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EN BANC Sonia would find d courage to tell d truth to you.

I
just pray for peace and fresh start for all of us. I
A.C. No. 7353, November 16, 2015 just want to go on with my life and use above all
these for my son's sake. I love jun and I appeal to
NELSON P. VALDEZ, Petitioner, v. ATTY. you n asana wala ka maisip sa atin lahat. Just as I
ANTOLIN ALLYSON DABON, JR., Respondent. have accepted everything. Salamat sa panahon at
pangunawa. God bless.3cralawlawlibrary
DECISION
Nelson also asserted that Sonia confessed her
PER CURIAM: infidelity and described her extramarital affair with
Atty. Dabon to have been attended by sexual
This is an administrative complaint for disbarment assaults and maintained through intimidation and
filed by Nelson P. Valdez (Nelson) against Atty. threats of exposure, humiliation and
Antolin Allyson M. Dabon, Jr. (Atty. Dabon) embarrassment.
anchored on the ground of grossly immoral and
indecent conduct which transgressed the high In her own Affidavit,4 dated September 13, 2006
moral standards required for membership in the and attached to the complaint, Sonia narrated that
Bar. her illicit relationship with Atty. Dabon started
sometime in November 2000 and ended in March
The Position of the Complainant 2006 when she, bothered by her conscience,
decided to break it off; that Atty. Dabon
Complainant Nelson charged respondent Atty. relentlessly pursued her for years and even
Dabon, a Division Clerk of Court of the Court of admitted that he fell in love with her the first time
Appeals (CA), with gross immorality for allegedly he laid eyes on her; that on November 13, 2000,
carrying on an adulterous relationship with his Atty. Dabon lured her to what appeared to be a
wife, Sonia Romero Valdez (Sonia), which was mere friendly lunch date, managed to put sleep-
made possible by sexual assaults and maintained inducing drug into her food or drink causing her to
through threat and intimidation. feel drowsy and weak and, thereafter, brought her
to Victoria Court Motel where he sexually molested
In his Affidavit-Complaint,1 dated September 13, her while she was asleep; that she opted to keep
2006, Nelson averred, among others, that he silent about the incident for fear of its adverse
married Sonia on January 28, 1998 in Paniqui, repercussions of shame and embarrassment to her
Tarlac; that Sonia was employed as Court and her family; that she pleaded with Atty. Dabon
Stenographer of the CA from 1992 until her to leave her and forget what had happened, but
resignation on May 15, 2006;2 that Sonia admitted the respondent instead taunted her by laughing at
to have had an adulterous and immoral her misery; that since then, Atty. Dabon
relationship with Atty. Dabon, from 2000 to 2006, succeeded in having repeated carnal knowledge of
a span of more than five years; that he came to her once or twice a week through intimidation and
know of the relationship only on April 18, 2006 threats; that Atty. Dabon threatened her that he
after receiving an anonymous text message would tell everyone that she had been playing
hinting/stating about the existence of an illicit around with him, if she would not yield to his
affair between the two; and that initially, Sonia lascivious cravings; and that she suffered in
denied the affair but eventually broke down and silence for years and submitted herself to the
admitted her sexual liaison with Atty. Dabon when bestial desires of Atty. Dabon, until she even
confronted with a text message he received from thought that she was in love with him.
Atty. Jocelyn Dabon (Atty. Joy), the wife of the
respondent, on May 4, 2006 at about 9:47 o'clock Sonia further claimed that after years of living in
in the morning, which stated: deception and infidelity, she decided to call it quits
with Atty. Dabon sometime in March 2006 but he
Nelson, Jun and I were separating I will file an could not let go of their relationship; that Atty.
annulment anytime soon, although I'm in great Dabon started pestering and threatening her
pain, I ask for your apology and forgiveness for through phone calls and handwritten messages in
everything he is leaving for US and I hope he vile attempts to persuade her to continue their
evolves into a strong and mature person there. D illicit affair; that despite their break-up, Atty.
cya masamang tao, just emotional and easily Dabon still pursued his lustful quest by bringing
manipulated. Sana don't blame him entirely bee. her to Anito Motel, along Quirino Avenue on March
he is d type that never initiate things. He is passive 10, 2006, but she foiled his plan when she went
and tame. He was honest with me and I hope ballistic prompting the respondent to drive her
back to the CA; that on March 13, 2006, Atty. annoy and besmirch his reputation.
Dabon forcibly boarded her car and pleaded for
forgiveness and reconciliation but she remained In his Comment,8 Atty. Dabon denied the charges
firm in her resolve to end the affair; that she had of grossly immoral and unlawful acts through
to seek the assistance of her officemates, Atty. sexual assaults, abuses, threats and intimidation.
Heiddi Venecia Barrozo (Atty. Barrozo) and Atty. He posited that the allegations of spouses Nelson
Aileen T. Ligot (Atty. Ligot), just to convince Atty. and Sonia in their respective affidavits were
Dabon to alight from her car as the said incident nothing but pure fabrication solely intended to
had already drawn the attention of several malign his name and honor. In support of his
employees within the vicinity of the CA parking lot; prayer for the dismissal of the present disbarment
that Atty. Dabon used the members of his staff to case, Atty. Dabon proffered the following
relay his messages and deliver his handwritten arguments:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
letters to her; that Atty. Dabon, angered by her
repeated rejection, went berserk and sent her a First, complainant Nelson had no personal
letter which stated, among others, that he could knowledge of the alleged illicit relationship
no longer stand her constant avoidance of him and between him and Sonia. He relied heavily on the
that he would divulge their illicit relationship to her sworn statement of Sonia which was replete with
husband; that it numbed her with fright, so she inconsistencies and incredible and preposterous
called Atty. Joy, without disclosing her identity, claims which defied logic and common sense, thus,
and told her that Atty. Dabon was harassing an revealing the fallacy of the subject complaint. He
employee at the CA; that Atty. Dabon sent a text contended that it was highly improbable for him, a
message to Nelson telling him of the extramarital married lawyer at that, to suddenly turn crazy and
affair; that Atty. Joy called up Nelson and informed abandon all cares just to satisfy his purported
him that her husband, Atty. Dabon, had confessed lustful hungerness by sexually assaulting Sonia,
to her the illicit relationship; and that when she "an ordinary plain-looking 43-year old woman with
was asked by Nelson, she initially denied the affair two (2) teen aged children."
for fear of reprisal but, afterwards, admitted the
truth and explained to him that she was merely a Second, nowhere in the administrative complaint
victim of Atty. Dabon's threat and intimidation of Nelson previously filed before the CA was there
which led to their illicit relationship. any mention of any sexual assault he allegedly
committed against Sonia or of an adulterous
Nelson further stated that Atty. Dabon's willful, relationship that was maintained through threats
flagrant and shameless conduct was in gross and intimidation. Surprisingly, such allegations
defiance of the customs, values and sense of were included in the present complaint for
morality of the community. He prayed for the disbarment. He also pointed out that Nelson did
disbarment of Atty. Dabon whose immoral acts not attach to his administrative complaint before
showed his lack of moral character, honesty, the CA the September 13, 2006 Affidavit of Sonia
probity, and good demeanor and, hence, unworthy containing grave imputations against him. Such
to continue as an officer of the court. Nelson omissions were indicative that the serious charges
alleged that he had previously filed an against him were mere concoctions and
administrative complaint for "Gross Immorality" afterthoughts designed to attain Nelson's desire to
against Atty. Dabon before the CA. come up with a graver accusation against him. The
filing of the complaint for disbarment was
Together with Sonia's Affidavit, Nelson also motivated by vengeance against him as Nelson
attached to his Affidavit-Complaint for disbarment, was consummed by his suspicion that he had
the Joint Affidavit5 executed by Atty. Barrozo and seduced Sonia which led to the deterioration of
Atty. Ligot on May 19, 2006; the Affidavit6 of their marriage. He was a victim caught in the
Virginia D. Ramos (Ramos), dated May 19, 2006; crossfire between the troubled couple, Nelson and
and the Affidavit7 of Marie Iris Magdalene Minerva Sonia.
(Minerva), dated May 22, 2006, wherein the said
affiants corroborated the declaration of Sonia in Third, there was no truth to Sonia's allegation that
her affidavit. he was attracted to her from the first time he saw
her much less pursued her relentlessly. He and
The Position of Atty. Dabon Sonia were just close friends. He was Sonia's
confidante. She would usually confide in him her
Respondent Atty. Dabon strongly refuted the personal woes and problems especially those
accusation against him claiming that the same was concerning her husband, Nelson. It was Sonia who
baseless and unfounded and that the complaint for aggressively sought his companionship and
disbarment was merely calculated to harass, frequented his office, bringing food, fruits and
other goodies. The said visits were attested to by
Mary Jane Tulalian and Imelda Adan in their On December 11, 2008, the Board of Governors of
respective affidavits,10 both dated April 30, 2008. the IBP adopted and approved the
His friendship with Sonia turned sour when she recommendation and issued Resolution No. XVIII-
learned of his plan to settle for good in the Unites 2008-653, the pertinent portion of which reads:
States with his family. Sonia began to avoid him.
He exerted efforts to make her understand his RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
decision, but to no avail. unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED the Report
and Recommendation of the Investigating
Fourth, the cards expressing Sonia's affection Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
towards him as well as the expensive gifts she made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and,
gave him belied her claim that she was sexually finding the recommendation fully supported by the
assaulted and that she resisted his alleged sexual evidence on record and the applicable laws and
advances. rules, and finding Respondent guilty of gross
immoral conduct, Atty. Antolin Allyson M. Dabon,
Fifth, it was unlikely that Sonia would not tell Jr. is hereby DISBARRED and his name be stricken
anyone the grave injustice and abuses that she off from the Roll of Attorneys.
allegedly suffered in his hands or report the matter
to the police considering her length of service in Atty. Dabon filed a motion for reconsideration of
the Judiciary and her familiarity on how the Resolution No. XVIII-2008-653, but it was denied
criminal justice system worked. by the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution No.
XX-2012-550,15 dated December 14, 2012.
Sixth, he denied Nelson's allegation that he
confessed to his wife, Atty. Joy, his illicit After due consideration, the Court resolves to
relationship with Sonia. He also denied that the adopt the findings and recommendation of the
alleged text messages, quoted by Nelson and IBP-CBD.
Sonia in their respective affidavits, were sent by
him or his wife. All were part of an elaborate Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded by the
scheme to force him to immediately resign as Court that possession of good moral character is
Division Clerk of Court from the CA. both a condition precedent and a continuing
requirement to warrant admission to the Bar and
Lastly, it was not true that he harassed Sonia to retain membership in the legal profession.This
through text messages and phone calls. It was he proceeds from the lawyer's bounden duty to
who was the victim of harassment from Nelson, observe the highest degree of morality in order to
who orchestrated a series of events that compelled safeguard the Bar's integrity,16 and the legal
him to leave the country earlier than scheduled for profession exacts from its members nothing less.
fear that an untoward incident might happen to Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity
him. of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts
constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions
On August 15, 2007, the Court referred the case as officers of the court demand no less than the
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for highest degree of morality.17
investigation, report and recommendation.11
The Court explained in Arnobit v. Atty.
After the parties had submitted their respective Arnobit18 that "as officers of the court, lawyers
verified position papers, Investigating must not only in fact be of good moral character
Commissioner Manuel T. Chan (Investigating but must also be seen to be of good moral
Commissioner Chan) of the IBP Commission on character and leading lives in accordance with the
Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) rendered his Report and highest moral standards of the community. A
Recommendation,12 dated October 2, 2008, member of the bar and an officer of the court is
finding that the charge against respondent Atty. not only required to refrain from adulterous
Dabon had been sufficiently proven. The relationships or keeping a mistress but must also
recommendatory portion of the report reads: so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the
public by creating the impression that he is
WHEREFORE, this Commissioner, after a thorough
flouting those moral standards." Consequently,
and exhaustive review of the facts and applicable any errant behavior of the lawyer, be it in his
legal provisions, recommends that respondent be
public or private activities, which tends to show
found guilty of gross immoral conduct and,
deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or
accordingly, be disbarred and dropped from the good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant
Roll of Attorneys.
suspension or disbarment.19 It has not escaped the Court's attention either that
Atty. Dabon really tried hard to win back Sonia
In the case at bench, the Court subscribes to the because he could not let go of their relationship,
IBP's opinion that there was substantial evidence even to the point of pestering her with his
showing that Atty. Dabon did have an illicit persistent pleas for reconciliation. In one instance,
relationship with Nelson's legal wife. Atty. Dabon boarded Sonia's car and refused to
alight unless she would talk to him. Sonia had to
To begin with, the Court notes from the seek the assistance of her officemates, Atty.
respondent's Comment that he appeared to be Barrazo and Atty. Ligot, who pleaded with him to
perplexed as to whether or not he would admit his alight from the vehicle. Moreover, Atty. Dabon
extramarital liaisons with Sonia. As Investigating made several attempts to communicate with Sonia
Commissioner Chan stated in his report, Atty. in the hope of rekindling their relationship through
Dabon interposed a blanket denial of the romantic letters and phone calls but she remained firm in
involvement but at the same time, he seemed to her stand to avoid him. Such incident was
have tacitly admitted the illicit affair only that it recounted by Ramos and Minerva in their
was not attended by sexual assaults, threats and respective affidavits.
intimidations. The Court also observed that he
devoted considerable effort to demonstrate that Incidentally, vis-a-vis Nelson's overwhelming
the affair did not amount to gross immoral conduct evidence of said harassments, he offered only
and that no sexual abuse, threat or intimidation denials which was self-serving and weak under the
was exerted upon the person of Sonia, but not law on evidence. Other than his general claim that
once did he squarely deny the affair itself. Atty. Barrazo, Atty. Ligot, Ramos, and Minerva
were biased witnessess because they were former
In other words, the respondent's denial is a officemates of Sonia, the respondent did not even
negative pregnant, a denial coupled with the bother to proffer his own version of the supposed
admission of substantial facts in the pleading harassment incidents.
responded to which are not squarely denied.
Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a form of In light of the above disquisition, the Court finds
negative expression which carries with it an Sonia's allegation that the illicit relationship was
affirmation or at least an implication of some kind made possible by sexual assaults and maintained
favorable to the adverse party. Where a fact is through threat and intimidations, to be untrue.
alleged with qualifying or modifying language and Certainly, a sexually abused woman could not be
the words of the allegation as so qualified or expected to lavish her oppressor with expensive
modified are literally denied, it has been held that gifts or pay him affectionate compliments or words
the qualifying circumstance alone is denied while of endearment. The natural reaction of a victim of
the fact itself is admitted.20 It is clear from Atty. a sexual molestation would be to avoid her
Dabon's Comment that his denial only pertained ravisher. In this case, however, it appeared that
as to the existence of a forced illicit relationship. Sonia continually remained in the company of
Without a categorical denial thereof, he is deemed Atty. Dabon for more than five years, even inviting
to have admitted his consensual affair with Sonia. him for lunch-outs and frequenting his office to
bring food whenever the latter was preoccupied
More telling of the existence of a romantic with his workload and could not go out with her to
relationship are the notes and cards21 that Sonia eat. Verily, Sonia's actuations towards Atty. Dabon
sent to Atty. Dabon containing personal and are in stark contrast to the expected demeanor of
intimate messages in her own handwriting. The one who had been repeatedly sexually abused.
messages conveyed Sonia's affection towards him
as she even referred to him as "hon" or "honey." Further, the Court cannot fathom why Sonia never
There were also gifts she gave him on special reported the alleged sexual abuse to the police, if
occasions such as signature shoes, watch and such was the truth. She could have placed the
shirts. It also appeared that Sonia frequently respondent behind bars and put an end to her
visited him in his office either to bring him food, claimed misery. Also, the Court cannot lend
fruits and other goodies or to invite him to lunch credence to Sonia's claim that she merely
which apparently displayed her emotional succumbed to the respondent's sexual advances
attachment to him. Curiously, the foregoing was because of his continuous threats of public
never refuted by Sonia. Such "ego-boosting exposure and humiliation. It must be stressed that
admissions"22 of Atty. Dabon indeed proved that a Atty. Dabon would be in a much more precarious
consensual relationship between him and Sonia situation if he would carry out such threats, as this
existed. would exposed himself to countless criminal and
administrative charges. The Court believes that
Nelson's allegation of sexual assaults and secret, but were only discovered by
continuing threat and intimidation was not complainant through other
established by clear preponderant evidence. The channels.23
Court is left with the most logical conclusion that
Sonia freely and wittingly entered into an illicit and
immoral relationship with Atty. Dabon sans any For what ethical breaches then may Atty. Dabon
threat and intimidation. be held liable?

Consequently, the Court quotes with approval the The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
following observations of Investigating
Commissioner Chan on this score, Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Sorting out the maze of technicalities, denials and Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the
evasions of the respondent as well as the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and
oftentimes exaggerated language of complainant support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
or his wife, Sonia, and the self-exculpatory
declarations of Sonia, this Commissioner considers Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct
the following facts as established: that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor should he, whether in public or private
1. Respondent and Sonia are both life, behave in a scandalous manner to the
married, not to each other, but to discredit of the legal profession.cralawlawlibrary
other persons, and each is aware of
this fact, or should have known such
Morality in our liberal society today is probably a
fact at the start of their illicit far cry from what it used to be. Notwithstanding
relationship because they were
this permissiveness, lawyers, as keepers of public
officemates at that time;
faith, are burdened with a high degree of social
responsibility and, hence, must handle their
2. Respondent and Sonia engaged in
personal affairs with greater caution.24 Indeed,
an intimate and sexual relationship,
those who have taken the oath to assist in the
intermittent perhaps, for a period of
dispensation of justice should be more possessed
about six years starting 2000 up to
of the consciousness and the will to overcome the
2006;
weakness of the flesh.
3. Respondent and Sonia, despite
It has been repeatedly held that to justify
protestations of Sonia that
suspension or disbarment, the act complained of
respondent assaulted her using
must not only be immoral,
drugs and employing threats and
but grossly immoral.25 A grossly immoral act is
blackmail to maintain the
one that is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal
relationship, appeared to have
act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a
entered into such illicit relationship
high degree or committed under such scandalous
voluntarily and also appeared to
or revolting circumstances as to shock the
have been fueled by their deep
common sense of decency. It is willful, flagrant, or
emotional needs, if not mutual lust,
shameless as to show indifference to the opinion
as shown by the fact that the illicit
of good and respectable members of the
relationship lasted for six long
community.26
years;
In the case at bench, Atty. Dabon's intimate
4. Respondent and Sonia, despite the
relationship with a woman other than his wife
protestation of Sonia to the
showed his moral indifference to the opinion of the
contrary, were not really ready to
good and respectable members of the community.
give up the illicit relationship even if
It manifested his disrespect for the laws on the
they were fully aware of its
sanctity of marriage and for his own marital vow
immorality or its devastating effect
of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity
on their respective marriages and
and low regard for the fundamental ethics of his
careers as shown by the fact that
profession. Indeed, he has fallen below the moral
both respondent and Sonia did not
bar. Such detestable behavior warrants a
voluntarily confess to their
disciplinary sanction. Even if not all forms of
respective spouses their dark
extramarital relations are punishable under penal one year30 to indefinite suspension, as in the case
law, sexual relations outside of marriage are of Cordova v. Cordova,31 where the lawyer was
considered disgraceful and immoral as they found to have maintained an adulterous
manifest deliberate disregard of the sanctity of relationship for two years and refused to support
marriage and the marital vows protected by the his family. On the other hand, there is a string of
Constitution and affirmed by our laws. 27 cases where the Court meted out the extreme
penalty of disbarment, to wit:
In Advincula v. Macabata,28 the Court elucidated
as to what disciplinary sanction should be imposed In Toledo v. Toledo,32 a lawyer was disbarred from
against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct. Thus: the practice of law, when he abandoned his lawful
wife and cohabited with another woman who had
Xxx. "When deciding upon the appropriate borne him a child.
sanction, the Court must consider that the primary
purposes of disciplinary proceedings are to protect In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,33 a lawyer was
the public; to foster public confidence in the Bar; disbarred after the complainant proved that he
to preserve the integrity of the profession; and to had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous
deter other lawyers from similar misconduct. relationship with a married woman. The Court
Disciplinary proceedings are means of protecting declared that the respondent failed to maintain the
the administration of justice by requiring those highest degree of morality expected and required
who carry out this important function to be of a member of the Bar.
competent, honorable and reliable men in whom
courts and clients may repose confidence. While it In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma,34 the respondent
is discretionary upon the Court to impose a lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his
particular sanction that it may deem proper lawful wife and three children, lured an innocent
against an erring lawyer, it should neither be woman into marrying him and misrepresented
arbitrary and despotic nor motivated by personal himself as a "bachelor" so he could contract
animosity or prejudice, but should ever be marriage in a foreign land.
controlled by the imperative need to scrupulously
guard the purity and independence of the bar and In Dantes v. Dantes,35 disbarment was imposed as
to exact from the lawyer strict compliance with his a penalty on the respondent lawyer who
duties to the court, to his client, to his brethren in maintained illicit relationships with two different
the profession and to the public. women during the subsistence of his marriage to
the complainant. The Complainant's testimony,
The power to disbar or suspend ought always to taken in conjunction with the documentary
be exercised on the preservative and not on the evidence, sufficiently established that the
vindictive principle, with great caution and only for respondent breached the high and exacting moral
the most weighty reasons and only on clear cases standards set for members of the law profession.
of misconduct which seriously affect the standing
and character of the lawyer as an officer of the In Villatuya v. Tabalingcos,36 the respondent
court and member of the Bar. Only those acts lawyer was disbarred because he was found to
which cause loss of moral character should merit have entered into marriage twice while his first
disbarment or suspension, while those acts which marriage was still subsisting. The Court declared
neither affect nor erode the moral character of the that he exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree
lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless of morality required of him as a member of the
they are of such nature and to such extent as to Bar. He made a mockery of marriage, a sacred
clearly show the lawyer's unfitness to continue in institution demanding respect and dignity.
the practice of law. The dubious character of the
act charged as well as the motivation which In the case at bench, Atty. Dabon's misconduct
induced the lawyer to commit it must be clearly and unrepentant demeanor clearly showed a
demonstrated before suspension or disbarment is serious flaw in his character, his moral indifference
meted out. The mitigating or aggravating to the sanctity of marriage and marital vows, and
circumstances that attended the commission of his outright defiance of established norms. All
the offense should also be considered. these could not but put the legal profession in
disrepute and place the integrity of the
The penalty for maintaining an illicit relationship administration of justice in peril. Accordingly, the
may either be suspension or disbarment, Court finds the need for the imposition of the
depending on the circumstances of the case.29 In extreme administrative penalty of disbarment.
case of suspension, the period would range from
WHEREFORE, finding the respondent Atty.
Antolin Allyson M. Dabon, Jr. GUILTY of Gross she kept the incident to herself.10 She also feared
Immorality, the Court hereby DISBARS him from the ramifications of the incident on her and her
the practice of law. family.11 Sonia asked Atty. Dabon to forget about
the incident and leave her alone. However, Atty.
Let respondent's name be stricken from the Roll of Dabon threatened her that he would tell everyone
Attorneys immediately. Furnish the Bar Confidant, they knew about it.12 From then on, Atty. Dabon
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all court was successful in having carnal knowledge with
throughout the country with copies of this her once to twice a week.13 This went on for
Decision. several years.14

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary In March 2006, Sonia ended her affair with Atty.


Dabon.15 This resulted in a series of unpleasant
Sereno, CJ., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De occasions where Sonia and Atty. Dabon publicly
Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, clashed in a motel and inside the Court of Appeals
Villarama, Jr., Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas- and involved other employees of the judiciary as
Bernabe, Leonen, and Jardeleza, JJ., cocnur. well as their spouses.16

For his part, Atty. Dabon denies the allegations in


the Complaint. He denies the acts constituting
gross immoral conduct imputed by Nelson and
CONCURRING OPINION Sonia. He also denies being attracted to Sonia and
drugging and sexually assaulting her.17 At most,
they were just good friends.18 Atty. Dabon also
LEONEN, J.: points to the alleged inconsistencies in the claims
of Sonia and her husband.19 Sonia's true feelings
for him are evident in the cards she signed and
This court resolves an administrative Complaint for sent to him, together with the expensive gifts such
disbarment filed by complainant Nelson P. Valdez as signature shoes, watches, and shirts she gave
(Nelson) against respondent Atty. Antolin Allyson him.20 Sonia even spent time in the United States
M. Dabon, Jr., (Atty. Dabon) for gross immoral and with him and his sons.21
indecent conduct unbecoming of a member of the
Bar.1 Atty. Dabon further alleges that Sonia had become
emotionally dependent on him since he was always
Nelson claims that he and his wife, Sonia Romero there to listen to her problems.22 According to
Valdez (Sonia), were married on January 28, 1998 Atty. Dabon, Sonia started to act strangely when
in Paniqui, Tarlac.2 Sonia was a Court she learned of his plans to settle in the United
Stenographer at the Court of Appeals from 1992 States for good.23
to 2006.3 She admitted that she had an adulterous
and immoral relationship with Atty. Dabon, a Atty. Dabon also claims that Nelson and Sonia are
Division Clerk of Court of the Court of Appeals, good friends with the Court of Appeals Presiding
from 2000 to 2006.4According to Nelson, Sonia Justice Ruben Reyes as Sonia had worked as Court
told him that the illicit affair was carried out Stenographer for him for three (3) years. 24 The
through Atty. Dabon's sexual assaults, Presiding Justice had allegedly asked Atty. Dabon
intimidation, and threats on Sonia.5 to resign, else cases would be filed against
him.25cralawred
Sonia's affidavit was attached to Nelson's
Complaint. In her affidavit, Sonia claims that her Moreover, contrary to Nelson and Sonia's claims,
sexual relationship with Atty. Dabon started when it was actually Atty. Dabon who was harassed
they had a friendly lunch date on November 13, through text messages and phone calls, which
2000.6 Unknown to her, Atty. Dabon put a sleep- prompted him to leave the country earlier than
inducing substance in either her food or drink, scheduled.26
which caused her to feel drowsy and weak. 7 Atty.
Dabon then brought her to a motel and took On August 15, 2007, this court referred the
advantage of her.8 He sexually assaulted her while Complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
she was unconscious. for investigation, report, and recommendation.27

In his October 2, 2008 Report and


Sonia felt ashamed of what had happened; thus, Recommendation, Integrated Bar of the
Philippines Investigating Commissioner Manuel T.
Chan found Atty. Dabon guilty of gross immoral extramarital relations are punishable under penal
conduct.28 The Commissioner recommended that law, sexual relations outside of marriage are
Atty. Dabon be disbarred and dropped from the considered disgraceful and immoral as they
Roll of Attorneys.29 manifest deliberate disregard of the sanctity of
marriage and the marital vows protected by the
On December 11, 2008, the Integrated Bar of the Constitution and affirmed by our
Philippines Board of Governors issued Resolution laws.35cralawlawlibrary
No. XVIII-2008-653, which adopted and approved
the recommendations of the Investigating
However, the ponencia also declared that Sonia's
Commissioner:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
claims of sexual assaults, threats, and intimidation
are false:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED the Report
In light of the above disquisition, the Court finds
and Recommendation of the Investigating
Sonia's allegation that the illicit relationship was
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made possible by sexual assaults and maintained
made part of this Resolution as Annex "A"; and,
through threat and intimidations, to be untrue.
finding the recommendation fully supported by the
Certainly, a sexually abused woman could not be
evidence on record and the applicable laws and
expected to lavish her oppressor with expensive
rules, and finding Respondent guilty of gross gifts or pay him affectionate compliments or words
immoral conduct, Atty. Antolin Allyson M. Dabon,
of endearment. The natural reaction of a victim of
Jr. is hereby DISBARRED and his name be stricken
a sexual molestation would be to avoid her
off from the Roll of Attorneys.30cralawlawlibrary
ravisher. In this case, however, it appeared that
Sonia continually remained in the company of
Atty. Dabon filed his motion for reconsideration of Atty. Dabon for more than five years, even inviting
the Resolution.31 However, this was denied by the him for lunch-outs and frequenting his office to
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of bring whenever the latter was preoccupied with his
Governors in Resolution No. XX-2012-550 dated workload and could not go out with her to eat.
December 4, 2012: Verily, Sonia's actuations towards Atty. Dabon are
in stark contrast to the expected demeanor of one
RESOLVED to unanimously DENY Respondent's who had been repeatedly sexually abused.
Motion for Reconsideration there being no cogent
reason to reverse the findings of the Commission Further, the Court cannot fathom why Sonia never
and it being a mere reiteration of the matters reported the alleged sexual abuse to the police, if
which had already been threshed out and taken such was the truth. She could have placed the
into consideration. Thus, Resolution No. XVIII- respondent behind bars and put an end to her
2008-653 dated December 11, 2008 is hereby claimed misery. Also, the Court cannot lend
AFFIRMED.32cralawlawlibrary credence to Sonia's claim that she merely
succumbed to the respondent's sexual advances
I concur with this court's finding that Atty. Dabon because of his continuous threats of public
is guilty of gross immoral conduct.33 exposure and humiliation. It must be stressed that
Atty. Dabon would be in a much more precarious
The ponencia declares that Atty. Dabon's illicit situation if he would carry out such threats, as this
relationship with Nelson's wife amounts to gross would exposed [sic] himself to countless criminal
immoral conduct that transgresses the Code of and administrative charges. The Court believes
Professional that Nelson's allegation of sexual assaults and
Responsibility,34thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary continuing threat and intimidation was not
established by clear and preponderant
In the case at bench, Atty. Dabon's intimate evidence. The Court is left with the most logical
relationship with a woman other than his wife conclusion that Sonia freely and wittingly entered
showed his moral indifference to the opinion of the into an illicit and immoral relationship with Atty.
good and respectable members of the community. Dabon sans any threat and
It manifested his disrespect for the laws on the intimidation. (Emphasis supplied)
sanctity of marriage and for his own marital vow
of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity The relationship between Atty. Dabon and Sonia
and low regard for the fundamental ethics of his was consensual. Relationships between men and
profession. Indeed, he has fallen below the moral women traditionally involve power exerted by one
bar. Such detestable behavior warrants a against the other. In Garcia v. Drilon,37 this court
disciplinary sanction. Even if not all forms of recognized the unequal power relationship
between a man and a woman, justifying the valid amorous advances.41 These acts, which
classification provided under Republic Act No. necessarily result in an intimidating, hostile, and
9262:38chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary offensive working environment for subordinates,
constitute sexual harassment.42
I. R.A. 9262 rests on substantial distinctions.
Under A.M. No. 03-03-13-SC (Re: Rule on
The unequal power relationship between women Administrative Procedure in Sexual Harassment
and men; the fact that women are more likely than Cases and Guidelines on Proper Work Decorum in
men to be victims of violence; and the widespread the Judiciary), work-related sexual harassment is
gender bias and prejudice against women all make defined as an act of:
for real differences justifying the classification
under the law. As Justice Mclntyre succinctly an official or employee in the Judiciary who, having
states, "the accommodation of differences . . . is authority, influence or moral ascendancy over
the essence of true equality." another in a work environment, demands,
requests or otherwise requires any sexual favor
A. Unequal power relationship between men from the other, regardless of whether the demand,
and women request or requirement for submission is accepted
by the latter.
According to the Philippine Commission on Women
(the National Machinery for Gender Equality and
It is committed when:
Women's Empowerment), violence against women
(VAW) is deemed to be closely linked with
(a) The sexual favor is made as a condition in the
the unequal power relationship between hiring or in the employment, re-employment or
women and men otherwise known as "gender- continued employment of said individual, or in
based violence". Societal norms and traditions
granting said individual favorable compensation,
dictate people to think men are the leaders,
terms, conditions, promotions, or privileges; or
pursuers, providers, and take on dominant roles in the refusal to grant the sexual favor results in
society while women are nurturers, men's
limiting, segregating or classifying the employee
companions and supporters, and take on
which in any way would discriminate, deprive or
subordinate roles in society. This perception leads
diminish employment opportunities or otherwise
to men gaining more power over women. With adversely affect said employee. It shall include,
power comes the need to control to retain that
but shall not be limited to, the following modes:
power. And VAW is a form of men's expression of
1. Physical, such as malicious touching, overt
controlling women to retain power. sexual advances, and gestures with lewd
insinuation.
The United Nations, which has long recognized
VAW as a human rights issue, passed its
2. Verbal, such as requests or demands for sexual
Resolution 48/104 on the Declaration on favors, and lurid remarks.
Elimination of Violence Against Women on
December 20, 1993 stating that "violence against
3. Use of objects, pictures or graphics, letters or
women is a manifestation of historically unequal written notes with sexual underpinnings.
power relations between men and women,
which have led to domination over and 4. Other acts analogous to the foregoing.
discrimination against women by men and to the
prevention of the full advancement of women, and (b) The above acts would impair the employee's
that violence against women is one of the crucial rights or privileges under existing laws; or
social mechanisms by which women are forced
into subordinate positions, compared with (c) The above acts would result in an intimidating,
men."39(Emphasis in the original, citations hostile or offensive environment for the employee.
omitted)
While Sonia was technically not a subordinate of
"Sexual harassment in the workplace is not about Atty. Dabon, his actions nevertheless resulted in
a man taking advantage of a woman by reason of an intimidating, hostile, and offensive working
sexual desire - it is about power being exercised environment for Sonia, especially towards the end
by a superior officer over his women of their illicit relationship. The gravity of Atty.
subordinates."40 The superior can cause the Dabon's actions should be considered in
removal of the subordinate from the workplace if determining the proper penalty to be imposed in
the latter refuses his or, in certain cases, her this disbarment case for gross immoral conduct.
As the Integrated Bar of the Philippines found, the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct
Atty. Dabon refused to accept that his relationship that warrants disbarment."51
with Sonia had already ended, to the point of
harassing Sonia publicly several times: Disbarment is clearly warranted for gross immoral
conduct that entails abuse of power of whatever
It has not escaped the Court's attention either that kind or nature.
Atty. Dabon really tried hard to win back Sonia
because he could not let go of their relationship, In Barrientos v. Daarol,52 the respondent was held
even to the point of pestering her with his guilty of gross immoral conduct and was disbarred
persistent pleas of reconciliation. In one instance, for inducing a female half his age to have sexual
Atty. Dabon boarded Sonia's car and refused to relations with him after promising marriage,
alight unless she would talk to him. Sonia had to despite him being married already, and later on
seek the assistance of her officemates, Atty. abandoning the woman and his child.
Barrazo and Atty. Ligot, who pleaded with him to
alight from the vehicle. Moreover, Atty. Dabon In Tucay v. Tucay,53 this court held that having an
made several attempts to communicate with Sonia illicit affair with a married woman, regardless of
in the hope of rekindling their relationship through whether a bigamous marriage was contracted,
letters and phone calls but she remained firm in constitutes gross immoral conduct that merits the
her stand to avoid him. Such incident was extreme penalty of disbarment.
recounted by Ramos and Minerva in their
respective affidavits. Incidentally, vis-a-vis In Arnobit v. Arnobit,54 this court disbarred the
Nelson's overwhelming evidence of said respondent for abandoning his wife and 12
harassments, he offered only denials which was children to cohabit with another woman.
[sic] self-serving and weak under the law on
evidence. Other than his general claim that Atty. In Garrido v. Garrido,55 two lawyers who
Barrazo, Atty. Ligot, Ramos, and Minerva were engaged in an extra-marital affair were disbarred
biased witnesses because they were former since their actions established a "pattern of grave
officemates of Sonia, the respondent did not even and immoral misconduct that demonstrates their
bother to proffer his own version of the supposed lack of mental and emotional fitness and moral
harassment incidents. character to qualify them for the responsibilities
and duties imposed on lawyers as professionals
Conduct is immoral when it is "so willful, flagrant, and as officers of the court."56
or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion
of good and respectable members of the In his Comment, Atty. Dabon averred that there
community."46 could not have been an illicit affair between him
and Sonia since Sonia was merely "an ordinary
Further: plain-looking middle aged woman with two (2)
teen aged children."57 He alleged that:
[The] conduct [to warrant disciplinary action]
must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. . It is an outrage for herein respondent for the
. . [I]t must be so corrupt as to constitute a complainant and Ms. Valdez to accuse him of
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be sexually assaulting the latter. There is absolutely
reprehensible to a high degree or committed under no iota of truth to this incredible claim of the
such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to Valdezes. Why would a man like the respondent, a
shock the common sense of decency." married lawyer at that with no prior encounter with
the law, would suddenly turn crazed with lust
despite the aloofness and coldness of Ms. Valdez
Good moral character is a continuing requirement towards him as alleged in her affidavit, drugging
to maintain one's good standing in the legal her then dragging her to his car and sexually
profession.48 "It is the bounden duty of law assaulting her in a motel? Is Ms. Valdez that
practitioners to observe the highest degree of irresistibly attractive and compelling that
morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the would turn the respondent into an unthinking
Bar."49 sex pervert and criminal, risking everything
just to get her to satisfy his alleged lust for
There is no fixed standard of what constitutes her?58(Emphasis in the original)
gross immoral conduct, or "moral delinquency and
obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar."50 Hence,
"what appears to be unconventional behavior to This statement is nothing but an attempt to
obviate the consequence of his actions by
degrading the appearance of another human
being. This strongly reveals Atty. Dabon's
character and the extent to which he is willing to
go to gain impunity for his infractions.

Atty. Dabon carried out illicit relations with Sonia,


a married woman and his co-worker in the
judiciary, for at least five (5) years. Atty. Dabon's
blase attitude towards the affair and its aftermath
not only made a mockery of the position he holds
as member of the bar and an employee of the
judiciary, but also showed his utter disregard for
laws protecting and respecting the dignity of
women. He failed to meet the high standard of
morality required of his profession. He is unfit to
be a member of the bar.

ACCORDINGLY, I vote that respondent Atty.


Antolin Allyson Dabon, Jr. be DISBARREDand his
name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.
EN BANC
The Department of Agrarian Reform granted the
A.C. No. 7348, September 27, 2016 request and furnished Rouel with all documents
related to the Notice of Coverage. 17 Among these
ROUEL YAP PARAS, Complainant, v. ATTY. documents were: (1) Atty. Paras' October 20,
JUSTO P. PARAS, Respondent. 2004 letter18 to Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer
Stephen M. Leonidas; (2) an authorization
letter19 by Atty. Paras for Edna R. Mijares; and (3)
RESOLUTION
an October 9, 2006 Certification20 by Provincial
Agrarian Reform Officer Grace B.
PER CURIAM: Fua.21chanrobleslaw

Through this administrative Complaint1 directly On October 25, 2006, Rouel Yap Paras filed this
filed before this Court, Rouel Yap Paras (Rouel) Complaint before this Court and alleged:
charges his father Atty. Justo J. Paras (Atty. Paras)
with violation of his lawyer's oath and the Code of chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Professional Responsibility.2 Atty. Paras allegedly 1. That respondent, ATTY. JUSTO J. PARAS,.
voluntarily offered properties he did not own nor had violated the LAWYER'S OATH and the
possess to the Department of Agrarian Reform for Code of Professional Responsibility,
coverage under the Comprehensive Agrarian thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Reform Program.3 Atty. Paras has been previously a) Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
disciplined twice upon complaint of his thus:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
wife.4chanrobleslaw 1. Deceit
2. Violation of Oath of Office
In September 2006, Rouel found out that a listing 3. Willful disobedience of any lawful order of
of possible beneficiaries for the Department of a superior court;
Agrarian Reform's Comprehensive Agrarian
Reform Program was being made by a certain b) The Code of Professional Responsibility in
Edna Mijares and Tomas Visitacion.5 On the same Canon 1, "A lawyer shall uphold the
month, he received at their residence in Negros Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and
Oriental6 a copy of a Notice of Coverage7 dated promote respect for law and legal
September 8, 2006 from the Department of Land processes"; Canon 3, "a lawyer in making
Reform. The Notice of Coverage was addressed to known his legal services shall use only trne,
Atty. Paras and was signed by Provincial Agrarian honest, fair, dignified and objective
Reform Officer Grace B. Fua. Five (5) of the six (6) information or statement of facts; Canon 7,
properties listed in the Notice of Coverage were "a lawyer shall at all times up hold [sic] the
those subject of Civil Case No. 02-028-BY pending integrity and dignity of the legal
before Branch 45 of the Regional Trial Court of Bais profession[,]"; Canon 10 that "a lawyer owes
City, Negros Oriental.8 Civil Case No. 02-028-BY is candor, fairness and good faith to the court";
based on a Complaint9 filed by Rouel against Atty. Canon 8, "a lawyer shall conduct himself with
Paras for annulment of Original Certificates of Title courtesy, fairness and candor towards his
of the properties. professional colleagues...";
2. That the respondent engaged in an
Rouel referred the matter to his counsel, who unlawful, dishonest and deceitful conduct
wrote Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Grace B. when he deliberate[ly] represented himself
Fua.10 In the letter dated October 9, 2006, his as "LANDOWNER", and voluntarily offered
counsel requested a copy of all documents real properties to the DAR for CARP coverage,
pertaining to the September 8, 2006 Notice of when he knew fully well that he is NOT THE
Coverage addressed to Atty. Paras.11 Rouel's OWNER OF THE SUBJECT REAL PROPERTIES;
counsel also informed the Department of Agrarian .....
Reform that: (1) the real properties were subject
of a pending case;12 (2) Atty. Paras was 3. That RESPONDENT, ATTY. JUSTO J. PARAS, ...
suspended by this Court for unlawfully "having the with manifest bad faith and inexcusable
said properties titled in his name[;]"13 (3) the negligence, proceeded to present himself to the
properties were titled in the name of Atty. Paras DAR, and offered the subject properties, even with
only for free patent title coverage;14 (4) Atty. his full knowledge of the pending litigations
Paras did not possess the properties;15 and (5) involving the said properties;
Rouel was the real owner and in possession of the
properties.16chanrobleslaw 4. That in spite of the pendency of the "PETITION
FOR annulment of OCT NOS. 32360, 32361, "Annulment of OCT Nos. 32360, 32350, 32361,
32362, and 33476 and DAMAGES" proceedings, 32362 and 33476 and damages.["]28
which is pending before the Regional Trial Court
Branch 45, Bais City, respondent, ATTY. JUSTO J. On the allegation of voluntary offer of properties,
PARAS, had instigated the VOLUNTARY OFFER OF
respondent claimed:
COVERAGE TO THE DAR, to dispossess the
complainant, his mother, and the members of the 4. That under ... [the] Comprehensive Agrarian
YAP family of their property rights, as it is very
Reform Law . . . the implementation of the law
clear that ATTY. JUSTO J. PARAS was fully aware
under C[omprehensive] A[graria]n R[eform]
that the subject real properties WERE NOT OWNED
P[rogram] on private properties is under two (2)
BY HIM, and he DID NOT HAVE ANY ACTUAL modes, namely:
PHYSICAL POSSESSION of the subject real
properties; 1) Compulsory Acquisition by DAR (Sec. 16,
CARL), or 2) Voluntary Offer of Sale (VOS, under
5. That the AUTHORIZATION issued to EDNA Sees. 19 & 20, RA 6657). Under Mode 1, DAR on
MIJARES by respondent, is a GROSS its own initiative listing and documentation
MISREPRESENTATION, and this had caused compulsorily covers usually big real properties
innocent barrio folks of Barangay Matobato, owned by a single landowner in a given community
Bindoy, Negros Oriental to pay P500.00 to thru service of its "NOTICE OF COVERAGE". The
Edna Mijares, in view of the false promise other Mode 2 covers properties offered for sale
that they will be included as DAR under VOS by landowner. The pursuit of whichever
beneficiaries, even if they were not tenants mode of acquisition is left to the discretion of DAR
or residing in the subject property; unless offer is made.
....
Respondent's CARP coverage is thru the
7. THAT RESPONDENT HAD THE SOLE INTENT COMPULSORY MODE. This is evidenced by ... a
OF DISPOSSESSING THE UNDERSIGNED, HIS "NOTICE OF COVERAGE" of DAR- sent by DAR to
LEGITIMATE SON, OF HIS PROPERTY Respondent informing him of the extent of
RIGHTS, USING HIS LEGAL PROFESSION, AS coverage of compulsory acquisition by DAR with
HIS WEAPON OF VENGEANCE, TO listing (initial) of his real properties covered. In
UNDERMINE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS fact Respondent had been informed that following
OF THE UNDERSIGNED, HIS MOTHER, ROSA or subsequent "NOTICE OF COVERAGE" shall
YAP PARAS, AND MEMBERS OF THE YAP include or involve properties not covered by titles
FAMILY OF BINDOY, NEGROS or under tax declarations only, real properties
ORIENTAL[.]22(Emphasis and underscoring in the which respondent owned in Bindoy as well as in
original) the neighboring municipalities of Ayungon and
Mabinay, all in the province of Negros Oriental.
Complainant prayed that respondent be disbarred
as respondent had already been suspended by this It being a compulsory coverage process initiated,
Court in two (2) previous administrative pursued and documented primarily by DAR, the
cases.23chanrobleslaw listing of all real properties titled, covered only by
tax declarations or possessed by Respondent are
On February 22, 2007, respondent filed his all the workings of DAR. Respondent never
Comment.24 He alleged that the present Complaint submitted to DAR a listing of his properties.
is "identical in subject-matter, principal parties
involved, issues and persecutory Respondent prayed for the dismissal of this case.
intent"25cralawred with A.C. No. 734926 filed
against him by Rosa Yap-Paras, complainant's On April 11, 2007, this Court referred the case to
mother.27 However, respondent admitted that: the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
investigation, report, and recommendation.

the properties subject-matter of the instant On August 22, 2007, a mandatory conference was
[administrative] complaint ... [are] subject of a set for October 26, 2007 at 2:00 p.m.32 Counsel of
pending trial court proceedings [sic] before RTC, complainant appeared for complainant, while
Branch 45, Bais City: Civil Case No. 02-028-BY, respondent appeared for himself.33 The
entitled: ROUEL YAP PARAS vs. JUSTO J. PARAS conference ended with both parties submitting
and Register of Deeds of Negros Oriental, for their issues to Investigating Commissioner
Salvador B. Hababag (Commissioner Hababag) of
the Commission on Bar Discipline.34chanrobleslaw IT IS VERY CLEAR THAT THE RESPONDENT HAD
THE DELIBERATE AND MALICIOUS INTENT TO
Complainant's counsel submitted the following DEPRIVE THE COMPLAINANT OF OWNERSHIP
issues for resolution: RIGHTS TO THE SUBJECT REAL PROPERTIES,
USING HIS LEGAL KNOWLEDGE TO CIRCUMVENT
1. Whether or not the respondent should be liable THE JUDICIAL PROCESSES BY USING THE DAR,
for misrepresenting himself as owner of the INSPITE OF THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME
subject real properties when in truth an[d] in fact. COURT SUSPENDING HIM FOR ONE YEAR FOR
he is not; "HIS DECEIT AND FALSEHOOD IN THE
APPLICATION FOR A FREE PATENT OVER SAID
2. Whether or not the respondent violated the PROPERTIES.["] NOW HE HAS DEFIED AGAIN THE
SUPREME COURT BY VOLUNTARILY OFFERING
Code of Professional Responsibility which requires
THIS LAND FOR COMPENSATION BY DAR BY
a lawyer to observe honesty, candor, integrity and
in the pleadings filed therein; FALSELY CLAIMING AS THE OWNER OF SAID
PROPERTIES[;]
3. Whether or not the respondent is bound by the
findings of the Supreme Court in Administrative THAT IT WAS ONLY IN 2006, THAT THE DAR GAVE
Case No. 4947 the fact that respondent committed NOTICE OF THE COMPULSORY ACQUISITION, AND
deceit and falsehood in having applied for pre- INSPITE OF THE POSSESSION OF COMPLAINANT,
patent [sic] of the lands owned by another over THE RESPONDENT HAD CONTINUED TO PURSUE
which he had no actual physical possession being THE DAR ACQUISITION, BY CONDUCTING
aware of the fact that the same was previously MEETINGS WITH HIS ["]DAR BENEFICIARIES", AS
transferred in the name of Aurora Yap and which PROOF OF HIS .BENEVOLENCE, SINCE HE IS
act reflected his fitness to practice law in violation GIVING AWAY ALL THE TITLED PROPERTIES, IN
of Rule 7.03[,] Canon 7 of the Code of Professional HIS NAME, KNOWING THAT HE IS NOT THE TRUE
Responsibility.35 OWNER/POSSESSOR THEREOF;

Respondent, on the other hand, submitted the THAT RESPONDENT WAS FOLLOWING UP THE
following Issues for resolution: RELEASE OF THE CHECKS REPRESENTING THE
DAR PAYMENT FOR THE SUBJECT REAL
1. Whether or not the previously filed and pending PROPERTIES, TO BE IN HIS NAME, THUS, THE
Civil Case No. INTENT TO "CASH IN", IS SO GROSS AND
UNJUST, AND SHOWS THAT RESPONDENT DOES
02-028-BY filed by the complainant and seeking NOT DESERVE TO BE AN OFFICER OF THE COURT
annulment of free-patent titles is a prejudicial AND A MEMBER OF THE BAR[.]39(Emphasis in the
question to this case; original)

2. Whether or not complainant has successfully On December 18, 2007, respondent filed his
identified his quitclaimed acquired properties as to Position Paper.40 He claimed that (1) the pendency
be related to the three (3) free patented titles of of Civil Case No. 02-028-BY is a prejudicial
the respondent.36 question to the present case;41 and that (2)
complainant "failed to identify [the] four (4)
quitclaim-acquired properties as the same as
Both parties were ordered to submit position those gratuitously given by Government to
papers. Respondent by way of free patent titles."42 To
prove his second claim, respondent compared the
On November 23, 2007, complainant filed his size of properties in the quitclaim to complainant
Position Paper.38 He reiterated the circumstances as against the size of free patent titled properties
and grounds for respondent's disbarment and he acquired.
emphasized respondent's October 20, 2004 letter
to Provincial Agrarian Reform Officer Stephen M.
Leonidas, stating: On January 14, 2008, complainant filed his
Reply.44 He restated his claims and added that
[C]ontrary to the misrepresentations of the "while respondent claims ownership over real
respondent, he offered the subject real properties properties located in Bindoy, Negros [O]riental, he
for VOLUNTARY ACQUISITION with the DAR as has not paid any of REAL TAXES over the subject
shown in his letter.... real properties[.]"
. . . .
In his Report and Recommendation46 dated The sole issue for this Court's resolution is whether
January 5, 2008, Commissioner Hababag found respondent violated his lawyer's oath and the Code
respondent guilty of violating his lawyer's oath and of Professional Responsibility when he voluntarily
the Code of Professional Responsibility, thus: offered property that he neither owned nor
possessed for coverage under the Comprehensive
Respondent has been deplorably lacking in the Agrarian Reform Program.
candor required of him as member of the bar in his
acts of applying for the issuance of a free patent We confirm the guilt of respondent. However, we
over the properties in issue despite knowledge modify the penalty imposed.
that the same had already been sold by his
mother to complainant's aunt. This fact, In deciding this case, this Court takes judicial
respondent even admitted in the comment, he notice of two (2) administrative cases filed by Rosa
committed deceit and falsehood in his application Yap Panis against respondent.
for free patent over the said properties when he
manifested under oath that he had been in the In Paras v. Atty. Paras,54 respondent was found
actual possession and occupation of the said lands guilty of falsifying Rosa Yap-Paras' signature in
despite the fact these were continuously in the bank loan documents and other related
possession and occupation of complainant's instruments; and of immorality, concubinage, and
family, as evidenced no less by respondent's own abandonment of his own family.55 Respondent was
statements in the pleadings filed before the IBP in meted the penalty of a six (6)-month suspension
Adm. Case No. 4947. from the practice of law for the first offense, and a
one (1)-year suspension for the second offense.
The practice of law is not a right but merely a
privilege bestowed by the State upon those who In Yap-Paras v. Atty. Paras,57 respondent was
show that they possess, and continue to possess, found guilty of violating his lawyer's oath and the
the qualifications required by law for the Code of Professional Responsibility when he
conferment of such privilege. . . . One of those "[applied] for the issuance of a free patent over
requirements is the observance of honesty and the properties in issue despite his knowledge that
candor. the same had already been sold by his mother to
complainant's sister."58 This Court also found that:
The facts and evidence obtaining in the instant
case indubitably reveal respondent's failure to live [He] committed deceit and falsehood in his
up to his duties as lawyer in consonance with the application for free patent over the said properties
strictures of the lawyer's oath and the Code of when he manifested under oath that he had been
Professional Responsibility, he has shown no in the actual possession and occupation of the said
remorse nor reformation thereby occasioning lands despite the fact that these were continuously
sanction for his stubbornness. in the possession and occupation of complainant's
family, as evidenced no less by respondents own
statements in the pleadings filed before the IBP. 59
The penalty of a one (1)-year suspension from the
practice of law was recommended.49chanrobleslaw
Respondent was suspended from the practice of
In Resolution No. XVIII-2008-42 dated January
50 law for one (1) year.60chanrobleslaw
17, 2008, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Board of Governors adopted and approved Both Yap-Paras and this case involve the same real
Commissioner Hababag's Report and properties. Both likewise refer to respondent's
Recommendation. However, the Board of deceit and misrepresentation as basis for his
Governors modified the penalty and reduced administrative sanction.
respondent's suspension from one (1) year to six
(6) months. In this case, one of the complainant's claims was
that:
On April 25, 2008, complainant moved for
reconsideration52 of the January 17, 2008 [R]espondent engaged in an unlawful, dishonest
Resolution, praying that the penalty of suspension and deceitful conduct when he deliberate[ly]
be reconsidered and a penalty of disbarment be represented himself as "LANDOWNER," and
imposed instead. On January 3, 2013, the Motion voluntarily offered real properties to the DAR for
for Reconsideration was denied in the Board of CARP coverage, when he knew fully well that he is
Governors' Resolution No. XX-2013-07.
NOT THE OWNER OF THE SUBJECT REAL
PROPERTIES[.]61 (Emphasis in the original) Although respondent's violation in this case was
not squarely addressed by Commissioner
Respondent's violation of his lawyer's oath and of Hababag's Report and Recommendation, the
records of the case reveal that respondent's
the Code of Professional Responsibility, by
voluntary offer of properties was motivated by ill
misrepresenting himself as the owner of the
properties, has already been decided in Yap- will, for which he should be sanctioned.
Paras:
Prior to respondent's voluntary offer of properties,
he was sanctioned by the Board of Governors in
In the instant case, it is clear to the Court that
respondent violated his lawyer's oath as well as Resolution No. XVI-2004-120 dated February 27,
2004.64 The Board of Governors adopted the
the Code of Professional Responsibility which
recommendation of Investigating Commissioner
mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to society
and to the courts, the obligation to obey the laws Lydia A. Navarro, thus:
of the land and to do no falsehood nor consent to
[R]espondent committed deceit and falsehood in
the doing of any in court. Respondent has been
having applied for free patent over lands owned by
deplorably lacking in the candor required of him as
a member of the Bar and an officer of the court in another over which he had no actual physical
possession being aware of the fact that the same
his acts of applying for the issuance of a free
was previously transferred in the name of Aurora
patent over the properties in issue despite his
Yap[.]65
knowledge that the same had already been sold by
his mother to complainant's sister. This fact,
respondent even admitted in the comment that he Despite the issuance of the Resolution and the full
filed before this Court when he alleged that the knowledge that the properties were subject of a
said properties were public land under the Forestal pending civil case,66 respondent submitted in
Zone "when the mother of the respondent ceded August 2004 to the Department of Agrarian
to Aurora Yap some portions of entire occupancy Reform of Bantayan, Dumaguete City a list of
of the Parases." Moreover, respondent committed landholdings he allegedly owned for voluntary
deceit and falsehood in his application for free offer under Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
patent over the said properties when he Program coverage.67 He even wrote a letter dated
manifested under oath that he had been in the October 20, 2004 addressed to Provincial Agrarian
actual possession and occupation of the said lands Reform Officer Stephen M. Leonidas requesting
despite the fact that these were continuously in that the list of properties he submitted be covered
the possession and occupation of complainants under the Compulsory Acquisition Scheme
family, as evidenced no less by respondent's own instead, as he could not get his spouse's
statements in the pleadings filed before the conformity for voluntary offer.68chanrobleslaw
IBP.62 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
The existence of the letter was contrary to his
claim in his Comment that he had no hand in the
Commissioner Hababag likewise found respondent
Compulsory Acquisition scheme:
guilty of the same offense in this case:
It being a compulsory coverage process initiated,
Respondent has been deplorably lacking in the
pursued and documented primarily by DAR, the
candor required of him as member of the bar in his
acts of applying for the issuance of a free patent listing of all real properties titled, covered only by
tax declarations or possessed by Respondent are
over the properties in issue despite knowledge
all the workings of DAR. Respondent never
that the same had already been sold by his mother
submitted to DAR a listing of his
to complainant's aunt. This fact, respondent even
properties.69 (Emphasis supplied)
admitted in the comment, he committed deceit
and falsehood in his application for free patent
over the said properties when he manifested under He further contradicted himself when he admitted
oath that he had been in the actual possession and the October 20, 2004 letter during the mandatory
occupation of the said lands despite the fact these conference:
were continuously in the possession and
occupation of complainant's family, as evidenced
no less by respondent's own statements in the ATTY. YAP:
pleadings filed before the IBP in Adm. Case No. The existence of the Letter of the Respondent,
4947.63 (Emphasis supplied) Atty. Justo J. Paras dated October 20, 2004 to
Stephen M. Leonidas, Provincial Agrarian Reform
Officer of the Department of Agrarian Reform,
Bantayan, Dumaguete City which is in [sic] filed
with the Department of Agrarian Reform, Negros CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE
Oriental? CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND
AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW OF AND LEGAL
COMM. HABABAG:
Any comment? PROCESSES.

ATTY. PARAS: Rule 1.01. -A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,


We admit that.70 dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
....
Eight (8) months after this Court promulgated its
Resolution in Yap Paras,71 which confirmed the CANON 10- A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS
Board of Governors' Resolution No. XVI-2004-120, AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
respondent authorized Edna R. Mijares, Chair of
the Domolog Tagaytay Multi-Purpose Cooperative, Rule 10.01. - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood,
to come up with a list of beneficiaries for the nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall
properties he requested to be covered under the he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any
Compulsory Acquisition Scheme of the artifice.
Department of Agrarian Reform.72chanrobleslaw
In offering to government property that he knew
By authorizing Edna R. Mijares, respondent he neither owned nor possessed, respondent
pushed for the inclusion of his alleged properties committed dishonesty, misrepresentation, and
for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program deceit. Although deceit and misrepresentation are
coverage. He did this notwithstanding the present in both Yap-Paras and in this case, the
Resolution finding him guilty of "commit[ing] surrounding circumstances are different. In Yap-
deceit and falsehood in his application for free Paras, deceit and misrepresentation were used to
patent over the said properties when he apply for the issuance of a free patent. On the
manifested under oath that he had been in the other hand, in this case, they were used for a
actual possession and occupation of the said lands voluntary offer of land for Comprehensive Agrarian
despite the fact that these were continuously in Reform Program coverage. The application for the
the possession and occupation of complainants issuance of a free patent and the voluntary offer
family[.]"73chanrobleslaw of property for Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
Program coverage are distinct from one another
Respondent's acts constitute a violation of his and are not prerequisites of each other. His
lawyer's oath, which states: offense in the previous case is separate and
distinct from this case, for which he is sanctioned
I,__________________, do solemnly swear that I anew.
will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the
Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey Respondent has already been sanctioned three (3)
the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly times. The dispositive portion of Paras, which was
constituted authorities therein; I will do no dated October 17, 2000, reads:
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or
sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give In the light of the foregoing, respondent is hereby
aid nor consent to the same. I will delay no man SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6)
for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a MONTHS on the charge of falsifying his wife's
lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and signature in bank documents and other related
discretion with all good fidelity as well to the loan instruments; and for ONE (1) YEAR from the
courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself practice of law on the charges of immorality and
this voluntary obligation without any mental abandonment of his own family, the penalties to
reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me be served simultaneously. Let notice of this
God. (Emphasis supplied) decision be spread in respondent's record as an
attorney, and notice of the same served on the
His deliberate act of disregarding this Court's Integrated Bar of the Philippines and on the Office
ruling is conduct unbecoming of a lawyer and of the Court Administrator for circulation to all the
degrades the legal profession. He is likewise guilty courts concerned.
of violating Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule
10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility: SO ORDERED.74 (Emphasis supplied)
In Yap-Paras, respondent was suspended and
warned by this Court:

WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Justo J.


Paras guilty of committing a falsehood in
violation of It's lawyer's oath and of the Code
of Professional Responsibility,the Court
Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the
practice of law for a period of one (1) year, with a
WARNING that commission of the same or similar
offense in the future will result in the imposition of
a more severe penalty.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the IBP,


as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant and the
Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all
courts for their information and guidance and
likewise be entered in the record of respondent as
attorney.

SO ORDERED.75 (Emphasis supplied)

This is respondent's fourth case involving the same


properties and his second infraction of an offense
of the same nature. The six (6)-month suspension
imposed by the Commission on Bar Discipline is
too light a penalty. Respondent deserves a graver
penalty for his acts of dishonesty,
misrepresentation, and deceit.

WHEREFORE, this Court finds respondent Atty.


Justo J. Paras

GUILTY of violating the lawyer's oath and Canon


1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. He is
hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law and
his name stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the


Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondent's personal record as attorney, to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and to the Office
of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all
courts throughout the country for their information
and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Velasco, Jr., Peralta, Bersamin, Del


Castillo, Perez, Mendoza, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen,
Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
Carpio and Leonardo-De Castro, JJ., on official
leave.
Brion and Reyes, JJ., on leave.
EN BANC
Complainant further alleges that on March 24,
A.C. No. 5951, July 12, 2016 2002, respondent filed before this Court a
Complaint for "Writ of Preliminary Prohibitive and
JUTTA KRURSEL, Complainant, v. ATTY. Mandatory Injunction with Damages[.]"13 For such
LORENZA A. ABION, Respondent. services, respondent demanded and received the
following amounts on May 7,
2002:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
RESOLUTION
Php - For filing fee to the Supreme
PER CURIAM: 225,000.00 Court

In a verified Complaint,1 filed on January 23, Php


- For Sheriff's Service Fee
2003, complainant Jutta Krursel, a German 55,000.00
national, charges respondent Atty. Lorenza A.
Abion with forgery, swindling, and falsification of a Php - For Atty. Soriano, Clerk of
public document. She asks that respondent be 50.000.00 Court, to expedite matters
disbarred.
Php - Total14 (Emphasis in the
Complainant alleges that she engaged the services 330,000.00 original)
of respondent to assist her in filing a case against Respondent failed to account for these amounts
Robinsons Savings Bank - Ermita Branch land its despite complainant's demands for a
officers, in relation to the bank's illegal receipt.15Complainant's demand letter16 dated
withholding/blocking of her account. June 24, 2002 for accounting and receipts was
attached to the Complaint as Annex E.
In March 2002, respondent filed, on complainant's
behalf, a complaint against Robinsons Savings Instead of providing a receipt for the amounts
Bank and its officers before the Monetary Board I received, respondent allegedly presented
of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas for "Conducting complainant a document purporting to be an
Business in an Unsafe and Unsound Manner in Order17 dated May 10, 2002 from this Court's First
violation of Republic Act No. 8791[.]" Division, resolving the case' in complainant's
favor. The Order was purportedly signed by Atty.
Without complainant's knowledge, respondent Virginia; R. Soriano, "Division Clerk of the First
withdrew the complaint with prejudice through a Division of the Supreme Court."18 Complainant
letter5dated April 15, 2002 addressed to I the sought the advice of Atty. Abelardo L. Aportadera,
Monetary Board. Complainant claims that Jr., who, in turn, wrote to Atty. Virginia Ancheta-
respondent forged her signature and that of a Soriano (Atty. Soriano) on July 30, 200219inquiring
certain William Randeli Coleman (Coleman) in the about the supposed Order.20 Atty. Soriano
letter.6 She adds that she never authorized nor replied21 denying the signature as hers. She stated
acceded to respondent's withdrawal of the that the Order did not even follow this Court's
complaint. format, and that, on the contrary, the case had
been dismissed
Complainant was further surprised to discover two
(2) Special Powers of Attorney dated March 7, Finally, complainant alleges that in April 2002,
20028and March 24, 2002,9 which appear to have while she was sick and in the hospital, respondent
her and Coleman's signature as principals. The asked for complainant's German passportj to
documents constituted respondent as their secure its renewal from the German
attorney-in-fact to represent, to receive, sign in Embassy.23 For this service, respondent asked for
their behalf, all papers, checks, accounts the total amount of P440,000.00 to cover the
receivables, wired remittances, hi their legal and following expenses:
extra legal efforts to retrieve and unblock the peso
and dollar savings accounts opened up with the May 20, 2002 - Php 40,000.00 - For Processing of
Robinsons Savings Bank at its branch office at Travel Papers
Ermita, Manila, in order for her to withdraw and to
encash all their accounts, receivables, checks,
savings, remittances. May 27, 2002 - Php 50,000.00 - For Additional Fee
Again, complainant claims that the signatures for the Travel Papers
were forged.11 She denies ever having executed a
special power of attorney for respondent. June 3, 2002 - Php 350.000,00 - For the release
of Travel Paper as required by Atty. O. Dizon, BID complainant without receipt or accounting despite
Php 450,000.00 [sic]24 (Emphasis in the demands.39 These acts are in culpable violation of
original) Canon 1; Rule 1.01; Canon 16, Rule 16.01; and
These sums were allegedly not properly accounted Canon 17 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.40chanrobleslaw
for despite complainant's demand.

Respondent eventually presented a purportedly In the Resolution41 dated October 10, 2014, the
renewed German passport, which complainant Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of
rejected because it was obviously fake. Governors adopted and approved the findings and
Complainant later found out that her original recommendations of the Investigating
German passport was in the possession of Commissioner. Respondent did not file a motion
Robinsons Savings Bank. for reconsideration or any other subsequent
pleading.
Complainant avers that respondent's malicious
acts warrant her removal from the roster of On October 13, 2015, the Board of Governors
lawyers.28She adds that she and Coleman filed transmitted its Resolution to this Court for final
before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon action under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.
City a criminal Complaint29 against respondent for
the unlawful acts committed against them. The issue for resolution is whether respondent
should be disbarred for committing forgery,
falsification, and swindling.
In the Resolution31 dated February 24, 2003, this
Court required respondent to file her comment. I

Copies of the February 24, 2003 Resolution were At the outset, we cannot ignore this Court's
subsequently served on respondent's various several attempts to serve a copy of the February
addresses. However, these were returned 24, 2003 Resolution (requiring respondent to file
unserved with the notations "Unclaimed," "Party a comment on the Complaint for disbarment) on
Moved Out," "Moved Out," and "Party in respondent at her address ion record and at the
Manila."32 This Court requested the assistance of different addresses provided by complainant and
the National Bureau of Investigation, but the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, only to be
respondent could still not be found. returned unserved. On June 1, 2011, this Court
requested the assistance of the National Bureau of
In the Resolution34 dated October 10, 2011, this Investigation to locate respondent, but to no
Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of avail.43 All these circumstances reveal that either
the Philippines for investigation, report, and respondent was disinterested in contesting the
recommendation. charges against her or she was deliberately
eluding the service of this Court's Resolutions to
On March 14, 2012, the Commission on Bar evade the consequences of her actions.
Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
directed both parties to appear for mandatory Respondent's willful behavior has effectively
conference.35 However, copies of the Notice of hindered this Court's process service and unduly
Mandatory Conference were returned unserved as prolonged this case. This evasive attitude is
both parties were stated to have "moved out." unbecoming of a lawyer, an officer of the court
who swore to "obey the laws as well as the legal
orders of the duly constituted authorities."
Hence, in the Order37 dated April 24, 2012, the
Commission on Bar Discipline deemed the case In Stemmerick v. Mas, this Court held that proper
submitted for resolution on the basis of the notice of the disbarment proceedings was given to
Complaint (with attachments) filed before this the respondent lawyer who abandoned his law
Court. office after committing the embezzlement against
his client. Thus:
In his Report and Recommendation38 dated July 6,
2013, Investigating Commissioner Peter Irving C. Respondent should not be allowed to benefit from
Corvera recommended that respondent be his disappearing act. He can neither defeat this
disbarred for fabricating and forging Special Court's jurisdiction over him as a member of the
Powers of Attorney and an order from this Court, bar nor evade administrative liability by the mere
coupled with her exaction of money from ruse of concealing his whereabouts. Thus, service
of the complaint and other orders and processes
on respondent's office was sufficient notice to him. respondent clearly appears to have been forged.

Indeed, since he himself rendered the service of Nonetheless, with respect to complainant's forged
notice on him impossible, the notice requirement signature in Special Power of Attorney, we find no
cannot apply to him and he is thus considered to other evidence pointing to respondent as the
have waived it. The law does not require that the author of the forgery. Jurisprudence51 creates a
impossible be done. Nemo tenetur ad impossibile. presumption that a person who was in possession
The law obliges no one to perform an impossibility. of, or made use of, or benefitted from the forged
Laws and rules must be interpreted in a way that or falsified documents is the forger. However, in
they are in accordance with logic, common sense, this case, the facts are insufficient for us to
reason and practicality. presume that respondent forged complainant's
signature.
In this connection, lawyers must update their
records with the IBP by informing the IBP National
Office or their respective chapters of any change Although the Special Power of Attorney may have
been executed in respondent's favoras it
in office or residential address and other contact
authorized her to represent, receive, and sign
details. In case such change is not duly updated,
papers, checks, remittances, accounts, and
service of notice on the office or residential
address appearing in the records of the IBP receivables on behalf! of complainanther
appointment as attorney-in-fact was only in
National Office shall constitute sufficient notice to
relation to complainant's "legal and extra[-]legal
a lawyer for purposes of administrative
proceedings against him.46 (Citations omitted) efforts to retrieve and unblock [complainant's]
peso and dollar savings accounts with Robinsons
Here, respondent's apparent disregard of the Savings Bank, Ermita."52chanrobleslaw
judicial process cannot be tolerated. Under the
circumstances, respondent is deemed to have The authority given was only in furtherance of
waived her right to present her evidence for she complainant's employment of respondent's legal
cannot use her disappearance as a shield against services. There was no allegation or proof that
any liability she may have incurred. respondent benefitted from or used the falsified
document.53Moreover, complainant had
Respondent's evasive attitude is tantamount to "a possession of the Special Power of Attorney, a
willful disobedience of any lawful order of a icopy of which was attached to her Complaint. In
superior court,"47 which alone is a ground for all likelihood, the Special Power of Attorney may
disbarment or suspension. not only have been known to complainant; she
may have conformed to its preparation all along.
We proceed to address the charges raised in the
Complaint. However, the same conclusion cannot be made
with regard to compiainant's forged signature in
II the April 15, 2002 letter. In the
Verification attached to the letter, respondent
54

Complainant claims that respondent forged her declared under oath that she jcaused the
and Coleman's signatures in two (2) preparation of the letter of withdrawal of the
documents: first, in the Special Powers of Attorney complaint with prejudice. She declared under oath
dated March 7, 200248 and March 24, that she also caused the conforme of her clients
2002; and second, in respondents April 15, 2002
49
after informing them of the facts, both as counsel
letter50 withdrawing her complaint against and attorney-in-fact.
Robinsons Savings Bank before the Monetary
Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. Thus, respondent committed serious acts of deceit
in: (1) withdrawing the complaint with prejudice,
A comparison of the signature of complainant Jutta without the knowledge and consent of
Krursel in her Complaint and Verification and complainant; and (2) forging complainant's
Certification, on one hand, and her contested signature or causing her signature to be forged in
signature in the Special Power of Attorney dated the April 15, 2002 letter, thus making it appear
March 7, 2002, on the other, visibly shows that complainant conformed to the withdrawal of
significant differences in the stroke, form, and the complaint.
general appearance of the two (2) signatures. The
inevitable conclusion is that the two (2) signatures In Sebastian v. Calis:55
were not penned by one person. Similarly, Deception and other fraudulent acts by a lawyer
complainant's contested signature under the are disgraceful and dishonorable. They reveal
Conforme portion in the April 15, 2002 letter of moral flaws in a lawyer. They are unacceptable
practices. A lawyer's relationship with others Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
should be characterized by the highest degree of dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
good faith, fairness and candor. This is the essence
of the lawyer's oath. The lawyer's oath is not mere . . . .
facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust
that must be upheld and keep inviolable. The CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES
nature of the office of an attorney requires that he UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE
should be a person of good moral character. This LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE
requisite is not only a condition precedent to ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
admission to the practice of law, its continued
possession is also essential for remaining in the . . . .
practice of law. We have sternly warned that any
gross misconduct of a lawyer, whether in his Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct
professional or private capacity, puts his moral that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
character in serious doubt as a member of the Bar, law, nor should he, whether in public or private
and renders him unfit to continue in the practice life, behave in a scandalous manner to the
of law.56 (Citations omitted) discredit of the legal profession.
Respondent's deception constitutes a gross
. . . .
violation of professional ethics and a breach of her
fiduciary duty to her client, subjecting her to
disciplinary action.57chanrobleslaw CANON 15. A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR,
FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS
III AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENT.

Furthermore, we agree with the Committee on Bar . . . .


Discipline's fmding that complainant has
sufficiently proven her allegations regarding the CANON 17. A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE
falsified order. CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL
OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN
The appearance of the purported May 10, 2002 HIM.
Order58 in G.R. No. 152946 is markedly different
from the orders and resolutions of this Court. CANON 18. A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT
Indeed, it was later confirmed through the WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
letter59 issued by Atty. Soriano, Clerk of Court of
the First Division, that there was no such order . . . .
issued, that the signature there was not hers, and
that the format did not follow this Court's format. Rule 18.04 - A lawyer shall keep his elient
informed of the status of his case and shall
Complainant avers that she paid substantial respond within a reasonable time to the client's
amounts of money to respondent in relation to the request for information.
filing of the complaint for injunction in G.R. No. Respondent's transgressions are grave and
152946, though respondent did not issue any serious. She abused her legal knowledge and
receipt or accounting despite her demands. training. She took undue advantage of the trust
Instead, respondent allegedly furnished reposed on her by her client. Her misconduct
complainant with the fabricated May 10, 2002 exhibits a brazen disregard of her duties as a
Order purportedly ruling in her favor. Complainant lawyer. The advocate for justice became the
later found out that no such order existed. The perpetrator of injustice.
case was already dismissed.
Aside from defrauding her client, respondent
Respondent's acts amount to deceit, malpractice, recklessly put Arty. Soriano's career in jeopardy by
or gross misconduct in office as an attorney.60 She fabricating an order, thus making a mockery of the
violated her oath to "do no falsehood"61 and to judicial system. That a lawyer is not merely a
"conduct [her] self as a lawyer . . . with all good professional but also an officer of the court cannot
fidelity as well to the courts as to; [her] be overemphasized. She owes the courts of justice
clients."62 She also violated the following and its judicial officers utmost respect.63 Her
provisions of the Code of Professional conduct degrades the administration of justice and
Responsibility: weakens the people faith in the judicial system.
She inexorably besmirched the entire legal
profession. or contemplated proceedings to be initiated
against respondent.
In Embido v. Pe, Jr.,64 Assistant Provincial
Prosecutor Salvador Pe, Jr. was found guilty of The Legal Office of the Office of the Court
violating Canon 7, Rule 7.03 and was meted the Administrator is DIRECTED to file the appropriate
penalty of disbarment for falsifying a court criminal charges against respondent! for falsifying
decision "in a non-existent court an order of this Court.
proceeding."65 Thus:
Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the
moral turpitude, or fraudulent transactions can Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the
justify a lawyer's disbarment or suspension from Philippines, and the Office of the Court
the practice of law. Specifically, the deliberate Administrator for dissemination to all courts in the
falsification of the court decision by the respondent country.
was an act that reflected a high degree of moral
turpitude on his part. Worse, the act made a This Resolution takes effect immediately.
mockery of the administration of justice in this
country, given the purpose of the falsification, SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the
personal status of a person. He thereby became Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De
unworthy of continuing as a member of the Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo,
Bar.66 (Citations omitted) Perez, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, Jardeleza,
Respondent's unethical and unscrupulous conduct and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
Mendoza, and Reyes, JJ., on official leave.
proves her unworthy of the public's trust and
confidence. She shamelessly transgressed all the
things she swore to uphold, which makes her unfit
to continue as a member of the bar. Hence, we
find no hesitation in removing respondent from the
Roll of Attorneys.

However, we find a dearth of evidence to support


complainant's claim as to the amounts demanded
and received by respondent, that is: (1) a total of
P330,000.00 in relation to G.R. No. 152946; and
(2) a total of P440,000.00 for the renewal of
complainant's passport. The demand letter dated
June 24, 2002, attached to the Complaint as
Annex E, is not competent proof of the actual
amounts paid to and received by respondent. The
demand letter does not contain the date when the
addressee received the letter; this produces doubt
as to whether the demand letter was actually
sent/delivered to respondent.

In administrative cases, it is the complainant who


has the burden to prove, by substantial
evidence,67the allegations in the
complaint.68chanrobleslaw

WHEREFORE, this Court finds respondent Arty.


Lorenza A. Abion GUILTY of gross misconduct in
violation of the Lawyer's Oath and the Code of
Professional Responsibility. She is
hereby DISBARREDfrom the practice of law. The
Office of the Bar Confidant is DIRECTED to
remove the name of Lorenza A. Abion from the Roll
of Attorneys.

This Resolution is without prejudice to any pending


gross ignorance against you! I am not afraid of
you!" He kept on shouting, "I am not afraid of
SECOND DIVISION you!" and challenged the judge to a fight. Staff
and lawyers escorted him out of the building.[7]
[A.C. No. 8920 : September 28, 2011]
Judge Baculi also learned that after the respondent
JUDGE RENE B. BACULI, COMPLAINANT, VS. left the courtroom, he continued shouting and
ATTY. MELCHOR A. BATTUNG, RESPONDENT. punched a table at the Office of the Clerk of
Court.[8]
DECISION
Violation of Canon 12 of the Code of Professional
BRION, J.: Responsibility

Before us is the resolution[1] of the Board of According to Judge Baculi, the respondent filed
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dilatory pleadings in Civil Case No. 2640, an
(IBP) finding Atty. Melchor Battung liable for ejectment case.
violating Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and recommending Judge Baculi rendered on October 4, 2007 a
that he be reprimanded. The complainant is Judge decision in Civil Case No. 2640, which he modified
Rene B. Baculi, Presiding Judge of the Municipal on December 14, 2007. After the modified decision
Trial Court in Cities, Branch 2, Tuguegarao City. became final and executory, the branch clerk of
The respondent, Atty. Battung, is a member of the court issued a certificate of finality. The
Bar with postal address on Aguinaldo St., respondent filed a motion to quash the previously
Tuguegarao City. issued writ of execution, raising as a ground the
motion to dismiss filed by the defendant for lack of
Background jurisdiction. Judge Baculi asserted that the
respondent knew as a lawyer that ejectment cases
Judge Baculi filed a complaint for are within the jurisdiction of First Level Courts and
disbarment[2] with the Commission on Discipline of the latter was merely delaying the speedy and
the IBP against the respondent, alleging that the efficient administration of justice.
latter violated Canons 11[3] and 12[4] of the Code
of Professional Responsibility. The respondent filed his Answer,[9] essentially
saying that it was Judge Baculi who disrespected
Violation of Canon 11 of the Code of Professional him.[10] We quote from his Answer:
Responsibility
23.I only told Judge Rene Baculi I will file Gross
Judge Baculi claimed that on July 24, 2008, during ignorance of the Law against him once inside
the hearing on the motion for reconsideration of the court room when he was lambasting me[.]
Civil Case No. 2502, the respondent was shouting 24.It was JUDGE BACULI WHO DISRESPECTED
while arguing his motion. Judge Baculi advised him ME. He did not like that I just submit the Motion
to tone down his voice but instead, the respondent for Reconsideration without oral argument
shouted at the top of his voice. When warned that because he wanted to have an occasion to just
he would be cited for direct contempt, the HUMILIATE ME and to make appear to the
respondent shouted, "Then cite me!"[5] Judge public that I am A NEGLIGENT LAWYER, when
Baculi cited him for direct contempt and imposed he said "YOU JUSTIFY YOUR NEGLIGENCE
a fine of P100.00. The respondent then left. BEFORE THIS COURT" making it an impression
to the litigants and the public that as if I am a
While other cases were being heard, the NEGLIGENT, INCOMPETENT, MUMBLING, and
respondent re-entered the courtroom and IRRESPONSIBLE LAWYER.
shouted, "Judge, I will file gross ignorance against 25.These words of Judge Rene Baculi made me
you! I am not afraid of you!"[6] Judge Baculi react[.]
ordered the sheriff to escort the respondent out of xxxx
the courtroom and cited him for direct contempt of 28.Since I manifested that I was not going to
court for the second time. orally argue the Motion, Judge Rene Baculi
could have just made an order that the Motion
After his hearings, Judge Baculi went out and saw for Reconsideration is submitted for resolution,
the respondent at the hall of the courthouse, but what he did was that he forced me to argue
apparently waiting for him. The respondent again so that he will have the room to humiliate me
shouted in a threatening tone, "Judge, I will file
as he used to do not only to me but almost of Atty. Battung: It is not our fault Your Honor to
the lawyers here (sic). proceed because we were asked to present our
evidence ex parte. Your Honor, so, if should we
Atty. Battung asked that the case against him be were ordered (sic) by the court to follow the rules
dismissed. on summary procedure. (TSN page 3, July 24,
2008)
The IBP conducted its investigation of the matter
through Commissioner Jose de la Rama, Jr. In his
It was observed that the judge uttered the
Commissioner's Report,[11] Commissioner De la
following:
Rama stated that during the mandatory
conference on January 16, 2009, both parties Court: Do not shout.
merely reiterated what they alleged in their
submitted pleadings. Both parties agreed that the Atty. Battung: Because the court is shouting.
original copy of the July 24, 2008 tape of the (Page 3, TSN July 24, 2008)
incident at the courtroom would be submitted for Note: * it was at this point when the respondent
the Commissioner's review. Judge Baculi shouted at the complainant.
submitted the tape and the transcript of
stenographic notes on January 23, 2009.
Thereafter, it was observed that both were already
Commissioner De la Rama narrated his findings, shouting at each other.
as follows:[12]

At the first part of the hearing as reflected in the Respondent claims that he was provoked by the
TSN, it was observed that the respondent was presiding judge that is why he shouted back at
calm. He politely argued his case but the voice of him. But after hearing the tape, the undersigned
the complainant appears to be in high in convinced that it was Atty. Battung who
pitch. During the mandatory conference, it was shouted first at the complainant.
also observed that indeed, the complainant
maintains a high pitch whenever he speaks. In
fact, in the TSN, where there was already an Presumably, there were other lawyers and litigants
argument, the complainant stated the following: present waiting for their cases to be called. They
must have observed the incident. In fact, in the
Court: Do not shout. joint-affidavit submitted by Elenita Pacquing et al.,
they stood as one in saying that it was really Atty.
Atty. Battung: Because the court is shouting. Battung who shouted at the judge that is why the
latter cautioned him "not to shout."
Court: This court has been constantly under this
kind of voice Atty. Battung, we are very sorry if The last part of the incident as contained in page
you do not want to appear before my court, then 4 of the TSN reads as follows:
you better attend to your cases and do not appear
before my court if you do not want to be corrected! Court: You are now ordered to pay a fine of
(TSN, July 24, 2008, page 3) P100.00.

(NOTE: The underlined words - "we are very sorry" Atty. Battung: We will file the necessary action
[- were] actually uttered by Atty. Battung while against this court for gross ignorance of the law.
the judge was saying the quoted portion of the
TSN) Court: Yes, proceed.

(NOTE: Atty. Battung went out the courtroom)


That it was during the time when the complainant
asked the following questions when the Court: Next case.
undersigned noticed that Atty. Battung shouted at
the presiding judge. Interpreter: Civil Case No. 2746.
Court: Did you proceed under the Revised Rules (Note: Atty. Battung entered again the courtroom)
on Summary Procedure?
Atty. Battung: But what we do not like ... (not
* finished)
Court: The next time... disrespected Judge Baculi by shouting at him
inside the courtroom during court proceedings in
Atty. Battung: We would like to clear ... the presence of litigants and their counsels, and
court personnel. The respondent even came back
Court: Sheriff, throw out the counsel, put that to harass Judge Baculi. This behavior, in front of
everything in record. If you want to see me, see many witnesses, cannot be allowed. We note that
me after the court. the respondent continued to threaten Judge Baculi
and acted in a manner that clearly showed
disrespect for his position even after the latter had
cited him for contempt. In fact, after initially
Next case.
leaving the court, the respondent returned to the
courtroom and disrupted the ongoing proceedings.
Civil Case No. 2746 for Partition and Damages,
These actions were not only against the person,
Roberto Cabalza vs. Teresita Narag, et al.
the position and the stature of Judge Baculi, but
(nothing follows) against the court as well whose proceedings were
openly and flagrantly disrupted, and brought to
disrepute by the respondent.
Commissioner De la Rama found that the
respondent failed to observe Canon 11 of the Code Litigants and counsels, particularly the latter
of Professional Responsibility that requires a because of their position and avowed duty to the
lawyer to observe and maintain respect due the courts, cannot be allowed to publicly ridicule,
courts and judicial officers. The respondent also demean and disrespect a judge, and the court that
violated Rule 11.03 of Canon 11 that provides he represents. The Code of Professional
that a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, Responsibility provides:
offensive or menacing language or behavior before
the courts. The respondent's argument that Judge Canon 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain
Baculi provoked him to shout should not be given the respect due the courts and to judicial officers
due consideration since the respondent should not and should insist on similar conduct by others.
have shouted at the presiding judge; by doing so,
he created the impression that disrespect of a Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from
judge could be tolerated. What the respondent scandalous, offensive or menacing language or
should have done was to file an action before the behavior before the Courts.
Office of the Court Administrator if he believed that
Judge Baculi did not act according to the norms of
We ruled in Roxas v. De Zuzuarregui, Jr.[13] that it
judicial conduct.
is the duty of a lawyer, as an officer of the court,
to uphold the dignity and authority of the
With respect to the charge of violation of Canon 12
courts. Respect for the courts guarantees the
of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
stability of the judicial institution; without this
Commissioner De la Rama found that the evidence
guarantee, the institution would be resting on very
submitted is insufficient to support a ruling that
shaky foundations.
the respondent had misused the judicial processes
to frustrate the ends of justice.
A lawyer who insults a judge inside a courtroom
completely disregards the latter's role, stature and
Commissioner De la Rama recommended that the
position in our justice system. When the
respondent be suspended from the practice of law
respondent publicly berated and brazenly
for six (6) months.
threatened Judge Baculi that he would file a case
for gross ignorance of the law against the latter,
On October 9, 2010, the IBP Board of Governors
the respondent effectively acted in a manner
passed a Resolution adopting and approving the
tending to erode the public confidence in Judge
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Baculi's competence and in his ability to decide
Commissioner, with the modification that the
cases. Incompetence is a matter that, even if true,
respondent be reprimanded.
must be handled with sensitivity in the manner
The Court's Ruling provided under the Rules of Court; an objecting or
complaining lawyer cannot act in a manner that
puts the courts in a bad light and bring the justice
We agree with the IBP's finding that the system into disrepute.
respondent violated Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the
The IBP Board of Governors recommended that
Code of Professional Responsibility. Atty. Battung
Atty. Battung be reprimanded, while the
Investigating Commissioner recommended a
penalty of six (6) months suspension.

We believe that these recommended penalties are


too light for the offense.

In Re: Suspension of Atty. Rogelio Z. Bagabuyo,


Former Senior State Prosecutor,[14] we suspended
Atty. Bagabuyo for one year for violating Rule
11.05, Canon 11, and Rule 13.02, Canon 13 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, and for
violating the Lawyer's Oath for airing his
grievances against a judge in newspapers and
radio programs. In this case, Atty. Battung's
violations are no less serious as they were
committed in the courtroom in the course of
judicial proceedings where the respondent was
acting as an officer of the court, and before the
litigating public. His actions were plainly
disrespectful to Judge Baculi and to the court, to
the point of being scandalous and offensive to the
integrity of the judicial system itself.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, Atty.


Melchor A. Battung is found GUILTY of violating
Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, for which he is SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for one (1) year effective upon
the finality of this Decision. He is STERNLY
WARNED that a repetition of a similar offense
shall be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office


of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to the
respondent's personal record as an attorney; the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines; the Department
of Justice; and all courts in the country, for their
information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Del Castillo,** Perez,


Mendoza, ***
and Sereno, JJ., concur.
Brion,* (Acting Chairperson)
advised her to set its price at Seven Million Pesos
(Php7,000,000.00).
EN BANC
Few weeks after, Camino informed Atty. Pasagui
A.C. No. 11095 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11- that she has a buyer but the latter wanted to have
3140], September 20, 2016 a clean title of the property since said property is
still under the names of all the heirs of her father.
Atty. Pasagui then asked for the title to make the
EUFEMIA A. CAMINO, Complainant, v. ATTY.
verifications and facilitate the transferring of the
RYAN REY L. PASAGUI, Respondent.
title under her name considering that she has paid
her siblings with their respective shares. Atty.
DECISION Pasagui then told her that the transfer of the title
in her name will cost about Seven Hundred
PER CURIAM: Thousand Pesos (P700,000.00) or more and that
the said amount would be enough because he can
Before us is a Disbarment Complaint1 dated July ask for discounts from his friend at the Bureau of
13, 2011 filed by Eufemia A. Camino against Internal Revenue (BIR).
respondent Atty. Ryan Rey L. Pasagui before the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines-Commission on Sometime in January 2011, Atty. Pasagui told
Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), docketed as CBD Case Camino that they will proceed with the sale to
No. 11-3140, now A.C. No. 11095. another buyer since Tan did not give any payment
yet even after sending her the demand letter. Atty.
The facts are as follows: Pasagui, however, failed to show Camino the said
demand letter.
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryComplainant Eufemia
A. Camino (Camino) is the vendor of a lot covered Convinced by Atty. Pasagui's assurance that she
by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T- could still sell the property to another buyer, she
70247,2 still registered under the name of the consented to his proposition and told him that she
Heirs of Camino's father. Respondent Atty. Ryan will look for a sufficient amount of money
Rey L. Pasagui (Atty. Pasagui) was allegedly the necessary for the processing of the transfer of the
lawyer of Congresswoman Mila Tan (Tan) who was title.
in charge of handling the payments for the
property which Camino sold to Tan in 2010. In the evening of February 3, 2011, Camino
Camino narrated that sometime after the election, informed Atty. Pasagui that she already has the
Atty. Pasagui offered her Tan's payment in the amount of P120,000.00 to start the processing of
amount of Thirty Thousand Pesos (P30,000.00). the transfer of title in her name. However, on the
However, Camino refused to accept the same as day they were supposed to meet, Atty. Pasagui
she wanted to have the payment in full and added failed to meet her and instead sent his mother,
that she also returned to Atty. Pasagui the Susie Pasagui, to receive the P120,000.00.
postdated check amounting to Two Million Pesos
(P2,000,000.00) which Tan previously issued. Thereafter, Atty. Pasagui advised Camino to apply
for a loan at Perpetual Help Credit Cooperative,
Atty. Pasagui then advised her to this effect, Inc. (PHCCI), Alang-alang, Leyte, using her
"maupay ngani na war ay mo karawta, kay residential house and lot at V & G as collateral. The
magrerecall man ngani diri ka na mababaydan kay proceeds thereof will then be used for the
war ay na hi Congresswoman Mila Tan kwarta. necessary expenses in transferring the title in
Pamiling nala hin iba na buyer ibabalik nato it Camino's name. He claimed that the loan can be
kwarta ha iya ngan maghihimo nala ako hin released in one (1) week.
demand letter na kinahanglan na maimpasan kay
kun diri makahatag, ibabalik nala an iya nahatag" Thus, Camino and her husband, Perpetuo P.
(Good that you did not accept it because there will Camino, executed a Special Power of Attorney
be a recall and Congresswoman Mila would not (SPA)4 in favor of respondent Atty. Pasagui,
have enough money to pay you. Look for another authorizing the latter to obtain a loan in their
buyer and we'll return her money. I will prepare a behalf with PHCCI to be secured by their own
demand letter that she must pay you or else you property covered by TCT No. T-35197.
will just pay her back the amount she has paid).
Camino further alleged that Atty. Pasagui assured A month after, Camino went to Atty. Pasagui's
her that he will take care of everything and house to inquire about the status of the loan
encouraged her to look for another buyer and application. She was then told that the application
was still in process and the maximum loanable in order to finance the payment of the necessary
amount was only Seven Hundred Thousand Pesos expenses for the transfer of the title in her
(P700,000.00) and that the release will be on a name.6 Camino mentioned that she was able to
staggered basis. secure a printout of the loan interest worksheet
and that it was reflected therein that Atty. Pasagui
Doubtful, Camino personally went to PHCCI and already received the proceeds of the loan. Camino
asked for the copy of his loan application. Upon alleged that sufficient time have elapsed already,
securing a copy of the application, Camino yet, even after several inquiries and verification
discovered that the loan was already approved and from the Register of Deeds and other government
that the proceeds thereof amounting to One Million agencies concerned, there had been no
Pesos (P1,000,000.00) was released on February transaction filed in connection with the transfer of
15, 2011. the ownership of the property. Camino added that
she tried to get in touch with Atty. Pasagui but the
Sometime in April 2011, Atty. Pasagui, together same was futile, thus, she demanded from him to
with his parents invited complainant and her son, account and turn-over the proceeds of the real
Francis Peter Camino, to the pension house where estate loan from the PHCCI and to return back to
Tan was staying. At that time, Camino have yet to her all pertinent documents and papers which
confront Atty. Pasagui about her discovery that he were entrusted to him.7chanrobleslaw
already collected the loan proceeds from PHCCI as
she was hoping that he would be the one to tell In his Answer8 dated June 16, 2011, Atty. Pasagui
her himself. explained, to wit
As of the moment, however, the undersigned is
On the way to the pension house, Camino recalled already facilitating for the release of your
that Atty. Pasagui advised her to refuse payment documents from Perpetual Help Credit
from Tan should she attempt to hand over an Cooperative, Inc., Alang-alang Branch, Alang-
amount less than Two Hundred Thousand Pesos alang, Leyte. As to your pertinent documents
(P200,000.00). Camino then wondered why Tan relative to Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-
would still offer her payment of P200,000.00 when 70247, the same is not within my possession as
she thought that Atty. Pasagui already told her those documents are in the possession of the
that the sale of the property will no longer push person who bought the same real properly way
through. back in the year 2009.
On August 12, 2011, the IBP-CBD ordered Atty.
When they reached the pension house, Atty.
Pasagui to submit his Answer to the
Pasagui went directly to the room of Tan and spent
complaint.9chanrobleslaw
almost thirty minutes inside. When they got out of
the room, Tan handed to her an envelope Atty. Pasagui, in his Answer10 dated September
containing the amount of P150,000.00. Atty.
21, 2011, admitted that he had indeed applied for
Pasagui then gave her a signal to accept the said
a loan with PHCCI but insisted that the same was
amount. She accepted the money from Tan who personal to him, thus, he will also be the one to
also promised her the full payment on April 28, personally pay for it. He further alleged that he is
2011.
not under any obligation to report or account to
Camino where the proceeds of the loan went
On April 28, 2011, Camino tried to call Atty. because it is he, himself, Who will pay it anyway.
Pasagui to follow up on Tan's payment but he did
not answer her call. Neither did Atty. Pasagui get
On October 12, 2011, the IBP-CBD notified the
in touch with her after their meeting.
parties to appear before the Commission for the
mandatory conference.
Camino then decided to check the status of the
title of the property at the Register of Deeds. She
In its Report and Recommendation12 dated July
found out that Atty. Pasagui neither processed the 10, 2014, the IBP-CBD found Atty. Pasagui guilty
transfer of the title in her name nor paid the
of violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
necessary fees for its transfer. Camino also went
Responsibility for Lawyers which is a mandate for
to Atty. Pasagui's house to inquire about Tan's
lawyers to desist from "dishonest, immoral or
promise of payment but he was not around. deceitful conduct." It recommended that Atty.
Pasagui be reprimanded with a warning that a
Confused, on June 6, 2011, with the assistance of
repetition of the same infraction will result in the
a lawyer, Camino wrote Atty. Pasagui and imposition of a more severe penalty.
reminded him of their agreement that he will be
the one to facilitate and secure a loan with PHCCI
In Resolution No. XXI-2014-93813 dated that the application of the loan with PHCCI was in
December 14, 2014, the IBP-Board of Governors behalf of the Caminos and that the property
resolved to adopt and approve with modification mortgaged was likewise the property of the latter.
as to the penalty the Report and Recommendation If it were true that it was a personal loan to him,
of the IBP-CBD. Instead, it recommended that Atty. Pasagui failed to provide an explanation as
Atty. Pasagui be suspended from the practice of to why he used Camino's property as collateral.
law for one (1) year for violation of Rule 1.01 of There was likewise no explanation as to why the
the Code of Professional Responsibility, without Caminos would allow such set up of applying a loan
prejudice to the filing by the complainant of an for the personal benefit of Atty. Pasagui using their
appropriate action in court. own property as collateral. In the absence of any
agreement between the parties, as in this case, it
We sustain the findings of the IBP-CBD except as does not make sense that the Caminos would allow
to the penalty. their own residential property to be mortgaged in
order to finance something that will not be of
benefit to them. It is then plausible that the true
A lawyer is duty-bound to observe candor, fairness intention of the Caminos in designating Atty.
and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with Pasagui as attorney-in-fact was for the purpose of
his clients. The profession, therefore, demands of obtaining a loan with the PHCCI to finance the
an attorney an absolute abdication of every expenses of the transfer of title in Camino's name.
personal advantage conflicting in any way, directly Thus, by his failure to make good of their
or indirectly, with the interest of his client. In this agreement to use the proceeds of the loan for the
case, Atty. Pasagui failed to measure up to the transfer of the title in Camino's name, Atty.
exacting standard expected of him. Pasagui not only betrayed the trust and confidence
reposed upon him but he is also guilty of engaging
Rule 1.0, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional in dishonest and deceitful conduct. The failure of
Responsibility, provides that "[a] lawyer shall not Atty. Pasagui to inform Camino of the status of the
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or transfer of title despite the release of the loan to
deceitful conduct." It is well established that a finance the transfer of the title, is a clear indicium
lawyer's conduct is "not confined to the that he converted the money for his own use and
performance of his professional duties. A lawyer constituted a gross violation of professional ethics
may be disciplined for misconduct committed and betrayal of public confidence in the legal
either in his professional or private capacity. The profession.17 He violated Canon 16 of the Code of
test is whether his conduct shows him to be Professional Responsibility, which states that "[a]
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties
good demeanor, or whether it renders him of his client that may come into his possession."
unworthy to continue as an officer of the Furthermore:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
court."15chanrobleslaw Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money
or property collected or received for or from the
Any act or omission that is contrary to, or client.
prohibited or unauthorized by, or in defiance of,
disobedient to, or disregards the law is "unlawful." Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each
"Unlawful" conduct does not necessarily imply the client separate and apart from his own and those
element of criminality although the concept is of others kept by him.
broad enough to include such element. To be
"dishonest" means the disposition to lie, cheat, Rule 16.03. A lawyer shall deliver the funds and
deceive, defraud or betray; be unworthy; lacking property of his client when due or upon demand.
in integrity, honesty, probity, integrity in principle, However, he shall have a lien over the funds and
fairness and straight-forwardness, while conduct may apply so much thereof as may be necessary
that is "deceitful" means the proclivity for to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements, giving
fraudulent and deceptive misrepresentation, notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall
artifice or device that is used upon another who is also have a lien to the same extent on all
ignorant of the true facts, to the prejudice and judgments and executions he has secured for his
damage of the party imposed upon. client as provided for in the Rules of Court.
A lawyer, under his oath, pledges himself not to
In the instant case, Atty. Pasagui's guilt is
delay any man for money or malice and is bound
undisputed. Atty. Pasagui's defense that the loan
to conduct himself with all good fidelity to his
was personal to him fails to convince. A perusal of clients. He is obligated to report promptly the
the Special Power of Attorney issued by Camino money of his client that has come into his
and her husband to Atty. Pasagui clearly shows
possession. He should not commingle it with his constitute malpractice and gross misconduct in his
private property or use it for his personal purposes office as attorney. His incompetence and appalling
without his client's consent. When a lawyer indifference to his duty to his client, the courts and
collects or receives money from his client for a society render him unfit to continue discharging
particular purpose (such as for filing fees, the trust reposed on him.
registration fees, transportation and office
expenses), he should promptly account to the The Court also deems it appropriate to order the
client how the money was spent. If he does not return of the moneys which respondent received
use the money for its intended purpose, he must as attorney-in-fact, for the purpose of facilitating
immediately return it to the client.18 Respondent, the transfer of the title in the name of the
by converting the money of his client to his own complainant with the corresponding payment of
personal use without her consent, was guilty of legal interest as pronounced in the case of Nacar
deceit, malpractice and gross misconduct. Not only v. Gallery Frames.21True, in disciplinary
did he degrade himself but as an unfaithful lawyer proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is
he besmirched the fair name of an honorable whether the officer of the court is still fit to be
profession. allowed to continue as a member of the Bar. In
such cases, the Court's only concern is the
Furthermore, Atty. Pasagui's act of propositioning determination of respondent's administrative
himself as a lawyer of Tan and Camino who have liability; it should not involve his civil liability for
opposing interests as one being the seller and the moneys received from his client in a transaction
other one, the buyer, is deplorable. As lawyer of separate, distinct, and not intrinsically linked to his
the buyer, Tan, he facilitated the buyer's professional engagement. However, in this case, it
payments to Camino, but at the same time when appeared that the Caminos entrusted the task of
it seemed that he could get a higher price from facilitating the transfer of the title by virtue of
another buyer, he encouraged Camino to cancel respondent's legal expertise. The receipt of the
the sale in favor of Tan. Clearly, such actuations moneys was not by virtue of a personal transaction
of Atty. Pasagui are tantamount to double-dealing between the complainant and respondent. After
and conflict of interest, and manifests unethical all, if a person, in respect to business affairs or
practice of law. Attorneys, like Caesar's wife, must troubles of any kind, consults a lawyer with a view
not only keep inviolate their client's confidence, to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and
but must also avoid the appearance of treachery the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces with
and double-dealing, for only then can litigants be the consultation, as in this case, then the
encouraged to entrust their secrets to their professional employment is established.22 Once
attorneys which is of paramount importance in the lawyers agree to take up the cause of a client, they
administration of justice.19chanrobleslaw owe fidelity to such cause and must always be
mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in
PENALTY them.23chanrobleslaw

A member of the Bar may be penalized, even WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XXI-2014-938
disbarred or suspended from his office as an dated December 14, 2014 of the IBP-Board of
attorney, for violation of the lawyer's oath and/or Governors which found respondent Atty. Ryan Rey
for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as L. Pasagui GUILTY of violation of Rule 1.01 of the
embodied in the Code of Professional Code of Professional Responsibility is AFFIRMED
Responsibility. For the practice of law is "a with MODIFICATION as to the penalty.
profession, a form of public trust, the performance Respondent Atty. Ryan Rey L. Pasagui is instead
of which is entrusted to those who are qualified meted the penalty of DISBARMENT. Respondent
and who possess good moral character." The is further ORDERED to immediately RETURN the
appropriate penalty for an errant lawyer depends loan proceeds amounting to P1,000,000.00 and to
on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based pay legal interest at the rate of twelve percent
on the surrounding facts.20chanrobleslaw (12%) per annum computed from the release of
the loan on February 15, 2011 up to June 30,
Here, Atty. Pasagui demonstrated not just a 2013, and six percent (6%) per annum from July
negligent disregard of his duties as a lawyer but a 1, 2013 until fully paid, as well as, the
wanton betrayal of the trust of his client and, in P120,000.00 received for the purpose of
general, the public. Accordingly, the Court finds transferring the title in the name of the
that the suspension for one (1) year recommended complainant and to pay legal interest at the rate
by the IBP-Board of Governors is not sufficient of twelve percent (12%) per annum computed
punishment for Atty. Pasagui's unacceptable acts from receipt of the amount on February 3, 2011
and omissions. The acts of the respondent up to June 30, 2013, and six percent (6%) per
annum from July 1, 2013 until fully paid. He is
likewise ORDERED to RETURN all other
documents pertinent to the loan obtained from
PHCCI and those received from complainant.

Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the


Office of the Bar Confidant, to be appended to the
personal record of respondent; the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines; and the Office of the Court
Administrator for circulation to all courts in the
country for their information and guidance.

This Decision shall be immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
EN BANC
Sereno, C.J., Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro,
Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez, A.C. No. 8494, October 05, 2016
Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen,
Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., concur. SPOUSES EMILIO AND ALICIA
Carpio, J., on official leave. JACINTO, Complainants, v. ATTY. EMELIE P.
BANGOT, JR., Respondent.

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

A lawyer shall observe candor, honesty and


fairness in dealing with his clients, and shall only
charge fair and reasonable fees for his legal
services. He should not excessively estimate the
value of his professional services. In drawing up
the terms of his professional engagement, he
should not practice deceit. The clients are entitled
to rescind the written agreement on his
professional fees if the terms thereof contravened
the true agreement of the parties.

Antecedents

This administrative case stems from the complaint


brought on December 8, 2009 by the Spouses
Emilio and Alicia Jacinto, then 81 and 76 years of
age, respectively, against Atty. Emelie P. Bangot,
Jr. for the latter's unjust and dishonest treatment
of them as his clients. They hereby seek that he
be sanctioned for his actuations.1chanrobleslaw

The complainants averred that a private survey


team had conducted a survey of Cad. 237 Lot No.
1351 on October 10-11, 2008 pursuant to the
order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, in
Cagayan de Oro City in connection with the
reconstitution of the lost certificate of title of said
lot by the owners; that after conducting the
perimeter survey, the survey team had tried to
enter the premises owned by them but they had
prevented the team from doing so because their
premises had already been segregated by virtue of immediately upon the signing of the parties (sic)
the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. P- cannot be revoked, amended or modified by the
3387; that their land covered by OCT No. P-3387 Second Party without the consent of the First
had already been subdivided into nine lots; that Party.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
the survey team had then desisted from
The complainants recalled that on October 17,
proceeding with their survey of their land but had
2008 the respondent requested them to proceed
nonetheless informed them that they would return to his law office. What thereafter transpired and
another time for the survey; and that this had
that led to the signing of the MOA were set forth
forced them to consult a lawyer on the legal
in their complaint, as follows:
remedies to prevent the intrusion on their
property.2chanrobleslaw On October 17, 2008, my wife received a phone
call from the office of Atty. Bangot directing us to
The complainants further averred that they had
go to his office to sign documents they have
then consulted with the respondent, briefing him prepared. The phone call was relayed to me by my
on their concern, and delivering to him the
wife so we immediately proceeded to his office
documents pertinent to their land; that after
arriving thereat at exactly 4:00 PM. The daughter
scrutinizing the documents, he had told them that
of Atty. Bangot handed to us two sets of
he would be initiating a case for certiorari in their documents for our signatures. Because of full trust
behalf to nullify the order for the reconstitution of
to Atty. Bangot, we did not bother reading the
the lost title covering Cad. 237 Lot No. 1351; that
contents of the documents. Per instruction, we
he had then insinuated that one of their lots would brought the papers to their friend lawyer for
be his attorney's fees; and that they had not notarization and after the notarization returned to
initially agreed to the insinuation because the lots
the office where we were given our personal file,
had already been allocated to each of their seven
without reading every detail of the documents.
children, but they had ultimately consented to
giving him only a portion of Lot No. 37926-H with
Upon arriving at our residence, I read the contents
an area of 250 square meters n.3chanrobleslaw
of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Said
MOA was not signed by Atty. Bangot and did not
It appears that soon after the respondent bear the signature of witnesses. I was surprised to
unilaterally prepared the document so-
know that the terms of the (MOA) did not reflect
called Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), to wit:
the true intentions being contemplated in our
previous discussions. Contrary to what I have told
KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:
him, a different area which is 37925-G under TCT
No. 121708 was written. I already told him that
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibraryI, ATTY. EMELIE P.
my other lots including the lot written in the MOA
BANGOT, JR., of legal age, married and a resident could no longer be. disposed of because these lots
of Lot 13, Block 1, Xavier Heights Subd., Upper
were already committed to each of my children.
Balulang, Cagayan de Oro City, hereinafter
The lot area was also increased from 250 sq. m. to
referred as the FIRST PARTY; and cralawlawlibrary 300 sq. m. Because of this situation, I called my
wife and children and told them about the
WE, SPOUSES EMILIO JACINTO AND ALICIA
problem. My daughter whose share was involved
JACINTO, both legal age, and residents of Cagayan
reacted badly and she was hurt because she will
de Oro City, herein referred as the SECOND then be deprived of her place to live in, in the
PARTY;
future. We continued our discussion and we
decided to see Atty. Bangot to have the MOA be
WITNESSETH:
revoked because we felt that we were deceived,
Atty. Bangot took advantage of our old age, thus
1. That the FIRST PARTY shall be the
breaking the trust and confidence the client[']s
counsel/lawyer of the SECOND PARTY, regarding
and lawyer should uphold at all times in the
their parcel of land formerly covered by Original
exercise of one's profession.
Certificate of Title No. P-3387 with an area of
4,138 sq. m., located at Kauswagan, Cagayan de
As a gesture of acknowledging his efforts, we
Oro City, presently subdivided into 8 lots with
offered to pay him in cash, fair enough for the
individual certificate of titles (sic);
services he had rendered to us. However, he
refused to revoke the MOA because accordingly,
2. That the First Party shall get 300 sq. m., from
he would consult his wife which finally did not
Lot No. 37925-G covered by TCT No. 121708
materialize because his wife was not amenable
which in effect showed that they have vested
3. That this agreement shall take effect
interest on the property and they are bent on In Resolution No. XX-2013-71,10 the IBP Board of
taking the property at any cause. He even Governors increased the duration of the
challenged us to file an appropriate case in court respondent's recommended penalty to suspension
against him rather than agree with our pleading from the practice of law for two years,
for payment of cash. Likewise, he refused our offer viz.:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
to pay his services in cash alleging that he already RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
filed a Manifestation in court and claimed that our unanimously ADOPTED AND APPROVED, with
possession would not be disturbed and that he will modification, the Report and Recommendation of
be filing a case for Certiorari as promised. the Investigating Commissioner in the above-
entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution
To our surprise though, we came to know that the as Annex "A", and finding the recommendation
Manifestation filed by Atty. Bangot is not a fully supported by the evidence on record and the
preparatory pleading for certiorari. No way could it applicable laws and rules and considering that
even stop the intrusion into our property. Respondent breached his duty of candor and
Basically, we were deceived by Atty. Bangot into fairness to his client, Atty. Emelie P. Bangot, Jr. is
believing that the Manifestation he filed would stop hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
any legal disturbance on our property and the for two (2) years.
same is preparatory Through its Resolution No. XXI-2014-315,11 the
for certiorari.5chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary
IBP Board of Governors denied the respondent's
Feeling aggrieved, the complainants decided to motion for reconsideration.
bring their complaint against the respondent.
Issue
On his part, the respondent denied the allegations
of the complainants. He insisted that the complaint Did the respondent violate his ethical duties as a
against him was a harassment tactic designed to member of the Bar in his dealings with the
intimidate him from seeking judicial remedies to complainants?
settle their dispute on the validity of the
MOA;6 that the MOA was valid; that Ruling of the Court
the Manifestation for Informationhe had filed in
court prevented the intrusion into the We find and hold that the respondent grossly
complainants' land; that the administrative violated his Lawyer's Oath and his ethical duties as
complaint was designed to insure the derailment an attorney because he did not observe candor
of his application for a judgeship position, and to and fairness in his dealings with his clients.
cover up the negligence of the complainants'
counsel as the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 2008-302 The findings of IBP Commissioner Cachapero,
(for annulment and/or rescission of agreement), which sufficiently described the violations of the
which case was dismissed for failure to comply respondent, provide an irrefutable insight into the
with the requirement for the prior barangay gravity of the violations by the respondent, as
conciliation proceedings; and that they had follows:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
voluntarily signed the MOA without intimidation, The question to ask is, "Was the MOA fair to the
fraud or undue influence.7chanrobleslaw parties and entered into by them in goodfaith?"

On August 23, 2010, the Court referred the The undersigned resolves in the negative. To begin
complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines with, the conduct of Respondent had evinced an
(IBP) for investigation, report and instinctive interest in the property of
recommendation.8chanrobleslaw Complainants. He had the MOA executed at the
same time he filed the Manifestation for
Findings and Recommendation of the IBP Information before the court that was hearing LRC
Case No. 98-010. Not only that, Respondent's
In due course, IBP Commissioner Oliver A. proposal to have a MOA executed between him
Cachapero submitted his Report and and the Complainant was meant to impress that
Recommendation9finding the complaint against his supposed attorney's fees would be paid on
the respondent meritorious, and recommending contingent basis, however, a perusal of the MOA
that the respondent be suspended from the indicates that the payment of Respondents' fee by
practice of law for one year for his unfair and way of a real property is being made immediately
injudicious treatment of the complainants as his effective upon execution of the agreement.
clients.
As to the agreement of the Complainant and the
Respondent, the undersigned gives full faith to the belongs; (g) the amount involved in the
allegation of Complainant that the payment of controversy and the benefits resulting to the client
Respondent's attorney's fees by way of a real from the service; (h) the contingency or certainty
property would come from TCT No. 121709 and of compensation; (i) the character of the
not T-121708. Complainants explained that the employment, whether occasional or established;
latter lot had already been committed to their and j) the professional standing of the lawyer.
seven (7) children especially because this lot is
situated in a prime location thus they could not It was not disputed that only the filing of the two-
have picked the same over Lot No. 121709. The paged Manifestation for Information constituted
Respondent knew straightforwardly that lot the respondent's rendition of professional services
121708 was a better lot yet Respondent gave a for the complainants. Although he did claim that
different account of their agreement and took the filing of the Manifestation for Information had
advantage of the frailty and advance ages (sic) of prevented any intrusion on their property, thereby
his clients. fulfilling his end of the contract,13 the worth of
such minimal effort was exaggerated and
disproportionate when taken in the context of the
But, the most shocking of all, is the apparent
attorney's fees being Lot No. 37925-G with 300
inequity or disproportion between the amount of
attorney's fees (measured from the value of the square meters in area. The two-
paged Manifestation for Information was not even
property taken by Respondent) and the effort or
the procedural precursor of the promised petition
service already performed or still to be performed
by him. The Complainants were not made parties for certiorari. Moreover, he did not actually file the
to the LRC case or any other case and Respondent petition for certiorari as he had promised. And,
lastly, he did nothing more after filing
filed a mere two-paged Manifestation for
the Manifestation for Information. He certainly
Information in court which he did almost
effortlessly. It is not clear how the court had transgressed the Lawyer's Oath by receiving
property of a substantial value from the
reacted to the manifestation but Respondent did
complainants after having made them believe that
not follow it up with [any] other action. Despite
he could ensure their land from intrusion by third
the same, Respondent stuck to his tale that the
Complainants had signed [the] MOA and despite parties. He took advantage of them who had
reposed their full trust and confidence in his ability
his minimal representation of the Complainants in
to perform the task by virtue of his being a lawyer.
court, he held on to his idea that he had taken
from his clients valid title to a million [pesos] He was definitely bent on obtaining Lot No. 37925-
G than in protecting the complainants' interest in
worth of real estate in payment of his fees.
their property. He exhibited this zeal by refusing
their offer to give cash for his attorney's fees
The undersigned does not see fairness and
judiciousness to Respondent's treatment of his instead of the land. We sadly note in this
connection that his changing the property
clients, 81 and 76 years old, respectively, and he
ostensibly agreed upon with the bigger lot as
need not add to his brief disquisition in this
regard.12chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary payment for his legal services14 reflected his deceit
at the start of the relationship. He maintained the
We adopt the findings and note the insights thus deceit by ultimately enforcing the MOA against
expressed. them through the action for specific performance.

We must, therefore, highlight the following Surely, the totality of the respondent's actuations
reasons why the findings and insights should be inevitably eroded public trust in the Legal
sustained. Profession. On the basis of his acts and actuations,
the attorney's fees in the form of the lot he
To determine the reasonableness of attorney's charged from them were unconscionable and
fees, the following factors as enumerated in Rule unreasonable, and should be struck down for
20.1 of the Code of Professional failing to pass muster under the aforestated
Responsibility may serve as a guide, to wit: (a) the guidelines.
time spent and the extent of the services rendered
or required; (b) the novelty and difficulty of the The respondent appears to have impressed on the
questions involved; (c) the importance of the complainants at the time of their negotiations that
subject matter; (d) the skill demanded; (e) the the attorney's fees in the form of the lot would be
probability of losing other employment as a result delivered to him only on a contingent basis. Again,
of acceptance of the proffered case; (f) the he had misrepresented himself to them because
customary charges for similar services and the the express terms of the MOA stipulated that "this
schedule of fees of the IBP chapter to which he agreement shall take effect immediately upon the
signing of the parties [and] cannot be revoked, therefor unless found by the court to be
amended or modified by the Second Party without unconscionable or unreasonable. (Emphasis ours)
the consent of the First Party." All the foregoing circumstances established that
the respondent was deceitful, dishonest and
As worded, the agreement was not a contingent
unreasonable in his dealings with the complainants
fee arrangement. Indeed, a contingent fee
as his clients. He thus violated his Lawyer's Oath,
arrangement is a contract in writing in which the whereby he vowed, among others, to do no
fee, usually a fixed percentage of what may be
falsehood, and not to consent to the doing of any
recovered in the action, is made to depend upon
falsehood, as well as not to delay any man's cause
the success in the effort to enforce or defend a
for money or malice but to conduct himself as a
supposed right.15 The amount of the contingent lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and
fee agreed upon by the parties is subject to the
discretion "with all good fidelity as well to the
stipulation that counsel will be paid for his legal
courts as to [his] clients. He also breached the
services only if the suit or litigation prospers. A following canons of the Code of Professional
much higher compensation is allowed as
Responsibility, to wit:
contingent fee in consideration of the risk that the
lawyer may get nothing should the suit fail. Such
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
arrangement is generally recognized as valid and dishonest immoral or deceitful conduct.
binding in this jurisdiction but its terms must be
reasonable.16 Canon 13 of the Canons of
Canon 15 A lawyer shall observe candor, fairness
Professional Ethics states that "a contract for a and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with
contingent fee, when sanctioned by law, should be his clients.
reasonable under all the circumstances of the case
including the risk and uncertainty of the
Canon 17 A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his
compensation, but should always be subject to the client and he shall be mindful of the trust and
supervision of a court, as to its reasonableness." A
confidence reposed in him.
contract of this nature is permitted because it
redounds to the benefit of the poor client and the
Canon 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
lawyer especially in cases where the client has a matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
meritorious cause of action but has no means with
connection therewith shall render him liable.
which to pay for the legal services unless he can,
with the sanction of law, make a contract for a Canon 20- A lawyer shall charge only fair and
contingent fee to be paid out of the proceeds of
reasonable fees. Rule 20.4 A lawyer shall avoid
the litigation. Oftentimes, such arrangement is the
controversies with clients concerning his
only means by which the poor and helpless can
compensation and shall resort to judicial action
seek redress for injuries sustained and have their only to prevent imposition, injustice or fraud.
rights vindicated.
We have said time and again, and this we cannot
Considering that a contingent fee arrangement is overemphasize, that the Law is neither a trade nor
susceptible to abuse, the courts should closely a craft but a profession whose basic ideal is to
scrutinize it to protect the client from unjust render public service and to secure justice for
charges. The court looks in large measure at the those who seek its aid. If the Law has to remain
reasonableness of the stipulated fee under the an honorable profession and has to attain its basic
circumstances of each case.18 Section 24, Rule ideal, those enrolled in its ranks should not only
138 of the Rules of Court explicitly provides: master its tenets and principles but should also, by
Section 24. Compensation of attorneys; their lives, accord continuing fidelity to such tenets
agreement as to fees. -- An attorney shall be and principles.19 The respondent's behavior and
entitled to have and recover from his client no deceit demonstrated a preference for self-gain
more than a reasonable compensation for his that transgressed his sworn duty of fidelity, loyalty
services, with a view to the importance of the and devotion to his clients' cause. His betrayal of
subject matter of the controversy, the extent of his clients' trust besmirched the honorable name
the services rendered, and the professional of the Law Profession. These considerations justify
standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound suspending him from the practice of law.
by the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses as
to the proper compensation, but may disregard Moreover, the respondent made the following
such testimony and base its conclusion on its own allegations in his motion for reconsideration filed
professional knowledge. A written contract for with the IBP Board of Governors, to wit:
services shall control the amount to be paid
9. It is quite disturbing that to cover up Atty. respondent attorney was suspended for five years
Palasan's negligence and reckless filing of for abandoning the cause of her client without
Annulment and/or Rescission of Agreement titled notice despite her having collected her legal fees.
Spouses Emilio Jacinto and Alicia Jacinto vs. Atty. She also failed to account for the money of the
Emelie P. Bangot docketed as Civil Case No. 2008- client and constantly refused to submit herself to
302 before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, the proceedings of the IBP. In Lemoine v. Balon,
Cagayan de Oro City where the subject matter was Jr.,22 this Court disbarred the respondent attorney
the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between who did not promptly account for the funds he had
the complainant and respondent, said counsel received for the benefit of his client, and for his
resorted to another forum by filing this deceit in dealings with his client. In Overgaard v.
administrative case where his chance of Valdez,23 the respondent attorney was disbarred
oppressing and harassing respondent is far greater for assuring the complainant that his property
because when he filed said administrative case involved in a civil case would be safeguarded, and
Atty. Roan Libarios then one of the Officers of the then collecting the full amount of legal fees
IBP National Chapter and member of the Board of amounting to P900,000.00, only to desert the
Governors, representing Eastern Mindanao, was complainant after receiving the fees. The
holding office at IBP, Ortigas Center, Pasig City as respondent attorney had further failed to submit
such, his officemate or law partner at Butuan City an answer as well as to attend the proceedings
(sic). Unfortunately, for respondent, Atty. Libarios before the IBP.
eventually became the IBP National President;

x x x x Although the complainants appeared to have


initially bound themselves to give a part of their
18. The statement by Commissioner Cachapero in land as the respondent's professional fees, they
his Report and Recommendation, 1stsentence, did so apparently because he had misrepresented
2nd par., thereof that: "On October 10 & 11, 2008, to them the gravity and extent of their legal
a survey was conducted on Cadastral Lot No. 1351 matter. His misrepresentation was undeniably
situated at Kauswagan, Cagayan de Oro City in calculated to make them part with their valuable
connection with the reconstitution of the lost title asset in lieu of cash. He did not thereafter render
of the lot which was then pending before the any worthy professional legal service in their
Regional Trial Court, Branch 39, R-10, Cagayan de favor. Verily, as the cliche goes, they did not get
Oro City." is quite confusing and designed to put their money's worth from him. Even if this charge
down respondent probably at any cost and was his first infraction, the grossness of his
probably by an "unseen but influential violations of the Lawyer's Oath and the various
hands(sic)";20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary relevant canons of the Code of Professional
Responsibility quoted earlier absolutely warranted
The aforequoted allegations indicated that the
his suspension from the practice of law for five
respondent had readily attributed the filing of the
years effective upon his receipt of this decision,
administrative charge to the lawyer representing
with warning of sterner sanctions should he
the complainants in the suit against him to annul
hereafter commit a similar offense. This duration
or rescind the MOA, as well as to "unseen but
of suspension was the penalty we prescribed in the
influential hands" in the hierarchy of the IBP. The
recent case of Mercullo v. Ramon 24 where the
attribution was bereft of factual and legal
respondent lawyer had deceived the complainants
justifications, however, because he did not even
into parting with the substantial sum of
attempt to establish it with satisfactory proof. We
P350,000.00 as her attorney's fees but did not
cannot but dismiss the attribution as malicious and
subsequently perform her professional
unfounded in view of the record establishing his
undertaking.
serious ethical violations. He displayed an
unmitigated lack of professionalism by casting
In addition, the respondent should not be entitled
aspersions against his peers, and exhibited a
to receive any attorney's fees in view of the
dangerous propensity to disparage others, which
worthlessness of the professional services he
should move us to consider his violations as
supposedly rendered. There is no question, as
aggravated.
ruled in Sanchez v. Aguilos,25cralawred that every
attorney is entitled to have and receive a just and
To be now considered, therefore, is the condign
reasonable compensation for services performed
penalty of the respondent. A review of precedents
at the special instance and request of his client;
shows that the penalty of suspension, or even
and that for as long as the attorney is in good faith
disbarment, has been meted on similar violations
and honestly trying to represent and serve the
and transgressions. In Santeco v. Avance,21 the
interests of the client, he should have a reasonable
compensation for such services. Yet, equally
without question is that the attorney should not
accept the engagement that is way above his
ability and competence to handle, for there will
then be no basis for him to accept any amount as
attorney's fees; or that he should at least begin to
perform the contemplated task undertaken for the
client to entitle him to be compensated on the
basis of quantum meruit.26chanrobleslaw

WHEREFORE, this
Court FINDS and HOLDS respondent ATTY.
EMELIE P. BANGOT, JR. guilty of violation of the
Lawyer's Oath and of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; SUSPENDS him from the practice
of law for five (5) years effective upon notice of
this decision, with warning that sterner sanctions
will be meted on him for a similar offense;
and DECLARES that he is not entitled to recover
any attorney's fees from the complainants.

Let copies of this decision be furnished to the


Office of the Bar Confidant; the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines; and to the Office of the Court
Administrator.

The Office of the Court Administrator shall


disseminate this decision to all courts of the
Philippines.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., on official business.


Carpio, (Acting Chief Justice), Velasco, Jr.,
Leonardo-De Castro, Peralta, Del Castillo, Perez,
Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen,
Jardeleza, and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
Brion, J., on leave.
EN BANC on the company on June 2005 and by that time, it
was already too late to file an
A.C. No. 7178, August 23, 2016 appeal.11chanrobleslaw

VICENTE M. GIMENA, Complainant, v. ATTY. Complainant stressed that respondent was


SALVADOR T. SABIO, Respondent. previously suspended from the practice of law on
two (2) occasions: first was in the case of Cordova
v. Labayen,12 where respondent was suspended
DECISION
for six (6) months, and the second was in the case
of Credito v. Sabio,13 where he was suspended for
JARDELEZA, J.: one (1) year. The latter case involved facts
analogous to the present Complaint.
Before us is a Complaint for Disbarment1 filed by
Vicente M. Gimena (complainant) against Atty. In his Comment,14 respondent countered that
Salvador T. Sabio (respondent) for gross complainant engaged his services in 2000.
negligence in handling RAB Case No. 06-11- Complainant, however, did not pay the expenses
10970-99 (case). Complainant laments that his and attorney's fees for the preparation and filing
company, Simon Peter Equipment and of the position paper in the amount of
Construction Systems, Inc. (company) lost in the P20,000.00.15 The lack of payment contributed to
case because respondent filed an unsigned respondent's oversight in the filing of the unsigned
position paper and ignored the order of the labor position paper.16 Respondent also insisted that the
arbiter directing him to sign the pleading. Aware unfavorable Decision of the labor arbiter is based
of the unfavorable decision, respondent did not on the merits and not due to default.17 Respondent
even bother to inform complainant of the same. further explained that he was not able to inform
The adverse decision became fmal and executory, complainant of the outcome of the case because
robbing complainant of a chance to file a timely he does not know the address of the company
appeal. after it allegedly abandoned its place of business
in Barangay Mansilingan, without leaving any
Facts forwarding address.18 Respondent claimed that
complainant only communicated to him when the
Complainant is the president and general manager writ of execution was issued on July 27, 2005. 19 He
of the company.2 In his Complaint3 dated March 7, faulted complainant and the company for being
2006, he narrated that he engaged the legal remiss in their legal obligation to be in constant
services of respondent in relation to a case for communication with him as to the status of the
illegal dismissal4 filed against him and the case.20chanrobleslaw
company. All the pleadings and orders were
directed to respondent because the company no Moreover, respondent averred that the filing of the
longer had active presence in Bacolod, save for the administrative case against him is tainted with ill
stockpile of construction equipment found in will to compensate for complainant's failure to post
Barangay Mansilingan.5 Sometime in February a bond to stay the writ of execution and the sale
2000, complainant signed the verification page of of the construction equipment levied
the position paper for the case and sent it to upon.21 Respondent submitted that if it were true
respondent for his signature. However, that he was negligent in the handling of the case,
respondent filed the position paper without signing then why did complainant, the company and the
it.6 The labor arbiter noticed the unsigned pleading third party claimants still avail of his services as
and directed respondent to sign it within 10 days attorney-in-fact in the auction
from notice.7 Respondent did not comply with the sale?22chanrobleslaw
directive.
In his Reply,23 complainant insisted that the
In a Decision8 dated October 21, 2004, the labor acceptance fee of respondent was P50,000.00.
arbiter ruled against the company and noted that: Complainant paid respondent P20,000.00 as
"[the company] filed an unsigned position paper advance payment, but which was without a receipt
which cannot be considered as such. Despite the because complainant trusted him.24 The remaining
order to Atty. Salvador Sabia to sign said position P30,000.00 was also paid to respondent, as
paper, the order was deemed to have been taken evidenced by photocopies of deposit slips to his
for granted."9Respondent received a copy of the Banco De Oro account.25cralawredchanrobleslaw
Decision on January 13, 2005 but he did not notify
complainant about it.10 Complainant only learned We referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
of the Decision after a writ of execution was served Philippines (IBP) for report and recommendation.
During the mandatory conference before the IBP Commissioner declared that the evidence on
Commission on Bar Discipline (the Commission), record sufficiently supports the charges of
complainant and respondent were asked to discuss negligence against respondent.35 Again, it was
their complaint and defense, respectively. For the respondent's own admissions that put the final nail
first time, respondent raised the issue of lack of on his coffin. Respondent neither denied that he
attorney-client relationship. He pointed out that he filed an unsigned pleading nor refuted the claim
and complainant had never met each other and that he did not inform complainant of the outcome
that there was no formal engagement of his of the case and the due date of the appeal before
services.26 The parties did not enter into the National Labor Relations Commission. He only
stipulation of facts and limited the issues to the offered excuses, which the Investigating
following: Commissioner found as "reprehensible" and
"downright misleading."36chanrobleslaw
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
The Investigating Commissioner noted that
a) Whether or not there was attorney-client respondent violated Rule 18.03 of the Code of
relationship between respondent and the Professional Responsibility for the negligence that
company in RAB Case No. 06-11-10970- he committed in handling the case referred to
99; him.37 Weight was also given to the fact that
respondent was previously suspended for the
same offense in Credito.38Hence, it was
recommended that respondent be suspended from
b) If in the affirmative, whether or not
the practice of law for a period of two (2) years
respondent was negligent in handling RAB
with a warning that a similar violation in the future
Case No. 06-11-10970-99 and whether
will merit a heavier penalty.39chanrobleslaw
such negligence renders him liable under
the Code of Professional Responsibility.27
The recommendation was adopted and approved
by the IBP Board of Governors in its
The Commission ordered the parties to file their Resolution40 dated April 16, 2010. Respondent
verified position papers. Respondent, in his filed a Motion for Reconsideration41 but the same
Position Paper,28 reiterated that he cannot be was denied.
expected to render legal services to the company
and the complainant because no formal contract Issue
for legal retainer services was executed.
Whether respondent should be held
On December 2, 2008, the Commission issued its administratively liable for the acts complained of.
Report and Recommendation30 finding respondent
guilty of gross negligence. Ruling

IBP Recommendation We concur with the findings of the IBP, with the
addition that respondent also violated Rule 18.04
As regards the first issue, the Investigating of the Code of Professional Responsibility. We also
Commissioner Atty. Randall C. Tabayoyong (the find that a longer period of suspension is
Investigating Commissioner) ruled that there is warranted in view of the number of times that
indeed an attorney-client relationship between respondent had been disciplined administratively.
complainant and respondent. Respondent's
assertion that he was not a counsel of record in There is attorney-client relationship between
the case is belied by his own admission in the respondent and complainant
Comment he filed before the Commission.31 In
paragraph 1 of his Comment, respondent stated The contention of respondent that there was no
that he was "engaged by complainant in 2000 attorney-client relationship between him and the
regarding the labor case of the company is, at best, flimsy. It is improper for him
[company]."32 Then, in paragraph 2, he averred to capitalize on the fact that no formal contract for
that he was not paid for legal expenses and legal legal retainer was signed by the parties, for
charges for the filing of the position paper.33 More, formality is not an essential element in the
the Order and Decision of the labor arbiter referred employment of an attorney.43 The contract may be
to respondent as the counsel of the express or implied and it is sufficient that the
company.34chanrobleslaw advice and assistance of the attorney is sought
and received, in matters pertinent to his
With respect to the second issue, the Investigating profession. An attorney impliedly accepts the
relation when he acts on behalf of his client in complainant. This circumstance deprived the
pursuance of the request made by the company of the chance to explain its side of the
latter.44chanrobleslaw controversy - an unfortunate incident brought
about by its own counsel.
Respondent acted on behalf of the company and
the complainant in relation to the case. Albeit Respondent's inattention is further highlighted by
unsigned, he allowed his name to appear as his disobedience to the labor arbiter's directive
"counsel for respondent"45 in the position paper that he sign the position paper. His conduct
that he filed before the labor arbiter. He never evinces a willful disregard to his duty as officer of
called the attention of the labor court that he was the court. This alone warrants the imposition of
not the counsel of the company. More importantly, administrative liability.
he admitted in his Comment that the complainant
engaged his legal services. Respondent cannot Respondent's irresponsibility went beyond the
plead the same before us then later on deny it unsigned pleading and refusal to obey court
before the IBP to save him from his omissions. orders; he also admittedly failed to apprise the
Estoppel works against him. Basic is the rule that company and the complainant of the adverse
an admission made in the pleading cannot be decision against them. He even had the audacity
controverted by the party making it for such is to place the blame on his client for not
conclusive as to him, and all proofs to the contrary communicating to him as regards the status of the
shall be ignored, whether objection is interposed case. He furthermore justified his omission by
by the said party or not.46chanrobleslaw saying that he was not aware of the address of the
company.
Respondent is grossly negligent in handling
RAB Case No. 06-11-10970-99 The foregoing excuses should be rejected. As the
IBP correctly observed, respondent overlooked the
Canon 18 of the Code of Professional attached affidavit of the complainant in the
Responsibility (the "Code") mandates that a unsigned position paper, which clearly indicates
lawyer shall serve his client with competence and that the principal office address of the company is
diligence. Corollarily, Rule 18.03 directs that a at Quirino Highway, Sacred Heart Village IV,
lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted Novaliches, Caloocan City.50 Respondent himself
to him.47 He must exercise the diligence of a good had notarized the affidavit.51 Thus, contrary to his
father of a family with respect to the case that he contention, it appears from the records that he
is handling. This is true whether he accepted the was fully aware of the address of the company.
case for free or in consideration of a fee. There was no justifiable reason for him not to
notify complainant and the company of the
A lawyer is presumed to be prompt and diligent in adverse decision against them.
the performance of his obligations and in the
protection of his client's interest and in the Respondent's conduct is inconsistent with Rule
discharge of his duties as an officer of the 18.04 of the Code, which requires that "[a] lawyer
court.48 Here, however, this presumption is shall keep the client informed of the status ofhis
overturned by clear and convincing evidence that case and shall respond within a reasonable time to
respondent was grossly negligent as counsel of the the client's request for information."
company and complainant in the case.
In Alcala v. De Vera,52 we ruled that the failure of
Every law student is taught that an unsigned a lawyer to notify his client of a decision against
pleading creates no legal effect, such that the him manifests a total lack of dedication or devotion
party may be deemed not to have filed a pleading to his client's interest expected under the lawyer's
at all. Yet, respondent, a long standing legal oath and the then Canons of Professional
practitioner, did not sign a position paper that he Ethics.53chanrobleslaw
filed in a labor suit allegedly due to oversight.
What more, he claimed that his client's failure to Then in Garcia v. Manuel,54 we decreed that the
pay legal expenses and attorney's fees contributed failure of a lawyer to inform his client of the status
to such oversight. These actuations of respondent of the case signifies bad faith, for the relationship
demean the legal profession. Lawyering is not between an attorney and his client is highly
primarily concerned with money-making; rather, fiduciary; thus, the ever present need to inform
public service and administration of justice are the clients of the developments of the case.55 It is only
tenets of the profession.49 Due to respondent's in this manner that the trust and faith of the client
negligence, the labor arbiter did not consider the in his counsel will remain
position paper of the company and the unimpaired.56chanrobleslaw
Respondent is a repeat offender

This is not the first time that respondent was


subjected to disciplinary proceedings.
In Credito,57 the then members of the Third
Division found respondent guilty of violating
Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Similar to the present case,
respondent's legal services were engaged in
connection with a labor suit. The labor case went
up to us only to be dismissed due to respondent's
failure to attach the required certification on non-
forum shopping and to pay the total revised docket EN BANC
and other legal fees. Respondent also kept his
clients in the dark as to the fact that their petition A.C. No. 6387 [Formerly CBD Case No. 11-
was dismissed. 3001], July 19, 2016

Prior to Credito, respondent was also held GABINO V. TOLENTINO AND FLORDELIZA C.
administratively liable in Cordova58 for instigating TOLENTINO, Complainants, v. ATTY. HENRY B.
his clients to file a complaint against a judge to SO AND ATTY. FERDINAND L.
frustrate the enforcement of lawful court orders. ANCHETA, Respondents.

All told, respondent seems unfazed by the RESOLUTION


sanctions we have so far imposed upon him. He
did not learn from his previous suspensions and
PER CURIAM:
continued with his negligent ways. In Tejano v.
Baterina,59 we imposed a longer period of
suspension on account of the lawyer's previous This resolves a disbarment case against
suspension for negligence in handling a case. We respondent Atty. Henry B. So for neglect in
found the lawyer's pattern of neglecting his duty handling a case, and respondent Atty. Ferdinand
to his clients and his propensity to disrespect the L. Ancheta for extorting P200,000.00 from a client.
authority of the courts
unacceptable.60chanrobleslaw Complainant Flordeliza C. Tolentino was the
defendant in Civil Case No. SC-2267 entitled
For this reason, we impose upon the respondent "Benjamin Caballes v. Flordeliza Caballes" a case
the penalty of suspension from the practice oflaw involving recovery of possession of a parcel of
for three (3) years. land.1 On June 24, 1991, Branch 26 of the
Regional Trial Court of Sta. Cruz, Laguna,
WHEREFORE, for violating Rules 18.03 and 18.04 rendered the Decision2 against complainant
of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Flordeliza ordering her to vacate the land.
Responsibility, respondent Atty. Salvador T. Sabio
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law The case was appealed3 to the Court of Appeals
for THREE (3) YEARS. He is likewise STERNLY through complainant Flordeliza's counsel, Atty.
WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar Edilberto U. Coronado (Atty. Coronado). While the
offense will be dealt with more severely. appeal was pending, Atty. Coronado was replaced
by Atty. Henry B. So (Atty. So), a lawyer of the
Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance of the
and the Office of the Bar Confidant, which is Department of Agrarian Reform.4chanrobleslaw
instructed to include a copy in respondent's
personal file. Complainants Flordeliza and Gabino V. Tolentino,
her husband, afterwards learned that the Court of
SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary Appeals affirmed5 the Regional Trial Court
Decision against complainant Flordeliza.
Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Complainants contend that Atty. So did not inform
Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez, them nor take the necessary action to elevate the
Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, case to this Court.6 Thus, they were compelled to
and Caguioa, JJ., concur. secure the legal services of Atty. Ferdinand L.
Brion, J., on leave. Ancheta (Atty. Ancheta), whom they paid
P30,000.00 as acceptance fee.7chanrobleslaw waived his right to file a comment. This Court
referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Atty. Ancheta allegedly promised them that there Philippines for investigation, report, and
was still a remedy against the adverse Court of recommendation.21chanrobleslaw
Appeals Decision, and that he would file a "motion
to reopen appeal case."8 Atty. Ancheta also On June 8, 2011, the Commission on Bar Discipline
inveigled them to part with the amount of of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines directed
P200,000.00 purportedly to be used for making the parties to appear for mandatory conference at
arrangements with the Justices of the Court of 10:00 a.m. on July 6, 2011.22 However, on July 6,
Appeals before whom their case was 2011, only Atty. So appeared.23 Since there was
pending.9chanrobleslaw no showing on record that complainants and Atty.
Ancheta were notified, the mandatory conference
Initially, complainants did not agree to Atty. was reset to August 10, 2011 at 10:00
Ancheta's proposal because they did not have the a.m.24chanrobleslaw
money and it was against the law.10 However, they
eventually acceded when Atty. Ancheta told them In the August 10, 2011 mandatory conference,
that it was the only recourse they had to obtain a complainant Flordeliza was represented by her
favorable judgment.11chanrobleslaw daughter, Arlyn Tolentino, together with counsel,
Atty. Restituto Mendoza.25cralawred Arlyn
Hence, in January 2003, they deposited Tolentino informed the Commission that
P200,000.00 to Atty. Ancheta's Bank Account No. complainant Gabino V. Tolentino had already
1221275656 with the United Coconut Planters died.26 Respondents did not appear despite due
Bank.12chanrobleslaw notice.27chanrobleslaw

Complainants were surprised to learn that no Hence, the mandatory conference was terminated,
"motion to reopen case" had been filed,13 and the and the parties were directed to submit their
Court of Appeals Decision had become final and respective verified position papers within a non-
executory.14chanrobleslaw extendible period of 10 days from notice. After, the
case would be submitted for report and
Hence, complainants sought to recover the recommendation.28chanrobleslaw
amount of P200,000.00 from Atty. Ancheta.
Through a letter dated September 10, 2003 15 by On September 19, 2011, complainant Flordeliza
their new counsel, complainants demanded for the filed as her position paper, a Motion for Adoption
return of the P200,000.00. However, Atty. of the Pleadings and their Annexes in this
Ancheta did not heed their demand despite receipt Case,29 including the relevant documents30 in
of the letter. Criminal Case No. SC-1191 (for estafa) against
Atty. Ancheta, which she filed.
On May 17, 2004, complainants filed
their Sinumpaang Sakdal praying
16
for the Atty. So filed his Position Paper31 on September
disbarment of Atty. So for neglect in handling 15, 2011. Atty. Ancheta did not file any position
complainant Flordeliza's case, and Atty. Ancheta paper.
for defrauding them of the amount of
P200,000.00. The Commission on Bar Discipline
recommended33 that Atty. So be absolved of the
Atty. So counters that he was no longer connected charge against him for insufficiency of
with the Bureau of Agrarian Legal Assistance of the evidence.34 As to Atty. Ancheta, the Commission
Department of Agrarian Reform when the Court of found him guilty of serious misconduct and deceit
Appeals Decision was promulgated on July 16, and recommended his disbarment.35chanrobleslaw
2001.17He alleges that he worked at the Bureau
from 1989 to 1997, and that he resigned to In the Resolution36 dated December 14, 2014, the
prepare for the elections in his hometown in Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of
Western Samar.18 It was a procedure in the Governors adopted and approved the findings and
Bureau that once a handling lawyer resigns or recommendations of the Investigating
retires, his or her cases are reassigned to other Commissioner.
lawyers of the Bureau.
On January 11, 2016, the Board of Governors
Atty. Ancheta did not file a comment despite due transmitted its Resolution to this Court for final
notice. Hence, in this Court's Resolution dated action, pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of
February 23, 2011,20 he was deemed to have Court.
in protecting their rights, they should have
This Court accepts and adopts the findings of the followed up on the status of their appeal; thus,
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of they would have been informed of Atty. So's
Governors. resignation. Atty. So resigned four (4) years
before the Court of Appeals Decision was
I promulgated.44 Thus, complainants had ample
time to engage the services of a new lawyer to
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines correctly safeguard their interests if they chose to do so. A
absolved Atty. So of the charge of negligence in party cannot blame his or her counsel for
the performance of his duties as counsel of negligence when he or she is guilty of neglect.
complainant Flordeliza.
II

Complainants fault Atty. So for failing to inform The same conclusion cannot be made with regards
them about the Court of Appeals Decision and for Atty. Ancheta. We agree with the Integrated Bar
not taking the necessary steps to elevate their of the Philippines' recommendation that he should
case to this Court.38 However, it is undisputed that be disbarred.
Atty. So was no longer employed at the Bureau of
Agrarian Legal Assistance when the Court of Atty. Ancheta's repeated failure to comply with
Appeals Decision was rendered on July 16, 2001. several of this Court's Resolutions requiring him to
Atty. So had resigned in 1997, four (4) years comment on the complaint lends credence to
before the Decision was complainants' allegations. It manifests his tacit
promulgated.39chanrobleslaw admission. Hence, we resolve this case on the
basis of complainants' Sinumpaang Sakdal and its
Atty. So handled the appeal of complainant Annexes.
Flordeliza in his capacity as a government-
employed legal officer of the Bureau of Agrarian It was established by the evidence on record that
Legal Assistance of the Department of Agrarian (1) Atty. Ancheta received the acceptance fee of
Reform. In his Notice of Appearance40 dated P30,000.00 on December 9, 2002;46 and (2)
August 11, 1993 and Motion to Admit Additional complainants deposited on January 17, 200347 the
Evidence41 dated November 22, 1993 filed before amount of P200,000.00 to Atty. Ancheta's bank
the Court of Appeals, Atty. So affixed his signature account. Atty. Ancheta made false promises to
under the representation of the Bureau of Agrarian complainants that something could still be done
Legal Assistance. with complainant Flordeliza's case despite the
Court of Appeals Decision having already attained
Atty. So's appearance for complainant Flordeliza finality on September 22, 2001.48 Worse, he
may be likened to that of a lawyer assigned to proposed bribing the Justices of the Court of
handle a case for a private law firm's client. If the Appeals in order to solve their legal dilemma.
counsel resigns, the firm is simply bound to
provide a replacement.42 Similarly, upon Atty. So's Atty. Ancheta should have very well known that a
resignation, the Director of the Bureau merely decision that has attained finality is no longer open
reassigned his case assignment to other lawyers for reversal and should be respected.49 A lawyer's
in the Bureau even without complainants' consent. duty to assist in the speedy administration of
justice50demands recognition that at a definite
It would have been prudent for Atty. So to have time, issues must be laid to rest and litigation
informed complainants about his resignation and ended.51 As such, Ancheta should have advised
the eventual reassignment of their case to another complainants to accept the judgment of the Court
lawyer, although this was not required. Still, Atty. of Appeals and accord respect to the just claim of
So's omission is not of such gravity that would the opposite party. He should have tempered his
warrant his disbarment or suspension. The serious clients' propensity to litigate and save them from
consequences of disbarment or suspension should additional expense in pursuing their contemplated
follow only where there is a clear preponderance action. Instead, he gave them confident
of evidence of the respondent's misconduct assurances that the case could still be reopened
affecting his standing and moral character as an and even furnished them a copy of his prepared
officer of the court and member of the "motion to reopen case." Despite his
bar.43chanrobleslaw representation that he would file the motion,
however, he did not do so.52chanrobleslaw
On the other hand, complainants were not entirely
blameless. Had complainants been indeed vigilant Atty. Ancheta's deceit and evasion of duty is
manifest. He accepted the case though he knew or legislative body.
the futility of an appeal. Despite receipt of the
P30,000.00 acceptance fee, he did not act on his Rule 15.07. - A lawyer shall impress upon his client
client's case. Moreover, he prevailed upon compliance with the laws and the principles of
complainants to give him P200,000.00 purportedly fairness.
to be used to bribe the Justices of the Court of
Appeals in order to secure a favorable ruling, . . . .
palpably showing that he himself was unconvinced
of the merits of the case. "A lawyer shall not, for CANON 16 -A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL
any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT
or proceeding or delay any man's cause." 53 Atty. MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
Ancheta's misconduct betrays his lack of
appreciation that the practice of law is a Rule 16.01. - A lawyer shall account for all money
profession, not a money-making or property collected or received for or from the
trade.54chanrobleslaw client.

As a servant of the law, Atty. Ancheta's primary . . . .


duty was to obey the laws and promote respect for
the law and legal processes.55 Corollary to this Rule 16.03. - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and
duty is his obligation to abstain from dishonest or property of his client when due or upon demand....
deceitful conduct,56 as well as from "activities
aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening . . . .
confidence in the legal system."57 Atty. Ancheta's
advice involving corruption of judicial officers CANON 17 - A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY TO THE
tramps the integrity and dignity of the legal CAUSE OF HIS CLIENT AND HE SHALL BE MINDFUL
profession and the judicial system and adversely OF THE TRUST AND CONFIDENCE REPOSED IN
reflects on his fitness to practice law. HIM.

Complainants eventually found out about his CANON 18 - A LAWYER SHALL SERVE HIS CLIENT
duplicity and demanded for the return of their WITH COMPETENCE AND DILIGENCE.
money.58Still, Atty. Ancheta did not return the
P200,000.00 and the P30,000.00 despite his . . . .
failure to render any legal service to his
clients.59chanrobleslaw Rule 18.03. - A lawyer shall not neglect a legal
matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in
Atty. Ancheta breached the following duties connection therewith shall render him liable.
embodied in the Code of Professional
A lawyer "must at no time be wanting in probity
Responsibility:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
and moral fiber, which are not only conditions
CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES precedent to his entrance to the Bar but are
UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE likewise essential demands for his continued
LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE
membership therein."60Atty. Ancheta's deceit in
ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
dealing with his clients constitutes gross
professional misconduct61 and violates his oath,
. . . .
thus justifying his disbarment under Rule 138,
Section 2762 of the Rules of Court.
CANON 15 - A LAWYER SHALL OBSERVE CANDOR,
FAIRNESS AND LOYALTY IN ALL HIS DEALINGS Furthermore, his failure to heed the following
AND TRANSACTIONS WITH HIS CLIENTS
Resolutions of the Court despite notice aggravates
his misconduct:
. . . .
chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Rule 15.05. - A lawyer, when advising his client,
shall give a candid and honest opinion on the (1) Resolution63 dated June 21, 2004,
merits and probable results of the client's case, requiring him to comment on the
neither overstating nor understating the prospects complaint;
of the case.

Rule 15.06. - A lawyer shall not state or imply that


he is able to influence any public official, tribunal
of evidence. On the other hand, this Court finds
(2) Resolution64 dated October 16, 2006,
respondent Atty. Ferdinand L. Ancheta GUILTY of
directing him to show cause why he
gross misconduct in violation of the Lawyer's Oath
should not be disciplinarily dealt with or
and the Code of Professional Responsibility and
held in contempt for failure to comply with
hereby DISBARS him from the practice of law.
the June 21, 2004 Resolution;
The Office of the Bar Confidant is DIRECTED to
remove the name of Ferdinand L. Ancheta from the
Roll of Attorneys.
(3) Resolution65 dated January 21, 2009,
imposing upon him the penalty of Respondent Ancheta is ORDERED to return to
P1,000.00 for failure to comply with the complainants Gabino V. Tolentino and Flordeliza C.
June 21, 2004 and October 16, 2006 Tolentino, within 30 days from receipt of this
Resolutions; Resolution, the total amount of P230,000.00, with
legal interest at 12% per annum from the date of
demand on September 10, 2003 to June 30, 2013,
and at 6% per annum from July 1, 2013 until full
(4) Resolution66 dated January 27, 2010, payment. Respondent Ancheta is
imposing an additional fine of P2,000.00 further DIRECTED to submit to this Court proof of
or a penalty of imprisonment of 10 days payment of the amount within 10 days from
for failure to comply with the January 21, payment.
2009 Resolution; and
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the
Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, and the Office of the Court
(5) Resolution67 dated January 12, 2011, Administrator for dissemination to all courts in the
ordering his arrest and directing the country.
National Bureau of Investigation to arrest
and detain him for five (5) days and until This Resolution takes effect immediately.
he complied with the previous
Resolutions. SO ORDERED.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

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


Atty. Ancheta's cavalier attitude in repeatedly Castro, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Perez,
ignoring the orders of this Court constitutes utter Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, Jardeleza,
disrespect of the judicial institution. His conduct and Caguioa, JJ., concur.
shows a high degree of irresponsibility and betrays Brion, J., on leave.
a recalcitrant flaw in his character. Indeed, his Mendoza, J., on official leave.
continued indifference to this Court's orders
constitutes willful disobedience of the lawful orders
of this Court, which, under Rule 138, Section
2768 of the Rules of Court, is in itself a sufficient
cause for suspension or disbarment.

The maintenance of a high standard of legal


proficiency, honesty, and fair dealing69 is a
prerequisite to making the bar an effective
instrument in the proper administration of
justice.70 Any member, therefore, who fails to live
up to the exacting standards of integrity and
morality exposes himself or herself to
administrative liability.71chanrobleslaw

Atty. Ancheta's violations show that he is unfit to


discharge the duties of a member of the legal
profession. Hence, he should be
disbarred.72chanrobleslaw

WHEREFORE, the complaint against respondent


Atty. Henry B. So is DISMISSED for insufficiency
EN BANC the newer loans to pay off the previous loans she had
obtained.10
July 12, 2016
These accumulated loans totaled 360,8l8.20 as of
A.C. No. 10541 September 2008, covered by ten (10) checks.11 Upon
(Formerly CBD Case No. 11-3046) presentment by Complainant, all of the said checks were
dishonored due to insufficiency of funds and closure of
AURORA AGUILAR-DYQUIANGCO, Complainant accounts. Hence, Complainant filed complaints for
violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 ("BP Blg.
vs.
22") against Respondent.12 These cases are currently
ATTY. DIANA LYNN M. ARELLANO, Respondent
pending with the Municipal Trial Court in Cities of San F
emando, La Union, Branch 2.13
DECISION
Sometime in June 2008, in a separate transaction from
CAGUIOA, J.: the previous loans, Respondent purchased magnetic
bracelets in the amount of 282,110.00 from
A lawyer, once he takes up the cause of his client, has the Complainant's Good Faith Network Marketing business in
duty to serve such client with competence, and to attend order to resell the same.14 In addition, since
to his client's cause with diligence, care and devotion, Complainant's business uses "networking" as a marketing
whether he accepts the engagement for free or for a scheme, Respondent also bought an "up-line"15 slot in the
fee.1Moreover, lawyers should refrain from obtaining amount of 126,160.00 to maximize her earnings.16
loans from their clients, in order to avoid the perils of
abusing the trust and confidence reposed upon him by Respondent then borrowed 360,000.00 from
such client.2 Complainant.17 A part of the loan proceeds were used by
Respondent to pay for the magnetic bracelets by issuing
The facts established in the proceedings before the postdated checks for the purpose. Respondent
Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP"), which we adopt purchased seventy five (75) bracelets, which were kept at
in tum, are as follows: Complainant's business center, and withdrawn by
Respondent whenever she had buyers.18 However,
Complainant Aurora Aguilar- Respondent's total withdrawals exceeded the number of
Dyquiangco ("Complainant") and Respondent Atty. bracelets actually purchased from
Diana Lynn M. Arellano ("Respondent") first met in 2004 Complainant.19 Moreover, Respondent failed to pay the
at the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, price for the magnetic bracelets.20
College of Law when the latter became Complainant's
professor.3 Respondent similarly acquired from Complainant other
products (i.e., soaps, slimming products, coffee, etc.) for
Sometime in 2006, Complainant engaged Respondent's reselling in the amount of 15,770.00 which Respondent
services for the purpose of filing a case for collection of failed to pay up to this day.21
sum of money against a certain Delia
Antigua ("Antigua"), advancing l0,000.00 for filing fees On June 24, 2008, Complainant and Respondent opened
and 2,000.00 as part of the attorney's fees out of the a joint checking account with East West Bank in
agreed amount of 20,000.00.4 Three years later, connection with their Good Faith Magnetic Bracelets
Complainant, upon inquiry with the Regional Trial business transactions, with an initial balance of
Court ("RTC") of San Fernando, La Union, discovered 130,000.00.22Respondent issued a check from this joint
that Respondent failed to file her case against account in the amount of 126,160.00 to pay for the "up-
Antigua.5 Consequently, Complainant sent a letter to line" slot she purchased from Complainant.23 Subsequent
Respondent terminating Respondent's services and deposits by Complainant were used by Respondent when
demanding the return of the said money and documents the latter issued checks in the amounts of 136,000.00
she entrusted to Respondent,6 who, in turn, refused to and 75,000.00.24
return Complainant's documents alleging that she was
enforcing her retainer's lien.7 On June 17, 2009, Respondent obtained another loan
from Complainant in the amount of 30,000.00, which the
During the existence of a lawyer-client relationship Respondent used to pay off her obligation to
between them, Respondent frequently borrowed money Complainant's husband.25
from Complainant and her husband, Antonio
Dyquiangco ("Antonio"),8 for which Respondent issued Complainant and her husband sent a demand letter dated
postdated checks in July 2008 ("checks issued in July August 26, 200926 to Respondent for the payment of the
2008") as security.9 Complainant and Antonio later dishonored checks issued in July 2008. The
stopped lending money to Respondent when they Respondent's failure to pay despite demand resulted in
discovered that she was engaged in "kiting", that is, using letter exchanges between the parties dated September
28, 200927 and October 7, 2009.28 The October 7, 2009
demand letter by Complainant was also sent to On September 28, 2012, Commissioner Cachapero
Respondent's mother, Florescita M. ArellaNo. 29 This rendered a Report and Recommendation37 finding
exchange of letters, which the Respondent believed to be Respondent guilty of violation of Rules 16.04, 16.02, and
libelous, led to the filing of two (2) complaints for Libel 18.03 of the Code of Professional
against Complainant with the Office of the City Prosecutor Responsibility ("CPR''). The dispositive portion reads:
of Manila and the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of La
Union, both of which were eventually dismissed for lack of Foregoing premises considered, the undersigned
probable cause.30 believes and so hold that the instant complaint is with
merit. Accordingly, he recommends that the Respondent
On May 27, 2011, based on the foregoing transactions be meted with the penalty of SUSPENSION for a period
and incidents between the parties, the Complainant filed of one (1) year.38
against the Respondent the instant administrative case
for suspension and disbarment with the Integrated Bar of In a Resolution dated March 21, 2013, the IBP Board of
the Philippines ("IBP"),31 listing seven causes of action Governors resolved to adopt and approve with
based on the Respondent's acts of: modification the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner dated September 28, 2012
1. Failing to file a collection case on behalf of the which states:
Complainant, for which the Respondent received
10,000.00 for filing fees ("First Cause of RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
Action"); unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
2. Obtaining several loans from the Complainant, Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case,
which remain unpaid ("Second Cause of herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A", and
Action"); finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and
3. Taking out merchandise (i.e. magnetic considering that Respondent violated Canon 16, Rule
bracelets) in excess of what she purchased from 16.02 and Canon 18, Rule 18.03 of the Code of
the Complainant ("Third Cause of Action"); Professional Responsibility, Atty. Diana Lynn M. Arellano
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for five
(5) years.39
4. Acquiring other merchandise from the
Complainant without paying for the
same ("Fourth Cause of Action"); Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated July
16, 2013,40 which was subsequently denied through a
5. Inducing the Complainant to open joint bank Resolution dated March 21, 2014.41 In view of the penalty
recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, the case
accounts, out of which the Respondent made
was referred to this Court En Banc.
several withdrawals ("Fifth Cause of Action");

6. Obtaining a 30,000.00 loan that remains The Court's Ruling


unpaid ("Sixth Cause of Action");
After a judicious examination of the records and
submission of the parties, we find no cogent reason not to
7. Filing libel cases against the Complainant
adopt the factual findings of the Investigating
based on incidents related the transactions that
gave rise to the second, third, fourth, fifth and Commissioner as approved by the IBP Board of
sixth causes of action ("Seventh Cause of Governors. However, we reduce the penalty for the
Action").1wphi1 reasons to be discussed below.

First Cause of Action


Proceedings with the IBP

Respondent violated Canon 18 when she failed to file the


The instant case was initially set for mandatory
collection case in court. In this regard, Canon 18 of the
conference on March 23, 2012,32 but the same was reset
CPR mandates, thus:
to June 29, 2012 upon motion of Respondent.33 After due
proceedings, the mandatory conference was terminated
and both parties were required by the investigating A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and
commissioner, Commissioner Oliver A. Cachapero, to file diligence.
their respective position papers.34 Both parties filed their
respective position papers on July 26, 2012 35 and Rule 18.03 thereof emphasizes that:
September 7, 2012.36
A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him,
The Findings of the IBP and his negligence in connection therewith shall render
him liable.
In Reyes v. Vi tan,42 this Court held that the failure of a Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Causes of
lawyer to file a complaint with the court in behalf of his Action
client, despite receiving the necessary fees from the
latter, is a violation of the said canon and rule: Respondent violated Canon 16 when she obtained loans
from a client. Pertinently, Canon 16 of the CPR states:
The act of receiving money as acceptance fee for legal
services in handling complainant's case and A lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and properties of
subsequently failing to render such services is a clear his client that may come into his possession.
violation of Canon 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall serve his
Moreover, Rule 16.02 provides that:
client with competence and diligence. More specifically,
Rule 18.03 states:
A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and
apart from his own and those of others kept by him.
"Rule 18.03. A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter
entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection
therewith shall render him liable." Finally, Rule 16.04 thereof commands that:

A member of the legal profession owes his client entire A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the
devotion to his genuine interest, warm zeal in the client's interests are fully protected by the nature of the
maintenance and defense of his rights. An attorney is case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend
expected to exert his best efforts and ability to preserve money to a client except, when in the interest of justice,
his client's cause, for the unwavering loyalty displayed to he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter
his client likewise serves the ends of justice. Verily, the he is handling for the client.
entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it the
corresponding duties, not only to the client, but also to the In the instant case, there is no dispute that Respondent
court, to the bar and to the public.43 obtained several loans from Complainant beginning in
2008 or two (2) years after they established a lawyer-
Further, as this Court ruled in Parinas v. Paguinto,44it is of client relationship in 2006, and before they terminated the
no moment that there is only partial payment of the same in 2009, in violation of Rule 16.04 of the CPR.48
acceptance fee, to wit:
We have previously emphasized that it is unethical for a
Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility lawyer to obtain loans from Complainant during the
("the Code") provides that a lawyer shall account for all existence of a lawyer-client relationship between them as
money or property collected for or from the client. we held in Paulina T Yu v. Atty. Berlin R. Dela Cruz49:
Acceptance of money from a client establishes an
attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of This act alone shows respondent lawyer's blatant
fidelity to the client's cause. Money entrusted to a disregard of Rule 16.04. Complainant's acquiescence to
lawyer for a specific purpose, such as for filing fee, the "pawning" of her jewelry becomes immaterial
but not used for failure to file the case must considering that the CPR is clear in that lawyers are
immediately be returned to the client on proscribed from borrowing money or property from clients,
demand. Paguinto returned the money only after Parinas unless the latter's interests are fully protected by the
filed this administrative case for disbarment.45 nature of the case or by independent advice. Here,
respondent lawyer's act of borrowing does not constitute
In the case before us, it is undisputed that after an exception. Respondent lawyer used his client's jewelry
Complainant paid the filing fees and also part of the in order to obtain, and then appropriate for himself, the
acceptance fees, Respondent did not bother to file any proceeds from the pledge. In so doing, he had abused the
complaint before the court. Worse, Respondent knew for trust and confidence reposed upon him by his client. That
a long time that she required additional documents from he might have intended to subsequently pay his client the
Complainant before filing the complaint, yet Respondent value of the jewelry is inconsequential. What deserves
did not appear to exert any effort to contact Complainant detestation was the very act of his exercising influence
in order to obtain the said documents and finally file the and persuasion over his client in order to gain undue
said case.46 In fact, in the occasions Respondent met with benefits from the latter's property. The Court has
Complainant in order to obtain a loan or discuss the repeatedly emphasized that the relationship between a
magnetic bracelet business, Respondent never brought lawyer and his client is one imbued with trust and
up the needed documents for the case to Complainant. confidence. And as true as any natural tendency goes,
As correctly held by Commissioner Cachapero, this "trust and confidence" is prone to abuse. The rule
Respondent displayed a lack of zeal in handling the case against borrowing of money by a lawyer from his
of Complainant in neglecting to remind the latter of the client is intended to prevent the lawyer from taking
needed documents in order to file the complaint in court.47 advantage of his influence over his client. The rule
presumes that the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer's
ability to use all the legal maneuverings to renege on his
obligation. Suffice it to say, the borrowing of money or his peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the
property from a client outside the limits laid down in image of the profession he should, instead, hold in
the CPR is an unethical act that warrants sanction. high esteem. This conduct deserves nothing less than a
severe disciplinary action.
xxxx
Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check
Given the circumstances, the Court does not harbor any without sufficient funds to cover the same constitutes
doubt in favor of respondent lawyer. Obviously, his such willful dishonesty and immoral conduct as to
unfulfilled promise to facilitate the redemption of the undermine the public confidence in the legal profession.
jewelry and his act of issuing a worthless check constitute He cannot justify his act of issuing worthless checks by
grave violations of the CPR and the lawyer's oath. These his dire financial condition. Respondent should not have
shortcomings on his part have seriously breached the contracted debts which are beyond his financial capacity
highly fiduciary relationship between lawyers and clients. to pay. If he suffered a reversal of fortune, he should have
Specifically, his act of issuing worthless checks patently explained with particularity the circumstances which
violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the CPR which requires caused his failure to meet his obligations. His generalized
that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, and unsubstantiated allegations as to why he reneged in
immoral or deceitful conduct." This indicates a lawyer's the payment of his debts promptly despite repeated
unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on demands and sufficient time afforded him cannot
him, shows such lack of personal honesty and good withstand scrutiny.54
moral character as to render him unworthy of public
confidence, and constitutes a ground for disciplinary Regarding the issue of commingling of funds, the Court
action, and thus seriously and irreparably tarnishes ruled in the case of Velez v. De Vera,55 citing Espiritu v.
the image of the profession. Such conduct, while Ulep,56that using a client's funds for the lawyer's personal
already off-putting when attributed to an ordinary person, use and depositing the same in his personal account is
is much more abhorrent when exhibited by a member of prohibited, to wit:
the Bar. In this case, respondent lawyer turned his back
from the promise that he once made upon admission to [A] lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds
the Bar. As "vanguards of the law and the legal system, or property held by him on behalf of his client gives
lawyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially rise to the presumption that he has appropriated the
in their dealings with their clients and the public at large, same for his own use to the prejudice of, and in
with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. It is
reproach."50 a gross violation of general morality as well as of
professional ethics; it impairs the public confidence in the
Respondent even exacerbated her infractions when she legal profession and deserves punishment.
issued worthless checks to pay for her debts,51 the
existence of which was admitted by Respondent. Both Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to them
the Yu case quoted above and the case of Wong v. Moya are in gross violation of professional ethics and are guilty
II52citing Lao v. Medel53are in point: of betrayal of public confidence in the legal profession.
Those who are guilty of such infraction may be disbarred
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility or suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.
mandates all members of the Bar to obey the laws of the (Emphases supplied.)
land and promote respect for law. Rule 1.01 of the Code
specifically provides that "[a] lawyer shall not engage in xxxx
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." In Co
v. Bernardino, [A.C. No. 3919, January 28, 1998, 285
In the instant case, the act of Atty. de Vera in holding on
SCRA 102] the Court considered the issuance of
to his client's money without the latter's acquiescence is
worthless checks as violation of this Rule and an act
conduct indicative of lack of integrity and
constituting gross misconduct. propriety.1wphi1 It is clear that Atty. de Vera, by
depositing the check in his own account and using
Moreover, in Cuizon v. Macalino, we also ruled that the the same for his own benefit is guilty of deceit,
issuance of checks which were later dishonored for malpractice, gross misconduct and unethical
having been drawn against a closed account behavior. He caused dishonor, not only to himself but to
indicates a lawyer's unfitness for the trust and the noble profession to which he belongs. For, it cannot
confidence reposed on him, shows such lack of be denied that the respect of litigants to the profession is
personal honesty and good moral character as to inexorably diminished whenever a member of the
render him unworthy of public confidence, and profession betrays their trust and confidence. Respondent
constitutes a ground for disciplinary violated his oath to conduct himself with all good fidelity to
action. Similarly, Sanchez v. Somoso held that his client.58
the persistent refusal to settle due obligations despite
demand manifests a lawyer's low regard to his
Further, in Barcenas v. Alvero,59 the Court held that the
commitment to the oath he has taken when he joined
failure of a lawyer to render an account of any money
received from a client and deliver the same to such client threaten to file any unfounded or baseless criminal case
when due or upon demand, is a breach of the said rule; or cases against the adversaries of his client designed to
and, that a lawyer is liable for gross misconduct for his secure a leverage to compel the adversaries to yield or
failure to return or repay money due to another person withdraw their own cases against the lawyer's client.70
upon demand, even in the absence of an attorney-client
relationship between them. As to the imposable penalty, and after due consideration
of the totality of the circumstances attendant to this case,
In this case, Respondent admitted that she commingled the nature of the offenses committed, we find the
her money and those of the Complainant for the bracelet recommended penalty of the IBP to be too harsh,
business by opening an East West Bank joint account for especially in light of the fact that this is Respondent's first
the said purpose.60 To be sure, Commissioner Cachapero administrative case.71
noted that Respondent has not shown that she had made
any effort to separate her funds from Complainant's In Parinas v. Paguinto,72 cited above, this Court
money and properly account for the same, including any suspended Atty. Paguinto from the practice of law for six
withdrawals Respondent made therefrom.61 (6) months for failing to file the complaint on behalf of his
client despite having been paid a part of his acceptance
Seventh Cause of Action fee.

The Court notes, in addition, that the Investigating In Orbe v. Adaza,71this Court suspended Atty. Adaza for
Commissioner failed to consider Respondent's act of filing one (1) year for issuing two (2) worthless checks, in spite
two (2) baseless complaints for libel against Complainant of the pendency of the BP Blg. 22 cases filed against him.
in two (2) different venues (Manila62 and San Fernando
City, La Union63) for the same alleged act. The fact that In Velez v. De Vera,72 a two (2)-year suspension was
the handling prosecutors in both cases are in agreement given to Atty. de Vera for using his client's funds for his
that there was nothing in the demand letter subject of the personal use and depositing the same in his personal
said cases that could be considered libelous,64 and that account.
the City Prosecutor of Manila made mention of the
aforementioned criminal complaint filed with, and Finally, in Olivares v. Villalon, Jr.,73the Court would have
previously dismissed by, the Provincial Prosecutor of La imposed a penalty of six (6) months suspension against
Union,65 make the aforementioned filing of criminal
the late Atty. Villalon had he not died prior to the resolution
complaints by Respondent a clear violation of the
of the said case for violating the rule on forum-shopping
Lawyer's Oath - which states that a lawyer shall "not
by filing a second complaint for the same cause of action,
wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false
despite the finality of the decision in the first case.
or unlawful suit, nor give aid or consent to the
same."67 This is enunciated by this Court in Vaflor-
Fabroa v. Paguinto:68 In view of the foregoing jurisprudence, and taking into
consideration that this is Respondent's first administrative
case, and that she fully participated in the proceedings
When respondent caused the filing of baseless criminal
before the IBP, we deem it more appropriate to reduce the
complaints against complainant, he violated the Lawyer's period of suspension from five (5) years, as
Oath that a lawyer shall "not wittingly or willingly promote recommended, to only three (3) years.
or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid
or consent to the same."
One final note: It also bears mentioning that there is
nothing in the records to show that the l0,000.00 filing
The filing of baseless criminal complaints, even merely fee advanced by the Complainant has been returned to
threatening to do so, also violates Canon 19 and Rule her by Respondent after failing to file the said complaint
19.01 of the CPR, as explained
against Antigua. This Court has, in numerous
in Pena v. Aparicio,69 thus:
administrative cases, ordered lawyers to return any
acceptance, filing, or other legal fees advanced to them
Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility by their clients.74 Hence, the return of the said amount to
states that "a lawyer shall represent his client with zeal Complainant is proper. Furthermore, the 2,000.00
within the bounds of the law," reminding legal practitioners Respondent received as attorney's fees should likewise
that a lawyer's duty is not to his client but to the be returned.
administration of justice; to that end, his client's success
is wholly subordinate; and his conduct ought to and must As we conclude, we remind lawyers that it is not only
always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. In important to serve their clients with utmost zeal and
particular, Rule 19.01 commands that a "lawyer shall
competence. It is also an equally important responsibility
employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful
for them to properly separate and account for any money
objectives of his client and shall not present, participate in
given to them by their clients, and to resist the temptation
presenting or threaten to present unfounded criminal
to borrow money from their clients, in order to preserve
charges to obtain an improper advantage in any case or
proceeding." Under this Rule, a lawyer should not file or
the trust and confidence reposed upon lawyers by every
person requiring their legal advice and services. ESTELA M. MARVIC M.V.F.
PERLAS-BERNABE LEONEN
Associate Justice Associate Justice
WHEREFORE, we find Respondent Atty. Diana Lynn M.
Arellano GUILTY of Violation of Rules 16.02, 16.04, and
18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the
FRANCIS H. JARDELEZA
Lawyer's Oath. We SUSPEND Respondent from the
Associate Justice
practice of law for a period of THREE (3) YEARS. We
also ORDER Respondent to return to Aurora Aguilar-
Dyquiangco the full amount of TWELVE THOUSAND
PESOS (12,000.00) within 30 days from notice hereof
and DIRECT her to submit to this Court proof of such
payment. We STERNLY WARN Respondent that a
repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more
severely.

We also DIRECT Respondent to inform this Court of the


date of her receipt of this Decision to determine the
reckoning point of the effectivity of her suspension.

Let a copy of this Decision be made part of Respondent's


records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, and copies be
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the
Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all
courts.

SO ORDERED.

ALFREDO BENJAMIN S. CAGUIOA


Associate Justice

MARIA LOURDES P.A. SERENO


Chief Justice

ANTONIO T. PRESBITERO J.
CARPIO VELASCO, JR.
Associate Justice Associate Justice

TERESITA J.
LEONARDO-DE ARTURO D. BRION
CASTRO Associate Justice
Associate Justice

DIOSDADO M. LUCAS P.
PERALTA BERSAMIN
Associate Justice Associate Justice

MARIANO C. DEL JOSE PORTUGAL


CASTILLO PEREZ
Associate Justice Associate Justice

(On Official Leave) (On Official Leave)


JOSE CATRAL BIENVENIDO L.
MENDOZA* REYES*
Associate Justice Associate Justice
EN BANC has filed three (3) Motions for Early Resolution of his
Petition for Admission to the Bar.

The practice of law is not a natural, absolute or


B.M. No. 712 July 13, 1995 constitutional right to be granted to everyone who
demands it. Rather, it is a high personal privilege limited
IN THE MATTER OF THE ADMISSION TO THE BAR to citizens of good moral character, with special
AND OATH-TAKING OF SUCCESSFUL BAR educational qualifications, duly ascertained and
APPLICANT AL C. ARGOSINO, petitioner. certified.2 The essentiality of good moral character in
those who would be lawyers is stressed in the following
excerpts which we quote with approval and which we
RESOLUTION regard as having persuasive effect:

In Re Farmer: 3

FELICIANO, J.: xxx xxx xxx

A criminal information was filed on 4 February 1992 with This "upright character" prescribed by the
the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 101, statute, as a condition precedent to the
charging Mr. A.C. Argosino along with thirteen (13) other applicant's right to receive a license to
individuals, with the crime of homicide in connection with practice law in North Carolina, and of
the death of one Raul Camaligan on 8 September 1991. which he must, in addition to other
The death of Raul Camaligan stemmed from the infliction requisites, satisfy the court, includes all
of severe physical injuries upon him in the course of the elements necessary to make up such
"hazing" conducted as part of university fraternity initiation a character. It is something more than an
rites. Mr. Argosino and his co-accused then entered into absence of bad character. It is the good
plea bargaining with the prosecution and as a result of name which the applicant has acquired,
such bargaining, pleaded guilty to the lesser offense of or should have acquired, through
homicide through reckless imprudence. This plea was association with his fellows. It means that
accepted by the trial court. In a judgment dated 11 he must have conducted himself as a
February 1993, each of the fourteen (14) accused man of upright character ordinarily would,
individuals was sentenced to suffer imprisonment for a or should, or does. Such character
period ranging from two (2) years, four (4) months and expresses itself, not in negatives nor in
one (1) day to four (4) years. following the line of least resistance, but
quite often, in the will to do the
Eleven (11) days later, Mr. Argosino and his colleagues unpleasant thing if it is right, and the
filed an application for probation with the lower court. The resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is
application for probation was granted in an Order dated wrong. . . .
18 June 1993 issued by Regional Trial Court Judge Pedro
T. Santiago. The period of probation was set at two (2) xxx xxx xxx
years, counted from the probationer's initial report to the
probation officer assigned to supervise him.
And we may pause to say that this
requirement of the statute is eminently
Less than a month later, on 13 July 1993, Mr. Argosino proper. Consider for a moment the duties
filed a Petition for Admission to Take the 1993 Bar of a lawyer. He is sought as counsellor,
Examinations. In this Petition, he disclosed the fact of his and his advice comes home, in its
criminal conviction and his then probation status. He was ultimate effect, to every man's
allowed to take the 1993 Bar Examinations in this fireside. Vast interests are committed to
Court's En Banc Resolution dated 14 August 1993.1 He his care; he is the recipient of unbounded
passed the Bar Examination. He was not, however, trust and confidence; he deals with is
allowed to take the lawyer's oath of office. client's property, reputation, his life, his
all. An attorney at law is a sworn officer
On 15 April 1994, Mr. Argosino filed a Petition with this of the Court, whose chief concern, as
Court to allow him to take the attorney's oath of office and such, is to aid the administration of
to admit him to the practice of law, averring that Judge justice. . . .
Pedro T. Santiago had terminated his probation period by
virtue of an Order dated 11 April 1994. We note that his xxx xxx xxx4
probation period did not last for more than ten (10) months
from the time of the Order of Judge Santiago granting him
probation dated 18 June 1993. Since then, Mr. Argosino
In Re Application of Kaufman,5 citing Re Cobb vs. Judge of Superior Court:8
Law Examination of 1926 (1926) 191 Wis
359, 210 NW 710: Attorney's are licensed because of their
learning and ability, so that they may not
It can also be truthfully said that there only protect the rights and interests of
exists nowhere greater temptations to their clients, but be able to assist court in
deviate from the straight and narrow path the trial of the cause. Yet what protection
than in the multiplicity of circumstances to clients or assistance to courts could
that arise in the practice of profession. such agents give? They are required to
For these reasons the wisdom of be of good moral character, so that the
requiring an applicant for admission to agents and officers of the court, which
the bar to possess a high moral standard they are, may not bring discredit upon the
therefore becomes clearly apparent, and due administration of the law, and it is of
the board of bar examiners as an arm of the highest possible consequence that
the court, is required to cause a minute both those who have not such
examination to be made of the moral qualifications in the first instance, or who,
standard of each candidate for admission having had them, have fallen
to practice. . . . It needs no further therefrom, shall not be permitted to
argument, therefore, to arrive at the appear in courts to aid in the
conclusion that the highest degree of administration of justice.
scrutiny must be exercised as to the
moral character of a candidate who It has also been stressed that the requirement of good
presents himself for admission to the moral character is, in fact, of greater importance so far as
bar. The evil must, if possible, be the general public and the proper administration of justice
successfully met at its very source, and are concerned, than the possession of legal learning:
prevented, for, after a lawyer has once
been admitted, and has pursued his
. . . (In re Applicants for License, 55 S.E.
profession, and has established himself
635, 143 N.C. 1, 10 L.R.A. [N.S.] 288, 10
therein, a far more difficult situation is
Ann./Cas. 187):
presented to the court when proceedings
are instituted for disbarment and for the
recalling and annulment of his license. The public policy of our
state has always been to
admit no person to the
In Re Keenan:6
practice of the law
unless he covered an
The right to practice law is not one of the upright moral
inherent rights of every citizen, as in the character. The
right to carry on an ordinary trade or possession of this by the
business. It is a peculiar privilege granted attorney is more
and continued only to those who important, if anything, to
demonstrate special fitness in intellectual the public and to the
attainment and in moral character. All proper administration of
may aspire to it on an absolutely equal justice than legal
basis, but not all will attain it. Elaborate learning. Legal learning
machinery has been set up to test may be acquired in after
applicants by standards fair to all and to years, but if the
separate the fit from the unfit. Only those applicant passes the
who pass the test are allowed to enter the threshold of the bar with
profession, and only those who maintain a bad moral character
the standards are allowed to remain in it. the chances are that his
character will remain
Re Rouss:7 bad, and that he will
become a disgrace
Membership in the bar is a privilege instead of an ornament
burdened with conditions, and a fair to his great calling a
private and professional character is one curse instead of a
of them; to refuse admission to an benefit to his
unworthy applicant is not to punish him community a Quirk, a
for past offense: an examination into Gammon or a Snap,
character, like the examination into instead of a Davis, a
learning, is merely a test of fitness. Smith or a Ruffin.9
All aspects of moral character and behavior may be that the participant was then possessed of good moral
inquired into in respect of those seeking admission to the character.
Bar. The scope of such inquiry is, indeed, said to be
properly broader than inquiry into the moral proceedings Now that the original period of probation granted by the
for disbarment: trial court has expired, the Court is prepared to
consider de novo the question of whether applicant A.C.
Re Stepsay: 10 Argosino has purged himself of the obvious deficiency in
moral character referred to above. We stress that good
The inquiry as to the moral character of moral character is a requirement possession of which
an attorney in a proceeding for his must be demonstrated not only at the time of application
admission to practice is broader in for permission to take the bar examinations but also, and
scope than in a disbarment proceeding. more importantly, at the time of application for admission
to the bar and to take the attorney's oath of office.
Re Wells: 11
Mr. Argosino must, therefore, submit to this Court, for its
examination and consideration, evidence that he may be
. . . that an applicant's contention that
now regarded as complying with the requirement of good
upon application for admission to the
California Bar the court cannot reject him moral character imposed upon those seeking admission
to the bar. His evidence may consist, inter alia, of sworn
for want of good moral character unless
certifications from responsible members of the community
it appears that he has been guilty of acts
who have a good reputation for truth and who
which would be cause for his disbarment
have actually known Mr. Argosino for a significant period
or suspension, could not be
of time, particularly since the judgment of conviction was
sustained; that the inquiry is broader in
its scope than that in a disbarment rendered by Judge Santiago. He should show to the Court
proceeding, and the court may how he has tried to make up for the senseless killing of a
receive any evidence which tends to helpless student to the family of the deceased student and
show the applicant's character as to the community at large. Mr. Argosino must, in other
respects honesty, integrity, and general words, submit relevant evidence to show that he is a
morality, and may no doubt refuse different person now, that he has become morally fit for
admission upon proofs that might not admission to the ancient and learned profession of the
establish his guilt of any of the acts law.
declared to be causes for disbarment.
Finally, Mr. Argosino is hereby DIRECTED to inform this
The requirement of good moral character to be satisfied Court, by appropriate written manifestation, of the names
by those who would seek admission to the bar must of and addresses of the father and mother (in default thereof,
brothers and sisters, if any, of Raul Camaligan), within ten
necessity be more stringent than the norm of conduct
(10) day from notice hereof. Let a copy of this Resolution
expected from members of the general public. There is a
be furnished to the parents or brothers and sisters, if any,
very real need to prevent a general perception that entry
of Raul Camaligan.
into the legal profession is open to individuals with
inadequate moral qualifications. The growth of such a
perception would signal the progressive destruction of our Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero
people's confidence in their courts of law and in our legal and Melo, JJ., concur.
system as we know it.12
Bellosillo, J. is on leave.
Mr. Argosino's participation in the deplorable "hazing"
activities certainly fell far short of the required standard of
good moral character. The deliberate (rather than merely
accidental or inadvertent) infliction of severe physical
injuries which proximately led to the death of the
unfortunate Raul Camaligan, certainly indicated serious
character flaws on the part of those who inflicted such
injuries. Mr. Argosino and his co-accused had failed to
discharge their moral duty to protect the life and well-
being of a "neophyte" who had, by seeking admission to
the fraternity involved, reposed trust and confidence in all
of them that, at the very least, he would not be beaten and
kicked to death like a useless stray dog. Thus,
participation in the prolonged and mindless physical
beatings inflicted upon Raul Camaligan constituted
evident rejection of that moral duty and was totally
irresponsible behavior, which makes impossible a finding