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Problem Area in Legal Ethics

Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)


Jimenez vs Francisco (2014) guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful conduct
when he admitted to having allowed his corporate
Facts: client, Clarion, to actively misrepresent to the SEC, the
significant matters regarding its corporate purpose and
Atty. Edgar Francisco was the legal counsel of Mark
subsequently, its corporate shareholdings. In the
Jimenez. What happened was Mark Jimenez filed a
documents submitted to the SEC, such as the deeds of
complaint for estafa against Caroline Jimenez
assignment and the GIS, Atty. Francisco, in his
(complainant) and several others. Jimenez alleged that
professional capacity, feigned the validity of these
he was the true and beneficial owner of the shares of
transfers of shares, making it appear that these were
stock in Clarion Realty and Development Corporation,
done for consideration when, in fact, the said
which was incorporated specifically for the purpose of
transactions were fictitious, albeit upon the alleged
purchasing a residential house located in Forbes Park,
orders of Jimenez. The Investigating Commissioner
Makati. In order to achieve its purpose of purchasing
was correct in pointing out that this ran counter to the
the Forbes property, Clarion simulated a loan from the
deeds of assignment which he executed as corporate
complainant in the amount of P80,750,000.00.
counsel. In his long practice as corporate counsel, it is
Thereafter, Clarion purchased the Forbes property in
indeed safe to assume that Atty. Francisco is
the amount of P117,000,000.00 from Gerardo
knowledgeable in the law on contracts, corporation law
Contreras. To effect the sale, Myla handed a check in
and the rules enforced by the SEC. As corporate
the said amount which was funded entirely by Jimenez.
secretary of Clarion, it was his duty and obligation to
The sale, however, was undervalued. In the deed of
register valid transfers of stocks. Nonetheless, he
sale, it was made to appear that the Forbes property
chose to advance the interests of his clientele with
was purchased for P78,000,000.00 only. Further, the
patent disregard of his duties as a lawyer. Worse, Atty.
money used as the purchase price was not reflected in
Francisco admitted to have simulated the loan entered
the books of Clarion.
into by Clarion and to have undervalued the
Caroline (complainant) was shocked with the consideration of the effected sale of the Forbes
complaint. More so, she felt betrayed by Atty. Francisco property. He permitted this fraudulent ruse to cheat
who helped Jimenez filed the estafa case. So, Caroline the government of taxes. Unquestionably, therefore,
filed a complaint against Atty. Francisco for multiple Atty. Francisco participated in a series of grave legal
violations of the Code of Professional responsibility infractions and was content to have granted the
before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD). requests of the persons involved.
Caroline claimed that Atty. F represented conflicting
Time and again, the Court has reminded lawyers that
interests. According to her, she usually conferred with
their support for the cause of their clients should never
Atty. Francisco regarding the legal implications of
be attained at the expense of truth and justice. While a
Clarion’s transactions. More significantly, the principal
lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of his client,
documents relative to the sale and transfer of Clarion’s
full devotion to his genuine interest, and warm zeal in
property were all prepared and drafted by Atty.
the maintenance and defense of his rights, as well as
Francisco or the members of his law office.
the exertion of his utmost learning and ability, he must
In his defense, Atty. F denied that he was ever the do so only within the bounds of the law.
personal lawyer of Caroline. He admitted that he acted
The rule on conflict of interests presupposes a lawyer-
as legal counsel of Clarion, but then again, the
client relationship. But here, there was no proof of such
corporation has a personality separate from that of
lawyer-client relationship.
Caroline. He also said that he helped Caroline under the
impression that it was what Jimenez would have Elements of lawyer-client privilege: (1) There exists an
wanted. attorney-client relationship, or a prospective attorney-
client relationship, and it is by reason of this
The CBD sided with Caroline and recommended that
relationship that the client made the communication;
Atty. F be suspended from the practice of law for one
(2) The client made the communication in confidence.
year. This was upheld by the IBP.
(3) The legal advice must be sought from the attorney
Issue: Whether or not Atty. F was guilty of violations of in his professional capacity.
the CPR.
Considering these factors in the case at bench, the
Held: Canon 1 and Rule 1.0 was violated, but he was Court holds that the evidence on record fails to
not guilty of representing conflicting interests. demonstrate the claims of complainant. As discussed,
the complainant failed to establish the professional
CANON 1 – A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE relationship between her and Atty. Francisco. The
CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND records are further bereft of any indication that the
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. "advice" regarding the sale of the Forbes property was
Rule 1.0 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, given to Atty. Francisco in confidence. Neither was
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. there a demonstration of what she had communicated
to Atty. Francisco nor a recital of circumstances under
In the facts obtaining in this case, Atty. Francisco which the confidential communication was relayed. All
clearly violated the canons and his sworn duty. He is that complaint alleged in her complainant was that
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
"she sought legal advice from respondent in various truth, the same amounted only to P22,410.00. His defense that
occasions." Considering that complainant failed to it was complainant who suggested that amount deserves no iota
attend the hearings at the IBP, there was no testimony of credence. For one, it is highly improbable that complainant,
as to the specific confidential information allegedly who was then plagued with the rigors of litigation, would
divulged by Atty. Francisco without her consent. It is, propose such amount that would further burden her financial
therefore, difficult, if not impossible, to determine if resources. Assuming that the complainant was more than willing
there was any violation of the rule on privileged to shell out an exorbitant amount just to initiate her complaint
communication. As held in Mercado, such confidential with the trial court, still, respondent should not have accepted
information is a crucial link in establishing a breach of the excessive amount. As a lawyer, he is not only expected to
the rule on privileged communication between be knowledgeable in the matter of filing fees, but he is likewise
attorney and client. It is not enough to merely assert duty-bound to disclose to his client the actual amount due,
the attorney-client privilege.30 It cannot be gainsaid consistent with the values of honesty and good faith expected
then that complainant, who has the burden of proving of all members of the legal profession.
that the privilege applies, failed in this regard.
Respondent’s unbecoming conduct towards complainant did
not stop here. Records reveal that he likewise violated Rule
16.04, Canon 16 of the CPR, which states that “[a] lawyer shall
not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are
fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent
Foster vs Agtang (2014) advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except,
when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary
Facts:
expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.” In his
Complainant Erlinda Foster had a legal problem over a deed private capacity, he requested from his client, not just one, but
of sale she entered with Tierra Realty. Atty. Jaime Agtang two loans of considerable amounts. The first time, he visited his
agreed to represent her as her counsel for the filing of the client in her home and borrowed P100,000.00 for the repair of
appropriate case in court, even though he was the one who his car; and the next time, he implored her to extend to him a
notarized the deed of sale. loan of P70,000.00 or P50,000.00 “in the moment of urgency or
emergency” but was only given P22,000.00 by complainant.
In the course of being Foster’s lawyer, Agtang committed These transactions were evidenced by promissory notes and
the following acts: (1) Borrowed money from Foster in the receipts, the authenticity of which was never questioned by
amount of P100,000 anp P220,000; (2) Misrepresented the respondent. These acts were committed by respondent in his
amount (P150,000) of filing fee; (3) Asked for P50,000 private capacity, seemingly unrelated to his relationship with
purportedly to be given to the judge as a bribe; and (4) Failed complainant, but were indubitably acquiesced to by complainant
to notify Foster that the case was dismissed in September 2010. because of the trust and confidence reposed in him as a lawyer.
Foster found out when he checked it herself in December of that
same year. Also, it turned out that Agtang had legal The Court deviates from the findings of the IBP. There is
relationships with Tierrar Realty. substantial evidence to hold respondent liable for representing
conflicting interests in handling the case of complainant against
Hence, Foster filed a complaint against Agtang with the Tierra Realty, a corporation to which he had rendered services
Commission of Bar Discipline (CBD) which found Agtang guilty in the past. The Court cannot ignore the fact that respondent
of ethical impropriety and recommended his suspension from admitted to having notarized the deed of sale, which was the
the practice of law for one (1) year. The IBP-BOG reduced the very document being questioned in complainant’s case. While
one-year suspension to three months. the Investigating Commissioner found that the complaint in Civil
Case No. 14791-65 did not question the validity of the said
Issue: Whether or not Agtang violated the CPR. contract, and that only the intentions of the parties as to some
provisions thereof were challenged, the Court still finds that the
Held: Yes. Rule 1.0, Canon 1 of the CPR, provides that “[a]
purpose for which the proscription was made exists. The Court
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
cannot brush aside the dissatisfied observations of the
deceitful conduct.” It is well-established that a lawyer’s conduct
complainant as to the allegations lacking in the complaint
is “not confined to the performance of his professional duties. A
against Tierra Realty and the clear admission of respondent that
lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct committed either in
he was the one who notarized the assailed document.
his professional or private capacity. The test is whether his
Regardless of whether it was the validity of the entire document
conduct shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
or the intention of the parties as to some of its provisions raised,
probity, and good demeanor, or whether it renders him
respondent fell short of prudence in action when he accepted
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.” In this case,
complainant’s case, knowing fully that he was involved in the
respondent is guilty of engaging in dishonest and deceitful
execution of the very transaction under question. Neither his
conduct, both in his professional and private capacity. As a
unpaid notarial fees nor the participation of a collaborating
lawyer, he clearly misled complainant into believing that the
counsel would excuse him from such indiscretion. It is apparent
filing fees for her case were worth more than the prescribed
that respondent was retained by clients who had close dealings
amount in the rules, due to feigned reasons such as the high
with each other. More significantly, there is no record of any
value of the land involved and the extra expenses to be incurred
written consent from any of the parties involved. The
by court employees. In other words, he resorted to overpricing,
representation of conflicting interests is prohibited “not only
an act customarily related to depravity and dishonesty. He
because the relation of attorney and client is one of trust and
demanded the amount of P150,000.00 as filing fee, when in
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
confidence of the highest degree, but also because of the Respondent likewise discussed with Navarro about securing a
principles of public policy and good taste. An attorney has the "Tolling Agreement" with Victorias Milling Company, Inc. but no
duty to deserve the fullest confidence of his client and represent agreement was signed.
him with undivided loyalty. Once this confidence is abused or
At the same time, respondent obtained a loan of P1,000,000
violated the entire profession suffers.”
from Presbitero covered by a third MOA, except that the real
Agtang was disbarred by the Supreme Court. estate mortgage was over a 263-square-meter property located
in Barangay Taculing, Bacolod City. Respondent sent Presbitero
Navarro vs Solidum Jr (2014) postdated checks drawn against an account in Metrobank,
Bacolod City Branch.
FACTS
Presbitero was dissatisfied with the value of the 263-square-
On 4 April 2006, respondent signed a retainer agreement with meter property mortgaged under the third MOA, and respondent
Presbitero to follow up the release of the payment for the latter’s promised to execute a real estate mortgage over a 1,000-
2.7-hectare property located in Bacolod which was the subject square-meter parcel of land adjacent to the 4,000-square-meter
of a Voluntary Offer to Sell (VOS) to the Department of Agrarian property he mortgaged to Navarro.
Reform (DAR). The agreement also included the payment of the
debts of Presbitero’s late husband to the Philippine National However, respondent did not execute a deed for the additional
Bank (PNB), the sale of the retained areas of the property, and security.
the collection of the rentals due for the retained areas from their Respondent paid the loan interest for the first few months. He
occupants. It appeared that the DAR was supposed to was able to pay complainants a total of P900,000. Thereafter,
payP700,000 for the property but it was mortgaged by he failed to pay either the principal amount or the interest
Presbitero and her late husband to PNB for P1,200,000. thereon. In September 2006, the checks issued by respondent
Presbitero alleged that PNB’s claim had already prescribed, and to complainants could no longer be negotiated because the
she engaged the services of respondent to represent her in the accounts against which they were drawn were already closed.
matter. Respondent proposed the filing of a case for quieting of When complainants called respondent’s attention, he promised
title against PNB. Respondent and Presbitero agreed to an to pay the agreed interest for September and October 2006 but
attorney’s fee of 10% of the proceeds from the VOS or the sale asked for a reduction of the interest to 7% for the succeeding
of the property, with the expenses to be advanced by Presbitero months.
but deductible from respondent’s fees. Respondent
received P50,000 from Presbitero, supposedly for the expenses In November 2006, respondent withdrew as counsel for Yulo.
of the case, but nothing came out of it. On the other hand, Presbitero terminated the services of
respondent as counsel. Complainants then filed petitions for the
In May 2006, Presbitero’s daughter, Ma. Theresa P. Yulo (Yulo), judicial foreclosure of the mortgages executed by respondent in
also engaged respondent’s services to handle the registration of their favor. Respondent countered that the 10% monthly
her 18.85-hectare lot located in Nasud-ong, Caradio-an, interest on the loan was usurious and illegal. Complainants also
Himamaylan, Negros. Yulo convinced her sister, Navarro, to filed cases for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22
finance the expenses for the registration of the property. against respondent.
Respondent undertook to register the property in consideration
of 30% of the value of the property once it is registered. Complainants alleged that respondent induced them to grant
Respondent obtained P200,000 from Navarro for the him loans by offering very high interest rates. He also prepared
registration expenses. Navarro later learned that the registration and signed the checks which turned out to be drawn against his
decree over the property was already issued in the name of one son’s accounts. Complainants further alleged that respondent
Teodoro Yulo. Navarro alleged that she would not have spent deceived them regarding the identity and value of the property
for the registration of the property if respondent only apprised he mortgaged because he showed them a different property
her of the real situation of the property. from that which he owned. Presbitero further alleged that
respondent mortgaged his 263-square-meter property to her
On 25 May 2006, respondent obtained a loan of P1,000,000 for P1,000,000 but he later sold it for only P150,000.
from Navarro to finance his sugar trading business. Respondent
and Navarro executed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) and ISSUE
agreed that the loan (a) shall be for a period of one year; (b) Whether or not respondent violated the CPR?
shall earn interest at the rate of 10% per month; and (c) shall
be secured by a real estate mortgage over a property located in RULING
Barangay Alijis, Bacolod City, covered by Transfer Certificate of
The records show that respondent violated at least four
Title No. 304688. They also agreed that respondent shall issue
provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
postdated checks to cover the principal amount of the loan as
well as the interest thereon. Respondent delivered the checks to Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Navarro, drawn against an account in Metrobank, Bacolod City
Branch, and signed them in the presence of Navarro. Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct.
In June 2006, respondent obtained an additional loan
of P1,000,000 from Navarro, covered by a second MOA with the With respect to his client, Presbitero, it was established that
same terms and conditions as the first MOA. Respondent sent respondent agreed to pay a high interest rate on the loan he
Navarro, through a messenger, postdated checks drawn against obtained from her. He drafted the MOA. Yet, when he could no
an account in Bank of Commerce, Bacolod City Branch. longer pay his loan, he sought to nullify the same MOA he
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
drafted on the ground that the interest rate was unconscionable. The fiduciary nature of the relationship between the counsel and
It was also established that respondent mortgaged a 263- his client imposes on the lawyer the duty to account for the
square-meter property to Presbitero for P1,000,000 but he later money or property collected or received for or from his
sold the property for only P150,000, showing that he deceived client. We agree with the IBP-CBD that respondent failed to
his client as to the real value of the mortgaged property. fulfill this duty. In this case, the IBP-CBD pointed out that
Respondent’s allegation that the sale was eventually rescinded respondent received various amounts from complainants but he
did not distract from the fact that he did not apprise Presbitero could not account for all of them.
as to the real value of the property.
Navarro, who financed the registration of Yulo’s 18.85-hectare
Respondent failed to refute that the checks he issued to his lot, claimed that respondent received P265,000 from her.
client Presbitero and to Navarro belonged to his son, Ivan Garcia Respondent countered that P105,000 was paid for real estate
Solidum III whose name is similar to his name. He only claimed taxes but he could not present any receipt to prove his claim.
that complainants knew that he could no longer open a current Respondent also claimed that he paid P70,000 to the surveyor
bank account, and that they even suggested that his wife or son but the receipt was only for P15,000. Respondent claimed that
issue the checks for him. However, we are inclined to agree with he paid P50,000 for filing fee, publication fee, and other
the IBP-CBD’s finding that he made complainants believe that expenses but again, he could not substantiate his claims with
the account belonged to him. In fact, respondent signed in the any receipt. As pointed out by the IBP-CBD, respondent had
presence of Navarro the first batch of checks he issued to been less than diligent in accounting for the funds he received
Navarro. Respondent sent the second batch of checks to from Navarro for the registration of Yulo’s property.
Navarro and the third batch of checks to Presbitero through a
Unfortunately, the records are not clear whether respondent
messenger, and complainants believed that the checks belonged
rendered an accounting to Yulo who had since passed away.
to accounts in respondent’s name.
As regards Presbitero, it was established during the clarificatory
It is clear that respondent violated Rule 1.01 of the Code of
hearing that respondent received P50,000 from Presbitero. As
Professional Responsibility. We have ruled that conduct, as used
the IBP-CBD pointed out, the records do not show how
in the Rule, is not confined to the performance of a lawyer’s
respondent spent the funds because he was not transparent in
professional duties. A lawyer may be disciplined for misconduct
liquidating the money he received from Presbitero.
committed either in his professional or private capacity. The test
is whether his conduct shows him to be wanting in moral Clearly, respondent had been negligent in properly accounting
character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, or whether it for the money he received from his client, Presbitero. Indeed,
renders him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. his failure to return the excess money in his possession gives
rise to the presumption that he has misappropriated it for his
In this case, the loan agreements with Navarro were done in
own use to the prejudice of, and in violation of the trust reposed
respondent’s private capacity. Although Navarro financed the
in him by, the client.
registration of Yulo’s lot, respondent and Navarro had no lawyer-
client relationship. However, respondent was Presbitero’s Rule 16.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
counsel at the time she granted him a loan. It was established
that respondent misled Presbitero on the value of the property Rule 16.04. - A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client
he mortgaged as a collateral for his loan from her. To appease unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the nature of
Presbitero, respondent even made a Deed of Undertaking that the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend
he would give her another 1,000-square-meter lot as additional money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he has
collateral but he failed to do so. to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling
for the client.
Clearly, respondent is guilty of engaging in dishonest and
deceitful conduct, both in his professional capacity with respect Here, respondent does not deny that he borrowed P1,000,000
to his client, Presbitero, and in his private capacity with respect from his client Presbitero. At the time he secured the loan,
to complainant Navarro. Both Presbitero and Navarro allowed respondent was already the retained counsel of Presbitero.
respondent to draft the terms of the loan agreements. While respondent’s loan from Presbitero was secured by a MOA,
Respondent drafted the MOAs knowing that the interest rates postdated checks and real estate mortgage, it turned out that
were exorbitant. Later, using his knowledge of the law, he respondent misrepresented the value of the property he
assailed the validity of the same MOAs he prepared. He issued mortgaged and that the checks he issued were not drawn from
checks that were drawn from his son’s account whose name was his account but from that of his son. Respondent eventually
similar to his without informing complainants. Further, there is questioned the terms of the MOA that he himself prepared on
nothing in the records that will show that respondent paid or the ground that the interest rate imposed on his loan was
undertook to pay the loans he obtained from complainants. unconscionable. Finally, the checks issued by respondent to
Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 of the Code of Professional Presbitero were dishonored because the accounts were already
Responsibility provide: closed. The interest of his client, Presbitero, as lender in this
case, was not fully protected. Respondent violated Rule 16.04
CANON 16. - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which presumes that
AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME INTO HIS the client is disadvantaged by the lawyer’s ability to use all the
POSSESSION. legal maneuverings to renege on his obligation. In his dealings
with his client Presbitero, respondent took advantage of his
Rule 16.01 – A lawyer shall account for all money or property
knowledge of the law as well as the trust and confidence
collected or received for or from the client.
reposed in him by his client.
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
We modify the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors Pretending to be the "authorized agent-representative" of the
imposing on respondent the penalty of suspension from the fictitious owners of the seven parcels, Lilia Tabang filed petitions
practice of law for two years. Given the facts of the case, we for re-issuance of titles.6
see no reason to deviate from the recommendation of the IBP-
In the course of the proceedings, the public prosecutor noticed
CBD imposing on respondent the penalty of disbarment.
similarities in the signatures of the supposed owners that were
Respondent failed to live up to the high standard of morality,
affixed on the Special Powers of Attorney (SPA) purportedly
honesty, integrity, and fair dealing required of him as a member
executed in favor of Lilia Tabang. The public prosecutor, acting
of the legal profession. Instead, respondent employed his
on his observation, asked the court to have the supposed
knowledge and skill of the law and took advantage of his client
owners summoned.7
to secure undue gains for himself that warrants his removal
from the practice of law. Likewise, we cannot sustain the IBP Seeking to avoid embarrassment, Lilia Tabang had the petitions
Board of Governors’ recommendation ordering respondent to voluntarily dismissed without prejudice to their being re-filed.8
return his unpaid obligation to complainants, except for
advances for the expenses he received from his client, Subsequently, Lilia Tabang filed a new set of petitions. This
Presbitero, that were not accounted at all. In disciplinary time, she changed the fictitious owners’ signatures in the hope
proceedings against lawyers, the only issue is whether the of making them look more varied.9
officer of the court is still fit to be allowed to continue as a Upon learning that Lilia Tabang had filed a new set of petitions,
member of the Bar. Our only concern is the determination of respondent executed several documents that included
respondent’s administrative liability. revocations of SPAs and various affidavits of recovery
Our findings have no material bearing on other judicial action purportedly signed by the parcels’ (fictitious) owners.
which the parties may choose to file against each Respondent then caused the annotation of these documents on
other. Nevertheless, when a lawyer receives money from a the TCTs of the seven parcels.10
client for a particular purpose involving the client-attorney Also, respondent caused the publication of notices where he
relationship, he is bound to render an accounting to the client represented himself as the owner of the parcels and announced
showing that the money was spent for that particular purpose. If that these were for sale.11 Later, respondent succeeded in
the lawyer does not use the money for the intended purpose, selling the seven parcels.
he must immediately return the money to his client. Respondent
was given an opportunity to render an accounting, and he failed. Alleging that respondent committed gross misconduct,
He must return the full amount of the advances given him by dishonesty, and deceit, complainants filed their complaint
Presbitero, amounting to P50,000. directly with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on February
3, 2003.
In his defense, respondent alleged that the owners of the seven
Tabang vs Gacott (2013) parcels were not fictitious and that they had voluntarily sold the
seven parcels. He added that Lilia Tabang had been merely the
Complainants alleged that sometime in 1984 and 1985, broker for the seven parcels and that she had unsuccessfully
complainant Lilia Tabang sought the advice of Judge Eustaquio demanded a "balato" of twenty percent (20%) from the
Gacott, respondent Atty. Glenn Gacott’s father. Lilia Tabang proceeds of the sale of the seven parcels. He alleged that after
intended to purchase a total of thirty (30) hectares of she had been refused to be given a "balato," Lilia Tabang had
agricultural land located in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa, threatened to defame him and seek his disbarment.13
Palawan, which consisted of several parcels belonging to
different owners. Judge Gacott noted that under the ISSUE
government’s agrarian reform program, Tabang was prohibited
Whether or not respondent engaged in unlawful, dishonest,
from acquiring vast tracts of agricultural land as she already
immoral or deceitful conduct violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of
owned other parcels. Thus, Judge Gacott advised her to put the
Professional Responsibility, thus warranting his disbarment?
titles of the parcels under the names of fictitious persons.2
RULING
Eventually, Lilia Tabang was able to purchase seven parcels and
obtained the corresponding Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) After a careful examination of the records, the Court concurs
under the names of fictitious persons. with and adopts the findings and recommendation of
Commissioner Limpingco and the IBP Board of Governors. It is
Later, complainants Lilia and Concepcion Tabang decided to sell
clear that respondent committed gross misconduct, dishonesty,
the seven parcels as they were in need of funds for their
and deceit in violation of Rule 1.01 of the CPR when he executed
medication and other expenses. Claiming that he would help
the revocations of SPAs and affidavits of recovery and in
complainants by offering the parcels to prospective buyers,
arrogating for himself the ownership of the seven (7) subject
respondent Glenn Gacott borrowed from Lilia Tabang the TCTs
parcels.
covering the parcels.4
While it may be true that complainant Lilia Tabang herself
About a year after respondent borrowed the titles and after he
engaged in illicit activities, the complainant’s own complicity
failed to negotiate any sale, complainants confronted
does not negate, or even mitigate, the repugnancy of
respondent. Respondent then told the complainants that he had
respondent’s offense. Quite the contrary, his offense is made
lost all seven titles.5
even graver. He is a lawyer who is held to the highest standards
On the pretext of offering a remedy to complainants, respondent of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing. Perverting what
advised them to file petitions in court for re-issuance of titles. is expected of him, he deliberately and cunningly took
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
advantage of his knowledge and skill of the law to prejudice and notarized document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit
torment other individuals. Not only did he countenance illicit upon its face. It is for this reason that a notary public must
action, he instigated it. Not only did he acquiesce to injustice, observe with utmost care the basic requirements in the
he orchestrated it. Thus, We impose upon respondent the performance of his notarial duties; otherwise, the public's
supreme penalty of disbarment. confidence in the integrity of a notarized document would be
undermined.
Where the notary public admittedly has personal knowledge of
De Jesus vs Sanchez-Malit (2014)
a false statement or information contained in the instrument to
be notarized, yet proceeds to affix the notarial seal on it, the
FACTS
Court must not hesitate to discipline the notary public
In the Affidavit-Complaint filed by complainant before the Office accordingly as the circumstances of the case may dictate.
of the Bar Confidant on 23 June 2004, she alleged that on 1 Otherwise, the integrity and sanctity of the notarization process
March 2002, respondent had drafted and notarized a Real Estate may be undermined, and public confidence in notarial
Mortgage of a public market stall that falsely named the former documents diminished. In this case, respondent fully knew that
as its absolute and registered owner. As a result, the mortgagee complainant was not the owner of the mortgaged market stall.
sued complainant for perjury and for collection of sum of money. That complainant comprehended the provisions of the real
She claimed that respondent was a consultant of the local estate mortgage contract does not make respondent any less
government unit of Dinalupihan, Bataan, and was therefore guilty. If at all, it only heightens the latter’s liability for tolerating
aware that the market stall was government-owned. Prior a wrongful act. Clearly, respondent’s conduct amounted to a
thereto, respondent had also notarized two contracts that breach of Canon 1 and Rules 1.01 and 1.02 of the Code of
caused complainant legal and financial problems. One contract Professional Responsibility.
was a lease agreement notarized by respondent sometime in
Respondent’s explanation about the unsigned lease agreement
September 1999 without the signature of the lessees. However,
executed by complainant sometime in September 1999 is
complainant only found out that the agreement had not been
incredulous. If, indeed, her file copy of the agreement bore the
signed by the lessees when she lost her copy and she asked for
lessees’ signatures, she could have given complainant a certified
another copy from respondent. The other contract was a sale
photocopy thereof. It even appears that said lease agreement is
agreement over a property covered by a Certificate of Land
not a rarity in respondent’s practice as a notary public. Records
Ownership Award (CLOA) which complainant entered into with
show that on various occasions from 2002 to 2004, respondent
a certain Nicomedes Tala (Tala) on 17 February 1998.
has notarized 22 documents that were either unsigned or lacking
Respondent drafted and notarized said agreement, but did not
signatures of the parties. Technically, each document maybe a
advise complainant that the property was still covered by the
ground for disciplinary action, for it is the duty of a notarial
period within which it could not be alienated.
officer to demand that a document be signed in his or her
In addition to the documents attached to her complaint, presence.
complainant subsequently submitted three Special Powers of
A notary public should not notarize a document unless the
Attorney (SPAs) notarized by respondent and an Affidavit of
persons who signed it are the very same ones who executed it
Irene Tolentino (Tolentino), complainant’s secretary/treasurer.
and who personally appeared before the said notary public to
The SPAs were not signed by the principals named therein and
attest to the contents and truth of what are stated therein. Thus,
bore only the signature of the named attorney in-fact, Florina B.
in acknowledging that the parties personally came and appeared
Limpioso (Limpioso). Tolentino’s Affidavit corroborated
before her, respondent also violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of
complainant’s allegations against respondent.
Professional Responsibility and her oath as a lawyer that she
With respect to the lease agreement, respondent countered that shall do no falsehood. Certainly, respondent is unfit to continue
the document attached to the Affidavit-Complaint was actually enjoying the solemn office of a notary public. In several
new. She gave the court’s copy of the agreement to complainant instances, the Court did not hesitate to disbar lawyers who were
to accommodate the latter’s request for an extra copy. Thus, found to be utterly oblivious to the solemnity of their oath as
respondent prepared and notarized a new one, relying on notaries public. Even so, the rule is that disbarment is meted out
complainant’s assurance that the lessees would sign it and that only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the
it would be returned in lieu of the original copy for the court. standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court
Complainant, however, reneged on her promise. and the Court will not disbar a lawyer where a lesser penalty will
suffice to accomplish the desired end. The blatant disregard by
ISSUE
respondent of her basic duties as a notary public warrants the
Whether or not respondent is guilty of violating Canon 1 and less severe punishment of suspension from the practice of law
Rules 1.01, 1.02, and 10.01 of the Code of Professional and perpetual disqualification to be commissioned as a notary
Responsibility public.
RULING
The important role a notary public performs cannot be Ecraela vs Pangalangan (2015)
overemphasized. The Court has repeatedly stressed that
notarization is not an empty, meaningless routinary act, but one FACTS
invested with substantive public interest. Notarization converts Complainant and respondent were best friends and both
a private document into a public document, making it admissible graduated from the University of the Philippines (UP) College of
in evidence without further proof of its authenticity. Thus, a
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
Law in 1990, where they were part of a peer group or barkada Whether or not the respondent committed gross immoral
with several of their classmates. After passing the bar conduct, which would warrant his disbarment?
examinations and being admitted as members of the Bar in
RULING
1991, they were both registered with the IBP Quezon City.
After a thorough examination of the records, the Court agrees
Respondent was formerly married to Sheila P. Jardiolin
with the Board of Governors' resolution finding that Atty.
(Jardiolin) with whom he has three (3) children. Complainant
Pangalangan's grossly immoral conduct was fully supported by
avers that while married to Jardiolin, respondent had a series of
the evidences offered.
adulterous and illicit relations with married and unmarried
women between the years 1990 to 2007. CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION,
OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR
These alleged illicit relations involved:
LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
a. AAA, who is the spouse of a colleague in the UP College of
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
Law, from 1990 to 1992, which complainant had personal
immoral or deceitful conduct.
knowledge of such illicit relations;
CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
b. BBB, sometime during the period from 1992 to 1994 or from
INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND
1994 to 1996, despite being already married to Jardiolin;
SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
c. CCC, despite being married to Jardiolin and while also being
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
romantically involved with DDD;
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in
d. DDD, sometime during the period from 2000 to 2002, despite public or private life. behave in a scandalous manner to the
still being married to Jardiolin and while still being romantically discredit of the legal profession.
.involved with CCC; '
The practice of law is a privilege given to those who possess and
e. EEE, who is related to complainant, sometime during the continue to possess the legal qualifications for the profession.
period from May 2004 until the filing of the Petition, while still Good moral character is not only required for admission to the
being romantically involved with CCC. Bar, but must also be retained in order to maintain one's good
standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity.
Complainant claims that respondent, with malice and without
remorse, deceived CCC and DDD by representing himself to be We are not unmindful of the serious consequences of
a bachelor, thereby convincing the two women to start a love disbarment or suspension proceedings against a member of the
affair with him, when in. truth, he was then still married to Bar. Thus, the Comi has consistently held that clearly
Jardiolin. preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of
administrative penalties on a member of the Bar.
Aside from these illicit affairs, complainant avers that sometime
during the period of 1998 to 2000, respondent, as a lawyer of The IBP-CBD Report sufficiently showed by preponderant
the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), evidence the grounds by which respondent has been found
represented the interest of Manila International Airport Authority committing gross immorality in the conduct of his personal
(MIAA) in cancellation proceedings filed by MIAA against affairs.
Kendrick Development Corporation (KOC). However, despite
In the present case, complainant alleged that respondent
being a public officer and a government counsel, respondent
carried on several adulterous and illicit relations with both
conspired with Atty. Abraham Espejo, legal counsel of KDC, and
married and unmarried women between the years 1990 to 2007,
assisted KDC in its case, thereby sabotaging MIAA's case, and,
including complainant's own wife. Through documentary
m effect, that of the Philippine Government.
evidences in the form of email messages, as well as the
Complainant further claims that respondent even attempted to corroborating testimonies of the witnesses presented,
bribe then Solicitor Rolando Martin of the Office of the Solicitor complainant was able to establish respondent's illicit relations
General (OSG) in exchange for the latter's cooperation in the with DOD and CCC by preponderant evidence.
dismissal of the cancellation proceedings in favor of KDC. In
Respondent's main defense against the alleged illicit relations
return for his "earnest efforts" in assisting KDC in its case,
was that the same were not sufficiently established. In his
respondent was allegedly rewarded with a Toyota Corolla XL
answer, respondent simply argued that complainant's petition
with plate number ULS-835 by Atty. Espejo. The vehicle was
contains self-serving averments not supported by evidence.
seen several times by respondent's classmates and officemates
Respondent did not specifically deny complainant's allegations
being driven and parked by respondent in his own home and in
and, instead, questioned the admissibility of the/ suppoting
the OGCC premises itself.
documents. Due to respondent's own failure to attend the
Complainant also claims that respondent abused his authority hearings and even submit his own position paper, the existence
as an educator in Manuel L. Quezon University, San Sebastian of respondent's illicit relations with DDD and CCC remain
College, College of St. Benilde, and Maryknoll College, where uncontroverted.
respondent induced his male students to engage in "nocturnal
The IBP-CBD Report was correct when it found that respondent
preoccupations" and entertained the romantic gestures of his
violated Article XV, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution, to wit:
female students in exchange for passing grades.
In engaging in such illicit relationships, Respondent disregarded
ISSUE
the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
Constitution and affirmed by our laws, which as a lawyer he would legalize their union once he obtains a declaration of nullity
swore under oath to protect. The 1987 Constitution, specifically of his marriage to Gomez under the laws of the Philippines. He
Article XV, Section 2 thereof clearly provides that marriage, an also promised to legally adopt their son.
inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and
Sometime in 1997, Dr. Perez reminded Atty. Catindig of his
shall be protected by the State.
promise to legalize their union by filing a petition to nullify his
Aside from respondent's illicit relations, We agree with marriage to Gomez. Atty. Catindig told her that he would still
Commissioner Villadolid' s findings that respondent violated have to get the consent of Gomez to the said petition.
Canon 1 0 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as
Sometime in 2001, Dr. Perez alleged that she received an
Rule 10.01 and Rule 10.03 thereof.
anonymous letter9 in the mail informing her of Atty. Catindig’s
CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD scandalous affair with Atty. Baydo, and that sometime later, she
FAITH TO THE COURT. came upon a love letter written and signed by Atty. Catindig for
Atty. Baydo dated April 25, 2001. In the said letter, Atty.
Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to
Catindig professed his love to Atty. Baydo, promising to marry
the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the
her once his “impediment is removed.” Apparently, five months
Court to be misled by any artifice.
into their relationship, Atty. Baydo requested Atty. Catindig to
Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and put a halt to their affair until such time that he is able to obtain
shall not misuse them to defeat the ends of justice. the annulment of his marriage. On August 13, 2001, Atty.
Catindig filed a petition to declare the nullity of his marriage to
In the Petition, complainant alleged that respondent was the Gomez.
subject of a Senate Inquiry and had a pending case for graft and
corruption against him with the Sandiganbayan. On October 31, 2001, Atty. Catindig abandoned Dr. Perez and
their son; he moved to an upscale condominium in Salcedo
Village, Makati City where Atty. Baydo was frequently seen.
Perez vs Catindig (2015) Atty. Catindig, in his Comment, admitted that he married Gomez
In her complaint, Dr. Perez alleged that she and Atty. Catindig on May 18, 1968. He claimed, however, that immediately after
had been friends since the mid-1960’s when they were both the wedding, Gomez showed signs that she was incapable of
students at the University of the Philippines, but they lost touch complying with her marital obligations, as she had serious
after their graduation. Sometime in 1983, the paths of Atty. intimacy problems; and that while their union was blessed with
Catindig and Dr. Perez again crossed. It was at that time that four children, their relationship simply deteriorated.
Atty. Catindig started to court Dr. Perez. Eventually, their irreconcilable differences led to their de
facto separation in 1984. They then consulted Atty. Wilhelmina
Atty. Catindig admitted to Dr. Perez that he was already wed to Joven (Atty. Joven), a mutual friend, on how the agreement to
Lily Corazon Gomez (Gomez), having married the latter on May separate and live apart could be implemented. Atty. Joven
18, 1968 at the Central Methodist Church in Ermita, Manila, suggested that the couple adopt a property regime of complete
which was followed by a Catholic wedding at the Shrine of Our separation of property. She likewise advised the couple to obtain
Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City. Atty. Catindig however claimed a divorce decree from the Dominican Republic for whatever
that he only married Gomez because he got her pregnant; that value it may have and comfort it may provide them.
he was afraid that Gomez would make a scandal out of her Thus, on April 27, 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez each
pregnancy should he refuse to marry her, which could have executed a Special Power of Attorney addressed to a Judge of
jeopardized his scholarship in the Harvard Law School. the First Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic,
appointing an attorney-in-fact to institute a divorce action under
Atty. Catindig told Dr. Perez that he was in the process of its laws. Atty. Catindig likewise admitted that a divorce by
obtaining a divorce in a foreign country to dissolve his marriage mutual consent was ratified by the Dominican Republic court on
to Gomez, and that he would eventually marry her once the June 12, 1984. Further, Atty. Catindig and Gomez filed a Joint
divorce had been decreed. Consequently, sometime in 1984, Petition for Dissolution of Conjugal Partnership before the
Atty. Catindig and Gomez obtained a divorce decree from the Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 133, which was
Dominican Republic. Dr. Perez claimed that Atty. Catindig granted on June 23, 1984.
assured her that the said divorce decree was lawful and valid Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew of the foregoing,
and that there was no longer any impediment to their marriage. including the fact that the divorce decreed by the Dominican
Thus, on July 14, 1984, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the Republic court does not have any effect in the Philippines.
State of Virginia in the United States of America (USA). Their Notwithstanding that she knew that the marriage of Atty.
union was blessed with a child whom they named Tristan Jegar Catindig and Gomez still subsisted, Dr. Perez demanded that
Josef Frederic. Atty. Catindig marry her. Thus, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez
in July 1984 in the USA.

Years later, Dr. Perez came to know that her marriage to Atty. Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew that their marriage
Catindig is a nullity since the divorce decree that was obtained was not valid since his previous marriage to Gomez was still
from the Dominican Republic by the latter and Gomez is not subsisting, and that he only married Dr. Perez because he loved
recognized by Philippine laws. When she confronted Atty. her and that he was afraid of losing her if he did not. He merely
Catindig about it, the latter allegedly assured Dr. Perez that he desired to lend a modicum of legitimacy to their relationship.
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
Atty. Catindig claimed that his relationship with Dr. Perez turned members of the community. Immoral conduct is gross when it
sour. Eventually, he left their home in October 2001 to prevent is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled
any acrimony from developing. as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed
under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock
He denied that Atty. Baydo was the reason that he left Dr. Perez,
the community’s sense of decency. The Court makes these
claiming that his relationship with Dr. Perez started to fall apart
distinctions, as the supreme penalty of disbarment arising from
as early as 1997. He asserted that Atty. Baydo joined his law
conduct requires grossly immoral, not simply immoral, conduct.
firm only in September 1999; and that while he was attracted to
her, Atty. Baydo did not reciprocate and in fact rejected him. He Contracting a marriage during the subsistence of a
likewise pointed out that Atty. Baydo resigned from his firm in previous one amounts to a grossly immoral conduct.
January 2001.
The facts gathered from the evidence adduced by the parties
For her part, Atty. Baydo denied that she had an affair with Atty. and, ironically, from Atty. Catindig’s own admission, indeed
Catindig. She claimed that Atty. Catindig began courting her establish a pattern of conduct that is grossly immoral; it is not
while she was employed in his firm. She however rejected Atty. only corrupt and unprincipled, but reprehensible to a high
Catindig’s romantic overtures; she told him that she could not degree.
reciprocate his feelings since he was married and that he was
Atty. Catindig was validly married to Gomez twice – a wedding
too old for her. She said that despite being turned down, Atty.
in the Central Methodist Church in 1968, which was then
Catindig still pursued her, which was the reason why she
followed by a Catholic wedding. In 1983, Atty. Catindig started
resigned from his law firm.
pursuing Dr. Perez when their paths crossed again. Curiously,
ISSUE 15 years into his first marriage and four children after, Atty.
Catindig claimed that his first marriage was then already falling
Whether or not the respondents committed gross immorality,
apart due to Gomez’ serious intimacy problems.
which would warrant their disbarment?
A year after pursuing Dr. Perez, Atty. Catindig had a de
RULING
facto separation from Gomez, dissolved their conjugal
After a thorough perusal of the respective allegations of the partnership of gains, obtained a divorce decree from a court in
parties and the circumstances of this case, the Court agrees with the Dominican Republic, and married Dr. Perez in the USA all in
the findings and recommendations of the Investigating the same year. Atty. Catindig was so enchanted with Dr. Perez
Commissioner and the IBP Board of Governors. at that time that he moved heaven and earth just so he could
marry her right away – a marriage that has at least a semblance
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: of legality.
Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct. From his own admission, Atty. Catindig knew that the divorce
decree he obtained from the court in the Dominican Republic
was not recognized in our jurisdiction as he and Gomez were
Canon 7 – A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and both Filipino citizens at that time. He knew that he was still
dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the validly married to Gomez; that he cannot marry anew unless his
Integrated Bar. previous marriage be properly declared a nullity. Otherwise, his
Rule 7.03 – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely subsequent marriage would be void. This notwithstanding, he
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in still married Dr. Perez. The foregoing circumstances seriously
public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the taint Atty. Catindig’s sense of social propriety and moral values.
discredit of the legal profession. It is a blatant and purposeful disregard of our laws on marriage.

In Arnobit v. Atty. Arnobit, the Court held: It has also not escaped the attention of the Court that Atty.
Catindig married Dr. Perez in the USA. Considering that Atty.
[T]he requirement of good moral character is of much greater Catindig knew that his previous marriage remained valid, the
import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the logical conclusion is that he wanted to marry Dr. Perez in the
possession of legal learning. Good moral character is not only a USA for the added security of avoiding any charge of bigamy by
condition precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it entering into the subsequent marriage outside Philippine
must also remain intact in order to maintain one’s good standing jurisdiction.
in that exclusive and honored fraternity. Good moral character
is more than just the absence of bad character. Such character Moreover, assuming arguendo that Atty. Catindig’s claim is true,
expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is right it matters not that Dr. Perez knew that their marriage is a nullity.
and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is wrong. This The fact still remains that he resorted to various legal strategies
must be so because “vast interests are committed to his care; in order to render a façade of validity to his otherwise invalid
he is the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals marriage to Dr. Perez. Such act is, at the very least, so
with his client’s property, reputation, his life, his all.” unprincipled that it is reprehensible to the highest degree.

“A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct Further, after 17 years of cohabiting with Dr. Perez, and despite
showing any fault or deficiency in his moral character, honesty, the various legal actions he resorted to in order to give their
probity or good demeanor.” Immoral conduct involves acts that union a semblance of validity, Atty. Catindig left her and their
are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral son. It was only at that time that he finally decided to properly
indifference to the opinion of the upright and respectable seek the nullity of his first marriage to Gomez. Apparently, he
Problem Area in Legal Ethics
Assignment (Feb. 2, 2016)
was then already entranced with the much younger Atty. Baydo, evidence required in suspension or disbarment proceedings is
an associate lawyer employed by his firm. preponderance of evidence.
While the fact that Atty. Catindig decided to separate from Dr. The presentation of the anonymous letter that was received by
Perez to pursue Atty. Baydo, in itself, cannot be considered a Dr. Perez only proves that the latter indeed received a letter
grossly immoral conduct, such fact forms part of the pattern informing her of the alleged relations between the respondents;
showing his propensity towards immoral conduct. Lest it be it does not prove the veracity of the allegations therein.
misunderstood, the Court’s finding of gross immoral conduct is Similarly, the supposed love letter, if at all, only proves that Atty.
hinged not on Atty. Catindig’s desertion of Dr. Perez, but on his Catindig wrote Atty. Baydo a letter professing his love for her.
contracting of a subsequent marriage during the subsistence of It does not prove that Atty. Baydo is indeed in a relationship
his previous marriage to Gomez. with Atty. Catindig.
“The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of
the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the
generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct
for instance, which makes ‘a mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage.’” In various cases, the Court has held
that disbarment is warranted when a lawyer abandons his lawful
wife and maintains an illicit relationship with another woman
who has borne him a child.
Atty. Catindig’s subsequent marriage during the subsistence of
his previous one definitely manifests a deliberate disregard of
the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the
Constitution and affirmed by our laws. By his own admission,
Atty. Catindig made a mockery out of the institution of marriage,
taking advantage of his legal skills in the process. He exhibited
a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as
a member of the bar, which thus warrant the penalty of
disbarment.

The Court is not unmindful of the rule that the power to disbar
must be exercised with great caution, and only in a clear case
of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character
of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the
bar. Where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension,
could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should never be
decreed. Nevertheless, in this case, the seriousness of the
offense compels the Court to wield its power to disbar, as it
appears to be the most appropriate penalty.
Atty. Catindig’s claim that Dr. Perez’s allegations against him are
not credible since they are uncorroborated and not supported
by affidavits contrary to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of
Court, deserves scant consideration. Verily, Atty. Catindig
himself admitted in his pleadings that he indeed married Dr.
Perez in 1984 while his previous marriage with Gomez still
subsisted. Indubitably, such admission provides ample basis for
the Court to render disciplinary sanction against him.
There is insufficient evidence to prove the affair
between the respondents.

The Court likewise agrees with the Investigating Commissioner


that there is a dearth of evidence to prove the claimed amorous
relationship between the respondents. As it is, the evidence that
was presented by Dr. Perez to prove her claim was mere
allegation, an anonymous letter informing her that the
respondents were indeed having an affair and the purported
love letter to Atty. Baydo that was signed by Atty. Catindig.
The Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment
proceedings against lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption
of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon the
complainant to prove the allegations in his complaint. The