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LEGAL ETHICS CASES CHAPTERS 6 LAWYER’S could not be distributed among the heirs because the
OATH stock certificates were not in her possession. The
dispute between the executrix, on the one hand, and the
other heirs, on the other, which delayed the
A.C. No. 2841 July 3, 2002
proceedings, centered mainly on the P250,000.00 cash
RE: ADMINISTRATIVE CASE NO. 44 OF THE
and the shares of stocks.
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH IV, TAGBILARAN
Records also show that the executrix, through Atty.
CITY, AGAINST ATTY. SAMUEL C. OCCEÑA.
Occeña, interposed numerous appeals from the orders
PER CURIAM:
of the probate court. For their part, the heirs repeatedly
"Membership in the bar is in the category of a mandate
prayed in their motions for the release of the shares of
to public service of the highest order. A lawyer is an
stocks and the remaining cash. But the executrix and
oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly
Atty. Occeña opposed the same, thus prolonging the
circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and
proceedings. In CA-GR No. 48716-R (December, 1974),
whose primary duty is the advancement of the quest for
the Court of Appeals, in remanding the case to the
truth and justice, for which he has sworn to be a fearless
probate court, had this to say:
crusader."1 These were the eloquent words of the late
"It is, however, earnestly hoped, and the parties
Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro in exalting the sacred and
are urged, to settle their differences with the
honorable legal profession. But he laments the pathetic
view to closing the estate which has been
and deplorable fact that, "many a law practitioner,
pending since 1963. The executrix, the heirs,
forgetting his sacred mission as a sworn public servant
and the lawyers, are reminded that the
and his exalted position as an officer of the court, has
prolongation of administrative proceedings can
allowed himself to become an instigator of controversy
only benefit the executor or administrator or the
and a predator of conflict instead of a mediator for
counsels for the contending parties. It always
concord and a conciliator for compromise, a virtuoso of
results in the diminution of the share of each of
technicality in the conduct of litigation instead of a true
the heirs because the estate is burdened with
exponent of the primacy of truth and moral justice, a
the expenses of the administration proceedings,
mercenary purveying the benefits of his enlightened
the heir must have to pay attorney's fee and the
advocacy in direct proportion to a litigant's financial
longer the proceedings the bigger the attorney's
posture instead of a faithful friend of the courts in the
fee."3
dispensation of equal justice to rich and poor
Obviously, the main causes of the delay in the probate
alike."2 Here, Atty. Samuel C. Occeña, as later shown by
proceedings were Atty. Occeña's claim for attorney's fee
his disgraceful and outrageous conduct, is one such
in the amount of P250,000.00 and the executrix's
lawyer who has become an apostate to his exalted
refusal, through her husband, to account for the shares
position as an officer of the court. He thus deserves to
of stocks belonging to the estate which, according to
be weeded out from the legal profession to protect its
her, were not in her possession. The other heirs could
sanctity and nobility.
not accept that explanation because as executrix, she
This administrative case stemmed from the settlement
was charged with the responsibility of collecting all the
of the estate of testator William C. Ogan which has since
assets of the estate.
been pending in the Court of First Instance (CFI), now
Thus, on August 8, 1977, Judge Ruiz issued an order
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 4, Tagbilaran City,
directing the executrix to comment why the securities
docketed as Special Proceedings No. 423. In 1976, Judge
were not in her possession. She filed her comment,
Fernando S. Ruiz took over the case from Judge Paulino
through her husband, that some Philippine and
S. Marquez who, in turn, inherited it from Judge Antonio
American securities were not in her possession. To
Beldia. Noting that the proceedings have been pending
determine which securities were in her possession,
for thirteen (13) years, Judge Ruiz then inquired into the
Judge Ruiz on October 22, 1977, issued an order
principal causes of the delay. He found out, as will be
requiring her to submit within 30 days the latest
shown later in detail, that Atty. Samuel C. Occeña
inventory of all the securities of the estate. However,
caused the delay by disobeying lawful court orders and
she failed to comply with the order. Judge Ruiz then
by willfully prolonging the litigation through his various
issued another order on February 6, 1978, "directing her
maneuvers, in gross violation of his oath as a lawyer
to take possession of all certificates of stocks or their
that he will not willingly sue any groundless, false, or
replacements belonging to the estate and to make an
unlawful suit, or delay any man's cause for money or
up-to-date inventory thereof with a statement of their
malice.
nature and their value." Again, she did not comply with
Going back to Special Proceedings No. 423, under the
the order.
terms of the Last Will and Testament of the late William
Determined to block the release of the P250,000.00 to
C. Ogan, his residuary estate was divided among his
the heirs, the executrix, through Atty. Occeña, appealed
seven children. One of them, Necitas Ogan-Occeña, was
the numerous interlocutory orders of the probate court
named in the will as executrix of the estate. As such,
to the Court of Appeals, hence, adding to the delay.
she retained her husband, Atty. Samuel C. Occeña, as
Because of the propensity of the executrix, through Atty.
her lawyer.
Occeña, to elevate interlocutory orders to the Court of
The estate consists of bank deposits, securities (both
Appeals, Judge Ruiz issued an order on June 16, 1978
here and in the United States of America), and real
directing her to "refrain from instituting any action or
estate in Cebu City and in Ohio, U.S.A. The deceased left
proceeding without first informing the court." The
no debt. Thus, the settlement of the estate should have
executrix and her husband disobeyed this order. In fact,
been simple and speedy. However, since the death of
he filed six cases with the Court of Appeals and one with
the testator on February 1, 1963, the settlement of his
this Court.
estate has not yet been terminated owing largely to the
On August 15, 1979, Judge Ruiz issued an order
dilatory tactics of Atty. Occeña.
authorizing Nancy Ogan-Gibson, one of the heirs, to go
Looking into the causes of the delay, Judge Ruiz learned
to Vinton County, Ohio, U.S.A., to take proper action on
that the executrix, Necitas Ogan-Occeña, filed a project
the five parcels of land owned by the estate and to
of partition on August 4, 1967. On September 22, 1967,
submit a report to the probate court. To provide money
the probate court approved the project except certain
for the purpose, the court ordered the executrix to
portions. The executrix then interposed an appeal. In
release to Nancy Ogan-Gibson the sum of $1,000.00
view of the delay caused by the pendency of the appeal,
from the estate fund, the same to be liquidated with
the other heirs filed several motions praying that the
supporting receipts upon her submission of her report
estate's remaining P250,000.00 cash as well as its
on or before September 30, 1979. The executrix assailed
shares of stocks in the Philippines and in the United
the order before the Court of Appeals in a petition for
States be distributed among all the heirs. The executrix,
prohibition and certiorari, docketed therein as CA-G. R.
through her husband Atty. Occeña, vehemently opposed
No. SP-10326. Dismissing the petition on January 13,
the motions, asserting that the P250,000.00 cash had
1981 for lack of merit, the Court of Appeals said:
already been earmarked for her husband's attorney's
fee and other expenses, and that the shares of stocks
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"Indeed it is surprising why petitioner as Occeña further delayed with malice the probate
executrix should oppose such an order of the proceedings and inflicted hardship and pain upon Judge
court which is and would be for the benefit of Ruiz.
the estate and the heirs. All the other heirs More telling is the fact that by deliberately delaying the
completely agreed with what the trial court did. proceedings, Atty. Occeña has inflicted greater harm to
xxx the other heirs, with the executrix herself as his willing
"Thus, rather than accuse respondent judge of partner.
grave abuse of discretion in issuing the From the start of the testate proceedings in 1963, no
questioned orders he should be complimented in less than 13 petitions were filed with this Court and the
finding ways and means of promptly and Court of Appeals by Atty. Occeña, questioning the
expeditiously determining the assets of the interlocutory orders of the probate court. But most, if
estate to be ultimately distributed among the not all, were without merit.
heirs." Aside from Judge Ruiz, his predecessor, the late Judge
On May 12, 1981, Judge Ruiz cited the executrix for Antonio Beldia, in the same probate proceedings, was
contempt of court for her failure to obey the orders of also harassed by Atty. Occeña with groundless
October 22, 1977, December 8, 1977, February 6, 1978 administrative charges and suits, both criminal and civil.
and October 16, 1979 and directed her to report to the These cases, while pending, were then utilized by Atty.
court which securities were and were not in her Occeña in securing restraining orders from the Court of
possession and to give the reason therefor. Appeals or as grounds for the judge's inhibition.
On February 11, 1982, the executrix and Atty. Occeña Pursuant to Section 28, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of
were held in contempt of court and fined P250.00 each Court providing inter alia that the CFI may suspend an
for disobeying the court order of August 15, 1979 attorney from the practice of law for cause, Judge Ruiz,
requiring the executrix to release $1,000.00 to Nancy on May 26, 1982, filed with the same probate court
Ogan-Gibson. Both were given the chance to explain Administrative Case No. 44 charging Atty. Occeña with
their failure to comply with the order, but they did not gross misconduct, violation of his oath as a lawyer and
submit any explanation. On January 13, 1981, this order willful disobedience of lawful court orders. Instead of
was affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. No. SP- filing an answer, he submitted a motion praying for the
10326. It bears emphasis that this incident delayed the inhibition of Judge Ruiz. This motion was denied. Atty.
proceedings for four (4) years. Occeña was then directed to file his answer within 15
On October 16, 1979, the probate court issued an order days from notice which was extended to another 15
requiring the executrix to distribute immediately among days upon his motion. Still, he did not file an answer.
the heirs all the shares of stocks of the estate in the What he submitted was a motion to dismiss the
Batangas-Laguna Transportation Co., the Masonic Hall, complaint for lack of jurisdiction. But it was denied for
Inc. and the Motor Service Co.; to report her compliance lack of merit.
within 10 days from notice; and within the same period, Administrative Case No. 44 was set for hearing on
to file a written report to the court stating (a) what other December 2 and 3, 1982, morning and afternoon. Upon
certificates of stocks belonging to the estate are in her Atty. Occeña's motion, he was given an extension of 15
possession; and (b) which certificates of stocks are not days from November 3, 1982 within which to file his
with her, giving the reasons therefor. Again, the answer. However, he did not comply. Neither did he
executrix and her husband, Atty. Occeña, did not comply appear during the hearing.
with the said order. The probate court thus ordered her Eventually, further hearing of the case was suspended
to explain why she should not be punished for contempt when this Court issued a temporary restraining order in
of court. After several postponements at her instance G. R. No. 62453, "Samuel Occeña vs. District Judge
and that of her husband, the incident was set for Fernando S. Ruiz, CFI-4, Bohol" for prohibition. However,
hearing on April 20, 1981. But neither of them appeared, on August 15, 1983, this Court dismissed Atty. Occeña's
thus delaying the proceedings for about a year and a petition for lack of merit. The hearing of the
half. Finding the executrix unfaithful in the performance administrative case was set on January 30 and 31, 1984,
of her duties, the probate court, on May 12, 1981, but again, he did not appear.
adjudged her in contempt of court. The hearing was reset but once more, Atty. Occeña
Forthwith, Atty. Occeña and his wife, filed with the then failed to appear. Upon his telegraphic request, the
CFI of Davao City, Civil Case No. 14456 for damages hearing was reset on December 13 and 14, 1984. On
(P200,000.00 as moral damages and expenses of December 7, 1984, he filed his Answer and Motion for
litigation) against Judge Ruiz. But, on October 13, 1981, Referral to the Solicitor General or the Integrated Bar of
the court dismissed the complaint for lack of merit. the Philippines. His motion was denied. The hearing was
After the dismissal of Civil Case No. 14456, Atty. Occeña reset on May 8 and 9, 1985. Upon another telegraphic
filed with the Tanodbayan a letter-complaint against request of Atty. Occeña, the hearing was postponed to
Judge Ruiz, charging him with knowingly rendering August 14 and 15, 1985. Again, he did not appear. Thus,
unjust interlocutory orders, in that without prior notice in its order of August 15, 1985, the probate court
and hearing, he punished the executrix for indirect considered his failure to appear as a waiver of his right
contempt of court and censured her for non-compliance to present evidence.4
with the probate court's order of October 16, 1979. For On November 14, 1985, based on the evidence
lack of merit, Atty. Occeña's complaint was dismissed by presented ex parte, showing that Atty. Occeña has
then Tanodbayan Bernardo P. Fernandez in a Resolution "abused, misused and overused the judicial
dated November 19, 1984. system,"5 Judge Ruiz rendered a decision
On November 13, 1979, Atty. Occeña filed with this suspending6 him from the practice of law for three (3)
Court Administrative Case No. 2345-CFI against Judge years. The decision7 unfolded a long list of his
Ruiz for gross inefficiency and dishonesty. In a administrative offenses, thus:
Resolution dated October 11, 1982, this Court dismissed I
the complaint for failure of Atty. Occeña to substantiate Willful disobedience of lawful orders of the
his charges during the investigation. court; gross misconduct in office
Unhappy with what Judge Ruiz stated in his comment on During the probate proceedings, respondent
the said administrative complaint, Atty. Occeña and his Occeña, on behalf of his wife executrix, filed
wife filed with the CFI of Davao City Civil Case NO. with the Court of Appeals six (6) cases; and with
14957 for damages against the former. The couple the Supreme Court one (1) case, assailing the
alleged that they suffered damages upon reading the order of the probate court directing the said
judge's comment filed with the Supreme Court. On June executrix to provide Nancy Ogan, authorized to
11, 1982, the CFI dismissed the complaint for lack of determine the assets of the estate in the U.S.,
cause of action, the comment being an absolutely $1,000.00 to be taken from the estate; and the
privileged communication. order ordering the same executrix to report to
By filing the said civil actions, criminal charge, and the probate court the securities belonging to the
administrative complaints, found to be groundless, Atty. estate. Atty. Occeña's refusal to obey the said
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orders and elevating the same to the higher (Exh. "Y"), he also attached as Annex "A" thereof
courts unnecessarily delayed the probate a true and complete copy of said administrative
proceedings. complaint against Judge Ruiz even if said
II administrative complaint is not germane to the
Wittingly or willingly promoted or sued charge (Page 2, No. 1, Exh. "Y").
groundless suits and gave aid or consent By repeatedly violating said provision of the
to the same; delayed persons for money or Rules of Court, respondent, as an officer of the
malice court, put to naught one of the principal
Respondent, together with his wife, filed against purposes thereof which is to protect the
the judge of the probate court two actions for personal and professional reputation of judges
damages which were both dismissed for lack of from the baseless charges of disgruntled,
merit and lack of cause of action. Respondent vindictive and irresponsible clients, litigants and
also filed with the Tanodbayan a letter-complaint counsels (In re Abistado, 57 Phil. 668; Murillo vs.
charging the judge of the probate court with Superable, Adm. Case No. 341, March 23, 1960;
knowingly rendering unjust interlocutory orders. Moran, Rules of Court, 1963 Ed., Vol. VI, page
The complaint was likewise dismissed for lack of 260). Respondent committed gross misconduct
merit. Respondent also filed with this Court an in office and has not conducted himself as a
administrative complaint which was again lawyer according to the best of his knowledge
dismissed for failure of respondent to and discretion.
substantiate the charge. IV
By filing the above-cited civil actions for Did falsehood and consented to the doing
damages, administrative complaint and criminal of same in court.
charge which were found to be groundless and In his complaint for damages against Judge Ruiz
unsubstantiated, respondent unduly delayed the (Civil Case No. 14456 (Exh. "W"), respondent
settlement of the estate proceedings by alleged in paragraph IV-7b thereof (Exh. "W-1")
harassing Judge Ruiz who had to spend time, that his wife-executrix Necitas Ogan Occeña was
effort and money to defend himself against said held in contempt and censured, "without any
frivolous and unmeritorious cases. hearing," for not obeying the probate court's
In fact, respondent's propensity to file order of October 16, 1979 (Exh. "N").
groundless administrative charges, as well as However, the records of the Ogan estate
civil and criminal suits, harassed not only Judge proceedings (Sp. Proc. No. 423) would show that
Ruiz but also the previous judges who handled in the order of February 26, 1980, the probate
the case. As a measure of self defense, these court directed said executrix to explain within 5
judges were compelled to prepare and file days from notice why she should not be cited for
pleadings or comments thereby using time contempt (Exh. "O"). In the order of April 8,
which could have been devoted to expediting 1980, the contempt charge was set for hearing
the closure of the estate proceedings. on June 23, 1980, at 9:00 o'clock in the morning
Finally, since the start of the testate proceedings (Exh. "P") but was reset to October 22, 1980
in 1963, no less than 13 petitions were filed with after the lifting of the restraining order of the
the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals Court of Appeals (Exh. "Q"). This was again reset
questioning the interlocutory orders of the to April 20, 1981, subsequent to the denial by
probate court. Most, if not all of these petitions, the Supreme Court of the respondent's petition
were determined to be groundless and without for review impugning the Court of Appeals'
merit. decision. As stated in the order of May 12, 1981,
III page 2, paragraph 3 (Exh. "R"), copies of the
Disobeying the laws order setting the hearing of the contempt
Respondent violated his lawyer's oath of office charge on said date (April 20, 1981) were
by flagrantly disobeying the clear provision of received by the respondent and his wife-
Rule 140, Section 6, Revised Rules of Court, executrix on March 24, 1981. On the date of the
entitled "Charges Against Judges of First hearing, neither the executrix nor respondent
Instance," which reads as follows: appeared. The following day (April 21, 1981),
"Sec. 6. Confidential – Proceedings the court received executrix's motion for
against judges of first instance shall be postponement of the hearing, which was denied
private and confidential." for lack of merit. Subsequently, the order of May
During the pendency of the administrative 12, 1981 (Exh. "R") was rendered holding the
complaint (Adm. Matter No. 23345-CFI, Exh. "Z") executrix in contempt and penalized with
filed by respondent against Judge Ruiz in the censure.
Supreme Court, he violated the private and In fine, there was hearing with notice but the
confidential nature thereof three (3) times, to executrix and her counsel did not attend.
wit: Meanwhile, respondent once more, committed
1. On April 1, 1980, respondent filed with the falsehood when he subsequently alleged under
Court of Appeals a petition for prohibition and oath in his letter-complaint to the Tanodbayan,
certiorari, entitled "Estate of William C. Ogan, et dated March 29, 1982, against Judge Ruiz (Exh.
al. vs. Hon. Fernando S. Ruiz, et al., CA-G.R. No. "Y") that "without prior notice and without
SP-10604", questioning an interlocutory order of any hearing," Judge Ruiz adjudged executrix
the probate court (No. 2, Exh. "V") to which he Necitas Ogan Occeña guilty of contempt and
attached as Annex "AW" a complete copy of his censuring her (page 2, paragraph 2, Exh. "Y-2";
aforesaid administrative complaint against Judge page 5, paragraph 9b, Exh. "Y-3").
Ruiz albeit the same is completely immaterial to Furthermore, in order to avoid complying with
the issue raised in said petition. the probate court order of August 15, 1979 (Exh.
2. In another petition for prohibition and "C"), directing said executrix to remit
certiorari, entitled "Estate of William C. Ogan, et immediately the sum of $1,000.00 to her co-heir
al. vs. Hon. Fernando S. Ruiz, et al., CA-G.R. No. Nancy Ogan-Gibson with which to meet
SP-13162" (No. 4, Exh. "V"), impugning an whatever necessary expenses that she might
interlocutory order of the probate court, he incur in inquiring into the status of the 5 parcels
attached as Annex "C" thereof a true and of land owned by the estate at Vinton County,
complete copy of the said administrative Ohio, U.S.A., respondent and his wife-executrix
complaint although not relevant to the question committed falsehood when they stated in their
therein raised; and petition filed with the Court of Appeals in CA-
3. On March 29, 1982, when respondent filed a G.R. No. SP-10326 that the said order was issued
letter-criminal complaint with the Tanodbayan "without hearing" and thus a violation of
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procedural due process. The Court of Appeals, in therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing
its decision which has become final (Exh. "E"), of any in court; I will not wittingly or willing promote or
confirmed this falsehood when it held that the sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid
petitioner-executrix "was not deprived of her nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money
right to be heard when the respondent or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according
judge issued the two orders in to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all
question" (Page 6, Exh. "E"). good fidelity as well to the court as to my clients; and I
In accordance with the provisions of Section 29, Rule impose upon myself these voluntary obligations without
1388 and Section 9, Rule 1399 of the Revised Rules of any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help
Court, Judge Ruiz, on November 26, 1985, transmitted to me God."
this Court a certified true copy of the order of As shown by the records, Atty. Occeña gravely violated
suspension and a full statement of facts.10 his oath of office in his handling of Special Proceedings
On February 11, 1986, this Court, upon Atty. Occeña's No. 423. The facts of the case succinctly show that
motion, restrained Judge Ruiz from enforcing his through his atrocious maneuvers, he successfully
decision of November 14, 1985. The case then has delayed the disposition of the case for the last thirty-
remained pending so that on May 30, 1989, this Court eight (38) years, causing untold hurt and prejudice, not
issued an Order11requiring "the parties to move in the only to the heirs, but also to Judges Ruiz and Beldia who
premises, by informing the Court about the status of the heard the case. For respondent's part and that of his
decision or order suspending Atty. Samuel C. Occeña wife, such prolonged litigation obviously benefited them.
from the practice of law, Judge Ruiz particularly As aptly declared by the Court of Appeals, the delay
indicating if he still pursues the instant case, within ten "can only benefit the executor or administrator" and
(10) days from notice." "the longer the proceedings, the bigger the attorney's
On June 2, 1989, Judge Ruiz filed a comment that he has fees." But the more tragic reality is the fact that Atty.
been waiting for this Court's action on his decision Occeña has caused a mockery of the judicial
suspending Atty. Occeña. proceedings and inflicted injury to the administration of
On August 25, 1989, Atty. Occeña filed an Explanation justice through his deceitful, dishonest, unlawful and
and Motion praying that the case be referred to the grossly immoral conduct. Indeed, he abused beyond
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation and measure his privilege to practice law.
recommendation. This Court denied the motion and This Court has held that a lawyer should not abuse his
instead referred the case to Atty. Emilio Rebueno (now right of recourse to the courts for the purpose of arguing
deceased), then Bar Confidant, for evaluation, report a cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed. Neither
and recommendation. After going over the records, he should he use his knowledge of law as an instrument to
recommended "that the temporary restraining order harass a party nor to misuse judicial processes, as the
enjoining Judge Fernando S. Ruiz from enforcing the same constitutes serious transgression of the Code of
decision dated November 14, 1985 suspending Atty. Professional Responsibility. For while he owes fidelity to
Samuel C. Occeña from the practice of law for a period the cause of his client, it should not be at the expense of
of three years be forthwith LIFTED, and that Atty. truth and the administration of justice.15
Samuel C. Occeña be DISBARRED from the practice of The practice of law is a sacred and noble profession. It is
law for grave violation of his oath of office as attorney; a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are
likewise, that his name be DROPPED from the roll of competent intellectually, academically and morally. 16 A
attorneys." lawyer must at all times conduct himself, especially in
We sustain the evaluation, report and recommendation his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with
of the Office of the Bar Confidant, the same being honesty and integrity in a manner beyond
supported by the facts on record. reproach.17 He must faithfully perform his duties to
Indeed, a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. A
misconduct showing any fault or deficiency in his moral violation of the high standards of the legal profession
character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. 12 His subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions by this
guilt, however, cannot be presumed.13 It must indicate Court which includes suspension and disbarment.
the dubious character of the acts done, as well as the Clearly, Atty. Occeña's conduct has made him unfit to
motivation thereof. Furthermore, a disbarred lawyer remain in the legal profession even for a single moment.
must have been given full opportunity upon reasonable It is a time-honored rule that good moral character is
notice to answer the charges against him, produce not only a condition precedent to admission to the
witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself practice of law. Its continued possession is also essential
and counsel.14 All these requirements have been for remaining in the legal profession.18 Atty. Occeña has
complied with in the case at hand. definitely fallen below the moral bar when he engaged
In fact, it was Atty. Occeña who did not bother at all to in deceitful, dishonest, unlawful and grossly immoral
appear in the hearing of the administrative case against acts. This Court has repeatedly stressed the importance
him which was postponed by Judge Ruiz so many times of integrity and good moral character as part of a
so that he could be accorded the full measure of due lawyer's equipment in the practice of his
process. The court a quo, therefore, appropriately profession,19 because it cannot be denied that the
proceeded to hear the case ex parte as Atty. Occeña respect of litigants for the profession is inexorably
deliberately failed to appear and answer the accusations diminished whenever a member of the Bar betrays their
against him. trust and confidence.20
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court Thus, for his serious administrative offenses, punishable
mandates that a member of the Bar may be disbarred or under Section 27 of Rule 138, Atty. Occeña deserves the
suspended by this Court for any (1) deceit, (2) ultimate penalty, that of expulsion from the esteemed
malpractice, (3) gross misconduct in office, (4) grossly brotherhood of lawyers.
immoral conduct, (5) conviction of a crime involving WHEREFORE, ATTY. SAMUEL C.
moral turpitude, (6) violation of the lawyer's oath, (7) OCCEÑA is DISBARRED from the practice of law. His
willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior name is STRICKEN from the Roll of
court, and for (8) willfully appearing as an attorney for a Attorneys EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.
party without authority to do so. Not only did Atty. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Bar
Occeña commit deceit, malpractice, grossly immoral Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all
conduct and willful disobedience to a superior court. courts throughout the country.
Beyond these transgressions, he violated the lawyer's SO ORDERED.
oath whereby he imposed upon himself the following
duties, thus:
A.C. No. 4838 July 29, 2003
“I, ____. ____(place of birth), do solemnly swear that I will
EMILIOGRANDE, Complainant,
maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I
vs.
will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as
ATTY. EVANGELINE DE SILVA, Respondent.
the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities
DECISION
5

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by


Complainant Emilio Grande was the private offended Supreme Court, grounds therefore. – A member of the
party in Criminal Cases Nos. 96-1346 to 96-1353, filed bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
with the Regional Trial Court of Marikina City, Branch attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
273, for Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambansa malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office,
Bilang 22, entitled "People of the Philippines, Plaintif grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction
versus Sergio Natividad, Accused." During the of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
proceedings, respondent Atty. Evangeline de Silva, of the oath which he is required to take before the
counsel for the accused, tendered to complainant Check admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience
No. 0023638 in the amount of P144,768.00, drawn appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do
against her account with the Philippine National Bank, so.
as settlement of the civil aspect of the case against her The nature of the office of an attorney requires that a
client. Complainant refused to accept the check, but lawyer shall be a person of good moral character. Since
respondent assured him that the same will be paid upon this qualification is a condition precedent to a license to
its presentment to her drawee bank. She manifested enter upon the practice of law, the maintenance thereof
that as a lawyer, she would not issue a check which is is equally essential during the continuance of the
not sufficiently funded. Thus, respondent was prevailed practice and the exercise of the privilege. Gross
upon by complainant to accept the check. misconduct which puts the lawyer’s moral character in
Consequently, he desisted from participating as a serious doubt may render her unfit to continue in the
complaining witness in the criminal case, which led to practice of law.9
the dismissal of the same and the release of the The loss of moral character of a lawyer for any reason
accused, Sergio Natividad. whatsoever shall warrant her suspension or
When complainant deposited the check, the same was disbarment,10because it is important that members of
returned unpaid by the drawee bank for the reason: the legal brotherhood must conform to the highest
"Account Closed." On June 19, 1997, complainant wrote standards of morality.11Any wrongdoing which indicates
a letter to respondent demanding that she pay the face moral unfitness for the profession, whether it be
value of the check.1 However, his demand was ignored professional or non-professional, justifies disciplinary
by respondent; hence, he instituted a criminal complaint action. Thus, a lawyer may be disciplined for evading
against her for Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambansa payment of a debt validly incurred. Such conduct is
Bilang 22 with the Office of the City Prosecutor of unbecoming and does not speak well of a member of
Marikina, which was docketed as I.S. No. 97-1036. On the bar, for a lawyer’s professional and personal conduct
September 22, 1997, the Marikina City Prosecutor filed must at all times be kept beyond reproach and above
the necessary information for violation of Batas suspicion.12
Pambansa Bilang 22 against respondent Atty. Moreover, the attitude of respondent in deliberately
Evangeline de Silva.2 refusing to accept the notices served on her betrays a
On November 10, 1997, complainant filed the instant deplorably willful character or disposition which stains
administrative complaint for disbarment of respondent the nobility of the legal profession.13 Her conduct not
for deceit and violation of the Lawyer’s Oath.3 only underscores her utter lack of respect for authority;
In a Resolution dated February 2, 1998 sent to it also brings to the fore a darker and more sinister
respondent’s given address at Carmelo Compound, character flaw in her psyche which renders highly
Newton Avenue, Mayamot, Antipolo City, she was questionable her moral fitness to continue in the
required to comment on the complaint within ten (10) practice of law: a defiance for law and order which is at
days from notice.4 However, it was returned unserved the very core of her profession.
with the notation "Moved".5 The Assistant National Such defiance is anathema to those who seek a career
Secretary of the IBP submitted the latest address of in the administration of justice because obedience to
respondent as 274 M.H. Del Pilar Street, Pasig City. 6 the dictates of the law and justice is demanded of every
On June 20, 2001, another resolution requiring lawyer. How else would respondent even endeavor to
respondent to comment on the administrative complaint serve justice and uphold the law when she disdains to
filed against her was served at the aforesaid address. follow even simple directives? Indeed, the first and
This was again returned unserved with the notation: foremost command of the Code of Professional
"Refused". Thus, the case was referred to the IBP Responsibility could not be any clearer:
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) for CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE
investigation, report and recommendation. 7 CONSTITUTION OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
In a Report dated December 6, 2001, Investigating PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.
Commissioner Florimond C. Rous found respondent Needless to state, respondent’s persistent refusal to
guilty of deceit, gross misconduct and violation of the comply with lawful orders directed at her with not even
Lawyer’s Oath. Thus, he recommended that respondent an explanation for doing so is contumacious conduct
be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years. which merits no compassion. The duty of a lawyer is to
On October 19, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession
Resolution No. XV-2002-554 which adopted the at all times. She can only do this by faithfully performing
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner that her duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to her
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for clients.14 We can not tolerate any misconduct that tends
two (2) years. to besmirch the fair name of an honorable profession.
We fully agree with the findings and recommendation of WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent ATTY.
the IBP Board of Governors. EVANGELINE DE SILVA is SUSPENDED from the practice
The record shows that respondent prevailed upon of law for a period of Two (2) Years, effective upon
complainant to accept her personal check by way of receipt hereof. Let copies of this Decision be entered in
settlement for the civil liability of her client, Sergio her record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated
Natividad, with the assurance that the check will have Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for
sufficient funds when presented for payment. In doing their information and guidance.
so, she deceived complainant into withdrawing his SO ORDERED.
complaint against her client in exchange for a check Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban,
which she drew against a closed account. Quisumbing, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-
It is clear that the breach of trust committed by Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur.
respondent in issuing a bouncing check amounted to Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., on official leave.
deceit and constituted a violation of her oath, for which
she should be accordingly penalized. 8 Such an act
constitutes gross misconduct and the penalties for such A.C. No. 10676 September 8, 2015
malfeasance is prescribed by Rule 138, Section 27of the ATTY.ROY B. ECRAELA, Complainant,
Rules of Court, to wit: vs.
6

ATTY. IAN RAYMOND A. Final Report No. 367, the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice
PANGALANGAN, Respondent. & Human Rights Committees recommended that
DECISION respondent be investigated and prosecuted by the
PER CURIAM: Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) for graft and
The Case corruption, as well as disbarment or disciplinary sanction
Before the Court is a Petition for Disbarment 1 filed by by this Court for grave misconduct or violation of the
Atty. Roy B. Ecraela with the Integrated Bar of the Revised Penal Code.7
Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) on It was further alleged that, during the pendency of the
April 12, 2007 against Atty. Ian Raymond A. Pangalangan Senate Inquiry, respondent even attempted to conceal
for his illicit relations, chronic womanizing, abuse of the evidence by requesting complainant's parents,
authority as an educator, and "other unscrupulous spouses Marcelo F. Ecraela and Visitacion B. Ecraela, to
activities" which cause "undue embarrassment to the have the Toyota Corolla XL parked in their residence in
legal profession." Complainant claims that respondent's Cainta, Rizal, for an indefinite period of time.
actions involve deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct Respondent's request, however, was refused by the
and grossly immoral conduct in violation of the Lawyer's spouses when they learned that the vehicle was the
Oath. subject of the Senate Inquiry.8
The Facts It appears from the documents presented by
Complainant and respondent were best friends and both complainant that the Ombudsman issued a Resolution
graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) finding probable cause against respondent, and an
College of Law in 1990, where they were part of a peer Information was thereafter filed with the Sandiganbayan
group or barkada with several of their classmates. After for violation of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. (RA)
passing the bar examinations and being admitted as 3019.9 Complainant also claims that respondent abused
members of the Bar in 1991, they were both registered his authority as an educator in Manuel L. Quezon
with the IBP Quezon City. University, San Sebastian College, College of St. Benilde,
Respondent was formerly married to Sheila P. Jardiolin and Maryknoll College, where respondent induced his
(Jardiolin) with whom he has three (3) children. male students to engage in "nocturnal preoccupations"
Complainant avers that while married to Jardiolin, and entertained the romantic gestures of his female
respondent had a series of adulterous and illicit relations students in exchange for passing grades. 10 The Petition
with married and unmarried women between the years was docketed as CBD Case No. 07-1973.
1990 to 2007. These alleged illicit relations involved: In an Order11 dated April 16, 2007, the Director for Bar
a. AAA,2 who is the spouse of a colleague in the Discipline, Honorable Rogelio A. Vinluan, required
UP College of Law, from 1990 to 1992, which respondent to file his verified answer.
complainant had personal knowledge of such In his undated Answer,12 respondent opted not to
illicit relations; present any counter-statement of facts in supp01i of his
b. BBB, sometime during the period from 1992 defense. Instead, respondent simply argued that the
to 1994 or from 1994 to 1996, despite being petition suffers from procedural and substantive
already married to Jardiolin; infirmities, claiming that petitioner failed to substantiate
c. CCC, despite being married to Jardiolin and the allegations or charges against him. Respondent
while also being romantically involved with DDD; pointed out that Annex "J" of the Petition entitled
d. DDD, sometime during the period from 2000 "Arguments in Support of the Disbarment" lacked formal
to 2002, despite still being married to Jardiolin requirements, and thus, should be treated as a mere
and while still being romantically .involved with scrap of paper. Respondent also asserts that the e-mail
CCC; messages attached to the petition were inadmissible for
e. EEE, who is related to complainant, sometime having been obtained in violation of the Rules on
during the period from May 2004 until the filing Electronic Evidence.13 He claims that the identities of the
of the Petition, while still being romantically owners of the e-mail messages, as well as the
involved with CCC.3 allegations of illicit relations and abuse of authority,
Complainant claims that respondent, with malice and were not properly established. Respondent further
without remorse, deceived CCC and DDD by argues that the statements of complainant's witnesses
representing himself to be a bachelor, thereby were merely self-serving and deserved scant
convincing the two women to start a love affair with consideration.
him, when in. truth, he was then still married to Complainant filed a Comment (to the Respondent's
Jardiolin.4 Answer),14 stating that the allegations in the complaint
Aside from these illicit affairs, complainant avers that were deemed admitted by reason of respondent's failure
sometime during the period of 1998 to 2000, to make specific or even general denials of such in his
respondent, as a lawyer of the Office of the Government Answer.
Corporate Counsel (OGCC), represented the interest of In his Reply (to the Comment filed by
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) in Complainant),15 respondent simply denied all of
cancellation proceedings filed by MIAA against Kendrick complainant's accusations in the petition, allegedly for
Development Corporation (KOC). However, despite "lack of knowledge and information sufficient to form a
being a public officer and a government counsel, belief as to the truth or falsity thereof."16
respondent conspired with Atty. Abraham Espejo, legal On August 3, 2007, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner
counsel of KDC, and assisted KDC in its case, thereby Leland R. Villadolid, Jr. (Commissioner Villadolid) set the
sabotaging MIAA's case, and, in effect, that of the case for mandatory conference on August 28,
Philippine Government.5 2007,17 which respondent failed to attend. It appears
Complainant further claims that respondent even that respondent filed a Motion to Cancel
attempted to bribe then Solicitor Rolando Martin of the Hearing,18 praying for the resetting of the mandatory
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in exchange for the conference allegedly due to a previously scheduled
latter's cooperation in the dismissal of the cancellation hearing on the same date. Respondent's motion was
proceedings in favor of KDC. In return for his "earnest opposed by complainant and eventually denied by
efforts" in assisting KDC in its case, respondent was Commissioner Villadolid in his Order 19 dated August 28,
allegedly rewarded with a Toyota Corolla XL with plate 2007. In the same order, complainant's
number ULS-835 by Atty. Espejo. The vehicle was seen Manifestation20 praying that subpoenas be issued to
several times by respondent's classmates and several persons who shall be complainant's hostile
officemates being driven and parked by respondent in witnesses was granted by Commissioner Villadolid.
his own home and in the OGCC premises itself. 6 Accordingly, the case was scheduled for the
In connection with his involvement in the MIAA case, presentation of complainant's witnesses on September
complainant claims that respondent was summoned in a 11, 2007 and the respective subpoenas 21 were issued.
Senate inquiry concerning rampant faking of land titles A day before the scheduled hearing, the IBP-CBD
in the Philippines, which included an investigation of the received respondent's Motion for
alleged spurious land titles of KDC. In Senate Committee Reconsideration,22 praying that the Order dated August
7

28, 2007 be set aside and that the hearing be reset to conference. On the same date, the IBP-CBD also
sometime during the third week of October. In said received complainant's Compliance (with
motion, respondent informed the IBP-CBD that he has Comments),25 submitting the certified photo copies of
viral conjunctivitis or more commonly known as "sore the Senate Committee Final Report No. 367, the
eyes" and has been ordered by the doctor to rest for at Resolution dated January 22, 2001 of the Ombudsman,
least one to two weeks while his eyes are being treated. and the Information dated June 30, 2003 filed with the
Attached to his motion were photocopies of two medical Sandiganbayan.
certificates, stating that a certain R. Pangalangan was On January 8, 2008, the IBP-CBD received complainant's
suffering from sore eyes. Position Paper.26 Complainant thereafter filed two
During the scheduled hearing on September 11, 2007, Manifestations,27 asserting that respondent is already
complainant opposed petitioner's motion, arguing that barred from submitting his verified position paper and
based on his personal verification with the court that any decision or judgment would have to be based
personnel of Branch 77 of Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC) solely on complainant's Verified Position Paper. 28
of Parafiaque City, there was no case calendared for Findings of the IBP Investigating Commissioner
hearing on the date of the previous setting. Complainant After the case was submitted for report and
also argued that this is another ploy of respondent to recommendation, Commissioner Villadolid rendered a
delay the proceedings because he knew that Report,29 finding that there is more than sufficient
complainant worked overseas and was only in the evidence establishing respondent's gross misconduct
country for a limited period of time. Finding merit in affecting his standing and moral character as an officer
complainant's opposition, respondent's motion was of the court and member of the bar.
denied and complainant was allowed to present his On the issue of respondent's alleged violations of the
witnesses.23 Complainant presented his witnesses, as Revised Penal Code30 and/or RA 301931 as reflected in
follows: Assistant Solicitor General Karl Miranda (ASG the Senate Report, the Ombudsman's Resolution, and
Miranda), Ms. Laarni Morallos (Ms. Morallos), Atty. the Information, Commissioner Villadolid found that
Glenda T. Litong (Atty. Litong), Atty. Emelyn W. Corpus despite respondent's denials, complainant was able to
(Atty. Corpus), Mr. Marcelo Ecraela, and Mrs. Visitacion present certified true copies of the relevant documents
Ecraela. which support his allegations in the petition.
ASG Miranda testified on his participation in the KDC As for the alleged illicit affairs of respondent,
case as reflected in the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Commissioner Villadolid discredited complainant's
Report, as well as on his recollection that the Senate asse1iion that respondent is guilty of gross immoral
Report had recommended the disbarment of conduct for his alleged adulterous relations with EEE.
respondent. Based on the Rep01i, complainant was not able to
Ms. Morallos, Atty. Litong, and Atty. Corpus were discharge the burden of proving the authenticity of the
presented to establish that the email messages email messages pertaining to this adulterous affair;
submitted by complainant indeed originated from thus, they were deemed inadmissible. However,
respondent based on their familiarity with respondent, Commissioner Villadolid found merit in complainant's
paiiicularly, the email messages which contained claim that respondent committed grossly immoral
references to his daughter, his relationship with conduct by having illicit relations with ODD, CCC, and
complainant, and respondent's high blood pressure. BBB, all while still married to Jardiolin, to wit:
Atty. Litong further testified that respondent personally 4.21 In engaging in such illicit relationships, Respondent
introduced DDD to her as his girlfriend and that disregarded the sanctity of marriage and the marital
sometime in 2002 or 2003, she saw respondent with vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our
another girl in Glorietta despite still being married to his laws. which as a lawyer he swore under oath to protect.
wife. Atty. Litong also recalled encountering respondent The 1987 Constitution, specifically Article XV. Section 2
at a party sometime in 2007 where he was with CCC, thereof clearly provides that marriage, an inviolable
whom she perceived to be respondent's girlfriend at that social institution. is the foundation of the family and
time. She also confirmed that respondent had, in more shall be protected by the state.
than one occasion, brought with him his students during xxxx
their drinking sessions and had even one student driving 4.23 Moreover. Respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon
for him. I, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
For her testimony, Atty. Corpus corroborated Atty. Responsibility, which provides that .. a lawyer shall not
Litong's statements about respondent's preoccupations engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
with his students. Atty. Corpus also testified that ODD conduct"' nor shall a lawyer "engage in conduct that
called her at her office sometime in 2000 or 2001 to adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall
inform her that the latter had broken up with respondent he, whether in public or private life. behave in
upon learning that he was actually married. Atty. Corpus scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
surmised based on her telephone conversation with profession".32
DDD that respondent did not tell the latter his actual Accordingly, the IBP-CBD reached and gave the
marital status. Aside from this, Atty. Corpus also recalled following conclusion and recommendation: V.
that during complainant's farewell party in February Conclusion/Recommendations
2007, respondent introduced CCC as his girlfriend of six 5.1 In view of the foregoing, and considering that there
years, or since the year 2000 or 2001. is more than sufficient evidence establishing
To expedite the hearing, the spouses Ecraela were made Respondent's gross misconduct affecting his standing
to affirm the execution of their affidavits since their and moral character as an officer of the court and
testimonies were based on the affidavits that member of the bar, this Commissioner respectfully
complainant included in his petition. recommends that Respondent be suspended from the
Once complainant's presentation of witnesses was practice of law for a period of two (2) years with a
concluded, the mandatory conference/hearing was STERN WARNING that Respondent should reform his
terminated and the parties were directed to submit their conduct in a manner consistent with the norms
respective verified position papers with supporting prescribed by the Canons of Professional Responsibility. 33
documentary evidence within thi1iy (30) days from Findings of the IBP Board of Governors
receipt of the transcript of stenographic notes. After On March 20, 2013, the Board of Governors of the IBP
which, the case was considered submitted for report and issued a Resolution34 adopting and approving, with
recommendation. modification, the Report and Recommendation of
On September 18, 2007, the IBP-CBD received Commissioner Villadolid. As modified, the Board of
complainant's Manifestation (with Governors disbarred respondent, thus:
Comments),24 pertaining to respondent's Motion to RESOLUTION NO. XX-2013-280
Cancel Hearing and praying for the IBP-CBD to formally CBD Case No. 07-1973
request for records from Branch 77 of MTC, Parañaque Atty. Roy B. Ecraela vs.
City to verify respondent's claim that he had a hearing Atty. Ian Raymundo A. Pangalangan
in said court during the first scheduled mandatory
8

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby testifying. the nature of the facts to which they testify,
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c)
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the the witnesses' interest or want of interest. and also their
Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately
herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A", and appear in the trial; and (d) the number of witnesses,
finding the recommendation fully supported by the although it does not mean that preponderance is
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules necessarily with the greater number.
and considering Respondent's violations of Article XV of When the evidence of the parties are evenly balanced or
the 1987 Constitution, Section 2, Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 there is doubt on which side the evidence
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of Professional preponderates, the decision should be against the party
Responsibility, and the Lawyer's Oath, Atty. Ian with the burden of proof, according to the equipoise
Raymundo A. Pangalangan is hereby DISBARRED and his doctrine.
name Ordered Stricken Off from the Roll of Attorneys. To summarize, the Court has consistently held that in
On July 9, 2013, the IBP received respondent's Motion suspension or disbarment proceedings against lawyers,
for Reconsideration35 dated July 3, 2013, to which the lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and
complainant was required to submit his comment.36 the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to prove
For his part, complainant filed a Motion for the allegations in his complaint. The evidence required
Reconsideration (of the IBP-CBD Report dated June 28, in suspension or disbarment proceedings is
2012)37 dated August 17, 2013. Similarly, respondent preponderance of evidence. In case the evidence of the
was required to comment on complainant's motion in an parties are equally balanced, the equipoise doctrine
Order38 dated August 27, 2013. On the same date, mandates a decision in favor of the respondent. 46
complainant filed his Comment and/or Opposition (to the The IBP-CBD Report sufficiently showed by preponderant
Respondent's Motion for evidence the grounds by which respondent has been
Reconsideration).39 Subsequently, respondent filed a found committing gross immorality in the conduct of his
Comment on/Opposition to the Motion for personal affairs. This Court has, in numerous occasions,
Reconsideration with Leave40 dated September 12, revoked the licenses of lawyers who were proven to
2013, as well as a Reply to the Comment and/or have not only failed to retain good moral character in
Opposition41 dated September 20, 2013. their professional and personal lives, but have also
On May 3, 2014, the Board of Governors of the IBP made a mockery of the institution of marriage by
passed a resolution denying respondent's motion for maintaining illicit affairs.
reconsideration.42 Thereafter, the Director for Bar In Guevarra v. Eala, respondent Atty. Eala was disbarred
Discipline forwarded the records of this case to this because he showed disrespect for an institution held
Court on November 11, 2014.43 sacred by the law, by having an extramarital affair with
The Issue the wife of the complainant. In doing so, he betrayed his
The issue in this case is whether the respondent unfitness to be a lawyer.47
committed gross immoral conduct, which would warrant A year later, Atty. Arnobit met the same fate as Atty.
his disbarment. Eala when the Court revoked his privilege to practice
The Court's Ruling law after his philandering ways was proven by
After a thorough examination of the records, the Court preponderant evidence in Arnobit v. Arnobit.48 We ruled:
agrees with the Board of Governors' resolution finding As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be
that Atty. Pangalangan's grossly immoral conduct was of good moral character but must also be seen to be of
fully supported by the evidences offered. good moral character and leading lives in accordance
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: with the highest moral standards of the community. A
CANON 1 - A LA WYER SHALL UPHOLD THE member of the bar and an officer of the court is not only
CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND required to refrain from adulterous relationships or
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. keeping a mistress but must also so behave himself as
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. impression that he is flouting those moral standards.
xxxx xxxx
CANON 7 - A LA WYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE The fact that respondent s philandering ways are far
INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION removed from the exercise of his profession would not
AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. save the day for him. For a lawyer may be suspended or
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that disbarred for any misconduct which, albeit unrelated to
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall the actual practice of his profession, would show him to
he, whether in public or private life. behave in a be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal with which his license and the law invest him. To borrow
profession. from Orbe v. Adaw, "[t]he grounds expressed in Section
The practice of law is a privilege given to those who 27, Rule 138. of the Rules of Court are not !imitative and
possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications are broad enough to. cover any misconduct x x x of a
for the profession.44 Good moral character is not only lawyer in his professional or private capacity." To
required for admission to the Bar, but must also be reiterate, possession of good moral character is not only
retained in order to maintain one's good standing in this a condition precedent to the practice of law, but a
exclusive and honored fraternity.45 continuing qualification for all members of the bar. 49
We are not unmindful of the serious consequences of Similarly, in the more recent case of Dr. Elmar O. Perez
disbarment or suspension proceedings against a v. Atty. Tristan Catindig,50 the Court disbarred respondent
member of the Bar. Thus, the Court has consistently Atty. Catindig for blatantly and purposefully disregarding
held that clearly preponderant evidence is necessary to our laws on marriage by resorting to various legal
justify the imposition of administrative penalties on a strategies to render a facade of validity to his invalid
member of the Bar. This, We explained in Aba v. De second marriage, despite the existence of his first
Guzman, Jr.: marriage. We said:
Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a
adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct
greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of
which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief the community, conduct for instance. which makes 'a
than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Under mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage."
Section I of Rule 133, in determining whether or not In various cases, the Court has held that disbarment is
there is preponderance of evidence, the court may warranted when a lawyer abandons his lawful wife and
consider the following: (a) all the facts and maintains an illicit relationship with another woman who
circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses' manner of has borne him a child.51 (emphasis ours.)
testifying, their intelligence, their means and In the present case, complainant alleged that
opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are respondent carried on several adulterous and illicit
9

relations with both married and unmarried women the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides
between the years 1990 to 2007, including that "a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to
complainant's own wife. Through documentary the court" as well as Rule 10.01 and Rule 10.03 thereof
evidences in the form of email messages, as well as the which states that "a lawyer should do no falsehood nor
corroborating testimonies of the witnesses presented, consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he
complainant was able to establish respondent's illicit mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any artifice"
relations with DOD and CCC by preponderant evidence. and that "a lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure
Respondent's main defense against the alleged illicit and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice."
relations was that the same were not sufficiently 4.9 Courts [as well as this Commission] are entitled to
established. In his answer, respondent simply argued expect only complete candor and honesty from the
that complainant's petition contains self-serving lawyers appearing and pleading before them.
averments not supported by evidence. Respondent did Respondent, through his actuations, has been lacking in
not specifically deny complainant's allegations and, the candor required of him not only as a member of the
instead, questioned the admissibility of the supporting Bar but also as an officer of the Court. In view of the
documents.1âwphi1 Due to respondent's own failure to foregoing, the Commission finds that Respondent has
attend the hearings and even submit his own position violated Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of
paper, the existence of respondent's illicit relations with Professional Responsibility, for which he should be
DDD and CCC remain uncontroverted. disciplined.54 (emphasis in the original.)
The IBP-CBD Report was correct when it found that In denying complainant's allegations, respondent had no
respondent violated Article XV, Section 2 of the 1987 other intention but to mislead the IBP, which intention
Constitution, to wit: was more so established because complainant was able
4.21 In engaging in such illicit relationships, Respondent to submit supporting documents in the form of certified
disregarded the sanctity of marriage and the marital true copies of the Senate Report, the Ombudsman's
vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our Resolution, and Information.
laws, which as a lawyer he swore under oath to protect. We also agree with Commissioner Villadolid's finding
The 1987 Constitution, specifically A1iicle XV, Section 2 that respondent violated the lawyer's oath which he
thereof clearly provides that marriage, an inviolable took before admission to the Bar, which states:
social institution, is the foundation of the family and I, __________, do solemnly swear that I will maintain
shall be protected by the State.52 (emphasis in the allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines: I will
original.) support its Constitution and obey laws as well as the
Aside from respondent's illicit relations, We agree with legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I
Commissioner Villadolid' s findings that respondent will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any
violated Canon 10 of the Code of Professional court; I will not wittingly nor willingly promote or sue any
Responsibility, as well as Rule I 0.01 and Rule 10.03 groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor
thereof. consent to the same: I will delay no man for money or
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to
CANON 10 - A LA WYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good
GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. Rule 10.01 -A lawyer shall fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I
not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in impose upon myself this voluntary obligations without
Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help
misled by any artifice. me God.
xxx In all, Atty. Pangalangan displayed deplorable arrogance
Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of by making a mockery out of the institution of marriage,
procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends and taking advantage of his legal skills by attacking the
of justice. Petition through technicalities and refusing to participate
In the Petition, complainant alleged that respondent was in the proceedings. His actions showed that he lacked
the subject of a Senate Inquiry and had a pending case the degree of morality required of him as a member of
for graft and corruption against him with the the bar, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment.
Sandiganbayan, to wit: WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing, the
13. Respondent has been recommended by the Senate Court resolves to ADOPT the resolution of the IBP Board
Blue Ribbon and Justice & Human Rights Committees to of Governors approving and adopting, with modification,
be investigated and prosecuted by the Ombudsman, the the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
same as contained in their "Committee Final Report No. Commissioner. Accordingly, respondent Atty. Ian
367" herein attached as Annex D; Raymond A. Pangalangan is found GUILTY of gross
14. Respondent has also been recommended by the immorality and of violating Section 2 of A1iicle XV of the
abovementioned committees to suffer the penalty of 1987 Constitution, Canon 1 and Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and
disbarment, among others, as evidenced by the herein Rule 7.03, and Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 of the Code of
attached Annex D-1, and it is believed that a case for Professional Responsibility, and the Lawyer's Oath and is
graft and corruption against him is still pending with the hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law.
Sandiganbayan."53 Let a copy of this Decision be entered into the personal
Instead of refuting these claims, respondent merely records of Atty. Ian Raymond A. Pangalangan with the
pointed out in his Answer that complainant failed to Office of the Bar Confidant and his name is ORDERED
adduce additional evidence that a case had been filed STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Likewise, let copies
against him, and that complainant's statements were of this Decision be furnished to all chapters of the
merely self-serving averments not substantiated by any Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated by the
evidence. In his Reply, respondent even specifically Cou1i Administrator to all the cou1is in the country for
denied complainant's averments for "lack of knowledge their information and guidance.
and information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth This Decision takes effect immediately.
or falsity thereof." SO ORDERED.
We agree with Commissioner Villadolid's findings in the LEGAL ETHICS CASES CHAPTER 7 Duties and
IBP-CBD Report, viz: responsibilities of a lawyer
4.8 It (sic) is thus indisputable that Respondent's
pretensions in his Answer were made in attempt to A.M. Nos. 1302, 1391 and 1543 April 26,
mislead this Commission. Respondent could have easily 1991
admitted or denied said allegations or explained the PAULINO VALENCIA, complainant,
same, as he (sic) clearly had knowledge thereof, vs.
however, he (sic) chose to take advantage of ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING, respondent.
Complainant's position of being not present in the CONSTANCIA L. VALENCIA, complainant,
country and not being able to acquire the necessary vs.
documents, skirt the issue, and mislead the ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, ATTY. EDUARDO U.
Commission. In doing so, he has violated Canon 10 of
10

JOVELLANOS and ATTY. ARSENIO FER. purchasing a litigated property allegedly in violation of
CABANTING,respondents. Article 1491 of the New Civil Code; and against the three
LYDIA BERNAL, complainant, lawyers, for allegedly rigging Civil Case No. V-2170
vs. against her parents. On August 17, 1975, Constancia
ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, respondent. Valencia filed additional charges against Atty. Antiniw
and Atty. Jovellanos as follows:
PER CURIAM: 1. AGAINST ATTY. DIONISIO ANTINIW:
These consolidated administrative cases seek to disbar In the year 1973 Atty. Dionisio Antiniw
respondents Dionisio Antiniw, Arsenio Fer. Cabanting fraudulently and in confabulation with one Lydia
and Eduardo Jovellanos (the last named, now an MCTC Bernal had a deed of sale, fabricated, executed
Judge) for grave malpractice and misconduct in the and ratified before him as Notary Public by one
exercise of their legal profession committed in the Santiago Bernal in favor of Lydia Bernal when as
following manner: a matter of fact said Santiago Bernal had died
1. Administrative Cases No. 1302 and 1391. already about eight years before in the year
In 1933, complainant Paulino Valencia (Paulino in short) 1965.
and his wife Romana allegedly bought a parcel of land, 2. AGAINST ATTY. EDUARDO JOVELLANOS:
where they built their residential house, from a certain In the year 1954 Atty. Eduardo Jovellanos,
Serapia Raymundo, an heir of Pedro Raymundo the fraudulently and in bad faith, in confabulation
original owner. However, they failed to register the sale with Rosa de los Santos as vendee had, as
or secure a transfer certificate of title in their names. Notary Public, executed and ratified before him,
Sometime in December, 1968, a conference was held in two (2) deeds of sale in favor of said Rosa de los
the house of Atty. Eduardo Jovellanos to settle the land Santos when as a matter of fact the said deeds
dispute between Serapia Raymundo (Serapia in short) were not in fact executed by the supposed
another heir of Pedro Raymundo, and the Valencia vendor Rufino Rincoraya and so Rufino
spouses since both were relatives and distant kin of Atty. Rincoraya had filed a Civil Case in Court to annul
Jovellanos. Serapia was willing to relinquish ownership if and declare void the said sales (p. 7, Report)
the Valencias could show documents evidencing 2. Administrative Case No. 1543.
ownership. Paulino exhibited a deed of sale written in A deed of donation propter nuptias involving the
the Ilocano dialect. However, Serapia claimed that the transfer of a piece of land by the grandparents of Lydia
deed covered a different property. Paulino and Serapia Bernal (complainant,) in favor of her parents, was lost
were not able to settle their differences. (Report of during the last world war. For this reason, her
Investigating Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr., pp. 21-22). grandmother (the living donor) executed a deed of
On December 15, 1969 Serapia, assisted by Atty. confirmation of the donation propter nuptias with
Arsenio Fer. Cabanting, filed a complaint against Paulino renunciation of her rights over the property. (Complaint,
for the recovery of possession with damages. The case p. 1). Notwithstanding the deed, her grandmother still
was docketed as Civil Case No. V-2170, entitled "Serapia offered to sell the same property in favor of the
Raymundo, Plaintiff, versus Paulino Valencia, complainant, ostensibly to strengthen the deed of
Defendant." (Report, p. 11). donation (to prevent others from claim-ing the
Summoned to plead in Civil Case No. V-2170, the property).
Valencias engaged the services of Atty. Dionisio Antiniw. On consultation, Atty., Antiniw advised them to execute
Atty. Antiniw advised them to present a notarized deed a deed of sale. Atty. Antiniw allegedly prepared and
of sale in lieu of the private document written in Ilocano. notarized the deed of sale in the name of her
For this purpose, Paulino gave Atty. Antiniw an amount grandfather (deceased at the time of signing) with her
of P200.00 to pay the person who would falsify the grandmother's approval.
signature of the alleged vendor (Complaint, p. 2; Rollo, Felicidad Bernal-Duzon, her aunt who had a claim over
p. 7). A "Compraventa Definitiva" (Exh. B) was executed the property filed a complaint against her (Lydia Bernal)
purporting to be a sale of the questioned lot. and her counsel, Atty. Antiniw for falsification of a public
On January 22, 1973, the Court of First Instance of document. (Complaint, pp. 1-2) The fiscal exonerated
Pangasinan, Branch V, rendered a decision in favor of the counsel for lack of evidence, while a case was filed
plaintiff, Serapia Raymundo. The lower court expressed in court against Lydia Bernal.
the belief that the said document is not authentic. On October 3, 1975, Lydia Bernal filed a disbarment
(Report, p. 14) proceeding (docketed as Administrative Case No.1543)
Paulino, thereafter, filed a Petition for Certiorari, under against Atty. Antiniw for illegal acts and bad advice.
Rule 65, with Preliminary Injunction before the Court of Pursuant to the resolution of the First Division of this
Appeals alleging that the trial court failed to provide a Court dated December 9, 1974, the resolution of the
workable solution concerning his house. While the Second Division dated March 3, 1975 and the two
petition was pending, the trial court, on March 9, 1973, resolutions of the Second Division both dated December
issued an order of execution stating that "the decision in 3, 1975, Administrative Cases Nos. 1302, 1391 and
this case has already become final and executory" 1543 were referred to the Office of the Solicitor General
(Exhibits 3 and 3-A). On March 14, 1973, a writ of for investigation, report and recommendation.
execution was issued. Upon formal request of Constancia L. Valencia and Lydia
On March 20, 1973, Serapia sold 40 square meters of Bernal dated March 3, 1976, all of these cases were
the litigated lot to Atty. Jovellanos and the remaining ordered consolidated by Solicitor General Estelito P.
portion she sold to her counsel, Atty. Arsenio Fer. Mendoza per his handwritten directive of March 9, 1976.
Cabanting, on April 25, 1973. (Annex "A" of On April 12, 1988, We referred the investigation of these
Administrative Case No. 1302). cases to the Integrated Bar of the
On March 4, 1974, Paulino filed a disbarment proceeding Philippines.1âwphi1 When Atty. Jovellanos was
(docketed as Administrative Case No. 1302) against Atty. appointed as Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge of
Cabanting on the ground that said counsel allegedly Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, We referred the
violated Article 1491 of the New Civil Code as well as investigation of these cases to Acting Presiding Judge
Article II of the Canons of Professional Ethics, prohibiting Cesar Mindaro, Regional Trial Court, Branch 50, Villasis,
the purchase of property under litigation by a counsel. Pangasinan, for further investigation.
On March 21, 1974 the appellate court dismissed the In view of the seriousness of the charge against the
petition of Paulino. respondents and the alleged threats against the person
On October 14, 1974, Constancia Valencia, daughter of of complainant Constancia L. Valencia, We directed the
Paulino, filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed as transfer of investigation to the Regional Trial Court of
Administrative Case No. 1391) against Atty. Dionisio Manila.
Antiniw for his participation in the forgery of The three administrative cases were raffled to Branch
"Compraventa Definitiva" and its subsequent XVII of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, under the sala
introduction as evidence for his client; and also, against of Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr.
Attys. Eduardo Jovellanos and Arsenio Cabanting for
11

After investigation, Judge Catalino Castañeda, Jr., los Reyes vs. Aznar, Adm. Case No. 1334, Nov. 28,
recommended the dismissal of cases against Atty. 1989).
Jovellanos and Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting; dismissal of Although Paulino was a common farmer who finished
Administrative Case No. 1543 and the additional only Grade IV, his testimony, even if not corroborated by
charges in Administrative Case No. 1391 against Antiniw another witness, deserves credence and can be relied
and Judge Jovellanos; however, he recommended the upon. His declaration dwelt on a subject which was so
suspension of Atty. Antiniw from the practice of law for delicate and confidential that it would be difficult to
six months finding him guilty of malpractice in falsifying believe the he fabricated his evidence.
the "Compraventa Definitiva." There is a clear preponderant evidence that Atty.
The simplified issues of these consolidated cases are: Antiniw committed falsification of a deed of sale, and its
I. Whether or not Atty. Cabanting purchased the subsequent introduction in court prejudices his prime
subject property in violation of Art. 1491 of the duty in the administration of justice as an officer of the
New Civil Code. court.
II. Whether or not Attys. Antiniw and Jovellanos A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his
are guilty of malpractice in falsifying notarial client (Santos vs. Dichoso, 84 SCRA 622), but not at the
documents. expense of truth. (Cosmos Foundry Shopworkers Union
III. Whether or not the three lawyers connived in vs. La Bu, 63 SCRA 313). The first duty of a lawyer is not
rigging Civil Case No. V-2170. to his client but to the administration of justice. (Lubiano
I vs. Gordalla, 115 SCRA 459) To that end, his client's
Under Article 1491 of the New Civil Code: success is wholly subordinate. His conduct ought to and
The following persons cannot acquire by must always be scrupulously observant of law and
purchase, even at a public of judicial auction, ethics. While a lawyer must advocate his client's cause
either in person or through the mediation of in utmost earnestness and with the maximum skill he
another: can marshal, he is not at liberty to resort to illegal
xxx xxx xxx means for his client's interest. It is the duty of an
(5) . . . this prohibition includes the act of attorney to employ, for the purpose of maintaining the
acquiring by assignment and shall apply to causes confided to him, such means as are consistent
lawyers, with respect to the property and rights with truth and honor. (Pangan vs. Ramos, 93 SCRA 87).
which may be the object of any litigation in Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with
which they make take part by virtue of their conditions. By far, the most important of them is
profession. mindfulness that a lawyer is an officer of the court. (In
Public policy prohibits the transactions in view of the re: Ivan T. Publico, 102 SCRA 722). This Court may
fiduciary relationship involved. It is intended to curtail suspend or disbar a lawyer whose acts show his
any undue influence of the lawyer upon his client. Greed unfitness to continue as a member of the Bar. (Halili vs.
may get the better of the sentiments of loyalty and CIR, 136 SCRA 112). Disbarment, therefore, is not meant
disinterestedness. Any violation of this prohibition would as a punishment depriving him of a source of livelihood
constitute malpractice (In re: Attorney Melchor Ruste, 40 but is rather intended to protect the administration of
O.G. p. 78) and is a ground for suspension. (Beltran vs. justice by requiring that those who exercise this function
Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248). should be competent, honorable and reliable in order
Art. 1491, prohibiting the sale to the counsel concerned, that courts and the public may rightly repose confidence
applies only while the litigation is pending. (Director of in them. (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293). Atty. Antiniw
Lands vs. Adaba, 88 SCRA 513; Hernandez vs. failed to live up to the high standards of the law
Villanueva, 40 Phil. 775). profession.
In the case at bar, while it is true that Atty. Arsenio Fer. The other charges of malpractice against Atty. Antiniw
Cabanting purchased the lot after finality of judgment, and Atty. Jovellanos should be dismissed for lack of
there was still a pending certiorari proceeding. A thing is evidence.
said to be in litigation not only if there is some contest During the proceedings in Administrative Case No. 1543,
or litigation over it in court, but also from the moment Lydia Bernal testified in full on direct examination, but
that it becomes subject to the judicial action of the she never submitted herself for cross-examination.
judge. (Gan Tingco vs. Pabinguit, 35 Phil. 81). Logic Several subpoenas for cross-examination were
indicates, in certiorari proceedings, that the appellate unheeded. She eventually requested the withdrawal of
court may either grant or dismiss the petition. Hence, it her complaint.
is not safe to conclude, for purposes under Art. 1491 Procedural due process demands that respondent
that the litigation has terminated when the judgment of lawyer should be given an opportunity to cross-examine
the trial court become final while a certiorari connected the witnesses against him.1âwphi1 He enjoys the legal
therewith is still in progress. Thus, purchase of the presumption that he is innocent of the charges against
property by Atty. Cabanting in this case constitutes him until the contrary is proved. (Santos vs. Dichoso, 84
malpractice in violation of Art. 1491 and the Canons of SCRA 622). The case must be established by clear,
Professional Ethics. Clearly, this malpractice is a ground convincing and satisfactory proof. (Camus vs. Diaz, Adm.
for suspension. Case No. 1616, February 9, 1989), Since Atty. Antiniw
The sale in favor of Atty. Jovellanos does not constitute was not accorded this procedural due process, it is but
malpractice. There was no attorney-client relationship proper that the direct testimony of Lydia Bernal be
between Serapia and Atty. Jovellanos, considering that stricken out.
the latter did not take part as counsel in Civil Case No. In view also of the affidavit of desistance executed by
V-2170. The transaction is not covered by Art. 1491 nor the complainant, Administrative Case No. 1543 should
by the Canons adverted to. be dismissed. Although the filing of an affidavit of
II desistance by complainant for lack of interest does
It is asserted by Paulino that Atty. Antiniw asked for and not ipso factoresult in the termination of a case for
received the sum of P200.00 in consideration of his suspension or disbarment of an erring lawyer (Munar vs.
executing the document "Compraventa Definitiva" which Flores, 122 SCRA 448), We are constrained in the case at
would show that Paulino bought the property. This bar, to dismiss the same because there was no evidence
charge, Atty. Antiniw simply denied. It is settled to substantiate the charges.
jurisprudence that affirmative testimony is given greater The additional charge against Atty. Antiniw in
weight than negative testimony (Bayasen vs. CA, L- Administrative Case No. 1391 is predicated on the
25785, Feb. 26, 1981; Vda. de Ramos vs. CA, et al., information furnished by Lydia Bernal. It was not based
L40804, Jan. 31, 1978). When an individual's integrity is on the personal knowledge of Constancia L. Valencia:
challenged by evidence, it is not enough that he deny hence, hearsay. "Any evidence, whether oral or
the charges against him; he must meet the issue and documentary, is hearsay if its probative value is not
overcome the evidence for the relator and show proofs based on the personal knowledge of the witness but on
that he still maintains the highest degree of morality the knowledge of some other person not on the witness
and integrity which at all time is expected of him. (De stand." (Regalado, Remedial Law Compendium, 6th ed.,
12

vol. 2, 1989, p. 486). Being hearsay, the evidence court has the right to rely upon him in ascertaining the
presented is inadmissible. truth. In representing himself to the court as "Pedro D.D.
The additional charge filed by Constancia L. Valencia Ramos" instead of "Dionisio D. Ramos", respondent has
against Atty. Jovellanos in Administrative Case No. 1391 violated his solemn oath.
was not proved at all. Complainant failed to prove her The duty of an attorney to the courts to employ, for the
additional charges. purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such
III means as are consistent with truth and honor cannot be
There is no evidence on record that the three lawyers overempahisized. These injunctions circumscribe the
involved in these administrative cases conspired in general duty of entire devotion of the attorney to the
executing the falsified "Compraventa Definitiva" and client. As stated in a case, his I nigh vocation is to
rigged the Civil Case No. V-2170. correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of
Atty. Jovellanos is a distant kin of the Raymundos and the case, and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at
Valencias. In fact, he and the Valencias are neighbors correct conclusions. He violates Ms oath of office ,when
and only two meters separate their houses. It would not he resorts to deception or permits his client to do so." 2
be believable that Atty. Jovellanos, a practicing lawyer, In using the name of' Pedro D.D. Ramos" before the
would hold a meeting with the heirs of Pedro Raymundo courts instead of the name by which he was authorized
in his house with the intention of inducing them to sue to practice law - Dionisio D. Ramos - respondent in effect
the Valencias. Atty. Jovellanos even tried to settle the resorted to deception. The demonstrated lack of candor
differences between the parties in a meeting held in his in dealing with the courts. The circumstance that this is
house. He appeared in Civil Case No. V-2170 as an his first aberration in this regard precludes Us from
involuntary witness to attest to the holding of the imposing a more severe penalty.
conference. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent
Besides, the camaraderie among lawyers is not proof of Dionisio D. Ramos is severely REPRIMANDED and
conspiracy, but a sign of brotherhood among them. One warned that a repetition of the same overt act may
of the fourfold duties of a lawyer is his duty to the Bar. A warrant his suspencion or disbarment from the practice
lawyer should treat the opposing counsel, and his of law.
brethren in the law profession, with courtesy, dignity It appearing that the hearing of this case has been
and civility. They may "do as adversaries do in law: unduly delayed, the Investigator of this Court is directed
strive mightily but (they) eat and drink as friends." This forthwith to proceed with the hearing to terminate it as
friendship does not connote conspiracy. soon as possible. The request of complainant to appear
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring: 1. in the afore-mentioned hearing, assisted by her counsel,
Dionisio Antiniw DISBARRED from the practice of law, Atty. Jose U. Lontoc, is hereby granted.
and his name is ordered stricken off from the roll of SO ORDERED
attorneys; 2. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting SUSPENDED from
the practice of law for six months from finality of this
G.R. No. L-23815 June 28, 1974
judgment; and 3. Administrative Case No. 1391 against
ADELINO H. LEDESMA, petitioner,
Attorney Eduardo Jovellanos and additional charges
vs.
therein, and Administrative Case No. 1543 DISMISSED.
HON. RAFAEL C. CLIMACO, Presiding Judge of the
SO ORDERED.
Court of First Instance of Negros Occidental,
Branch I, Silay City, respondent.
A.M. No. 1053 September 7, 1979 Adelino H. Ledesma in his own behalf.
SANTA PANGAN, complainant Hon. Rafael C. Climaco in his own behalf.
vs.
ATTY. DIONISIO RAMOS, respondent, FERNANDO, J.:p
RESOLUTION What is assailed in this certiorari proceeding is an order
of respondent Judge denying a motion filed by petitioner
ANTONIO, J.: to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio.1One of
This has reference to the motion of complainant, Santa the grounds for such a motion was his allegation that
Pangan, to cite respondent Dionisio Ramos for with his appointment as Election Registrar by the
contempt. It appears from the record that on September Commission on Elections, he was not in a position to
7, 1978 and March 13, 1979, the hearings in this devote full time to the defense of the two accused. The
administrative case were postponed on the basis of denial by respondent Judge of such a plea,
respondent's motions for postponement. These motions notwithstanding the conformity of the defendants, was
were predicated on respondent's allegations that on said due "its principal effect [being] to delay this case." 2 It
dates he had a case set for hearing before Branch VII, was likewise noted that the prosecution had already
Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled People v. rested and that petitioner was previously counsel de
Marieta M. Isip (Criminal Case No. 35906). Upon parte, his designation in the former category being
verification, the attorney of record of the accused in said precisely to protect him in his new position without
case is one "Atty. Pedro D.D. Ramos, 306 Dona Salud prejudicing the accused. It cannot be plausibly asserted
Bldg., Dasmarinas Manila." Respondent admits that he that such failure to allow withdrawal of de oficio counsel
used the name of "Pedro D.D. Ramos" before said court could ordinarily be characterized as a grave abuse of
in connection with Criminal Case No. 35906, but avers discretion correctible by certiorari. There is, however,
that he had a right to do so because in his Birth the overriding concern for the right to counsel of the
Certificate (Annex "A"), his name is "Pedro Dionisio accused that must be taken seriously into consideration.
Ramos", and -his parents are Pedro Ramos and Carmen In appropriate cases, it should tilt the balance. This is
Dayaw, and that the D.D. in "Pedro D.D. Ramos" is but not one of them. What is easily discernible was the
an abbreviation of "Dionisio Dayaw his other given name obvious reluctance of petitioner to comply with the
and maternal surname. responsibilities incumbent on the counsel de oficio.
This explanation of respondent is untenable. The name Then, too, even on the assumption that he continues in
appearing in the "Roll of Attorneys" is "Dionisio D. his position, his volume of work is likely to be very much
Ramos". The attorney's roll or register is the official less at present. There is not now the slightest pretext for
record containing the names and signatures of those him to shirk an obligation a member of the bar, who
who are authorized to practice law. A lawyer is not expects to remain in good standing, should fulfill. The
authorized to use a name other than the one inscribed petition is clearly without merit.
in the Roll of Attorneys in his practice of law. According to the undisputed facts, petitioner, on
The official oath obliges the attorney solemnly to swear October 13, 1964, was appointed Election Registrar for
that he will do no falsehood". As an officer in the temple the Municipality of Cadiz, Province of Negros Occidental.
of justice, an attorney has irrefragable obligations of Then and there, he commenced to discharge its duties.
"truthfulness, candor and frankness". 1 Indeed, candor As he was counsel de parte for one of the accused in a
and frankness should characterize the conduct of the case pending in the sala of respondent Judge, he filed a
lawyer at every stage. This has to be so because the motion to withdraw as such. Not only did respondent
13

Judge deny such motion, but he also appointed him since a lawyer has to live; certainly he cannot afford
counsel de oficio for the two defendants. Subsequently, either to neglect his paying cases. Nonetheless, what is
on November 3, 1964, petitioner filed an urgent motion incumbent upon him as counsel de oficio must be
to be allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio, premised fulfilled."8
on the policy of the Commission on Elections to require So it has been from the 1905 decision of In re Robles
full time service as well as on the volume or pressure of Lahesa,9 where respondent was de oficio counsel, the
work of petitioner, which could prevent him from opinion penned by Justice Carson making clear: "This
handling adequately the defense. Respondent Judge, in Court should exact from its officers and subordinates the
the challenged order of November 6, 1964, denied said most scrupulous performance of their official duties,
motion. A motion for reconsideration having proved especially when negligence in the performance of those
futile, he instituted this certiorari proceeding.3 duties necessarily results in delays in the prosecution of
As noted at the outset, the petition must fail. criminal cases ...."10 Justice Sanchez in People v.
1. The assailed order of November 6, 1964 denying the Estebia11reiterated such a view in these words: "It is true
urgent motion of petitioner to withdraw as counsel de that he is a court-appointed counsel. But we do say that
oficiospeaks for itself. It began with a reminder that a as such counsel de oficio, he has as high a duty to the
crime was allegedly committed on February 17, 1962, accused as one employed and paid by defendant
with the proceedings having started in the municipal himself. Because, as in the case of the latter, he must
court of Cadiz on July 11, 1962. Then respondent Judge exercise his best efforts and professional ability in behalf
spoke of his order of October 16, 1964 which reads thus: of the person assigned to his care. He is to render
"In view of the objection of the prosecution to the effective assistance. The accused-defendant expects of
motion for postponement of October 15, 1964 (alleging him due diligence, not mere perfunctory representation.
that counsel for the accused cannot continue appearing For, indeed a lawyer who is a vanguard in the bastion of
in this case without the express authority of the justice is expected to have a bigger dose of social
Commission on Elections); and since according to the conscience and a little less of self-interest." 12
prosecution there are two witnesses who are ready to The weakness of the petition is thus quite evident.
take the stand, after which the government would rest, 3. If respondent Judge were required to answer the
the motion for postponement is denied. When counsel petition, it was only due to the apprehension that
for the accused assumed office as Election Registrar on considering the frame of mind of a counsel loath and
October 13, 1964, he knew since October 2, 1964 that reluctant to fulfill his obligation, the welfare of the
the trial would be resumed today. Nevertheless, in order accused could be prejudiced. His right to counsel could
not to prejudice the civil service status of counsel for the in effect be rendered nugatory. Its importance was
accused, he is hereby designated counsel de oficio for rightfully stressed by Chief Justice Moran in People v.
the accused. The defense obtained postponements on Holgado in these words: "In criminal cases there can be
May 17, 1963, June 13, 1963, June 14, 1963, October 28, no fair hearing unless the accused be given an
1963, November 27, 1963, February 11, 1964, March 9, opportunity to be heard by counsel. The right to be
1964, June 8, 1964 July 26, 1964, and September 7, heard would be of little avail if it does not include the
1964."4 Reference was then made to another order of right to be heard by counsel. Even the most intelligent
February 11, 1964: "Upon petition of Atty. Adelino H. or educated man may have no skill in the science of law,
Ledesma, alleging indisposition, the continuation of the particularly in the rules of procedure, and; without
trial of this case is hereby transferred to March 9, 1964 counsel, he may be convicted not because he is guilty
at 8:30 in the morning. The defense is reminded that at but because he does not know how to establish his
its instance, this case has been postponed at least eight innocence. And this can happen more easily to persons
(8) times, and that the government witnesses have to who are ignorant or uneducated. It is for this reason that
come all the way from Manapala." 5 After which, it was the right to be assisted by counsel is deemed so
noted in such order that there was no incompatibility important that it has become a constitutional right and
between the duty of petitioner to the accused and to the it is so implemented that under rules of procedure it is
court and the performance of his task as an election not enough for the Court to apprise an accused of his
registrar of the Commission on Elections and that the right to have an attorney, it is not enough to ask him
ends of justice "would be served by allowing and whether he desires the aid of an attorney, but it is
requiring Mr. Ledesma to continue as counsel de oficio, essential that the court should assign one de oficio for
since the prosecution has already rested its case." 6 him if he so desires and he is poor or grant him a
2. What is readily apparent therefore, is that petitioner reasonable time to procure an attorney of his
was less than duly mindful of his obligation as own."13 So it was under the previous Organic Acts. 14 The
counsel de oficio. He ought to have known that present Constitution is even more emphatic. For, in
membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with addition to reiterating that the accused "shall enjoy the
conditions. It could be that for some lawyers, especially right to be heard by himself and counsel," 15 there is this
the neophytes in the profession, being appointed new provision: "Any person under investigation for the
counsel de oficio is an irksome chore. For those holding commission of an offense shall have the right to remain
such belief, it may come as a surprise that counsel of silent and to counsel, and to be informed of such right.
repute and of eminence welcome such an opportunity. It No force, violence, threat, intimidation, or any other
makes even more manifest that law is indeed a means which vitiates the free will shall be used against
profession dedicated to the ideal of service and not a him. Any confession obtained in violation of this section
mere trade. It is understandable then why a high degree shall be inadmissible in evidence." 16
of fidelity to duty is required of one so designated. A Thus is made manifest the indispensable role of a
recent statement of the doctrine is found in People v. member of the Bar in the defense of an accused. Such a
Daban:7 "There is need anew in this disciplinary consideration could have sufficed for petitioner not
proceeding to lay stress on the fundamental postulate being allowed to withdraw as counsel de oficio. For he
that membership in the bar carries with it a did betray by his moves his lack of enthusiasm for the
responsibility to live up to its exacting standard. The law task entrusted to him, to put matters mildly. He did point
is a profession, not a trade or a craft. Those enrolled in though to his responsibility as an election registrar.
its ranks are called upon to aid in the performance of Assuming his good faith, no such excuse could be
one of the basic purposes of the State, the availed now. There is not likely at present, and in the
administration of justice. To avoid any frustration immediate future, an exorbitant demand on his time. It
thereof, especially in the case of an indigent defendant, may likewise be assumed, considering what has been
a lawyer may be required to act as counsel de oficio. set forth above, that petitioner would exert himself
The fact that his services are rendered without sufficiently to perform his task as defense counsel with
remuneration should not occasion a diminution in his competence, if not with zeal, if only to erase doubts as
zeal. Rather the contrary. This is not, of course, to ignore to his fitness to remain a member of the profession in
that other pressing matters do compete for his good standing. The admonition is ever timely for those
attention. After all, he has his practice to attend to. That enrolled in the ranks of legal practitioners that there are
circumstance possesses a high degree of relevance times, and this is one of them, when duty to court and
14

to client takes precedence over the promptings of self- annulment of the sale. I believe, lastly, that the
interest. transaction cannot be avoided merely because it
WHEREFORE, the petition for certiorari is dismissed. was made during the Japanese occupation, nor
Costs against petitioner. on the simple allegation that the real purchaser
Zaldivar (Chairman), Antonio, Fernandez and Aquino, JJ., was not a citizen of the Philippines. On his last
concur. point, furthermore, I expect that you will have
Barredo, J., took no part. great difficulty in proving that the real purchaser
G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949 was other than Mr. Assad, considering that
BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner, death has already sealed your husband's lips
vs. and he cannot now testify as to the
JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, circumstances of the sale.
JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JACOB For the foregoing reasons, I regret to advise you
ASSAD, respondents. that I cannot appear in the proceedings in your
TUASON, J.: behalf. The records of the case you loaned to me
It appears that on April 23, 1945, Blandina Gamboa are herewith returned.
Hilado brought an action against Selim Jacob Assad to
annul the sale of several houses and lot executed during
the Japanese occupation by Mrs. Hilado's now deceased Yours very truly,
husband. (Sgd.) VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
On May 14, Attorneys Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita filed
an answer on behalf of the defendant; and on June 15,
Attorneys Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo registered VJF/Rag.
their appearance as counsel for the plaintiff. On October In his answer to plaintiff's attorneys' complaint, Attorney
5, these attorneys filed an amended complaint by Francisco alleged that about May, 1945, a real estate
including Jacob Assad as party defendant. broker came to his office in connection with the legal
On January 28, 1946, Attorney Francisco entered his separation of a woman who had been deserted by her
appearance as attorney of record for the defendant in husband, and also told him (Francisco) that there was a
substitution for Attorney Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita pending suit brought by Mrs. Hilado against a certain
who had withdrawn from the case. Syrian to annul the sale of a real estate which the
On May 29, Attorney Dizon, in the name of his firm, deceased Serafin Hilado had made to the Syrian during
wrote Attorney Francisco urging him to discontinue the Japanese occupation; that this woman asked him if
representing the defendants on the ground that their he was willing to accept the case if the Syrian should
client had consulted with him about her case, on which give it to him; that he told the woman that the sales of
occasion, it was alleged, "she turned over the papers" to real property during the Japanese regime were valid
Attorney Francisco, and the latter sent her a written even though it was paid for in Japanese military notes;
opinion. Not receiving any answer to this suggestion, that this being his opinion, he told his visitor he would
Attorney Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo on June 3, have no objection to defending the Syrian;
1946, filed a formal motion with the court, wherein the That one month afterwards, Mrs. Hilado came to see him
case was and is pending, to disqualify Attorney about a suit she had instituted against a certain Syrian
Francisco. to annul the conveyance of a real estate which her
Attorney Francisco's letter to plaintiff, mentioned above husband had made; that according to her the case was
and identified as Exhibit A, is in full as follows: in the hands of Attorneys Delgado and Dizon, but she
VICENTE J. FRANCISCO wanted to take it away from them; that as he had known
Attorney-at-Law the plaintiff's deceased husband he did not hesitate to
tell her frankly that hers was a lost case for the same
1462 Estrada, Manila reason he had told the broker; that Mrs. Hilado retorted
that the basis of her action was not that the money paid
July 13, 1945. her husband was Japanese military notes, but that the
premises were her private and exclusive property; that
she requested him to read the complaint to be
Mrs. Blandina Gamboa Hilado convinced that this was the theory of her suit; that he
Manila, Philippines then asked Mrs. Hilado if there was a Torrens title to the
My dear Mrs. Hilado: property and she answered yes, in the name of her
From the papers you submitted to me in husband; that he told Mrs. Hilado that if the property
connection with civil case No. 70075 of the was registered in her husband's favor, her case would
Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled not prosper either;
"Blandina Gamboa Hilado vs. S. J. Assad," I find That some days afterward, upon arrival at his law office
that the basic facts which brought about the on Estrada street, he was informed by Attorney Federico
controversy between you and the defendant Agrava, his assistant, that Mrs. Hilado had dropped in
therein are as follows: looking for him and that when he, Agrava, learned that
(a) That you were the equitable owner of the Mrs. Hilado's visit concerned legal matters he attended
property described in the complaint, as the to her and requested her to leave the "expediente"
same was purchased and/or built with funds which she was carrying, and she did; that he told
exclusively belonging to you, that is to say, the Attorney Agrava that the firm should not handle Mrs.
houses and lot pertained to your paraphernal Hilado's case and he should return the papers, calling
estate; Agrava's attention to what he (Francisco) already had
(b) That on May 3, 1943, the legal title to the said to Mrs. Hilado;
property was with your husband, Mr. Serafin P. That several days later, the stenographer in his law
Hilado; and office, Teofilo Ragodon, showed him a letter which had
(c) That the property was sold by Mr. Hilado been dictated in English by Mr. Agrava, returning the
without your knowledge on the aforesaid date of "expedients" to Mrs. Hilado; that Ragodon told him
May 3, 1943. (Attorney Francisco) upon Attorney Agrava's request
Upon the foregoing facts, I am of the opinion that Agrava thought it more proper to explain to Mrs.
that your action against Mr. Assad will not Hilado the reasons why her case was rejected; that he
ordinarily prosper. Mr. Assad had the right to forthwith signed the letter without reading it and without
presume that your husband had the legal right keeping it for a minute in his possession; that he never
to dispose of the property as the transfer saw Mrs. Hilado since their last meeting until she talked
certificate of title was in his name. Moreover, to him at the Manila Hotel about a proposed
the price of P110,000 in Japanese military notes, extrajudicial settlement of the case;
as of May 3, 1943, does not quite strike me as That in January, 1946, Assad was in his office to request
so grossly inadequate as to warrant the him to handle his case stating that his American lawyer
15

had gone to the States and left the case in the hands of parties to a controversy whose interests are opposed to
other attorneys; that he accepted the retainer and on each other, but such prohibition is necessarily implied in
January 28, 1946, entered his appearance. the injunctions above quoted. (In re De la Rosa, 27 Phil.,
Attorney Francisco filed an affidavit of stenographer 258.) In fact the prohibition derives validity from sources
Ragodon in corroboration of his answer. higher than written laws and rules. As has been aptly
The judge trying the case, Honorable Jose Gutierrez said in In re Merron, 22 N. M., 252, L.R.A., 1917B, 378,
David, later promoted to the Court of Appeals, dismissed "information so received is sacred to the employment to
the complaint. His Honor believed that no information which it pertains," and "to permit it to be used in the
other than that already alleged in plaintiff's complaint in interest of another, or, worse still, in the interest of the
the main cause was conveyed to Attorney Francisco, and adverse party, is to strike at the element of confidence
concluded that the intercourse between the plaintiff and which lies at the basis of, and affords the essential
the respondent did not attain the point of creating the security in, the relation of attorney and client."
relation of attorney and client. That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were
Stripped of disputed details and collateral matters, this furnished to Attorney Agrava and that, this being so, no
much is undoubted: That Attorney Francisco's law firm secret communication was transmitted to him by the
mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his plaintiff, would not vary the situation even if we should
signature on the merits of her case; that this opinion discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers,
was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted personal and private in character, were turned in by her.
at his office; that Mrs. Hilado's purpose in submitting Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that the
those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude
professional services. Granting the facts to be no more the attorney from accepting the opposite party's
than these, we agree with petitioner's counsel that the retainer in the same litigation regardless of what
relation of attorney and client between Attorney information was received by him from his first client.
Francisco and Mrs. Hilado ensued. The following rules The principle which forbids an attorney who has
accord with the ethics of the legal profession and meet been engaged to represent a client from
with our approval: thereafter appearing on behalf of the client's
In order to constitute the relation (of attorney opponent applies equally even though during
and client) a professional one and not merely the continuance of the employment nothing of a
one of principal and agent, the attorneys must confidential nature was revealed to the attorney
be employed either to give advice upon a legal by the client. (Christian vs. Waialua Agricultural
point, to prosecute or defend an action in court Co., 30 Hawaii, 553, Footnote 7, C. J. S., 828.)
of justice, or to prepare and draft, in legal form Where it appeared that an attorney,
such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the representing one party in litigation, had formerly
like. (Atkinson vs. Howlett, 11 Ky. Law Rep. represented the adverse party with respect to
(abstract), 364; cited in Vol. 88, A. L. R., p. 6.) the same matter involved in the litigation, the
To constitute professional employment it is not court need not inquire as to how much
essential that the client should have employed knowledge the attorney acquired from his
the attorney professionally on any previous former during that relationship, before refusing
occasion. . . . It is not necessary that any to permit the attorney to represent the adverse
retainer should have been paid, promised, or party. (Brown vs. Miller, 52 App. D. C. 330; 286,
charged for; neither is it material that the F. 994.)
attorney consulted did not afterward undertake In order that a court may prevent an attorney
the case about which the consultation was had. from appearing against a former client, it is
If a person, in respect to his business affairs or unnecessary that the ascertain in detail the
troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney extent to which the former client's affairs might
in his professional capacity with the view to have a bearing on the matters involved in the
obtaining professional advice or assistance, and subsequent litigation on the attorney's
the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in knowledge thereof. (Boyd vs. Second Judicial
such consultation, then the professional Dist. Court, 274 P., 7; 51 Nev., 264.)
employment must be regarded as This rule has been so strictly that it has been
established. . . . (5 Jones Commentaries on held an attorney, on terminating his
Evidence, pp. 4118-4119.) employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel
An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged against his client in the same general matter,
in his professional capacity as a lawyer or even though, while acting for his former client,
counselor-when he is listening to his client's he acquired no knowledge which could operate
preliminary statement of his case, or when he is to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent
giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is adverse employment. (Pierce vs. Palmer [1910],
drawing his client's pleadings, or advocating his 31 R. I., 432; 77 Atl., 201, Ann. Cas., 1912S,
client's cause in open court. (Denver Tramway 181.)
Co. vs. Owens, 20 Colo., 107; 36 P., 848.) Communications between attorney and client are, in a
Formality is not an essential element of the great number of litigations, a complicated affair,
employment of an attorney. The contract may consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret
be express or implied and it is sufficient that the and well known facts. In the complexity of what is said
advice and assistance of the attorney is sought in the course of the dealings between an attorney and a
and received, in matters pertinent to his client, inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the
profession. An acceptance of the relation is revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that
implied on the part of the attorney from his might only further prejudice the complainant's cause.
acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of a And the theory would be productive of other un salutary
request by the latter. (7 C. J. S., 848-849; see results. To make the passing of confidential
Hirach Bros. and Co. vs. R. E. Kennington Co., 88 communication a condition precedent; i.e., to make the
A. L. R., 1.) employment conditioned on the scope and character of
Section 26 (e), Rule 123 of the Rules of Court provides the knowledge acquired by an attorney in determining
that "an attorney cannot, without the consent of his his right to change sides, would not enhance the
client, be examined as to any communication made by freedom of litigants, which is to be sedulously fostered,
the client to him, or his advice given thereon in the to consult with lawyers upon what they believe are their
course of professional employment;" and section 19 (e) rights in litigation. The condition would of necessity call
of Rule 127 imposes upon an attorney the duty "to for an investigation of what information the attorney has
maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to received and in what way it is or it is not in conflict with
himself, to preserve the secrets of his client." There is his new position. Litigants would in consequence be
no law or provision in the Rules of Court prohibiting wary in going to an attorney, lest by an unfortunate turn
attorneys in express terms from acting on behalf of both of the proceedings, if an investigation be held, the court
16

should accept the attorney's inaccurate version of the progress could be hoped for in "the public policy that the
facts that came to him. "Now the abstinence from client in consulting his legal adviser ought to be free
seeking legal advice in a good cause is by hypothesis an from apprehension of disclosure of his confidence," if
evil which is fatal to the administration of justice." (John the prohibition were not extended to the attorney's
H. Wigmore's Evidence, 1923, Section 2285, 2290, partners, employers or assistants.
2291.) The fact that petitioner did not object until after four
Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the months had passed from the date Attorney Francisco
bare relationship of attorney and client as the yardstick first appeared for the defendants does not operate as a
for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is waiver of her right to ask for his disqualification. In one
designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner case, objection to the appearance of an attorney was
from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the allowed even on appeal as a ground for reversal of the
honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of judgment. In that case, in which throughout the conduct
unprofessional practice. (Strong vs. Int. Bldg., etc.; of the cause in the court below the attorney had been
Ass'n, 183 Ill., 97; 47 L.R.A., 792.) It is founded on suffered so to act without objection, the court said: "We
principles of public policy, on good taste. As has been are all of the one mind, that the right of the appellee to
said in another case, the question is not necessarily one make his objection has not lapsed by reason of failure to
of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the make it sooner; that professional confidence once
attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. reposed can never be divested by expiration of
With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like professional employment." (Nickels vs. Griffin, 1 Wash.
Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the client's Terr., 374, 321 A. L. R. 1316.)
confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of The complaint that petitioner's remedy is by appeal and
treachery and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be not by certiorari deserves scant attention. The courts
encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys have summary jurisdiction to protect the rights of the
which is of paramount importance in the administration parties and the public from any conduct of attorneys
of justice. prejudicial to the administration of the justice. The
So without impugning respondent's good faith, we summary jurisdiction of the courts over attorneys is not
nevertheless can not sanction his taking up the cause of confined to requiring them to pay over money collected
the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained by them but embraces authority to compel them to do
legal advice from his firm; this, not necessarily to whatever specific acts may be incumbent upon them in
prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above their capacity of attorneys to perform. The courts from
reproach the honor and integrity of the courts and of the the general principles of equity and policy, will always
bar. Without condemning the respondents conduct as look into the dealings between attorneys and clients and
dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent, we do believe that guard the latter from any undue consequences resulting
upon the admitted facts it is highly in expedient. It had from a situation in which they may stand unequal. The
the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is a courts acts on the same principles whether the
distinguished member, "into public disrepute and undertaking is to appear, or, for that matter, not to
suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice." appear, to answer declaration, etc. (6 C.J., 718 C.J.S.,
There is in legal practice what called "retaining fee," the 1005.) This summary remedy against attorneys flows
purpose of which stems from the realization that the from the facts that they are officers of the court where
attorney is disabled from acting as counsel for the other they practice, forming a part of the machinery of the law
side after he has given professional advice to the for the administration of justice and as such subject to
opposite party, even if he should decline to perform the the disciplinary authority of the courts and to its orders
contemplated services on behalf of the latter. It is to and directions with respect to their relations to the court
prevent undue hardship on the attorney resulting from as well as to their clients. (Charest vs. Bishop, 137
the rigid observance of the rule that a separate and Minn., 102; 162, N.W., 1062, Note 26, 7 C. J. S., 1007.)
independent fee for consultation and advice was Attorney stand on the same footing as sheriffs and other
conceived and authorized. "A retaining fee is a court officers in respect of matters just mentioned.
preliminary fee given to an attorney or counsel to insure We conclude therefore that the motion for
and secure his future services, and induce him to act for disqualification should be allowed. It is so ordered,
the client. It is intended to remunerate counsel for being without costs.
deprived, by being retained by one party, of the G.R. No. L-22320 July 29, 1968
opportunity of rendering services to the other and of MERCEDES RUTH COBB-PEREZ and DAMASO P.
receiving pay from him, and the payment of such fee, in PEREZ, petitioners,
the absence of an express understanding to the vs.
contrary, is neither made nor received in payment of the HON. GREGORIO LANTIN, Judge of the Court of
services contemplated; its payment has no relation to First Instance of Manila,
the obligation of the client to pay his attorney for the RICARDO P. HERMOSO and the CITY SHERIFF OF
services which he has retained him to perform." (7 MANILA, respondents.
C.J.S., 1019.) Crispin D. Baizas and Associates for petitioners.
The defense that Attorney Agrava wrote the letter Isidro T. Almeda for respondents.
Exhibit A and that Attorney Francisco did not take the CASTRO, J.:
trouble of reading it, would not take the case out of the This is a motion for partial reconsideration of this Court's
interdiction. If this letter was written under the decision of May 22, 1968, specifically directed against
circumstances explained by Attorney Francisco and he the following observation therein made:
was unaware of its contents, the fact remains that his We feel compelled to observe that during the
firm did give Mrs. Hilado a formal professional advice protracted litigation below, the petitioners
from which, as heretofore demonstrated, emerged the resorted to a series of actions and petitions, at
relation of attorney and client. This letter binds and some stages alternatingly, abetted by their
estop him in the same manner and to the same degree counsel, for the sole purpose of thwarting the
as if he personally had written it. An information execution of a simple money judgment which
obtained from a client by a member or assistant of a law has long become final and executory. Some of
firm is information imparted to the firm. (6 C. J., 628; 7 the actions were filed, only to be abandoned or
C. J. S., 986.) This is not a mere fiction or an arbitrary withdrawn. The petitioners and their counsel, far
rule; for such member or assistant, as in our case, not from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those
only acts in the name and interest of the firm, but his who seek justice, have tried to use them to
information, by the nature of his connection with the subvert the very ends of justice.
firm is available to his associates or employers. The rule Corollarily, this Court assessed treble costs against the
is all the more to be adhered to where, as in the present petitioners, to "be paid by their counsel.".
instance, the opinion was actually signed by the head of The herein movants, Attys. Crispin D. Baizas and A. N.
the firm and carries his initials intended to convey the Bolinas, counsels for the petitioners, while submitting to
impression that it was dictated by him personally. No the judgment on the merits, seek reconsideration of the
17

decision in so far as it reflects adversely upon their Despite the recall of the aforementioned writ of
"professional conduct" and condemns them to pay the injunction by Judge Mencias on a disclaimer of
treble costs adjudged against their clients. jurisdiction (since the execution sought to be enjoined
At first blush, the motion for reconsideration presents a was ordered by another tribunal), Mrs. Perez, now
semblance of merit. After mature deliberation and assisted by her husband who had staged a comeback,
patient reprobing into the records of the case, however, prayed for the issuance of another injunction, this time
we are of the firmer conviction that the protracted from Branch XXII of the Court of First Instance of Manila
litigation, alluded to in the above-quoted portion of our (not the same Branch which issued the controverted writ
decision, was designed to cause delay, and the active of execution), in connection with civil case 7532, then
participation of the petitioners' counsels in this still pending in the Court of First Instance of Rizal. As
adventure is patent. most probably anticipated anew by the Perez spouses
After November 15, 1962 when the Court of Appeals and their counsels, Judge Alikpala, presiding judge of
rendered judgment sustaining Damaso Perez' position Branch XXII, on November 8, 1963 denied the
with respect to the extent of the levy, the subsequent preliminary injunction sought, on the ground, among
proceedings interposed alternatingly by the petitioner others, that he had no power to interfere by injunction
spouses were obviously quixotic maneuvers expected to with the judgment or decree of a court of concurrent or
be overthrown by the courts but calculated to delay an coordinate jurisdiction. On the very day the injunction
execution long overdue. was denied, Damaso Perez, as if expecting the reversal
Had the petitioners and their counsels seriously believed from Judge Alikpala, was already prepared with another
that the levied shares of stock were conjugal property, "remedy," as in fact on that day, November 8, 1963, he
why did they not adopt this position from the very start, filed in the basic civil case 39407 an "Urgent Motion for
or, at the latest, in CA-G.R. 29962-R, wherein Damaso Reconsideration" of the order of October 19, 1963,
Perez challenged the legality of the levy's coverage, in which denied his wife's above-mentioned motion to
order to end the litigation with reasonable dispatch? recall the controverted writ of execution.
They chose, however, to attack the execution in a The foregoing motion, far from seriously seeking the
piecemeal fashion, causing the postponement of the reconsideration of the order of October 19, 1963, which
projected execution sale six times. More than eight in the first place Damaso Perez could not legally do for
years after the finality of the judgment have passed, he was not even a party to the denied "Urgent Motion to
and the same has yet to be satisfied. Recall Writ of Execution" (filed by his wife alone), was
In a determined effort to prolong the litigation, the Perez merely an offer to replace the levied stocks with
spouses, as represented by their counsels, sought the supposed cash dividends due to the Perez spouses as
issuance of preliminary injunctions to restrain the stockholders in the Republic Bank. 1 As a matter of fact,
execution of the final judgment in civil case 39407 from when the motion was set for hearing on December 21,
courts which did not have jurisdiction and which would, 1963, the counsels for Damaso Perez promised to
as expected, initially or ultimately deny their prayer. For produce the said cash dividends within five days, but
instance, after Damaso Perez bowed out temporarily the promise was never fulfilled.2 Consequently, the
from the scene following the rendition of the respondent Judge on January 4, 1964, denied the said
aforementioned Court of Appeals decision, his wife, motion for reconsideration.
Mercedez, Ruth Cobb-Perez, intruded into the The above exposition of the circumstances relative to
controversy and asked for an ex parte writ of the protracted litigation clearly negates the avowal of
preliminary injunction from the Court of First Instance of the movants that "in none of the various incidents in the
Rizal in connection with civil case 7532 which she filed case at bar has any particular counsel of petitioners
with the said court, knowing fully well that the basic civil acted with deliberate aforethought to delay the
case 39407 was decided by the Court of First Instance of enforcement of the judgment in Civil Case No. 39407."
Manila (Branch VII presided by the respondent Judge From the chronology of antecedent events, the fact
Lantin), which latter court was the proper forum for any becomes inescapable that the Perez spouses, coached
action relative to the execution. Judge Eulogio Mencias by their counsels, had sallied forth on a strategem of
of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, looking to Acosta "remedies" projected to foil the lawful execution of a
vs. Alvendia (L-14598, October 31, 1960), which held simple money judgment. It is equally obvious that they
that courts of first instance have no power to restrain foreshadowed their own reversals in the "remedies" they
acts outside their territorial jurisdictions, lifted on ventured to adopt, such that even before, one remedy
October 4, 1963 the ex parte writ which he previously had been exhausted, they interposed another until the
issued enjoining the respondent sheriff from carrying out case reached this Court for the second time. 3
the execution sale. It is clear, however, that Mrs. Perez Meanwhile, justice was delayed, and more than one
and her counsels, the movants, knew or ought to have member of this Court are persuaded that justice was
known beforehand that the Court of First Instance of practically waylaid.
Rizal did not have jurisdiction to issue the writ which The movants also contend that even this Court
Mrs. Perez herself sought, and, anticipating the recall of sanctions the aforesaid civil cases 7532 and 55292 as
the writ improvidently issued, on September 3, 1963, a the "proper remedy" when we said that.
month before the said writ was actually lifted, filed in In reality, what they attacked is not the writ of
the basic civil case 39407 an urgent motion to lift the execution, the validity and regularity of which
writ of execution issued on August 15, 1961, alleging as are unchallenged, but the levy made by the
justification the conjugal nature of the levied shares of respondent Sheriff. In this regard, the remedy is
stock and the personal nature of Damaso Perez' not the recall of the writ, but an independent
judgment debt, the very same reasons advanced in civil action to enjoin the Sheriff from proceeding with
case 7532 which was then still pending in the Court of the projected sale, in which action the conjugal
First Instance of Rizal. Incidentally, Mrs. Perez failed to nature of the levied stocks should be
adduce any evidence in support of her aforesaid urgent established as a basis for the subsequent
motion, as in fact neither she nor her counsels appeared issuance of a permanent injunction, in the event
during the scheduled hearing, prompting the respondent of a successful claim. Incidentally, in the course
judge to issue the following order: of the protracted litigation, the petitioners had
When the urgent motion to recall or lift writ of already availed of this remedy in civil cases
execution was called this morning for hearing, 7532 and 55292, only to abandon it as they
counsel for the movant did not appear despite incessantly sought other, and often
the fact that he had been duly notified of the simultaneous, devices of thwarting satisfaction
motion for hearing. In view thereof the court of the judgment debt. (Emphasis supplied) .
assumes that he is waiving his right to present And because of this statement, they now counter that
evidence in support of his urgent motion to the said cases could not be branded as having been
recall or lift writ of execution. Said urgent motion instituted for delay.
is therefore deemed submitted for resolution. The reference we made to civil cases 7532 and 55292 in
the above-quoted statement must not be considered out
18

of context. We said that the petitioners incidentally had on record that the urgent motion to recall writ of
already availed of the suggested remedy only in the execution filed by Mrs. Perez in the basic civil case
sense that said civil cases 7532 and 55292 39407 on September 3, 1963, was over the signature of
were apparently instituted to prove the conjugal nature one Ruby Zaida of the law firm of "Crispin Baizas &
of the levied shares of stocks in question. We used the Associates" as counsel for Mrs. Perez. It is to be recalled
word incidentally advisedly to show that in their that the said urgent motion is the same motion
incessant search for devices to thwart the controverted discussed above, which, curiously enough, antedated by
execution, they accidentally stumbled on the suggested at least one month the lifting of the writ of preliminary
remedy. But the said civil cases were definitely not the injunction issued in civil case 7532.
"proper remedy" in so far as they sought the issuance of ACCORDINGLY, the motion for partial reconsideration is
writs of preliminary injunction from the Court of First denied. Our decision of May 22, 1968 is hereby modified
Instance of Rizal and the Court of First Instance of in the sense that Attys. Crispin D. Baizas and A.N.
Manila (Branch XXII) where civil cases 7532 and 55292 Bolinao, Jr. shall pay jointly and severally the treble
were filed respectively, for the said courts did not have costs assessed against the petitioners.
jurisdiction to restrain the enforcement of the writ of
execution issued by the Court of First Instance of Manila
(Branch VII) under the settled doctrines that Courts are
without power to restrain acts outside of their territorial
jurisdiction 4 or interfere with the judgment or decree of
a court of concurrent or coordinate jurisdiction. 5
However, the recall and the denial of the writs of LEGAL ETHICS CASES CHAPTERS 8 TO SOCIETY
preliminary injunction in civil cases 7532 and 55292 did (CANONS 1-6)
not amount to the termination or dismissal of the
A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007
principal action in each case. Had the Perez spouses
JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant,
desired in earnest to continue with the said cases they
vs.
could have done so. But the fact is that Mrs. Perez
ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent.
practically abandoned civil case 7532 when she
DECISION
instituted the above mentioned urgent motion to recall
PER CURIAM:
writ of execution in the basic civil case 39407, anchored
Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002
on the same grounds which she advanced in the former
a Complaint for Disbarment 1 before the Integrated Bar
case, until the said civil case 7532 was dismissed on
of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline
November 9, 1963, upon her own motion. Anent civil
(CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli
case 55292, the Perez spouses virtually deserted the
Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral conduct and
same when they instituted the herein petition
unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath."
for certiorari with urgent writ of preliminary injunction
In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account:
based on the same grounds proffered in the said civil
He first met respondent in January 2000 when his
case — until the latter was also dismissed on March 20,
(complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene)
1964, with the consent of the parties because of the
introduced respondent to him as her friend who was
pendency then of the aforesaid petition for certiorari.
married to Marianne (sometimes spelled "Mary Ann")
The movants further contend that "If there was delay, it
Tantoco with whom he had three children.
was because petitioners' counsel happened to be more
After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000,
assertive ... a quality of the lawyers (which) is not to be
complainant noticed that from January to March 2001,
condemned."
Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone
A counsel's assertiveness in espousing with candour and
calls, as well as messages some of which read "I love
honesty his client's cause must be encouraged and is to
you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall."
be commended; what we do not and cannot
Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went
countenance is a lawyer's insistence despite the patent
home very late at night or early in the morning of the
futility of his client's position, as in the case at bar.
following day, and sometimes did not go home from
It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily
work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she
a layman to the intricacies and vagaries of the law, on
replied that she slept at her parents' house in
the merit or lack of merit of his case. If he finds that his
Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work.
client's cause is defenseless, then it is his bounden duty
In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and
to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than
respondent together on two occasions. On the second
traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the
occasion, he confronted them following which Irene
whims and caprices of his client, and temper his client's
abandoned the conjugal house.
propensity to litigate. A lawyer's oath to uphold the
On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irene's
cause of justice is superior to his duty to his client; its
birthday celebration at which he saw her and
primacy is indisputable.
respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out
The movants finally state that the "Petitioners have
of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the
several counsel in this case but the participation of each
venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went
counsel was rather limited implying that the decision of
to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal
this Court ordering that "treble costs are assessed
belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the
against the petitioners, which shall be paid by their
household appliances.
counsel" is not clear. The word "counsel" may be either
Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a
singular or plural in construction, so that when we said
folded social card bearing the words "I Love You" on its
"counsel" we meant the counsels on record of the
face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten
petitioners who were responsible for the inordinate
letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to
delay in the execution of the final judgment in the basic
Irene, reading:
civil case 39407, after the Court of Appeals had
My everdearest Irene,
rendered its aforementioned decision of November 15,
By the time you open this, you'll be moments
1962. And it is on record that the movants are such
away from walking down the aisle. I will say a
counsels. Atty. Bolinas, upon his own admission,
prayer for you that you may find meaning in
"entered his appearance in the case at bar about the
what you're about to do.
time the Court of First Instance of Manila dismissed the
Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only
petitioners' Petition for Relief in Civil Case No. 39407," or
for me to find fleeting happiness but experience
about August 3, 1961 and even prior to the Court of
eternal pain? Is it only for us to find a true love
Appeals decision above-mentioned. Atty. Baizas claims
but then lose it again? Or is it because there's a
that he "became petitioners' counsel only in October,
bigger plan for the two of us?
1963 when he filed, with Atty. A.N. Bolinao, Jr. Civil Case
I hope that you have experienced true
No. 55292 before the Court of First Instance of Manila
happiness with me. I have done everything
presided by the Hon. Judge Alikpala although it appears
19

humanly possible to love you. And today, as you bar, the reason being that Respondent's
make your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU! relationship with Irene was not under
I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you scandalous circumstances and that as far as
from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time his relationship with his own family:
we spent together, up to the final moments of 5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial
your single life. But more importantly, I will love and peaceful relationship with [his wife] Mary
you until the life in me is gone and until we are Anne as in fact they still occasionally meet in
together again. public, even if Mary Anne is aware
Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I of Respondent's special friendship with Irene.
have enough memories of us to last me a xxxx
lifetime. Always remember though that in my 5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted
heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL his aversion to the institution of marriage by
ALWAYS calling the institution of marriage a mere piece
. . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO! of paper because his reference [in his above-
BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL quoted handwritten letter to Irene] to the
ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE! marriage between Complainant and Irene as a
I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. piece of paper was merely with respect to the
AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY TWEETIE YOU'LL formality of the marriage contract.7 (Emphasis
BE!"2 and underscoring supplied)
Respondent admitted8 paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT
reading:
Eternally yours, 18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to
NOLI support the Constitution and obey the laws. The
Constitution regards marriage as an inviolable
social institution and is the foundation of the
Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9
Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street, New And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:
Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs
2001, Irene was already residing. He also learned still afoul of the Constitution and the laws he,
later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January as a lawyer, has been sworn to uphold. In
18, 2002 together with respondent during a concert, she pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the
was pregnant. complainant's wife, he mocked the institution
In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the I of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up
LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted letter was the complainant's marriage, commits adultery
handwritten. with his wife, and degrades the legal
On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading: profession.10 (Emphasis and underscoring
14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING supplied),
THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
attended social functions together. For instance, 7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations
in or about the third week of September 2001, in paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the reason
the couple attended the launch of the "Wine All being that under the circumstances the acts of
You Can" promotion of French wines, held at the Respondent with respect to his purely personal
Mega Strip of SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong and low profile special relationship with
City. Their attendance was reported in Section B Irene is neither under scandalous
of the Manila Standard issue of 24 September circumstances nor tantamount to grossly
2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were immoral conduct as would be a ground for
photographed together; their picture was disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of
captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli the Rules of Court.11(Emphasis and underscoring
Eala." A photocopy of the report is attached as supplied)
Annex C.4 (Italics and emphasis in the original; To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a
CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting their REPLY,12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene
adulterous relationship" supplied), named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: girl's father. Complainant attached to the Reply, as
4. Respondent specifically denies having ever Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth 13 bearing
flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene Irene's signature and naming respondent as the father
as alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was
truth of the matter being that their relationship born on February 14, 2002 at St. Luke's Hospital.
was low profile and known only to the Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH
immediate members of their respective MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated January 10, 2003 from
families, and that Respondent, as far as the respondent in which he denied having "personal
general public was concerned, was still known to knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to the
be legally married to Mary Anne complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to dismiss
Tantoco.5 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) the complaint due to the pendency of a civil case filed
On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading: by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to
15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery against
complainant's wife and his apparent abandoning respondent and Irene which was pending before the
or neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his Quezon City Prosecutor's Office.
gross moral depravity, making him morally unfit During the investigation before the IBP-CBD,
to keep his membership in the bar. He flaunted complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to Answer
his aversion to the institution of marriage, were adopted as his testimony on direct
calling it a "piece of paper." Morally examination.16 Respondent's counsel did not cross-
reprehensible was his writing the love letter to examine complainant.17
complainant's bride on the very day of her After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner
wedding, vowing to continue his love for her Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page REPORT AND
"until we are together again," as now they RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 26, 2004, found the
are.6 (Underscoring supplied), charge against respondent sufficiently proven.
respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows: The Commissioner thus recommended 19 that respondent
5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the
in paragraph 15 of the Complaint regarding Code of Professional Responsibility reading:
his adulterousrelationship and that his acts
demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby
making him unfit to keep his membership in the
20

Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, respondent admitted his special relationship
dishonest, immoral or with Irene there is no reason to believe that
deceitful conduct (Underscoring supplied), Irene would lie or make any
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading: misrepresentation regarding the paternity
Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage of the child. It should be underscored
in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness that respondent has not categorically
to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or denied that he is the father of Samantha
private life, behave in a scandalous manner to Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and
the discredit of the legal profession. underscoring supplied)
(Underscoring supplied) Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny
The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set carrying on an adulterous relationship with Irene,
aside the Recommendation of the Investigating "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised
Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for Penal Code as that "committed by any married woman
lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28, 2006 who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her
briefly reading: husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of
RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06 her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be
CBD Case No. 02-936 subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What
Joselano C. Guevarra vs. respondent denies is havingflaunted such relationship,
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala he maintaining that it was "low profile and known only
a.k.a. Noli Eala to the immediate members of their respective families."
RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is In other words, respondent's denial is a negative
hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the pregnant,
Recommendation of the Investigating a denial pregnant with the admission of the
Commissioner, and to APPROVE substantial facts in the pleading responded to
the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for which are not squarely denied. It was in effect
lack of merit.20 (Italics and emphasis in the an admission of the averments it was directed
original) at. Stated otherwise, a negative pregnant is a
Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this form of negative expression which carries with it
Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule 139 22 of the in affirmation or at least an implication of some
Rules of Court. kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial
The petition is impressed with merit. pregnant with an admission of the substantial
Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is
aside the Recommendation of the Investigating alleged with qualifying or modifying language
Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, and the words of the allegation as so qualified or
gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-word modified are literally denied, it has been held
Resolution shows. that the qualifying circumstances alone are
Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the present denied while the fact itself is
petition of complainant, that there is no evidence admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis and
against him.24 The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD underscoring supplied)
Investigating Commissioner observed: A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of having
While it may be true that the love letter dated "personal knowledge" of Irene's daughter Samantha
October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the news item Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth. In said
published in the Manila Standard (Exh. "D"), certificate, Irene named respondent – a "lawyer," 38
even taken together do not sufficiently prove years old – as the child's father. And the phrase "NOT
that respondent is carrying on an adulterous MARRIED" is entered on the desired information on
relationship with complainant's wife, there are "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A comparison of the
other pieces of evidence on record which signature attributed to Irene in the certificate 28 with her
support the accusation of complainant against signature on the Marriage Certificate 29 shows that they
respondent. were affixed by one and the same person. Notatu
It should be noted that in his Answer dated dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner
17 October 2002, respondent through noted, respondent never denied being the father of the
counsel made the following statements to child.
wit: "Respondent specifically denies having Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's
[ever] flaunted an adulterous relationship with Medical Center, in his January 29, 2003 Affidavit 30 which
Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene
Complaint, the truth of the matter being gave the information in the Certificate of Live Birth that
[that] their relationship was low profile and the child's father is "Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala,"
known only to immediate members of their who was 38 years old and a lawyer.31
respective families . . . , and Respondent Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between
specifically denies the allegations in paragraph respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven by
19 of the complaint, the reason being that under more than clearly preponderant evidence – that
the circumstances the acts of the respondents evidence adduced by one party which is more
with respect to his purely personal and low conclusive and credible than that of the other party and,
profile relationship with Irene is neither under therefore, has greater weight than the other 32 – which is
scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative
grossly immoral conduct . . ." case against a lawyer.
These statements of respondent in his Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class
Answer are an admission that there is of their own. They are distinct from and they may
indeed a "special" relationship between proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
him and complainant's wife, Irene, . . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a
[which] taken together with the Certificate criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is
of Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene necessary; in an administrative case for
Moje (Annex "H-1") sufficiently prove that disbarment or suspension, "clearly
there was indeed an illicit preponderant evidence" is all that is
relationship between respondent and Irene required.33 (Emphasis supplied)
which resulted in the birth of the child Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not
"Samantha". In the Certificate of Live Birth lie because his relationship with Irene was not, under
of Samantha it should be noted that Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court,
complainant's wife Irene supplied the reading:
information that respondent was the SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys
father of the child. Given the fact that the by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. ─ A
21

member of the bar may be disbarred or indeed respondent has been carrying on
suspended from his office as attorney by the an illicit affair with a married woman, a
Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an
other gross misconduct in such office, grossly extremely low regard for the fundamental
immoral conduct, or by reason of his ethics of his profession. This detestable
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, behavior renders him regrettably unfit and
or for any violation of the oath which he is undeserving of the treasured honor and
required to take before admission to practice, or privileges which his license confers upon
for a willful disobedience appearing as an him.39 (Underscoring supplied)
attorney for a party to a case without authority Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he
so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law took before admission to practice law which goes:
for the purpose of gain, either personally or I _________, having been permitted to continue in
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes the practice of law in the Philippines, do
malpractice. solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme
The disbarment or suspension of a member of authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I
the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other will support its Constitution andobey the laws as
disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
where he has also been admitted as an attorney authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor
is a ground for his disbarment or suspension if consent to the doing of any in court; I will not
the basis of such action includes any of the acts wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
hereinabove enumerated. groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for
court or disciplinary agency shall be prima money or malice, and will conduct myself as a
facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or lawyer according to the best of my knowledge
suspension (Emphasis and underscoring and discretion with all good fidelity as well as to
supplied), the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon
under scandalous circumstances. 34 myself this voluntary obligation without any
The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So
grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase help me God. (Underscoring supplied)
"grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article
circumstances." Sexual intercourse under scandalous XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading:
circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social
Penal Code reading: institution, is the foundation of the family and
ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall shall be protected by the State.
keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No.
shall have sexual intercourse, under scandalous 209), which echoes this constitutional provision,
circumstances, with a woman who is not his obligates the husband and the wife "to live together,
wife, or shall cohabit with her in any other place, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render
shall be punished by prision correccional in its mutual help and support."40
minimum and medium periods. Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01
x x x x, of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
an element of the crime of concubinage when a married which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful,
man has sexual intercourse with a woman elsewhere. dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03
"Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not of Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer
his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be from engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects
characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on on his fitness to practice law."
the surrounding circumstances."35 The case at bar Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of
involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a the investigation of the case before the IBP
married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial Commissioner, filed a Manifestation 41 on March 22, 2005
whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is informing the IBP-CBD that complainant's petition for
the following pronouncement of this Court in Vitug v. nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had been
Rongcal:36 granted by Branch 106 of the Quezon City Regional Trial
On the charge of immorality, respondent does Court, and that the criminal complaint for adultery
not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant filed against respondent and Irene "based
complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which on the same set of facts alleged in the instant case,"
act is not "so corrupt and false as to constitute a which was pending review before the Department of
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on
reprehensible to a high degree" in order to merit motion of complainant, withdrawn.
disciplinary sanction. We disagree. The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16, 2004
xxxx granting complainant's Motion to Withdraw Petition for
While it has been held in disbarment cases that Review reads:
the mere fact of sexual relations between Considering that the instant motion was filed
two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant before the final resolution of the petition for
administrative sanction for such illicit review, we are inclined to grant the same
behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals pursuant to Section 10 of Department Circular
of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which provides that
forms of extra-marital relations are punishable "notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal,
under penal law, sexual relations outside the petitioner may withdraw the same at any
marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral time before it is finally resolved, in which case
as it manifests deliberate disregard of the the appealed resolution shall stand as
sanctity of marriage and the marital though no appeal has been
vows protected by the Constitution and taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by complainant)
affirmed by our laws.37 (Emphasis and That the marriage between complainant and Irene was
underscoring supplied) subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial. The
And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38 acts complained of took place before the marriage was
The Court need not delve into the question of declared null and void.43 As a lawyer, respondent should
whether or not the respondent did contract a be aware that a man and a woman deporting
bigamous marriage . . . It is enough that the themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless
records of this administrative case substantiate proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract
the findings of the Investigating Commissioner, of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital affair with
as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage
22

with complainant was null and void, and despite which merely enables one to escape the
respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover, this
for an institution held sacred by the law. And he Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an
betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. entirely diferent capacity from that which
As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for review courts assume in trying criminal case 47 (Italics in
before the DOJ, respondent glaringly omitted to state the original),
that before complainant filed his December 23, 2003 this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v.
Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review, the DOJ had Atty. Naldoza,48 held:
already promulgated a Resolution Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a
on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by class of their own. They are distinct from and
the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of complainant's they may proceed independently of civil and
complaint for adultery. In reversing the City Prosecutor's criminal cases.
Resolution, DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong held: WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No.
Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006 by the Board
by complainant would, in the fair estimation of of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
the Department, sufficiently establish all the is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
elements of the offense of adultery on the part Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala,
of both respondents. Indeed, early on, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of
respondent Moje conceded to complainant that his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01
she was going out on dates with respondent and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
Eala, and this she did when complainant Responsibility.
confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately
and text messages to her. Complainant also executory, be made part of the records of respondent in
personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the
rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be furnished
never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all
married to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) courts.
himself was married to another woman. This Decision takes effect immediately.
Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their SO ORDERED.
conjugal home, after complainant had once
more confronted her about Eala, only served to
A.C. No. 6057 June 27, 2006
confirm the illicit relationship involving both
PETER T. DONTON, Complainant,
respondents. This becomes all the more
vs.
apparent by Moje's subsequent relocation in No.
ATTY. EMMANUEL O. TANSINGCO, Respondent.
71-B, 11thStreet, New Manila, Quezon City, which
DECISION
was a few blocks away from the church where
CARPIO, J.:
she had exchange marital vows with
The Case
complainant.
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty.
It was in this place that the two lovers
Emmanuel O. Tansingco ("respondent") for serious
apparently cohabited. Especially since Eala's
misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1, 1 Rules
vehicle and that of Moje's were always seen
1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Professional
there. Moje herself admits that she came to live
Responsibility ("Code").
in the said address whereas Eala asserts that
The Facts
that was where he held office. The
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton
happenstance that it was in that said address
("complainant") stated that he filed a criminal complaint
that Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for
for estafa thru falsification of a public document 4 against
the firm that both had formed smacks too much
Duane O. Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A. Maggay ("Maggay")
of a coincidence. For one, the said address
and respondent, as the notary public who notarized the
appears to be a residential house, for that was
Occupancy Agreement.
where Moje stayed all throughout after her
The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed
separation from complainant. It was both
a counter-charge for perjury5 against complainant.
respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit
Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, stated that:
affair that was carried out there bore fruit a few
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11,
months later when Moje gave birth to a girl at
1995 was prepared and notarized by me under the
the nearby hospital of St. Luke's Medical Center.
following circumstances:
What finally militates against the respondents is
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time
the indubitable fact that in the certificate of
resident of a real property located at No. 33 Don
birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information
Jose Street, Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, Cubao,
that Eala was the father. This speaks all too
Quezon City.
eloquently of the unlawful and damning
B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier – a
nature of the adulterous acts of the
U.S. citizen and thereby disqualified to
respondents. Complainant's supposed illegal
own real property in his name – agreed that
procurement of the birth certificate is most
the property be transferred in the name of Mr.
certainly beside the point for both respondents
Donton, a Filipino.
Eala and Moje have not denied, in any
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton,
categorical manner, that Eala is the father
requested me to prepare several documents
of the child Samantha Irene Louise
that would guarantee recognition of him being
Moje.45(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
the actual owner of the property despite the
It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense
transfer of title in the name of Mr. Donton.
which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus leaves
D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others,
the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to
the OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr.
withdraw his petition for review. But even if respondent
Stier’s free and undisturbed use of the property
and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if
for his residence and business operations. The
the Information for adultery were filed in court, the
OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT was tied up with a
same would not have been a bar to the present
loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr.
administrative complaint.
Donton.6
Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:
Complainant averred that respondent’s act of preparing
x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the
the Occupancy Agreement, despite knowledge that
criminal charge is not a bar to these
Stier, being a foreign national, is disqualified to own real
[administrative] proceedings. The standards of
property in his name, constitutes serious misconduct
legal profession are not satisfied by conduct
and is a deliberate violation of the Code. Complainant
23

prayed that respondent be disbarred for advising Stier and allowed them to contract separately subsequent
to do something in violation of law and assisting Stier in marriages.
carrying out a dishonest scheme. WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O.
In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent Tansingco GUILTY of violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02
claimed that complainant filed the disbarment case of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
against him upon the instigation of complainant’s we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco
counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A. Alentajan, 7 because from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective
respondent refused to act as complainant’s witness in upon finality of this Decision.
the criminal case against Stier and Maggay. Respondent Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the
admitted that he "prepared and notarized" the Bar Confidant to be appended to respondent’s personal
Occupancy Agreement and asserted its genuineness record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the
and due execution. Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in
In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the country for their information and guidance.
the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) SO ORDERED.
for investigation, report and recommendation. ANTONIO T. CARPIO
The IBP’s Report and Recommendation Associate Justice
In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), G.R. No. 137590 March 26, 2001
Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan ("Commissioner San FLORENCE MALCAMPO-SIN, petitioner,
Juan") of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found vs.
respondent liable for taking part in a "scheme to PHILIPP T. SIN, respondent.
circumvent the constitutional prohibition against foreign PARDO, J.:
ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner San The Family Code emphasizes the permanent nature of
Juan recommended respondent’s suspension from the marriage, hailing it as the foundation of the family. 1 It is
practice of law for two years and the cancellation of his this inviolability which is central to our traditional and
commission as Notary Public. religious concepts of morality and provides the very
In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the bedrock on which our society finds stability. 2 Marriage is
IBP Board of Governors adopted, with modification, the immutable and when both spouses give their consent to
Report and recommended respondent’s suspension from enter it, their consent becomes irrevocable, unchanged
the practice of law for six months. even by their independent wills.
On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded However, this inviolability depends on whether the
the Report to the Court as provided under Section 12(b), marriage exists and is valid. If it is void ab initio, the
Rule 139-B8 of the Rules of Court. "permanence" of the union becomes irrelevant, and the
On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for Court can step in to declare it so. Article 36 of the Family
reconsideration before the IBP. Respondent stated that Code is the justification. 3 Where it applies and is duly
he was already 76 years old and would already retire by proven, a judicial declaration can free the parties from
2005 after the termination of his pending cases. He also the rights, obligations, burdens and consequences
said that his practice of law is his only means of support stemming from their marriage.
for his family and his six minor children. A declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 of
In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the Family Code requires the application of procedural
the motion for reconsideration because the IBP had no and substantive guidelines. While compliance with these
more jurisdiction on the case as the matter had already requirements mostly devolves upon petitioner, the State
been referred to the Court. is likewise mandated to actively intervene in the
The Ruling of the Court procedure. Should there be non-compliance by the State
The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon with its statutory duty, there is a need to remand the
1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code. case to the lower court for proper trial.
A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to The Case
any client which will involve defiance of the laws which What is before the Court 4 is an appeal from a decision of
he is bound to uphold and obey. 9 A lawyer who assists a the Court of Appeals 5 which affirmed the decision of the
client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in Regional Trial Court, Branch 158, Pasig City6 dismissing
violating the law commits an act which justifies petitioner Florence Malcampo-Sin's (hereafter
disciplinary action against the lawyer. 10 "Florence") petition for declaration of nullity of marriage
By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a due to psychological incapacity for insufficiency of
U.S. citizen, was disqualified from owning real evidence.
property.11Yet, in his motion for The Facts
reconsideration,12 respondent admitted that he caused On January 4, 1987, after a two-year courtship and
the transfer of ownership to the parcel of land to Stier. engagement, Florence and respondent Philipp T. Sin
Respondent, however, aware of the prohibition, quickly (hereafter "Philipp"), a Portugese citizen, were married
rectified his act and transferred the title in at St. Jude Catholic Parish in San Miguel, Manila. 7
complainant’s name. But respondent provided "some On September 20, 1994, Florence filed with the Regional
safeguards" by preparing several documents,13 including Trial Court, Branch 158, Pasig City, a complaint for
the Occupancy Agreement, that would guarantee Stier’s "declaration of nullity of marriage" against Philipp. 8 Trial
recognition as the actual owner of the property despite ensued and the parties presented their respective
its transfer in complainant’s name. In effect, respondent documentary and testimonial evidence.
advised and aided Stier in circumventing the On June 16, 1995, the trial court dismissed Florence's
constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of petition.9
lands14 by preparing said documents. On December 19, 1995, Florence filed with the trial
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, court a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeals. 10
he violated his oath and the Code when he prepared and After due proceedings, on April 30, 1998, the Court of
notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law Appeals promulgated its decision, the dispositive portion
against foreign ownership of lands. Respondent used his of which reads:
knowledge of the law to achieve an unlawful end. Such "IN THE LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the
an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he Appeal is DISMISSED. The Decision appealed
may be suspended.15 from is AFFIRMED. Cost against the Appellant." 11
In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was On June 23, 1998, petitioner filed with the Court of
suspended from the practice of law for three years for Appeals a motion for reconsideration of the aforequoted
preparing an affidavit that virtually permitted him to decision.12
commit concubinage. In In re: Santiago,17 respondent On January 19, 1999, the Court of Appeals denied
Atty. Santiago was suspended from the practice of law petitioner's motion for reconsideration. 13
for one year for preparing a contract which declared the Hence, this appeal.14
spouses to be single again after nine years of separation The Court's Ruling
24

We note that throughout the trial in the lower court, the edict on marriage and the family and
State did not participate in the proceedings. While Fiscal emphasizes their permanence, inviolability and
Jose Danilo C. Jabson15 filed with the trial court a solidarity.
manifestation dated November 16, 1994, stating that he "(2) The root cause of the psychological
found no collusion between the parties, 16 he did not incapacity must be: a) medically or clinically
actively participate therein. Other than entering his identified, b) alleged in the complaint, c)
appearance at certain hearings of the case, nothing sufficiently proven by experts and d) clearly
more was heard from him. Neither did the presiding explained in the decision. Article 36 of the
Judge take any step to encourage the fiscal to contribute Family Code requires that the incapacity must
to the proceedings. be psychological — not physical, although its
The Family Code mandates: manifestations and/or symptoms may be
"ARTICLE 48. In all cases of annulment or physical. The evidence must convince the court
declaration of absolute nullity of marriage, the that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or
Court shall order the prosecuting attorney or psychically (sic) ill to such an extent that the
fiscal assigned to it to appear on behalf of the person could not have known the obligations he
State to take steps to prevent collusion between was assuming, or knowing them, could not have
the parties and to take care that evidence is not given valid assumption thereof. Although no
fabricated or suppressed (italics ours). example of such incapacity need be given here
"In the cases referred to in the preceding so as not to limit the application of the provision
paragraph, no judgment shall be based upon a under the principle of ejusdem generis,
stipulation of facts or confession of judgment." nevertheless such root cause must be identified
It can be argued that since the lower court dismissed as a psychological illness and its incapacitating
the petition, the evil sought to be prevented (i.e., nature fully explained. Expert evidence may be
dissolution of the marriage) did not come about, hence, given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical
the lack of participation of the State was cured. Not so. psychologists.
The task of protecting marriage as an inviolable social "(3) The incapacity must be proven to be
institution requires vigilant and zealous participation existing at "the time of the celebration" of the
and not mere pro-forma compliance. The protection of marriage. The evidence must show that the
marriage as a sacred institution requires not just the illness was existing when the parties exchanged
defense of a true and genuine union but the exposure of their "I do's." The manifestation of the illness
an invalid one as well. This is made clear by the need not be perceivable at such time, but the
following pronouncement: illness itself must have attached at such
"(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting moment, or prior thereto.
attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to "(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be
appear as counsel for the state. No decision medically or clinically permanent or incurable.
shall be handed down unless the Solicitor Such incurability may be absolute or even
General issues a certification, which will be relative only in regard to the other spouse, not
quoted in the decision, 17 briefly stating therein necessarily absolutely against everyone of the
his reasons for his agreement or opposition as same sex. Furthermore, such incapacity must be
the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor- relevant to the assumption of marriage
General shall discharge the equivalent function obligations, not necessarily to those not related
of the defensor vinculi contemplated under to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or
Canon 1095 (italics ours)."18 employment in a job. Hence, a pediatrician may
The records are bereft of any evidence that the State be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children
participated in the prosecution of the case not just at and prescribing medicine to cure them but may
the trial level but on appeal with the Court of Appeals as not be psychologically capacitated to procreate,
well. Other than the "manifestation" filed with the trial bear and raise his/her own children as an
court on November 16, 1994, the State did not file any essential obligation of marriage.
pleading, motion or position paper, at any stage of the "(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring
proceedings. about the disability of the party to assume the
In Republic of the Philippines v. Erlinda Matias essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild
Dagdag,19 while we upheld the validity of the marriage, characteriological peculiarities, mood changes,
we nevertheless characterized the decision of the trial occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be
court as "prematurely rendered" since the investigating accepted as root causes. The illness must be
prosecutor was not given an opportunity to present shown as downright incapacity or inability, not
controverting evidence before the judgment was refusal, neglect or difficulty, much less ill will. In
rendered. This stresses the importance of the other words, there is a natal or supervening
participation of the State. disabling factor in the person, an adverse
Having so ruled, we decline to rule on the factual integral element in the personality structure that
disputes of the case, this being within the province of effectively incapacitates the person from really
the trial court upon proper re-trial. accepting and thereby complying with the
Obiter Dictum obligations essential to marriage.
For purposes of re-trial, we guide the parties thus: "(6) The essential marital obligations must be
In Republic vs. Court of Appeals,20 the guidelines in the those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the
interpretation and application of Article 36 of the Family Family Code as regards the husband and wife as
Code are as follows (omitting guideline [8] in the well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the same
enumeration as it was already earlier quoted): Code in regard to parents and their children.
"(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of Such non-complied marital obligation(s) must
the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt also be stated in the petition, proven by
should be resolved in favor of the existence and evidence and included in the text of the
continuation of the marriage and against its decision.
dissolution and nullity. This is rooted in the fact "(7) Interpretations given by the National
that both our Constitution and our laws cherish Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic
the validity of marriage and unity of the family. Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or
Thus, our Constitution devotes an entire Article decisive, should be given great respect by our
on the Family, recognizing it "as the foundation courts."
of the nation." It decrees marriage as legally The Fallo
"inviolable," thereby protecting it from WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the
dissolution at the whim of the parties. Both the appealed decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV
family and marriage are to be "protected" by the No. 51304, promulgated on April 30, 1998 and the
state. The Family Code echoes this constitutional
25

decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 158, Pasig Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his
City in Civil Case No. 3190, dated June 16, 1995. promise to marry her after he passes the bar
Let the case be REMANDED to the trial court for proper examinations.
trial. We find that these facts do not constitute gross
No costs. immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of
SO ORDERED. respondent from the legal profession. His engaging in
SBC Case No. 519 July 31, 1997 premarital sexual relations with complainant and
PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, promises to marry suggests a doubtful moral character
vs. on his part but the same does not constitute grossly
SIMEON BARRANCO, JR., respondent. immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify
RESOLUTION suspension or disbarment the act complained of must
not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. "A grossly
ROMERO, J.: immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to
In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or
petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree." 6 It
denied admission to the legal profession. Respondent is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which shows a
had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth moral indifference to the opinion of respectable
attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and members of the community.7
1968. Before be could take his oath, however, We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang8 quite relevant
complainant filed the instant petition averring that because mere intimacy between a man and a woman,
respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child both of whom possess no impediment to marry,
out of wedlock was born to them and that respondent voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the
did not fulfill his repeated promises to many her. part of respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so
The facts were manifested in hearings held before unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of disciplinary
Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June and July 1971. sanction against him, even if as a result of such
Respondent and complainant were townmates in relationship a child was born out of wedlock.9
Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose
teens, they were steadies. Respondent even acted as sexual relations were evidently consensual. We do not
escort to complainant when she reigned as Queen at the find complainant's assertions that she had been forced
1953 town fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see
congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their and be respondent's girlfriend even after she had given
intimacy yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born on birth to a son in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of
December 11, 1964.1 It was after the child was born, amicable and intimate relations refute her allegations
complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he that she was forced to have sexual congress with him.
would marry her after he passes the bar examinations. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and
Their relationship continued and respondent allegedly actively pursued their relationship and was not an
made more than twenty or thirty promises of marriage. innocent young girl who could be easily led astray.
He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latter's Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle
birthdays. Her trust in him and their relationship ended permanently with another woman. We cannot castigate
in 1971, when she learned that respondent married a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams, for
another woman. Hence, this petition. marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should
Upon complainant's motion, the Court authorized the be entered into because of love, not for any other
taking of testimonies of witnesses by deposition in 1972. reason.
On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act
and Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainant's of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving
failure to comment on the motion of Judge Cuello to the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer
seeking to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the
testimonies by deposition. Complainant filed her profession he worked very hard to be admitted into.
comment required and that she remains interested in Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble,
the resolution of the present case. On June 18, 1974, the the twenty-six years that respondent has been
Court denied respondent's motion to dismiss. prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient
On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a punishment therefor. During this time there appears to
motion to dismiss on the ground of abandonment filed be no other indiscretion attributed to him.10 Respondent,
by respondent on September 17, 1979. 2 Respondent's who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be
third motion to dismiss was noted in the Court's allowed, albeit belatedly, to take the lawyer's oath.
Resolution dated September 15, 1982. 3 In 1988, WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED.
respondent repeated his request, citing his election as a Respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his
member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay, Iloilo oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees.
from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic SO ORDERED.
organizations and good standing in the community as Padilla, Regalado,
well as the length of time this case has been pending as Adm. Case No. 1392 April 2, 1984
reasons to allow him to take his oath as a lawyer. 4 PRECIOSA R. OBUSAN, complainant,
On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss vs.
the complaint for failure of complainant to prosecute the GENEROSO B. OBUSAN, JR., respondent.
case for an unreasonable period of time and to allow Roger Castuciano for complainant.
Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyer's oath upon Roemo J. Callejo for respondent.
payment of the required fees.5
Respondent's hopes were again dashed on November AQUINO, J.:ñé+.£ªwph!1
17, 1988 when the Court, in response to complainant's This is a disbarment case filed in 1974 by Preciosa
opposition, resolved to cancel his scheduled oath-taking. Razon against her husband Generoso B. Obusan, Jr. on
On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the the ground of adultery or grossly immoral conduct. He
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, was admitted to the bar in 1968.
report and recommendation. In 1967, when Generoso B. Obusan, Jr. was working in
The IBP's report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the the Peoples Homesite and Housing Corporation, he
dismissal of the case and that respondent be allowed to became acquainted with Natividad Estabillo who
take the lawyer's oath. represented to him that she was a widow. They had
We agree. carnal relations. He begot with her a son who was born
Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyer's on November 27, 1972. He was named John Obusan
oath in 1971 because of the charge of gross immorality (Exh. D). Generoso came to know that Natividad's
made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore marriage to Tony Garcia was subsisting or undissolved.
an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia
26

Four days after the birth of the child or on December 1, vs.


1972, Generoso, 33, married Preciosa, 37, in a civil ARMANDO PUNO, respondent.
ceremony. The marriage was ratified in a religious Domingo T. Zavalla for complainant.
ceremony held on December 30,1972 (Exh. C and C-1) Armando Puno for and in his own behalf as respondent.
The couple lived with the wife's mother at 993 Sto. REGALA, J.:
Cristo Street, Tondo, Manila for more than one year. In On April 16, 1959, Flora Quingwa filed before this Court
the evening of April 13, 1974, when his wife was out of a verified complaint charging Armando Puno, a member
the house, lawyer Obusan asked permission from his of the Bar, with gross immorality and misconduct. In his
mother-in-law to leave the house and take a vacation in answer, the respondent denied all the material
his hometown, Daet, Camarines Norte. Since then, he allegations of the complaint, and as a special defense
has never returned to the conjugal abode. averred that the allegations therein do not constitute
Preciosa immediately started looking for her husband. grounds for disbarment or suspension under section 25,
After much patient investigation and surveillance, she Rule 127 of the former Rules of Court.
discovered that he was living and cohabiting with The case was referred to the Solicitor General on June 3,
Natividad in an apartment located at 85-A Felix Manalo 1958, for investigation, report and recommendation.
Street, Cubao, Quezon City. He had brought his car to Hearings were held by the then Solicitor Roman
that place. Cancino, Jr., during which the complainant, assisted by
The fact that Obusan and Natividad lived as husband her counsel, presented evidence both oral and
and wife was corroborated by Linda Delfin, their documentary. The respondent, as well as his counsel,
housemaid in 1974; Remedios Bernal, a laundress, and cross-examined the complainant's witnesses. The
Ernesto Bernal, a plumber, their neighbors staying at 94 respondent likewise testified. He denied having sexual
Felix Manalo Street. The three executed the affidavits, intercourse with complainant at the Silver Moon Hotel on
Exhibits A, B and F, which were confirmed by their June 1, 1958, disclaimed the handwriting "Mr. & Mrs. A.
testimonies. Puno" appearing in the hotel register, and disowned
Romegil Q. Magana, a pook leader, testified that Obusan Armando Quingwa Puno, Jr. to be his child.
introduced himself as the head of the family (25-30 tsn After the hearing, the Solicitor General filed a complaint,
Nov. 26, 1976). His name is at the head of the barangay formally charging respondent with immorality. The
list (Exh. E, G and H). Nieves Cacnio the owner of the complaint recites:
apartment, came to know Obusan as Mr. Estabillo. She That on June 1, 1958, at a time when
Identified five photographs, Exhibits I to I-D where complainant Flora Quingwa and respondent
respondent Obusan appeared as the man wearing Armando Puno were engaged to be married, the
eyeglasses. said respondent invited the complainant to
Respondent's defense was that his relationship with attend a movie but on their way the respondent
Natividad was terminated when he married Preciosa. He told the complainant that they take refreshment
admitted that from time to time he went to 85-A Felix before going to the Lyric Theater; that they
Manalo Street but only for the purpose of giving proceeded to the Silver Moon Hotel at R.
financial assistance to his son, Jun-Jun. Lawyer Rogelio Hidalgo, Manila; that while at the restaurant on
Panotes, the ninong of Jun-Jun, corroborated the first floor of the said Silver Moon Hotel,
respondent's testimony. respondent proposed to complainant that they
He denied the testimonies of the maid, the laundress go to one of the rooms upstairs assuring her
and the plumber. He claims that they were paid that 'anyway we are getting married; that with
witnesses. He declared that he did not live with reluctance and a feeling of doubt engendered by
Natividad. He resided with his sister at Cypress Village, love of respondent and the respondent's
San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. promise of marriage, complainant acquiesced,
On the other hand, he claimed that he was constrained and before they entered the hotel room
to leave the conjugal home because he could not endure respondent registered and signed the registry
the nagging of his wife, their violent quarrels, her book as 'Mr. and Mrs. A. Puno; that after
absences from the conjugal home (she allegedly went to registering at the hotel, respondent shoved
Baguio, Luneta and San Andres Street) and her complainant inside the room; that as soon as
interference with his professional obligations. they were inside the room, someone locked the
The case was investigated by the Office of the Solicitor door from outside and respondent proceeded to
General. He filed a complaint for disbarment against the the bed and undressed himself; that
respondent. Obusan did not answer the complaint. He complainant begged respondent not to molest
waived the presentation of additional evidence. His her but respondent insisted, telling her: 'anyway
lawyer did not file any memorandum. I have promised to marry you'; and respondent,
After an examination of the record, we find that the still noticing the reluctance of complainant to his
complainant has sustained the burden of proof. She has overtures of love, again assured complainant
proven his abandonment of her and his adulterous that 'you better give up. Anyway I promised that
relations with a married woman separated from her own I will marry you'; that thereupon respondent
husband. pulled complainant to the bed, removed her
Respondent was not able to overcome the evidence of panty, and then placed himself on top of her and
his wife that he was guilty of grossly immoral conduct. held her hands to keep her flat on the bed; that
Abandoning one's wife and resuming carnal relations when respondent was already on top of
with a former paramour, a married woman, fails within complainant the latter had no other recourse but
"that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, to submit to respondent's demand and two (2)
and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of sexual intercourse took place from 3:00 o'clock
the good and respectable members of the community" until 7:00 o'clock that same evening when they
(7 C.J.S. 959; Arciga vs. Maniwang Adm. Case No. 1608, left the hotel and proceeded to a birthday party
August 14, 1981, 106 SCRA 591). together; that after the sexual act with
Thus, a lawyer was disbarred when he abandoned his complainant on June 1, 1958, respondent
lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had repeatedly proposed to have some more but
borne him a child. He failed to maintain the highest complainant refused telling that they had better
degree of morality expected and required of a member wait until they were married; that after their said
of the bar (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117 Phil. 768). sexual intimacy on June 1, 1958 and feeling that
WHEREFORE, respondent is disbarred. His name is she was already on the family way, complainant
stricken off the Roll of Attorneys. repeatedly implored respondent to comply with
SO ORDERED.1äwphï1.ñët his promise of marriage but respondent refused
A.C. No. 389 February 28, 1967 to comply; that on February 20, 1959,
IN RE: DISBARMENT OF ARMANDO PUNO. complainant gave birth to a child.
FLORA QUINGWA complainant, That the acts of the respondent in having carnal
knowledge with the complainant through a
27

promise of marriage which he did not fulfill and shows that he used to ask for money from the
has refused to fulfill up to the present constitute complainant.
a conduct which shows that respondent is The lengthy cross-examination to which complainant
devoid of the highest degree of morality and was subjected by the respondent himself failed to
integrity which at all times is expected of and discredit complainant's testimony.
must be possessed by members of the In his answer to the complaint of the Solicitor General,
Philippine Bar. the respondent averred that he and complainant were
The Solicitor General asked for the disbarment of the sweethearts up to November, 1955 only. The fact that
respondent. they reconciled and were sweethearts in 1958 is
A copy of this complaint was served on respondent on established by the testimony of Fara Santos, a witness
May 3, 1962. Thereupon, he answered the complaint on of the complainant (pp. 12 & 17, t.s.n.); respondent's
June 9, 1962, again denying that he took complainant to letter to the complainant dated November 3, 1958 (Exh.
the Silver Moon Hotel and that on the promise of E); and respondent's own testimony (pp. 249 & 255,
marriage, succeeded twice in having sexual intercourse t.s.n.)
with her. He, however, admitted that sometime in June, Complainant submitted to respondent's plea for sexual
1955, he and the complainant became sweethearts until intercourse because of respondent's promise of
November, 1955, when they broke off, following a marriage and not because of a desire for sexual
quarrel. He left for Zamboanga City in July, 1958, to gratification or of voluntariness and mutual passion.
practice law. Without stating in his answer that he had (Cf. Tanjanco vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-18630,
the intention of introducing additional evidence, December 17, 1966) .
respondent prayed that the complaint be dismissed. One of the requirements for all applicants for admission
This case was set for hearing in this Court on July 20, to the Bar is that the applicant must produce before the
1962. On the day of the hearing Solicitor Ceferino E. Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral
Gaddi who appeared for the complainant submitted the character (Section 2, Rule 127 of the old Rules of Court,
case for decision without oral argument. There was no now section 2, Rule 138). If that qualification is a
appearance for the respondents. condition precedent to a license or privilege to enter
Since the failure of respondent to make known in his upon the practice of law, it is essential during the
answer his intention to present additional evidence in continuance of the practice and the exercise of the
his behalf is deemed a waiver of the right to present privilege. (Royong vs. Oblena, Adm. Case No. 376, April
such evidence (Toledo vs. Toledo, Adm. Case No. 266, 30, 1963, citing In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567). When his
April 27, 1963), the evidence produced before the integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not enough that
Solicitor General in his investigation, where respondent he denies the charges against him; he must meet the
had an opportunity to object to the evidence and cross- issue and overcome the evidence for the relator (Legal
examine the witnesses, may now be considered by this and Judicial Ethics, by Malcolm, p. 93) and show proofs
Court, pursuant to Section 6, Rule 139 of the Rules of that he still maintains the highest degree of morality
Court. and integrity, which at all times is expected of him.
After reviewing the evidence, we are convinced that the Respondent denied that he took complainant to the
facts are as stated in the complaint. Silver Moon Hotel and had sexual intercourse with her
Complainant is an educated woman, having been a on June 1, 1958, but he did not present evidence to
public school teacher for a number of years. She show where he was on that date. In the case of United
testified that respondent took her to the Silver Moon States vs. Tria, 17 Phil. 303, Justice Moreland, speaking
Hotel on June 1, 1958, signing the hotel register as "Mr. for the Court, said:
and Mrs. A. Puno," and succeeded in having sexual An accused person sometimes owes a duty to
intercourse with her on the promise of marriage. The himself if not to the State. If he does not
hotel register of the Silver Moon Hotel (Exh. B-1 and perform that duty he may not always expect the
Exh. B-2) shows that "Mr. and Mrs. A. Puno" arrived at State to perform it for him. If he fails to meet the
that hotel on June 1, 1958 at 3:00 P.M. and departed at obligation which he owes to himself, when to
7:00 P.M. meet it is the easiest of easy things, he is hardly
Complainant also testified that she last saw respondent indeed if he demand and expect that same full
on July 5, 1958, when the latter went to Zamboanga and wide consideration which the State
City. When she learned that respondent had left for voluntarily gives to those who by reasonable
Zamboanga City, she sent him a telegram sometime in effort seek to help themselves. This is
August of that year telling him that she was in trouble. particularly so when he not only declines to help
Again she wrote him a letter in September and another himself but actively conceals from the State the
one in October of the same year, telling him that she very means by which it may assist him.
was pregnant and she requested him to come. Receiving With respect to the special defense raised by the
no replies from respondent, she went to Zamboanga respondent in his answer to the charges of the
City in November, 1958, where she met the respondent complainant that the allegations in the complaint do not
and asked him to comply with his promise to marry fall under any of the grounds for disbarment or
her.1äwphï1.ñët suspension of a member of the Bar as enumerated in
Respondent admitted that he left for Zamboanga City in section 25 of Rule 127 of the (old) Rules of Court, it is
July, 1958, and that he and complainant met in already a settled rule that the statutory enumeration of
Zamboanga City in November, 1958. The fact that the grounds for disbarment or suspension is not to be
complainant sent him a telegram and letters was taken as a limitation on the general power of courts to
likewise admitted in respondent's letter to the suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent powers of the
complainant dated November 3, 1958 (Exh. E), which court over its officers can not be restricted. Times
was duly identified by the respondent to be his. without number, our Supreme Court held that an
Complainant gave birth to a baby boy on February 20, attorney will be removed not only for malpractice and
1959, at the Maternity and Children's Hospital. This is dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross
supported by a certified true copy of a birth certificate misconduct, which shows him to be unfit for the office
issued by the Deputy Local Civil Registrar of Manila, and and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the
a certificate of admission of complainant to the law confer upon him. (In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567, citing In
Maternity and Children's Hospital issued by the medical re Smith [1906] 73 Kan 743; Balinon vs. de Leon Adm.
records clerk of the hospital. Case No. 104, January 28, 1954; 50 O.G. 583; Mortel vs.
To show how intimate the relationship between the Aspiras, Adm. Case No. 145, December 28, 1956, 53
respondent and the complainant was, the latter testified O.G. 627). As a matter of fact, "grossly immoral
that she gave money to the respondent whenever he conduct" is now one of the grounds for suspension or
asked from her. This was corroborated by the testimony disbarment. (Section 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court).
of Maria Jaca a witness for the complainant. Even Under the circumstances, we are convinced that the
respondent's letter dated November 3, 1958 (Exh. E) respondent has committed a grossly immoral act and
has, thus disregarded and violated the fundamental
28

ethics of his profession. Indeed, it is important that parties. On 7 July 1986, complainant Dorothy appeared
members of this ancient and learned profession of law and presented her evidence ex parte, since respondent
must conform themselves in accordance with the did not so appear. 6 The Investigating Solicitor
highest standards of morality. As stated in paragraph 29 scheduled and held another hearing on 19 August 1986,
of the Canons of Judicial Ethics: where he put clarificatory questions to the complainant;
... The lawyer should aid in guarding the bar respondent once again did not appear despite notice to
against the admission to the profession of do so. Complainant finally offered her evidence and
candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient rested her case. The Solicitor set still another hearing for
in either moral character or education. He 2 October 1986, notifying respondent to present his
should strive at all times to uphold the honor evidence with a warning that should he fail once more to
and to maintain the dignity of the profession and appear, the case would be deemed submitted for
to improve not only the law but the resolution. Respondent did not appear on 2 October
administration of justice. 1986. The Investigating Solicitor accordingly considered
Wherefore, respondent Armando Puno is hereby respondent to have waived his right to present evidence
disbarred and, as a consequence, his name is ordered and declared the case submitted for resolution. The
stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. parties were given time to submit their respective
A.M. No. 2349 July 3, 1992 memoranda. Complainant Dorothy did so on 8
DOROTHY B. TERRE, complainant, December 1986. Respondent Terre did not file his
vs. memorandum.
ATTY. JORDAN TERRE, respondent. On 26 February 1990, the Office of the Solicitor General
submitted its "Report and Recommendation" to this
PER CURIAM: Court. The Report summarized the testimony of the
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on 24 complainant in the following manner:
December 1981, complainant Dorothy B. Terre charged Complainant Dorothy Terre took the
respondent Jordan Terre, a member of the Philippine Bar witness stand and testified substantially
with "grossly immoral conduct," consisting of as follows: she and respondent met for
contracting a second marriage and living with another the first time in 1979 as fourth year high
woman other than complainant, while his prior marriage school classmates in Cadiz City High
with complainant remained subsisting. School (tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 9); she was
The Court resolved to require respondent to answer the then married to Merlito Bercenilla, while
complaint. 1 Respondent successfully evaded five (5) respondent was single (id.); respondent
attempts to serve a copy of the Court's Resolution and was aware of her marital status (ibid, p.
of the complaint by moving from one place to another, 14); it was then that respondent started
such that he could not be found nor reached in his courting her but nothing happened of
alleged place of employment or residence. 2 On 24 April the courtship (ibid, p. 10); they
1985, that is after three (3) years and a half, with still no [complainant and respondent] moved to
answer from the respondent, the Court noted Manila were they respectively pursued
respondent's success in evading service of the their education, respondent as a law
complaint and the Court's Resolution and thereupon student at the Lyceum University (tsn,
resolved to "suspend respondent Atty. Jordan Terre from July 7, 1986, p. 12, 15-16); respondent
the practice of law until after he appears and/or files his continued courting her, this time with
answer to the complaint against him" in the instant more persistence (ibid, p. 11); she
case. 3 decided nothing would come of it since
On 28 September 1985, respondent finally filed an she was married but he [respondent]
Answer with a Motion to Set Aside and/or Lift Suspension explained to her that their marriage was
Order. In his Answer, Atty. Terre averred that he had void ab initio since she and her first
contracted marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre on husband were first cousins (ibid, p. 12);
14 June 1977 upon her representation that she was convinced by his explanation and having
single; that he subsequently learned that Dorothy was secured favorable advice from her
married to a certain Merlito A. Bercenilla sometime in mother and
1968; that when he confronted Dorothy about her prior ex-in-laws, she agreed to marry him
marriage, Dorothy drove him out of their conjugal [respondent] (ibid, 12-13, 16); in their
residence; that Dorothy had mockingly told him of her marriage license, despite her
private meetings with Merlito A. Bercenilla and that the [complainant's] objection, he
child she was then carrying (i.e., Jason Terre) was the [respondent] wrote "single" as her
son of Bercenilla; that believing in good faith that his status explaining that since her
marriage to complainant was null and void ab initio, he marriage was void ab initio, there was
contracted marriage with Helina Malicdem at Dasol, no need to go to court to declare it as
Pangasinan. 4 such (ibid, 14-15); they were married
In her Reply, complainant Dorothy denied that Jason before Judge Priscilla Mijares of the City
Terre was the child of Merlito A. Bercenilla and insisted Court of Manila on June 14, 1977
that Jason was the child of respondent Jordan Terre, as (Exhibit A; tsn, July 7, 1986, pp. 16-17);
evidenced by Jason's Birth Certificate and physical Jason Terre was born of their union on
resemblance to respondent. Dorothy further explained June 25, 1981 (Exhibit B, tsn, July 7,
that while she had given birth to Jason Terre at the 1986, p. 18); all through their married
PAFGH registered as a dependent of Merlito Bercenilla, state up to the time he [respondent]
she had done so out of extreme necessity and to avoid disappeared in 1981, complainant
risk of death or injury to the fetus which happened to be supported respondent, in addition to the
in a difficult breech position. According to Dorothy, she allowance the latter was getting from his
had then already been abandoned by respondent Jordan parents (ibid, pp. 19-20); she was
Terre, leaving her penniless and without means to pay unaware of the reason for his
for the medical and hospital bills arising by reason of her disappearance until she found out later
pregnancy. that respondent married a certain Vilma
The Court denied respondent's Motion to Set Aside or [sic] Malicdem (Exhibit C, tsn, July 7,
Lift the Suspension Order and instead referred; by a 1986, pp. 21-22); she then filed a case
Resolution dated 6 January 1986, the complaint to the for abandonment of minor with the City
Office of the Solicitor General for investigation, report Fiscal of Pasay City (ibid, p. 23) which
and recommendation. 5 was subsequently filed before Branch II
Then Solicitor Pio C. Guerrero was appointed of the City Court of Pasay City as
investigator by the Office of the Solicitor General. He set Criminal Case No. 816159 (Exhibit D;
the case for hearing on 7 July 1986 with notice to both tsn, July 7, 1986, p. 24); she likewise
29

filed a case for bigamy against membership in the legal profession.


respondent and Helina Malicdem with Whether the marriage was a joke as
the office of the Provincial Fiscal of respondent claims, or a trick played on
Pangasinan, where a prima facie case her as claimed by complainant, it does
was found to exist (Exhibit E; tsn, July 7, not speak well of respondent's moral
pp. 25-26); additionally, complainant values. Respondent had made a
filed an administrative case against mockery of marriage, a basic social
respondent with the Commission on institution which public policy cherishes
Audit where he was employed, which and protects (Article 216, Civil Code). 11
case however was considered closed for In Bolivar v. Simbol, 12 the Court found the respondent
being moot and academic when there guilty of "grossly immoral conduct" because he
respondent was considered made a dupe of complainant, living on her bounty and
automatically separated from the allowing her to spend for his schooling and other
service for having gone on absence personal necessities while dangling before her the
without official leave (Exhibit F; tsn, July mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as
7, 1986, pp. 28-29). 7 he had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a
There is no dispute over the fact that complainant secret while continuing to demand money from
Dorothy Terre and respondent Jordan Terre contracted complainant. . . . ." The Court held such acts "indicative
marriage on 14 July 1977 before Judge Priscilla Mijares. of a character not worthy of a member of the Bar." 13
There is further no dispute over the fact that on 3 May We believe and so hold that the conduct of respondent
1981, respondent Jordan Terre married Helina Malicdem Jordan Terre in inveigling complainant Dorothy Terre to
in Dasol, Pangasinan. When the second marriage was contract a second marriage with him; in abandoning
entered into, respondent's prior marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre after she had cared for him
complainant was subsisting, no judicial action having and supported him through law school, leaving her
been initiated or any judicial declaration obtained as to without means for the safe delivery of his own child; in
the nullity of such prior marriage of respondent with contracting a second marriage with Helina Malicdem
complainant. while his first marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre
Respondent Jordan Terre sought to defend himself by was subsisting, constituted "grossly immoral conduct"
claiming that he had believed in good faith that his prior under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
marriage with complainant Dorothy Terre was null and affording more than sufficient basis for disbarment of
void ab initio and that no action for a judicial declaration respondent Jordan Terre. He was unworthy of admission
of nullity was necessary. to the Bar in the first place. The Court will correct this
The Court considers this claim on the part of respondent error forthwith.
Jordan Terre as a spurious defense. In the first place, WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to DISBAR respondent
respondent has not rebutted complainant's evidence as Jordan Terre and to STRIKE OUT his name from the Roll
to the basic facts which underscores the bad faith of of Attorneys. A copy of this decision shall be spread on
respondent Terre. In the second place, that pretended the personal record of respondent Jordan Terre in the Bar
defense is the same argument by which he had Confidant's Office. A copy of this resolution shall also be
inveigled complainant into believing that her prior furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
marriage to Merlito A. Bercenilla being incestuous and shall be circularized to all the courts of the land.
void ab initio (Dorothy and Merlito being allegedly first SO ORDERED.
cousins to each other), she was free to contract a A.M. No. 3049 December 4, 1989
second marriage with the respondent. Respondent PERLA Y. LAGUITAN, complainant,
Jordan Terre, being a lawyer, knew or should have known vs.
that such an argument ran counter to the prevailing ATTY. SALVADOR F. TINIO, respondent.
case law of this Court which holds that for purposes of Joanes G. Caacbay for respondent.
determining whether a person is legally free to contract RESOLUTION
a second marriage, a judicial declaration that the first
marriage was null and void ab initio is essential. 8 Even PER CURIAM:
if we were to assume, arguendo merely, that Jordan In the instant Petition for Disbarment dated 21 May
Terre held that mistaken belief in good faith, the same 1987, petitioner Perla Y. Laguitan charged Atty. Salvador
result will follow. For if we are to hold Jordan Terre to his F. Tinio with immorality and acts unbecoming a member
own argument, his first marriage to complainant of the Bar.
Dorothy Terre must be deemed valid, with the result that After answer was filed on 27 October 1987, the Court, in
his second marriage to Helina Malicdem must be its Resolution dated 16 November 1987, referred the
regarded as bigamous and criminal in character. Petition to the Solicitor General for Investigation, Report
That the moral character of respondent Jordan Terre was and Recommendation.
deeply flawed is shown by other circumstances. As During the initial hearing of this case by the Solicitor
noted, he convinced the complainant that her prior General on 17 February 1988, only respondent and his
marriage to Bercenilla was null and void ab initio, that counsel appeared; it turned out that complainant had
she was still legally single and free to marry him. When not been duly served with notice of the hearing. The
complainant and respondent had contracted their hearing scheduled for 24 March 1988 was likewise reset
marriage, respondent went through law school while to 27 April 1988 upon motion of respondent and upon
being supported by complainant, with some assistance failure of complainant to appear before the Office of the
from respondent's parents. After respondent had Solicitor General.
finished his law course and gotten complainant This case was eventually transmitted by the Solicitor
pregnant, respondent abandoned the complainant General to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
without support and without the wherewithal for Commission on Bar Discipline (Commission) for
delivering his own child safely in a hospital. investigation and proper action. Thus, in an order dated
Thus, we agree with the Solicitor General that 18 August 1988, the Commission set the case for
respondent Jordan Terre, by his actions, "eloquently hearing on 9 September 1988 and required both
displayed, not only his unfitness to remain as a member complainant and respondent to submit additional copies
of the Bar, but likewise his inadequacy to uphold the of their pleadings within ten (10) days from notice.
purpose and responsibility of his gender" because The initial hearing set by the Commission for 9
marriage is a basic social institution. 9 September 1988 was reset to 20 September 1988
In Pomperada v. Jochico, 10 the Court, in rejecting a because only complainant appeared, respondent having
petition to be allowed to take the oath as a member of failed to present himself despite due notice to him. The
the Bar and to sign the Roll of Attorneys, said through hearing of 20 September 1988 was again reset to 20
Mme. Justice Melencio-Herrera: October 1988 because neither complainant nor her
It is evident that respondent fails to counsel appeared. The hearing for 20 October 1988 was
meet the standard of moral fitness for once again reset to 14 November 1988 as only
30

complainant appeared, Finally, the hearing for 14 complainant, but for refusal to support his illegitimate
November 1988 was rescheduled two (2) more times, children," the suspension to remain in effect until
first to 15 December 1988 and second to 17 January respondent Tinio complies with his obligation of support.
1989. The Court agrees that respondent Tinio deserves to be
In its Order dated 27 January 1989, the Commission, suspended from the practice of law but not merely
upon the unexplained failure of respondent to appear at because he has failed in his obligation to support the
the hearing on 17 January 1989, required petitioner to children complainant bore him but also because for a
make a formal offer of evidence ex parte, and thereafter prolonged period of time, he lived in concubinage with
submit the case for resolution. The Order was duly complainant, a course of conduct inconsistent with the
received by respondent's counsel on 31 January 1989. requirement of good moral character that is required for
On 9 February 1989, petitioner formally offered her the continued right to practice law as a member of the
exhibits as follows: Philippine Bar, 2Concubinage imports moral turpitude
1. Exh. 'A' — Certificate of Live Birth of Sheila Laguitan and entails a public assault upon the basic social
Tinio. institution of marriage.
Purpose: To show and prove the filiation of the child as ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND
shown on the document; respondent Salvador F. Tinio from the practice of law
2. Exh. 'B' —Certificate of Live Birth of Benedict until further orders from this Court. The Court will
Laguitan. consider lifting the suspension upon evidence
Purpose: To show and prove likewise the filiation of the satisfactory to the Commission and to this Court that
child as shown on the document: respondent is supporting or has made provision for the
3. Exh. 'C' to 'C-6' — Receipts issued by the Mt. Carmel support of his illegitimate children and that he has given
Maternity and Children's Hospital. up his immoral course of conduct.
Purpose: To prove that petitioner herein gave birth to a [A.C. No. 4748. August 4, 2000]
baby girl at the Mt. Carmel Maternity and Children's VICTORIA V. RADJAIE, complainant, vs. ATTY. JOSE
Hospital and for which respondent paid the bills for the O. ALOVERA, respondent.
hospitalization, medicines and professional fees of
doctors; PER CURIAM:
4. Exh. 'D' to 'D-2' — Receipts issued by the Paulino
Medical Clinic. Atty. Jose O. Alovera, former Presiding Judge of the
Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner again gave Regional Trial Court of Roxas City, Branch 17, faces
birth to a baby boy at said clinic and for which disbarment for having penned a Decision [1] dated
respondent paid the bill for hospitalization, medicines January 30, 1995 long after his retirement from the
and professional fees of doctors; Judiciary on January 31, 1995 which ultimately divested
5. Exh. 'E' to 'E-l' — Baptismal certificates of Sheila L. complainant Victoria V. Radjaie of her property in Panay,
Tinio and Benedict L. Tinio, respectively Capiz.
Purpose: To show and prove that respondent admits his In an Affidavit-Complaint[2] filed before the Office of
paternity of the children: the Bar Confidant on April 21, 1997, [3]complainant
6. Exh. 'F' to 'F-4' — The family pictures showing sought the disbarment of respondent enumerating the
respondent either singly or with the rest of the family following particulars to support her contention that the
during happier times. questioned January 30, 1995 decision was prepared
Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner and after the retirement of respondent:
respondent really lived together as husband and wife
and begot two children and the respondent admits these a) Almost all orders issued by then Judge
through the pictures: Alovera prior to his retirement bear the
7. Exh. 'G' to 'G-3' — The school records of Sheila L. stamp "RECEIVED" by Branch 17 of RTC-
Tinio at the St. Mary's Academy. Roxas City, with the initial of the one who
Purpose: To show and prove that respondent was received it for filing with the court-record
supporting the schooling of the children as he himself except the Order of January 25, 1995 (p. 87
signed the correspondence and was marked as Exh. 'G- records) admitting, and the Decision dated
2-A'. 1 January 30, 1995 (pp. 88-93, ibid.).
Based on the aforequoted exhibits, the Integrated Bar of b) It can also be seen that all the orders issued
the Philippines Board of Governors submitted to us its prior to the retirement were all type-written
findings and recommendation, which may be summed in the same type-[writer] except the
up as follows: January 25, 1995 Order (p. 87) and the
Sometime in June 1974, complainant and respondent Decision (pp. 88-93) and these two (2)
Tinio met each other and in time became lovers. documents appear to have been type-
Beginning in 1976, the parties lived together as husband written on the same type-[writer].
and wife. As a result, complainant bore respondent two c) It is also a source of wonder why plaintiffs
(2) children: Sheila, now about ten (10) years old and formally offered their evidence one year
Benedict, now approximately nine (9) years old. In the after the last witness was presented last
course of this relationship, petitioner discovered that December 10, 1993.
respondent Tinio, before meeting her, had contracted
marriage with someone else and that the prior marriage Plaintiffs had until January 20, 1994 to formally offer
was subsisting. Nonetheless, complainant continued their evidence but it took them one (1) year and five (5)
living in with respondent until eventually, ten (10) years days to file such a simple pleading. It goes against the
later, she and her children by respondent Tinio were normal human experience when plaintiffs who are
abandoned by the latter in November 1986. Feeling allowed to present evidence ex-parte are usually very
helpless and aggrieved, she sought the help of quick in having things done because there is no
respondent's parents in supporting her children who opposition but in this case it took plaintiffs a while to
were then already in school. Respondent's parents gave formally rest which was only fifteen (15) days prior to
her P400.00 and advised her not to see them again. the retirement of Mr. Alovera. This timing is highly
After examination of the record of this case and noting suspect.
that respondent Tinio appeared before the IBP
Investigating Commissioner and candidly admitted his
d) Even plaintiffs' formal offer of evidence
illicit relationship with complainant and his having
showed badges of fraud. It was not
begotten two (2) children by her, and promised the
received by the trial court. Page 67 shows
Commissioner that he would support his illegitimate
this clearly. It would not be surprising if the
children but had not lived to his promise, we agree with
same was also inserted into the records on
the findings of fact of the IBP Board. The IBP Board
a much later date and Atty. Alberto Villaruz
recommends that respondent Tinio be suspended from
must be made to explain this too.
the practice of law "not for having cohabited with the
31

It was dated January 20, 1995 but the date of the November 28, 1997 in Civil Case No. V-
Professional Tax Receipt (PTR) of Atty. Alberto A. Villaruz, 6186, which ordered the suspension of Atty.
counsel for the plaintiffs, was issued only on January 31, Villaruz; and,
1995. This is shown on Page 71 of the records. 3. Respondent Alovera filed a petition for
certiorari before the Supreme Court,
e) There is no showing that the January 25, entitled "Jose Alovera vs. Victoria Villariez-
1995 Order (p. 87) admitting the formal Radjaie and Judge Julius L. Abela," under
offer was even received by a Court staff for G.R. No. 131768, which, at the time was
filing with the records. still pending, questioning the Order of
f) The same can be said of the January 30, November 28, 1997 which ordered
1995 Decision (pp. 88-93) which was respondent's suspension from the practice
allegedly decided five (5) days after the of law.
Order admitting the evidence (p. 87) was Thus, necessitated the filing of the Manifestation [11] by
allegedly issued. What a swift action from a the Office of the Bar Confidant on January 27, 1998,
retiring judge. inquiring from the Court whether to proceed with the
g) A copy of the Decision was not even sent to investigation of the case in view of the aforementioned
the counsel for the plaintiffs but is shown to incidents.
have been received by one of the plaintiffs On February 18, 1998, the Court directed the Office
only on August 1, 1995 (p. 93). of the Bar Confidant to proceed with the investigation of
h) Again, it is beyond the normal experience the instant case.[12]
for a lawyer such as Atty. Villaruz who is a Judge Julius Abela, Nenita M. Aluad, legal
practitioner in the locality and who is in researcher, Teresita V. Bauzon, court stenographer,
Court almost everyday that he will not Concepcion Alcazar, clerk-in-charge of civil cases and
follow up if there is already a decision special proceedings, all of Regional Trial Court, Br. 17,
rendered in a case where he was allowed to Roxas City, Rosa Dapat, court stenographer of Regional
present evidence ex-parte or even be told Trial Court, Br. 15, Roxas City and the complainant
about it. herself testified as witnesses for the complainant.
i) The records show that all orders after the The respondent presented as his lone witness, Mrs.
retirement of Mr. Alovera bear the stamp Rosa Dapat, who merely testified on the January 10,
"RECEIVED" by the Court staff who received 1993 proceedings inside his chambers. Respondent
them for filing in the court records. himself did not testify and neither did any other witness
Traversing the allegations of the Affidavit-Complaint testify for him, despite the issuance of subpoena ad
as purely speculative and not based on personal testificandum on Ireneo Borres and Ludovico Buhat, who
knowledge, the respondent, in his Comment [4] dated both failed to appear at the investigation. In lieu of their
August 20, 1997, further assailed as simply self-serving oral testimonies, respondent offered and presented their
complainant's Affidavit-Complaint alleging that a careful respective affidavits.[13] Complainant chose not to object
scrutiny of the expediente of Civil Case No. V-6186 thereto and even waived her right, through her counsel,
would reveal that respondent observed due process to cross-examine them.
when he resolved the said case against complainant. [5] It The established facts, as quoted from the Report
was only when Judge Julius Abela, who succeeded him in dated November 17, 1999 of the Office of the Bar
RTC, Br. 17, Roxas City, annulled, through a resolution, Confidant, are as follows:
the questioned January 30, 1995 decision, which
ostensibly having become final was also executed, did On July 2, 1992, the heirs of the late Faustina Borres,
the matter get out of hand.[6]His said decision, Segundina Borres, Felisa Borres, Micaela Borres, Maria
respondent argued, may only be impeached, annulled or Bores, and Sixto Borres (hereinafter "Borres heirs")
otherwise set aside under three (3) modes, [7] all of which through their counsel, Atty. Alberto A. Villaruz, filed an
were either not availed of by complainant for lapse of action for Partition and Accounting, docketed as Civil
time, or like an action to annul the judgment, though Case No. V-6186, with the Regional Trial Court, Br. 15,
still available, should not have been filed in the same Roxas City, against herein complainant, Victoria V.
court, which rendered the questioned decision, but Radjaie, who was presumably an heir of the late
should have been filed, instead, in the Court of Appeals. Faustina Borres. The action sought, among others, the
[8]
As to the absence of stamp "RECEIVED" on the cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-24150 in
questioned decision, respondent shifted the blame to the name of herein complainant covering a parcel of
the then OIC Clerk of Court of the said court, Mrs. Nenita land with an area of 215,777 square meters situated in
Aluad, contending that after the decision was rendered Panay, Capiz, and the declaration of the said parcel of
on January 30, 1995, he lost control of it and he land as property commonly owned by the Borres heirs.
surmised that Mrs. Aluad, who had the duty to receive On July 16, 1993, Br. 17, to which Civil Case No. V-6186
and record the decision, might have lost it was re-raffled, declared herein complainant in default
"momentarily."[9] and ordered the Borres heirs to present their evidence
In a Resolution [10] dated October 22, 1997, this on July 30, 1993.[14]
Court referred the instant case to the Office of the Bar It was only after three (3) postponements that the
Confidant for investigation, report and Borres heirs were able to start presenting their evidence
recommendation. While in the process of investigation, ex-parte on October 8, 1993. For lack of material time,
three (3) incidents occurred, namely: however, the presentation of evidence was again reset
to November 22, 1993, which again was postponed and
1. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), reset to December 10, 1993.[15]
Capiz Chapter, approved Resolution No. 9, On December 10, 1993, there were several criminal and
Series of 1997 on December 17, 1997, civil actions scheduled for trial, which commenced at
questioning the order, dated November 28, about 10:00 in the morning, before Br. 17, including Civil
1997, of the Regional Trial Court, Br. 17, Case No. V-6186, which was listed number four in the
Roxas City, which ordered the suspension court calendar. Judge Alovera presided over the hearing
from the practice of law of herein and Teresita V. Bauzon, court stenographer of Br. 17,
respondent and Atty. Alberto Villaruz; took down notes of the Proceedings. Atty. Villaruz
2. The Court En Banc, in its Resolution of appeared for the accused in a criminal case [16] before Br.
December 22, 1997, resolved to issue a 17 at the time. The court had a recess at 11:10 and
temporary restraining order (TRO) in G.R. resumed at 11:35 in the morning. After the hearing of
No. 131505, entitled "Atty. Alberto A. criminal cases was through, Civil Case No. V-6186 was
Villaruz vs. Honorable Julius L. Abela," called at about 11:55 in the morning, but the plaintiffs
ordering the respondent judge therein to as well as their counsel, Atty. Villaruz, were no longer
cease and desist from enforcing and/or inside the courtroom. The session thus adjourned at
implementing his questioned order dated
32

11:57 in the morning without Civil Case No. V-6186 went on to attach the said records to the expediente of
being heard.[17] Civil Case No. V-6186. [29] She even gave a copy of the
At about 11:30 in the morning of the same date, Atty. questioned decision to one of the plaintiffs, Ireneo
Villaruz approached Rosa Dapat, who was the court Borres, and to Atty. Villaruz, which was received for him
stenographer at the time of RTC, Br. 15, Roxas City, by Ireneo Borres.[30] After keeping the expediente,she
while she was in her office. Atty. Villaruz told her that then entered the questioned decision in her logbook. [31]
Judge Alovera was requesting her to assist in the The Borres heirs succeeded in having the questioned
proceedings of Civil Case No. V-6186. At first she was decision executed when, on January 31, 1996, the lessee
hesitant to accede to the request as Br. 17 had also its of the property, which is the subject matter of Civil Case
own court stenographer. She relented though when told No. V-6186, surrendered possession of the said property
that Br. 17 as well as the other branches had no in favor of the Borres heirs,[32] Said transfer of
available court stenographer. She then went to Br. 17 possession was made pursuant to the writ of execution
and saw Atty. Villaruz standing by the door of the issued on January 19, 1996 by the Acting Presiding
chambers of Judge Alovera. Atty. Villaruz motioned her Judge of Br. 17, Hon. Delano F. Villaruz, through Clerk of
to enter the chambers, which is separate from the Court Susan Mendoza Arce.[33]
courtroom. While inside the chambers, she saw Judge Meanwhile, complainant, who had been working in Japan
Alovera behind his desk and other people whom she did together with his husband who is employed at the
not know. Upon being told that Mrs. Dapat would be the Turkish Embassy in Tokyo, Japan, learned of what
stenographer, Judge Alovera told Atty. Villaruz to start happened to her property in Panay, Capiz. [34] She was
the proceedings. Following the manifestation made by thus prompted to come back to the Philippines, which
Atty. Villaruz, a witness, whom she later recognized to resulted in losing her job in Japan.
be Atty. Arturo Agudo, was called. At that instant Judge Back home, complainant, on March 5, 1996, filed a
Alovera stood up and said, "All right, you just Petition for Relief from Order, questioning the January
continue," and then went out of the chambers. [18] Judge 30, 1995 decision and the January 19, 1996 Writ of
Alovera would occasionally return to the chambers in Execution.[35] She also prayed "that disciplinary and
the course of the proceedings, but he would just sit contempt proceedings be taken against those involved
down and listen while Atty. Villaruz was conducting his in the perfidious anomaly to tamper with the
direct examination of the witness and presenting administration of justice."[36]
documentary evidence. [19] The proceedings lasted up to Judge Julius L. Abela took cognizance of Civil Case No. V-
12:10 in the afternoon, with Judge Alovera making only 6186 as he was the acting presiding judge of Br. 17 at
two rulings in the course thereof, including the one he the time of the filing of said petition for relief from order.
[37]
made at the end when he ordered the plaintiffs to file In the course of the proceedings thereof, he noticed
their written offer of evidence on January 20, 1994.[20] that the Formal Offer of Exhibits purportedly filed by the
From this point on, complainant would establish how the plaintiffs, i.e., Borres heirs, was dated January 20, 1995,
January 30, 1995 decision of Judge Alovera in Civil Case while the PTR of their counsel, Atty. Alberto Villaruz, was
No. V-6186 came about. issued on January 31, 1995. He concluded then that the
Prior to his retirement from the judiciary on January 31, said offer could not have been filed on January 20, 1995.
1995, or on January 5, 1995, Judge Alovera designated When he asked Atty. Villaruz about it, the latter refused
his legal researcher, Mrs. Nenita Aluad, to be the OIC to answer and just kept quiet.[38] He likewise observed
Branch Clerk of Court.[21] As part of her functions as such that there was no order in Civil Case No. V-6186
OIC, all decisions, orders and resolutions of Br. 17 would submitting the same for decision, except for the order
first be received by her from the judge, and would made by Judge Alovera on December 10, 1993 during
stamp them "RECEIVED" and put thereon the date of the "simulated proceedings" inside his chambers, where
receipt as well as her initial or signature. [22] This is in he directed the counsel for the plaintiffs to file his offer
accordance with Sec. 1, Rule 36 of the Rules of Court. [23] of exhibits.[39] Mrs. Rosa Dapat, who took down notes
Sometime in February of 1995, Mrs. Teresita V. Bauzon, during the said proceedings and who was not a member
court stenographer of Br. 17 since 1993, was asked to of the staff of Br. 17, was not even acknowledged on the
type the draft decision in Civil Case No. V-6186 in Judge records as the official stenographer in the course
Alovera's house. When she inquired if he can still do it, thereof.[40] Thus, in his resolution of September 25, 1997,
Judge Alovera told her that he had one (1) year more to Judge Abela granted the petition for relief filed by
decide cases. With this assurance, she typed the draft complainant and the latter was ordered reinstated to the
decision on a single bond paper without a duplicate as possession of the property in question. In the same
Judge Alovera was dictating it.[24] resolution, Judge Abela declared the January 30, 1995
On August 1, 1995 at about 9:30 in the morning, retired decision null and void, the same not being filed with the
Judge Alovera came to Br. 17, with a man and a woman, clerk of court and not properly rendered in accordance
later identified as the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. V-6186, with Section 1, Rule 36, Rules of Court.[41]
behind him. While he was approaching Nenita Aluad, he Prompted by what he considered to be anomalous
uttered to the latter, "Receive this, receive this, " proceedings, coupled with the prayer of complainant in
referring to the questioned January 30, 1995 decision, her petition for relief "that disciplinary and contempt
which he was holding. As he spread the decision on her proceedings be taken against those involved in the
table, he continued, "Because I will defend you even up perfidious anomaly to tamper with the administration of
to the Plaza Miranda. And give copies to these justice," Judge Abela conducted an investigation into the
two, pointing to the plaintiffs who were at his back. said anomaly.[42] After considering the testimonies of
[25]
Almost instantaneously, Mrs. Aluad replied, " I would Misses Aluad, Dapat, Bauzon and Alcazar during the
not receive it because it is already August 1, 1995," and investigation, together with the documentary evidence
she did not argue with him anymore so as not to presented, he concluded, thus:
embarrass him for being her former superior. [26] She then From the foregoing facts and circumstances the
went out of the office while retired Judge Alovera, as following facts are established that:
well as the two plaintiffs were still inside. [27] At about the
same time, Mrs. Concepcion Alcazar, another employee 1) Civil Case No. V-6186 was not tried on
of Br. 17 and the clerk-in-charge of civil cases and December 10, 1993. What transpired was a
special proceedings therein, saw Judge Alovera inside mock or simulated trial inside the chamber
the office of Br. 17 while trying to have her co- of Judge Alovera where only Atty. Alberto
employees receive the questioned decision. Nobody, Villaruz, the plaintiffs and Mrs. Rosa Dapat,
however, received the same because it was already a court stenographer from another court,
seven (7) months after his retirement. [28] A little later, were present. No Judge or RTC Branch 17
she found the questioned decision, together with the court personnel were present as there was
formal offer of exhibits of January 20, 1995 and the actual court session in open court going on
order of January 25, 1995, on the top of her table. at that time.
Although she noticed that these records were not 2) The records of Civil Case No. V-6186 were
stamped "RECEIVED" as a matter of procedure, she with Judge Jose O. Alovera and remained
33

with him even after his retirement on This oath to which all lawyers have subscribed in
January 31, 1995. He did not return the solemn agreement to dedicate themselves to the pursuit
record to Mrs. Concepcion Alcazar, Court of justice, is not a mere ceremony or formality for
Clerk III in Charge of Civil Cases. practicing law[44] to be forgotten afterwards nor is it
3) The record of Civil Case No. V-6186 turned mere words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that
up on the table of Mrs. Alcazar together every lawyer must uphold and keep inviolable at all
with the "Offer of Exhibits" of Atty. Villaruz times.[45] This oath is firmly echoed and reflected in the
dated January 20, 1995 and the "Order" Code of Professional Responsibility, the particular
dated January 25, 1995, after the provisions of which are applicable to the case at bar,
retirement of Judge Alovera. Both the Offer provide, to wit:
and the Order admitting the exhibits were
not properly filed and do not bear markings CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the
of having been received by the court. constitution, obey the laws of the
4) The "decision" of Judge Jose O. Alovera, land and promote respect for law
though dated January 30, 1995, was filed and for legal processes.
with the court on August 1, 1995 by former Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in
Judge Alovera himself and because he was unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
no longer a judge his submission was deceitful conduct.
refused. Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet
activities aimed at defiance of the
law or at lessening confidence in
- CONCLUSIONS - the legal system.
The "Offer of Exhibits" of Atty. Alberto Villaruz though
dated January 20, 1995 bears signature and PTR No. xxx xxx xxx
issued on January 31, 1995. This simply means that the
pleadings (were) ante dated. It is impossible for Atty. CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold
Villaruz to affix his PTR No. dated January 31, 1995 or the integrity and dignity of the legal
any date prior to its issuance. The Offer of Exhibits could profession, and support the
have been made only on January 31, 1995 or later. activities of the Integrated Bar.
Because this is so, the Order of Judge Alovera dated Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in
January 25, 1995 is also ante dated and could have conduct that adversely reflects on
been made only on a date beyond the filing of the Offer his fitness to practice law, nor
of Exhibits. So also with the decision of former Judge should he, whether in public or
Alovera dated January 30, 1995. private life, behave in a scandalous
manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
The Order admitting the exhibits and the decision were CANON 10 - A lawyer owes candor, fairness
made after the retirement of Judge Alovera. He was no and good faith to the court.
longer a judge. Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any
The acts of Attys. Alberto Villaruz and Jose O. Alovera falsehood, nor consent to the doing
constitute deceit, malpractice, serious and grave of any in court; nor shall he mislead
misconduct as lawyer justifying their suspension from or allow the court to be misled by
the practice of law and ultimately their disbarment. [43] any artifice.

Based on the foregoing findings, the Bar Confidant All of these underscore the role of the lawyer as the
recommended the disbarment of respondent, declaring vanguard of our legal system. When respondent took
that it found more than sufficient evidence to sustain the oath as a member of the legal profession, he made a
complainant's charge against respondent that, indeed, solemn promise to so stand by his pledge. [46] In this
the January 30, 1995 decision in Civil Case No. V-6186, covenant, respondent miserably failed.
which divested complainant of her property in Panay, The testimonies of Nenita M. Aluad, Teresita V.
Capiz, was penned by respondent after his retirement Bauzon and Concepcion Alcazar were all quite telling on
from the judiciary on January 31, 1995. how respondent acted in a grossly reprehensible manner
This Court finds the recommendation of the Office in having the questioned decision dated January 30,
of the Bar Confidant to be well-taken. Respondent has 1995 come to fore, leading ultimately to its execution
thus sufficiently demonstrated that he is morally and divesting the complainant of her property. Respondent
legally unfit to remain in the exclusive and honorable gravely abused his relationship with his former staff,
fraternity of the legal profession. pompously flaunting his erstwhile standing as a
In his long years as a lawyer, respondent has judge. Respondent disregarded his primary duty as an
forgotten his sworn pledge as a lawyer. It is time once officer of the court, who is sworn to assist the courts and
again that the Court inculcate in the hearts of all not to impede or pervert the administration of justice to
lawyers that pledge; thus - all and sundry.[47] In so doing, he made a mockery of the
judiciary and eroded public confidence in courts and
lawyers.
LAWYER'S OATH
This Court has been nothing short of exacting in its
" I, x x x, do solemnly swear that I will maintain
demand for integrity and good moral character from
allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; I will
members of the Bar. By swearing the lawyer's oath, an
support and defend its Constitution and obey the laws
attorney becomes a guardian of truth and the rule of
as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
law, and an indispensable instrument in the fair and
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood nor consent to
impartial administration of justice - a vital function of
its commission; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or
democracy a failure of which is disastrous to
sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit nor give aid
society. Any departure from the path which a lawyer
nor consent to the same; I will not delay any man's
must follow as demanded by the virtues of his
cause for money or malice and will conduct myself as a
profession shall not be tolerated by this Court as the
lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
disciplining authority [48] for there is perhaps no
discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as
profession after that of the sacred ministry in which a
to my clients and I impose upon myself this obligation
high-toned morality is more imperative than that of law.
voluntary, without any mental reservation or purpose of [49]
evasion.
Despite the opportunities accorded to respondent
SO HELP ME GOD.
to present substantial defense to refute the charges
against him, he failed neither to do so nor to offer a
34

valid explanation. When the integrity of a member of the in the preparation of the same. A copy of this
bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the Decision is herewith attached as Annex "D".
charges against him; he must meet the issue and 7. That the respondent has not appealed from
overcome the evidence against him. He must show the aforesaid Decision thereby making the
proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and findings of fact made therein final as against
integrity which at all times is expected of him.[50] him.
Given the peculiar factual circumstances prevailing 8. That the foregoing acts of the respondent in
in this case, the Court finds as appropriate the presenting to the complainant Bank a forged
recommended penalty of the Office of the Bar Confidant and falsified Power of Attorney for the purpose
in its Report. Such gross misconduct of the respondent of obtaining a loan is a betrayal of his oath as a
brings intolerable dishonor to the legal profession and lawyer to do falsehood to no man and by his
calls for the severance of respondents privilege to conduct herein has forfeited his right to continue
practice law for life. further in the practice of law .1
WHEREFORE, respondent JOSE O. ALOVERA is Upon the instance of the Court, respondent filed his
hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the Clerk of Court is comment refuting the charges of deceit and gross
directed to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys misconduct against him. Respondent denied employing
and to inform all courts of this Decision. any deceit or misrepresentation in obtaining a loan from
complainant rural bank. According to respondent, he did
SO ORDERED. not know that the signature of Oscar Granada on the
ADMIN. CASE No. 3637 January 24, 2001 special power of attorney appointing him (respondent)
RURAL BANK OF SILAY, INC. Complainant, as attorney-in-fact was forged. The special power of
vs. attorney purportedly authorized respondent to
ATTY. ERNESTO H. PILLA, Respondent. mortgage the parcel of land in Sagay, Negros Occidental
KAPUNAN, J.: in favor of complainant rural bank. Respondent also
Rural Bank of Silay. Inc. (complainant) filed with this claimed that if indeed said document was forged, he
Court the instant complaint for disbarment against was not a party to the forgery. He cited the findings of
Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla (respondent) alleging deceit and the trial court in Civil Case No. 1-C, thus:
gross misconduct on the part of the latter. The Although there is no showing that Atty. Ernesto
complaint alleges as follows: H. Pilla has actually falsified the signatures of
1. That on July 23, 1975 the respondent the spouses, Atty. Oscar D. Granada, yet
executed a Real Estate Mortgage in favor of the considering that he actually benefited from the
complainant over a parcel of land located in the said falsified documents, he is presumed to
Municipality of Sagay, Negros Occidental, have a hand on the same. (Decision, p. 20-
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T - annex "D".)2
55380, purportedly as Attorney-in-Fact of the Respondent maintained that he obtained the loan from
registered owners thereof, Pedro N. Torres and complainant rural bank without depriving it of the
Oscar D. Granada. A copy of this Real Estate opportunity to investigate his financial capacity as well
Mortgage is herewith attached as - Annex as to ascertain the genuineness of the special power of
"A". 1âwphi1.nêt attorney under which he acted as the mortgagor. Thus,
2. That together with the aforesaid Real Estate respondent is of the view that, under the circumstances,
Mortgage the respondent submitted a Special it cannot be said that he employed deceit and gross
Power of Attorney by virtue of which he was misconduct against complainant rural bank.
purportedly authorized and empowered by the After receipt of respondent's comment, the Court
registered owners Pedro Torres and Oscar D. referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the
Granada to mortgage the aforesaid parcel of Philippines (IBP) for investigation. Both parties adduced
land in favor of the complainant. A copy of this their respective evidence before the Commission on Bar
Special Power of Attorney is herewith attached Discipline of the IBP. Upon agreement of the parties, the
as Annex "B". matter was resolved on the basis of their respective
3. That on the security of, among others, the pleadings and the annexes attached thereto. From these
aforesaid parcel of land over which the pleadings, the IBP, through Commissioner Julio C.
respondent represented that he is authorized to Elamparo, established the following uncontroverted
mortgage, complainant extended and released a facts:
loan to the respondent in the amount of Purportedly acting as attorney-in-fact of a
P91,427.00. certain Pedro Torres and Oscar D. Granada, by
4. That complainant subsequently and much virtue of a special power of attorney, respondent
later learned that the respondent was not at all applied for a loan and concomitantly executed a
authorized and empowered by the registered Real Estate Mortgage in favor of the
owner Oscar D. Granada to mortgage the complainant bank covering the property of
aforesaid parcel of land when it was joined as a Pedro Torres and Oscar D. Granada. With such
defendant in a complaint filed by the aforesaid security, complainant extended to the
Oscar D. Granada for removal of cloud on title respondent his loan in the amount of
with preliminary injunction and damages. A copy P91,427.00. In view of the failure of the
of this complaint is herewith attached as Annex respondent to pay the loan, the mortgaged
"C". property was foreclosed by the complainant
5. That in the aforesaid complaint as well as in bank. Later, Oscar Granada, the real registered
the hearing conducted in connection therewith owner of the mortgaged property filed a
Oscar D. Granada specifically and categorically complaint against the respondent and the
denied having executed and signed the Special complainant for the annulment of the Real
Power of Attorney, Annex B, submitted by the Estate Mortgage and Special Power of Attorney.
respondent to the complainant in support of his After the trial, the court declared null and void
application for a loan. the said Special Power of Attorney as well as the
6. That the aforesaid civil case, Civil Case No. 1 Real Estate Mortgage for being products of
of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, forgery. This decision was not appealed by the
Branch 60, was subsequently decided against defendants.
the respondent wherein the aforesaid Court There is no showing that respondent, despite
found that the Special Power of Attorney, Annex the adverse decision, returned or offered to
B, was indeed forged and falsified because the return the money he took from the complainant
spouses Oscar D. Granada and Lolita L. Granada bank. The bank then instituted this disbarment
have not signed the same and wherein the Court proceeding against the respondent. 3
also made the finding that the defendant, The IBP found from the above facts that respondent
considering that he has benefited from the said, violated his oath as a lawyer to do no falsehood, thus:
falsified document, is presumed to have a hand
35

This office believes that the actuation of the real owners if he was not actually aware that the
respondent constitutes a betrayal of his oath as signatures were that of the real owners.
a lawyer. The findings of the Regional Trial Court The office is convinced that the actuation of the
of Negros Occidental has persuasive effect in respondent is misrepresentation constituting
this proceeding. gross misconduct at the very least. This is a
As found by the Regional Trial Court of Negros violation of his oath as a lawyer to do falsehood
Occidental in its decision in Civil Case No. 1-C, to no man.4
entitled "Spouses Oscar D. Granada and Lolita L. In conclusion, Commissioner Elamparo recommended
Granada vs. Ernesto H. Pilla, et al", the plaintiffs that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
Granada spouses have not signed the for five (5) years. The IBP, through Resolution No. XIV-
questioned Special Power of Attorney in favor of 00-175, dated 7 April 2000, of its Board of Governors,
the respondent and the said spouses' signatures substantially adopted and approved the report and
as appearing in the Special Power of Attorney recommendation of Commissioner Elamparo but
are not their true and genuine signatures for modified the penalty. The IBP RESOLVED as follows:
actually they have not executed nor granted a ...to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
Special Power of Attorney in favor of herein ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
respondent authorizing him to mortgage the Recommendation of the Investigating
one-third (1/3) share of the said spouses in the Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein
mortgaged property. The trial court stressed made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex
that: "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
"...Although there is no showing that supported by the evidence on record and the
Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla has actually applicable laws and rules, said recommendation
falsified the signatures of the spouses, is with modification that Respondent
Atty. Oscar D. Granada, yet considering be SUSPENDED from the practice of law
that he actually benefited from the said for THREE (3) years for misrepresentation.5
falsified documents, he is presumed to We fully agree with the findings of the Investigating
have a hand on the same. Commissioner.
Defendant Antonio Pura testified and in As correctly pointed out by the trial court in Civil Case
fact he admitted that he notarized the No. 1-C, since respondent actually benefited from the
said documents, Exhibit "A" and "B" with falsified document, he is presumed to have a hand in
the assurance of Atty. Pilla that the the falsification of the same. Respondent miserably
signatures appearing in the said failed to rebut this presumption with his barefaced
documents were the signatures of Atty. denial that he had no knowledge of the forgery. The
Oscar D. Granada and of Pedro Torres, Court cannot give credence to respondent's negative
registered owners of the property in assertion that he did not know that the special power of
question." attorney issued in his favor was falsified. As a lawyer,
Antonio G. Pura, the notary public who notarized the respondent knows or ought to know that parties to a
questioned Special Power of Attorney in favor of the public document must personally appear before the
respondent, testified in said Civil Case as follows: notary public to attest that the same is their own free
"Q Now, compañero, will you please relate to act and deed. In utter disregard of this requirement,
this Honorable Court the circumstances under respondent caused the special power of attorney to be
which you notarized this Special Power of notarized without the parties appearing before the
Attorney now marked as Exh. "A" on April 21, notary public. Thereafter, respondent presented the
1975? same to complainant rural bank in order to obtain a loan
"A Yes, sir. I remember that on that same therefrom. It is thus apparent that respondent had a
day, April 21, 1975, defendant Atty. Ernesto H. hand in the falsification of the document especially
Pilla personally appeared before me and he considering that it was he who chiefly benefited from it.
brought along with him this Special Power of Indeed, "the settled rule is that in he absence of
Attorney executed in his favor. He told me to satisfactory explanation, one found in possession of and
notarize it. I asked him about the signature of who used a forged document is the forger and therefore
Atty. Oscar D. Granada if this is his signature guilty of falsification."6 Further, "if a person had in his
and he said "Yes". I also asked him about the possession a falsified document and he made use of it
signature of the other principal and he said also (uttered it), taking advantage of it and profiting thereby,
"yes". With that assurance and being a brother the clear presumption is that he is the material author of
lawyer I accommodated him. Knowing that he the falsification."7
will not do anything that is illegal and I have Respondent's acts clearly fall short of the standards set
confidence in him considering that he is a by the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly
lawyer and he knows what he was doing, I Rule 1.01 thereof, which provides that "[a] lawyer shall
accommodated him." not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
(TSN, Hearing March 15, 1993, pp. 22-23, Civil conduct." The fact that the conduct pertained to
Case No. 1, RTC, Branch LX, Cadiz City, Negros respondent's private dealings with complainant rural
Occidental) bank is of no moment. A lawyer may be suspended or
If indeed, respondent is not responsible for the disbarred for ANY misconduct, even if it pertains to his
falsification of the Special Power of Attorney, private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting
why did he not explain before the trial court or in moral character, honesty, probity or good
before this office the circumstances on how he demeanor.8 Possession of good moral character is not
obtained the same. He did not even bother to only a good condition precedent to the practice of law,
identify his alleged client who provided him the but a continuing qualification for all members of the
forged Special Power of Attorney. Instead, bar.9
respondent is banking on his defense that the Considering the foregoing, the recommendation of the
complainant bank has not introduced any IBP that respondent be suspended from the practice of
evidence to prove that he forged the Special law for a period of three (3) years is approved.
Power of Attorney. He relied on the argument WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds respondent Atty.
that his transaction with the complainant bank Ernesto H. Pilla guilty of misconduct. He is suspended
was purely commercial business and did not from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years
involve his capacity as a lawyer. Further, if it is effective from receipt of this Resolution, with a warning
true that the respondent maintains the highest that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be
degree of morality and integrity as he asserted, more severely dealt with.
why did he represent before the notary public Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished, upon its
that the signatures appearing in the Special finality, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all
Power of Attorney were the signatures of the the courts in the Philippines, and spread on the personal
36

record of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, informed him of by her predicament. From
Supreme Court of the Philippines.1âwphi1.nêt September 6 to 9, 1994, complainant was
SO ORDERED. detained at Changi Prisons in Singapore.
On September 9, 1994 the complainant was
deported back to the Philippines and respondent
A.C. No. 5118 September 9, 1999 fetched her from the airport and brought her to
(A.C. CBD No. 97-485) his residence at 872-A Tres Marias Street,
MARILOU SEBASTIAN, complainant, Sampaloc, Manila. Respondent took
vs. complainant's passport with a promise that he
ATTY. DOROTHEO CALIS, respondent. will secure new travel documents for
complainant. Since complainant opted not to
PER CURIAM: pursue with her travel, she demanded for the
For unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct as return of her money in the amount of One
well as violation of his oath as lawyer, respondent Atty. Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00).
Dorotheo Calis faces disbarment. On June 4, 1996, June 18 and July 5, 1996
The facts of this administrative case, as found by the respondent made partial refunds of P15,000.00;
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of P6,000.00; and P5,000.00.
the Philippines (IBP), 1 in its Report, are as follows: On December 19, 1996 the complainant through
Complainant (Marilou Sebastian) alleged that counsel, sent a demand letter to respondent for
sometime in November, 1992, she was referred the refund of a remaining balance of One
to the respondent who promised to process all Hundred Fourteen Thousand Pesos (P114,000.00)
necessary documents required for complainant's which was ignored by the respondent.
trip to the USA for a fee of One Hundred Fifty Sometime in March 1997 the complainant went
Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00). to see the respondent, however his wife informed
On December 1, 1992 the complainant made a her that the respondent was in Cebu attending to
partial payment of the required fee in the amount business matters.
of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), which In May 1997 the complainant again tried to see
was received by Ester Calis, wife of the the respondent however she found out that the
respondent for which a receipt was issued. respondent had transferred to an unknown
From the period of January 1993 to May 1994 residence apparently with intentions to evade
complainant had several conferences with the responsibility.
respondent regarding the processing of her travel Attached to the complaint are the photocopies of
documents. To facilitate the processing, receipts for the amount paid by complainant,
respondent demanded an additional amount of applications for U.S.A. Visa, questions and
Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) and answers asked during interviews; receipts
prevailed upon complainant to resign from her acknowledging partial refunds of fees paid by the
job as stenographer with the Commission on complainant together with demand letter for the
Human Rights. remaining balance of One Hundred Fourteen
On June 20, 1994, to expedite the processing of Thousand Pesos (P114,000.00); which was
her travel documents complainant issued received by the respondent. 2
Planters Development Bank Check No. 12026524 Despite several notices sent to the respondent requiring
in the amount of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos an answer to or comment on the complaint, there was
(P65,000.00) in favor of Atty. D. Calis who issued no response. Respondent likewise failed to attend the
a receipt. After receipt of said amount, scheduled hearings of the case. No appearance
respondent furnished the complainant copies of whatsoever was made by the respondent. 3 As a result
Supplemental to U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa of the inexplicable failure, if not obdurate refusal of the
Application (Of. 156) and a list of questions which respondent to comply with the orders of the
would be asked during interviews. Commission, the investigation against him
When complainant inquired about her passport, proceeded ex parte.
Atty. Calis informed the former that she will be On September 24, 1998, the Commission on Bar
assuming the name Lizette P. Ferrer married to Discipline issued its Report on the case, finding that:
Roberto Ferrer, employed as sales manager of It appears that the services of the respondent
Matiao Marketing, Inc. The complainant was was engaged for the purpose of securing a visa
furnished documents to support her assumed for a U.S.A. travel of complainant. There was no
identity.1âwphi1.nêt mention of job placement or employment
Realizing that she will be travelling with spurious abroad, hence it is not correct to say that the
documents, the complainant demanded the respondent engaged in illegal recruitment.
return of her money, however she was assured The alleged proposal of the respondent to
by respondent that there was nothing to worry secure the U.S.A. visa for the complainant under
about for he has been engaged in the business an assumed name was accepted by the
for quite sometime; with the promise that her complainant which negates deceit on the part of
money will be refunded if something goes wrong. the respondent. Noted likewise is the partial
Weeks before her departure respondent refunds made by the respondent of the fees paid
demanded for the payment of the required fee by the complainant. However, the transfer of
which was paid by complainant, but the residence without a forwarding address
corresponding receipt was not given to her. indicates his attempt to escape responsibility.
When complainant demanded for her passport, In the light of the foregoing, we find that the
respondent assured the complainant that it will respondent is guilty of gross misconduct for
be given to her on her departure which was violating Canon 1 Rule 1.01 of the Code of
scheduled on September 6, 1994. On said date Professional Responsibility which provides that a
complainant was given her passport and visa lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
issued in the name of Lizette P. Ferrer. immoral or deceitful conduct.
Complainant left together with Jennyfer Belo and WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended
a certain Maribel who were also recruits of the that ATTY. DOROTHEO CALIS be SUSPENDED as
respondent. a member of the bar until he fully refunds the
Upon arrival at the Singapore International fees paid to him by complainant and comply
Airport, complainant together with Jennyfer Belo with the order of the Commission on Bar
and Maribel were apprehended by the Singapore Discipline pursuant to Rule 139-B, Sec. 6, of the
Airport Officials for carrying spurious travel Rules of Court. 4
documents; Complainant contacted the Pursuant to Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court,
respondent through overseas telephone call and this administrative case was elevated to the IBP Board
37

of Governors for review. The Board in a ascertained and declared by judgment of the court after
Resolution 5 dated December 4, 1998 resolved to adopt giving him the opportunity to be heard. 11
and approve with amendment the recommendation of Here, it is worth noting that the adamant refusal of
the Commission. The Resolution of the Board states: respondent to comply with the orders of the IBP and his
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is total disregard of the summons issued by the IBP are
hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report contemptuous acts reflective of unprofessional conduct.
and Recommendation of the Investigating Thus, we find no hesitation in removing respondent
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein Dorotheo Calis from the Roll of Attorneys for his
made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex unethical, unscrupulous and unconscionable conduct
"A"; and, finding the recommendation fully toward complainant.
supported by the evidence on record and the Lastly, the grant in favor of the complainant for the
applicable laws and rules, with an recovery of the P114,000.00 she paid the respondent is
amendment that Respondent Atty. Dorotheo in order. 12 Respondent not only unjustifiably refused to
Calis be DISBARRED for having been found return the complainant's money upon demand, but he
guilty of Gross Misconduct for engaging in stubbornly persisted in holding on to it, unmindful of the
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful hardship and humiliation suffered by the complainant.
conduct. WHEREFORE, respondent Dorotheo Calis is hereby
We are now called upon to evaluate, for final action, the DISBARRED and his name is ordered stricken from the
IBP recommendation contained in its Resolution dated Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be
December 4, 1998, with its supporting report. FURNISHED to the IBP and the Bar Confidant to be
After examination and careful consideration of the spread on the personal records of respondent.
records in this case, we find the Resolution passed by Respondent is likewise ordered to pay to the
the Board of Governors of the IBP in order. We agree complainant immediately the amount of One Hundred
with the finding of the Commission that the charge of Fourteen Thousand (P114,000.00) Pesos representing
illegal recruitment was not established because the amount he collected from her.1âwphi1.nêt
complainant failed to substantiate her allegation on the SO ORDERED.
matter. In fact she did not mention any particular job or ADM. CASE No. 5252 May 20, 2004
employment promised to her by the respondent. The PRISCILLA Z. ORBE, complainant,
only service of the respondent mentioned by the vs.
complainant was that of securing a visa for the United ATTY. HENRY ADAZA, respondent.
States. DECISION
We likewise concur with the IBP Board of Governors in its VITUG, J.:
Resolution, that herein respondent is guilty of gross On 27 March 2000, Mrs. Priscilla Z. Orbe charged
misconduct by engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral respondent Atty. Henry Adaza with gross misconduct
or deceitful conduct contrary to Canon I, Rule 101 of the and as being unfit to continue his membership in the
Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondent Bar. In a three-page complaint-affidavit complainant
deceived the complainant by assuring her that he could averred that respondent obtained a loan from the former
give her visa and travel documents; that despite and, to secure the repayment thereof, drew and issued
spurious documents nothing untoward would happen; two BPI Family Bank checks. When the first check (No.
that he guarantees her arrival in the USA and even 0350973) was presented for payment upon maturity,
promised to refund her the fees and expenses already the same was dishonored for insufficient funds.
paid, in case something went wrong. All for material According to complainant, respondent, acting with
gain. malice and deceit, dated the second check "January 24,
Deception and other fraudulent acts by a lawyer are 1996," so that, once presented for payment, it would be,
disgraceful and dishonorable. They reveal moral flaws in considering, in passing, that the loan was incurred on 23
a lawyer. They are unacceptable practices. A lawyer's November 1996, a stale check. She alleged that, despite
relationship with others should be characterized by the repeated verbal and written demands, respondent had
highest degree of good faith, fairness and candor. This is failed to make good his obligation.
the essence of the lawyer's oath. The lawyer's oath is Acting on the complaint, the Court required respondent
not mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred to comment thereon within ten (10) days from notice. In
trust that must be upheld and keep inviolable. 6 The a letter, dated 26 September 2000, complainant asked
nature of the office of an attorney requires that he that the complaint be now considered submitted for
should be a person of good moral character. 7 This resolution in view of the failure of Atty. Adaza to comply
requisite is not only a condition precedent to admission with the order of the Court requiring him to file his
to the practice of law, its continued possession is also comment. In a resolution, dated 06 December 2000, the
essential for remaining in the practice of law. 8 We have Court noted the letter of complainant, and it directed
sternly warned that any gross misconduct of a lawyer, that the complaint be thereby referred to the Integrated
whether in his professional or private capacity, puts his Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
moral character in serious doubt as a member of the recommendation.
Bar, and renders him unfit to continue in the practice of Despite proper notice to respondent requiring him to file
law. 9 his answer to the complaint, respondent continued to
It is dismaying to note how respondent so cavalierly ignore the matter. Finally, on 20 February 2002, the case
jeopardized the life and liberty of complainant when he was set for hearing by the IBP Commission on Bar
made her travel with spurious documents. How often Discipline. The complainant appeared. Respondent did
have victims of unscrupulous travel agents and illegal not show up despite his having been duly notified of the
recruiters been imprisoned in foreign lands because hearing by personal service effected on 12 February
they were provided fake travel documents? Respondent 2002. Respondent’s failure to appear prompted the
totally disregarded the personal safety of the Commission on Bar Discipline to grant the request of
complainant when he sent her abroad on false complainant to allow her to adduce evidence ex-parte.
assurances. Not only are respondent's acts illegal, they An order was issued setting the proceedings on 18
are also detestable from the moral point of view. His March 2002 for such reception of evidence. A copy of
utter lack of moral qualms and scruples is a real threat the order was served on respondent on 28 February
to the Bar and the administration of justice. 2002 at his given address.
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege On 21 February 2002, the Commission received a letter
bestowed by the State on those who show that they from Atty. Adaza, sent via the facilities of PTT,
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications requesting for a resetting of the hearing from 18 March
required by law for the conferment of such to 18 April 2002, claiming that he was already
privilege. 10 We must stress that membership in the bar committed to attend a hearing at the Regional Trial
is a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the Court, Branch 7, of Dipolog City on 20 March 2002.
privilege to practice law only during good behavior. He The proceedings set for 18 March 2002 for the reception
can be deprived of his license for misconduct of complainant’s evidence ex-parte was held, but the
38

same was without loss of right on the part of respondent privileges which his license and the law confer upon
to conduct, if desired, a cross-examination of the him. The grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of
witness. The evidence of complainant showed that the Rules of Court are not limitative 2 and are broad
complainant used to avail of the notarial services of Atty. enough to cover any misconduct, including dishonesty,
Adaza at his law office at Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila. In of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. 3 Such
1995, respondent requested complainant, and the latter misdeed puts his moral fiber, as well as his fitness to
agreed, to be the primary sponsor in the baptismal of continue in the advocacy of law,4 in serious doubt.
his daughter. In November 1996, respondent Respondent’s issuance of worthless checks and his
accompanied by a certain Arlene went to the residence contumacious refusal to comply with his just obligation
of complainant to seek a loan. The latter lent respondent for nearly eight years is appalling 5 and hardly deserves
the sum of P60,000.00 payable with interest at 5% a compassion from the Court.
month. Respondent issued two (2) BPI Family Bank WHEREFORE, respondent Henry M. Adaza is found guilty
Checks No. 35073 and No. 35076, each for P31,800.00, of gross misconduct, and he is hereby ordered
dated 23 December 1996 and 24 January 1996, suspended from the practice of law for a period of ONE
respectively. When presented for collection Check No. (1) YEAR effective upon receipt hereof. This decision is
035073 was dishonored by the drawee bank for having without prejudice to the outcome of the Criminal Case
been drawn against insufficient funds. The other check, for Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 filed against
Check No. 035076, bearing the date 24 January 1996, him. Let copies of this decision be spread on his record
was not accepted for being a stale check. in the Bar Confidant’s Office and furnished the
Efforts were exerted by complainant to see respondent Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the
but her efforts proved to be futile. Several demand Court Administrator for proper dissemination to all
letters were sent to the respondent by Atty. Ernesto courts.
Jacinto, complainant’s lawyer, but these letters also SO ORDERED.
failed to elicit any response. A criminal complaint for A.C. No. 8392 June 29, 2010
violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed with the [ Formerly CBD Case No. 08-2175 ]
Office of the Prosecutor of Quezon City for Check No. ROSARIO T. MECARAL, Complainant,
035073. Finding probable cause, the complaint was vs.
subsequently elevated to the Metropolitan Trial Court. A ATTY. DANILO S. VELASQUEZ, Respondent.
warrant of arrest was issued by the court, but DECISION
respondent somehow succeeded in evading Per Curiam:
apprehension. Sometime in November 2000, respondent Rosario T. Mecaral (complainant) charged Atty. Danilo S.
went to the house of complainant and promised to pay Velasquez (respondent) before the Integrated Bar of the
the checks within a month’s time. Complainant agreed Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline
to have the service of the warrant of arrest withheld but, (CBD)1 with Gross Misconduct and Gross Immoral
again, respondent failed to make good his promise. Conduct which she detailed in her Position Paper 2 as
The cross-examination of complainant Priscilla Orbe was follows:
set on 22 May 2002. The stenographer was directed to After respondent hired her as his secretary in 2002, she
transcribe the stenographic notes as soon as possible became his lover and common-law wife. In October
for the benefit of Atty. Adaza. An order was issued to this 2007, respondent brought her to the mountainous Upper
effect, and a copy thereof was served upon respondent San Agustin in Caibiran, Biliran where he left her with a
on 09 April 2002. religious group known as the Faith Healers Association
On 22 May 2002, the complainant appeared for cross- of the Philippines, of which he was the leader. Although
examination but Atty. Adaza did not appear despite due he visited her daily, his visits became scarce in
notice. In light of the manifestation of complainant that November to December 2007, prompting her to return
she had no other witness to present and was ready to home to Naval, Biliran. Furious, respondent brought her
close her evidence, she was given a period of fifteen back to San Agustin where, on his instruction, his
(15) days within which to file a formal offer and followers tortured, brainwashed and injected her with
respondent was given a like period to thereupon submit drugs. When she tried to escape on December 24, 2007,
his comment and/or opposition thereto. The order, dated the members of the group tied her spread-eagled to a
22 May 2002, was served on Atty. Adaza on 28 May bed. Made to wear only a T-shirt and diapers and fed
2002. The formal offer of complainant’s evidence was stale food, she was guarded 24 hours a day by the
deemed submitted for resolution on 25 June 2002 women members including a certain Bernardita Tadeo.
pending proof of service of a copy thereof upon Her mother, Delia Tambis Vda. De Mecaral (Delia),
respondent and the filing of the necessary comment or having received information that she was weak, pale
opposition thereto by the latter. and walking barefoot along the streets in the
In an order, dated 16 October 2002, the Commission set mountainous area of Caibiran, sought the help of the
the reception of evidence for respondent on 13 Provincial Social Welfare Department which immediately
November 2002 in order to give him another dispatched two women volunteers to rescue her. The
opportunity to rebut the evidence of complainant. religious group refused to release her, however, without
Respondent again failed to appear on the date set the instruction of respondent. It took PO3 Delan G. Lee
therefor, prompting the Commission to rule on the (PO3 Lee) and PO1 Arnel S. Robedillo (PO1 Robedillo) to
admissibility of Exhibits "A" to "D" with their rescue and reunite her with her mother.
submarkings. There being no appearance on the part of Hence, the present disbarment complaint against
respondent despite due notice, the case was considered respondent. Additionally, complainant charges
submitted for resolution by the Commission in its order respondent with bigamy for contracting a second
of 26 February 2003. marriage to Leny H. Azur on August 2, 1996, despite the
The Commission submitted its report and subsistence of his marriage to his first wife, Ma. Shirley
recommendation, dated 28 May 2003, recommending G. Yunzal.
the suspension of respondent Atty. Henry Adaza from In support of her charges, complainant submitted
the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, and that documents including the following: Affidavit 3 of Delia
he be ordered to pay to complainant the value of the dated February 5, 2008; Affidavit of PO3 Lee and PO1
two unpaid checks he issued to complainant. Robedillo4 dated February 14, 2008; photocopy of the
The Court adopts the recommendation. Certificate of Marriage5 between respondent and Leny H.
A member of the bar may be so removed or suspended Azur; photocopy of the Marriage Contract 6 between
from office as an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or respondent and Shirley G. Yunzal; National Statistics
misconduct in office.1 The word "conduct" used in the Office Certification7 dated April 23, 2008 showing the
rules is not limited to conduct exhibited in connection marriage of Ma. Shirley G. Yunzal to respondent on April
with the performance of the lawyer’s professional duties 27, 1990 in Quezon City and the marriage of Leny H.
but it also refers to any misconduct, although not Azur to respondent on August 2, 1996 in Mandaue City,
connected with his professional duties, that would show Cebu; and certified machine copy of the Resolution 8 of
him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Naval, Biliran
39

and the Information9 lodged with the RTC-Branch 37- nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man
Caibiran, Naval, Biliran, for Serious Illegal Detention for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer
against respondent and Bernardita Tadeo on complaint according to the best of my knowledge and discretion
of herein complainant. with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my
Despite respondent’s receipt of the February 22, 2008 clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary
Order10 of the Director for Bar Discipline for him to obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of
submit his Answer within 15 days from receipt thereof, evasion. So help me God, (underscoring supplied),
and his expressed intent to "properly make [his] defense and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the same Code reading:
in a verified pleading,"11 he did not file any Rule 7.03 – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
Answer.1avvphi1 adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall
On the scheduled Mandatory Conference set on he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
September 2, 2008 of which the parties were duly scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
notified, only complainant’s counsel was present. profession.
Respondent and his counsel failed to appear. The April 30, 2008 Resolution 18 of the Provincial
Investigating Commissioner Felimon C. Abelita III of the Prosecutor on complainant’s charge against respondent
CBD, in his Report and Recommendation 12 dated and Bernardita Tadeo for Serious Illegal Detention bears
September 29, 2008, found that: special noting, viz:
[respondent’s] acts of converting his secretary into a [T]he counter-affidavit of x x x Bernardita C. Tadeo (co-
mistress; contracting two marriages with Shirley and accused in the complaint) has the effect of
Leny, are grossly immoral which no civilized society in strengthening the allegations against Atty. Danilo
the world can countenance. The subsequent detention Velasquez. Indeed, it is clear now that there was really
and torture of the complainant is gross misconduct physical restraint employed by Atty. Velasquez upon the
[which] only a beast may be able to do. Certainly, the person of Rosario Mecaral. Even as he claimed that on
respondent had violated Canon 1 of the Code of the day private complainant was fetched by the two
Professional Responsibility which reads: women and police officers, complainant was already
CANON 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey freely roaming around the place and thus, could not
the laws of the land and promote respect for law and have been physically detained. However, it is not really
legal processes. necessary that Rosario be physically kept within an
xxxx enclosure to restrict her freedom of locomotion. In fact,
In the long line of cases, the Supreme Court has she was always accompanied wherever she would
consistently imposed severe penalty for grossly immoral wander, that it could be impossible for her to escape
conduct of a lawyer like the case at bar. In the especially considering the remoteness and the distance
celebrated case of Joselano Guevarra vs. Atty. Jose between Upper San Agustin, Caibiran, Biliran to Naval,
Manuel Eala, the [Court] ordered the disbarment of the Biliran where she is a resident. The people from the
respondent for maintaining extra-marital relations with a Faith Healers Association had the express and implied
married woman, and having a child with her. In the orders coming from respondent Atty. Danilo Velasquez to
instant case, not only did the respondent commit keep guarding Rosario Mecaral and not to let her go
bigamy for contracting marriages with Shirley Yunzal in freely. That can be gleaned from the affidavit of co-
1990 and Leny Azur in 1996, but the respondent also respondent Bernardita Tadeo. The latter being
made his secretary (complainant) his mistress and reprimanded whenever Atty. Velasquez would learn that
subsequently, tortured her to the point of death. All complainant had untangled the cloth tied on her wrists
these circumstances showed the moral fiber respondent and feet.19 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)
is made of, which [leave] the undersigned with no That, as reflected in the immediately-quoted Resolution
choice but to recommend the disbarment of Atty. Danilo in the criminal complaint against respondent, his therein
S. Velasquez.13 (emphasis and underscoring supplied) co-respondent corroborated the testimonies of
The IBP Board of Governors of Pasig City, by complainant’s witnesses, and that the allegations
Resolution14 dated December 11, 2008, ADOPTED the against him remain unrebutted, sufficiently prove the
Investigating Commissioner’s findings and APPROVED charges against him by clearly preponderant evidence,
the recommendation for the disbarment of respondent. the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative
As did the IBP Board of Governors, the Court finds the case against a lawyer.20
IBP Commissioner’s evaluation and recommendation In fine, by engaging himself in acts which are grossly
well taken. immoral and acts which constitute gross misconduct,
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege respondent has ceased to possess the qualifications of a
bestowed by the state upon those who show that they lawyer.21
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez, is
required by law for the conferment of such DISBARRED, and his name ORDERED STRICKEN from the
privilege.15 When a lawyer’s moral character is assailed, Roll of Attorneys. This Decision is immediately executory
such that his right to continue and ordered to be part of the records of respondent in
practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, it the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the
behooves him to meet the charges squarely and present Philippines.
evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body Let copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated
and this Court, that he is morally fit to keep his name in Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.
the Roll of Attorneys.16 SO ORDERED.
Respondent has not discharged the burden. He never
attended the hearings before the IBP to rebut the
A.C. No. 7204 March 7, 2007
charges brought against him, suggesting that they are
CYNTHIA ADVINCULA, Complainant,
true.17 Despite his letter dated March 28, 2008
vs.
manifesting that he would come up with his defense "in
ATTY. ERNESTO M. MACABATA, Respondent.
a verified pleading," he never did.
RESOLUTION
Aside then from the IBP’s finding that respondent
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
violated Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Before Us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Cynthia
Responsibility, he also violated the Lawyer’s Oath
Advincula against respondent Atty. Ernesto M. Macabata,
reading:
charging the latter with Gross Immorality.
I _________, having been permitted to continue in the
Complainant alleged the following:
practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that
Sometime on 1st week of December 2004 complainant
I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the
[Cynthia Advincula] seek the legal advice of the
Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the
respondent [Atty. Macabata], regarding her collectibles
laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
from Queensway Travel and Tours. As promised, he sent
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to
Demand Letter dated December 11, 2004 (copy
the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly
attached as Annex "I") to the concerned parties.
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit,
40

On February 10, 2005, met (sic) at Zensho Restaurant in owners of Queensway Travel and Tours for collection of a
Tomas Morato, Quezon City to discuss the possibility of sum of money; that on both occasions, complainant
filing the complaint against Queensway Travel and Tours rode with him in his car where he held and kissed
because they did not settle their accounts as demanded. complainant on the lips as the former offered her lips to
After the dinner, respondent sent complainant home and him; and, that the corner of Cooper Street and Roosevelt
while she is about to step out of the car, respondent Avenue, where he dropped off the complainant, was a
hold (sic) her arm and kissed her on the cheek and busy street teeming with people, thus, it would have
embraced her very tightly. been impossible to commit the acts imputed to him.
Again, on March 6, 2005, at about past 10:00 in the By way of defense, respondent further elucidated that:
morning, she met respondent at Starbucks coffee shop 1) there was a criminal case for Acts of Lasciviousness
in West Avenue, Quezon City to finalize the draft of the filed by complainant against respondent pending before
complaint to be filed in Court. After the meeting, the Office of the City Prosecutor in Quezon City; 2) the
respondent offered again a ride, which he usually did legal name of complainant is Cynthia Advincula Toriana
every time they met. Along the way, complainant was since she remains married to a certain Jinky Toriana
wandering (sic) why she felt so sleepy where in fact she because the civil case for the nullification of their
just got up from bed a few hours ago. At along Roosevelt marriage was archived pursuant to the Order dated 6
Avenue immediately after corner of Felipe St., in San December 2000 issued by the Regional Trial Court of
Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City when she was almost Maburao, Occidental Mindoro; 3) the complainant was
restless respondent stopped his car and forcefully hold living with a man not her husband; and 4) the
(sic) her face and kissed her lips while the other hand complainant never bothered to discuss respondent’s
was holding her breast. Complainant even in a state of fees and it was respondent who always paid for their
shocked (sic) succeeded in resisting his criminal attempt bills every time they met and ate at a restaurant.
and immediately manage (sic) to go (sic) out of the car. A hearing was conducted by the Commission on Bar
In the late afternoon, complainant sent a text message Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
to respondent informing him that she decided to refer at the IBP Building, Ortigas Center, Pasig City, on 26 July
the case with another lawyer and needs (sic) to get back 2005.
the case folder from him. The communications On 30 September 2005, Investigating Commissioner
transpired was recorded in her cellular phone and read Dennis A. B. Funa submitted his Report and
as follows: Recommendation,4 recommending the imposition of the
penalty of one (1) month suspension on respondent for
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Sent by - forget the case. I decided Thereafter, the IBP passed Resolution No. XVII-2006-117
complainant to refer it with other lawyer dated 20 March 2006, approving and adopting, with
At 5:33:46 pm modification, the recommendation of the Investigating
replied by - "does this mean I can not c Commissioner, thus:
respondent u anymore" RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
at 6:16:11 pm (Does this mean I cannot see ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report
you and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
anymore) of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the
sent by - I feel bad. I can’t expect recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
complainant that u will take advantage of record and the applicable laws and rules, and
at 6:17:59 pm the situation. considering the behavior of Respondent went beyond
the norms of conduct required of a lawyer when dealing
Follow-up - wrong to kiss a girl with or relating with a client, Atty. Ernesto A. Macabata
message especially in the lips if you is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3)
Sent by don’t have relationship with months.5
complainant her. The issue to be resolved in this case is: whether
At 6:29:30 pm respondent committed acts that are grossly immoral or
which constitute serious moral depravity that would
Replied by - "I’m veri sri. It’s not tking
warrant his disbarment or suspension from the practice
respondent advantage of the situation, 2
of law.
At 6:32:43 pm put it rightly it s an
Simple as the facts of the case may be, the manner by
expression of feeling. S sri"
which we deal with respondent’s actuations shall have a
(I’m very sorry. Its not taking
rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal
advantage of the situation,
practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our
to put it rightly it is an
liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be.
expression of feeling)
This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as
Follow up - I’m s sri. Il not do it again. keepers of public faith, are burdened with a high degree
message Wil u stil c me s I can show u of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their
by respondent my sincerity" (I’m so sorry. personal affairs with greater caution.
at 6:42:25 pm I’ll not do it again. Will you The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
still see me so I can show CANON I – x x x
you my sincerity) Rule 1.01-- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the
On the following day, March 7, 2005 respondent sent integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support
another message to complainant at 3:55:32 pm saying the activities of the Integrated Bar.
"I don’t know wat 2 do s u may 4give me. "Im realy sri. xxxx
Puede bati na tyo." (I don’t know what to do so you may Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
forgive me. I’m really sorry. Puede bati na tayo). adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall
Respondent replied "talk to my lawyer in due time." he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
Then another message was received by her at 4:06:33 scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
pm saying "Ano k ba. I’m really sri. Pls. Nxt ime bhave n profession.
me." (Ano ka ba. I’m really sorry. Please next time As may be gleaned from above, the Code of Professional
behave na ko), which is a clear manifestation of Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful,
admission of guilt.2 dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
In his answer,3 respondent admitted that he agreed to Lawyers have been repeatedly reminded that their
provide legal services to the complainant; that he met possession of good moral character is a continuing
with complainant on 10 February 2005 and 6 March condition to preserve their membership in the Bar in
2005, to discuss the relevant matters relative to the good standing. The continued possession of good moral
case which complainant was intending to file against the
41

character is a requisite condition for remaining in the yes so I ordered two glasses of red wine. After that, after
practice of law.6 In Aldovino v. Pujalte, Jr., 7 we discussing matters about her case, so I said … it’s about
emphasized that: 9:00 or beyond that time already, so I said okay, let’s
This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity go. So when I said let’s go so I stood up and then I went
and good moral character of members of the Bar. They to the car. I went ahead of my car and she followed me
are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and then she rode on (sic) it. So I told her where to? She told
dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act me just drop me at the same place where you have
or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence been dropping me for the last meetings that we had and
reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and that was at the corner of Morato and Roosevelt Avenue.
integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal So, before she went down, I told her can I kiss you
profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to goodnight? She offered her left cheek and I kissed it and
appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust with the slight use of my right hand, I ... should I say
and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the tilted her face towards me and when she’s already
right but also the duty of this Court, which made him facing me I lightly kissed her on the lips. And then I said
one of its officers and gave him the privilege of good night. She went down the car, that’s it.
ministering within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege. COMM. FUNA:
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere February 10 iyan.
unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The xxxx
legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. ATTY. MACABATA:
Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Okay. After that were through so I said let’s go because I
Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of have an appointment. So we went out, we went inside
malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the my car and I said where to? Same place, she said, so
court demand no less than the highest degree of then at the same corner. So before she went down ,
morality.8 We explained in Barrientos v. Daarol9 that, "as before she opened the door of the car, I saw her offered
officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of her left cheek. So I kissed her again.
good moral character but must also be seen to be of COMM. FUNA:
good moral character and leading lives in accordance Pardon?
with the highest moral standards of the community." ATTY. MACABATA:
Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, I saw her offered her left cheek like that, so I kissed her
not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout again and then with the use of my left hand, pushed a
their legal career, in order to maintain their good little bit her face and then kissed her again softly on the
standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They lips and that’s it. x x x.14 (Emphases supplied.)
may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an
for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral
activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and
character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. 10 obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing
In Bar Matter No. 1154,11 good moral character was as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what
defined as what a person really is, as distinguished from appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-
good reputation, or from the opinion generally laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants
entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held disbarment.15
by the public in the place where he is known. Moral In Zaguirre v. Castillo,16 we reiterated the definition of
character is not a subjective term but one which immoral conduct, as such conduct which is so willful,
corresponds to objective reality. flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral opinion of good and respectable members of the
character has four ostensible purposes, namely: (1) to community. Furthermore, for such conduct to warrant
protect the public; (2) to protect the public image of disciplinary action, the same must not simply be
lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to immoral, but grossly immoral. It must be so corrupt as
protect errant lawyers from themselves.12 to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be
In the case at bar, respondent admitted kissing reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such
complainant on the lips. scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the
In his Answer,13 respondent confessed, thus: common sense of decency.
27. When she was about to get off the car, I said can I The following cases were considered by this Court as
kiss you goodnight. She offered her left cheek and I constitutive of grossly immoral conduct:
kissed it and with my left hand slightly pulled her right In Toledo v. Toledo,17 a lawyer was disbarred from the
face towards me and kissed her gently on the lips. We practice of law, when he abandoned his lawful wife and
said goodnight and she got off the car. cohabited with another woman who had borne him a
xxxx child.
35. When I stopped my car I said okay. I saw her offered In Obusan v. Obusan, Jr.,18 a lawyer was disbarred after
(sic) her left cheek and I lightly kissed it and with my complainant proved that he had abandoned her and
right hand slightly pulled her right cheek towards me maintained an adulterous relationship with a married
and plant (sic) a light kiss on her lips. There was no woman. This court declared that respondent failed to
force used. No intimidation made, no lewd designs maintain the highest degree of morality expected and
displayed. No breast holding was done. Everything required of a member of the bar.
happened very spontaneously with no reaction from her In Dantes v. Dantes,19 respondent’s act of engaging in
except saying "sexual harassment." illicit relationships with two different women during the
During the hearing held on 26 July 2005 at the 3rd floor, subsistence of his marriage to the complainant
IBP Building, Dona Julia Vargas Avenue, Ortigas City, constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the
respondent candidly recalled the following events: imposition of appropriate sanctions. Complainant’s
ATTY. MACABATA: testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary
That time in February, we met … I fetched her I should evidence, sufficiently established that respondent
say, somewhere along the corner of Edsa and Kamuning breached the high and exacting moral standards set for
because it was then raining so we are texting each members of the law profession.
other. So I parked my car somewhere along the corner of In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,20 it was ruled that it was highly
Edsa and Kamuning and I was there about ten to fifteen immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to
minutes then she arrived. And so I said … she opened have taken advantage of his position as chairman of the
my car and then she went inside so I said, would you college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in
like that we have a Japanese dinner? And she said yes, said college, to go with him to Manila where he had
okay. So I brought her to Zensho which is along Tomas carnal knowledge of her under the threat that she would
Morato. When we were there, we discussed about her flank in all her subjects in case she refused.
case, we ordered food and then a little while I told her, In Cojuangco, Jr. v. Palma, 21 respondent lawyer was
would it be okay for you of I (sic) order wine? She said disbarred when he abandoned his lawful wife and three
42

children, lured an innocent woman into marrying him route for 24 hours. If respondent truly had malicious
and misrepresented himself as a "bachelor" so he could designs on complainant, he could have brought her to a
contract marriage in a foreign land. private place or a more remote place where he could
In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo, 22 respondent entered into freely accomplish the same.
multiple marriages and then resorted to legal remedies All told, as shown by the above circumstances,
to sever them. There, we ruled that "[s]uch pattern of respondent’s acts are not grossly immoral nor highly
misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions reprehensible to warrant disbarment or suspension.
of marriage and family, institutions that this society The question as to what disciplinary sanction should be
looks to for the rearing of our children, for the imposed against a lawyer found guilty of misconduct
development of values essential to the survival and requires consideration of a number of factors.33 When
well-being of our communities, and for the deciding upon the appropriate sanction, the Court must
strengthening of our nation as a whole." As such, "there consider that the primary purposes of disciplinary
can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be proceedings are to protect the public; to foster public
disbarred." confidence in the Bar; to preserve the integrity of the
In Tucay v. Tucay,23 respondent contracted marriage with profession; and to deter other lawyers from similar
another married woman and left complainant with whom misconduct.34 Disciplinary proceedings are means of
he has been married for thirty years. We ruled that such protecting the administration of justice by requiring
acts constitute "a grossly immoral conduct and only those who carry out this important function to be
indicative of an extremely low regard for the competent, honorable and reliable men in whom courts
fundamental ethics of his profession," warranting and clients may repose confidence. 35 While it is
respondent’s disbarment. discretionary upon the Court to impose a particular
In Villasanta v. Peralta, 24 respondent married sanction that it may deem proper against an erring
complainant while his first wife was still alive, their lawyer, it should neither be arbitrary and despotic nor
marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that "the act motivated by personal animosity or prejudice, but
of respondent of contracting the second marriage is should ever be controlled by the imperative need to
contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality." scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the
Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the bar and to exact from the lawyer strict compliance with
Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being his duties to the court, to his client, to his brethren in
admitted to the bar. the profession and to the public.
In Cabrera v. Agustin,25 respondent lured an innocent The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be
woman into a simulated marriage and thereafter exercised on the preservative and not on the vindictive
satisfied his lust. We held that respondent failed to principle, with great caution and only for the most
maintain that degree of morality and integrity which, at weighty reasons and only on clear cases of misconduct
all times, is expected of members of the bar. He is, which seriously affect the standing and character of the
therefore, disbarred from the practice of law. lawyer as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.
Immorality has not been confined to sexual matters, but Only those acts which cause loss of moral character
includes conduct inconsistent with rectitude, or should merit disbarment or suspension, while those acts
indicative of corruption, indecency, depravity and which neither affect nor erode the moral character of
dissoluteness; or is willful, flagrant, or shameless the lawyer should only justify a lesser sanction unless
conduct showing moral indifference to opinions of they are of such nature and to such extent as to clearly
respectable members of the community, and an show the lawyer’s unfitness to continue in the practice
inconsiderate attitude toward good order and public of law. The dubious character of the act charged as well
welfare.26 as the motivation which induced the lawyer to commit it
Guided by the definitions above, we perceived acts of must be clearly demonstrated before suspension or
kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks as mere gestures of disbarment is meted out. The mitigating or aggravating
friendship and camaraderie,27 forms of greetings, casual circumstances that attended the commission of the
and customary. The acts of respondent, though, in offense should also be considered. 36
turning the head of complainant towards him and Censure or reprimand is usually meted out for an
kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, such isolated act of misconduct of a lesser nature. It is also
act, even if considered offensive and undesirable, imposed for some minor infraction of the lawyer’s duty
cannot be considered grossly immoral. to the court or the client. 37 In the Matter of Darell
Complainant’s bare allegation that respondent made Adams,38 a lawyer was publicly reprimanded for
use and took advantage of his position as a lawyer to grabbing a female client, kissing her, and raising her
lure her to agree to have sexual relations with him, blouse which constituted illegal conduct involving moral
deserves no credit. The burden of proof rests on the turpitude and conduct which adversely reflected on his
complainant, and she must establish the case against fitness to practice law.
the respondent by clear, convincing and satisfactory Based on the circumstances of the case as discussed
proof,28 disclosing a case that is free from doubt as to and considering that this is respondent’s first offense,
compel the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary reprimand would suffice.
power.29 Thus, the adage that "he who asserts not he We laud complainant’s effort to seek redress for what
who denies, must prove."30 As a basic rule in evidence, she honestly believed to be an affront to her honor.
the burden of proof lies on the party who makes the Surely, it was difficult and agonizing on her part to come
allegations—ei incumbit probation, qui decit, non qui out in the open and accuse her lawyer of gross immoral
negat; cum per rerum naturam factum negantis conduct. However, her own assessment of the incidents
probation nulla sit.31 In the case at bar, complainant is highly subjective and partial, and surely needs to be
miserably failed to comply with the burden of proof corroborated or supported by more objective evidence.
required of her. A mere charge or allegation of WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against
wrongdoing does not suffice. Accusation is not respondent Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged
synonymous with guilt.32 immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent
Moreover, while respondent admitted having kissed is hereby REPRIMANDED to be more prudent and
complainant on the lips, the same was not motivated by cautious in his dealing with his clients with a STERN
malice. We come to this conclusion because right after WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed
the complainant expressed her annoyance at being on him for any repetition of the same or similar offense
kissed by the respondent through a cellular phone text in the future.
message, respondent immediately extended an apology SO ORDERED.
to complainant also via cellular phone text message.
The exchange of text messages between complainant
A.C. No. 5141 September 29, 1999
and respondent bears this out.
(Formerly CBD Case No. 317)
Be it noted also that the incident happened in a place
PRISCILA L. TOLEDO, complainant,
where there were several people in the vicinity
vs.
considering that Roosevelt Avenue is a major jeepney
ATTY. ERLINDA ABALOS, respondent.
43

RESOLUTION SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt
A.C. No. 5916 July 1, 2003
MELO, J.: SELWYN F. LAO, complainant,
This is a case of a lawyer who borrowed money without vs.
paying it back. ATTY. ROBERT W. MEDEL, respondent.
On July 9, 1981, Atty. Erlinda Abalos obtained a loan of PANGANIBAN, J.:
P20,000.00 from Priscila Toledo, payable within six The deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance
months from date, plus interest of 5% per month. To of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, for
guarantee the payment of said obligation, respondent which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one-year
executed a Promissory Note (Exhibit "B"). After the lapse suspension from the practice of law.
of six months, and despite repeated demands, The Case and the Facts
respondent failed to pay her obligation. Afraid that she This administrative case stems from a Complaint-
will not recover her money, Ms. Toledo sought the help Affidavit1 filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines-
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), which Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) by Selwyn F.
referred the matter to the Commission on Bar Lao. Atty. Robert W. Medel was charged therein with
Discipline.1âwphi1.nêt dishonesty, grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming
On February 1, 1995, the Commission issued an order an attorney.
directing Atty. Abalos to file her Answer to the letter- The material averments of the Complaint are
complaint of Ms. Toledo. Despite receipt of said order, summarized by the IBP-CBD in this wise:
respondent did not answer the complaint. "The Complaint arose from the [respondent’s]
On August 17, 1995, Investigating Commissioner persistent refusal to make good on four (4) RCBC
Benjamin B. Bernardino, issued an order setting the case checks totaling [t]wenty [t]wo [t]housand
for hearing on September 29, 1995 at 2 p.m. Despite (P22,000.00) [p]esos. These dishonored checks
due notice, respondent failed to appear. Accordingly, were issued by defendant in replacement for
complainant was allowed to present her evidence ex- previous checks issued to the complainant.
parte after which, the case was considered submitted Based on the exchange of letters between the
for resolution. Respondent received this order as shown parties, it appears that [respondent], in a letter
by the registry return. However, she again did not do dated June 19, 2001, had committed to
anything about it. ‘forthwith effect immediate settlement of my
On June 19, 1999, the Commission passed a resolution outstanding obligation of P22,000.00 with Engr.
recommending the suspension from the practice of law Lao, at the earliest possible time, preferably, on
of respondent for a period of six months "for her flouting or before the end of June 2000.’ Again, in a
resistance to lawful orders of the Court and illustrating letter dated July 3, 2000, the [respondent] made
her despiciency of her oath of office as a lawyer." The a ‘request for a final extension of only ten (10)
Commission, however, declined to discipline her for days from June 30, 2000 (or not later than July
failing to meet her financial obligation, the same having 10, 2000), within which to effect payment
been incurred in her private capacity. of P22,000.00 to Engr. Lao.’ Needless to say, the
We agree with the Commission that respondent may not initiation of this present complaint proves that
be disciplined either by the IBP or by this Court for contrary to his written promises, Atty. Medel
failing to pay her obligation to complainant. never made good on his dishonored checks.
Complainant's remedy is to file a collection case before Neither has he paid his indebtedness."2
a regular court of justice against respondent. The In his Answer3 dated July 30, 2001, Atty. Medel reasons
general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or that because all of his proposals to settle his obligation
disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume were rejected, he was unable to comply with his promise
jurisdiction to discipline him, for misconduct in his non- to pay complainant. Respondent maintains that the
professional or private capacity (In re Pelaez, 44 Phil. Complaint did not constitute a valid ground for
569 [1923]; Lizaso vs. Amante, 198 SCRA 1 [1991]). disciplinary action because of the following:
We, however, find the recommendation to suspend "(a). Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules, a
respondent from the practice of law for six months to be member of the Bar, may be disbarred or
grossly disproportionate to the act complained of, i.e., suspended from his office as attorney by the
her failure to appear before the Commission on Bar Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or
Discipline of the IBP. With her legal knowledge and other gross misconduct in such office, grossly
expertise, respondent may have known all along that immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction
the Commission has no jurisdiction over a complaint for of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
collection of a sum of money which she borrowed in her violation of the oath which he is required to take
private capacity. Hence, her adamant refusal to appear before admission to practice, or for a wil[l]ful
before said body. disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
We do not, of course, ignore the fact that by virtue of court, or for corruptly or wil[l]fully appearing as
one's membership in the IBP, a lawyer thus submits an attorney for a party to case without authority
himself to the disciplinary authority of the organization. so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law
However, as the complaint lodged against the for the purpose of gain, either personally or
respondent in the case at hand did not pertain to an act through paid agents or brokers, constitutes
that she committed in the exercise of her profession, the malpractice;
IBP need not assume jurisdiction to discipline "(a.1). Applying the afore-cited legal provision to
respondent. As the Commission on Bar Discipline the facts obtaining in the present case, it is clear
correctly suggested, complainant's remedy is to file the that the offense with which the respondent is
necessary collection case in court for her to recover the being charged by the complainant, is merely a
amount respondent owed her. violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 (B.P. 22,
It was, however, still necessary for respondent to for brevity), which is a special law, and is not
acknowledge the orders of the Commission in deference punishable under the Revised Penal Code (RPC,
to its authority over her as a member of the IBP. Her for brevity). It is self-evident therefore, that the
wanton disregard of its lawful orders subjects her to offense is not in the same category as a
disciplinary sanction. Thus, her suspension from the violation of Article 315, paragraph 2, (d), RPC,
practice of law for one month is warranted. which is issuing a post-dated check or a check in
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Erlinda Abalos is hereby payment of an obligation, with insufficient funds
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE in the drawee bank, through false pretenses or
MONTH from the date of the finality of this Resolution. fraudulent acts, executed prior to or
Copies of this Resolution shall be furnished all courts of simultaneously with the commission of the
the land and the Office of the Bar Confidant. This fraud, which is a crime involving moral
Resolution shall likewise be spread on the personal turpitude;
record of respondent attorney.
44

"(b). If the respondent is to be disciplined by the We agree with the findings and recommendation of the
Supreme Court, under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the IBP Board of Governors, but reduce the period of
Rules, for the issuance of a worthless check, in suspension to one year.
violation of B.P. 22, for payment of a pre-existing Administrative Liability of Respondent
obligation to the complainant, then, verily, the Lawyers are instruments for the administration of
said Rule 138, Sec. 27, would be a cruel and an justice. As vanguards of our legal system, they are
unjust law, which the Honorable Supreme Court expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also
would not countenance; a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair
"(c). A careful examination of the specific dealing.11 In so doing, the people’s faith and confidence
grounds enumerated, for disbarment or in the judicial system is ensured.
suspension of a member of the Bar, under Sec. In the present case, respondent has been brought to this
27 of Rule 138 of the Rules, clearly shows Court for failure to pay his debts and for issuing
beyond a shadow of doubt that the alleged worthless checks as payment for his loan from
issuance of a worthless check, in violation of B.P. complainant. While acknowledging the fact that he
22, is NOT one of the grounds for disciplinary issued several worthless checks, he contends that such
action against a member of the Bar, to warrant act constitutes neither a violation of the Code of
his disbarment or suspension from his office as Professional Responsibility; nor dishonest, immoral or
attorney, by the Supreme Court; and deceitful conduct.
"(d). The issuance of a worthless check by a The defense proffered by respondent is untenable. It is
member of the Bar, in violation of B.P. 22, does evident from the records that he made several promises
NOT constitute dishonest, immoral or deceitful to pay his debt promptly. However, he reneged on his
conduct, under Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the obligation despite sufficient time afforded him. Worse,
Code of Professional Responsibility. This is he refused to recognize any wrongdoing and transferred
because, the door to the law profession swings the blame to complainant, on the contorted reasoning
on reluctant hinges. Stated otherwise, unless that the latter had refused to accept the former’s plan of
there is a clear, palpable and unmitigated payment. It must be pointed out that complainant had
immoral or deceitful conduct, of a member of no obligation to accept it, considering respondent’s
the Bar, in violation of his oath as an attorney, previous failure to comply with earlier payment plans for
by the mere issuance of a worthless check, in the same debt.
violation of B.P. 22, the Supreme Court is Moreover, before the IBP-CBD, respondent had
inclined to give the said attorney, the benefit of voluntarily committed himself to the payment of his
the doubt."4 debts, yet failed again to fulfill his promise. That he had
On August 22, 2001, complainant submitted his no real intention to settle them is evident from his
Reply.5 Thereafter, IBP-CBD Commissioner Renato G. unremitting failed commitments. His cavalier attitude in
Cunanan, to whom the case was assigned by the IBP for incurring debts without any intention of paying for them
investigation and report, scheduled the case for hearing puts his moral character in serious doubt.
on October 4, 2001. After several cancellations, the Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their
parties finally met on May 29, 2002. In that hearing, duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their
respondent acknowledged his obligation and committed clients. As part of those duties, they must promptly pay
himself to pay a total of P42,000 (P22,000 for his their financial obligations. Their conduct must always
principal debt and P20,000 for attorney’s fees). reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as
Complainant agreed to give him until July 4, 2002 to embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
settle the principal debt and to discuss the plan of these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend
payment for attorney’s fees in the next hearing. lawyers for any professional or private misconduct
On July 4, 2002, both parties appeared before the IBP- showing them to be wanting in moral character,
CBD for their scheduled hearing. But, while waiting for honesty, probity and good demeanor -- or to be
the case to be called, respondent suddenly insisted on unworthy to continue as officers of the Court.12
leaving, supposedly to attend to a family emergency. It is equally disturbing that respondent remorselessly
Complainant’s counsel objected and Commissioner issued a series of worthless checks, unmindful of the
Cunanan, who was still conducting a hearing in another deleterious effects of such act to public interest and
case, ordered him to wait. He, however, retorted in a public order.13
loud voice, "It’s up to you, this is only disbarment, my Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
family is more important." 6 And, despite the objection mandates all members of the bar to obey the laws of
and the warning, he arrogantly left. He made no effort to the land and promote respect for law. Rule 1.01 of the
comply with his undertaking to settle his indebtedness Code specifically provides that "[a] lawyer shall not
before leaving. engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
Report and Recommendation of the IBP conduct." In Co v. Bernardino, 14 the Court considered the
In his September 19, 2002 Report, 7 Commissioner issuance of worthless checks as a violation of this Rule
Cunanan found respondent guilty of violating the and an act constituting gross misconduct. It explained
attorney’s oath and the Code of Professional thus:
Responsibility. The former explained that, contrary to "The general rule is that a lawyer may not be
the latter’s claim, violation of BP 22 was a crime that suspended or disbarred, and the court may not
involved moral turpitude. Further, he observed that ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him
‘‘[w]hile no criminal case may have been instituted for misconduct in his non-professional or private
against [respondent], it is beyond cavil that indeed, [the capacity (In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 5569 [1923]).
latter] committed not one (1) but four counts of violation Where, however, the misconduct outside of the
of BP 22."8 The "refusal [by respondent] to pay his lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a
indebtedness, his broken promises, his arrogant attitude character as to show him morally unfit for the
towards complainant’s counsel and the [commission office and unworthy of the privilege which his
sufficiently] warrant the imposition of sanctions against licenses and the law confer on him, the court
him."9Thus, the investigating commissioner may be justified in suspending or removing him
recommended that respondent be suspended from the from the office of attorney (In Re Sotto, 38 Phil.
practice of law. 569 [1923]).
In Resolution No. XV-2002-598, 10 the Board of Governors "The evidence on record clearly shows
of the IBP adopted the Report and Recommendation of respondent's propensity to issue bad checks.
Commissioner Cunanan and resolved to suspend This gross misconduct on his part, though not
respondent from the practice of law for two years. The related to his professional duties as a member of
Resolution, together with the records of the case, was the bar, puts his moral character in serious
transmitted to this Court for final action, pursuant to doubt. The Commission, however, does not find
Rule 139-B Sec. 12(b). him a hopeless case in the light of the fact that
The Court’s Ruling
45

he eventually paid his obligation to the the exacting standards expected of him as a guardian of
complainant, albeit very much delayed. law and justice.18
"While it is true that there was no attorney-client Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by his
relationship between complainant and gross misconduct. The IBP Board of Governors
respondent as the transaction between them did recommended that he be suspended from the practice
not require the professional legal services of of law for two years. However, in line with Co v.
respondent, nevertheless respondent's abject Bernardino,19 Ducat Jr. v. Villalon Jr.20 and Saburnido v.
conduct merits condemnation from this Court. Madroño21 -- which also involved gross misconduct of
"As early as 1923, however, the Court laid down lawyers -- we find the suspension of one year sufficient
in In Re Vicente Pelaez [44 Phil.567 (1923)] the in this case.
principle that it can exercise its power to WHEREFORE, Atty. Robert W. Medel is found guilty of
discipline lawyers for causes which do not gross misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED for one
involve the relationship of an attorney and client year from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt
x x x In disciplining the respondent, Mr. Justice of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the
Malcolm said: x x x As a general rule, a court will same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.
not assume jurisdiction to discipline one of its Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of
officers for misconduct alleged to have been respondent and served on the IBP, as well as on the
committed in his private capacity. But this is a court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for
general rule with many exceptions x x x. The their information and guidance.
nature of the office, the trust relation which SO ORDERED.
exists between attorney and client, as well as A.C. No. 7494 June 27, 2008
between court and attorney, and the statutory WILSON CHAM, complainant,
rules prescribing the qualifications of attorneys, vs.
uniformly require that an attorney shall be a ATTY. EVA PAITA-MOYA, respondent.
person of good moral character. If that RESOLUTION
qualification is a condition precedent to a license CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
or privilege to enter upon the practice of the Before Us is a Complaint1 for disbarment filed by
law, it would seem to be equally essential during complainant Wilson Cham against respondent Atty. Eva
the continuance of the practice and the exercise Paita-Moya, who he alleged committed deceit in
of the privilege. So it is held that an attorney will occupying a leased apartment unit and, thereafter,
be removed not only for malpractice and vacating the same without paying the rentals due.
dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross According to the Complaint, on 1 October 1998,
misconduct not connected with his professional respondent entered into a Contract of Lease 2 with
duties, which shows him to be unfit for the office Greenville Realty and Development Corp. (GRDC),
and unworthy of the privileges which his license represented by complainant as its President and General
and the law confer upon him x x x. Manager, involving a residential apartment unit owned
"Ten years later, in Piatt v. Abordo where the by GRDC located at No. 61-C Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon
erring lawyer was suspended for one year from City, for a consideration of P8,000.00 per month for a
the practice of law for attempting to engage in term of one year.
an opium deal, Justice Malcolm reiterated that Upon the expiration of said lease contract, respondent
an attorney may be removed not only for informed the complainant that she would no longer
malpractice and dishonesty in his profession, renew the same but requested an extension of her stay
but also for gross misconduct not related to his at the apartment unit until 30 June 2000 with a
professional duties which show him to be an commitment that she would be paying the monthly
unfit and unworthy lawyer. The courts are not rental during the extension period. Complainant
curators of the morals of the bar. At the same approved such request but increased the rental rate
time the profession is not compelled to harbor to P8,650.00 per month for the period beginning 1
all persons whatever their character, who are October 1999 until 30 June 2000.
fortunate enough to keep out of prison. As good Respondent stayed at the leased premises up to October
character is an essential qualification for 2000 without paying her rentals from July to October
admission of an attorney to practice, when the 2000. She also failed to settle her electric bills for the
attorney's character is bad in such respects as months of September and October 2000. The Statement
to show that he is unsafe and unfit to be of Account as of 15 October 20043 shows that
entrusted with the powers of an attorney, the respondent’s total accountability is P71,007.88.
courts retain the power to discipline him x x x Of Sometime in October 2000, a report reached
all classes and professions, the lawyer is most complainant’s office that respondent had secretly
sacredly bound to uphold the law x x x and to vacated the apartment unit, bringing along with her the
that doctrine we give our unqualified support." door keys. Also, respondent did not heed complainant’s
We likewise take notice of the high-handed repeated written demands for payment of her
manner in which respondent dealt with obligations despite due receipt of the same, compelling
Commissioner Cunanan during the July 4, 2002 complainant to file the present Complaint.
hearing, when the former was expected to settle In her Answer,4 respondent alleged that she had
his obligation with complainant. We cannot religiously paid her monthly rentals and had not vacated
countenance the discourtesy of respondent. He the apartment unit surreptitiously. She also averred that
should be reminded that the IBP has disciplinary she transferred to another place because she was given
authority over him by virtue of his membership notice by the complainant to vacate the premises to
therein.15 give way for the repair and renovation of the same, but
Thus, it was imperative for him to respect the authority which never happened until presently. Respondent
of the officer assigned to investigate his case. Assuming actually wanted to ask that complainant to account for
that he had a very important personal matter to attend her deposit for the apartment unit, but she could not do
to, he could have politely explained his predicament to so since she did not know complainant’s address or
the investigating commissioner and asked permission to contact number. For the same reason, she could not turn
leave immediately. Unfortunately, the former showed over to the complainant the door keys to the vacated
dismal behavior by raising his voice and leaving without apartment unit.
the consent of complainant and the investigating After the mandatory preliminary conference conducted
commissioner. by the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
We stress that membership in the legal profession is a Bar of the Philippines (IBP) at the IBP Building, Ortigas
privilege.16 It demands a high degree of good moral Center, Pasig City, the parties were given time to submit
character, not only as a condition precedent to their respective Position Papers per Order 5 dated 17
admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the February 2006. On 29 March 2006, complainant filed his
practice of law.17 In this case, respondent fell short of Position Paper.6 Respondent, despite the extension
46

given, did not file hers. Hence, the case was deemed payment of the rentals due for the period of 1 July to 20
submitted for resolution. September 2000.
On 8 September 2006, Investigating Commissioner It is thus evident to this Court that respondent willfully
Acerey C. Pacheco submitted his Report and failed to pay her just debts. Her unpaid rentals and
Recommendation,7 recommending the imposition of the electric bills constitute "just debts," which could be any
penalty of three-month suspension on respondent for of the following: (1) claims adjudicated by a court of law;
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, to or (2) claims the existence and justness of which are
wit: admitted by the debtor.14
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended Having incurred just debts, respondent had the moral
that herein respondent be held guilty of having duty and legal responsibility to settle them when they
violated the aforequoted provision of the Code became due. Respondent should have complied with
of Professional Responsibility and imposed upon just contractual obligations, and acted fairly and
her the penalty of three (3) months suspension adhered to high ethical standards to preserve the
from the practice of law. court’s integrity, since she is an employee thereof.
The IBP Board of Governors, however, passed Resolution Indeed, when respondent backtracked on her duty to
No. XVII-2006-5858 dated 15 December 2006, amending pay her debts, such act already constituted a ground for
the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner administrative sanction.
and approving the dismissal of the Complaint, thus: Respondent left the apartment unit without settling her
RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is hereby AMENDED, unpaid obligations, and without the complainant’s
the Recommendation of the Investigating knowledge and consent. Respondent’s abandonment of
Commissioner, and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL the leased premises to avoid her obligations for the rent
of the above-entitled case for lack of merit. and electricity bills constitutes deceitful conduct
We do not agree with the foregoing Resolution of the IBP violative of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
Board of Governors. The Complaint should not be particularly Canon I and Rule 1.01 thereof, which
dismissed and respondent must face the consequences explicitly state:
of her actions. "CANON 1- A lawyer shall uphold the
It is undisputed that by virtue of a lease contract she constitution, obey the laws of the land and
executed with GRDC, respondent was able to occupy the promote respect for law and legal processes.
apartment unit for a period of one year, from 1 October "Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in
1998 to 30 September 1999, paying a monthly rental unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
of P8,000.00. Upon the expiration of the lease conduct."
contract9 on 30 September 1999, the same was Respondent’s defense that she does not know where to
renewed, but on a month-to-month basis at an find the complainant or his office is specious and does
increased rental rate of P8,650.00. Under such an not inspire belief considering that she had been
arrangement, respondent was able to stay at the leased occupying the apartment unit and paying the rents due
premises until October 2000, undoubtedly incurring (except for the period complained of) for almost two
electric bills during the said period. years. How she could have dealt with complainant and
A review of the records would reveal that respondent is, GRDC for two years without at all knowing their office
indeed, guilty of willful failure to pay just debt. address and contact numbers totally escapes this Court.
Complainant is able to fully substantiate that This is only a desperate attempt to justify what is clearly
respondent has existing obligations that she failed to an unjustifiable act.
settle. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of
Annex "D"10 of the Complaint is a letter dated 11 justice. As vanguards of our legal system, they are
September 2000 signed by complainant and addressed expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also
to respondent demanding that she settle her unpaid a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair
rentals for the period of three months, particularly, from dealing.15 In so doing, the people’s faith and confidence
1 July to 30 September 2000. The letter appears to have in the judicial and legal system is ensured.
been received by one Purificacion D. Flores. Annex "H" Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their
of the same Complaint is another letter dated 30 August duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their
2004 by complainant reiterating his earlier demand for clients. As part of those duties, they must promptly pay
respondent to settle her unpaid rentals, as well as her their financial obligations. Their conduct must always
unpaid Meralco bills. This second letter of demand was reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as
sent through registered mail and received by one Nonie embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On
Catindig. Respondent did not expressly deny receipt of these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend
both letters of demand in her Answer to the Complaint. lawyers for any professional or private misconduct
Having failed to rebut the foregoing allegations, she showing them to be wanting in moral character,
must be deemed to have admitted them. Section 11, honesty, probity and good demeanor -- or to be
Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, provides: unworthy to continue as officers of the Court.16
SECTION 11. Allegations not specifically denied The Court stresses that membership in the legal
deemed admitted. – Material averment in the profession is a privilege. 17 It demands a high degree of
complaint, other than those as to the amount of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent
unliquidated damage, shall be deemed admitted to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for
when not specifically denied. the practice of law.18 In this case, respondent fell short of
Moreover, a settled rule of evidence is that the one who the exacting standards expected of her as a guardian of
pleads payment has the burden of proving it. Even law and justice.19
where it is the plaintiff (complainant herein) who alleges Any gross misconduct of a lawyer in his or her
non-payment, the general rule is that the burden rests professional or private capacity is a ground for the
on the defendant (respondent herein) to prove payment, imposition of the penalty of suspension or disbarment
rather than on the plaintiff to prove non-payment. The because good character is an essential qualification for
debtor has the burden of showing with legal certainty the admission to the practice of law and for the
that the obligation has been discharged by payment. 11 continuance of such privilege. 20 The Court has held that
Apropos is another well-settled rule in our jurisprudence the deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance
that a receipt of payment is the best evidence of the of worthless checks constitute gross misconduct, 21 for
fact of payment.12 In Monfort v. Aguinaldo,13 the receipts which a lawyer may be sanctioned with one year’s
of payment, although not exclusive, were deemed to be suspension from the practice of law, 22 or a suspension of
the best evidence. A receipt is a written and signed six months upon partial payment of the obligation. 23
acknowledgment that money or goods have been Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by
delivered. In the instant case, the respondent failed to respondent’s gross misconduct. The case at bar merely
discharge the burden of proving payment, for she was involves the respondent’s deliberate failure to pay her
unable to produce receipts or any other proof of just debts, without her issuing a worthless check, which
would have been a more serious offense. The
47

Investigating Commissioner of the IBP recommended of the complainant; that the respondent has tutored the
that she be suspended from the practice of law for three complainant on the fine interpretation and application of
months, a penalty which this Court finds sufficient. the law; that it was Judge Zari who tried to corrupt him
WHEREFORE, Atty. Eva Paita-Moya is found guilty of as may be gathered from the following instances: On
gross misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED for one January 8, 1976, after the trial in Criminal Case No VI-
month from the practice of law, effective upon her 5783 vs. Juanito Chua and two criminal cases against
receipt of this Decision. She is warned that a repetition Emerito Lim, Judge Zari instructed the respondent to
of the same or a similar act will be dealt with more conduct an ocular inspection on the illegal
severely. constructions, subject of the cases; that Judge Zari,
Let copies of this Resolution be entered in the record of likewise, told the respondent to join him for lunch at
respondent and served on the IBP, as well as on the Alfredo's Steakhouse in Quezon City; that after
court administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for conducting the ocular inspection, the respondent
their information and guidance. proceeded to Alfredo's Steakhouse where he joined
SO ORDERED. Judge Zari, Fiscal Loja and the defense counsel of Chua
A.M. No. (2170-MC) P-1356 November 21, 1979 and Lim; that thereafter, Judge Zari directed the
HON. REMIGIO E. ZARI, complainant, respondent not to prepare anymore his report on the
vs. ocular inspection to the site; that up to the time of his
DIOSDADO S. FLORES, respondent. illegal transfer, the respondent did not see the records
of said cases anymore; that in Criminal Case No. VI-
FERNANDEZ, J.: 166624 vs. Corazon and Macaria Tolentino, for the crime
In a letter dated July 15, 1976 addressed to the Supreme of estafa, the respondent was instructed to convict both
Court, Hon. Remigio E. Zari, Presiding Judge of Branch the accused because the complainant was a relative of a
VI. City Court of Quezon City, recommended the certain Judge Erochi; and that in Criminal Cases Nos. VI-
dismissal from the service of Mr. Diosdado S. Flores, 170682 and VI-170689 versus Gerundio Villanueva y
Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI, City Court, on the Elazo, Dominador Garcia y Orteza and Balbino Domingo
following grounds: y Ramos, for the crime of theft, he was instructed by
1. Conviction for libel on April 28, 1967, Judge Zari to convict the accused Dominador Garcia y
(Criminal Case No. Q- 7171), Branch IV, Court of Orteza because according to said judge, the
First Instance, Quezon City), a crime involving complainant is AVESCO.
moral turpitude. He was sentenced to pay a fine In a resolution dated September 1, 1976, 4 this Court
of P500.00, which he paid on July 18, 1974, required Judge Zari to file a reply to the answer of the
under Receipt No. 4736418. respondent within ten (10) days from notice thereof.
2. Presistent attempts to unduly influence the The complainant alleged in his reply to the answer of
undersigned amounting to undue interest in the respondent that he had not allowed the respondent
cases pending before Branch VI as shown by his to interfere in the preparation of orders and decisions;
handwritten notes to the undersigned and to my that while the complainant is aware of his limitations, he
present deputy clerk of Court, Atty. Reynaldo is certainly not so naive as to allow someone not a
Elcano. member of the Philippine Bar to "tutor" and give him
On March 8, 1976, Mr. Flores was relieved from finer interpretation of the law; that he admits that
his position as Deputy Clerk of Court upon Criminal Cases Nos. VI-5783 against Juanito Chua and
request of the undersigned primarily to VI-5788-5789 against Emerito Lim are pending before
dissociate myself from these actuations of Mr. this court; that he did not call the respondent to his
Flores, which I strongly disapproved of, and to chamber and instruct him to conduct an ocular
avail my Court of the services of a full-fledged inspection on the illegal constructions; that he did not
lawyer with unquestionable integrity. After his invite the respondent for lunch that day; that the truth
transfer, as can be seen from his handwritten was that after the trial, he went to Alfredo's Steakhouse
notes, he persisted in taking this unwarranted in the company of his fiscal, Fiscal Guillermo Loja; that
course of action in at least three (3) cases of while in the said place, the complainant was surprised to
Branch VI. see the respondent in the company of the accused; that
3. Gross discourtesy to superior officers as he counseled the respondent to be more circumspect as
manifested by his uncalled for and unjustified these people had cases before his sala; that it is true
use of strong and contemptuous language in that from then on up to the relief of the respondent on
addressing the City Judges, when he wrote a March 8, 1976, the records of the aforesaid case could
letter, dated March 11, 1976. 1 not be found by the respondent because the
In a resolution of this Court dated July 29, 1976, Deputy complainant had the records brought inside his chamber
Clerk of Court Diosdado S. Flores was required to file his in order to forestall any attempt on the part of the
answer to the letter of Judge Remigio E. Zari and this respondent to manipulate the records; that he did not
case was transferred to the First Division. 2 instruct the respondent to convict the accused in
The respondent filed his answers 3 on August 12, 1976 Criminal Case No. VI-166624 and in Criminal Cases Nos.
wherein he alleged, among others, that his conviction VI-170682 and VI-170689 just because the complainant
for libel did not involve moral turpitude; that the then is a relative of a certain Judge Erochi and AVESCO,
Commissioner Abelardo Subido, who was also convicted respectively; and that he requested Atty. Reynaldo
of the crime of libel and was fined P5,000.00, had Elcano to affix his initial in all orders, decisions and
approved his appointment as Deputy Clerk of Court of sentences in order to pinpoint responsibility. 5
Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City; that the In his reply, the complainant additionally charged that
respondent never tried to unduly influence the when the respondent applied for the position of Deputy
complainant in the discharge of the latter's duties and Clerk of Court, Branch VI, City Court of Quezon City, he
responsibilities; that while respondent's language in his submitted, among others, an affidavit dated June 10,
letter dated March 11, 1976 is strong, the same could 1969 that contains the following statement "That I am a
not be considered contemptuous either directly or person of good moral character and integrity and have
indirectly, in as much as he was merely expressing the no administrative, criminal or police record;" that the
sentiments of an aggrieved employee who deserves a respondent also accomplished Civil Service Form No.
better treatment from his superior after more than six 212 (1965) which was subscribed and sworn to before
years and nine months of highly dedicated and very then Judge Oscar A. Inocentes; that in the aforesaid data
efficient service in the City Court of Quezon City; that if sheet, the respondent admits having acted as counsel
ever respondent requested favors from his superior, for three companies; and that the giving of legal advice
these were all done in the spirit of friendship which the by notaries and others who are not admitted to the
complainant professed to him before he left Branch VI of practice of law is dangerous to the welfare of the
the City Court of Quezon City on March 9, 1976; that community, because such persons have not
from October 15, 1975 up to his illegal transfer on March demonstrated their capacity by submitting to
8, 1976, the respondent was practically doing the work examinations lawfully established in the practice of law.
48

This administrative case was referred to the Executive offenses do not necessarily involve
Judge of Rizal, Quezon City, for investigation, report and moral turpitude. 19
recommendation after City Judge Minerva Genovea and When respondent submitted his application for
City Judge Aloysius Alday had been allowed to inhibit the position of Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch
themselves from investigating this VI, City Court of Quezon City, he submitted
case. 6 among others an affidavit dated June 10, 1969,
District Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol who conducted the which reads as follows:
investigation of this administrative case recommended That I am a person of good moral
that the respondent be separated from the service on character and integrity and have no
the following findings: administrative, criminal or police
The first charge is "conviction for libel which is record.
a crime allegedly involving moral turpitude." On blank space of a personal data
Presidential Decree No. 807, Sec. 36(b) No. 10 sheet opposite question No. 10, which
provides that one of the grounds for asked if applicant has previously been
disciplinary action is "conviction of a crime convicted of a criminal offense,
involving moral turpitude." accused placed no. It was later
Evidence adduced by the complainant which discovered that accused was
was admitted by the respondent was that on previously convicted of theft. Accused
April 28, 1967 respondent was convicted of the was acquitted of falsification of public
crime of Libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171 of document under Art. 171, par. 4,
Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of because there is no legal obligation to
Quezon City. Respondent was sentenced to pay reveal previous conviction. 20 However
a fine of P5,000.00 which he paid on July 18, he maybe guilty of perjury under Art.
1974 under Official Receipt No. 276418. 183. 21
Moral turpitude has been defined as One of the grounds for disciplinary action under
including any act done contrary to PD 807, Sec. 36(b) under No. 13 is "falsification
justice, honesty, modesty or good of public documents."
morals. 7 The second charge is "persistent attempts to
Some of the particular crimes which unduly influence the complainant amounting to
have been held to involve moral undue interest in cases pending before Branch
turpitude are adultery, VI as shown by his handwritten notes to the
concubinage, 8 rape, arson, evasion of complainant and to his present Deputy Clerk of
income tax, barratry, bigamy, Court, Atty. Reynaldo Elcano."
blackmail, bribery, 9 criminal Respondent admitted that in writing the four
conspiracy to smuggle opium, dueling, (4) notes (Exhibits "F", "F-1", "F-2", & "F-3"), he
embezzlement, extortion, forgery, intervened for and in behalf of Gaw Chin in
libel, making fraudulent proof of loss Criminal Case No. VI-6196 pending before the
on insurance contract, murder, sala of the complainant because the accused
mutilation of public records, was a compadre of his friend, Salvador Estrada.
fabrication of evidence, offenses On the other hand, the defense of the
against pension laws, perjury, respondent is that he was practically doing the
seduction under promise of work of the complainant and tutoring him in the
marriage, 10 estafa, 11 falsification of finer interpretation and application of the law,
public document, 12 estafa thru and he was preparing the decisions in both
falsification of public document. 13 criminal and civil cases. Thus he was not trying
"Moral turpitude" has been defined as to influence the complainant.
an act of baseness, vileness, or The notes marked as Exhibits "F", "F-1, "F-2", &
depravity in the private and social "F-3" speak for themselves. There is no need
duties which a man owes his fellow for the undersigned to quote the same.
men, to society in general, contrary to A proposition by an attorney to his
the accepted and customary rule of client to visit with his wife the
right and duty between man and family of the judge before whom
woman or conduct contrary to justice, the client's cause is to be heard,
honesty, modesty, or good morals. 14 It and to endeavor, in conversation
implies something immoral in itself, thus to be had in advance of the
regardless of the fact that it is hearing, to commit the judge to an
punishable by law or not. It must not expression of opinion favorable to
merely be mala prohibita but, the act the client's case warrants his
itself must be inherently immoral. The dismissal from the bar. 22
doing of the act itself, and not its The acts of the respondent amounts to
prohibition by statute fixes the moral conducts prejudicial to the best interest of the
turpitude. 15 Moral turpitude does not, service. 23
however, include such acts as are not The Third charge is "discourtesy to superior
of themselves immoral but whose Officers as manifested by respondent in calling
illegality lies in the fact of their being for and unjust use of strong and contemptuous
positively prohibited. 16 Hence, the language in addressing the city judges when he
crime of illegal possession of firearm wrote the letter, dated March 11, 1976."
or ammunition does not involve moral To quote the pertinent provisions of Exhibit "D":
turpitude for under our laws, what is 'By the tenor of your reply, you
punishable is the possession of a have made the change of heart and
firearm or ammunition without a have developed cold feet. You have
license or authority. 17 badly shaken my belief in your
Bribery is admittedly a felony credibility. Indeed, you are truly a
involving moral turpitude. 18 woman, very fickle and
However in another, the Supreme unpredictable, but very impulsive.
Court seems to imply that libel is not a I take this as a clear indication of
crime involving moral turpitude. your desire to enlist the sympathies
The mere filing of an information for and, if possible, like the other five
libel, or serious slander, against a (5) judges, involved them in the
municipal officer is not a ground for mess originally of your own making
suspending him from office, as such and design and align them with you
49

against me, hoping to impress upon that there is no justification for the
me that by the tyranny of numbers, detail, he may appeal his case to the
I will be convinced that mine is a commission. Pending appeal, the
lost cause. decision to detail the employee shall
However, I regret to inform the six be executory unless otherwise
of you that by your conduct, you ordered by the commission. 24
have dismally failed to live up to An employee may be reassigned
your oaths, ... from one organizational unit to
Kindly pardon me if I say that, the another in the same agency.
six of you must be out of your wits Provided: That such reassignment
when you all decided to lay the shall not involve reduction in rank,
blame on me and condemned status or salary. 25
without trial for the alleged In the instant case there was actually a
inefficiency. reassignment of employee from one branch to the
Yes, when you all decided to Office of the Clerk of Court in accordance with
sacrifice me you are all laboring Administrative Order No. 6 of the Supreme Court
under deep and nagging and in consonance with PD 807.
hallucinations, induced and The language of attorney in his motion for
prompted by your serious concern reconsideration referring to the Supreme Court
to save the face of a colleague. as a "Civilized, democratic tribunal," but by
By the way, could any of the innuendo would suggest that it is not; in his
Honorable Judges of Branches I, III, motion to inhibit, categorizing the Court's
V & IX honestly and truthfully say decision as "false, erroneous and illegal" and
the public service in their accusing two justices for being interested in
respective branches is efficient, so the decision of the case without any basis in
that they could now come to the fact; asking the other members of the Court to
succor of a colleague and are also inhibit themselves for favors or benefits
competent to promote the received from any of the petitioners including
efficiency in Branch VI. My God, if the President — constitute disrespectful
that is true, promotions of Judges in language to the Court. It undermines and
the City Court would be fast, the degrades the administration of justice.
Purge in the Judiciary would not The language is necessary for the defense of
have affected Quezon City and the client is no justification. It ill behooves an
unprepared and the inexperienced attorney to justify his disrespectful language
would not have come to the Bench.' with the statement that it was necessary for
Respondent reasoned out that the use of the defense of his client. A client's cause does
strong language by him in his letter was not permanent an attorney to cross the line
justified and very much called for it being the between liberty and license. Lawyers must
indubitable manifestation of the indignation always keep in perspective the thought that
and disgust of the respondent, urged upon "since lawyers are administrators of justice,
him by the complainant who engineered the oathbound servants of society, their first duty
respondent's illegal transfer from Branch VI of is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to
the City Court of Quezon City which he holds a the administration of justice; to this their
valid and subsisting appointment to the client's success is wholly subordinate; and
Appeal and Docket Division, by virtue of a their conduct ought to and must be
letter of the Executive Judge (Exhibit "43"), to scrupulously observant of law and ethics. 26
quote the pertinent provision of which: Thru the use of uncalled language, respondent
'as a measure to promote more had committed insubordination, a ground for
efficient public service, after due disciplinary action. 27
and circumspect deliberation by The evidence of record supports the findings of the
and among the judges. ' investigating judge.
pursuant to the authority granted to the It is a fact that the respondent was convicted of libel in
executive judge under Administrative Order Criminal Case No. Q-7171 of the Court of First Instance
No. 6 of the Supreme Court which provides as of Rizal, Branch IV, at Quezon City. 7 While this fact alone
follows: is not sufficient to warrant disciplinary action, the
To re-assign temporarily the respondent's conviction for libel shows his propensity to
personnel of one branch (sala) to speak ill of others. His letter dated March 11, 1976 to
another branch (sala) or to the Office Judge Minerva C. Genovea, then Executive Judge of the
of the Clerk of Court, in case of City Court of Quezon City 8 contains defamatory and
vacancy in the position of Presiding uncalled for language.
Judge of a branch (sala), or when the The handwritten notes of the respondent regarding
interest of the service requires. In the different cases pending in Branch VI of the City Court of
latter case, the assignment shall be Quezon City, presided by the complainant, Judge
made in consultation with the Remigio E. Zari, show that the respondent had exerted
Presiding Judge of the branch (sala) undue influence in the disposition of the cases
concerned; and in case of mentioned therein. 9
disagreement, the assignment of the It is true that conviction for libel does not automatically
Executive Judge shall be effective justify removal of a public officer. 10 However, the fact of
immediately, unless revoked by the conviction for libel of the respondent, taken together
Supreme Court. with the letter he wrote to then Executive City Judge of
The transfer was made in consultation with the City Court of Quezon City, Judge Minerva C.
the presiding judge of the branch concerned Genovea, shows the tendency of the respondent to
who is the complainant in this case. malign people.
A detail is the movement of an Respondent's act of interfering in the cases pending
employee from one agency to before Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City
another without the issuance of an presided by the complainant is inimical to the service.
appointment and shall be allowed, This alone warrants severe disciplinary measures.
only for a limited period in the case In his affidavit subscribed and sworn to before then City
of employees occupying Judge Oscar A. Inocentes on June 10, 1969, the
professional, technical and scientific respondent stated "That I am a person of good moral
positions. If the employee believes character and integrity and have no administrative,
50

criminal or police record. " This averment is not true lawyer." The Complaint arose from a homicide through
because the respondent had been convicted of libel in reckless imprudence case, in which Complaint
Criminal Case No. Q-7171, of the Court of First Instance Resurreccion was the defendant and Respondent Sayson
of Rizal, Branch IV, in a sentence dated April 28, 1967. was the counsel for the offended party, Mr. Armando
This prevarication in a sworn statement is another Basto Sr. The complaint alleged that, pursuant to the
ground for serious disciplinary action. amicable settlement previously reached by the parties,
The removal from the service of the respondent is he gave P2,500 to the respondent who, however, never
warranted by the evidence adduced during the gave the money to his client. Thus, the complainant was
investigation conducted by Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol of compelled to give another P2,500 to Mr. Basto as
the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XVI, Quezon settlement of the case. The complainant then demanded
City. the return of the money from respondent, to no avail.
WHEREFORE, the respondent, Diosdado S. Flores, is Thus, the Complaint for Disbarment.
hereby DISMISSED as Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI The records show that the Office of the Solicitor Genaral
of the City Court of Quezon City, with forfeiture of all (OSG) conducted several hearings on the matter, during
retirement privileges and with prejudice to which the complainant was represented by Atty. Ronaldo
reinstatement in the national and local governments, as Lopez. Although respondent had been notified, he failed
well as, in any government instrumentality or agency to attend a number of such hearings. He eventually
including government owned or controlled corporations appeared through his new counsel, Atty. Wenceslao
effective upon the finality of this decision. Fajardo. Because respondent once again failed to attend
Let a copy of this decision be attached to his personal the next hearing, the OSG, in its September 4, 1973
record. Order,2deemed the investigation of the case terminated.
SO ORDERED. But upon the motion of the respondent, the OSG on
October 31, 1973, set aside its earlier Order and once
again set the case for a hearing of the former's
A.C. No. 229 April 30, 1957
evidence. Since, then, however, it appears that the OSG
IN THE MATTER OF DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS
has not been able to submit its report and
vs.
recommendation on the case.
NARCISO N. JARAMILLO, respondent.
In 1990, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) took
Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and
cognizance of the case,3 and tasked Commissioner
Solicitor Juan T. Alano for complainants.
Jesulito A. Manalo with the investigation, of which both
Narciso N, Jaramillo in his own behalf.
the complainant and the respondent were duly notified.
PARAS, C.J.:
Complainant Resurreccion manifested his assent to the
The respondent was prosecuted for and convicted of
pursuit of the matter, but Respondent Sayson could not
estafa in the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan and,
be found.4 In his Report, Commissioner Manalo
on appeal, was finally sentenced by the Court of appeals
presented the following facts.
to an indeterminate penalty ranging from two months
Respondent, a member of the Philippine Bar was
and one day of arresto mayor to one year and one day
accused of having converted and appropriated
of prision correccional in its decision promulgated on
[for] his own personal benefit the amount
April 17, 1954. On August 5, 1955, while the respondent
P2,500.00 representing the amount which was
was serving sentence for said conviction, the Solicitor
delivered by the complainant to the respondent
General filed in this Court the present complaint for
as compensation or settlement money of a case
respondent's disbarment.
for homicide thru reckless imprudence.
In his answer respondent contends that his conviction
xxx xxx xxx
was a judicial error; that it was unfortunate on his part
Complainat alleged that on 13 May 1970, he was
that the trial court did not believe his explanation of the
involved in a vehicular accident which occured at
loss of the amount involved in the criminal case; that his
Epifanio delos Santos Avenue, Quezon City which
imprisonment and the sufferings and mental anguish he
involved a boy [named] the name of Armando
has suffered since the commencement of the criminal of
Basto resulting [in] the death of the latter. By
the criminal case constitute more than sufficient
reason of the said incident, complainant was
punishment; that for this Court to further disbar him is
accused of homicide thru reckless imprudence
excessively inhuman, humiliating and cruel.
before the City Fiscal's Office at Quezon City. In
There is no question that the crime of estafa involves
the preliminary investigation, the father of the
moral turpitude. The review of respondent's conviction
victim Mr. Armando Basto Sr., was represented by
no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has
Atty. Ramon Umali. The case for homicide thru
become final but has been executed. No elaborate
reckless imprudence was amicably settled on 8
argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy
August 1970 and respondent received from the
of the privilege bestowed on him as a member of the
complainant the amount of P2,500.00.
bar. Suffice it to say that, by his conviction, the
Respondent allegedlly assured complainant that
respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the
the sum [would] be delivered to his client Mr.
administration of justice.
Armando Basto, Sr. Respondent acknowledged in
Wherefore, the respondent is hereby disbarred and
writing having received the amount of P2,500.00.
ordered to surrender to this Court, within fifteen days
Contrary however, to the assurances of the
from notice hereof, the lawyer's certificate heretofore
respondent, he had not delivered the said
issued to him. So ordered.
amount of P2,500.00 and the case was not
A.C. No. 1037 December 14, 1998 dismissed for which reason complainant was
VICTORIANO P. RESURRECCION, complainant, compelled to pay anew the heirs of the victim the
vs. amount P2,500.00. Demands were made for the
ATTY. CIRIACO C. SAYSON, respondent. respondent to return the said amount of
P2,500.00 but the latter failed. By reason thereof,
PER CURIAM: complaint filed a complaint for estafa against the
To say that lawyers must at all times uphold and respect respondent before the City Court of Quezon City
the law is to state the obvious, but such statement can which was docketed as Criminal Case No. III-
never be overemphasized. Considering that, "of all 149358 entitled "People of the Philippines vs.
classes and professions, [lawyers are] most sacredly Ciriaco C. Sayson".
bound to uphold the law, 1 it is imperative that they live In the hearing held on 22 May 1973, complainant
by the law. Accordingly, lawyers who violate their oath Victoriano P. Resurrection appeared assisted by
and engage in deceitful conduct have no place in the his counsel. There was however, no appearance
legal profession. for the respondent Ciriaco C. Sayson. The
In a Complaint-Affidavit, Victoriano P. Resurreccion investigator declared his failure to appear as a
charged Respondent Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson with acts waiver of his presence and Mr. Armando Basto Sr.
constituting "malpractice, deceit and gross misconduct was presented as witness. He testified that he
in his office and a violation of his duties and oath as a
51

[was] the father of Armando Basto Jr. who was name . . . stricken from the Roll of Attorneys for
ran over by a motor vehicle then driven by the having been found guilty of Estafa promulgated
respondent. By reason of such death a case was by the City Court of Quezon City and [which]
filed in court and he was represented by Atty. complainant was able to establish by more
Ciriaco Sayson, respondent in this case. A convincing evidences that misappropriation was
settlement arrangement was arrived at and in fact committed by the respondent, all of
complainant entrusted the amount of P2,500.00 which were not controverted by the
to the respondent for the latter to turn over the respondent.7
same to his client. Atty. Ciriaco Sayson, however, The Court agrees with Commissioner Manalo's findings
failed to turn over the said amount of P2,500.00 and conclusion, as approved and adopted by the IBP
to his client for which reason the case was not Board of Governors. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson must be
immediately dismissed. To effect dismissal of the disbarred.
case, complainant was forced to pay anew the Respondent Sayson was convicted of estafa by the
sum of P2,500.00 Regional Trial Court of Quezon City on September 20,
Complainant was next presented as witness and 1973.8Such conviction was affirmed by the Court of
the testified that on 30 May 1970, he was Appeals9 and upheld by this Court. 10
involved in a vehicular accident which resulted in In In re Vinzon,11 the Court disbarred a lawyer who had
the death of one armando Basto, Jr. By reason been convicted of estafa and held that "moral turpitude
thereof, he was accused of homicide thru includes everything which is done contrary to justice,
reckless imprudence [,] and to effect settlement honesty or good morals. In essence and in all respects,
of that case he agreed to pay the amount of estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral turpitude
P2,500.00. because the act is unquestionably against justice,
On 8 August 1970, complainant together with his honesty and good morals.
counsel conferred with [the] respondent in the In a more recent case, 12 the Court upheld the
latter's office at may Building, Rizal Avenue, recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to disbar
Manila and in a conference, a settlement was a lawyer who had been convicted of estafa through
arrived at whereby complainant [would] pay the falsification of public documents, because the was
amount of P2,500.00. This was done and "totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession." In
payment was delivered to the respondent who adopting, the recommendation, we held that "good
acknowledged having received the said amount. moral character is not only a condition precedent to
Subsequently, complaint learned that the said admission to the legal profession, but it must also
amount of P2,500,00 was not delivered by remain extant in order to maintain one's good standing
respondent to Mr. Armando Basto, Sr., the father in that exclusive and honored fraternity.
of the victim for which reason he was compelled True, the power to disbar must be exercised with great
to pay another amount of P2,500.00 to the heirs caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that
of the victim. seriously affects the standing and character of the
Thereafter, he demanded [the] return of the said lawyer as an officer of the Court and member of the
amount of P2,500.00 from the respondent. bar.13 Disbarment should never be decreed where any
Despite visiting the latter fifteen or sixteen times, lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, would
Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson still failed to return the accomplish the end desired. 14 However, in the present
money. Thus, complainant filed a complaint for case, the Court notes that even if respondent's
estafa which was elevated in Court and docketed culpability for estafa has been indubitably established,
as Criminal Case No. 49358. there is no indication that he has served sentence,
A Decision finding respondent guilty of [the] returned to complainant what was due him or showed
crime of estafa was promulgated by the City any remorse for what he did. The 27-year delay in the
Court of Quezon City.5 resolution of this case was, to a large extent, caused by
Commissioner Manalo then rendered his evaluation and his failure to appear before the Office of the Solicitor
recommendation in this wise: General and to inform the IBP of his change of address,
Complainant was able to establish by more than a failure that also indicated his lack of regard for the
convincing that the misappropriation was in fact very serious charges brought against him. Respondent
committed by the respondent. This fact [is] Sayson, by his conduct, has shown that he is not worthy
eloquently poroven by Exhibits "A" to "E", all of to remain a member of the bar.
which were not controverted by the respondent. Law is a noble profession, and the privilege to practice it
xxx xxx xxx is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent
In view of the foregoing, undersigned intellectually, academically and, equally important,
Commissioner respectfully recommends that the morally. Because they are vanguards of the law and the
above-entitled case be endorsed by the legal system, lawyers must at all times conduct
Honorable Board Governors to the Supreme Court themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients
with the recommendation that the complain[ant and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a
be] disbarred and his name be stricken off . . . the manner beyond reproach.
roll of attorneys. WHEREFORE, Respondent Ciriaco C. Sayson is hereby
xxx xxx x x x6 DISBARRED. The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out
On February 28, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
issued a Resolution adopting and approving the report SO ORDERED.
and recommendation of Commissioner Manalo. The A.C. No. 6792 January 25, 2006
Resolution, signed by IBP National Secretary Roland B. ROBERTO SORIANO, Complainant,
Inting and forwarded to this Court on March 28, 1998, is vs.
worded as follows: Atty. MANUEL DIZON, Respondent.
RESOLUTION NO. XIII-97-202 DECISION
Adm. Case No. 1037 PER CURIAM:
Victoriano P. Resurreccion vs. Before us is a Complaint-Affidavit 1 for the disbarment of
Atty. Ciriaco C. sayson Atty. Manuel Dizon, filed by Roberto Soriano with the
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is Commission on Bar Discipine (CBD) of the Integrated
hereby ADOPTED AND APPROVED, the Report Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Complainant alleges that the
and Recommendation of the Investigating conviction of respondent for a crime involving moral
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein turpitude, together with the circumstances surrounding
made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex the conviction, violates Canon 1 of Rule 1.01 of the Code
"A" and finding the recommendation fully of Professional Responsibility;2 and constitutes sufficient
supported by the evidence on record and the ground for his disbarment under Section 27 of Rule 138
applicable laws and rules, respondent Atty. of the Rules of Court.3
Ciriaco C. Sayson is DISBARRED and . . . his
52

Because of the failure of Atty. Dizon to submit his from the practice of law for having been convicted of a
Answer to the Complaint, the CBD issued a Notice dated crime involving moral turpitude.
May 20, 2004, informing him that he was in default, and The commissioner found that respondent had not only
that an ex-parte hearing had been scheduled for June been convicted of such crime, but that the latter also
11, 2004.4After that hearing, complainant manifested exhibited an obvious lack of good moral character,
that he was submitting the case on the basis of the based on the following facts:
Complaint and its attachments.5 Accordingly, the CBD "1. He was under the influence of liquor while
directed him to file his Position Paper, which he did on driving his car;
July 27, 2004.6Afterwards, the case was deemed "2. He reacted violently and attempted to
submitted for resolution. assault Complainant only because the latter,
On December 6, 2004, Commissioner Teresita J. Herbosa driving a taxi, had overtaken him;
rendered her Report and Recommendation, which was "3. Complainant having been able to ward off his
later adopted and approved by the IBP Board of attempted assault, Respondent went back to his
Governors in its Resolution No. XVI-2005-84 dated March car, got a gun, wrapped the same with a
12, 2005. handkerchief and shot Complainant[,] who was
In his Complaint-Affidavit, Soriano alleged that unarmed;
respondent had violated Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code "4. When Complainant fell on him, Respondent
of Professional Responsibility; and that the conviction of simply pushed him out and fled;
the latter for frustrated homicide, 7 which involved moral "5. Despite positive identification and
turpitude, should result in his disbarment. overwhelming evidence, Respondent denied
The facts leading to respondent’s conviction were that he had shot Complainant;
summarized by Branch 60 of the Regional Trial Court of "6. Apart from [his] denial, Respondent also lied
Baguio City in this wise: when he claimed that he was the one mauled by
"x x x. The accused was driving his brown Toyota Corolla Complainant and two unidentified persons; and,
and was on his way home after gassing up in "7. Although he has been placed on probation,
preparation for his trip to Concepcion, Tarlac with his Respondent has[,] to date[,] not yet satisfied his
wife. Along Abanao Street, a taxi driver overtook the car civil liabilities to Complainant."12
driven by the accused not knowing that the driver of the On July 8, 2005, the Supreme Court received for its final
car he had overtaken is not just someone, but a lawyer action the IBP Resolution adopting the Report and
and a prominent member of the Baguio community who Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
was under the influence of liquor. Incensed, the accused We agree with the findings and recommendations of
tailed the taxi driver until the latter stopped to make a Commissioner Herbosa, as approved and adopted by the
turn at [the] Chugum and Carino Streets. The accused IBP Board of Governors.
also stopped his car, berated the taxi driver and held Under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court,
him by his shirt. To stop the aggression, the taxi driver conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude is a
forced open his door causing the accused to fall to the ground for disbarment or suspension. By such
ground. The taxi driver knew that the accused had been conviction, a lawyer is deemed to have become unfit to
drinking because he smelled of liquor. Taking pity on the uphold the administration of justice and to be no longer
accused who looked elderly, the taxi driver got out of his possessed of good moral character. 13 In the instant case,
car to help him get up. But the accused, by now respondent has been found guilty; and he stands
enraged, stood up immediately and was about to deal convicted, by final judgment, of frustrated homicide.
the taxi driver a fist blow when the latter boxed him on Since his conviction has already been established and is
the chest instead. The accused fell down a second time, no longer open to question, the only issues that remain
got up again and was about to box the taxi driver but to be determined are as follows: 1) whether his crime of
the latter caught his fist and turned his arm around. The frustrated homicide involves moral turpitude, and 2)
taxi driver held on to the accused until he could be whether his guilt warrants disbarment.
pacified and then released him. The accused went back Moral turpitude has been defined as "everything which
to his car and got his revolver making sure that the is done contrary to justice, modesty, or good morals; an
handle was wrapped in a handkerchief. The taxi driver act of baseness, vileness or depravity in the private and
was on his way back to his vehicle when he noticed the social duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to
eyeglasses of the accused on the ground. He picked society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, modesty,
them up intending to return them to the accused. But as or good morals."14
he was handing the same to the accused, he was met The question of whether the crime of homicide involves
by the barrel of the gun held by the accused who fired moral turpitude has been discussed in International Rice
and shot him hitting him on the neck. He fell on the Research Institute (IRRI) v. NLRC, 15 a labor case
thigh of the accused so the latter pushed him out and concerning an employee who was dismissed on the
sped off. The incident was witnessed by Antonio Billanes basis of his conviction for homicide. Considering the
whose testimony corroborated that of the taxi driver, particular circumstances surrounding the commission of
the complainant in this case, Roberto Soriano." 8 the crime, this Court rejected the employer’s contention
It was the prosecution witness, Antonio Billanes, who and held that homicide in that case did not involve
came to the aid of Soriano and brought the latter to the moral turpitude. (If it did, the crime would have been
hospital. Because the bullet had lacerated the carotid violative of the IRRI’s Employment Policy Regulations
artery on the left side of his neck, 9 complainant would and indeed a ground for dismissal.) The Court explained
have surely died of hemorrhage if he had not received that, having disregarded the attendant circumstances,
timely medical assistance, according to the attending the employer made a pronouncement that was
surgeon, Dr. Francisco Hernandez, Jr. Soriano sustained a precipitate. Furthermore, it was not for the latter to
spinal cord injury, which caused paralysis on the left determine conclusively whether a crime involved moral
part of his body and disabled him for his job as a taxi turpitude. That discretion belonged to the courts, as
driver. explained thus:
The trial court promulgated its Decision dated "x x x. Homicide may or may not involve moral
November 29, 2001. On January 18, 2002, respondent turpitude depending on the degree of the crime. Moral
filed an application for probation, which was granted by turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not
the court on several conditions. These included shown by every known and intentional violation of
satisfaction of "the civil liabilities imposed by [the] court statute, but whether any particular conviction involves
in favor of the offended party, Roberto Soriano."10 moral turpitude may be a question of fact and
According to the unrefuted statements of complainant, frequently depends on all the surrounding
Atty. Dizon, who has yet to comply with this particular circumstances. x x x."16 (Emphasis supplied)
undertaking, even appealed the civil liability to the In the IRRI case, in which the crime of homicide did not
Court of Appeals.11 involve moral turpitude, the Court appreciated the
In her Report and Recommendation, Commissioner presence of incomplete self-defense and total absence
Herbosa recommended that respondent be disbarred of aggravating circumstances. For a better
53

understanding of that Decision, the circumstances of the gross as to show them morally unfit for their office and
crime are quoted as follows: unworthy of the privileges conferred upon them by their
"x x x. The facts on record show that Micosa [the IRRI license and the law, the court may be justified in
employee] was then urinating and had his back turned suspending or removing them from that office.23
when the victim drove his fist unto Micosa's face; that We also adopt the IBP’s finding that respondent
the victim then forcibly rubbed Micosa's face into the displayed an utter lack of good moral character, which is
filthy urinal; that Micosa pleaded to the victim to stop an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into
the attack but was ignored and that it was while Micosa the practice of law. Good moral character includes at
was in that position that he drew a fan knife from the least common honesty.24
left pocket of his shirt and desperately swung it at the In the case at bar, respondent consistently displayed
victim who released his hold on Micosa only after the dishonest and duplicitous behavior. As found by the trial
latter had stabbed him several times. These facts show court, he had sought, with the aid of Vice-Mayor Daniel
that Micosa's intention was not to slay the victim but Fariñas, an out-of-court settlement with complainant’s
only to defend his person. The appreciation in his favor family.25 But when this effort failed, respondent
of the mitigating circumstances of self-defense and concocted a complete lie by making it appear that it was
voluntary surrender, plus the total absence of any complainant’s family that had sought a conference with
aggravating circumstance demonstrate that Micosa's him to obtain his referral to a neurosurgeon. 26
character and intentions were not inherently vile, The lies of Atty Dizon did not end there. He went on to
immoral or unjust."17 fabricate an entirely implausible story of having been
The present case is totally different. As the IBP correctly mauled by complainant and two other persons.27 The
found, the circumstances clearly evince the moral trial court had this to say:
turpitude of respondent and his unworthiness to practice "The physical evidence as testified to by no less than
law. three (3) doctors who examined [Atty. Dizon] does not
Atty. Dizon was definitely the aggressor, as he pursued support his allegation that three people including the
and shot complainant when the latter least expected it. complainant helped each other in kicking and boxing
The act of aggression shown by respondent will not be him. The injuries he sustained were so minor that it is
mitigated by the fact that he was hit once and his arm improbable[,] if not downright unbelievable[,] that three
twisted by complainant. Under the circumstances, those people who he said were bent on beating him to death
were reasonable actions clearly intended to fend off the could do so little damage. On the contrary, his injuries
lawyer’s assault. sustain the complainant’s version of the incident
We also consider the trial court’s finding of treachery as particularly when he said that he boxed the accused on
a further indication of the skewed morals of respondent. the chest. x x x."28
He shot the victim when the latter was not in a position Lawyers must be ministers of truth. No moral
to defend himself. In fact, under the impression that the qualification for bar membership is more important than
assault was already over, the unarmed complainant was truthfulness.29The rigorous ethics of the profession
merely returning the eyeglasses of Atty. Dizon when the places a premium on honesty and condemns duplicitous
latter unexpectedly shot him. To make matters worse, behavior.30 Hence, lawyers must not mislead the court or
respondent wrapped the handle of his gun with a allow it to be misled by any artifice. In all their dealings,
handkerchief so as not to leave fingerprints. In so doing, they are expected to act in good faith.
he betrayed his sly intention to escape punishment for The actions of respondent erode rather than enhance
his crime. public perception of the legal profession. They constitute
The totality of the facts unmistakably bears the moral turpitude for which he should be disbarred. "Law
earmarks of moral turpitude. By his conduct, respondent is a noble profession, and the privilege to practice it is
revealed his extreme arrogance and feeling of self- bestowed only upon individuals who are competent
importance. As it were, he acted like a god on the road, intellectually, academically and, equally important,
who deserved to be venerated and never to be slighted. morally. Because they are vanguards of the law and the
Clearly, his inordinate reaction to a simple traffic legal system, lawyers must at all times conduct
incident reflected poorly on his fitness to be a member themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients
of the legal profession. His overreaction also evinced and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a
vindictiveness, which was definitely an undesirable trait manner beyond reproach."31
in any individual, more so in a lawyer. In the tenacity The foregoing abhorrent acts of respondent are not
with which he pursued complainant, we see not the merely dishonorable; they reveal a basic moral flaw.
persistence of a person who has been grievously Considering the depravity of the offense he committed,
wronged, but the obstinacy of one trying to assert a we find the penalty recommended by the IBP proper and
false sense of superiority and to exact revenge. commensurate.
It is also glaringly clear that respondent seriously The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect
transgressed Canon 1 of the Code of Professional the administration of justice by requiring that those who
Responsibility through his illegal possession of an exercise this important function be competent,
unlicensed firearm18 and his unjust refusal to satisfy his honorable and reliable -- lawyers in whom courts and
civil liabilities.19 He has thus brazenly violated the law clients may repose confidence. 32 Thus, whenever a clear
and disobeyed the lawful orders of the courts. We case of degenerate and vile behavior disturbs that vital
remind him that, both in his attorney’s oath20 and in the yet fragile confidence, we shall not hesitate to rid our
Code of Professional Responsibility, he bound himself to profession of odious members.
"obey the laws of the land." We remain aware that the power to disbar must be
All told, Atty. Dizon has shown through this incident that exercised with great caution, and that disbarment
he is wanting in even a basic sense of justice. He should never be decreed when any lesser penalty would
obtained the benevolence of the trial court when it accomplish the end desired. In the instant case,
suspended his sentence and granted him probation. And however, the Court cannot extend that munificence to
yet, it has been four years 21 since he was ordered to respondent. His actions so despicably and wantonly
settle his civil liabilities to complainant. To date, disregarded his duties to society and his profession. We
respondent remains adamant in refusing to fulfill that are convinced that meting out a lesser penalty would be
obligation. By his extreme impetuosity and intolerance, irreconcilable with our lofty aspiration for the legal
as shown by his violent reaction to a simple traffic profession -- that every lawyer be a shining exemplar of
altercation, he has taken away the earning capacity, truth and justice.
good health, and youthful vigor of his victim. Still, Atty. We stress that membership in the legal profession is a
Dizon begrudges complainant the measly amount that privilege demanding a high degree of good moral
could never even fully restore what the latter has lost. character, not only as a condition precedent to
Conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude may admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the
relate, not to the exercise of the profession of lawyers, practice of law. Sadly, herein respondent has fallen short
but certainly to their good moral character. 22 Where their of the exacting standards expected of him as a
misconduct outside of their professional dealings is so vanguard of the legal profession.
54

In sum, when lawyers are convicted of frustrated enjoyment of the privilege conferred is dependent upon
homicide, the attending circumstances – not the mere his remaining a fit and safe person to society. When it
fact of their conviction – would demonstrate their fitness appears that he, by recklessness or sheer ignorance of
to remain in the legal profession. In the present case, the law, is unfit or unsafe to be entrusted with the
the appalling vindictiveness, treachery, and brazen responsibilities and obligations of a lawyer, his right to
dishonesty of respondent clearly show his unworthiness continue in the enjoyment of this professional privilege
to continue as a member of the bar. should be declared terminated. In the present case,
WHEREFORE, RESPONDENT MANUEL DIZON is respondent was either ignorant of the applicable
hereby DISBARRED, and his name is ORDERED provision of the law or carelessly negligent in giving the
STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this complainant legal advice. Drastic action should lead to
Decision be entered in his record as a member of the his disbarment and this is the opinion of some members
Bar; and let notice of the same be served on the of the court. The majority, however, have inclined to
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of follow the recommendation of the investigator, the
the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the Honorable Sotero Rodas, in view of the circumstances
country. stated in the report of said investigator and the fact that
SO ORDERED. immediately after discovering his mistakes, respondent
A.C. No. 932 June 21, 1940 endeavored to correct it by making the parties sign
In re ATTY. ROQUE SANTIAGO, respondent, another document cancelling the previous one.
Office of the Solicitor-General Ozaeta as petitioner- The respondent Roque Santiago is found guilty of
complainant. malpractice and is hereby suspended from the practice
LAUREL, J.: of law for a period of one year. So ordered.
This is an administrative case initiated upon complaint G.R. No. 104599 March 11, 1994
of the Solicitor-General against the respondent Roque JON DE YSASI III, petitioner,
Santiago, charging the latter with malpractice and vs.
praying that disciplinary action be taken against him. NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION
It appears that one Ernesto Baniquit, who was living (FOURTH DIVISION), CEBU CITY, and JON DE
then separately from his wife Soledad Colares for some YSASI, respondents.
nine consecutive years and who was bent on contracting F.B. Santiago, Nalus & Associates for petitioner.
a second marriage, sought the legal advice of the Ismael A. Serfino for private respondent.
respondent, who was at the time a practicing and notary
public in the Province of Occidental Negros. The REGALADO, J.:
respondent, after hearing Baniquit's side of the case, The adage that blood is thicker than water obviously
assured the latter that he could secure a separation stood for naught in this case, notwithstanding
from his wife and marry again, and asked him to bring the vinculum of paternity and filiation between the
his wife on the afternoon of the same day, May 29, parties. It would indeed have been the better part of
1939. This was done and the respondent right then and reason if herein petitioner and private respondent had
there prepared the document Exhibit A in which it was reconciled their differences in an extrajudicial
stipulated, among other things, that the contracting atmosphere of familial amity and with the grace of
parties, who are husband and wife authorized each reciprocal concessions. Father and son opted instead for
other to marry again, at the same time renouncing or judicial intervention despite the inevitable acrimony and
waiving whatever right of action one might have against negative publicity. Albeit with distaste, the Court cannot
the party so marrying. After the execution and proceed elsewise but to resolve their dispute with the
acknowledgment of Exhibit A by the parties, the same reasoned detachment accorded any judicial
respondent asked the spouses to shake hands and proceeding before it.
assured them that they were single and as such could The records of this case reveal that petitioner was
contract another and subsequent marriage. Baniquit employed by his father, herein private respondent, as
then remarked, "Would there be no trouble?" Upon farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao in Hinigaran,
hearing it the respondent stood up and, pointing to his Negros Occidental sometime in April, 1980. Prior
diploma hanging on the wall, said: "I would tear that off thereto, he was successively employed as sales
if this document turns out not to be valid." Relying on manager of Triumph International (Phil.), Inc. and later
the validity of Exhibit A, Ernesto Baniquit, on June 11, as operations manager of Top Form Manufacturing
1939, contracted a second marriage with Trinidad (Phil.), Inc. His employment as farm administrator was
Aurelio. There is also evidence to show that the on a fixed salary, with other allowances covering
respondent tried to collect for this service the sum of housing, food, light, power, telephone, gasoline, medical
P50, but as the evidence on this point is not clear and and dental expenses.
the same is not material in the resolution of the present As farm administrator, petitioner was responsible for the
case, we do not find it necessary to make any express supervision of daily activities and operations of the
finding as to whether the full amount or any portion sugarcane farm such as land preparation, planting,
thereof was paid or, as contended by the respondent, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, dealing with third
the service were rendered free of charge. persons in all matters relating to the hacienda and
The respondent did not deny the preparation of Exhibit attending to such other tasks as may be assigned to him
A, put up the defense that he had the idea that seven by private respondent. For this purpose, he lived on the
years separation of husband and wife would entitle farm, occupying the upper floor of the house there.
either of them to contract a second marriage and for Following his marriage on June 6, 1982, petitioner
that reason prepared Exhibit A, but immediately after moved to Bacolod City with his wife and commuted to
the execution of said document he realized that he had work daily. He suffered various ailments and was
made a mistake and for that reason immediately sent hospitalized on two separate occasions in June and
for the contracting parties who, on June 30, 1939, came August, 1982. In November, 1982, he underwent
to his office and signed the deed of cancellation Exhibit fistulectomy, or the surgical removal of the fistula, a
A. deep sinuous ulcer. During his recuperation which lasted
There is no doubt that the contract Exhibit A executed over four months, he was under the care of Dr. Patricio
by and between the spouses Ernesto Baniquit and Tan. In June, 1983, he was confined for acute
Soledad Colares upon the advice of the respondent and gastroenteritis and, thereafter, for infectious hepatitis
prepared by the latter as a lawyer and acknowledged by from December, 1983 to January, 1984.
him as a notary public is contrary to law, moral, and During the entire periods of petitioner's illnesses, private
tends to subvert the vital foundation of the family. The respondent took care of his medical expenses and
advice given by the respondent, the preparation and petitioner continued to receive compensation. However,
acknowledgment by him of the contract constitute in April, 1984, without due notice, private respondent
malpractice which justifies disbarment from the practice ceased to pay the latter's salary. Petitioner made oral
of law. The admission of a lawyer to the practice of law and written demands for an explanation for the sudden
is upon the implied condition that his continued withholding of his salary from Atty. Apolonio Sumbingco,
55

private respondent's auditor and legal adviser, as well process. He also charges the NLRC with grave abuse of
as for the remittance of his salary. Both demands, discretion in relying upon the findings of the executive
however, were not acted upon. labor arbiter who decided the case but did not conduct
Petitioner then filed an action with the National Labor the hearings thereof.
Relations Commission (NLRC, for brevity), Regional Private respondent, in refutation, avers that there was
Arbitration Branch No. VI, Bacolod City, on October 17, abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm
1984, docketed therein as RAB Case No. 0452-84, administrator, thereby arming private respondent with a
against private respondent for illegal dismissal with ground to terminate his employment at Hacienda
prayer for reinstatement without loss of seniority rights Manucao. It is also contended that it is wrong for
and payment of full back wages, thirteenth month pay petitioner to question the factual findings of the
for 1983, consequential, moral and exemplary damages, executive labor arbiter and the NLRC as only questions
as well as attorney's fees. of law may be appealed for resolution by this Court.
On July 31, 1991, said complaint for illegal dismissal was Furthermore, in seeking the dismissal of the instant
dismissed by the NLRC,1 holding that petitioner petition, private respondent faults herein petitioner for
abandoned his work and that the termination of his failure to refer to the corresponding pages of the
employment was for a valid cause, but ordering private transcripts of stenographic notes, erroneously citing
respondent to pay petitioner the amount of P5,000.00 as Sections 15(d) and 16(d), Rule 44 (should be Section
penalty for his failure to serve notice of said termination 16[c] and [d],
of employment to the Department of Labor and Rule 46 and Section 1[g], Rule 50) of the Rules of Court,
Employment as required by Batas Pambansa Blg. 130 which provide that want of page references to the
and consonant with this Court's ruling in Wenphil records is a ground for dismissal of an appeal.
Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et Prefatorily, we take advertence of the provisions of
al.2 On appeal to the Fourth Division of the NLRC, Cebu Article 221 of the Labor Code that technical rules of
City, said decision was affirmed in toto.3 evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not
His motion for reconsideration 4 of said decision having be controlling, and that every and all reasonable means
been denied for lack of merit, 5 petitioner filed this to speedily and objectively ascertain the facts in each
petition presenting the following issues for resolution: case shall be availed of, without regard to technicalities
(1) whether or not the petitioner was illegally dismissed; of law or procedure in the interest of due process.
(2) whether or not he is entitled to reinstatement, It is settled that it is not procedurally objectionable for
payment of back wages, thirteenth month pay and other the decision in a case to be rendered by a judge, or a
benefits; and (3) whether or not he is entitled to labor arbiter for that matter, other than the one who
payment of moral and exemplary damages and conducted the hearing. The fact that the judge who
attorney's fees because of illegal dismissal. The heard the case was not the judge who penned the
discussion of these issues will necessarily subsume the decision does not impair the validity of the
corollary questions presented by private respondent, judgment,11 provided that he draws up his decision and
such as the exact date when petitioner ceased to resolution with due care and makes certain that they
function as farm administrator, the character of the truly and accurately reflect conclusions and final
pecuniary amounts received by petitioner from private dispositions on the bases of the facts of and evidence
respondent, that is, whether the same are in the nature submitted in the case.12
of salaries or pensions, and whether or not there was Thus, the mere fact that the case was initially assigned
abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm to Labor Arbiter Ricardo T. Octavio, who conducted the
administrator. hearings therein from December 5, 1984 to July 11,
In his manifestation dated September 14, 1992, the 1985, and was later transferred to Executive Labor
Solicitor General recommended a modification of the Arbiter Oscar S. Uy, who eventually decided the case,
decision of herein public respondent sustaining the presents no procedural infirmity, especially considering
findings and conclusions of the Executive Labor Arbiter that there is a presumption of regularity in the
in RAB Case No. 0452-84, 6 for which reason the NLRC performance of a public officer's functions, 13 which
was required to submit its own comment on the petition. petitioner has not successfully rebutted.
In compliance with the Court's resolution of November We are constrained to heed the underlying policy in the
16, 1992,7 NLRC filed its comment on February 12, 1992 Labor Code relaxing the application of technical rules of
largely reiterating its earlier position in support of the procedure in labor cases in the interest of due process,
findings of the Executive Labor Arbiter. 8 ever mindful of the long-standing legal precept that
Before proceeding with a discussion of the issues, the rules of procedure must be interpreted to help secure,
observation of the labor arbiter is worth noting: not defeat, justice. For this reason, we cannot indulge
This case is truly unique. What makes private respondent in his tendency to nitpick on trivial
this case unique is the fact that because technicalities to boost his arguments. The strength of
of the special relationship of the parties one's position cannot be hinged on mere procedural
and the nature of the action involved, niceties but on solid bases in law and jurisprudence.
this case could very well go down (in) The fundamental guarantees of security of tenure and
the annals of the Commission as due process dictate that no worker shall be dismissed
perhaps the first of its kind. For this case except for just and authorized cause provided by law
is an action filed by an only son, his and after due process.14 Article 282 of the Labor Code
father's namesake, the only child and enumerates the causes for which an employer may
therefore the only heir against his own validly terminate an employment, to wit:
father.9 (a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the
Additionally, the Solicitor General remarked: employee of the lawful orders of his employer or
. . . After an exhaustive reading of the representative in connection with his work; (b) gross and
records, two (2) observations were habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) fraud
noted that may justify why this labor or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in
case deserves special considerations. him by his employer or duly authorized representative;
First, most of the complaints that (d) commission of a crime or offense by the employee
petitioner and private respondent had against the person of his employer or any immediate
with each other, were personal matters member of his family or his duly authorized
affecting father and son relationship. representative; and (e) other causes analogous to the
And secondly, if any of the complaints foregoing.
pertain to their work, they allow their The employer may also terminate the services of any
personal relationship to come in the employee due to the installation of labor saving devices,
way.10 redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the
I. Petitioner maintains that his dismissal from closing or cessation of operation of the establishment or
employment was illegal because of want of just cause undertaking, unless the closing is for the purpose of
therefor and non-observance of the requirements of due circumventing the pertinent provisions of the Labor
56

Code, by serving a written notice on the workers and the cause for termination of employment, there
Department of Labor and Employment at least one (1) must be a deliberate, unjustified refusal of the
month before the intended date thereof, with due employee to resume his employment. . . Mere
entitlement to the corresponding separation pay rates absence is not sufficient; it must be
provided by law.15Suffering from a disease by reason accompanied by overt acts unerringly pointing
whereof the continued employment of the employee is to the fact that the employee simply does not
prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his and his co- want to work anymore.
employee's health, is also a ground for termination of There are significant indications in this case,
his services provided he receives the prescribed that there is no abandonment. First, petitioner's
separation pay.16 On the other hand, it is well-settled absence and his decision to leave his residence
that abandonment by an employee of his work inside Hacienda Manucao, is justified by his
authorizes the employer to effect the former's dismissal illness and strained family relations. Second he
from employment.17 has some medical certificates to show his frail
After a careful review of the records of this case, we find health. Third, once able to work, petitioner wrote
that public respondent gravely erred in affirming the a letter (Annex "J") informing private respondent
decision of the executive labor arbiter holding that of his intention to assume again his
petitioner abandoned his employment and was not employment. Last, but not the least, he at once
illegally dismissed from such employment. For want of instituted a complaint for illegal dismissal when
substantial bases, in fact or he realized he was unjustly dismissed. All these
in law, we cannot give the stamp of finality and are indications that petitioner had no intention
conclusiveness normally accorded to the factual findings to abandon his employment.20
of an administrative agency, such as herein public The records show that the parties herein do not dispute
respondent NLRC,18 as even decisions of administrative the fact of petitioner's confinement in the hospital for
agencies which are declared "final" by law are not his various afflictions which required medical treatment.
exempt from judicial review when so warranted. 19 Neither can it be denied that private respondent was
The following perceptive disquisitions of the Solicitor well aware of petitioner's state of health as the former
General on this point deserve acceptance: admittedly shouldered part of the medical and hospital
It is submitted that the absences of petitioner bills and even advised the latter to stay in Bacolod City
in his work from October 1982 to December until he was fit to work again. The disagreement as to
1982, cannot be construed as abandonment of whether or not petitioner's ailments were so serious as
work because he has a justifiable excuse. to necessitate hospitalization and corresponding periods
Petitioner was suffering from perennial abscess for recuperation is beside the point. The fact remains
in the peri-anal around the anus and fistula that on account of said illnesses, the details of which
under the medical attention of Dr. Patricio Tan were amply substantiated by the attending
of Riverside Medical Center, Inc., Bacolod City physician,21 and as the records are bereft of any
(Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, February 19, 1986 at 20- suggestion of malingering on the part of petitioner,
44). there was justifiable cause for petitioner's absence from
This fact (was) duly communicated to private work. We repeat, it is clear, deliberate and unjustified
respondent by medical bills sent to Hacienda refusal to resume employment and not mere absence
Manucao (Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, January 22, 1987 that is required to constitute abandonment as a valid
at 49-50). ground for termination of employment.22
During the period of his illness and recovery, With his position as farm administrator of Hacienda
petitioner stayed in Bacolod City upon the Manucao, petitioner unmistakably may be classified as a
instruction(s) of private respondent to managerial employee23 to whom the law grants an
recuperate thereat and to handle only amount of discretion in the discharge of his duties. This
administrative matters of the hacienda in that is why when petitioner stated that "I assigned myself
city. As a manager, petitioner is not really where I want to go," 24 he was simply being candid about
obliged to live and stay 24 hours a day inside what he could do within the sphere of his authority. His
Hacienda Manucao. duties as farm administrator did not strictly require him
xxx xxx xxx to keep regular hours or to be at the office premises at
After evaluating the evidence within the all times, or to be subjected to specific control from his
context of the special circumstances involved employer in every aspect of his work. What is essential
and basic human experience, petitioner's only is that he runs the farm as efficiently and
illness and strained family relation with effectively as possible and, while petitioner may
respondent Jon de Ysasi II may be considered definitely not qualify as a model employee, in this
as justifiable reason for petitioner Jon de Ysasi regard he proved to be quite successful, as there was at
III's absence from work during the period of least a showing of increased production during the time
October 1982 to December 1982. In any event, that petitioner was in charge of farm operations.
such absence does not warrant outright If, as private respondent contends, he had no control
dismissal without notice and hearing. over petitioner during the years 1983 to 1984, this is
xxx xxx xxx because that was the period when petitioner was
The elements of abandonment as a ground for recuperating from illness and on account of which his
dismissal of an employee are as follows: attendance and direct involvement in farm operations
(1) failure to report for work or were irregular and minimal, hence the supervision and
absence without valid or control exercisable by private respondent as employer
justifiable reason; and (2) clear was necessarily limited. It goes without saying that the
intention to sever the employer- control contemplated refers only to matters relating to
employee tie (Samson his functions as farm administrator and could not extend
Alcantara, Reviewer in Labor to petitioner's personal affairs and activities.
and Social Legislation, 1989 While it was taken for granted that for purposes of
edition, p. 133). discharging his duties as farm administrator, petitioner
This Honorable Court, in several cases, would be staying at the house in the farm, there really
illustrates what constitute abandonment. was no explicit contractual stipulation (as there was no
In Dagupan Bus Company v. NLRC (191 SCRA formal employment contract to begin with) requiring
328), the Court rules that for abandonment to him to stay therein for the duration of his employment
arise, there must be a concurrence of the or that any transfer of residence would justify the
intention to abandon and some overt act from termination of his employment. That petitioner changed
which it may be inferred that the employee has his residence should not be taken against him, as this is
no more interest to work. Similarly, in Nueva undeniably among his basic rights, nor can such fact of
Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. NLRC (184 transfer of residence per se be a valid ground to
SCRA 25), for abandonment to constitute a valid terminate an employer-employee relationship.
57

Private respondent, in his pleadings, asserted that as he from Manila to Bacolod through Zip Forwarders, 29 getting
was yet uncertain of his son's intention of returning to the payment of the additional cash advances for
work after his confinement in the hospital, he kept molasses for crop year 1983-1984 from Agrotex
petitioner on the payroll, reported him as an employee Commodities, Inc.,30 and remitting to private respondent
of the haciendafor social security purposes, and paid his through
salaries and benefits with the mandated deductions Atty. Sumbingco the sums collected along with receipts
therefrom until the end of December, 1982. It was only for medicine and oil.31
in January, 1983 when he became convinced that It will be observed that all of these chores, which
petitioner would no longer return to work that he petitioner took care of, relate to the normal activities
considered the latter to have abandoned his work and, and operations of the farm. True, it is a father's
for this reason, no longer listed him as an employee. prerogative to request or even command his child to run
According to private respondent, whatever amount of errands for him. In the present case, however,
money was given to petitioner from that time until considering the nature of these transactions, as well as
April, 1984 was in the nature of a pension or an the property values and monetary sums involved, it is
allowance or mere gratuitous doles from a father to a unlikely that private respondent would leave the matter
son, and not salaries as, in fact, none of the usual to just anyone. Prudence dictates that these matters be
deductions were made therefrom. It was only in April, handled by someone who can be trusted or at least be
1984 that private respondent completely stopped giving held accountable therefor, and who is familiar with the
said pension or allowance when he was angered by what terms, specifications and other details relative thereto,
he heard petitioner had been saying about sending him such as an employee. If indeed petitioner had
to jail. abandoned his job or was considered to have done so by
Private respondent capitalizes on the testimony of one private respondent, it would be awkward, or even out of
Manolo Gomez taken on oral deposition regarding place, to expect or to oblige petitioner to concern
petitioner's alleged statement to him, "(h)e quemado himself with matters relating to or expected of him with
los (p)ue(n)tes de Manucao" ("I have burned my bridges respect to what would then be his past and terminated
with Manucao") as expressive of petitioner's intention to employment. It is hard to imagine what further authority
abandon his job. In addition to insinuations of sinister an employer can have over a dismissed employee so as
motives on the part of petitioner in working at the farm to compel him to continue to perform work-related
and thereafter abandoning the job upon tasks:
accomplishment of his objectives, private respondent It is also significant that the special power of
takes the novel position that the agreement to support attorney32 executed
his son after the latter abandoned the administration of by private respondent on June 26, 1980 in favor of
the farm legally converts the initial abandonment to petitioner, specifically stating —
implied voluntary resignation.25 xxx xxx xxx
As earlier mentioned, petitioner ripostes that private That I, JON de YSASI, Filipino, of legal age,
respondent undoubtedly knew about petitioner's illness married, and a resident of Hda. Manucao,
and even paid for his hospital and other medical bills. hereinafter called and referred to as PRINCIPAL,
The assertion regarding abandonment of work, am a sugarcane planter, BISCOM Mill District,
petitioner argues, is further belied by his continued and a duly accredited planter-member of the
performance of various services related to the BINALBAGAN-ISABELA PLANTERS'
operations of the farm from May to the last quarter of ASSOCIATION, INC.;
1983, his persistent inquiries from his father's That as such planter-member of BIPA, I have
accountant and legal adviser about the reason why his check/checks with BIPA representing payment
pension or allowance was discontinued since April, for all checks and papers to which I am entitled
1984, and his indication of having recovered and his to (sic) as such planter-member;
willingness and capability to resume his work at the That I have named, appointed and constituted
farm as expressed in a letter dated September 14, as by these presents
1984.26 With these, petitioner contends that it is I HEREBY NAME, APPOINT AND CONSTITUTE as
immaterial how the monthly pecuniary amounts are my true and lawful ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
designated, whether as salary, pension or allowance, JON de YSASI III
with or without deductions, as he was entitled thereto in whose specimen signature is hereunder affixed,
view of his continued service as farm administrator. 27 TO GET FOR ME and in my name, place and
To stress what was earlier mentioned, in order that a stead, my check/checks aforementioned, said
finding of abandonment may justly be made there must ATTORNEY-IN-FACT being herein given the
be a concurrence of two elements, viz.: (1) the failure to power and authority to sign for me and in my
report for work or absence without valid or justifiable name, place and stead, the receipt or receipts
reason, and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer- or payroll for the said check/checks. PROVIDED,
employee relationship, with the second element as the HOWEVER, that my said ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
more determinative factor and being manifested by cannot cash the said check/checks, but to turn
some overt acts. Such intent we find dismally wanting in the same over to me for my proper disposition.
this case. That I HEREBY RATIFY AND CONFIRM the acts of
It will be recalled that private respondent himself my
admitted being unsure of his son's plans of returning to Attorney-in-Fact in getting the said
work. The absence of petitioner from work since mid- check/checks and signing the receipts therefor.
1982, prolonged though it may have been, was not That I further request that my said
without valid causes of which private respondent had check/checks be made a "CROSSED CHECK".
full knowledge. As to what convinced or led him to xxx xxx xxx
believe that petitioner was no longer returning to work, remained in force even after petitioner's employment
private respondent neither explains nor substantiates by was supposed to have been terminated by reason of
any reasonable basis how he arrived at such a abandonment. Furthermore, petitioner's numerous
conclusion. requests for an explanation regarding the stoppage of
Moreover, private respondent's claim of abandonment his salaries and benefits, 33 the issuance of withholding
cannot be given credence as even after January, 1983, tax reports,34 as well as correspondence reporting his
when private respondent supposedly "became full recovery and readiness to go back to work, 35 and,
convinced" that petitioner would no longer work at the specifically, his filing of the complaint for illegal
farm, the latter continued to perform services directly dismissal are hardly the acts of one who has abandoned
required by his position as farm administrator. These are his work.
duly and correspondingly evidenced by such acts as We are likewise not impressed by the deposition of
picking up some farm machinery/equipment from G.A. Manolo Gomez, as witness for private respondent,
Machineries, Inc.,28 claiming and paying for additional ascribing statements to petitioner supposedly indicative
farm equipment and machinery shipped by said firm of the latter's intention to abandon his work. We
58

perceive the irregularity in the taking of such deposition decision to dismiss him stating clearly the
without the presence of petitioner's counsel, and the reasons therefor.
failure of private respondent to serve reasonably Sec. 7. Right to contest dismissal. — Any decision
advance notice of its taking to said counsel, thereby taken by the employer shall be without prejudice
foreclosing his opportunity to to the right of the worker to contest the validity
cross-examine the deponent. Private respondent also or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint
failed to serve notice thereof on the Regional Arbitration with the Regional Branch of the Commission.
Branch No. VI of the NLRC, as certified to by xxx xxx xxx
Administrative Assistant Celestina G. Ovejera of said Sec. 11. Report of dismissal. — The employer
office.36 Fair play dictates that at such an important shall submit a monthly report to the Regional
stage of the proceedings, which involves the taking of Office having jurisdiction over the place of work
testimony, both parties must be afforded equal at all dismissals effected by him during the
opportunity to examine and cross-examine a witness. month, specifying therein the names of the
As to the monthly monetary amounts given to dismissed workers, the reasons for their
petitioner, whether denominated as salary, pension, dismissal, the dates of commencement and
allowance or ex gratia handout, there is no question as termination of employment, the positions last
to petitioner's entitlement thereto inasmuch as he held by them and such other information as may
continued to perform services in his capacity as farm be required by the Ministry for policy guidance
administrator. The change in description of said and statistical purposes.
amounts contained in the pay slips or in the receipts Private respondent's argument is without merit as there
prepared by private respondent cannot be deemed to be can be no question that petitioner was denied his right
determinative of petitioner's employment status in view to due process since he was never given any notice
of the peculiar circumstances above set out. Besides, if about his impending dismissal and the grounds therefor,
such amounts were truly in the nature of allowances much less a chance to be heard. Even as private
given by a parent out of concern for his child's welfare, respondent controverts the applicability of the
it is rather unusual that receipts therefor 37 should be mandatory twin requirements of procedural due process
necessary and required as if they were ordinary in this particular case, he in effect admits that no notice
business expenditures. was served by him on petitioner. This fact is
Neither can we subscribe to private respondent's theory corroborated by the certification issued on September 5,
that petitioner's alleged abandonment was converted 1984 by the Regional Director for Region VI of the
into an implied voluntary resignation on account of the Department of Labor that no notice of termination of the
father's agreement to support his son after the latter employment of petitioner was submitted thereto. 41
abandoned his work. As we have determined that no Granting arguendo that there was abandonment in this
abandonment took place in this case, the monthly sums case, it nonetheless cannot be denied that notice still
received by petitioner, regardless of designation, were had to be served upon the employee sought to be
in consideration for services rendered emanating from dismissed, as the second sentence of Section 2 of the
an employer-employee relationship and were not of a pertinent implementing rules explicitly requires service
character that can qualify them as mere civil support thereof at the employee's last known address, by way of
given out of parental duty and solicitude. We are also substantial compliance. While it is conceded that it is
hard put to imagine how abandonment can be impliedly the employer's prerogative to terminate an employee,
converted into a voluntary resignation without any especially when there is just cause therefor, the
positive act on the part of the employee conveying a requirements of due process cannot be lightly taken.
desire to terminate his employment. The very concept of The law does not countenance the arbitrary exercise of
resignation as a ground for termination by the employee such a power or prerogative when it has the effect of
of his employment38 does not square with the elements undermining the fundamental guarantee of security of
constitutive of abandonment. tenure in favor of the employee.42
On procedural considerations, petitioner posits that On the executive labor arbiter's misplaced reliance on
there was a violation by private respondent of the due the Wenphil case, the Solicitor General rejoins as
process requirements under the Labor Code for want of follows:
notice and hearing.39 Private respondent, in opposition, The Labor Arbiter held thus:
argues that Section 2, Rule XIV, Book V of the Omnibus While we are in full agreement with the
Rules Implementing the Labor Code applies only to respondent as to his defense of implied
cases where the employer seeks to terminate the resignation and/or abandonment, records
services of an employee on any of the grounds somehow showed that he failed to notify the
enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code, but Department of
not to the situation obtaining in this case where private Labor and Employment for his sons'
respondent did not dismiss petitioner on any ground (sic)/complainants' (sic) aba(n)donment as
since it was petitioner who allegedly abandoned his required by BP 130. And for this failure, the
employment.40 other requisite for a valid termination by an
The due process requirements of notice and hearing employer was not complied with. This
applicable to labor cases are set out in Rule XIV, Book V however, would not work to invalidate the
of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code in otherwise (sic) existence of a valid cause for
this wise: dismissal. The validity of the cause of
Sec. 2. Notice of Dismissal. — Any employer who dismissal must be upheld at all times
seeks to dismiss a worker shall furnish him a provided however that sanctions must be
written notice stating the particular acts or imposed on the respondent for his failure to
omission(s) constituting the grounds for his observe the notice on due process
dismissal. In cases of abandonment of work, requirement. (Wenphil Corp. v. NLRC, G.R. No.
notice shall be served at the worker's last known 80587). (Decision Labor Arbiter, at 11-12,
address. Annex "C" Petition), . . .
xxx xxx xxx This is thus a very different case from Wenphil
Sec. 5. Answer and hearing. — The worker may Corporation v. NLRC, 170 SCRA 69. In Wenphil, the
answer the allegations as stated against him in rule applied to the facts is: once an employee is
the notice of dismissal within a reasonable period dismissed for just cause, he must not be
from receipt of such notice. The employer shall rewarded
afford the worker ample opportunity to be heard re-employment and backwages for failure of his
and to defend himself with the assistance of his employer to observe procedural due process. The
representative, if he so desires. public policy behind this is that, it may encourage
Sec. 6. Decision to dismiss. — The employer shall the employee to do even worse and render a
immediately notify a worker in writing of a mockery of the rules of discipline required to be
observed. However, the employer must be
59

penalized for his infraction of due process. In the present relationship of petitioner and private
present case, however, not only was petitioner respondent (is) so strained that a harmonious
dismissed without due process, but his dismissal is and peaceful employee-employer relationship
without just cause. Petitioner did not abandon his is hardly possible.49
employment because he has a justifiable excuse. 43 III. Finally, petitioner insists on an award of moral
II. Petitioner avers that the executive labor arbiter erred damages, arguing that his dismissal from employment
in disregarding the mandatory provisions of Article 279 was attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted
of the Labor Code which entitles an illegally dismissed oppression, or was contrary to morals, good customs or
employee to reinstatement and back wages and, public policy. He further prays for exemplary damages to
instead, affirmed the imposition of the penalty of serve as a deterrent against similar acts of unjust
P5,000.00 on private respondent for violation of the due dismissal by other employers.
process requirements. Private respondent, for his part, Moral damages, under Article 2217 of the Civil Code,
maintains that there was error in imposing the fine may be awarded to compensate one for diverse injuries
because that penalty contemplates the failure to submit such as mental anguish, besmirched reputation,
the employer's report on dismissed employees to the wounded feelings, and social humiliation, provided that
DOLE regional office, as required under Section 5 (now, such injuries spring from a wrongful act or omission of
Section 11), Rule XIV of the implementing rules, and not the defendant which was the proximate cause
the failure to serve notice upon the employee sought to thereof.50 Exemplary damages, under Article 2229, are
be dismissed by the employer. imposed by way of example or correction for the public
Both the Constitution and the Labor Code enunciate in good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or
no uncertain terms the right of every worker to security compensatory damages. They are not recoverable as a
of tenure.44 To give teeth to this constitutional and matter of right, it being left to the court to decide
statutory mandates, the Labor Code spells out the relief whether or not they should be adjudicated. 51
available to an employee in case of its denial: We are well aware of the Court's rulings in a number of
Art. 279. Security of Tenure. — In cases of cases in the past allowing recovery of moral damages
regular employment, the employer shall not where the dismissal of the employee was attended by
terminate the services of an employee except bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act oppressive to
for a just cause or when authorized by this labor, or was done in a manner contrary to morals, good
Title. An employee who is unjustly dismissed customs or public policy, 52 and of exemplary damages if
from work shall be entitled to reinstatement the dismissal was effected in a wanton, oppressive or
without loss of seniority rights and other malevolent manner.53 We do not feel, however, that an
privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive award of the damages prayed for in this petition would
of allowances, and to his other benefits of their be proper even if, seemingly, the facts of the case justify
monetary equivalent computed from the time their allowance. In the aforestated cases of illegal
his compensation was withheld from him up to dismissal where moral and exemplary damages were
the time of actual reinstatement. awarded, the dismissed employees were genuinely
Clearly, therefore, an employee is entitled to without fault and were undoubtedly victims of the erring
reinstatement with full back wages in the absence of employers' capricious exercise of power.
just cause for dismissal. 45 The Court, however, on In the present case, we find that both petitioner and
numerous occasions has tempered the rigid application private respondent can equally be faulted for fanning
of said provision of the Labor Code, recognizing that in the flames which gave rise to and ultimately aggravated
some cases certain events may have transpired as this controversy, instead of sincerely negotiating a
would militate against the practicability of granting the peaceful settlement of their disparate claims. The
relief thereunder provided, and declares that where records reveal how their actuations seethed with mutual
there are strained relations between the employer and antagonism and the undeniable enmity between them
the employee, payment of back wages and severance negates the likelihood that either of them acted in good
pay may be awarded instead of reinstatement, 46 and faith. It is apparent that each one has a cause for
more particularly when managerial employees are damages against the other. For this reason, we hold that
concerned.47 Thus, where reinstatement is no longer no moral or exemplary damages can rightfully be
possible, it is therefore appropriate that the dismissed awarded to petitioner.
employee be given his fair and just share of what the On this score, we are once again persuaded by the
law accords him.48 validity of the following recommendation of the Solicitor
We note with favor and give our imprimatur to the General:
Solicitor General's ratiocination, to wit: The Labor Arbiter's decision in RAB Case No.
As a general rule, an employee who is unjustly 0452-84 should be modified. There was no
dismissed from work shall be entitled to voluntary abandonment in this case because
reinstatement without loss of seniority rights petitioner has a justifiable excuse for his
and to his backwages computed from the time absence, or such absence does not warrant
his compensation was withheld up to the time outright dismissal without notice and hearing.
of his reinstatement. (Morales vs. NLRC, 188 Private respondent, therefore, is guilty of illegal
SCRA 295). But in Pacific Cement Company, dismissal. He should be ordered to pay
Inc. vs. NLRC, 173 SCRA 192, this Honorable backwages for a period not exceeding three
Court held that when it comes to years from date of dismissal. And in lieu of
reinstatement, differences should be made reinstatement, petitioner may be paid
between managers and the ordinary separation pay equivalent to one (1) month('s)
workingmen. The Court concluded that a salary for every year of service, a fraction of six
company which no longer trusts its managers months being considered as one (1) year in
cannot operate freely in a competitive and accordance with recent jurisprudence (Tan, Jr.
profitable manner. The NLRC should know the vs. NLRC, 183 SCRA 651). But all claims for
difference between managers and ordinary damages should be dismissed, for both parties
workingmen. It cannot imprudently order the are equally at fault.54
reinstatement of managers with the same ease The conduct of the respective counsel of the parties, as
and liberality as that of rank and file workers revealed by the records, sorely disappoints the Court
who had been terminated. Similarly, a and invites reproof. Both counsel may well be reminded
reinstatement may not be appropriate or that their ethical duty as lawyers to represent their
feasible in case of antipathy or antagonism clients with
between the parties (Morales, vs. NLRC, 188 zeal55 goes beyond merely presenting their clients'
SCRA 295). respective causes in court. It is just as much their
In the present case, it is submitted that responsibility, if not more importantly, to exert all
petitioner should not be reinstated as farm reasonable efforts to smooth over legal conflicts,
administrator of Hacienda Manucao. The preferably out of court and especially in consideration of
60

the direct and immediate consanguineous ties between Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the
their clients. Once again, we reiterate that the useful Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, called
function of a lawyer is not only to conduct litigation but up the published telephone number and pretended to be
to avoid it whenever possible by advising settlement or an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who
withholding suit. He is often called upon less for claimed that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an
dramatic forensic exploits than for wise counsel in every expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee
phase of life. He should be a mediator for concord and a a court decree within four to six months, provided the
conciliator for compromise, rather than a virtuoso of case will not involve separation of property or custody of
technicality in the conduct of litigation.56 children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband
Rule 1.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at
explicitly provides that "(a) lawyer shall encourage his the time of filing of the case and the other half after a
client to avoid, end or settle the controversy if it will decision thereon has been rendered.
admit of a fair settlement." On this point, we find that Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator
both counsel herein fell short of what was expected of and the Public Information Office revealed that similar
them, despite their avowed duties as officers of the advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6,
court. The records do not show that they took pains to 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000
initiate steps geared toward effecting a rapprochement issue of The Philippine Star. 2
between their clients. On the contrary, their acerbic and On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his
protracted exchanges could not but have exacerbated capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of
the situation even as they may have found favor in the the Public Information Office, filed an administrative
equally hostile eyes of their respective clients. complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper
In the same manner, we find that the labor arbiter who advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in
handled this regrettable case has been less than faithful violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of
to the letter and spirit of the Labor Code mandating that Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of
a labor arbiter "shall exert all efforts towards the the Rules of Court.3
amicable settlement of a labor dispute within his In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to
jurisdiction."57 If he ever did so, or at least entertained him, but argued that advertising and solicitation per se
the thought, the copious records of the proceedings in are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to
this controversy are barren of any reflection of the change our views about the prohibition on advertising
same. and solicitation; that the interest of the public is not
One final word. This is one decision we do not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer
particularly relish having been obliged to make. The task advertising; that the Court can lift the ban on lawyer
of resolving cases involving disputes among members of advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades-
a family leaves a bad taste in the mouth and an old prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed
aversion in the mind, for no truly meaningful and that he be exonerated from all the charges against him
enduring resolution is really achieved in such situations. and that the Court promulgate a ruling that
While we are convinced that we have adjudicated the advertisement of legal services offered by a lawyer is
legal issues herein squarely on the bases of law and not contrary to law, public policy and public order as
jurisprudence, sans sentimentality, we are saddened by long as it is dignified.4
the thought that we may have failed to bring about the The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
reconciliation of the father and son who figured as Philippines for investigation, report and
parties to this dispute, and that our adherence here to recommendation.5 On June 29, 2002, the IBP
law and duty may unwittingly contribute to the Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-
breaking, instead of the strengthening, of familial bonds. 2002-306,6 finding respondent guilty of violation of Rules
In fine, neither of the parties herein actually emerges 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
victorious. It is the Court's earnest hope, therefore, that and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, and
with the impartial exposition and extended explanation suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year
of their respective rights in this decision, the parties with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would
may eventually see their way clear to an ultimate be dealt with more severely. The IBP Resolution was
resolution of their differences on more convivial terms. noted by this Court on November 11, 2002.7
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for
Relations Commission is hereby SET ASIDE. Private Reconsideration,8 which was denied by the IBP in
respondent is ORDERED to pay petitioner back wages Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002 9
for a period not exceeding three (3) years, without Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was
qualification or deduction,58 and, in lieu of docketed as G.R. No. 157053 entitled, "Atty. Rizalino T.
reinstatement, separation pay equivalent to one (1) Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar
month for every year of service, a fraction of six (6) Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court
months being considered as one (1) whole year. Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,
SO ORDERED. Respondents." This petition was consolidated with A.C.
Ulep v. Legal Clinic, supra No. 5299 per the Court’s Resolution dated March 4,
A.C. No. 5299 August 19, 2003 2003.
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were
Administrator and Chief, Public Information required to manifest whether or not they were willing to
Office,Complainant, submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
vs. pleadings.10 Complainant filed his Manifestation on April
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Respondent. 25, 2003, stating that he is not submitting any
x-----------------------x additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the
G.R. No. 157053 August 19, 2003 case for its early resolution on the basis of pleadings
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, Petitioner, and records thereof. 11 Respondent, on the other hand,
vs. filed a Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. We agree with the IBP’s Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306
ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity as Assistant and XV-2002-606.
Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Office, Respondents. Responsibility read:
RESOLUTION Rule 2.03. – A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.
This administrative complaint arose from a paid Rule 3.01. – A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of
advertisement that appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified,
the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his
"ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521- qualifications or legal services.
2667."1 Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:
61

SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Such data must not be misleading and may include only
Supreme Court, grounds therefor. – A member of the bar a statement of the lawyer’s name and the names of his
may be disbarred or suspended from his office as professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers,
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and
malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, place of birth and admission to the bar; schools
grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other
of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices;
of the oath which he is required to take before the posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience positions; membership and offices in bar associations
appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies
so. and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other
It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law reputable law lists; the names and addresses of
is not a business. 12 It is a profession in which duty to references; and, with their written consent, the names of
public service, not money, is the primary consideration. clients regularly represented.
Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making The law list must be a reputable law list published
venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere
necessarily yields profits.13 The gaining of a livelihood supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade
should be a secondary consideration. 14 The duty to journal or periodical which is published principally for
public service and to the administration of justice should other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not
be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must properly publish his brief biographical and informative
subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society
themselves.15 The following elements distinguish the program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be
legal profession from a business: published in a law list the conduct, management, or
1. A duty of public service, of which the contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or
emolument is a by-product, and in which one injure the public or the bar, or to lower dignity or
may attain the highest eminence without standing of the profession.
making much money; The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also
2. A relation as an "officer of the court" to the permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his
administration of justice involving thorough name, the name of the law firm which he is connected
sincerity, integrity and reliability; with, address, telephone number and special branch of
3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of law practiced. The publication of a simple
fiduciary; announcement of the opening of a law firm or of
4. A relation to colleagues at the bar changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or
characterized by candor, fairness, and office address, being for the convenience of the
unwillingness to resort to current business profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have
methods of advertising and encroachment on his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a
their practice, or dealing directly with their designation of special branch of law. (emphasis and
clients.16 italics supplied)
There is no question that respondent committed the WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent
acts complained of. He himself admits that he caused RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of
the publication of the advertisements. While he Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
professes repentance and begs for the Court’s Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of
indulgence, his contrition rings hollow considering the Court. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
fact that he advertised his legal services again after he ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution.
pleaded for compassion and after claiming that he had He is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the
no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
his answer, he again advertised his legal services in the Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as
August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Newspaper. 17 Ten months later, he caused the same Philippines and all courts in the country for their
advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001 information and guidance.
issue of Buy & Sell. 18 Such acts of respondent are a SO ORDERED.
deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Court’s
authority.
ANA MARIE CAMBALIZA, Adm. Case No.
What adds to the gravity of respondent’s acts is that in
6290
advertising himself as a self-styled "Annulment of
Complainant,
Marriage Specialist," he wittingly or unwittingly erodes
Present:
and undermines not only the stability but also the
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.,- versus
sanctity of an institution still considered sacrosanct
- PANGANIBAN,SANTIAGO,CARPIO, andAZCUNA, JJ. ATTY.
despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in
ANA LUZ B. CRISTAL-TENORIO,Respondent.
our society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that
an annulment may be obtained in four to six months
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
from the time of the filing of the case, 19 he in fact
In a verified complaint for disbarment filed with
encourages people, who might have otherwise been
the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of
disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving
the Philippines (IBP) on 30 May 2000, complainant Ana
their marriage bonds, to do so.
Marie Cambaliza, a former employee of respondent Atty.
Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not
Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio in her law office, charged the
altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be
latter with deceit, grossly immoral conduct, and
proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the
malpractice or other gross misconduct in office.
legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous
manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the
On deceit, the complainant alleged that the
bar.20 Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or
respondent has been falsely representing herself to be
names of the lawyers, the office and residence address
married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., who has a prior and
and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal
subsisting marriage with another
periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible.
woman. However, through spurious means, the
Even the use of calling cards is now
respondent and Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., were able to
acceptable.21 Publication in reputable law lists, in a
obtain a false marriage contract, [1] which states that
manner consistent with the standards of conduct
they were married on 10 February 1980 in
imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and
Manila. Certifications from the Civil Registry of
informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly
Manila[2]and the National Statistics Office (NSO) [3] prove
stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.:22
that no record of marriage exists between them. The
false date and place of marriage between the two are
62

stated in the birth certificates of their two children, would submit a Rejoinder to the Reply. The parties also
Donnabel Tenorio[4] and Felicisimo Tenorio III. [5] But in the agreed that the Complaint, Answer, and the attached
birth certificates of their two other children, Oliver affidavits would constitute as the respective direct
Tenorio[6] and John Cedric Tenorio,[7]another date and testimonies of the parties and the affiants.[11]
place of marriage are indicated, namely, 12 February
1980 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. In her Reply, the complainant bolstered her
claim that the respondent cooperated in the illegal
As to grossly immoral conduct, the complainant practice of law by her husband by submitting (1) the
alleged that the respondent caused the dissemination to letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office[12] where the
the public of a libelous affidavit derogatory to Makati name of Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is listed as a senior
City Councilor Divina Alora Jacome. The respondent partner; and (2) a Sagip Communication Radio Group
would often openly and sarcastically declare to the identification card[13] signed by the respondent as
complainant and her co-employees the alleged Chairperson where her husband is identified as Atty.
immorality of Councilor Jacome. Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. She added that respondents
husband even appeared in court hearings.
On malpractice or other gross misconduct in
office, the complainant alleged that the respondent (1) In her Rejoinder, respondent averred that she
cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband, neither formed a law partnership with her husband nor
who is not a member of the Philippine Bar; (2) converted allowed her husband to appear in court on her behalf. If
her clients money to her own use and benefit, which led there was an instance that her husband appeared in
to the filing of an estafa case against her; and (3) court, he did so as a representative of her law firm.The
threatened the complainant and her family on 24 letterhead submitted by the complainant was a false
January 2000 with the statement Isang bala ka lang to reproduction to show that her husband is one of her law
deter them from divulging respondents illegal activities partners. But upon cross-examination, when confronted
and transactions. with the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office bearing
her signature, she admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio,
In her answer, the respondent denied all the Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A.
allegations against her. As to the charge of deceit, she Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer, are named as
declared that she is legally married to Felicisimo R. senior partners because they have investments in her
Tenorio, Jr. They were married on 12 February 1980 as law office.[14]
shown by their Certificate of Marriage, Registry No.
2000-9108 of the Civil Registry of Quezon City. [8] Her The respondent further declared that she
husband has no prior and subsisting marriage with married Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., on 12 February 1980 in
another woman. Quezon City, but when she later discovered that their
marriage contract was not registered she applied for
As to the charge of grossly immoral conduct, the late registration on 5 April 2000. She then presented as
respondent denied that she caused the dissemination of evidence a certified copy of the marriage contract
a libelous and defamatory affidavit against Councilor issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General and
Jacome. On the contrary, it was Councilor Jacome who authenticated by the NSO. The erroneous entries in the
caused the execution of said document. Additionally, the birth certificates of her children as to the place and date
complainant and her cohorts are the rumormongers who of her marriage were merely an oversight.[15]
went around the city of Makati on the pretext of
conducting a survey but did so to besmirch respondents Sometime after the parties submitted their
good name and reputation. respective Offer of Evidence and Memoranda, the
complainant filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint on 13
The charge of malpractice or other gross November 2002 after allegedly realizing that this
misconduct in office was likewise denied by the disbarment complaint arose out of a misunderstanding
respondent. She claimed that her Cristal-Tenorio Law and misappreciation of facts. Thus, she is no longer
Office is registered with the Department of Trade and interested in pursuing the case. This motion was not
Industry as a single proprietorship, as shown by its acted upon by the IBP.
Certificate of Registration of Business Name.[9] Hence,
she has no partners in her law office. As to the estafa In her Report and Recommendation dated 30
case, the same had already been dropped pursuant to September 2003, IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline
the Order of 14 June 1996 issued by Branch 103 of the Milagros V. San Juan found that the complainant failed to
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. [10] The respondent substantiate the charges of deceit and grossly immoral
likewise denied that she threatened the complainant conduct. However, she found the respondent guilty of
with the words Isang bala ka lang on 24 January 2000. the charge of cooperating in the illegal practice of law
by Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in violation of Canon 9 and
Further, the respondent averred that this Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
disbarment complaint was filed by the complainant to based on the following evidence: (1) the letterhead
get even with her. She terminated of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office, which lists Felicisimo R.
complainants employment after receiving numerous Tenorio, Jr., as a senior partner; (2) the Sagip
complaints that the complainant extorted money from Communication Radio Group identification card of Atty.
different people with the promise of processing their Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., signed by respondent as
passports and marriages to foreigners, but she reneged Chairperson; (3) and the Order dated 18 June 1997
on her promise. Likewise, this disbarment complaint is issued by the Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Cases
politically motivated: some politicians offered to re-hire Nos. 20729 20734, wherein Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr.,
the complainant and her cohorts should they initiate this entered his appearance as counsel and even moved for
complaint, which they did and for which they were re- the provisional dismissal of the cases for failure of the
hired. The respondent also flaunted the fact that she private complainants to appear and for lack of interest
had received numerous awards and citations for civic to prosecute the said cases. Thus, Commissioner San
works and exemplary service to the community. She Juan recommended that the respondent be
then prayed for the dismissal of the disbarment case for reprimanded.
being baseless.
In its Resolution No. XVI-2003-228 dated 25
The IBP referred this case to Investigating October 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
Commissioner Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico. approved with modification the Report and
Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. The
During the hearing on 30 August 2000, the modification consisted in increasing the penalty from
parties agreed that the complainant would submit a reprimand to suspension from the practice of law for six
Reply to respondents Answer, while the respondent
63

months with a warning that a similar offense in the


future would be dealt with more severely. Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate
to any unqualified person the
We agree with the findings and conclusion of performance of any task which by law
Commissioner San Juan as approved and adopted with may only be performed by a member
modification by the Board of Governors of the IBP. of the Bar in good standing.

At the outset, we find that the IBP was correct in The term practice of law implies customarily or
not acting on the Motion to Withdraw Complaint filed by habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer
complainant Cambaliza. In Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos, for compensation as a source of livelihood or in
[16]
we declared: consideration of his services. Holding ones self out as a
lawyer may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose
The affidavit of withdrawal of the like identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in
disbarment case allegedly executed by representation of a client, or associating oneself as a
complainant does not, in any way, partner of a law office for the general practice of law.
[19]
exonerate the respondent. A case of Such acts constitute unauthorized practice of law.
suspension or disbarment may
proceed regardless of interest or lack In this case, Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a
of interest of the complainant. What lawyer, but he holds himself out as one.His wife, the
matters is whether, on the basis of the respondent herein, abetted and aided him in
facts borne out by the record, the the unauthorized practice of the legal profession.
charge of deceit and grossly immoral
conduct has been duly proven. This At the hearing, the respondent admitted that the
rule is premised on the nature of letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office listed Felicisimo
disciplinary proceedings. A proceeding R. Tenorio, Jr., Gerardo A. Panghulan, and Maricris D.
for suspension or disbarment is not in Battung as senior partners. She admitted that the first
any sense a civil action where the two are not lawyers but paralegals. They are listed in
complainant is a plaintiff and the the letterhead of her law office as senior partners
respondent lawyer is a because they have investments in her law office. [20] That
defendant. Disciplinary proceedings is a blatant misrepresentation.
involve no private interest and afford
no redress for private grievance. They The Sagip Communication Radio Group
are undertaken and prosecuted solely identification card is another proof that the respondent
for the public welfare. They are assisted Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in misrepresenting to
undertaken for the purpose of the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification
preserving courts of justice from the card stating that he is Atty. Felicisimo Tenorio, Jr., bears
official ministration of persons unfit to the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the
practice in them. The attorney is called Group.
to answer to the court for his conduct
as an officer of the court.The The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least
complainant or the person who called not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is
the attention of the court to the founded on public interest and policy. Public policy
attorney's alleged misconduct is in no requires that the practice of law be limited to those
sense a party, and has generally no individuals found duly qualified in education and
interest in the outcome except as all character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer
good citizens may have in the proper is an individual and limited privilege subject to
administration of justice. Hence, if the withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of
evidence on record warrants, the moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to
respondent may be suspended or protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from
disbarred despite the desistance of the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to
complainant or his withdrawal of the practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of
charges. the Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this
purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the
Hence, notwithstanding the Motion to Withdraw profession enjoin him not to permit his professional
Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make
accordingly. possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any
agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a
The IBP correctly found that the charges of misbehavior on his part, subject to disciplinary action, to
deceit and grossly immoral conduct were not aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.[21]
substantiated. In disbarment proceedings, the
complainant has the burden of proving his case by WHEREFORE, for culpable violation of Canon 9
convincing evidence.[17] With respect to the estafa case and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
which is the basis for the charge of malpractice or other respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio is
gross misconduct in office, the respondent is not yet hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
convicted thereof. In Gerona vs. Datingaling,[18] we held period of six (6) months effective immediately, with a
that when the criminal prosecution based on the same warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in
act charged is still pending in court, any administrative the future will be dealt with more severely.
disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the
outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory Let copies of this Resolution be attached to
findings. respondent Cristal-Tenorios record as attorney in this
Court and furnished to the IBP and the Office of the
We, however, affirm the IBPs finding that the respondent Court Administrator for circulation to all courts.
is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized practice of
law. A lawyer who allows a non-member of the Bar to SO ORDERED.
misrepresent himself as a lawyer and to practice law is
guilty of violating Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of
A.M. No. P-99-1292 February 26, 1999
Professional Responsibility, which read as follows:
JULIETA BORROMEO SAMONTE, complainant,
vs.
Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or
ATTY. ROLANDO R. GATDULA, Branch Clerk of
indirectly assist in the unauthorized
Court, respondent.
practice of law.
RESOLUTION
64

convince the judge to recall the writ of preliminary


GONZAGA-REYES, J.: injunction, she will file an administrative case against
The complaint filed by Julieta Borremeo Samonte respondent and the judge. The threat was repeated but
charges Rolando R. Gatdula, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon the respondent refused to be pressured. Meanwhile, the
City with grave misconduct consisting in the alleged Complainant's Motion to Dissolve the Writ of Preliminary
engaging in the private practice of law which is in Injunction was denied. Respondent Gatdula claims that
conflict with his official functions as Branch Clerk of the complainant must have filed this administrative
Court. charge because of her frustration in procuring the
Complainant alleges that she is the authorized ejectment of the defendant lessee from the premises.
representative of her sister Flor Borromeo de Leon, the Respondent prays for the dismissal of the complainant
plaintiff, in Civil Case No. 37-14552 for ejectment, filed against him.
with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch The case was referred to Executive Judge Estrella
37. A typographical error was committed in the Estrada, RTC, Quezon City, for investigation, report and
complaint which stated that the address of defendant is recommendation.
No. 63-C instead of 63-B, P. Tuazon Blvd., Cubao, Quezon In her report, Judge Estrada states that the case was set
City. The mistake was rectified by the filing of an for hearing three times, on September 7, 1997, on
amended complaint which was admitted by the Court. A September 17, and on September 24, 1997, but neither
decision was rendered in favor of the plaintiff who complainant nor her counsel appeared, despite due
subsequently filed a motion for execution. Complainant, notice. The return of service of the Order setting the last
however, was surprised to receive a temporary hearing stated that complainant is still abroad. There
restraining order signed by Judge Prudencio Castillo of being no definite time conveyed to the court for the
Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, where Atty. Rolando return of the complainant, the investigating Judge
Gatdula is the Branch Clerk Court, enjoining the proceeded with the investigation by "conducting
execution of the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court. searching question" upon respondent based on the
Complainant alleges that the issuance of the temporary allegations in the complaint, and asked for the record of
restraining order was hasty and irregular as she was Civil Case No. Q-96-28187 for evaluation. The case was
never notified of the application for preliminary set for hearing for the last time on October 22, 1997, to
injunction. give complainant a last chance to appear, but there was
Complainant further alleges that when she went to again no appearance despite notice.
Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, to inquire about the The respondent testified in his own behalf to affirm the
reason for the issuance of the temporary restraining statements in his Comment, and submitted
order, respondent Atty. Rolando Gatdula, blamed her documentary evidence consisting mainly of the
lawyer for writing the wrong address in the complaint for pleadings in MTC Civil Case No. 37-14552, and in RTC
ejectment, and told her that if she wanted the execution Civil Case No. Q-9628187 to show that the questioned
to proceed, she should change her lawyer and retain the orders of the court were not improperly issued.
law office of respondent, at the same time giving his The investigating judge made the following findings:
calling card with the name "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, For failure of the complainant to appear
Dimailig and Celera" with office at Rm. 220 Mariwasa at the several hearings despite notice,
Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City; otherwise she failed to substantiate her allegations
she will not be able to eject the defendant Dave Knope. in the complaint, particularly that herein
Complainant told respondent that she could not decide respondent gave her his calling card and
because she was only representing her sister. To her tried to convince her to change her
consternation, the RTC Branch 220 issued an order lawyer. This being the case, it cannot be
granting the preliminary injunction as threatened by the established with certainty that
respondent despite the fact that the MTC, Brach 37 had respondent indeed gave her his calling
issued an Order directing the execution of the Decision card even convinced her to change her
in Civil Case No. 37-14552. lawyer. Moreover, as borne by the
Asked to comment, respondent Atty. Gatdula recited the records of the Civil Case No. Q-96-
antecedents in the ejectment case and the issuance of 28187, complainant was duly notified of
the restraining order by the Regional Trial Court, and all the proceedings leading to the
claimed that contrary to complainant Samonte's issuance of the TRO and the subsequent
allegation that she was not notified of the raffle and the orders of Judge Prudencio Altre Castillo,
hearing, the Notice of Hearing on the motion for the Jr. of RTC, Branch 220. Complainant's
issuance of a Temporary Retraining Order was duly lack of interest in prosecuting this
served upon the parties, and that the application for administrative case could be an
injunctive relief was heard before the temporary indication that her filing of the charge
restraining order was issued. The preliminary injunction against the respondent is only intended
was also set for hearing on August 7, 1996. to harass the respondent for her failure
The respondent's version of the incident is that to obtain a favorable decision from the
sometime before the hearing of the motion for the Court.
issuance of the temporary restraining order, However, based on the record of this
complainant Samonte went to court "very mad" because administrative case, the calling card
of the issuance of the order stopping the execution of attached as Annex "B" of the
the decision in the ejectment case. Respondent tried to complainant's affidavit dated September
calm her down, and assured her that the restraining 25, 1996 allegedly given by respondent
order was only temporary and that the application for to complainant would show that the
preliminary injunction would still be heard. Later the name of herein respondent was indeed
Regional Trial Court granted the application for a writ of include in the BALIGOD, GATDULA,
preliminary injunction. The complainant went back to TACARDON, DIMAILIG & CELERA LAW
court "fuming mad" because of the alleged OFFICES. While respondent denied
unreasonableness of the court in issuing the injunction. having assumed any position in said
Respondent Gatdula claims that thereafter complainant office, the fact remains that his name is
returned to his office, and informed him that she wanted included therein which may therefore
to change counsel and that a friend of hers tend to show that he has dealings with
recommended the Law Firm of "Baligod, Gatdula, said office. Thus, while he may not be
Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera," at the same time actually and directly employed with the
showing a calling card, and asking if he could handle her firm, the fact that his name appears on
case. Respondent refused as he was not connected with the calling card as partner in the
the law firm, although he was invited to join but he Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig &
choose to remain in the judiciary. Complainant returned Celera Law Offices give the impression
to court a few days later and told him that if he cannot that he is connected therein and may
65

constitute an act of solicitation and times must only be characterized by propriety and
private practice which is declared decorum but above all else must be above suspicion. 3
unlawful under Republic Act. No. 6713. It WHEREFORE, respondent Rolando R. Gatdula. Branch
is to be noted, however, that Clerk of Court, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon City is hereby
complainant failed to establish by reprimanded for engaging in the private practice of law
convincing evidence that respondent with the warning that a repetition of the same offense
actually offered to her the services of will be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered to
their law office. Thus, the violation cause the exclusion of his name in the firm name of any
committed by respondent in having his office engaged in the private practice of law.
name included/retained in the calling SO ORDERED.
card may only be considered as a minor
infraction for which he must also be
Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985
administratively sanctioned.
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant
and recommended that Atty. Gatdula be
vs.
admonished and censured for the minor
BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G. COLLAS JR., LUIS
infraction he has committed.
MA. GUERRERO, VICENTE A. TORRES, RAFAEL E.
Finding: We agree with the investigating judge that the
EVANGELISTA, JR., ROMEO L. SALONGA, JOSE R.
respondent is guilty of an infraction. The complainant by
SANDEJAS, LUCAS M. NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO,
her failure to appear at the hearings, failed to
NATIVIDAD B. KWAN and JOSE A. CURAMMENG,
substantiate her allegation that it was the respondent
JR., respondents.
who gave her calling card "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon,
Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.
Dimailig and Celera Law Offices" and that he tried to
Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law
convince her to change counsels. We find however, that
Office for respondents.
while the respondent vehemently denies the
complainant's allegations, he does not deny that his
AQUINO, J.:
name appears on the calling card attached to the
Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954,
complaint, which admittedly came into the hands of the
in his 1980 verified complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G.
complainant. The respondent testified before the
Collas, Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising law
Investigating Judge as follows:
under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm
Q: How about your statement that
organized in Illinois.
you even gave her a calling card of
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente
the "Baligod, Gatdula, Pardo,
A. Torres, using the letterhead of Baker & McKenzie,
Dimailig and Celera law Offices at
which contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked
Room 220 Mariwasa building?
Rosie Clurman for the release of 87 shares of Cathay
A: I vehemently deny the allegation
Products International, Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client.
of the complainant that I gave her a
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979,
calling card. I was surprised when
denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He requested
she presented (it) to me during one
that he be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is
of her follow-ups of the case before
Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your purpose in
the court. She told me that a friend
using the letterhead of another law office." Not having
of hers recommended such firm and
received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.
she found out that my name is
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm,
included in that firm. I told her that I
cannot practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138,
have not assumed any position in
Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in their
the law firm. And I am with the
memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional
Judiciary since I passed the bar. It is
partnership organized in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with
impossible for me to enter an
members and associates in 30 cities around the world.
appearance as her counsel in the
Respondents, aside from being members of the
very same court where I am the
Philippine bar, practising under the firm name of
Branch Clerk of Court.
Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker &
The above explanation tendered by the
Mckenzie.
Respondent is an admission that it is his name
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents'
appears on the calling card, a permissible form
use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie constitutes a
of advertising or solicitation of legal
representation that being associated with the firm they
services. 1 Respondent does not claim that the
could "render legal services of the highest quality to
calling card was printed without his knowledge
multinational business enterprises and others engaged
or consent, and the calling card 2 carries his
in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents'
name primarily and the name "Baligod, Gatdula,
memo). This is unethical because Baker & McKenzie is
Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera with address at
not authorized to practise law here. (See Ruben E.
220 Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao,
Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)
Quezon City" in the left corner. The card clearly
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from
gives the impression that he is connected with
practising law under the firm name Baker & McKenzie.
the said law firm. The inclusion/retention of his
SO ORDERED.
name in the professional card constitutes an act
of solicitation which violates Section 7 sub-par.
(b)(2) of Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known G.R. No. L-12871 July 25, 1959
as "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for TIMOTEO V. CRUZ, petitioner,
the Public Officials and Employees" which vs.
declares it unlawful for a public official or FRANCISCO G. H. SALVA, respondent.
employee to, among others: Baizas and Balderrama for petitioner.
(2) Engage in the private practice City Attorney Francisco G. H. Salva in his own behalf.
of their profession unless MONTEMAYOR, J.:
authorized by the Constitution or This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with
law, provided that such practice preliminary injunction filed by Timoteo V. Cruz against
will not conflict or tend to conflict Francisco G. H. Salva, in his capacity as City Fiscal of
with official functions. Pasay City, to restrain him from continuing with the
Time and again this Court has said that the conduct and preliminary investigation he was conducting in
behavior of every one connected with an office charged September, 1957 in connection with the killing of
with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding Manuel Monroy which took place on June 15, 1953 in
judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with Pasay City. To better understand the present case and its
the heavy burden of responsibility. His conduct, at all implications, the following facts gathered from the
66

pleadings and the memoranda filed by the parties, may and confessions sent to Salva by the Chief, Philippine
be stated. Constabulary, and which were being investigated,
Following the killing of Manuel Monroy in 1953 a number implicated petitioner Cruz, even picturing him as the
of persons were accused as involved and implicated in instigator and mastermind in the killing of Manuel
said crime. After a long trial, the Court of First Instance Monroy.
of Pasay City found Oscar Castelo, Jose de Jesus, Hipolito The position taken by petitioner Cruz in this case is that
Bonifacio, Bienvenido Mendoza, Francis Berdugo and inasmuch as the principal case of People vs. Oscar
others guilty of the crime of murder and sentenced Castelo, et al., G.R. No. L-10794, is pending appeal and
them to death. They all appealed the sentence although consideration before us, no court, much less a
without said appeal, in view of the imposition of the prosecuting attorney like respondent Salva, had any
extreme penalty, the case would have to be reviewed right or authority to conduct a preliminary investigation
automatically by this Court. Oscar Castelo sought a new or reinvestigation of the case for that would be
trial which was granted and upon retrial, he was again obstructing the administration of justice and interferring
found guilty and his former conviction of sentence was with the consideration on appeal of the main case
affirmed and reiterated by the same trial court. wherein appellants had been found guilty and convicted
It seems that pending appeal, the late President and sentenced; neither had respondent authority to cite
Magsaysay ordered a reinvestigation of the case. The him to appear and testify at said investigation.
purpose of said reinvestigation does not appear in the Respondent Salva, however, contends that if he
record. Anyway, intelligence agents of the Philippine subpoenaed petitioner Cruz at all, it was because of the
Constabulary and investigators of Malacañang latter's oral and personal request to allow him to appear
conducted the investigation for the Chief Executive, at the investigation with his witnesses for his own
questioned a number of people and obtained what protection, possibly, to controvert and rebut any
would appear to be confession, pointing to persons, evidence therein presented against him. Salva claims
other than those convicted and sentenced by the trial that were it not for this request and if, on the contrary,
court, as the real killers of Manuel Monroy. Timoteo Cruz had expressed any objection to being cited
Counsel for Oscar Castelo and his co-defendants wrote to appear in the investigation he (Salva) would never
to respondent Fiscal Salva to conduct a reinvestigation have subpoenaed him.
of the case presumably on the basis of the affidavits and Although petitioner Cruz now stoutly denies having
confessions obtained by those who had investigated the made such request that he be allowed to appear at the
case at the instance of Malacañang. Fiscal Salva investigation, we are inclined to agree with Fiscal Salva
conferred with the Solicitor General as to what steps he that such a request had been made. Inasmuch as he,
should take. A conference was held with the Secretary of Timoteo Cruz, was deeply implicated in the killing of
Justice who decided to have the results of the Manuel Monroy by the affidavits and confessions of
investigation by the Philippine Constabulary and several persons who were being investigated by Salva
Malacañang investigators made available to counsel for and his committee, it was but natural that petitioner
the appellants. should have been interested, even desirous of being
Taking advantage of this opportunity, counsel for the present at that investigation so that he could face and
appellants filed a motion for new trial with this Tribunal cross examine said witnesses and affiants when they
supporting the same with the so-called affidavits and testified in connection with their affidavits or
confessions of some of those persons investigated, such confessions, either repudiating, modifying or ratifying
as the confessions of Sergio Eduardo y de Guzman, the same. Moreover, in the communication, addressed
Oscar Caymo, Pablo Canlas, and written statements of to respondent Salva asking that the investigation,
several others. By resolution of this Tribunal, action on scheduled for September 21, 1957, be postponed
said motion for new trial was deferred until the case was because his attorney would be unable to attend,
studied and determined on the merits. In the meantime, Timoteo Cruz expressed no opposition to the subpoena,
the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, head sent to the not even a hint that he was objecting to his being cited
Office of Fiscal Salva copies of the same affidavits and to appear at the investigation.
confessions and written statements, of which the motion As to the right of respondent Salva to conduct the
for new trial was based, and respondent Salva preliminary investigation which he and his committee
proceeded to conduct a reinvestigation designating for began ordinarily, when a criminal case in which a fiscal
said purposes a committee of three composed of himself intervened though nominally, for according to
as chairman and Assistant City Attorneys Herminio A. respondent, two government attorneys had been
Avendañio and Ernesto A. Bernabe. designed by the Secretary of Justice to handle the
In connection with said preliminary investigation being prosecution in the trial of the case in the court below, is
conducted by the committee, petitioner Timoteo Cruz tried and decided and it is appealed to a higher court
was subpoenaed by respondent to appear at his office such as this Tribunal, the functions and actuations of
on September 21, 1957, to testify "upon oath before me said fiscal have terminated; usually, the appeal is
in a certain criminal investigation to be conducted at the handled for the government by the Office of the Solicitor
time and place by this office against you and Sergio General. Consequently, there would be no reason or
Eduardo, et al., for murder." On September 19, 1957, occasion for said fiscal to conduct a reinvestigation to
petitioner Timoteo Cruz wrote to respondent Salva determine criminal responsibility for the crime involved
asking for the transfer of the preliminary investigation in the appeal.
from September 21, due to the fact that this counsel, However, in the present case, respondent has, in our
Atty. Crispin Baizas, would attend a hearing on that opinion, established a justification for his reinvestigation
same day in Naga City. Acting upon said request for because according to him, in the original criminal case
postponement, Fiscal Salva set the preliminary against Castelo, et al., one of the defendants named
investigation on September 24. On that day, Atty. Baizas Salvador Realista y de Guzman was not included for the
appeared for petitioner Cruz, questioned the jurisdiction reason that he was arrested and was placed within the
of the committee, particularly respondent Salva, to jurisdiction of the trial court only after the trial against
conduct the preliminary investigation in view of the fact the other accused had commenced, even after the
that the same case involving the killing of Manuel prosecution had rested its case and the defense had
Monroy was pending appeal in this Court, and on the begun to present its evidence. Naturally, Realista
same day filed the present petition for certiorari and remained to stand trial. The trial court, according to
prohibition. This Tribunal gave due course to the petition respondent, at the instance of Realista, had scheduled
for certiorari and prohibition and upon the filing of a the hearing at an early date, that is in August, 1957.
cash bond of P200.00 issued a writ of preliminary Respondent claims that before he would go to trial in the
injunction thereby stopping the preliminary investigation prosecution of Realista he had to chart his course and
being conducted by respondent Salva. plan of action, whether to present the same evidence,
The connection, if any, that petitioner Cruz had with the oral and documentary, presented in the original case
preliminary investigation being conducted by and trial, or, in view of the new evidence consisting of
respondent Salva and his committee was that affidavits the affidavits and confessions sent to him by the
67

Philippine Constabulary, he should first assess and of, if not the encouragement by the respondent, news
determine the value of said evidence by conducting an photographers and newsmen had a filed day. Not only
investigation and that should he be convinced that the this, but in the course of the investigation, as shown by
persons criminally responsible for the killing of Manuel the transcript of the stenographic notes taken during
Monroy were other than those already tried and said investigation, on two occasions, the first, after
convicted, like Oscar Castelo and his co-accused and co- Oscar Caymo had concluded his testimony respondent
appellants, including Salvador Realista, then he might Salva, addressing the newspapermen said, "Gentlemen
act accordingly and even recommend the dismissal of of the press, if you want to ask questions I am willing to
the case against Realista. let you do so and the question asked will be reproduced
In this, we are inclined to agree with respondent Salva. as my own"; and the second, after Jose Maratella y de
For, as contended by him and as suggested by Guzman had finished testifying and respondent Salva,
authorities, the duty and role of prosecuting attorney is addressing the newsmen, again said, "Gentlemen of the
not only to prosecute and secure the conviction of the press is free to ask questions as ours." Why respondent
guilty but also to protect the innocent. was willing to abdicate and renounce his right and
We cannot overemphasize the necessity of close prerogative to make and address the questions to the
scrutiny and investigation of the prosecuting witnesses under investigation, in favor of the members
officers of all cases handled by them, but whilst of the press, is difficult for us to understand, unless he,
this court is averse to any form of vacillation by respondent, wanted to curry favor with the press and
such officers in the prosecution of public publicize his investigation as much as possible.
offenses, it is unquestionable that they may, in Fortunately, the gentlemen of the press to whom he
appropriate cases, in order to do justice and accorded such unusual privilege and favor appeared to
avoid injustice, reinvestigate cases in which they have wisely and prudently declined the offer and did not
have already filed the corresponding ask questions, this according to the transcript now
informations. In the language of Justice before us.
Sutherland of the Supreme Court of the United But, the newspapers certainly played up and gave wide
States, the prosecuting officer "is the publicity to what took place during the investigation,
representative not of an ordinary party to a and this involved headlines and extensive recitals,
controversy, but of a sovereignty whose narrations of and comments on the testimonies given by
obligation to govern impartially is as compelling the witnesses as well as vivid descriptions of the
as its obligation to govern at all; and whose incidents that took place during the investigation. It
interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is seemed as though the criminal responsibility for the
not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall killing of Manuel Monroy which had already been tried
be done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very and finally determined by the lower court and which was
definite sense the servant of the law, the under appeal and advisement by this Tribunal, was
twofold aim of which is that guilt shall not being retried and redetermined in the press, and all with
escape nor innocent sufer. He may prosecute the apparent place and complaisance of respondent.
with earnestness and vigor — indeed, he should Frankly, the members of this Court were greatly
do so. But, while he may strike had blows, he is disturbed and annoyed by such publicity and
not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his sensationalism, all of which may properly be laid at the
duty to refrain from improper methods door of respondent Salva. In this, he committed what
calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it was regard a grievous error and poor judgment for
is to use every legitimate means to bring about which we fail to find any excuse or satisfactory
a just one. (69 United States law Review, June, explanation. His actuations in this regard went well
1935, No. 6, p. 309, cited in the case of beyond the bounds of prudence, discretion and good
Suarez vs. Platon, 69 Phil., 556) taste. It is bad enough to have such undue publicity
With respect to the right of respondent Salva to cite when a criminal case is being investigated by the
petitioner to appear and testify before him at the authorities, even when it being tried in court; but when
scheduled preliminary investigation, under the law, said publicity and sensationalism is allowed, even
petitioner had a right to be present at that investigation encouraged, when the case is on appeal and is pending
since as was already stated, he was more or less deeply consideration by this Tribunal, the whole thing becomes
involved and implicated in the killing of Monroy inexcusable, even abhorrent, and this Court, in the
according to the affiants whose confessions, affidavits interest of justice, is constrained and called upon to put
and testimonies respondent Salva was considering or an end to it and a deterrent against its repetition by
was to consider at said preliminary investigation. But he meting an appropriate disciplinary measure, even a
need not be present at said investigation because his penalty to the one liable.
presence there implies, and was more of a right rather Some of the members of the Court who appeared to feel
than a duty or legal obligation. Consequently, even if, as more strongly than the others favored the imposition of
claimed by respondent Salva, petitioner expressed the a more or less severe penal sanction. After mature
desire to be given an opportunity to be present at the deliberation, we have finally agreed that a public
said investigation, if he latter changed his mind and censure would, for the present, be sufficient.
renounced his right, and even strenuously objected to In conclusion, we find and hold that respondent Salva
being made to appear at said investigation, he could not was warranted in holding the preliminary investigation
be compelled to do so. involved in this case, insofar as Salvador Realista is
Now we come to the manner in which said investigation concerned, for which reason the writ of preliminary
was conducted by the respondent. If, as contended by injunction issued stopping said preliminary investigation,
him, the purpose of said investigation was only to is dissolved; that in view of petitioner's objection to
acquaint himself with and evaluate the evidence appear and testify at the said investigation, respondent
involved in the affidavits and confessions of Sergio may not compel him to attend said investigation, for
Eduardo, Cosme Camo and others by questioning them, which reason, the subpoena issued by respondent
then he, respondent, could well have conducted the against petitioner is hereby set aside.
investigation in his office, quietly, unobtrusively and In view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari and
without much fanfare, much less publicity. prohibition is granted in part and denied in part.
However, according to the petitioner and not denied by Considering the conclusion arrived at by us, respondent
the respondent, the investigation was conducted not in Francisco G. H. Salva is hereby publicly reprehended and
respondent's office but in the session hall of the censured for the uncalled for and wide publicity and
Municipal Court of Pasay City evidently, to sensationalism that he had given to and allowed in
accommodate the big crowd that wanted to witness the connection with his investigation, which we consider and
proceeding, including members of the press. A number find to be contempt of court; and, furthermore, he is
of microphones were installed. Reporters were warned that a repetition of the same would meet with a
everywhere and photographers were busy taking more severe disciplinary action and penalty. No costs.
pictures. In other words, apparently with the permission
68

A.C. No, 6854 April 25, 2007 Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and Section 4 (a) and
[Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1380] (c)8 of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and
JUAN DULALIA, JR., Complainant, Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees).9
vs. By Report and Recommendation dated May 6,
ATTY. PABLO C. CRUZ, Respondent. 2005,10 the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, through
DECISION Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, recommended
CARPIO MORALES, J.: the dismissal of the complaint in light of the following
Atty. Pablo C. Cruz, Municipal Legal Officer of findings:
Meycauayan, Bulacan (respondent), is charged by Juan The complaint dealt with mainly on the issue that
Dulalia, Jr. (complainant) of violation Rules respondent allegedly opposes the application of his wife
1.01,1 6.02,2 and 7.033 of the Code of Professional for a building permit for the construction of their
Responsibility. commercial building. One of the reason[s] stated by the
The facts which gave rise to the filing of the present complainant was that his wife was not in favor of
complaint are as follows: Imelda’s relationship with respondent who is a married
Complainant’s wife Susan Soriano Dulalia filed an man. And the other reason is that respondent was not
application for building permit for the construction of a authorized to represent his neighbors in opposing the
warehouse. Despite compliance with all the construction of his building.
requirements for the purpose, she failed to secure a From the facts and evidence presented, we
permit, she attributing the same to the opposition of find respondent to have satisfactorily answered all the
respondents who wrote a September 13, 2004 letter to charges and accusations of complainant. We find no
Carlos J. Abacan, Municipal Engineer and concurrent clear, convincing and strong evidence to warrant the
Building Official of Meycauayan, reading as follows, disbarment or suspension of respondent. An attorney
quoted verbatim: enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the
xxxx charges preferred against him until the contrary is
This is in behalf of the undersigned himself and his proved. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant
family, Gregoria F. Soriano, Spouses David Perez and to overcome the presumption and establish his charges
Minerva Soriano-Perez and Family and Mr. and Mrs. by a clear preponderance of evidence. In the absence of
Jessie de Leon and family, his relatives and neighbors. the required evidence, the presumption of innocence on
It has been more than a month ago already that the the part of the lawyer continues and the complaint
construction of the building of the abovenamed person against him should be dismissed (In re De Guzman, 55
has started and that the undersigned and his family, SCRA 1239; Balduman vs. Luspo, 64 SCRA 74; Agbayani
and those other families mentioned above are vs. Agtang, 73 SCRA 283).
respective owners of the residential houses adjoining x x x x.11 (Underscoring supplied)
that of the high-rise building under construction of the By Resolution of June 25, 2005, 12 the Board of Governors
said Mrs. Soriano-Dulalia. There is no need to mention of the IBP adopted and approved the Report and
the unbearable nuisances that it creates and its adverse Recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-Maala.
effects to the undersigned and his above referred to Hence, the present Petition for Review 13 filed by
clients particularly the imminent danger and damage to complainant.
their properties, health and safety. Complainant maintains that respondent violated Rule
It was represented that the intended construction of the 1.01 when he contracted a second marriage with Imelda
building would only be a regular and with standard Soriano on September 17, 1989 while his marriage with
height building and not a high rise one but an inspection Carolina Agaton, which was solemnized on December
of the same would show otherwise. Note that its 17, 1967, is still subsisting.
accessory foundation already occupies portion of the Complainant further maintains that respondent used his
vacant airspace of the undersigned’s residential house influence as the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan
in particular, which readily poses danger to their to oppose his wife’s application for building permit, in
residential house and life. violation of Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional
To avert the occurrence of the above danger and Responsibility.
damage to property, loss of life and for the protection of And for engaging in the practice of law while serving as
the safety of all the people concerned, they are the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, complainant
immediately requesting for your appropriate action on maintains that respondent violated Rule 7.03.
the matter please at your earliest opportune time. To his Comment,14 respondent attached the July 29,
Being your co-municipal official in the Municipal 200515 Joint Resolution of the Office of the Deputy
Government of Meycauayan who is the Chief Legal Ombudsman for Luzon dismissing complainant’s
Counsel of its Legal Department, and by virtue of Sub complaint for violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019 and
par. (4), Paragraph (b), Section 481 of the Local Section 4 (a) and (c) of RA 6713, the pertinent portion of
Government Code of 1991, he is inquiring if there was which joint resolution reads:
already full compliance on the part of the owner of the x x x A perusal of the questioned letter dated
Building under construction with September 13, 2004 of herein respondent Atty. Pablo
the requirements provided for in Sections 301, 302 and Cruz addressed to the Building official appears to be not
308 of the National Building Code and on the part of an opposition for the issuance of complainant’s building
your good office, your compliance with the provisions of permit, but rather to redress a wrong and an inquiry as
Sections 303 and 304 of the same foregoing cited to whether compliance with the requirements for the
Building Code. construction of an edifice has been met. In fact, the
Please be reminded of the adverse and unfavorable Office of the Building Official after conducting an
legal effect of the non-compliance with said Sections investigation found out that there was [a] violation of
301, 302, 303 and 304 of the National Building Code by the Building Code for constructing without a building
all the parties concerned. (Which are not confined only permit committed by herein complainant’s wife Susan
to penalties provided in Sections 211 and 212 thereof.) Dulalia. Hence, a Work Stoppage Order was issued.
x x x x4 (Emphasis and underscoring partly in the Records disclose fu[r]ther [that] it was only after the
original, partly supplied) said violation had been committed that Susan Dulalia
By complainant’s claim, respondent opposed the applied for a building permit. As correctly pointed out by
application for building permit because of a personal respondent, the same is being processed pending
grudge against his wife Susan who objected to approval by the Building Official and not of the Municipal
respondent’s marrying her first cousin Imelda Soriano, Zoning Administrator as alleged by complainant. Anent
respondent’s marriage with Carolina Agaton being still the allegation that respondent was engaged in the
subsisting.5 private practice of his law profession despite being
To the complaint, complainant attached a copy of his employed in the government as Municipal Legal Officer
Complaint Affidavit6 he filed against respondent before of Meycauayan, Bulacan, the undersigned has taken into
the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of Section 3 consideration the explanation and clarification made by
(e)7 of Republic Act No. 3019, as amended (The Anti- the respondent to be justifiable and meritorious. Aside
69

from the bare allegations of herein complainant, there is e. After the annulment of his second marriage,
no sufficient evidence to substantiate the complaints they have parted ways when the mother and
against the respondent.16 (Underscoring supplied) child went to Australia;
After a review of the record of the case, this Court finds f. Since then up to now, respondent remained
the dismissal of the charges of violating Rules 6.02 and celibate.27
7.03 in order. In respondent’s case, he being out of the country since
Indeed, complaint failed to prove that respondent used 1986, he can be given the benefit of the doubt on his
his position as Municipal Legal Officer to advance his claim that Article 83 of the Civil Code was the applicable
own personal interest against complainant and his wife. provision when he contracted the second marriage
As for respondent’s September 13, 2004 letter, there is abroad. From 1985 when allegedly his first wife
nothing to show that he opposed the application for abandoned him, an allegation which was not refuted,
building permit. He just inquired whether complainant’s until his marriage in 1989 with Imelda Soriano, there is
wife fully complied with the requirements provided for no showing that he was romantically involved with any
by the National Building Code, on top of expressing his woman. And, it is undisputed that his first wife has
concerns about "the danger and damages to their remained an absentee even during the pendency of this
properties, health and safety" occasioned by the case.
construction of the building. As noted above, respondent did not deny he contracted
Besides, as reflected above, the application for building marriage with Imelda Soriano. The community in which
permit was filed on September 28, 2004, 17 whereas the they have been living in fact elected him and served as
questioned letter of respondent was priorly written and President of the IBP-Bulacan Chapter from 1997-1999
received on September 13, 2004 by the Municipal and has been handling free legal aid cases.
Engineer/ Building Official, who on the same day, Respondent’s misimpression that it was the Civil Code
ordered an inspection and issued a Cease and Desist provisions which applied at the time he contracted his
Order/Notice stating that "[f]ailure to comply with th[e] second marriage and the seemingly unmindful attitude
notice shall cause this office to instate proper legal of his residential community towards his second
action against you."18 marriage notwithstanding, respondent may not go
Furthermore, as the Certification dated April 4, scotfree.
200519 from the Office of the Municipal Engineer As early as 1957, this Court has frowned on the act of
showed, complainant’s wife eventually withdrew the contracting a second marriage while the first marriage
application as she had not yet secured clearances from was still in place as being contrary to honesty, justice,
the Municipal Zoning Administrator and from the decency and morality.28
barangay where the building was to be constructed. In another vein, respondent violated Canon 5 of the
Respecting complainant’s charge that respondent Code of Professional Responsibility which provides:
engaged in an unauthorized private practice of law while CANON 5 – A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal
he was the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, a developments, participate in continuing legal education
position coterminous to that of the appointing authority, programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in
suffice it to state that respondent proffered proof that law schools as well as in the practical training of law
his private practice is not prohibited.20 students and assist in disseminating information
It is, however, with respect to respondent’s admitted regarding the law and jurisprudence.
contracting of a second marriage while his first marriage Respondent’s claim that he was not aware that the
is still subsisting that this Court finds respondent liable, Family Code already took effect on August 3, 1988 as he
for violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional was in the United States from 1986 and stayed there
Responsibility. until he came back to the Philippines together with his
Respondent married Imelda Soriano on September 17, second wife on October 9, 1990 does not lie, as
1989 at the Clark County, Nevada, USA, 21 when the "ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance
Family Code of the Philippines had already taken therewith."
effect.22 He invokes good faith, however, he claiming to Apropos is this Court’s pronouncement in Santiago v.
have had the impression that the applicable provision at Rafanan:29
the time was Article 83 of the Civil Code. 23 For while It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers
Article 256 of the Family Code provides that the Code is to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
shall have retroactive application, there is a qualification the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in
thereunder that it should not prejudice or impair vested the forefront in the observance and maintenance of the
or acquired rights in accordance with the Civil Code or rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation
other laws. to be well-informed of the existing laws and to
Immoral conduct which is proscribed under Rule 1.01 of keep abreast with legal developments, recent
the Code of Professional Responsibility, as opposed to enactments and jurisprudence. It is imperative that
grossly immoral conduct, connotes "conduct that shows they be conversant with basic legal principles. Unless
indifference to the moral norms of society and the they faithfully comply with such duty, they may
opinion of good and respectable members of the not be able to discharge competently and
community."24 Gross immoral conduct on the other hand diligently their obligations as members of the bar.
must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal Worse, they may become susceptible to
act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high committing mistakes.30 (Emphasis and underscoring
degree.25 supplied)
In St. Louis University Laboratory High School v. De la WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Pablo C. Cruz is guilty of
Cruz,26 this Court declared that the therein respondent’s violating Rule 1.01 and Canon 5 of the Code of
act of contracting a second marriage while the first Professional Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the
marriage was still subsisting constituted immoral practice of law for one year. He is WARNED that a similar
conduct, for which he was suspended for two years after infraction will be dealt with more severely.
the mitigating following circumstances were considered: Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the
a. After his first failed marriage and prior to his Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and
second marriage or for a period of almost seven all courts throughout the country.
(7) years, he has not been romantically involved SO ORDERED.
with any woman; G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005
b. His second marriage was a show of his noble PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD
intentions and total love for his wife, whom he GOVERNMENT (PCGG), Petitioners,
described to be very intelligent person; vs.
c. He never absconded from his obligations to SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division), LUCIO C. TAN,
support his wife and child; CARMEN KHAO TAN, FLORENCIO T. SANTOS,
d. He never disclaimed paternity over the child NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS, DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI
and husbandry (sic) with relation to his wife; NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG LIAN, ESTATE OF BENITO
TAN KEE HIONG (represented by TARCIANA C.
70

TAN), FLORENCIO N. SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. TAN, Licaros. The case was docketed as Civil Case No.
TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG POE KEE, MARIANO KHOO, 0005 of the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan.6 In
MANUEL KHOO, MIGUEL KHOO, JAIME KHOO, connection therewith, the PCGG issued several writs of
ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO RANOLA, WILLIAM T. sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by the
WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM, BENJAMIN T. ALBACITA, above-named persons by taking advantage of their
WILLY CO, ALLIED BANKING CORP., ALLIED close relationship and influence with former President
LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION, ASIA Marcos.
BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP., Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed
FOREMOST FARMS, INC., FORTUNE TOBACCO petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to
CORP., GRANDSPAN DEVELOPMENT CORP., HIMMEL nullify, among others, the writs of sequestration issued
INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND DEVELOPMENT by the PCGG.7 After the filing of the parties’ comments,
CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, INC., MANUFACTURING this Court referred the cases to the Sandiganbayan for
SERVICES AND TRADE CORP., MARANAW HOTELS proper disposition. These cases were docketed as Civil
AND RESORT CORP., NORTHERN TOBACCO Case Nos. 0096-0099. In all these cases, respondents
REDRYING PLANT, PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., Tan, et al. were represented by their counsel, former
SHAREHOLDINGS, INC., SIPALAY TRADING CORP., Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then
VIRGO HOLDINGS & DEVELOPMENT CORP., and resumed his private practice of law.
ATTY. ESTELITO P. MENDOZA, Respondents. On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to
DECISION disqualify respondent Mendoza as counsel for
PUNO, J.: respondents Tan, et al. with the Second Division of
This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 00058 and 0096-
significance for it concerns on one hand, the efforts of 0099.9 The motions alleged that respondent Mendoza, as
the Bar to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government then Solicitor General10 and counsel to Central
service and on the other, its effect on the right of Bank, "actively intervened" in the liquidation of
government to recruit competent counsel to defend its GENBANK, which was subsequently acquired by
interests. respondents Tan, et al. and became Allied Banking
In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK) Corporation. Respondent Mendoza allegedly
encountered financial difficulties. GENBANK had "intervened" in the acquisition of GENBANK by
extended considerable financial support to Filcapital respondents Tan, et al. when, in his capacity as then
Development Corporation causing it to incur daily Solicitor General, he advised the Central Bank’s officials
overdrawings on its current account with the Central on the procedureto bring about GENBANK’s liquidation
Bank.1 It was later found by the Central Bank that and appeared as counsel for the Central Bank in
GENBANK had approved various loans to directors, connection with its petition for assistance in the
officers, stockholders and related interests totaling liquidation of GENBANK which he filed with the Court of
₱172.3 million, of which 59% was classified as doubtful First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Manila and
and ₱0.505 million as uncollectible. 2 As a bailout, the was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 107812. The
Central Bank extended emergency loans to motions to disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the Code
GENBANK which reached a total of ₱310 of Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits
million.3 Despite the mega loans, GENBANK failed to former government lawyers from accepting
recover from its financial woes. On March 25, 1977, "engagement or employment in connection with any
the Central Bank issued a resolution declaring matter in which he had intervened while in said service."
GENBANK insolvent and unable to resume business On April 22, 1991 the Second Division of
with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general the Sandiganbayan issued a
public, and ordering its liquidation.4 A public resolution denying PCGG’s motion to disqualify
bidding of GENBANK’s assets was held from March respondent Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005. 11 It found
26 to 28, 1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group submitted that the PCGG failed to prove the existence of an
the winning bid.5 Subsequently, former Solicitor inconsistency between respondent Mendoza’s former
General Estelito P. Mendoza filed a petitionwith the function as Solicitor General and his present
then Court of First Instance praying for the employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan group. It noted
assistance and supervision of the court in GENBANK’s that respondent Mendoza did not take a position
liquidation as mandated by Section 29 of Republic Act adverse to that taken on behalf of the Central Bank
No. 265. during his term as Solicitor General. 12 It further ruled
In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the that respondent Mendoza’s appearance as counsel for
Marcos government. One of the first acts of President respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year
Corazon C. Aquino was to establish the Presidential prohibited period under Section 7(b) of Republic Act No.
Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover the 6713 since he ceased to be Solicitor General in the year
alleged ill-gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand 1986. The said section prohibits a former public official
Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant to this or employee from practicing his profession in connection
mandate, the PCGG, on July 17, 1987, filed with with any matter before the office he used to be with
the Sandiganbayan a complaint for "reversion, within one year from his resignation, retirement or
reconveyance, restitution, accounting and separation from public office.13 The PCGG did not seek
damages" against respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao any reconsideration of the ruling.14
Tan, Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos, Domingo It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099
Chua, Tan Hui Nee, Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of were transferred from the Sandiganbayan’s Second
Benito Tan Kee Hiong, Florencio N. Santos, Jr., Harry C. Division to the Fifth Division. 15 In its resolution dated July
Tan, Tan Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee, Mariano Khoo, 11, 2001, the Fifth Division of
Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth Khoo, the Sandiganbayan denied the other PCGG’s motion to
Celso Ranola, William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim, Benjamin disqualify respondent Mendoza. 16 It adopted the
T. Albacita, Willy Co, Allied Banking Corporation (Allied resolution of its Second Division dated April 22, 1991,
Bank), Allied Leasing and Finance Corporation, Asia and observed that the arguments were the same in
Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp., Foremost Farms, substance as the motion to disqualify filed in Civil Case
Inc., Fortune Tobacco Corporation, Grandspan No. 0005. The PCGG sought reconsideration of the ruling
Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris Holdings and but its motion was denied in its resolution dated
Development Corp., Jewel Holdings, Inc., Manufacturing December 5, 2001.17
Services and Trade Corp., Maranaw Hotels and Resort Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing
Corp., Northern Tobacco Redrying Plant, Progressive the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5,
Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc., Sipalay Trading Corp., 2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan via
Virgo Holdings & Development Corp., (collectively a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of
referred to herein as respondents Tan, et al.), then the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. 18 The PCGG alleged
President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Panfilo that the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of
O. Domingo, Cesar Zalamea, Don Ferry and Gregorio discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
71

issuing the assailed resolutions contending that: 1) Rule Procedural law continued to directly, or indirectly, limit
6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibits an attorney's litigation behavior. The developing law of
a former government lawyer from accepting agency recognized basic duties of competence, loyalty
employment in connection with any matter in which he and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law
intervened; 2) the prohibition in the Rule is not time- started to recognize with less equivocation the attorney-
bound; 3) that Central Bank could not waive the client privilege and its underlying theory of
objection to respondent Mendoza’s appearance on confidentiality. Thus, all of the core duties, with the likely
behalf of the PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil Case exception of service to the poor, had some basis in
No. 0005 was interlocutory, thus res judicata does not formal law. Yet, as in the colonial and early post-
apply.19 revolutionary periods, these standards were isolated and
The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive did not provide a comprehensive statement of a
issues of law. In view, however, of the import and impact lawyer's duties. The reformers, by contrast, were more
of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility to comprehensive in their discussion of a lawyer's duties,
the legal profession and the government, we shall cut and they actually ushered a new era in American legal
our way and forthwith resolve the substantive issue. ethics.21
I Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new
Substantive Issue form of ethical standards began to guide lawyers in their
The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of practice — the bar association code of legal ethics. The
Professional Responsibility applies to respondent bar codes were detailed ethical standards formulated by
Mendoza. Again, the prohibition states: "A lawyer shall lawyers for lawyers. They combined the two primary
not, after leaving government service, accept sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century.
engagement or employment in connection with Like the academic discourses, the bar association codes
any matter in which he had intervened while in the gave detail to the statutory statements of duty and the
said service." oaths of office. Unlike the academic lectures, however,
I.A. The history of Rule 6.03 the bar association codes retained some of the official
A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we imprimatur of the statutes and oaths. Over time, the bar
trace the historical lineage of Rule 6.03 of the Code of association codes became extremely popular that states
Professional Responsibility. adopted them as binding rules of law. Critical to the
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, development of the new codes was the re-emergence of
ethical standards for lawyers were pervasive bar associations themselves. Local bar associations
in England and other parts of Europe. The early formed sporadically during the colonial period, but they
statements of standards did not resemble modern codes disbanded by the early nineteenth century. In the late
of conduct. They were not detailed or collected in one nineteenth century, bar associations began to form
source but surprisingly were comprehensive for their again, picking up where their colonial predecessors had
time. The principal thrust of the standards was directed left off. Many of the new bar associations, most notably
towards the litigation conduct of lawyers. It underscored the Alabama State Bar Association and the American
the central duty of truth and fairness in litigation as Bar Association, assumed on the task of drafting
superior to any obligation to the client. The formulations substantive standards of conduct for their members.22
of the litigation duties were at times intricate, including In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a
specific pleading standards, an obligation to inform the comprehensive bar association code of ethics. The 1887
court of falsehoods and a duty to explore settlement Alabama Code of Ethics was the model for several
alternatives. Most of the lawyer's other basic duties -- states’ codes, and it was the foundation for the
competency, diligence, loyalty, confidentiality, American Bar Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of
reasonable fees and service to the poor -- originated in Ethics.23
the litigation context, but ultimately had broader In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and
application to all aspects of a lawyer's practice. duties of a lawyer were insufficient to attain the full
The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early measure of public respect to which the legal profession
post-revolutionary America did not differ markedly was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar Association
from those in England. The colonies and early states adopted as its own, Canons 1 to 32 of the ABA Canons
used oaths, statutes, judicial oversight, and procedural of Professional Ethics.24
rules to govern attorney behavior. The difference from As early as 1924, some ABA members have
England was in the pervasiveness and continuity of such questioned the form and function of the canons. Among
regulation. The standards set in England varied over their concerns was the "revolving door" or "the
time, but the variation in early America was far greater. process by which lawyers and others temporarily enter
The American regulation fluctuated within a single government service from private life and then leave it
colony and differed from colony to colony. Many for large fees in private practice, where they can exploit
regulations had the effect of setting some standards of information, contacts, and influence garnered in
conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps government service."25 These concerns were classified
in the substantive standards. Only three of the as adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent-
traditional core duties can be fairly characterized as interest conflicts." "Adverse-interest
pervasive in the formal, positive law of the colonial and conflicts" exist where the matter in which the former
post-revolutionary period: the duties of litigation government lawyer represents a client in private
fairness, competency and reasonable fees.20 practice is substantially related to a matter that the
The nineteenth century has been termed the "dark lawyer dealt with while employed by the government
ages" of legal ethics in the United States. By mid- and the interests of the current and former are
century, American legal reformers were filling the void in adverse.26 On the other hand, "congruent-interest
two ways. First, David Dudley Field, the drafter of the representation conflicts" are unique to government
highly influential New York "Field Code," introduced a lawyers and apply primarily to former government
new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. lawyers.27 For several years, the ABA attempted to
This concise statement of eight statutory duties became correct and update the canons through new canons,
law in several states in the second half of the nineteenth individual amendments and interpretative opinions. In
century. At the same time, legal educators, such as 1928, the ABA amended one canon and added thirteen
David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many other new canons.28 To deal with problems peculiar to former
lawyers were working to flesh out the broad outline of a government lawyers, Canon 36 was minted which
lawyer's duties. These reformers wrote about legal disqualified them both for "adverse-interest conflicts"
ethics in unprecedented detail and thus brought a new and "congruent-interest representation conflicts."29 The
level of understanding to a lawyer's duties. A number of rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that
mid-nineteenth century laws and statutes, other than the government lawyer’s largely discretionary actions
the Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms would be influenced by the temptation to take action on
of colonial regulations – e.g., the "do no falsehood" oath behalf of the government client that later could be to
and the deceit prohibitions -- persisted in some states.
72

the advantage of parties who might later become Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
private practice clients.30 Canon 36 provides, viz.: retained the general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36
36. Retirement from judicial position or public of the Canons of Professional Ethics but replaced the
employment expansive phrase "investigated and passed
A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate upon" with the word "intervened." It is, therefore,
in any matter upon the merits of which he has properly applicable to both "adverse-interest
previously acted in a judicial capacity. conflicts" and "congruent-interest conflicts."
A lawyer, having once held public office or having The case at bar does not involve the "adverse
been in the public employ should not, after his interest" aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza,
retirement, accept employment in connection it is conceded, has no adverse interest problem when he
with any matter he has investigated or passed acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and
upon while in such office or employ. later as counsel of respondents Tan, et al. in Civil Case
Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before
many of the canons and added Canons 46 and 47 in the Sandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the
1933 and 1937, respectively. 31 issue of whether there exists a "congruent-interest
In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again conflict"sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza
adopted as its own Canons 33 to 47 of the ABA Canons from representing respondents Tan, et al.
of Professional Ethics.32 I.B. The "congruent interest" aspect of Rule 6.03
By the middle of the twentieth century, there was The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first,
growing consensus that the ABA Canons needed more the meaning of "matter" referred to in the rule and,
meaningful revision. In 1964, the ABA President-elect second, the metes and bounds of
Lewis Powell asked for the creation of a committee to the "intervention" made by the former government
study the "adequacy and effectiveness" of the ABA lawyer on the "matter." The American Bar Association in
Canons. The committee recommended that the canons its Formal Opinion 342, defined "matter" as any
needed substantial revision, in part because the ABA discrete, isolatable act as well as identifiable transaction
Canons failed to distinguish between "the inspirational or conduct involving a particular situation and specific
and the proscriptive" and were thus unsuccessful in party, and not merely an act of drafting, enforcing or
enforcement. The legal profession in the United States interpreting government or agency procedures,
likewise observed that Canon 36 of the ABA Canons of regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law.
Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the "matter" which
disqualification of lawyers for negligible participation in was the subject of intervention by respondent Mendoza
matters during their employment with the government. while he was the Solicitor General. The PCGG relates the
The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to following acts of respondent Mendoza as constituting
replace it in the 1969 ABA Model Code of the "matter" where he intervened as a Solicitor
Professional Responsibility.33 The basic ethical General, viz:40
principles in the Code of Professional Responsibility were The PCGG’s Case for Atty. Mendoza’s Disqualification
supplemented by Disciplinary Rules that defined The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the part
minimum rules of conduct to which the lawyer must of the Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) in issuing the
adhere.34 In the case of Canon 9, DR 9-101(b)35 became assailed Resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December
the applicable supplementary norm. The drafting 5, 2001 denying the motion to disqualify Atty. Mendoza
committee reformulated the canons into the Model Code as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. The PCGG insists
of Professional Responsibility, and, in August of 1969, that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively
the ABA House of Delegates approved the Model intervened in the closure of GENBANK by advising the
Code.36 Central Bank on how to proceed with the said bank’s
Despite these amendments, legal practitioners liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation
remained unsatisfied with the results and indefinite with the CFI of Manila.
standards set forth by DR 9-101(b) and the Model Code As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum
of Professional Responsibility as a whole. Thus, in dated March 29, 1977 prepared by certain key officials
August 1983, the ABA adopted new Model Rules of the Central Bank, namely, then Senior Deputy
of Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used Governor Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor Jaime
the "restatement format," where the conduct standards C. Laya, then Deputy Governor and General Counsel
were set-out in rules, with comments following each Gabriel C. Singson, then Special Assistant to the
rule. The new format was intended to give better Governor Carlota P. Valenzuela, then Asistant to the
guidance and clarity for enforcement "because the only Governor Arnulfo B. Aurellano and then Director of
enforceable standards were the black letter Rules." The Department of Commercial and Savings Bank Antonio T.
Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and Castro, Jr., where they averred that on March 28, 1977,
reduced the emphasis on narrative discussion, by they had a conference with the Solicitor General (Atty.
placing comments after the rules and limiting comment Mendoza), who advised them on how to proceed with
discussion to the content of the black letter rules. The the liquidation of GENBANK. The pertinent portion of the
Model Rules made a number of substantive said memorandum states:
improvements particularly with regard to conflicts of Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference
interests.37 In particular, the ABA did away with with the Solicitor General and he advised that the
Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of the following procedure should be taken:
concept of impropriety on the subjective views of 1. Management should submit a memorandum to the
anxious clients as well as the norm’s indefinite Monetary Board reporting that studies and evaluation
nature.38 had been made since the last examination of the bank
In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of as of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank
the Philippines (IBP) adopted a proposed Code of can not be reorganized or placed in a condition so that it
Professional Responsibility in 1980 which it may be permitted to resume business with safety to its
submitted to this Court for approval. The Code was depositors and creditors and the general public.
drafted to reflect the local customs, traditions, and 2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board,
practices of the bar and to conform with new it shall order the liquidation of the bank and indicate the
realities. On June 21, 1988, this Court promulgated manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan.
the Code of Professional Responsibility.39 Rule 6.03 3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal
of the Code of Professional Responsibility deals stockholders of Genbank of the foregoing decision to
particularly with former government lawyers, and liquidate the bank and the liquidation plan approved by
provides, viz.: the Monetary Board.
Rule 6.03 – A lawyer shall not, after leaving government 4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the
service, accept engagement or employment in Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which
connection with any matter in which he had been taken and praying the assistance of the Court
had intervened while in said service. in the liquidation of Genbank.
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The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March all that is necessary to preserve the assets of such
29, 1977 of the Monetary Board where it was shown that institution and to implement the liquidation plan
Atty. Mendoza was furnished copies of pertinent approved by the Monetary Board. The Monetary Board
documents relating to GENBANK in order to aid him in shall designate an official of the Central Bank, or a
filing with the court the petition for assistance in the person of recognized competence in banking or finance,
bank’s liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said as liquidator who shall take over the functions of the
minutes reads: receiver previously appointed by the Monetary Board
The Board decided as follows: under this Section. The liquidator shall, with all
... convenient speed, convert the assets of the banking
E. To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor institution or non-bank financial intermediary performing
General with a copy of the subject memorandum of the quasi-banking functions to money or sell, assign or
Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank otherwise dispose of the same to creditors and other
dated March 29, 1977, together with copies of: parties for the purpose of paying the debts of such
1. Memorandum of the Deputy Governor, Supervision institution and he may, in the name of the bank or non-
and Examination Sector, to the Monetary Board, dated bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking
March 25, 1977, containing a report on the current functions, institute such actions as may be necessary in
situation of Genbank; the appropriate court to collect and recover accounts
2. Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re: General and assets of such institution.
Bank and Trust Co., dated March 23, 1977; The provisions of any law to the contrary
3. Memorandum of the Director, Department of notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary Board
Commercial and Savings Bank, to the Monetary Board, under this Section and the second paragraph of Section
dated March 24, 1977, submitting, pursuant to Section 34 of this Act shall be final and executory, and can be
29 of R.A. No. 265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a set aside by the court only if there is convincing proof
repot on the state of insolvency of Genbank, together that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith.
with its attachments; and No restraining order or injunction shall be issued by the
4. Such other documents as may be necessary or court enjoining the Central Bank from implementing its
needed by the Solicitor General for his use in then CFI- actions under this Section and the second paragraph of
praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Section 34 of this Act, unless there is convincing proof
Genbank. that the action of the Monetary Board is plainly arbitrary
Beyond doubt, therefore, the "matter" or the act of and made in bad faith and the petitioner or plaintiff files
respondent Mendoza as Solicitor General involved in the with the clerk or judge of the court in which the action is
case at bar is "advising the Central Bank, on how to pending a bond executed in favor of the Central Bank, in
proceed with the said bank’s liquidation and even filing an amount to be fixed by the court. The restraining
the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila." In order or injunction shall be refused or, if granted, shall
fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of be dissolved upon filing by the Central Bank of a bond,
advising the Central Bank on the legal procedure to which shall be in the form of cash or Central Bank
liquidate GENBANK is included within the concept cashier(s) check, in an amount twice the amount of the
of "matter" under Rule 6.03. The procedure of bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned that it will
liquidation is given in black and white in Republic Act pay the damages which the petitioner or plaintiff may
No. 265, section 29, viz: suffer by the refusal or the dissolution of the injunction.
The provision reads in part: The provisions of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court
SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. – Whenever, insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with
upon examination by the head of the appropriate the provisions of this Section shall govern the issuance
supervising or examining department or his examiners and dissolution of the restraining order or injunction
or agents into the condition of any bank or non-bank contemplated in this Section.
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean
functions, it shall be disclosed that the condition of the the inability of a bank or non-bank financial intermediary
same is one of insolvency, or that its continuance in performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities
business would involve probable loss to its depositors or as they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of
creditors, it shall be the duty of the department head business. Provided, however, That this shall not include
concerned forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary the inability to pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank
Board of the facts, and the Board may, upon finding the or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-
statements of the department head to be true, forbid banking functions caused by extraordinary demands
the institution to do business in the Philippines and shall induced by financial panic commonly evidenced by a
designate an official of the Central Bank or a person of run on the bank or non-bank financial intermediary
recognized competence in banking or finance, as performing quasi-banking functions in the banking or
receiver to immediately take charge of its assets and financial community.
liabilities, as expeditiously as possible collect and gather The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A of
all the assets and administer the same for the benefit of this Act or the appointment of a receiver under this
its creditors, exercising all the powers necessary for Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary
these purposes including, but not limited to, bringing Board, the provision of any law, general or special, to
suits and foreclosing mortgages in the name of the bank the contrary notwithstanding. (As amended by PD Nos.
or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi- 72, 1007, 1771 & 1827, Jan. 16, 1981)
banking functions. We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza
... on the procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the
If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm "matter"contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of
within the said period that the bank or non-bank Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal Opinion No.
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking 342 is clear as daylight in stressing that the
functions is insolvent or cannot resume business with "drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or
safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public, agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing
it shall, if the public interest requires, order its abstract principles of law" are acts which do not
liquidation, indicate the manner of its liquidation and fall within the scope of the term "matter" and cannot
approve a liquidation plan. The Central Bank shall, by disqualify.
the Solicitor General, file a petition in the Court of First Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of
Instance reciting the proceedings which have been argument that the above act of respondent Mendoza
taken and praying the assistance of the court in the falls within the definition of matter per ABA Formal
liquidation of such institution. The court shall have Opinion No. 342. Be that as it may, the said act of
jurisdiction in the same proceedings to adjudicate respondent Mendoza which is the "matter" involved in
disputed claims against the bank or non-bank financial Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions and the "matter" involved in Civil Case No. 0096. Again, the
enforce individual liabilities of the stockholders and do plain facts speak for themselves. It is given that
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respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision significant and substantial. We disagree. For one, the
of the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also petition in the special proceedings is an initiatory
given that he did not participate in the sale of GENBANK pleading, hence, it has to be signed by respondent
to Allied Bank. The "matter" where he got himself Mendoza as the then sitting Solicitor General. For
involved was in informing Central Bank on another, the record is arid as to
the procedure provided by law to liquidate GENBANK the actual participation of respondent Mendoza in the
thru the courts and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. subsequent proceedings. Indeed, the case was in
Proc. No. 107812 in the then Court of First Instance. The slumberville for a long number of years. None of the
subject "matter" of Sp. Proc. No. 107812, parties pushed for its early termination. Moreover, we
therefore, is not the same nor is related to but is note that the petition filed merely seeks
different from the subject "matter" in Civil Case the assistance of the court in the liquidation of
No. 0096. Civil Case No. 0096 involves GENBANK. The principal role of the court in this type of
the sequestration of the stocks owned by proceedings is to assist the Central Bank in
respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank on the alleged determining claims of creditors against the GENBANK.
ground that they are ill-gotten. The case does not The role of the court is not strictly as a court of justice
involve the liquidation of GENBANK. Nor does it involve but as an agent to assist the Central Bank in
the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. Whether the shares determining the claims of creditors. In such a
of stock of the reorganized Allied Bank are ill-gotten proceeding, the participation of the Office of the Solicitor
is far removed from the issue of the dissolution and General is not that of the usual court litigator protecting
liquidation of GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated by the the interest of government.
Central Bank due, among others, to the alleged banking II
malpractices of its owners and officers. In other words, Balancing Policy Considerations
the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is not an issue To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional
in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the Responsibility represents a commendable effort on the
PCGG does not include the dissolution and liquidation of part of the IBP to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in the
banks. It goes without saying that Code 6.03 of the Code government service. As aforestressed, it is a take-off
of Professional Responsibility cannot apply to from similar efforts especially by the ABA which have
respondent Mendoza because his alleged not been without difficulties. To date, the legal
intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. profession in the United States is still fine tuning its DR
No. 107812 is an intervention on a matter 9-101(b) rule.
different from the matter involved in Civil Case In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our
No. 0096. Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court took
Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of account of various policy considerations to assure
the "intervention" contemplated by Rule 6.03. that its interpretation and application to the case at bar
"Intervene" means, viz.: will achieve its end without necessarily prejudicing other
1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not
feature or circumstance . . . 2: to occur, fall, or come in interpreted to cause a chilling effect on government
between points of time or events . . . 3: to come in or recruitment of able legal talent. At present, it is
between by way of hindrance or modification: already difficult for government to match compensation
INTERPOSE . . . 4: to occur or lie between two things offered by the private sector and it is unlikely that
(Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an government will be able to reverse that situation. The
intervening river . . .)41 observation is not inaccurate that the only card that the
On the other hand, "intervention" is defined as: government may play to recruit lawyers is have them
1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2: defer present income in return for the experience and
interference that may affect the interests of others.42 contacts that can later be exchanged for higher income
There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the in private practice.45 Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned that
word "intervene." Under the first interpretation, the sacrifice of entering government service would be
"intervene" includes participation in a proceeding even too great for most men to endure should ethical rules
if the intervention is irrelevant or has no effect or little prevent them from engaging in the practice of a
influence.43 Under the second interpretation, technical specialty which they devoted years in
"intervene" only includes an act of a person who has the acquiring and cause the firm with which they become
power to influence the subject proceedings. 44 We hold associated to be disqualified.46 Indeed, "to make
that this second meaning is more appropriate to give to government service more difficult to exit can only make
the word "intervention" under Rule 6.03 of the Code of it less appealing to enter."47
Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The evils In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye
sought to be remedied by the Rule do not exist where on its use as a litigation tactic to harass opposing
the government lawyer does an act which can be counsel as well as deprive his client of competent legal
considered as innocuous such as "x x x drafting, representation. The danger that the rule will be misused
enforcing or interpreting government or agency to bludgeon an opposing counsel is not a mere
procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of
principles of law." Columbia has noted "the tactical use of motions to
In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and disqualify counsel in order to delay proceedings, deprive
insignificant. Originally, Canon 36 provided that a the opposing party of counsel of its choice, and harass
former government lawyer "should not, after his and embarrass the opponent," and observed that the
retirement, accept employment in connection with any tactic was "so prevalent in large civil cases in recent
matter which he has investigated or passed years as to prompt frequent judicial and academic
upon while in such office or employ." As aforediscussed, commentary."48 Even the United States Supreme Court
the broad sweep of the phrase "which he has found no quarrel with the Court of Appeals’ description
investigated or passed upon" resulted in unjust of disqualification motions as "a dangerous game." 49 In
disqualification of former government lawyers. The 1969 the case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify
Code restricted its latitude, hence, in DR 9-101(b), the respondent Mendoza is difficult to divine. The
prohibition extended only to a matter in which the disqualification of respondent Mendoza has long been
lawyer, while in the government service, a dead issue. It was resuscitated after the lapse of
had "substantial responsibility." The 1983 Model many years and only after PCGG has lost many legal
Rules further constricted the reach of the rule. MR incidents in the hands of respondent Mendoza. For a
1.11(a) provides that "a lawyer shall not represent a fact, the recycled motion for disqualification in the case
private client in connection with a matter in which the at bar was filed more than four years after the filing
lawyer participated personally and substantially as of the petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction
a public officer or employee." with the Supreme Court which were subsequently
It is, however, alleged that the intervention of remanded to the Sandiganbayan and docketed as Civil
respondent Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is Case Nos. 0096-0099.50 At the very least, the
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circumstances under which the motion to disqualify in question that in lawyering for respondents Tan, et al.,
the case at bar were refiled put petitioner’s motive as respondent Mendoza is not working against the interest
highly suspect. of Central Bank. On the contrary, he is indirectly
Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was defending the validity of the action of Central Bank in
not unconcerned with the prejudice to the liquidating GENBANK and selling it later to Allied
client which will be caused by its misapplication. It Bank. Their interests coincide instead of colliding.
cannot be doubted that granting a disqualification It is for this reason that Central Bank offered no
motion causes the client to lose not only the law firm of objection to the lawyering of respondent Mendoza in
choice, but probably an individual lawyer in whom the Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondents Tan, et
client has confidence. 51 The client with a disqualified al. There is no switching of sides for no two sides
lawyer must start again often without the benefit of the are involved.
work done by the latter. 52 The effects of this prejudice to It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule
the right to choose an effective counsel cannot be 6.03 is intended to avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that
overstated for it can result in denial of due process. a government employee might be subject to a conflict of
The Court has to consider also the possible loyalties while still in government service. 61 The example
adverse effect of a truncated reading of the rule given by the proponents of this argument is that a
on the official independence of lawyers in the lawyer who plans to work for the company that he or
government service. According to Prof. Morgan: "An she is currently charged with prosecuting might be
individual who has the security of knowing he or she can tempted to prosecute less vigorously. 62 In the cautionary
find private employment upon leaving the government words of the Association of the Bar Committee in 1960:
is free to work vigorously, challenge official positions "The greatest public risks arising from post employment
when he or she believes them to be in error, and resist conduct may well occur during the period of
illegal demands by superiors. An employee who lacks employment through the dampening of aggressive
this assurance of private employment does not enjoy administration of government policies." 63 Prof. Morgan,
such freedom."53 He adds: "Any system that affects the however, considers this concern as "probably
right to take a new job affects the ability to quit the old excessive."64 He opines "x x x it is hard to imagine that a
job and any limit on the ability to quit inhibits official private firm would feel secure hiding someone who had
independence."54 The case at bar involves the just been disloyal to his or her last client – the
position of Solicitor General, the office once government. Interviews with lawyers consistently
occupied by respondent Mendoza. It cannot be overly confirm that law firms want the ‘best’ government
stressed that the position of Solicitor General lawyers – the ones who were hardest to beat – not the
should be endowed with a great degree of least qualified or least vigorous advocates." 65 But
independence. It is this independence that allows the again, this particular concern is a non factor in the
Solicitor General to recommend acquittal of the case at bar. There is no charge against respondent
innocent; it is this independence that gives him the right Mendoza that he advised Central Bank on how to
to refuse to defend officials who violate the trust of their liquidate GENBANK with an eye in later defending
office. Any undue dimunition of the independence of the respondents Tan, et al. of Allied Bank. Indeed, he
Solicitor General will have a corrosive effect on the rule continues defending both the interests of Central Bank
of law. and respondents Tan, et al. in the above cases.
No less significant a consideration is the Likewise, the Court is nudged to consider the need to
deprivation of the former government lawyer of curtail what is perceived as the "excessive influence
the freedom to exercise his profession. Given the of former officials" or their "clout."66 Prof. Morgan
current state of our law, the disqualification of a former again warns against extending this concern too far. He
government lawyer may extend to all members of his explains the rationale for his warning, viz: "Much of what
law firm.55 Former government lawyers stand in danger appears to be an employee’s influence may actually be
of becoming the lepers of the legal profession. the power or authority of his or her position, power that
It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be evaporates quickly upon departure from government x x
remedied by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional x."67 More, he contends that the concern can
Responsibility is the possible appearance of be demeaning to those sitting in government. To quote
impropriety and loss of public confidence in him further: "x x x The idea that, present officials make
government. But as well observed, the accuracy of significant decisions based on friendship rather than on
gauging public perceptions is a highly speculative the merit says more about the present officials than
exercise at best56 which can lead to untoward about their former co-worker friends. It implies a lack of
results.57 No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the will or talent, or both, in federal officials that does not
lessening of restrictions as to former government seem justified or intended, and it ignores the possibility
attorneys will have any detrimental effect on that free that the officials will tend to disfavor their friends in
flow of information between the government-client and order to avoid even the appearance of favoritism."68
its attorneys which the canons seek to III
protect.58 Notably, the appearance of impropriety The question of fairness
theory has been rejected in the 1983 ABA Model Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view,
Rules of Professional Conduct59 and some courts among others, that the congruent interest prong of Rule
have abandoned per sedisqualification based on Canons 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility should be
4 and 9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and subject to a prescriptive period. Mr. Justice Tinga opines
demand an evaluation of the interests of the defendant, that the rule cannot apply retroactively to respondent
government, the witnesses in the case, and the public. 60 Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are disquieted
It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule by the fact that (1) when respondent Mendoza was the
6.03 in all its strictness for it correctly disfavors lawyers Solicitor General, Rule 6.03 has not yet adopted by the
who "switch sides." It is claimed that "switching sides" IBP and approved by this Court, and (2) the bid to
carries the danger that former government employee disqualify respondent Mendoza was made after the
may compromise confidential official lapse of time whose length cannot, by any standard,
information in the process. But this concern does not qualify as reasonable. At bottom, the point they make
cast a shadow in the case at bar. As afore-discussed, the relates to the unfairness of the rule if applied without
act of respondent Mendoza in informing the Central any prescriptive period and retroactively, at that. Their
Bank on the procedure how to liquidate GENBANK is concern is legitimate and deserves to be initially
a different matter from the subject matter of Civil addressed by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of
Case No. 0005 which is about the sequestration of the the Rules of Court.
shares of respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the
Consequently, the danger that confidential official resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001
information might be divulged is nil, if not inexistent. To of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case
be sure, there are no inconsistent "sides" to be Nos. 0096-0099 is denied.
bothered about in the case at bar. For there is no No cost.
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SO ORDERED.