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ARCATOMY S. GUARIN, Complainant, v. ATTY. CHRISTINE A.C. LIMPIN, Respondent.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:


Before us is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Arcatomy S. Guarin against Atty. Christine
Antenor-Cruz Limpin for allegedly filing a false General Information Sheet (GIS) with the
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) thus violating Canon 12 and Rule 1.013 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility (CPR).


The facts are culled from the pleadings.


In 2004, Guarin was hired by Mr. Celso G. de los Angeles as Chief Operating Officer and
thereafter as President of OneCard Company, Inc., a member of the Legacy Group of
Companies. He resigned from his post effective August 11, 2008 and transferred to St. Luke’s
Medical Center as the Vice President for Finance.


On November 27, 2008, Atty. Limpin, the Corporate Secretary of Legacy Card, Inc. (LCI),
another corporation under the Legacy Group, filed with the SEC a GIS for LCI for “updating
purposes”. The GIS4 identified Guarin as Chairman of the Board of Directors (BOD) and
President.


Mired with allegations of anomalous business transactions and practices, on December 18, 2008,
LCI applied for voluntary dissolution with the SEC.


On July 22, 2009, Guarin filed this complaint with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP CBD) claiming that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1 and Rule
1.01 of the CPR by knowingly listing him as a stockholder, Chairman of the Board and President
of LCI when she knew that he had already resigned and had never held any share nor was he
elected as chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI. He also never received any notice
of meeting or agenda where his appointment as Chairman would be taken up. He has never
accepted any appointment as Chairman and President of LCI.


Atty. Limpin admits that she filed the GIS with the SEC listing Guarin as a stockholder, the
Chairman of the BOD and President of LCI. She argued that the GIS was provisional to comply
with SEC requirements. It would have been corrected in the future but unfortunately LCI filed
for voluntary dissolution shortly thereafter. She averred that the GIS was made and submitted in
good faith and that her certification served to attest to the information from the last BOD meeting
held on March 3, 2008.5chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


She asserted that Guarin knew that he was a stockholder. Atty. Limpin said that on October 13,
2008, she sent Guarin a text message and asked him to meet with her so he may sign a Deed of
Assignment concerning shareholdings. Guarin responded in the affirmative and said that he
would meet with her on Friday, October 17, 2008. Guarin, however, neglected to show up at the
arranged time and place for reasons unknown to Atty. Limpin. On the strength of Guarin’s
positive reply, Atty. Limpin filed the GIS on November 27, 2008.


To belie the claim that LCI never held any board meeting, Atty. Limpin presented Secretary’s
Certificates dated May 16, 20066, May 22, 20067, and June 13, 20078 bearing Guarin’s signature.


Moreover, Atty. Limpin stated that there were pending criminal complaints against the directors
and officers of LCI, where she and Guarin are co-respondents: Senator Roxas, et al. v. Celso de
los Angeles, et al.9 and SEC v. Legacy Card, Inc.10 In those proceedings, Guarin raised as a
defense that the November 27, 2008 GIS was spurious and/or perjured. She averred that this
Court held that “when the criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in
court, any administrative disciplinary proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the
criminal case to avoid contradictory findings.”11 During the mandatory preliminary conference,
however, both parties stipulated that the complaint filed by Senator Roxas was dismissed as to
Guarin.12chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


Lastly, Atty. Limpin contends that Guarin failed to present sufficient evidence to warrant
disbarment. She stated that merely presenting the GIS does not constitute as proof of any
unethical conduct, harassment and malpractice.


In its Report,13 the IBP CBD found that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1, Rules 1.01 and 1.0214 of
the CPR and thus recommended that she be suspended from the practice of law for three
months. It noted that based on the submissions of the parties, Guarin was never a stockholder of
LCI consequently making him ineligible to be a member of the BOD. Neither was there proof
that Guarin acted as the President of LCI but was a mere signatory of LCI’s bank accounts. This
made the verified statement of Atty. Limpin untrue.15chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


Moreover, it was noted that only Mr. Celso de los Angeles had the authority to appoint or
designate directors or officers of Legacy. Atty. Limpin was aware that this procedure was not
legally permissible. Despite knowing this to be irregular, she allowed herself to be dictated upon
and falsely certified that Guarin was a stockholder, chairman and president of the company. The
Secretary’s Certificates with Guarin’s signature Atty. Limpin presented were of no moment since
in these Guarin merely acceded to become a signatory of bank accounts and these do not show
that Guarin was a stockholder.


The IBP Board of Governors in its April 15, 2013 Resolution16 adopted in toto the CBD Report.
Atty. Limpin moved for reconsideration17 but was denied in the March 21, 2014 Resolution18 of
the IBP Board of Governors.


We adopt the report and recommendation of the IBP. Atty. Limpin has violated Canon 1, Rule
1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the CPR.


Members of the bar are reminded that their first duty is to comply with the rules of procedure,
rather than seek exceptions as loopholes.19 A lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme
or who connives in violating the law commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against
the lawyer.20chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


Disbarment proceedings are sui generis and can proceed independently of civil and criminal
cases. As Justice Malcolm stated “[t]he serious consequences of disbarment or suspension
should follow only where there is a clear preponderance of evidence against the respondent. The
presumption is that the attorney is innocent of the charges pr[o]ferred and has performed his duty
as an officer of the court in accordance with his oath.”21chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


Grounds for such administrative action against a lawyer may be found in Section 27,22 Rule 138
of theRules of Court. Among these are (1) the use of any deceit, malpractice, or other gross
misconduct in such office and (2) any violation of the oath which he is required to take before
the admission to practice.


After going through the submissions and stipulations of the parties, we agree with the IBP that
there is no indication that Guarin held any share to the corporation and that he is therefore
ineligible to hold a seat in the BOD and be the president of the company.23 It is undisputed that
Atty. Limpin filed and certified that Guarin was a stockholder of LCI in the GIS. While she
posits that she had made the same in good faith, her certification also contained a stipulation that
she made a due verification of the statements contained therein. That Atty. Limpin believed that
Guarin would sign a Deed of Assignment is inconsequential: he never signed the instrument. We
also note that there was no submission which would support the allegation that Guarin was in
fact a stockholder. We thus find that in filing a GIS that contained false information, Atty.
Limpin committed an infraction which did not conform to her oath as a lawyer in accord with
Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR.


We also agree with the IBP that in allowing herself to be swayed by the business practice of
having Mr. de los Angeles appoint the members of the BOD and officers of the corporation
despite the rules enunciated in the Corporation Code with respect to the election of such officers,
Atty. Limpin has transgressed Rule 1.02 of the CPR.


However, considering the seriousness of Atty. Limpin’s action in submitting a false document we
see it fit to increase the recommended penalty to six months suspension from the practice of
law.chanrobleslaw


WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin GUILTY of violation of
Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin from the practice of law for SIX (6)
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision, with a warning that a repetition of the same
or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.


Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended to
respondent’s personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department
of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.


SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

G.R. No. L-25291 January 30, 1971


THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD., EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION-NATU,
FGU INSURANCE GROUP WORKERS and EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION-NATU, and
INSULAR LIFE BUILDING EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION-NATU, petitioners, 

vs.

THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD., FGU INSURANCE GROUP, JOSE M.
OLBES and COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, respondents.
Lacsina, Lontok and Perez and Luis F. Aquino for petitioners.
Francisco de los Reyes for respondent Court of Industrial Relations.
Araneta, Mendoza and Papa for other respondents.

CASTRO, J.:
Appeal, by certiorari to review a decision and a resolution en banc of the Court of Industrial
Relations dated August 17, 1965 and October 20, 1965, respectively, in Case 1698-ULP.
The Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd., Employees Association-NATU, FGU Insurance Group
Workers & Employees Association-NATU, and Insular Life Building Employees Association-
NATU (hereinafter referred to as the Unions), while still members of the Federation of Free
Workers (FFW), entered into separate collective bargaining agreements with the Insular Life
Assurance Co., Ltd. and the FGU Insurance Group (hereinafter referred to as the Companies).
Two of the lawyers of the Unions then were Felipe Enaje and Ramon Garcia; the latter was
formerly the secretary-treasurer of the FFW and acting president of the Insular Life/FGU unions
and the Insular Life Building Employees Association. Garcia, as such acting president, in a
circular issued in his name and signed by him, tried to dissuade the members of the Unions from
disaffiliating with the FFW and joining the National Association of Trade Unions (NATU), to no
avail.
Enaje and Garcia soon left the FFW and secured employment with the Anti-Dummy Board of the
Department of Justice. Thereafter, the Companies hired Garcia in the latter part of 1956 as
assistant corporate secretary and legal assistant in their Legal Department, and he was soon
receiving P900 a month, or P600 more than he was receiving from the FFW. Enaje was hired on
or about February 19, 1957 as personnel manager of the Companies, and was likewise made
chairman of the negotiating panel for the Companies in the collective bargaining with the
Unions.
In a letter dated September 16, 1957, the Unions jointly submitted proposals to the Companies
for a modified renewal of their respective collective bargaining contracts which were then due to
expire on September 30, 1957. The parties mutually agreed and to make whatever benefits could
be agreed upon retroactively effective October 1, 1957.
Thereafter, in the months of September and October 1957 negotiations were conducted on the
Union's proposals, but these were snagged by a deadlock on the issue of union shop, as a result
of which the Unions filed on January 27, 1958 a notice of strike for "deadlock on collective
bargaining." Several conciliation conferences were held under the auspices of the Department of
Labor wherein the conciliators urged the Companies to make reply to the Unions' proposals en
toto so that the said Unions might consider the feasibility of dropping their demand for union
security in exchange for other benefits. However, the Companies did not make any counter-
proposals but, instead, insisted that the Unions first drop their demand for union security,
promising money benefits if this was done. Thereupon, and prior to April 15, 1958, the petitioner
Insular Life Building Employees Association-NATU dropped this particular demand, and
requested the Companies to answer its demands, point by point, en toto. But the respondent
Insular Life Assurance Co. still refused to make any counter-proposals. In a letter addressed to
the two other Unions by the joint management of the Companies, the former were also asked to
drop their union security demand, otherwise the Companies "would no longer consider
themselves bound by the commitment to make money benefits retroactive to October 1, 1957."
By a letter dated April 17, 1958, the remaining two petitioner unions likewise dropped their
demand for union shop. April 25, 1958 then was set by the parties to meet and discuss the
remaining demands.
From April 25 to May 6, 1958, the parties negotiated on the labor demands but with no
satisfactory result due to a stalemate on the matter of salary increases. On May 13, 1958 the
Unions demanded from the Companies final counter-proposals on their economic demands,
particularly on salary increases. Instead of giving counter-proposals, the Companies on May 15,
1958 presented facts and figures and requested the Unions to submit a workable formula which
would justify their own proposals, taking into account the financial position of the former.
Forthwith the Unions voted to declare a strike in protest against what they considered the
Companies' unfair labor practices.
Meanwhile, eighty-seven (87) unionists were reclassified as supervisors without increase in
salary nor in responsibility while negotiations were going on in the Department of Labor after
the notice to strike was served on the Companies. These employees resigned from the Unions.
On May 20, 1958 the Unions went on strike and picketed the offices of the Insular Life Building
at Plaza Moraga.
On May 21, 1958 the Companies through their acting manager and president, the respondent
Jose M. Olbes (hereinafter referred to as the respondent Olbes), sent to each of the strikers a
letter (exhibit A) quoted verbatim as follows:
We recognize it is your privilege both to strike and to conduct picketing.
However, if any of you would like to come back to work voluntarily, you may:
1. Advise the nearest police officer or security guard of your intention to do so.
2. Take your meals within the office.
3. Make a choice whether to go home at the end of the day or to sleep nights at the
office where comfortable cots have been prepared.
4. Enjoy free coffee and occasional movies.
5. Be paid overtime for work performed in excess of eight hours.
6. Be sure arrangements will be made for your families.
The decision to make is yours — whether you still believe in the motives of the
strike or in the fairness of the Management.
The Unions, however, continued on strike, with the exception of a few unionists who were
convinced to desist by the aforesaid letter of May 21, 1958.
From the date the strike was called on May 21, 1958, until it was called off on May 31, 1958,
some management men tried to break thru the Unions' picket lines. Thus, on May 21, 1958
Garcia, assistant corporate secretary, and Vicente Abella, chief of the personnel records section,
respectively of the Companies, tried to penetrate the picket lines in front of the Insular Life
Building. Garcia, upon approaching the picket line, tossed aside the placard of a picketer, one
Paulino Bugay; a fight ensued between them, in which both suffered injuries. The Companies
organized three bus-loads of employees, including a photographer, who with the said respondent
Olbes, succeeded in penetrating the picket lines in front of the Insular Life Building, thus causing
injuries to the picketers and also to the strike-breakers due to the resistance offered by some
picketers.
Alleging that some non-strikers were injured and with the use of photographs as evidence, the
Companies then filed criminal charges against the strikers with the City Fiscal's Office of
Manila. During the pendency of the said cases in the fiscal's office, the Companies likewise filed
a petition for injunction with damages with the Court of First Instance of Manila which, on the
basis of the pendency of the various criminal cases against striking members of the Unions,
issued on May 31, 1958 an order restraining the strikers, until further orders of the said court,
from stopping, impeding, obstructing, etc. the free and peaceful use of the Companies' gates,
entrance and driveway and the free movement of persons and vehicles to and from, out and in, of
the Companies' building.
On the same date, the Companies, again through the respondent Olbes, sent individually to the
strikers a letter (exhibit B), quoted hereunder in its entirety:
The first day of the strike was last 21 May 1958.
Our position remains unchanged and the strike has made us even more convinced
of our decision.
We do not know how long you intend to stay out, but we cannot hold your
positions open for long. We have continued to operate and will continue to do so
with or without you.
If you are still interested in continuing in the employ of the Group Companies,
and if there are no criminal charges pending against you, we are giving you until 2
June 1958 to report for work at the home office. If by this date you have not yet
reported, we may be forced to obtain your replacement.
Before, the decisions was yours to make.
So it is now.
Incidentally, all of the more than 120 criminal charges filed against the members of the Unions,
except three (3), were dismissed by the fiscal's office and by the courts. These three cases
involved "slight physical injuries" against one striker and "light coercion" against two others.
At any rate, because of the issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction against them as well as
the ultimatum of the Companies giving them until June 2, 1958 to return to their jobs or else be
replaced, the striking employees decided to call off their strike and to report back to work on
June 2, 1958.
However, before readmitting the strikers, the Companies required them not only to secure
clearances from the City Fiscal's Office of Manila but also to be screened by a management
committee among the members of which were Enage and Garcia. The screening committee
initially rejected 83 strikers with pending criminal charges. However, all non-strikers with
pending criminal charges which arose from the breakthrough incident were readmitted
immediately by the Companies without being required to secure clearances from the fiscal's
office. Subsequently, when practically all the strikers had secured clearances from the fiscal's
office, the Companies readmitted only some but adamantly refused readmission to 34 officials
and members of the Unions who were most active in the strike, on the ground that they
committed "acts inimical to the interest of the respondents," without however stating the specific
acts allegedly committed. Among those who were refused readmission are Emiliano Tabasondra,
vice president of the Insular Life Building Employees' Association-NATU; Florencio Ibarra,
president of the FGU Insurance Group Workers & Employees Association-NATU; and Isagani
Du Timbol, acting president of the Insular Life Assurance Co., Ltd. Employees Association-
NATU. Some 24 of the above number were ultimately notified months later that they were being
dismissed retroactively as of June 2, 1958 and given separation pay checks computed under Rep.
Act 1787, while others (ten in number) up to now have not been readmitted although there have
been no formal dismissal notices given to them.
On July 29, 1958 the CIR prosecutor filed a complaint for unfair labor practice against the
Companies under Republic Act 875. The complaint specifically charged the Companies with (1)
interfering with the members of the Unions in the exercise of their right to concerted action, by
sending out individual letters to them urging them to abandon their strike and return to work,
with a promise of comfortable cots, free coffee and movies, and paid overtime, and,
subsequently, by warning them that if they did not return to work on or before June 2, 1958, they
might be replaced; and (2) discriminating against the members of the Unions as regards
readmission to work after the strike on the basis of their union membership and degree of
participation in the strike.
On August 4, 1958 the Companies filed their answer denying all the material allegations of the
complaint, stating special defenses therein, and asking for the dismissal of the complaint.
After trial on the merits, the Court of Industrial Relations, through Presiding Judge Arsenio
Martinez, rendered on August 17, 1965 a decision dismissing the Unions' complaint for lack of
merit. On August 31, 1965 the Unions seasonably filed their motion for reconsideration of the
said decision, and their supporting memorandum on September 10, 1965. This was denied by the
Court of Industrial Relations en banc in a resolution promulgated on October 20, 1965.
Hence, this petition for review, the Unions contending that the lower court erred:
1. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice in sending out
individually to the strikers the letters marked Exhibits A and B;
2. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice for discriminating
against the striking members of the Unions in the matter of readmission of
employees after the strike;
3. In not finding the Companies guilty of unfair labor practice for dismissing
officials and members of the Unions without giving them the benefit of
investigation and the opportunity to present their side in regard to activities
undertaken by them in the legitimate exercise of their right to strike; and
4. In not ordering the reinstatement of officials and members of the Unions, with
full back wages, from June 2, 1958 to the date of their actual reinstatement to
their usual employment.
I. The respondents contend that the sending of the letters, exhibits A and B, constituted a
legitimate exercise of their freedom of speech. We do not agree. The said letters were directed to
the striking employees individually — by registered special delivery mail at that — without
being coursed through the Unions which were representing the employees in the collective
bargaining.
The act of an employer in notifying absent employees individually during a strike
following unproductive efforts at collective bargaining that the plant would be
operated the next day and that their jobs were open for them should they want to
come in has been held to be an unfair labor practice, as an active interference with
the right of collective bargaining through dealing with the employees individually
instead of through their collective bargaining representatives. (31 Am. Jur.
563, citing NLRB v. Montgomery Ward & Co. [CA 9th] 133 F2d 676, 146 ALR
1045)
Indeed, it is an unfair labor practice for an employer operating under a collective bargaining
agreement to negotiate or to attempt to negotiate with his employees individually in connection
with changes in the agreement. And the basis of the prohibition regarding individual bargaining
with the strikers is that although the union is on strike, the employer is still under obligation to
bargain with the union as the employees' bargaining representative (Melo Photo Supply
Corporation vs. National Labor Relations Board, 321 U.S. 332).
Indeed, some such similar actions are illegal as constituting unwarranted acts of interference.
Thus, the act of a company president in writing letters to the strikers, urging their return to work
on terms inconsistent with their union membership, was adjudged as constituting interference
with the exercise of his employees' right to collective bargaining (Lighter Publishing, CCA 7th,
133 F2d 621). It is likewise an act of interference for the employer to send a letter to all
employees notifying them to return to work at a time specified therein, otherwise new employees
would be engaged to perform their jobs. Individual solicitation of the employees or visiting their
homes, with the employer or his representative urging the employees to cease union activity or
cease striking, constitutes unfair labor practice. All the above-detailed activities are unfair labor
practices because they tend to undermine the concerted activity of the employees, an activity to
which they are entitled free from the employer's molestation.1
Moreover, since exhibit A is a letter containing promises of benefits to the employees in order to
entice them to return to work, it is not protected by the free speech provisions of the Constitution
(NLRB v. Clearfield Cheese Co., Inc., 213 F2d 70). The same is true with exhibit B since it
contained threats to obtain replacements for the striking employees in the event they did not
report for work on June 2, 1958. The free speech protection under the Constitution is
inapplicable where the expression of opinion by the employer or his agent contains a promise of
benefit, or threats, or reprisal (31 Am. Jur. 544; NLRB vs. Clearfield Cheese Co., Inc., 213 F2d
70; NLRB vs. Goigy Co., 211 F2d 533, 35 ALR 2d 422).
Indeed, when the respondents offered reinstatement and attempted to "bribe" the strikers with
"comfortable cots," "free coffee and occasional movies," "overtime" pay for "work performed in
excess of eight hours," and "arrangements" for their families, so they would abandon the strike
and return to work, they were guilty of strike-breaking and/or union-busting and, consequently,
of unfair labor practice. It is equivalent to an attempt to break a strike for an employer to offer
reinstatement to striking employees individually, when they are represented by a union, since the
employees thus offered reinstatement are unable to determine what the consequences of
returning to work would be.
Likewise violative of the right to organize, form and join labor organizations are the following
acts: the offer of a Christmas bonus to all "loyal" employees of a company shortly after the
making of a request by the union to bargain; wage increases given for the purpose of mollifying
employees after the employer has refused to bargain with the union, or for the purpose of
inducing striking employees to return to work; the employer's promises of benefits in return for
the strikers' abandonment of their strike in support of their union; and the employer's statement,
made about 6 weeks after the strike started, to a group of strikers in a restaurant to the effect that
if the strikers returned to work, they would receive new benefits in the form of hospitalization,
accident insurance, profit-sharing, and a new building to work in.2
Citing paragraph 5 of the complaint filed by the acting prosecutor of the lower court which states
that "the officers and members of the complainant unions decided to call off the strike and return
to work on June 2, 1958 by reason of the injunction issued by the Manila Court of First
Instance," the respondents contend that this was the main cause why the strikers returned to work
and not the letters, exhibits A and B. This assertion is without merit. The circumstance that the
strikers later decided to return to work ostensibly on account of the injunctive writ issued by the
Court of First Instance of Manila cannot alter the intrinsic quality of the letters, which were
calculated, or which tended, to interfere with the employees' right to engage in lawful concerted
activity in the form of a strike. Interference constituting unfair labor practice will not cease to be
such simply because it was susceptible of being thwarted or resisted, or that it did not
proximately cause the result intended. For success of purpose is not, and should not, be the
criterion in determining whether or not a prohibited act constitutes unfair labor practice.
The test of whether an employer has interfered with and coerced employees
within the meaning of subsection (a) (1) is whether the employer has engaged in
conduct which it may reasonably be said tends to interfere with the free exercise
of employees' rights under section 3 of the Act, and it is not necessary that there
be direct evidence that any employee was in fact intimidated or coerced by
statements of threats of the employer if there is a reasonable inference that anti-
union conduct of the employer does have an adverse effect on self-organization
and collective bargaining. (Francisco, Labor Laws 1956, Vol. II, p.
323, citing NLRB v. Ford, C.A., 1948, 170 F2d 735).
Besides, the letters, exhibits A and B, should not be considered by themselves alone but should
be read in the light of the preceding and subsequent circumstances surrounding them. The letters
should be interpreted according to the "totality of conduct doctrine,"
... whereby the culpability of an employer's remarks were to be evaluated not only
on the basis of their implicit implications, but were to be appraised against the
background of and in conjunction with collateral circumstances. Under this
"doctrine" expressions of opinion by an employer which, though innocent in
themselves, frequently were held to be culpable because of the circumstances
under which they were uttered, the history of the particular employer's labor
relations or anti-union bias or because of their connection with an established
collateral plan of coercion or interference. (Rothenberg on Relations, p. 374, and
cases cited therein.)
It must be recalled that previous to the petitioners' submission of proposals for an amended
renewal of their respective collective bargaining agreements to the respondents, the latter hired
Felipe Enage and Ramon Garcia, former legal counsels of the petitioners, as personnel manager
and assistant corporate secretary, respectively, with attractive compensations. After the notice to
strike was served on the Companies and negotiations were in progress in the Department of
Labor, the respondents reclassified 87 employees as supervisors without increase in salary or in
responsibility, in effect compelling these employees to resign from their unions. And during the
negotiations in the Department of Labor, despite the fact that the petitioners granted the
respondents' demand that the former drop their demand for union shop and in spite of urgings by
the conciliators of the Department of Labor, the respondents adamantly refused to answer the
Unions' demands en toto. Incidentally, Enage was the chairman of the negotiating panel for the
Companies in the collective bargaining between the former and the Unions. After the petitioners
went to strike, the strikers were individually sent copies of exhibit A, enticing them to abandon
their strike by inducing them to return to work upon promise of special privileges. Two days
later, the respondents, thru their president and manager, respondent Jose M. Olbes, brought three
truckloads of non-strikers and others, escorted by armed men, who, despite the presence of eight
entrances to the three buildings occupied by the Companies, entered thru only one gate less than
two meters wide and in the process, crashed thru the picket line posted in front of the premises of
the Insular Life Building. This resulted in injuries on the part of the picketers and the strike-
breakers.lâwphî1.ñèt Then the respondents brought against the picketers criminal charges, only
three of which were not dismissed, and these three only for slight misdemeanors. As a result of
these criminal actions, the respondents were able to obtain an injunction from the court of first
instance restraining the strikers from stopping, impeding, obstructing, etc. the free and peaceful
use of the Companies' gates, entrance and driveway and the free movement of persons and
vehicles to and from, out and in, of the Companies' buildings. On the same day that the
injunction was issued, the letter, Exhibit B, was sent — again individually and by registered
special delivery mail — to the strikers, threatening them with dismissal if they did not report for
work on or before June 2, 1958. But when most of the petitioners reported for work, the
respondents thru a screening committee — of which Ramon Garcia was a member — refused to
admit 63 members of the Unions on the ground of "pending criminal charges." However, when
almost all were cleared of criminal charges by the fiscal's office, the respondents adamantly
refused admission to 34 officials and union members. It is not, however, disputed that all-non-
strikers with pending criminal charges which arose from the breakthrough incident of May 23,
1958 were readmitted immediately by the respondents. Among the non-strikers with pending
criminal charges who were readmitted were Generoso Abella, Enrique Guidote, Emilio Carreon,
Antonio Castillo, Federico Barretto, Manuel Chuidian and Nestor Cipriano. And despite the fact
that the fiscal's office found no probable cause against the petitioning strikers, the Companies
adamantly refused admission to them on the pretext that they committed "acts inimical to the
interest of the respondents," without stating specifically the inimical acts allegedly committed.
They were soon to admit, however, that these alleged inimical acts were the same criminal
charges which were dismissed by the fiscal and by the courts..
Verily, the above actuations of the respondents before and after the issuance of the letters, exhibit
A and B, yield the clear inference that the said letters formed of the respondents scheme to
preclude if not destroy unionism within them.
To justify the respondents' threat to dismiss the strikers and secure replacements for them in
order to protect and continue their business, the CIR held the petitioners' strike to be an
economic strike on the basis of exhibit 4 (Notice of Strike) which states that there was a
"deadlock in collective bargaining" and on the strength of the supposed testimonies of some
union men who did not actually know the very reason for the strike. It should be noted that
exhibit 4, which was filed on January 27, 1958, states, inter alia:
TO: BUREAU OF LABOR RELATIONS 

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

MANILA
Thirty (30) days from receipt of this notice by the Office, this [sic] unions intends
to go on strike against
THE INSULAR LIFE ASSURANCE CO., LTD.

Plaza Moraga, Manila
THE FGU INSURANCE GROUP 

Plaza Moraga, Manila
INSULAR LIFE BUILDING ADMINISTRATION

Plaza Moraga, Manila .
for the following reason: DEADLOCK IN COLLECTIVE BARGAINING...
However, the employees did not stage the strike after the thirty-day period, reckoned from
January 27, 1958. This simply proves that the reason for the strike was not the deadlock on
collective bargaining nor any lack of economic concessions. By letter dated April 15, 1958, the
respondents categorically stated what they thought was the cause of the "Notice of Strike," which
so far as material, reads:
3. Because you did not see fit to agree with our position on the union shop, you
filed a notice of strike with the Bureau of Labor Relations on 27 January 1958,
citing `deadlock in collective bargaining' which could have been for no other issue
than the union shop." (exhibit 8, letter dated April 15, 1958.)
The strike took place nearly four months from the date the said notice of strike was filed. And the
actual and main reason for the strike was, "When it became crystal clear the management double
crossed or will not negotiate in good faith, it is tantamount to refusal collectively and considering
the unfair labor practice in the meantime being committed by the management such as the
sudden resignation of some unionists and [who] became supervisors without increase in salary or
change in responsibility, such as the coercion of employees, decided to declare the strike." (tsn.,
Oct. 14, 1958, p. 14.) The truth of this assertion is amply proved by the following circumstances:
(1) it took the respondents six (6) months to consider the petitioners' proposals, their only excuse
being that they could not go on with the negotiations if the petitioners did not drop the demand
for union shop (exh. 7, respondents' letter dated April 7, 1958); (2) when the petitioners dropped
the demand for union shop, the respondents did not have a counter-offer to the petitioners'
demands. Sec. 14 of Rep. Act 875 required the respondents to make a reply to the petitioners'
demands within ten days from receipt thereof, but instead they asked the petitioners to give a
"well reasoned, workable formula which takes into account the financial position of the group
companies." (tsn., Sept. 8, 1958, p. 62; tsn., Feb. 26, 1969, p. 49.)
II. Exhibit H imposed three conditions for readmission of the strikers, namely: (1) the employee
must be interested in continuing his work with the group companies; (2) there must be no
criminal charges against him; and (3) he must report for work on June 2, 1958, otherwise he
would be replaced. Since the evidence shows that all the employees reported back to work at the
respondents' head office on June 2, 1953, they must be considered as having complied with the
first and third conditions.
Our point of inquiry should therefore be directed at whether they also complied with the second
condition. It is not denied that when the strikers reported for work on June 2, 1958, 63 members
of the Unions were refused readmission because they had pending criminal charges. However,
despite the fact that they were able to secure their respective clearances 34 officials and union
members were still refused readmission on the alleged ground that they committed acts inimical
to the Companies. It is beyond dispute, however, that non-strikers who also had criminal charges
pending against them in the fiscal's office, arising from the same incidents whence the criminal
charges against the strikers evolved, were readily readmitted and were not required to secure
clearances. This is a clear act of discrimination practiced by the Companies in the process of
rehiring and is therefore a violation of sec. 4(a) (4) of the Industrial Peace Act.
The respondents did not merely discriminate against all the strikers in general. They separated
the active from the less active unionists on the basis of their militancy, or lack of it, on the picket
lines. Unionists belonging to the first category were refused readmission even after they were
able to secure clearances from the competent authorities with respect to the criminal charges
filed against them. It is significant to note in this connection that except for one union official
who deserted his union on the second day of the strike and who later participated in crashing
through the picket lines, not a single union officer was taken back to work. Discrimination
undoubtedly exists where the record shows that the union activity of the rehired strikers has been
less prominent than that of the strikers who were denied reinstatement.
So is there an unfair labor practice where the employer, although authorized by
the Court of Industrial Relations to dismiss the employees who participated in an
illegal strike, dismissed only the leaders of the strikers, such dismissal being
evidence of discrimination against those dismissed and constituting a waiver of
the employer's right to dismiss the striking employees and a condonation of the
fault committed by them." (Carlos and Fernando, Labor and Social Legislation, p.
62, citing Phil. Air Lines, Inc. v. Phil. Air Lines Emloyees Association, L-8197,
Oct. 31, 1958.)
It is noteworthy that — perhaps in an anticipatory effort to exculpate themselves from charges of
discrimination in the readmission of strikers returning to work — the respondents delegated the
power to readmit to a committee. But the respondent Olbes had chosen Vicente Abella, chief of
the personnel records section, and Ramon Garcia, assistant corporate secretary, to screen the
unionists reporting back to work. It is not difficult to imagine that these two employees —
having been involved in unpleasant incidents with the picketers during the strike — were hostile
to the strikers. Needless to say, the mere act of placing in the hands of employees hostile to the
strikers the power of reinstatement, is a form of discrimination in rehiring.
Delayed reinstatement is a form of discrimination in rehiring, as is having the
machinery of reinstatement in the hands of employees hostile to the strikers, and
reinstating a union official who formerly worked in a unionized plant, to a job in
another mill, which was imperfectly organized. (Morabe, The Law on Strikes, p.
473, citing Sunshine Mining Co., 7 NLRB 1252; Cleveland Worsted Mills, 43
NLRB 545; emphasis supplied.)
Equally significant is the fact that while the management and the members of the screening
committee admitted the discrimination committed against the strikers, they tossed back and
around to each other the responsibility for the discrimination. Thus, Garcia admitted that in
exercising for the management the authority to screen the returning employees, the committee
admitted the non-strikers but refused readmission to the strikers (tsn., Feb. 6, 1962, pp. 15-19,
23-29). Vicente Abella, chairman of the management's screening committee, while admitting the
discrimination, placed the blame therefor squarely on the management (tsn., Sept. 20, 1960, pp.
7-8, 14-18). But the management, speaking through the respondent Olbes, head of the
Companies, disclaimed responsibility for the discrimination. He testified that "The decision
whether to accept or not an employee was left in the hands of that committee that had been
empowered to look into all cases of the strikers." (tsn., Sept. 6, 1962, p. 19.)
Of course, the respondents — through Ramon Garcia — tried to explain the basis for such
discrimination by testifying that strikers whose participation in any alleged misconduct during
the picketing was not serious in nature were readmissible, while those whose participation was
serious were not. (tsn., Aug. 4, 1961, pp. 48-49, 56). But even this distinction between acts of
slight misconduct and acts of serious misconduct which the respondents contend was the basis
for either reinstatement or discharge, is completely shattered upon a cursory examination of the
evidence on record. For with the exception of Pascual Esquillo whose dismissal sent to the other
strikers cited the alleged commission by them of simple "acts of misconduct."
III. Anent the third assignment of error, the record shows that not a single dismissed striker was
given the opportunity to defend himself against the supposed charges against him. As earlier
mentioned, when the striking employees reported back for work on June 2, 1958, the respondents
refused to readmit them unless they first secured the necessary clearances; but when all, except
three, were able to secure and subsequently present the required clearances, the respondents still
refused to take them back. Instead, several of them later received letters from the respondents in
the following stereotyped tenor:
This will confirm the termination of your employment with the Insular Life-FGU
Insurance Group as of 2 June 1958.
The termination of your employment was due to the fact that you committed acts
of misconduct while picketing during the last strike. Because this may not
constitute sufficient cause under the law to terminate your employment without
pay, we are giving you the amount of P1,930.32 corresponding to one-half month
pay for every year of your service in the Group Company.
Kindly acknowledge receipt of the check we are sending herewith.
Very truly yours,
(Sgd.) JOSE M.
OLBES

President, Insurance
Life

Acting President,
FGU.
The respondents, however, admitted that the alleged "acts of misconduct" attributed to the
dismissed strikers were the same acts with which the said strikers were charged before the
fiscal's office and the courts. But all these charges except three were dropped or dismissed.
Indeed, the individual cases of dismissed officers and members of the striking unions do not
indicate sufficient basis for dismissal.
Emiliano Tabasondra, vice-president of the petitioner FGU Insurance Group Workers &
Employees Association-NATU, was refused reinstatement allegedly because he did not report for
duty on June 2, 1958 and, hence, had abandoned his office. But the overwhelming evidence
adduced at the trial and which the respondents failed to rebut, negates the respondents' charge
that he had abandoned his job. In his testimony, corroborated by many others, Tabasondra
particularly identified the management men to whom he and his group presented themselves on
June 2, 1958. He mentioned the respondent Olbes' secretary, De Asis, as the one who received
them and later directed them — when Olbes refused them an audience — to Felipe Enage, the
Companies' personnel manager. He likewise categorically stated that he and his group went to
see Enage as directed by Olbes' secretary. If Tabasondra were not telling the truth, it would have
been an easy matter for the respondents to produce De Asis and Enage — who testified anyway
as witnesses for the respondents on several occasions — to rebut his testimony. The respondents
did nothing of the kind. Moreover, Tabasondra called on June 21, 1958 the respondents' attention
to his non-admission and asked them to inform him of the reasons therefor, but instead of doing
so, the respondents dismissed him by their letter dated July 10, 1958. Elementary fairness
required that before being dismissed for cause, Tabasondra be given "his day in court."
At any rate, it has been held that mere failure to report for work after notice to return, does not
constitute abandonment nor bar reinstatement. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the
taking back of six of eleven men constituted discrimination although the five strikers who were
not reinstated, all of whom were prominent in the union and in the strike, reported for work at
various times during the next three days, but were told that there were no openings. Said the
Court:
... The Board found, and we cannot say that its finding is unsupported, that, in
taking back six union men, the respondent's officials discriminated against the
latter on account of their union activities and that the excuse given that they did
not apply until after the quota was full was an afterthought and not the true reason
for the discrimination against them. (NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.,
304 U.S. 333, 58 Sup. Ct. 904, 82 L. Ed. 1381) (Mathews, Labor Relations and
the Law, p. 725, 728)
The respondents' allegation that Tabasondra should have returned after being refused readmission
on June 2, 1958, is not persuasive. When the employer puts off reinstatement when an employee
reports for work at the time agreed, we consider the employee relieved from the duty of returning
further.
Sixto Tongos was dismissed allegedly because he revealed that despite the fact that the
Companies spent more than P80,000 for the vacation trips of officials, they refused to grant
union demands; hence, he betrayed his trust as an auditor of the Companies. We do not find this
allegation convincing. First, this accusation was emphatically denied by Tongos on the witness
stand. Gonzales, president of one of the respondent Companies and one of the officials referred
to, took a trip abroad in 1958. Exchange controls were then in force, and an outgoing traveller on
a combined business and vacation trip was allowed by the Central Bank, per its Circular 52
(Notification to Authorized Agent Banks) dated May 9, 1952, an allocation of $1,000 or only
P2,000, at the official rate of two pesos to the dollar, as pocket money; hence, this was the only
amount that would appear on the books of the Companies. It was only on January 21, 1962, per
its Circular 133 (Notification to Authorized Agent Banks), that the Central Bank lifted the
exchange controls. Tongos could not therefore have revealed an amount bigger than the above
sum. And his competence in figures could not be doubted considering that he had passed the
board examinations for certified public accountants. But assuming arguendo that Tongos indeed
revealed the true expenses of Gonzales' trip — which the respondents never denied or tried to 

disprove — his statements clearly fall within the sphere of a unionist's right to discuss and
advertise the facts involved in a labor dispute, in accordance with section 9(a)(5) of Republic Act
875 which guarantees the untramelled exercise by striking employees of the right to give
"publicity to the existence of, or the fact involved in any labor dispute, whether by advertising,
speaking, patrolling or by any method not involving fraud or violence." Indeed, it is not only the
right, it is as well the duty, of every unionist to advertise the facts of a dispute for the purpose of
informing all those affected thereby. In labor disputes, the combatants are expected to expose the
truth before the public to justify their respective demands. Being a union man and one of the
strikers, Tongos was expected to reveal the whole truth on whether or not the respondent
Companies were justified in refusing to accede to union demands. After all, not being one of the
supervisors, he was not a part of management. And his statement, if indeed made, is but an
expression of free speech protected by the Constitution.
Free speech on both sides and for every faction on any side of the labor relation is
to me a constitutional and useful right. Labor is free ... to turn its publicity on any
labor oppression, substandard wages, employer unfairness, or objectionable
working conditions. The employer, too, should be free to answer and to turn
publicity on the records of the leaders of the unions which seek the confidence of
his men ... (Concurring opinion of Justice Jackson in Thomas v. Collins, 323 U.S.
516, 547, 65 Sup. Ct. 315, 89 L. Ed. 430.) (Mathews, Labor Relations and the
Law, p. 591.)
The respondents also allege that in revealing certain confidential information, Tongos committed
not only a betrayal of trust but also a violation of the moral principles and ethics of accountancy.
But nowhere in the Code of Ethics for Certified Public Accountants under the Revised Rules and
Regulations of the Board of Accountancy formulated in 1954, is this stated. Moreover, the
relationship of the Companies with Tongos was that of an employer and not a client. And with
regard to the testimonies of Juan Raymundo and Antolin Carillo, both vice-presidents of the
Trust Insurance Agencies, Inc. about the alleged utterances made by Tongos, the lower court
should not have given them much weight. The firm of these witnesses was newly established at
that time and was still a "general agency" of the Companies. It is not therefore amiss to conclude
that they were more inclined to favor the respondents rather than Tongos.
Pacifico Ner, Paulino Bugay, Jose Garcia, Narciso Daño, Vicente Alsol and Hermenigildo
Ramirez, opined the lower court, were constructively dismissed by non-readmission allegedly
because they not only prevented Ramon Garcia, assistant corporate secretary, and Vicente Abella,
chief of the personnel records section of the Companies, from entering the Companies' premises
on May 21, 1958, but they also caused bruises and abrasions on Garcia's chest and forehead —
acts considered inimical to the interest of the respondents. The Unions, upon the other hand,
insist that there is complete lack of evidence that Ner took part in pushing Garcia; that it was
Garcia who elbowed his way through the picket lines and therefore Ner shouted "Close up,"
which the picketers did; and that Garcia tossed Paulino Bugay's placard and a fight ensued
between them in which both suffered injuries. But despite these conflicting versions of what
actually happened on May 21, 1958, there are grounds to believe that the picketers are not
responsible for what happened.lâwphî1.ñèt The picketing on May 21, 1958, as reported in the
police blotter, was peaceful (see Police blotter report, exh. 3 in CA-G.R. No. 25991-R of the
Court of Appeals, where Ner was acquitted). Moreover, although the Companies during the
strike were holding offices at the Botica Boie building at Escolta, Manila; Tuason Building at
San Vicente Street, Manila; and Ayala, Inc. offices at Makati, Rizal, Garcia, the assistant
corporate secretary, and Abella, the chief of the personnel records section, reported for work at
the Insular Life Building. There is therefore a reasonable suggestion that they were sent to work
at the latter building to create such an incident and have a basis for filing criminal charges
against the petitioners in the fiscal's office and applying for injunction from the court of first
instance. Besides, under the circumstances the picketers were not legally bound to yield their
grounds and withdraw from the picket lines. Being where the law expects them to be in the
legitimate exercise of their rights, they had every reason to defend themselves and their rights
from any assault or unlawful transgression. Yet the police blotter, about adverted to, attests that
they did not resort to violence.
The heated altercations and occasional blows exchanged on the picket line do not affect or
diminish the right to strike. Persuasive on this point is the following commentary: .
We think it must be conceded that some disorder is unfortunately quite usual in
any extensive or long drawn out strike. A strike is essentially a battle waged with
economic weapons. Engaged in it are human beings whose feelings are stirred to
the depths. Rising passions call forth hot words. Hot words lead to blows on the
picket line. The transformation from economic to physical combat by those
engaged in the contest is difficult to prevent even when cool heads direct the fight.
Violence of this nature, however much it is to be regretted, must have been in the
contemplation of the Congress when it provided in Sec. 13 of Act 29 USCA Sec.
163, that nothing therein should be construed so as to interfere with or impede or
diminish in any way the right to strike. If this were not so, the rights afforded to
employees by the Act would indeed be illusory. We accordingly recently held that
it was not intended by the Act that minor disorders of this nature would deprive a
striker of the possibility of reinstatement. (Republic Steel Corp. v. N. L. R. B.,
107 F2d 472, cited in Mathews, Labor Relations and the Law, p. 378)
Hence the incident that occurred between Ner, et al. and Ramon Garcia was but a necessary
incident of the strike and should not be considered as a bar to reinstatement. Thus it has been
held that:
Fist-fighting between union and non-union employees in the midst of a strike is no bar to
reinstatement. (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective Bargaining, Vol. II, p. 855 citing Stackpole
Carbon, Co. 6 NLRB 171, enforced 105 F2d 167.)
Furthermore, assuming that the acts committed by the strikers were transgressions of law, they
amount only to mere ordinary misdemeanors and are not a bar to reinstatement.
In cases involving misdemeanors the board has generally held that unlawful acts are not bar to
reinstatement. (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective Bargaining, Id., p. 854, citing Ford Motor
Company, 23 NLRB No. 28.)
Finally, it is not disputed that despite the pendency of criminal charges against non-striking
employees before the fiscal's office, they were readily admitted, but those strikers who had
pending charges in the same office were refused readmission. The reinstatement of the strikers is
thus in order.
[W]here the misconduct, whether in reinstating persons equally guilty with those
whose reinstatement is opposed, or in other ways, gives rise to the inference that
union activities rather than misconduct is the basis of his [employer] objection,
the Board has usually required reinstatement." (Teller, supra, p. 853, citing the
Third Annual Report of NLRB [1938], p. 211.)
Lastly, the lower Court justified the constructive dismissal of Florencio Ibarra allegedly because
he committed acts inimical to the interest of the respondents when, as president of the FGU
Workers and Employees Association-NATU, he advised the strikers that they could use force and
violence to have a successful picket and that picketing was precisely intended to prevent the non-
strikers and company clients and customers from entering the Companies' buildings. Even if this
were true, the record discloses that the picket line had been generally peaceful, and that incidents
happened only when management men made incursions into and tried to break the picket line. At
any rate, with or without the advice of Ibarra, picketing is inherently explosive. For, as pointed
out by one author, "The picket line is an explosive front, charged with the emotions and fierce
loyalties of the union-management dispute. It may be marked by colorful name-calling,
intimidating threats or sporadic fights between the pickets and those who pass the
line." (Mathews, Labor Relations and the Law, p. 752). The picket line being the natural result of
the respondents' unfair labor practice, Ibarra's misconduct is at most a misdemeanor which is not
a bar to reinstatement. Besides, the only evidence presented by the Companies regarding Ibarra's
participation in the strike was the testimony of one Rodolfo Encarnacion, a former member of
the board of directors of the petitioner FGU Insurance Group Workers and Employees Union-
NATU, who became a "turncoat" and who likewise testified as to the union activities of Atty.
Lacsina, Ricardo Villaruel and others (annex C, Decision, p. 27) — another matter which
emphasizes the respondents' unfair labor practice. For under the circumstances, there is good
ground to believe that Encarnacion was made to spy on the actvities of the union members. This
act of the respondents is considered unjustifiable interference in the union activities of the
petitioners and is unfair labor practice.
It has been held in a great number of decisions at espionage by an employer of
union activities, or surveillance thereof, are such instances of interference,
restraint or coercion of employees in connection with their right to organize, form
and join unions as to constitute unfair labor practice.
... "Nothing is more calculated to interfere with, restrain and coerce employees in
the exercise of their right to self-organization than such activity even where no
discharges result. The information obtained by means of espionage is in valuable
to the employer and can be used in a variety of cases to break a union." The unfair
labor practice is committed whether the espionage is carried on by a professional
labor spy or detective, by officials or supervisory employees of the employer, or
by fellow employees acting at the request or direction of the employer, or an ex-
employee..." (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective Bargaining, Vol. II, pp.
765-766, and cases cited.) .
IV. The lower court should have ordered the reinstatement of the officials and members of the
Unions, with full back wages from June 2, 1958 to the date of their actual reinstatement to their
usual employment. Because all too clear from the factual and environmental milieu of this case,
coupled with settled decisional law, is that the Unions went on strike because of the unfair labor
practices committed by the respondents, and that when the strikers reported back for work —
upon the invitation of the respondents — they were discriminatorily dismissed. The members
and officials of the Unions therefore are entitled to reinstatement with back pay.
[W]here the strike was induced and provoked by improper conduct on the part of
an employer amounting to an 'unfair labor practice,' the strikers are entitled to
reinstatement with back pay. (Rothenberg on Labor Relations, p. 418.)
[A]n employee who has been dismissed in violation of the provisions of the Act is
entitled to reinstatement with back pay upon an adjudication that the discharge
was illegal." (Id., citingWaterman S. S. Corp. v. N. L. R. B., 119 F2d 760; N. L.
R. B. v. Richter's Bakery, 140 F2d 870; N. L. R. B. v. Southern Wood Preserving
Co., 135 F. 2d 606; C. G. Conn, Ltd. v. N. L. R. B., 108 F2d 390; N. L. R. B. v.
American Mfg. Co., 106 F2d 61; N. L. R. B. v. Kentucky Fire Brick Co., 99 F2d
99.)
And it is not a defense to reinstatement for the respondents to allege that the positions of these
union members have already been filled by replacements.
[W]here the employers' "unfair labor practice" caused or contributed to the strike
or where the 'lock-out' by the employer constitutes an "unfair labor practice," the
employer cannot successfully urge as a defense that the striking or lock-out
employees position has been filled by replacement. Under such circumstances, if
no job sufficiently and satisfactorily comparable to that previously held by the
aggrieved employee can be found, the employer must discharge the replacement
employee, if necessary, to restore the striking or locked-out worker to his old or
comparable position ... If the employer's improper conduct was an initial cause of
the strike, all the strikers are entitled to reinstatement and the dismissal of
replacement employees wherever necessary; ... . (Id., p. 422 and cases cited.)
A corollary issue to which we now address ourselves is, from what date should the backpay
payable to the unionists be computed? It is now a settled doctrine that strikers who are entitled to
reinstatement are not entitled to back pay during the period of the strike, even though it is caused
by an unfair labor practice. However, if they offer to return to work under the same conditions
just before the strike, the refusal to re-employ or the imposition of conditions amounting to
unfair labor practice is a violation of section 4(a) (4) of the Industrial Peace Act and the
employer is liable for backpay from the date of the offer (Cromwell Commercial Employees and
Laborers Union vs. Court of Industrial Relations, L-19778, Decision, Sept. 30, 1964, 12 SCRA
124; Id., Resolution on motion for reconsideration, 13 SCRA 258; see also Mathews, Labor
Relations and the Law, p. 730 and the cited cases). We have likewise ruled that discriminatorily
dismissed employees must receive backpay from the date of the act of discrimination, that is,
from the date of their discharge (Cromwell Commercial Employees and Laborers Union vs.
Court of Industrial Relations, supra).
The respondents notified the petitioner strikers to report back for work on June 2, 1958, which
the latter did. A great number of them, however, were refused readmission because they had
criminal charges against them pending before the fiscal's office, although non-strikers who were
also facing criminal indictments were readily readmitted. These strikers who were refused
readmission on June 2, 1958 can thus be categorized as discriminatorily dismissed employees
and are entitled to backpay from said date. This is true even with respect to the petitioners Jose
Pilapil, Paulino Bugay, Jr. and Jose Garcia, Jr. who were found guilty only of misdemeanors
which are not considered sufficient to bar reinstatement (Teller, Labor Disputes and Collective
Bargaining, p. 854), especially so because their unlawful acts arose during incidents which were
provoked by the respondents' men. However, since the employees who were denied readmission
have been out of the service of the Companies (for more than ten years) during which they may
have found other employment or other means of livelihood, it is only just and equitable that
whatever they may have earned during that period should be deducted from their back wages to
mitigate somewhat the liability of the company, pursuant to the equitable principle that no one is
allowed to enrich himself at the expense of another (Macleod & Co. of the Philippines v.
Progressive Federation of Labor, 97 Phil. 205 [1955]).
The lower court gave inordinate significance to the payment to and acceptance by the dismissed
employees of separation pay. This Court has ruled that while employers may be authorized under
Republic Act 1052 to terminate employment of employees by serving the required notice, or, in
the absence thereof, by paying the required compensation, the said Act may not be invoked to
justify a dismissal prohibited by law, e.g., dismissal for union activities.
... While Republic Act No. 1052 authorizes a commercial establishment to
terminate the employment of its employee by serving notice on him one month in
advance, or, in the absence thereof, by paying him one month compensation from
the date of the termination of his employment, such Act does not give to the
employer a blanket authority to terminate the employment regardless of the cause
or purpose behind such termination. Certainly, it cannot be made use of as a cloak
to circumvent a final order of the court or a scheme to trample upon the right of
an employee who has been the victim of an unfair labor practice. (Yu Ki Lam, et
al. v. Nena Micaller, et al., 99 Phil. 904 [1956].)
Finally, we do not share the respondents' view that the findings of fact of the Court of Industrial
Relations are supported by substantial and credible proof. This Court is not therefore precluded
from digging deeper into the factual milieu of the case (Union of Philippine Education
Employees v. Philippine Education Company, 91 Phil. 93; Lu Do & Lu Ym Corporation v.
Philippine-Land-Air-Sea Labor Union, 11 SCRA 134 [1964]).
V. The petitioners (15 of them) ask this Court to cite for contempt the respondent Presiding Judge
Arsenio Martinez of the Court of Industrial Relations and the counsels for the private
respondents, on the ground that the former wrote the following in his decision subject of the
instant petition for certiorari, while the latter quoted the same on pages 90-91 of the respondents'
brief: .
... Says the Supreme Court in the following decisions:
In a proceeding for unfair labor practice, involving a determination
as to whether or not the acts of the employees concerned justified
the adoption of the employer of disciplinary measures against
them, the mere fact that the employees may be able to put up a
valid defense in a criminal prosecution for the same acts, does not
erase or neutralize the employer's right to impose discipline on said
employees. For it is settled that not even the acquittal of an
employee of the criminal charge against him is a bar to the
employer's right to impose discipline on its employees, should the
act upon which the criminal charged was based constitute
nevertheless an activity inimical to the employer's interest... The
act of the employees now under consideration may be considered
as a misconduct which is a just cause for dismissal. (Lopez, Sr., et
al. vs. Chronicle Publication Employees Ass'n. et al., G.R. No.
L-20179-81, December 28, 1964.) (emphasis supplied)
The two pertinent paragraphs in the above-cited decision * which contained the underscored
portions of the above citation read however as follows:
Differently as regard the dismissal of Orlando Aquino and Carmelito Vicente, we
are inclined to uphold the action taken by the employer as proper disciplinary
measure. A reading of the article which allegedly caused their dismissal reveals
that it really contains an insinuation albeit subtly of the supposed exertion of
political pressure by the Manila Chronicle management upon the City Fiscal's
Office, resulting in the non-filing of the case against the employer. In rejecting the
employer's theory that the dismissal of Vicente and Aquino was justified, the
lower court considered the article as "a report of some acts and omissions of an
Assistant Fiscal in the exercise of his official functions" and, therefore, does away
with the presumption of malice. This being a proceeding for unfair labor practice,
the matter should not have been viewed or gauged in the light of the doctrine on a
publisher's culpability under the Penal Code. We are not here to determine
whether the employees' act could stand criminal prosecution, but only to find out
whether the aforesaid act justifies the adoption by the employer of disciplinary
measure against them. This is not sustaining the ruling that the publication in
question is qualified privileged, but even on the assumption that this is so, the
exempting character thereof under the Penal Code does not necessarily erase or
neutralize its effect on the employer's interest which may warrant employment of
disciplinary measure. For it must be remembered that not even the acquittal of an
employee, of the criminal charges against him, is a bar to the employer's right to
impose discipline on its employees, should the act upon which the criminal
charges was based constitute nevertheless an activity inimical to the employer's
interest.
In the herein case, it appears to us that for an employee to publish his "suspicion,"
which actually amounts to a public accusation, that his employer is exerting
political pressure on a public official to thwart some legitimate activities on the
employees, which charge, in the least, would sully the employer's reputation, can
be nothing but an act inimical to the said employer's interest. And the fact that the
same was made in the union newspaper does not alter its deleterious character nor
shield or protect a reprehensible act on the ground that it is a union activity,
because such end can be achieved without resort to improper conduct or
behavior. The act of the employees now under consideration may be considered as
a misconduct which is a just cause for dismissal.** (Emphasis ours)
It is plain to the naked eye that the 60 un-underscored words of the paragraph quoted by the
respondent Judge do not appear in the pertinent paragraph of this Court's decision in L-20179-81.
Moreover, the first underscored sentence in the quoted paragraph starts with "For it is settled ..."
whereas it reads, "For it must be remembered ...," in this Court's decision. Finally, the second and
last underlined sentence in the quoted paragraph of the respondent Judge's decision, appears not
in the same paragraph of this Court's decision where the other sentence is, but in the immediately
succeeding paragraph.
This apparent error, however, does not seem to warrant an indictment for contempt against the
respondent Judge and the respondents' counsels. We are inclined to believe that the misquotation
is more a result of clerical ineptitude than a deliberate attempt on the part of the respondent
Judge to mislead. We fully realize how saddled with many pending cases are the courts of the
land, and it is not difficult to imagine that because of the pressure of their varied and multifarious
work, clerical errors may escape their notice. Upon the other hand, the respondents' counsels
have the prima facie right to rely on the quotation as it appears in the respondent Judge's
decision, to copy it verbatim, and to incorporate it in their brief. Anyway, the import of the
underscored sentences of the quotation in the respondent Judge's decision is substantially the
same as, and faithfully reflects, the particular ruling in this Court's decision, i.e., that "[N]ot even
the acquittal of an employee, of the criminal charges against him, is a bar to the employer's right
to impose discipline on its employees, should the act upon which the criminal charges were
based constitute nevertheless an activity inimical to the employer's interest."
Be that as it may, we must articulate our firm view that in citing this Court's decisions and
rulings, it is the bounden duty of courts, judges and lawyers to reproduce or copy the same word-
for-word and punctuation mark-for-punctuation mark. Indeed, there is a salient and salutary
reason why they should do this. Only from this Tribunal's decisions and rulings do all other
courts, as well as lawyers and litigants, take their bearings. This is because the decisions referred
to in article 8 of the Civil Code which reads, "Judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws
or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines," are only those
enunciated by this Court of last resort. We said in no uncertain terms in Miranda, et al. vs.
Imperial, et al. (77 Phil. 1066) that "[O]nly the decisions of this Honorable Court establish
jurisprudence or doctrines in this jurisdiction." Thus, ever present is the danger that if not
faithfully and exactly quoted, the decisions and rulings of this Court may lose their proper and
correct meaning, to the detriment of other courts, lawyers and the public who may thereby be
misled. But if inferior courts and members of the bar meticulously discharge their duty to check
and recheck their citations of authorities culled not only from this Court's decisions but from
other sources and make certain that they are verbatim reproductions down to the last word and
punctuation mark, appellate courts will be precluded from acting on misinformation, as well as
be saved precious time in finding out whether the citations are correct.
Happily for the respondent Judge and the respondents' counsels, there was no substantial change
in the thrust of this Court's particular ruling which they cited. It is our view, nonetheless, that for
their mistake, they should be, as they are hereby, admonished to be more careful when citing
jurisprudence in the future. ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Industrial Relations
dated August 17, 1965 is reversed and set aside, and another is entered, ordering the respondents
to reinstate the dismissed members of the petitioning Unions to their former or comparatively
similar positions, with backwages from June 2, 1958 up to the dates of their actual
reinstatements. Costs against the respondents.

SIAO ABA, MIKO LUMABAO, A.C. No. 7649


ALMASIS LAUBAN, and
BENJAMIN DANDA, Present:
Complainants,
CARPIO, J.,
Chairperson,
BRION,
PEREZ,
- versus - SERENO, and
REYES, JJ.

ATTYS. SALVADOR DE GUZMAN, JR.,


WENCESLAO PEEWEE TRINIDAD,
and ANDRESITO FORNIER, Promulgated:
Respondents. December 14, 2011
x--------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO, J.:
The Case

This is an administrative complaint filed by Siao Aba, Miko Lumabao, Almasis Lauban and
Benjamin Danda (complainants) against lawyers Salvador De Guzman, Jr., Wenceslao Peewee
Trinidad, and Andresito Fornier (respondents). Complainants claim that respondents instigated
and filed fabricated criminal complaints against them before the Iligan City Prosecutors Office
for Large Scale and Syndicated Illegal Recruitment and Estafa under I.S. No. 06-1676 and I.S.
No. 06-1835.1 Complainants pray for the imposition of the grave penalty of disbarment upon
respondents.2 Attached to complainants letter-complaint is the Joint Counter-Affidavit and
Affidavit of Complaint3 allegedly submitted by complainants in the preliminary investigation of
the criminal complaints.

The Facts

Complainants claim that in January 2006 they met former Pasay City Regional Trial Court Judge
Salvador P. De Guzman, Jr. (De Guzman) in Cotabato City.4 De Guzman allegedly persuaded
them to file an illegal recruitment case (I.S. No. 2006-C-31, Lauban, et al. vs. Alvarez, Amante,
Montesclaros, et al.) against certain persons, in exchange for money.5 De Guzman allegedly
represented to complainants that his group, composed of Pasay City Mayor Wenceslao Peewee
Trinidad (Trinidad), Atty. Andresito Fornier (Fornier), Everson Lim Go Tian, Emerson Lim Go
Tian, and Stevenson Lim Go Tian (Go Tian Brothers), were untouchable.6

In the third week of February 2006, complainants allegedly received from De Guzman a
prepared Joint Complaint-Affidavit with supporting documents, which they were directed to sign
and file.7 The Joint Complaint-Affidavit and supporting documents were allegedly fabricated and
manufactured by De Guzman.8

During the I.S. No. 2006-C-31 proceedings before the Cotabato City Prosecutors Office,
complainants allegedly received several phone calls from De Guzman, Trinidad, Fornier, and the
Go Tian brothers, all of them continuously telling complainants to pursue the case.9 When
complainants asked De Guzman what would happen if a warrant of arrest would be issued, De
Guzman allegedly replied, Ipa tubus natin sa kanila, perahan natin sila.10

Complainants claim they were bothered by their conscience, and that is why they told De
Guzman and his group that they planned to withdraw the criminal complaint in I.S. No. 2006-
C-31.11 Complainants were allegedly offered by respondents ₱200,000.00 to pursue the case, but
they refused.12 Complainants were once again allegedly offered by respondents One Million
Pesos (₱1,000,000.00) to pursue the case until the end, but they refused again.13 For this reason,
respondents allegedly orchestrated the filing of fabricated charges for syndicated illegal
recruitment and estafa (I.S. No. 06-1676 and I.S. No. 06-1835) against complainants in Iligan
City.14 On 30 November 2006, Aba claims to have received a text message from De Guzman,
saying, Gud p.m. Tago na kayo. Labas today from Iligan Warrant of Arrest. No Bail. Dating sa
Ctbto pulis mga Wednesday. Gud luck kayo.15
In support of their allegations in the administrative complaint, complainants submitted the
allegedly fabricated complaint,16 supporting documents,17 letter of De Guzman to Cotabato City
Councilor Orlando Badoy,18 De Guzmans Affidavit of Clarification submitted in I.S. No. 2006-
C-31,19 and other relevant documents. Subsequently, complainants filed a Motion to Dismiss
Complaint against Atty. Trinidad and Atty. Fornier,20 and prayed that the complaint be pursued
against De Guzman.

Trinidad, on the other hand, in his Comment filed with this Court21 and Position Paper filed with
the Commission on Bar Discipline,22 denied all the allegations in the complaint. Trinidad
vehemently declared that he has never communicated with any of the complainants and has
never been to Cotabato.23 He further claimed that the subscribed letter-complaint does not
contain ultimate facts because it does not specify the times, dates, places and circumstances of
the meetings and conversations with him.24 Trinidad asserted that the complaint was a fabricated,
politically motivated charge, spearheaded by a certain Joseph Montesclaros (Montesclaros),
designed to tarnish Trinidads reputation as a lawyer and city mayor.25Trinidad claims that
Montesclaros was motivated by revenge because Montesclaros mistakenly believed that Trinidad
ordered the raid of his gambling den in Pasay City.26 Trinidad also claims that he, his family
members and close friends have been victims of fabricated criminal charges committed by the
syndicate headed by Montesclaros.27
Trinidad pointed out that this syndicate, headed by Montesclaros, is abusing court processes by
filing fabricated criminal complaints of illegal recruitment in remote areas with fabricated
addresses of defendants.28 Since the defendants addresses are fabricated, the defendants are not
informed of the criminal complaint, and thus the information is filed with the court.
29 Consequently, a warrant of arrest is issued by the court, and only when the warrant of arrest is

served upon the defendant will the latter know of the criminal complaint.30 At this point,
Montesclaros intervenes by extorting money from the defendant in order for the complainants to
drop the criminal complaint.31 To prove the existence of this syndicate, Trinidad presented the
letter of Eden Rabor, then a second year law student in Cebu City, to the Philippine Center for
Investigative Journalism and to this Court, requesting these institutions to investigate the
syndicate of Montesclaros, who has victimized a Canadian citizen who was at that time jailed in
Cebu City due to an extortion racket.32 Trinidad also presented the Decision of Branch 65 of the
Regional Trial Court of Tarlac City on the illegal recruitment charge against his friend,
Emmanuel Cinco, which charge was dismissed because the charge was fabricated, as admitted by
complainants themselves.33

Trinidad further claimed that, in some cases, the Montesclaros syndicate included some of their
members as respondents to divert suspicion.34 Trinidad pointed out that his wife was a victim of
this fabricated criminal charge of illegal recruitment filed in Marawi City.35 Fortunately, when
the warrant of arrest was being served in Pasay City Hall, Trinidads wife was not there.36 Lastly,
Trinidad declared that Montesclaros has perfected the method of filing fabricated cases in remote
and dangerous places to harass his victims.37

Fornier, on the other hand, in his Comment filed with this Court38 and Position Paper filed with
the Commission on Bar Discipline,39 claimed that in his 35 years as a member of the bar, he has
conducted himself professionally in accordance with the exacting standards of the legal
profession.40 Fornier denied knowing any of the complainants, and also denied having any
dealings or communication with any of them. He likewise claimed that he has not filed, either for
himself or on behalf of a client, any case, civil, criminal or otherwise, against complainants.
41 Fornier claimed that he was included in this case for acting as defense counsel for the Go Tian

Brothers in criminal complaints for illegal recruitment.42 Fornier claimed that the Go Tian
Brothers are victims of an extortion racket led by Montesclaros.43 For coming to the legal aid of
the Go Tian Brothers, Fornier exposed and thwarted the plan of the group of Montesclaros to
extort millions of pesos from his clients.44 Fornier claimed that the filing of the complaint is
apparently an attempt of the syndicate to get even at those who may have exposed and thwarted
their criminal designs at extortion.45 Fornier prays that the Court will not fall prey to the scheme
and machinations of this syndicate that has made and continues to make a mockery of the justice
system by utilizing the courts, the Prosecutors Offices, the Philippine National Police and the
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration in carrying out their criminal activities.
46 Lastly, Fornier claimed that complainants failed to establish the charges against him by clear,

convincing and satisfactory proof, as complainants affidavits are replete with pure hearsay,
speculations, conjectures and sweeping conclusions, unsupported by specific, clear and
convincing evidence.47

De Guzman, on the other hand, instead of filing a Comment with this Court, filed a Motion to
Dismiss Complaint48 on the ground that the Joint Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of
Complaint attached to the Letter-Complaint, which was made the basis of this administrative
complaint, are spurious.49 According to the Certification issued by the Office of the City
Prosecutor in Iligan City, complainants Lauban, Lumabao and Aba, who were charged for
violation of Republic Act No. 8042 (Migrant Workers Act), which charge was subsequently
dismissed through a Joint Resolution rendered by the Prosecutor, did not submit any Joint
Counter-Affidavit in connection with the charge, nor did they file any Affidavit of Complaint
against any person.50

In his Position Paper filed with the Commission on Bar Discipline,51 De Guzman stated he is an
81-year old retired Regional Trial Court judge.52 He pointed out that there are no details
regarding the allegations of grave and serious misconduct, dishonesty, oppression, bribery,
falsification of documents, violation of lawyers oath and other administrative infractions.53 De
Guzman invited the attention of the Investigating Commissioner to his Affidavit of Clarification
which he submitted in I.S. No. 2006-C-31 to deny any participation in the preparation of the
criminal complaint and to narrate in detail how he became involved in this case which was
masterminded by Montesclaros.54 In his Affidavit of Clarification,55De Guzman claimed that he
had no participation in the preparation of the criminal complaint in I.S. No. 2006-C-31, and he
was surprised to receive a photocopy of the counter-affidavit of Rogelio Atangan, Atty. Nicanor
G. Alvarez, Lolita Zara, Marcelo Pelisco and Atty. Roque A. Amante, Jr., implicating him in the
preparation of the complaint.56 De Guzman stated that he was surprised to find his and his clients
names in the counter-affidavit, and for this reason, felt under obligation to make the Affidavit of
Clarification.57 Lastly, De Guzman declared that he has no familiarity with the complainants or
Tesclaros Recruitment and Employment Agency, nor with other respondents in the complaint,
but he believes that Atty. Roque A. Amante, Jr. and Atty. Nicanor G. Alvarez are the key players
of Joseph L. Montesclaros in the illegal recruitment business.58

During the mandatory conference hearings on 28 November 200859 and 13 March 2009,60 none
of the complainants appeared before the Investigating Commissioner to substantiate the
allegations in their complaint despite due notice.61

Report and Recommendation


of the Commission on Bar Discipline

The recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the Commission on Bar Discipline


reads:

In view of the foregoing, the charges against the Respondent Trinidad and Fornier are
deemed to be without basis and consequently, the undersigned recommends DISMISSAL
of the charges against them.

As to Respondent de Guzman, a former Regional Trial Court Judge, there is enough basis
to hold him administratively liable. Accordingly, a penalty of SUSPENSION for two (2)
months is hereby recommended.62

The Investigating Commissioner found, after a careful perusal of the allegations in the complaint
as well as in the attachments, that complainants failed to substantiate their charges against
respondents Trinidad and Fornier.63 Other than bare allegations, complainants did not adduce
proof of Trinidad and Forniers supposed involvement or participation directly or indirectly in the
acts constituting the complaint.64 In addition, complainants, on their own volition, admitted the
non-participation and non-involvement of Trinidad and Fornier when complainants filed
their Motion to Dismiss Complaint against Atty. Trinidad and Atty. Fornier Only.65 For these
reasons, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the charges against Trinidad and
Fornier be dismissed for utter lack of merit.

On the other hand, the Investigating Commissioner stated that De Guzman failed to deny the
allegations in the Letter-Complaint or to explain the import of the same.66 Moreover, De Guzman
failed to controvert the truly vicious evidence against him:

But what should appear to be a truly vicious evidence for Respondent is the letter he sent
to Orlando D. Badoy, City Councilor, Cotabato City dated February 16, 2006. This letter
was alleged in and attached to the Joint Counter-Affiavit with Affidavit of Complaint.
The letter had confirmed the allegation of his travel to Cotabato City to file charges
against persons he did not identify. He intriguingly mentioned the name Ben Danda as the
one to whom he handed the complaint. Danda, incidentally, was one of those who
executed the Letter of Complaint along with Siao Aba, Miko Lumabao, Benjamin Danda
and Almasis Lauban which was filed before the Supreme Court.67
The Decision of the Board of Governors of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines
The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines adopted the recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioners Report and Recommendation on the dismissal of the charges
against Fornier and Trinidad.68 In De Guzmans case, the Board of Governors increased the
penalty from a suspension of two (2) months to a suspension of two (2) years from the practice
of law for his attempt to file illegal recruitment cases to extort money:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED with


modification, and APPROVED the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A
and finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, and considering that the case against Respondents Trinidad and
Fornier is without merit, the same is hereby DISMISSED. However, Atty. Salvador De
Guzman, Jr. is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years for his
attempt to file illegal recruitment cases in order to extort money.69

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether Trinidad, Fornier and De Guzman should be administratively
disciplined based on the allegations in the complaint.

The Ruling of this Court

We adopt the Decision of the Board of Governors and the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner on the dismissal of the charges against Trinidad and Fornier.

We reverse the Decision of the Board of Governors and the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner with regard to De Guzmans liability, and likewise dismiss the
charges against De Guzman.

Presumption, Burden of Proof and Weight of Evidence


Section 3(a), Rule 131 of the Rules of Court provides that a person is presumed innocent of
crime or wrongdoing. This Court has consistently held that an attorney enjoys the legal
presumption that he is innocent of charges against him until the contrary is proved, and that as an
officer of the court, he is presumed to have performed his duties in accordance with his oath.70

Burden of proof, on the other hand, is defined in Section 1 of Rule 131 as the duty of a party to
present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount
of evidence required by law. In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the
complainant, and for the court to exercise its disciplinary powers, the case against the respondent
must be established by convincing and satisfactory proof.71

Weight and sufficiency of evidence, under Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, is not determined
mathematically by the numerical superiority of the witnesses testifying to a given fact. It depends
upon its practical effect in inducing belief for the party on the judge trying the case.72

Consequently, in the hierarchy of evidentiary values, proof beyond reasonable doubt is at the
highest level, followed by clear and convincing evidence, then by preponderance of evidence,
and lastly by substantial evidence, in that order.73 Considering the serious consequences of the
disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, the Court has consistently held that clearly
preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of administrative penalty on a
member of the Bar.74

Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior
to or has greater weight than that of the other.75 It means evidence which is more convincing to
the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.76 Under Section 1
of Rule 133, in determining whether or not there is preponderance of evidence, the court may
consider the following: (a) all the facts and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses manner
of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they
are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of
their testimony; (c) the witnesses interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so
far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the number of witnesses, although it
does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the greater number.

When the evidence of the parties are evenly balanced or there is doubt on which side the
evidence preponderates, the decision should be against the party with the burden of proof,
according to the equipoise doctrine.77
To summarize, 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 evidence required in
suspension or disbarment proceedings is preponderance of evidence. In case the evidence of the
parties are equally balanced, the equipoise doctrine mandates a decision in favor of the
respondent.
De Guzmans Liability

The Court reverses the Decision of the Board of Governors and the Report and Recommendation
of the Investigating Commissioner regarding De Guzmans liability for the following reasons: (a)
the documents submitted by complainants in support of their complaint are not credible; (b)
complainants did not appear in any of the mandatory conference proceedings to substantiate the
allegations in their complaint; and (c) complainants were not able to prove by preponderance of
evidence that De Guzman communicated with them for the purpose of filing fabricated illegal
recruitment charges for purposes of extortion.

The documents submitted by complainants are clearly not credible. First, complainants submitted
a Joint Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of Complaint, which contained all their allegations of
misconduct against De Guzman, Trinidad and Fornier. Complainants misled the Investigating
Commissioner, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and this Court
into believing that the Joint Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of Complaint was submitted to the
Office of the City Prosecutor in Iligan to rebut the illegal recruitment charges against them.
The Joint Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of Complaint purportedly appears to be subscribed and
sworn to before a prosecutor. After inquiry by De Guzman, however, the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Iligan issued a Certification denying the submission of this document by
complainants:

This is to certify that based on available records of the Office, ALMASIS LAUBAN,
MIKO LUMABAO and SIAO ALBA were among the respondents named and charged
with Violation of Republic Act No. 8042 under I.S. No. 06-1835, Page 254, Vol. XVI,
and I.S. No. 06-1676, Page 240, Vol. XVI, which complaints were dismissed thru a Joint
Resolution dated December 29, 2006 rendered by the Office.
This is to certify further that the abovenamed persons did not submit any Joint
Counter-Affidavit in connection to the complaints filed against them, and neither
did they file any Affidavit of Complaint against any person.78 (Emphasis supplied)

To repeat, complainants deceived and misled the Investigating Commissioner, the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and this Court into believing that theJoint
Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of Complaint, which contained all their allegations of
misconduct, were submitted and sworn to before a prosecutor. This deception gives doubt to the
credibility of the other documents complainants submitted in support of their administrative
charges against respondents. Worse, complainants submitted falsified documents to the
Investigating Commissioner, the Board of Governors, and this Court.

Second, De Guzman, Fornier and Trinidad all claim that complainants are part of a syndicate
headed by Montesclaros that has perfected the filing of fabricated criminal charges. Given this
claim that complainants are well-adept in filing fabricated criminal charges supported by
fabricated documents, this Court is more cautious in appreciating the supporting documents
submitted by complainants. Complainants bear the burden of proof to establish that all the
documents they submitted in support of their allegations of misconduct against respondents are
authentic. Unfortunately, complainants did not even attend any mandatory conference called by
the Investigating Commissioner to identify the documents and substantiate or narrate in detail the
allegations of misconduct allegedly committed by respondents. To make matters worse, the Joint
Counter-Affidavit and Affidavit of Complaintcomplainants attached to their Letter-Complaint,
which supposedly contained all their allegations of misconduct against respondents, is spurious,
not having been submitted to the Office of the City Prosecutor of Iligan, despite purportedly
having the signature and seal of the prosecutor.

Third, the allegations of complainants lack material details to prove their communication with
De Guzman. If De Guzman really called and texted them that a warrant of arrest would be
issued, what mobile number did De Guzman use? Out of the voluminous documents that
complainants submitted, where is the warrant for their arrest? What is their occupation or
profession? Who are these complainants? These questions are unanswered because complainants
did not even bother to attend any mandatory conference called by the Investigating
Commissioner, despite due notice. For this reason, the allegations of De Guzmans misconduct
are really doubtful.

Lastly, the supposedly vicious evidence against De Guzman, which was a letter he allegedly sent
to Cotabato City Councilor Orlando Badoy, is not credible. This letter states:

Dear Orly,

Thank you very much for a wonderful visit to Cotabato City. I learned much about the
South and the way of life there.

It took me time to prepare the complaint to be filed. In the meantime, the son-of-a-gun
filed charges against us in Marawi City! I have addressed the affidavit-complaint directly
to your man, Ben Danda, with instructions for him and the other two complainants to sign
the same before an assistant prosecutor and file with City Prosecutor Bagasao. But we are
relying on you to orchestrate the whole thing, from the prosecutor to the RTC Judge,
especially the warrants of arrest.

Thank you and best regards.79

The signatures of De Guzman in his Affidavit of Clarification and in the purported letter have
material discrepancies. At the same time, complainants did not even explain how they were able
to get a copy of the purported letter. Complainants did not present the recipients, Orlando Badoy
or Atty. Francis V. Gustilo, to authenticate the letter. In addition, none of the complainants
appeared before the Investigating Commissioner to substantiate their allegations or authenticate
the supporting documents.
The Investigating Commissioner, on the other hand, put a lot of weight and credibility into this
purported letter:

Again, to the extreme amazement of the undersigned, Respondent failed to offer denial of
the letter or explain the import of the same differently from what is understood by the
Complainants. But even with that effort, the letter is so plain to understand. Verily, the
undersigned cannot ignore the same and the message it conveys.80

Generally, the letter would have been given weight, if not for the fact that complainants, whom
respondents claim are part of an extortion syndicate, are consistently involved in the fabrication
of evidence in support of their criminal complaints. Moreover, contrary to the Investigating
Commissioners observation, De Guzman actually denied any involvement in the preparation of
complainants criminal complaint in I.S. No. 2006-C-31. In his Affidavit of Clarification, De
Guzman stated:

5. Undersigned has no participation in the above-captioned complaint, but to his


surprise, he recently received a photocopy of (a) the counter-affidavit of Rogelio
Atangan, (b) Atty. Nicanor G. Alvarez, (c) Lolita Zara, (d) Marcelo Pelisco, and
(e) Atty. Roque A. Amante Jr. (his records at the Surpeme Court does not have any
Daryll);
6. Undersigned counsels name and that of his clients appear in the counter-
affidavit of Atty. Nicanor G. Alcarez (Montesclaros lawyer who appeared in the
sala of Pasay RTC Judge Francisco Mendiola as against the undersigned), or
Marcelo Pelisco, a known henchman of Montesclaros and a squatter at the
Monica Condominium, and Atty. Amante, and for this reason, undersigned
counsel feels under obligation to make this affidavit of clarification for the
guidance of the Investigating Prosecutor;
xxx
4.4. Undersigned has no familiarity with the Tesclaros Recruitment &
Employment Agency nor with the complainants (except for Laura Timbag Tuico
of Cotabato City), nor with the other respondents, but he believes that Atty. Roque
A. Amante Jr. and Atty. Nicanor G. Alvarez are the key players of Joseph L.
Montesclaros in the illegal recruitment business.81

For these reasons, the Court finds that the documents submitted by complainants in support of
their complaint against De Guzman are not credible. Accordingly, the Court dismisses the
charges against De Guzman.

De Guzman enjoys the legal presumption that he committed no crime or wrongdoing.


Complainants have the burden of proof to prove their allegations of misconduct against De
Guzman. Complainants were not able to discharge this burden because the documents they
submitted were not authenticated and were apparently fabricated. Also, complainants did not
appear in the mandatory conference proceedings to substantiate the allegations in their
complaint. In disbarment proceedings, what is required to merit the administrative penalty is
preponderance of evidence, which weight is even higher than substantial evidence in the
hierarchy of evidentiary values. Complainants were not able to prove by preponderance of
evidence that De Guzman communicated with them and persuaded them to file fabricated
charges against other people for the purpose of extorting money. In fact, even if the evidence of
the parties are evenly balanced, the Court must rule in favor of De Guzman according to the
equipoise doctrine. For these reasons, the Court reverses the Decision of the Board of Governors
and the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and accordingly
dismisses the charges against De Guzman.

Trinidads and Forniers Liabilities

The Court adopts the findings of fact and the report and recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner with respect to Trinidads and Forniers liabilities:

A careful persusal of the allegations in as well as the attachments to the Joint Counter
Affidavit with Affidavit of Complaint reveals that Complainants failed miserably to
substantiate their charges against Respondents. Other than their bare allegations, the
Complainants did not adduce proof of Respondents supposed involvement or
participation directly or indirectly in the acts complained of. For instance, they failed to
prove though faintly that Respondents had gone to Cotabato City to personally induce
and persuade the complainants to file illegal recruitment charges against Atty. Nicanor G.
Alvarez and sixteen (16) others or that they have prodded and stirred them to do so as
they did by any form of communication. The supposed telephone call the Respondents
and their supposed cohorts had made during the proceedings before the Cotabato City
Prosecutors Office to the Complainants is unbelievable and absurd. It is inconceivable
that Complainants could have answered the calls of six (6) persons during a serious
proceeding such as the inquest or preliminary investigation of a criminal complaint
before the City Prosecutor. To the undersigned, the fallacy of the allegation above
strongly militates against the reliabiity of Complainants charges against Respondents.

xxx

But on top of all, the Complainants had by their own volition already made unmistakable
Respondents non-participation or non-involvement in the charges they have filed when
they wittingly filed their Motion to Dismiss Complaint against Atty. Trinidad and Atty.
Fornier Only. The undersigned realizes only too well that the filing of a Motion to
Dismiss is proscribed in this Commission, however, any such pleading must be
appreciated as to its intrinsic merit. A clear reading of the same reveals that the
Complainants had wanted to clarify that they have erroneously included Respondents
Trinidad and Fornier as parties to the case. In particular, they explained that they had no
communication or dealings whatsoever with the said lawyers as to inspire belief that the
latter had some involvement in their charges. The undersigned finds the affidavit
persuasive and for that he has no reason to ignore the import of the same as a piece of
evidence.82

At any rate, we consider the case against Trinidad and Fornier terminated. Under Section 12(c)
of Rule 139-B, the administrative case is deemed terminated if the penalty imposed by the Board
of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is less than suspension or disbarment (such
as reprimand, admonition or fine), unless the complainant files a petition with this Court within
15 days from notice:

c. If the respondent is exonerated by the Board or the disciplinary sanction imposed


by it is less than suspension or disbarment (such as admonition, reprimand, or fine) it
shall issue a decision exonerating respondent or imposing such sanction. The case shall
be deemed terminated unless upon petition of the complainant or other interested party
filed with the Supreme Court within fifteen (15) days from notice of the Boards
resolution, the Supreme Court orders otherwise.

Here, complainants did not appeal the Decision of the Board of Governors dismissing the
charges against Trinidad and Fornier. In fact, complainants filed with this Court a Motion to
Dismiss Complaint Against Trinidad and Fornier.

WHEREFORE, we AFFIRM the Decision of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, adopting the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner,
and DISMISS the charges against Attys. Wenceslao Peewee Trinidad and Andresito Fornier for
utter lack of merit. We REVERSE the Decision of the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines, modifying and increasing the penalty in the Report and Recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioner, and accordinglyDISMISS the charges against Atty. Salvador P.
De Guzman, Jr. also for utter lack of merit.

SO ORDERED.