However, th
e recommendation to suspend Atty. Camano shall also be passed upon by virtue of Section
12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.3
Attys. Inocentes and Camano were both engaged in the practice of law under the firm nam
e of Oscar Inocentes and Associates Law Office. Atty. Inocentes held office in his home loc
ated at No. 19 Marunong St., Central District, Quezon City, while Atty. Camano was station
ed at an "extension office" of the firm located in 3rd/F, 956 Aurora Blvd., Quirino Dist., Quez
on City.
The Oscar Inocentes and Associates Law Office was retained by spouses Andres and Ludi
vina Genito (spouses Genito), owners of an apartment complex (the Genito Apartments) lo
cated at 259 Tandang Sora cor. Visayas Avenue, Quezon City, when the Genito Apartment
s were placed under sequestration by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (
PCGG) on 9 July 1986.4 The law office represented the spouses Genito before the PCGG
and the Sandiganbayan, and subsequently, with authority from the PCGG.5 in ejectment ca
ses against non-paying tenants occupying the Genito Apartments.6
Complainants sister, Gliceria Solatan, was a tenant in Door 10, Phase B of the Genito Apar
tments. It appears from the records that Gliceria Solatan left for the United States in 1986,
and since then, the apartment was either intermittently used by members of her family or pl
aced under the charge of caretakers.7 In August 1987, a complaint for ejectment for non-pa
yment of rentals was filed against Gliceria Solatan.8 On 3 March 1988, in a judgment by def
ault, a Decision9 was rendered ordering Gliceria Solatan to vacate the premises of the apar
tment, pay the spouses Genito the amount of Thirty Thousand Six Hundred Pesos (P30,60
0.00) as unpaid rentals from February 1986 to July 1987 with interest at 24% per annum fro
m 20 August 1987 until the premises are vacated, Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) as at
torneys fees, and costs of the suit.10
Complainant was occupying the subject apartment when he learned of the judgment render
ed against his sister. On 10 May 1988, prior to the implementation of a writ to execute the j
udgment, complainant and his mother, Elvira Solatan, approached Atty. Inocentes at his ho
me office. Complainant informed Atty. Inocentes of his desire to arrange the execution of a l
ease contract by virtue of which complainant would be the new lessee of the apartment and
thus make possible his continued stay therein. Atty. Inocentes referred complainant and hi
s mother to his associate, Atty. Camano, the attorney in charge of the ejectment cases agai
nst tenants of the Genito apartments. After the exchange, complainant went to Atty. Caman
o at the satellite office of Atty. Inocentess firm. From here on out, events quickly turned sou
r. Different versions of subsequent events were presented. The facts reproduced hereunder
are by and large culled from the findings of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, Siegfred
B. Mison.
During the meeting with Atty. Camano, a verbal agreement was made in which complainant
and his mother agreed to pay the entire judgment debt of Gliceria Solatan, including fifty p
ercent of the awarded attorneys fees and One Thousand Six Hundred Pesos (P1,600.00) a
s costs of suit provided that Atty. Camano would allow complainants continued stay at Doo
r 10, Phase B of the Genito Apartments. As partial compliance with the agreement, complai
nant issued in the name Atty. Camano a check for Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00) repre
senting half of the P10,000.00 attorneys fees adjudged against complainants sister.
Complainant and his mother failed to make any other payment. Thus, the sheriff in coordina
tion with Atty. Camano and some policemen, enforced the writ of execution on 22 June 198
8 and levied the properties found in the subject apartment. An attempt at renegotiation took
place at the insistence of complainant, resulting in Atty. Camanos acquiescence to release
the levied properties and allowing complainant to remain at the apartment, subject to the la
tters payment of costs incurred in enforcing the writ of execution and issuance of postdated
checks representing installment rental payments. Complainant, thus, issued four (4) check
s drawn on Far East Bank and Trust Company dated the fifteenth (15th) of July, August, Se
ptember, and October 1988 each in the amount of Three Thousand Four Hundred Pesos (
P3,400.00).11 Half of the amount represented complainants monthly rental, while the other
half, a monthly installment for the payment of Gliceria Solatans judgment debt.
On 28 June 1988, acting on the advice of Atty. Camano, complainant presented an Affidavit
of Ownership to the sheriff who then released the levied items to complainant. However, a
Northern Hill 3-burner gas stove was not retuned to complainant. The stove was in fact kept
by Atty. Camano in the unit of the Genito Apartments wherein he temporarily stayed12 and,
thereafter, turned over the same to a certain Recto Esberto, caretaker of the Genito Apart
ments.13
On 1 August 1988, complainant filed the instant administrative case for disbarment against
Atty. Inocentes and Atty. Camano.14 After formal investigation, and despite conflicting testi
monies on the tenor and content of agreements and conversations, several disturbing facts
were revealed to have been uncontrovertedAtty. Camanos acceptance from complainant
of attorneys fees and the costs of implementing the writ of execution, possession of compl
ainants levied Northern Hill oven, and advice to complainant on how to recover the latters l
evied items. Thus, IBP Investigating Commissioner Siegfred B. Mison, made the following r
ecommendations, viz:
Based on the facts revealed in their respective Memoranda, the penalty of six (6) months s
uspension is therefore recommended to be imposed on Respondent Camano for committin
g the following acts that adversely reflects (sic) on his moral fitness to continue to practice l
aw[:]
1. He received money (P5,000 then P1,000) from the adverse party purportedly for attorney
s fees and for reimbursement of sheriffs expenses. Such act of accepting funds from the
adverse party in the process of implementing a writ, borders on technical extortion p
articularly in light of the factual circumstances as discussed.
2. He gave unsolicited advice to the adverse party in suggesting the filing of an Affidavit of
Ownership over the levied properties, a suggestion evidently in conflict with [the intere
st of] his own client, supposedly, the Genitos.
3. He failed to turn over the gas stove to either party thereby casting doubt as to the proced
ure of the levy.
Based on the facts revealed, the penalty of Reprimand is therefore recommended to be imp
osed on Respondent Inocentes for committing the following acts that adversely reflects (sic
) in his fitness to continue to practice law[:]
1. He allowed Camano to perform all the aforementioned acts, either by negligence o
r inadvertence which are inimical to the legal profession. He cannot claim ignorance or fei
gn innocence in this particular transaction considering that the Complainants themselves w
ent to his office on different occasions regarding this transaction. Ultimately, he exercised
command responsibility over the case and had supervisory control over Respondent
Camano inasmuch as he received periodic reports either by phone or in person fro
m the latter.
2. The letter disclaimer executed by Mr. Genito filed by Respondent Inocentes does not miti
gate any liability whatsoever since the wrongdoing done against the profession cannot be u
ndone by a mere letter from a third party.15 (Emphasis supplied.)
The IBP Board of Governors approved the aforequoted recommendation, with the modificat
ion of an increase in Atty. Camanos period of suspension from six (6) months to one (1) ye
ar, in a resolution stating, viz:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Re
port and Recommendation of the of the Investigating Commissionerfinding the recomme
ndation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, with m
odification, and for accepting funds from adverse party in the process of implementing a wri
t borders on technical extortion, for giving unsolicited advice to the adverse party a suggesti
on evidently in conflict with [the interest of] his own client and for casting doubts to the proc
edure of the levy, Atty. Jose C. Camano is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law fo
r one (1) year, likewise, Atty. Oscar Inocentes is hereby REPRIMANDED for he exercised c
ommand responsibility over the case inasmuch as he received periodic reports either by ph
one or in person.16
The IBP held that Atty. Camanos act of giving unsolicited advice to complainant is a culpab
le act because the advice conflicted with the interest of his clients, the spouses Genito. The
rule on conflicting interests, established in Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Respons
ibility, deals with conflicts in the interests of an attorneys actual clients among themselves,
of existing and prospective clients, and of the attorney and his clients. It states that a lawyer
shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given aft
er a full disclosure of the facts.
The relation of attorney and client begins from the time an attorney is retained.17 An attorne
y has no power to act as counsel or legal representative for a person without being retained
.18 To establish the professional relation, it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of an
attorney are sought and received in any manner pertinent to his profession.19 At the time th
e questioned statement was made, Atty. Camano had called the police to restrain complain
ant from surreptitiously pulling out the levied properties from the apartment complex by virtu
e of which the latter was brought to the police station for questioning. The statement was m
ade in response to complainants insistence at the police station that the levied properties w
ere owned by him and not by the judgment debtor.20 No employment relation was offered or
accepted in the instant case.
More fitting, albeit, to the mind of this Court, inapplicable to the case, is Canon 15 of the sa
me Code which encompasses the aforementioned rule. In general terms, Canon 15 require
s l a w y e r s t o o b s e r v e l o y a l t y i n a l l
dealings and transactions with their clients.21 Unquestionably, an attorney giving legal advic
e to a party with an interest conflicting with that of his client resulting in detriment to the latt
er may be held guilty of disloyalty. However, far be it that every utterance of an attorney whi
ch may have afforded an individual some relief adverse to the formers client may be labele
d as a culpable act of disloyalty. As in every case, the acts alleged to be culpable must be a
ssessed in light of the surrounding circumstances.
While the levy was made on chattel found in the apartment of the judgment debtor, Gliceria
Solatan, the complainant was the true owner of the properties. Consequently, the latter had
a right to recover the same. In fact, considering the circumstances, the questioned stateme
nt is in consonance with complainants foremost duty to uphold the law as an officer of the c
ourt. The statement of Atty. Camano in such a context should not be construed by this Cour
t as giving advice in conflict against the interest of the spouses Genito as in fact the latter h
ave no interest over the incorrectly levied properties.
We, thus, note that the act of informing complainant that the levied properties would be retu
rned to him upon showing proof of his ownership thereof may hint at infidelity to the interest
of the spouses Genito, but, in this circumstance, lacks the essence of double dealing and b
etrayal of the latters confidence so as to deserve outright categorization as infidelity or disl
oyalty to his clients cause. Nonetheless, after having noted the foregoing, we remain convi
nced with the propriety of meting the one (1) year suspension from the practice of law on At
ty. Camano, as recommended by the IBP, based on his other culpable acts which tend to d
egrade the profession and foment distrust in the integrity of court processes.
On the other hand, Atty. Inocentes seeks to distance himself from the events that transpire
d and the reprimand resulting therefrom by asserting that he was incorrectly punished for At
ty. Camanos acts when his mere participation in the fiasco was to refer complainant and hi
s mother to Atty. Camano.
However, it is precisely because of such participation, consisting as it did of referring the co
mplainant to his associate lawyer, that Atty. Inocentes may be held administratively liable b
y virtue of his associates unethical acts. His failure to exercise certain responsibilities over
matters under the charge of his law firm is a blameworthy shortcoming. The term "comman
d responsibility," as Atty. Inocentes suggests, has special meaning within the circle of men i
n uniform in the military; however, the principle does not abide solely therein. It controls the
very circumstance in which Atty. Inocentes found himself.
We are not unaware of the custom of practitioners in a law firm of assigning cases and eve
n entire client accounts to associates or other partners with limited supervision, if at all. This
is especially true in the case of Attys. Inocentes and Camano who, from the records, both
appear to be seasoned enough to be left alone in their work without requiring close supervi
sion over each others conduct and work output. However, let it not be said that law firm pra
ctitioners are given a free hand to assign cases to seasoned attorneys and thereafter conve
niently forget about the case. To do so would be a disservice to the profession, the integrity
and advancement of which this Court must jealously protect.
That the firm name under which the two attorneys labored was that of Oscar Inocentes and
Associates Law Officedoes not automatically make Atty. Inocentes the default lawyer acting
in a supervisory capacity over Atty. Camano. It did, however, behoove Atty. Inocentes to e
xert ordinary diligence to find out what was going on in his law firm. It placed in Atty. Inocen
tes the active responsibility to inquire further into the circumstances affecting the levy of co
mplainants properties, irrespective of whether the same were in fact events which could po
ssibly lead to administrative liability. Moreover, as name practitioner of the law office, Atty. I
nocentes is tasked with the responsibility to make reasonable efforts to ensure that all lawy
ers in the firm should act in conformity to the Code of Professional Responsibility.22 It is not
without reason or consequence that Atty. Inocentess name is that which was used as the o
fficial designation of their law office.
With regard to the actual existence of Atty. Inocentess supervisory capacity over Atty. Cam
anos activities, the IBP Investigating Commissioner based the same on his finding that Atty
. Inocentes received periodic reports from Atty. Camano on the latters dealings with compl
ainant. This finding is the linchpin of Atty. Inocentess supervisory capacity over Atty. Cama
no and liability by virtue thereof.
Law practitioners are acutely aware of the responsibilities that are naturally taken on by par
tners and supervisory lawyers over the lawyers and non-lawyers of the law office. We have
held that lawyers are administratively liable for the conduct of their employees in failing to ti
mely file pleadings.23 In Rheem of the Philippines, Inc., et al. v. Zoilo R. Ferrer, et al.,24 part
ners in a law office were admonished for the contemptuous language in a pleading submitt
ed to court despite, and even due to, the fact that the pleading was not passed upon by any
of the partners of the office. We held therein that partners are duty bound to provide for effi
cacious control of court pleadings and other court papers that carry their names or the nam
e of the law firm.25
We now hold further that partners and practitioners who hold supervisory capacities are leg
ally responsible to exert ordinary diligence in apprising themselves of the comings and goin
gs of the cases handled by the persons over which they are exercising supervisory authorit
y and in exerting necessary efforts to foreclose the occurrence of violations of the Code of
Professional Responsibility by persons under their charge. Nonetheless, the liability of the s
upervising lawyer in this regard is by no means equivalent to that of the recalcitrant lawyer.
The actual degree of control and supervision exercised by said supervising lawyer varies, i
nter alia, according to office practice, or the length of experience and competence of the la
wyer supervised. Such factors can be taken into account in ascertaining the proper penalty.
Certainly, a lawyer charged with the supervision of a fledgling attorney prone to rookie mist
akes should bear greater responsibility for the culpable acts of the underling than one satisf
ied enough with the work and professional ethic of the associate so as to leave the latter m
ostly to his/her own devises.
While Atty. Camanos irregular acts perhaps evince a need for greater supervision of his le
gal practice, there is no question that it has been Atty. Inocentes practice to allow wide disc
retion for Atty. Camano to practice on his own. It does constitute indifference and neglect fo
r Atty. Inocentes to fail to accord even a token attention to Atty. Camanos conduct which c
ould have brought the then impending problem to light. But such is not equivalent to the pro
ximate responsibility for Atty. Camanos acts. Moreover, it appears from the records that Att
y. Inocentes is a former judge and a lawyer who, as of yet, is in good standing and it is the f
irst time in which Atty. Inocentes has been made to answer vicariously for the misconduct o
f a person under his charge. An admonition is appropriate under the circumstances.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Petition is hereby GRANTED. The Resoluti
on dated 16 April 2004 is AFFIRMED in respect of the sanction meted out on Atty. Camano
. Atty. Inocentes is hereby ADMONISHED to monitor more closely the activities of his asso
ciates to make sure that the same are in consonance with the Code of Professional Respon
sibility with the WARNING that repetition of the same or similar omission will be dealt with
more severely.

A.C. No. 4334 July 7, 2004


SUSAN CUIZON, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. RODOLFO MACALINO, respondent.

DECISION

PER CURIAM:
The saga of a client's one decade-long travails caused by a recalcitrant lawyer who defraud
s his client and flouts the directives of the highest court of the land must deservedly end in t
ribulation for the lawyer and in victory for the higher ends of justice. The opening verses of t
he narrative may have been composed by the lawyer, but it is this Court that will have to, a
s it now does, write finis to this sordid tale, as well as to the lawyer's prized claim as a mem
ber of the Bar.
This administrative case against respondent Atty. Rodolfo Macalino was initiated by a letter
-complaint1 dated October 27, 1994 filed by Susan Cuizon with the Office of the Court Admi
nistrator charging the respondent with Grave Misconduct.
The antecedents2 are as follows:
The legal services of the respondent was sought by the complainant in behalf of her husba
nd Antolin Cuizon who was convicted for Violation of Dangerous Drug Act of 1972. When th
e spouses had no sufficient means to pay the legal fees, the respondent suggested that he
be given possession of complainant's Mistubishi car, which was delivered to the respondent
. Later respondent offered to buy the car for Eighty Five Thousand Pesos (P85,000.00) for
which he paid a down payment of Twenty Four Thousand Pesos (P24,000.00). After the sal
e of the car, respondent failed to attend to the case of Antolin Cuizon, so complainant was f
orced to engage the services of another lawyer.
The respondent was required to comment on the complaint lodged against him as early as
December 5, 1994.
On December 29, 1995 the respondent was ordered to show cause why he should not be
meted with disciplinary action or declared in contempt for failure to comply with the order of
the court, to comment on complaint.
On June 17, 1996, for failure to comply with the previous orders of the court, a fine of Five
Hundred Pesos (P500.00) was imposed upon him and the order requiring him to file his co
mment on the complaint was reiterated.
On July 24, 1996 respondent paid the Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) fine imposed on him,
however he failed to fully comply with the order of the court.
On December 5, 1996 the Supreme Court received a letter from Antolin Cuizon informing th
e court that the respondent again committed another infraction of the law by issuing a chec
k against a closed account.
On February 12, 1997 the Supreme Court issued a resolution increasing the imposed fine o
n respondent in the amount of Five Hundred Pesos (P500.00) to One Thousand Pesos (P1,
000.00) and again the order requiring the respondent to file his comment was reiterated.
On Noveber 13, 1997 the cashier of the Disbursement and Collection Division issued a cert
ification that the imposed fine of One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) has not been paid by th
e respondent.
On December 10, 1997 the Supreme Court issued a warrant of arrest directing the National
Bureau of Investigation to detain the respondent until further Orders from the Court.
On February 23, 1998, Allen M. Mendoza Intelligence Agent of the NBI of San Fernando, P
ampanga rendered a Report and Return of the Service of Warrant of Arrest to the effect tha
t the warrant could not be served for reason that the subject is no longer residing at his give
n address.
On April 22, 1998 the court again issued another resolution requesting the complainants to
furnish the court with the correct and present address of the respondent.
In compliance with this directive, the complainant reported that the respondent had not cha
nged his residence. In fact, upon the information given by his own son, the respondent com
es home at midnight and leaves at dawn.3
In the Resolution4 dated July 27, 1998, the Court resolved to consider the Resolution of De
cember 10, 1997 finding the respondent guilty of contempt of court and ordering his impriso
nment until he complies with the Resolution of February 12, 1997, requiring him to pay a fin
e of P1,000.00 and to submit his comment on the instant administrative complaint served o
n the respondent by substituted service. The Court likewise declared the respondent to hav
e waived his right to file his comment on the administrative complaint and referred the case
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The Investigating Commissioner forthwith filed her Report and Recommendation5 dated Oc
tober 27, 1998 finding the respondent unfit to remain a member of the Bar and recommendi
ng that he be disbarred. The IBP adopted theReport and Recommendation with the modific
ation that the respondent instead be suspended from the practice of law for three (3) years.
6

In its Resolution7 dated July 19, 2000, the Court resolved to return the case to the IBP whic
h, in turn, remanded the case to the Investigating Commissioner for further investigation an
d compliance with procedural due process.8
As directed, the Investigating Commissioner conducted further investigation and submitted
her Report and Recommendation9 dated November 16, 1999 stating that the respondent fai
led to appear during the scheduled hearings on January 5, 1999 and March 23, 1999. More
over, despite his counsel's motion for extension of time within which to file a comment on th
e complaint having been granted, the respondent failed to file his comment. Hence, the Inv
estigating Commissioner reiterated her recommendation that the respondent be disbarred.
The IBP modified the Investigating Commissioner's recommendation and urged instead tha
t the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for five (5) years.10 The Court noted
the recommendation in its Resolution11dated September 8, 2003.
It is axiomatic that no lawyer is obliged to act either as adviser or advocate for every person
who may wish to become his client. However, once he agrees to take up the cause of a cli
ent, the lawyer owes fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and conf
idence reposed in him. He must serve his client with competence and diligence, and cham
pion the latter's cause with whole-hearted fidelity.12 Among the fundamental rules of ethics i
s the principle that an attorney who undertakes to conduct an action impliedly stipulates to
carry it to its conclusion.13
In the instant case, after agreeing to represent the complainant's husband, taking possessi
on of their car and persuading the complainant to sell the same to him for a nominal amoun
t, the respondent refused to carry out his duties as counsel prompting the complainant to se
cure the services of another lawyer to defend her husband. The respondent clearly breach
ed his obligation under Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility wh
ich provides: A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence
in connection therewith shall render him liable.
The respondent's infraction is compounded by the fact that he issued a check in favor of th
e complainant's husband which was later dishonored for having been drawn against a close
d account.14 Such conduct indicates the respondent's unfitness for the trust and confidence
reposed on him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to rend
er him unworthy of public confidence and constitutes a ground for disciplinary action.15
The fact that the respondent went into hiding in order to avoid service upon him of the warr
ant of arrest issued by the Court exacerbates his offense. His repeated failure to comply wi
th the Court's Resolutions requiring him to file his comment on the complaint should also be
taken into account. By his repeated cavalier conduct, the respondent exhibited an unpard
onable lack of respect for the authority of the Court.16
As an officer of the court, it is a lawyer's duty to uphold the dignity and authority of the court
. The highest form of respect for judicial authority is shown by a lawyer's obedience to cour
t orders and processes.17 A lawyer who willfully disobeys a court order requiring him to do s
omething may not only be cited and punished for contempt but may also be disciplined as a
n officer of the court.18
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that:
A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Sup
reme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly im
moral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willfu
l disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing a
s an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting case
s at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constit
utes malpractice.
The foregoing acts of the respondent constitute gross misconduct which renders him unfit t
o discharge the duties of his office and unworthy of the trust and confidence reposed on hi
m as an officer of the court.19 His disbarment is consequently warranted.20
WHEREFORE, respondent Rodolfo Macalino is hereby DISBARRED. Let a copy of this de
cision be attached to the respondent's personal records and furnished the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines and all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 3455 April 14, 1998


ARSENIO A. VILLAFUERTE, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. DANTE H. CORTEZ, respondent.
RESOLUTION
VITUG, J.:
Feeling aggrieved by what he perceives to be a neglect in the handling of his case by responde
nt lawyer, despite the latter's receipt of P1,750.00 acceptance and retainer fees, complainant Ar
senio A. Villafuerte seeks, in the instant proceedings, the disbarment of Atty. Dante H. Cortez.
From the records of the case and the Report submitted by the Commission on Bar Discipline ("
CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP), it would appear that sometime in January 1
987, complainant, upon the referral of Atty. Rene A.V. Saguisag, went to the office of responden
t lawyer to discuss his case for "reconveyance" (Civil Case No. 83-18877). During their initial me
eting, complainant tried to reconstruct before respondent lawyer the incidents of the case merel
y from memory prompting the letter to ask complainant to instead return at another time with the
records of the case. On 30 January 1987, complainant again saw respondent but still sans the r
ecords. Complainant requested respondent to accept the case, paying to the latter the sum of P
1,750.00 representing the acceptance fee of P1,500.00 and P250.00 retainer fee for January 19
87. Respondent averred that he accepted the money with much reluctance and only upon the c
ondition that complainant would get the records of the case from, as well as secure the withdra
wal of appearance of, Atty. Jose Dizon, the former counsel of complainant. Allegedly, complaina
nt never showed up thereafter until November 1989 when he went to the office of respondent la
wyer but only to leave a copy of a writ of execution in Civil Case No. 062160-CV, a case for ejec
tment, which, according to respondent, was never priorly mentioned to him by complainant. Inde
ed, said respondent, he had never entered his appearance in the aforenumbered case.
In its report, IBP-CBD concluded that the facts established would just the same indicate sufficie
ntly a case of neglect of duty on the part of respondent. The CBD rejected the excuse proffered
by respondent that the non-receipt of the records of the case justified his failure to represent co
mplainant. The IBP-CBD, through Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo, recommended to the IBP B
oard of Governors the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for three months with
a warning that a repetition of similar acts could be dealt with more severely than a mere 3-mont
h suspension.
On 30 August 1996, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XII-96-191 which
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Inv
estigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, hereinmade part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A;" and, finding the r
ecommendation therein to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, Respondent Atty. Da
nte Cortez is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a warning that a repetition of the acts/omis
sion complained of will be dealt with more severely. 1

Both respondent lawyer and complainant filed with the IBP-CBD their respective motions for the
reconsideration of the foregoing resolution.
On 23 August 1997, the Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XII-97-66 that
RESOLVE to CONFIRM Resolution No. XII-96-191 of the Board of Governors Meeting dated August 30, 1996 SUSPENDING At
ty. Dante Cortez from the practice of law for three (3) months with a warning that a repetition of the acts/omission complained of
will be dealt with more severely. 2

The Court agrees with the IBP-CBD in its findings and conclusion that respondent lawyer has so
mehow been remiss in his responsibilities.
The Court is convinced that a lawyer-client relationship, given the circumstances, has arisen bet
ween respondent and complainant. Respondent lawyer has admitted having received the amou
nt of P1,750.00, including its nature and purpose, from complainant. His acceptance of the pay
ment effectively bars him from altogether disclaiming the existence of an attorney-client relation
ship between them. It would not matter really whether the money has been intended to pertain o
nly to Civil Case No. 83-18877 or to include Civil Case No. 062160-CV, there being no showing,
in any event, that respondent lawyer has attended to either of said cases. It would seem that he
hardly has exerted any effort to find out what might have happened to his client's cases. A lawy
er's fidelity to the cause of his client requires him to be ever mindful of the responsibilities that s
hould be expected of him. 3 He is mandated to exert his best efforts to protect, within the bound
s of the law, the interests of his client. The Code of Professional Responsibility cannot be any cl
earer in its dictum than when it has stated that a "lawyer shall serve his client with competence
and diligence," 4 decreeing further that he "shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him." 5
Complainant, nevertheless, is not entirely without fault himself. He cannot expect his case to pro
perly and intelligently handled without listening to his own counsel and extending full cooperatio
n to him. It is not right for complainant to wait for almost two years and to deal with his lawyer on
ly after receiving an adverse decision.
All considered, the Court deems it proper to reduce the recommended period of suspension of t
he IBP from three months to one month.
WHEREFORE, Atty. Dante H. Cortez is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a peri
od of one month from notice hereof, with a warning that a repetition of similar acts and other ad
ministrative lapses will be dealt with more severely than presently.
Let a copy of this Resolution be made a part of the personal records of respondent lawyer in the
Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and let copies thereof be furnish
ed to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and be circulated to all courts.