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CATHERINE & HENRY YU, COMPLAINANTS, VS. ATTY. ANTONIUTTI K. PALAA, RESPONDENT.

PER CURIAM: On November 16, 2006, complainants Henry and Catherine Yu filed [1] a complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Antoniutti K. Palaa for alleged acts of defraudation, before the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines [2] (IBP). Complainants attached therewith their Consolidated [3] Complaint-Affidavit which they earlier filed before the City Prosecutor's Office of Makati, charging the respondent and his coaccused (in the criminal case), with syndicated estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 (BP 22). The facts, as found by the CBD, are as follows: Sometime in 2004, complainants met a certain Mr. Mark Anthony U. Uy (Mr. Uy) who introduced himself as the Division Manager of Wealth Marketing and General Services Corporation (Wealth [4] Marketing), a corporation engaged in spot currency trading. Mr. Uy persuaded the complainants, together with other investors, to invest a minimum amount of P100,000.00 or its dollar equivalent with said company. They were made to believe that the said company had the so-called "stop-loss mechanism" that enabled it to stop trading once the maximum allowable loss fixed at 3%-9% of the total contributions, would be reached. If, on the other hand, the company would suffer loss, Wealth Marketing would return to the investors the principal amount including the monthly guaranteed interests. Further, Wealth Marketing promised to issue, as it had in fact issued, [5] postdated checks covering the principal investments. It turned out, however, that Wealth Marketing's promises were false and fraudulent, and that the checks earlier issued were dishonored for the reason "account closed." The investors, including the complainants, thus went to Wealth Marketing's office. There, they discovered that Wealth Marketing had already ceased its operation and a new corporation was formed named Ur- Link Corporation (Ur-

Link) which supposedly assumed the rights and obligations of the former. Complainants proceeded to Ur-Link office where they met the respondent. As Wealth Marketing's Chairman of the Board of Directors, respondent assured the complainants that Ur-Link would [6] assume the obligations of the former company. To put a semblance of validity to such representation, respondent signed an [7] Agreement to that effect which, again, turned out to be another [8] ploy to further deceive the investors. This prompted the complainants to send demand letters to Wealth Marketing's officers and directors which remained unheeded. They likewise lodged a criminal complaint for syndicatedestafa against the respondent and [9] his co-accused. Despite the standing warrant for his arrest, respondent went into hiding and has been successful in defying the law, to this date. In an Order dated November 17, 2006, Director for Bar Discipline Rogelio B. Vinluan required respondent to submit his Answer to the complaint but the latter failed to comply. Hence, the motion to [11] declare him in default filed by the complainants. The case was thereafter referred to Commissioner Jose I. De la Rama, Jr. (the Commissioner) for investigation. In his continued defiance of the lawful orders of the Commission, respondent failed to attend the mandatory conference and to file his position paper. Respondent was thereafter declared in default and the case was heardex parte. In his report, the Commissioner concluded that Wealth Marketing's executives (which included respondent herein) conspired with one another in defrauding the complainants by engaging in an unlawful network of recruiting innocent investors to invest in foreign currency trading business where, in fact, no such business existed, as Wealth Marketing was not duly licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to engage in such undertaking. This was bolstered by the fact that Wealth Marketing's financial status could not support the investors' demands involving millions of pesos. It also appears, said the Commissioner, that Ur-Link was created only to perpetuate fraud and to avoid obligations. The Commissioner likewise found that respondent had been previously suspended by [13] this Court for committing similar acts of defraudation. Considering
[12] [10]

the gravity of the acts committed, as well as his previous administrative case and defiance of lawful orders, the Commissioner recommended that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law, the pertinent portion of which reads: WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, after a careful evaluation of the documents presented, including the jurisprudence laid down by the complainants involving the same respondent, and said decision of the Supreme Court forms part of the law of the land, the undersigned commissioner is recommending that respondent Atty. Antoniutti K. Palaa be disbarred and his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys upon the approval of the Board of Governors and [14] the Honorable Supreme Court. In its Resolution dated August 17, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the Commissioner's report and [15] recommendation. This Court agrees with the IBP Board of Governors. Lawyers are instruments in the administration of justice. As vanguards of our legal system, they are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing. In so doing, the people's faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. Lawyers may be disciplined - whether in their professional or in their private capacity for any conduct that is wanting in morality, honesty, probity and good [16] demeanor. In the present case, two corporations were created where the respondent played a vital role, being Wealth Marketing's Chairman of the Board and Ur-Link's representative. We quote with approval the Commissioner's findings, thus: As correctly pointed out by the City Prosecutor's Office of Makati, it appears that the executive officers of Wealth Marketing Corporation conspired with each (sic) other to defraud the investors by engaging in unlawful network of recruiting innocent investors to invest in foreign currency trading business. The truth of the matter is that there was no actual foreign currency trading since said corporation is not duly licensed or authorized by the Securities and Exchange Commission to perform such task.

In the General Information Sheet (Annex "I") of Wealth Marketing and General Services Corporation, the authorized capital stock is only P9,680,000.00 and the paid up capital, at the time of [in]corporation is (sic) only P605,000.00. Said corporation, as the records will show, has been dealing with investors with millions of pesos on hand, with the hope that their money would earn interests as promised. However, their company resources and financial status will show that they are not in the position to meet these demands if a situation such as this would arise. xxxx Furthermore, in order to evade the investors who were then asking for the return of their investments, said respondent even formed and made him part of a new company, Ur-Link Corporation, which according to the complainants, when they met the respondent, would assume the obligations of the defunct Wealth Marketing Corporation. It is also evident that respondent is frolicking with the Securities and [17] Exchange Commission for the purpose of employing fraud. To be sure, respondent's conduct falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession. The fact that the criminal case against the respondent involving the same set of facts is still pending in court is of no moment. Respondent, being a member of the bar, should note that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may proceed independently of criminal cases. A criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial question even if the same facts and circumstances are attendant in [18] the administrative proceedings. Besides, it is not sound judicial policy to await the final resolution of a criminal case before a complaint against a lawyer may be acted upon; otherwise, this Court will be rendered helpless to apply the rules on admission to, and continuing membership in, the legal profession during the whole period that the criminal case is pending final disposition, when the [19] objectives of the two proceedings are vastly disparate. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the

public welfare and for preserving courts of justice from the official [20] ministration of persons unfit to practice law. The attorney is called [21] to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. As to the recommended penalty of disbarment, we find the same to be in order. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides: A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. x x x. Time and again, we have stated that disbarment is the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must always be exercised with great caution for only the most imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a [22] member of the bar. The Court notes that this is not the first time that respondent is facing an administrative case, for he had been previously suspended from [23] the practice of law inSamala v. Palaa and Sps. Amador and [24] Rosita Tejada v. Palaa. In Samala, respondent also played an important role in a corporation known as First Imperial Resources Incorporated (FIRI), being its legal officer. As in this case, respondent committed the same offense by making himself part of the money trading business when, in fact, said business was not among the purposes for which FIRI was created. Respondent was thus meted the penalty of suspension for three (3) years with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts would be dealt [25] with more severely. Likewise, in Tejada, he was suspended for six [26] (6) months for his continued refusal to settle his loan obligations. The fact that respondent went into hiding in order to avoid service upon him of the warrant of arrest issued by the court (where his

criminal case is pending) exacerbates his offense.

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Finally, we note that respondent's case is further highlighted by his lack of regard for the charges brought against him. As in Tejada, instead of meeting the charges head on, respondent did not bother to file an answer and verified position paper, nor did he participate in the proceedings to offer a valid explanation for his [28] conduct. The Court has emphatically stated that when the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is expected of [29] him. Verily, respondent's failure to comply with the orders of the IBP without justifiable reason manifests his disrespect of judicial [30] authorities. As a lawyer, he ought to know that the compulsory bar organization was merely deputized by this Court to undertake the investigation of complaints against lawyers. In short, his disobedience to the IBP is in reality a gross and blatant disrespect of [31] the Court. By his repeated cavalier conduct, the respondent exhibited an unpardonable lack of respect for the authority of the [32] Court. Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light of his prior misconduct herein-before mentioned for which he was penalized with a three- year suspension with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts would be dealt with more severely; and another six-month suspension thereafter, the contumacious behavior of respondent in the instant case which grossly degrades the legal profession indeed warrants the imposition [33] of a much graver penalty --- disbarment. Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office, and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and [34] dangerous elements of the body politic. WHEREFORE, respondent Antoniutti K. Palaa is hereby DISBARRED, and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from

the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in his record as a member of the Bar; and let notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED.

In his answer, Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene, the truth of the matter being that their relationship was low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families. He also said that his special relationship with Irene is neither under scandalouscircumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for disbarment. Issue: Whether the respondent be disbarred from the practice of Law. Held: YES. The case at bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he took before admission to practice law. Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any "conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law." As a lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage. In carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect

Guevarra vs. Eala, A.C. No. 7136 , August 1, 2007


Facts: Joselano Guevarra filed a Complaint for Disbarment before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's oath." The complainant first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene) introduced respondent Atty. Eala, a lawyer and a sportscaster, to him as her friend who was married to Mary Ann Tantoco with whom he had three children. After his marriage to Irene, complainant noticed that Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages some of which read "I love you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall." He also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning of the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she replied that she slept at her parents' house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work. More so, complainant has seen Irene and respondent together on two occasions. On the second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house. Moreover, Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words "I Love You" on its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his wedding to Irene. Also, it was revealed that Irene gave birth to a girl in 2002 and Irene named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girl's father.

for an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer.

Advincula vs. Atty. Macabata AC No. 7204March 07, 2007


Facts: The complainant, Cynthia Advincula filed a disbarment case Atty. Ernesto Macabata on the grounds of Gross Immorality. The complainant sought for legal advice from the respondent regarding her collectibles from Queensway Travel and Tours which later failed to settle its accounts with the complainant. Thus, the possibility of filing a case against Queensway Traveland Tours was discussed. After the meeting on February 10, 2005, the respondent gave the complainant a ridehome. As the complainant gets off the car, the respondent allegedly held her arm, kissed her cheek and embraced her tightly. Again, after another meeting on March 06 2005, the respondent offered a ride. On the road, the complainant felt sleepy for no obvious reason. The respondent suddenly stopped the car in the vicinity of San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City. This time, the respondent forcefully held her face, kissed her lips and held her breast. The complainant managed to escape and decided to hire another lawyer for her case. They had exchange of messages thru sms where the respondent apologized. The respondent admitted kissing the complainant on the lips however countered that there was no harassment, intimidation or lewdness instead everything was spontaneous. Issues: Whether or not the respondent committed acts are grossly immoral, or which constitute serious moral depravity that would warrant disbarment or suspension from the practice of law Decision: The acts of kissing or beso-beso on the cheeks are mere gestures of friendship and camaraderie, form of greetings, casual and customary. The acts of the respondent, though, in turning the head of the complainant towards him and kissing her on the lips are distasteful. However, such act, even if considered offensive and undesirable, cannot be considered grossly immoral. The complainant miserably failed to establish the burden of proof required of her.

However, her efforts are lauded to stand up for her honor. The complaint for disbarment against the respondent, Atty. Ernesto Macabata, for alleged immorality is dismissed. However, he is reprimanded to be more prudent and cautious in dealing with his clients.

CLARITA J. SAMALA, vs. ATTY. LUCIANO D. VALENCIA


Before us is a complaint dated May 2, 2001 filed by Clarita J. Samala (complainant) against Atty. Luciano D. Valencia (respondent) for Disbarment on the following grounds: (a) serving on two separate occasions as counsel for contending parties; (b) knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence; (c) initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees; and (d) having a reputation of being immoral by siring illegitimate children. After respondent filed his Comment, the Court, in its Resolution of October 24, 2001, referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the 2 Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. The investigation was conducted by Commissioner Demaree Jesus B. Raval. After a series of hearings, the parties filed their respective 3 memoranda and the case was deemed submitted for resolution. Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes prepared the Report and 4 Recommendation dated January 12, 2006. He found respondent guilty of violating Canons 15 and 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and recommended the penalty of suspension for six months. In a minute Resolution passed on May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the report and recommendation of Commissioner Reyes but increased the penalty of suspension from six months to one year.
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We adopt the report of the IBP Board of Governors except as to the issue on immorality and as to the recommended penalty. On serving as counsel for contending parties. Records show that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, filed in the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 272, Marikina City, entitled "Leonora M. Aville v. Editha Valdez" for nonpayment of rentals, herein respondent, while being the counsel for defendant Valdez, also acted as counsel for the tenants Lagmay, Valencia, Bustamante and 6 7 Bayuga by filing an Explanation and Compliance before the RTC. In Civil Case No. 98-6804 filed in the Metropolitan Trial Court (MTC), Branch 75, Marikina City, entitled "Editha S. Valdez and Joseph J. Alba, Jr. v. Salve Bustamante and her husband" for ejectment, respondent represented Valdez against Bustamante - one of the tenants in the property subject of the controversy. Defendants appealed to the RTC, Branch 272, Marikina City docketed as SCA 8 Case No. 99-341-MK. In his decision dated May 2, 2000, Presiding 9 Judge Reuben P. dela Cruz warned respondent to refrain from repeating the act of being counsel of record of both parties in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK. But in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK, filed in the RTC, Branch 273, Marikina City, entitled "Editha S. Valdez v. Joseph J. Alba, Jr. and Register of Deeds of Marikina City," respondent, as counsel for Valdez, filed a Complaint for Rescission of Contract with Damages and Cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 275500 against Alba, respondent's former client in Civil Case No. 98-6804 and SCA Case No. 99-341-MK. Records further reveal that at the hearing of November 14, 2003, respondent admitted that in Civil Case No. 95-105-MK, he was the lawyer for Lagmay (one of the tenants) but not for Bustamante and 10 Bayuga albeit he filed the Explanation and Compliance for and in 11 behalf of the tenants. Respondent also admitted that he represented Valdez in Civil Case No. 98-6804 and SCA Case No. 99-341-MK against Bustamante and her husband but denied being the counsel for Alba although the case is entitled "Valdez and

Alba v. Bustamante and her husband," because Valdez told him to 12 include Alba as the two were the owners of the property and it was 13 only Valdez who signed the complaint for ejectment. But, while claiming that respondent did not represent Alba, respondent, however, avers that he already severed his representation for Alba 14 when the latter charged respondent with estafa. Thus, the filing of Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK against Alba. Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. A lawyer may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his 15 present or former client. He may not also undertake to discharge conflicting duties any more than he may represent antagonistic interests. This stern rule is founded on the principles of public policy 16 and good taste. It springs from the relation of attorney and client which is one of trust and confidence. Lawyers are expected not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, 17 which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. One of the tests of inconsistency of interests is whether the acceptance of a new relation would prevent the full discharge of the lawyer's duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in the performance of 18 that duty. The stern rule against representation of conflicting interests is founded on principles of public policy and good taste. It springs from the attorney's duty to represent his client with undivided fidelity and to maintain inviolate the client's confidence as well as from the injunction forbidding the examination of an attorney as to any of the 19 privileged communications of his client.

An attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case in which he has represented him but also after the relation of attorney and client 20 has terminated. The bare attorney-client relationship with a client precludes an attorney from accepting professional employment from 21 the client's adversary either in the same case or in a different but 22 related action. A lawyer is forbidden from representing a subsequent client against a former client when the subject matter of the present controversy is related, directly or indirectly, to the subject matter of the previous litigation in which he appeared for the former 23 client. We held in Nombrado v. Hernandez that the termination of the relation of attorney and client provides no justification for a lawyer to represent an interest adverse to or in conflict with that of the former client. The reason for the rule is that the client's confidence once reposed cannot be divested by the expiration of the professional 25 employment. Consequently, a lawyer should not, even after the severance of the relation with his client, do anything which will injuriously affect his former client in any matter in which he previously represented him nor should he disclose or use any of the 26 client's confidences acquired in the previous relation. In this case, respondent's averment that his relationship with Alba has long been severed by the act of the latter of not turning over the proceeds collected in Civil Case No. 98-6804, in connivance with the complainant, is unavailing. Termination of the attorney-client relationship precludes an attorney from representing a new client whose interest is adverse to his former client. Alba may not be his original client but the fact that he filed a case entitled "Valdez and Alba v. Bustamante and her husband," is a clear indication that respondent is protecting the interests of both Valdez and Alba in the said case. Respondent cannot just claim that the lawyer-client relationship between him and Alba has long been severed without observing Section 26, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court wherein the written consent of his client is required. In Gonzales v. Cabucana, Jr., 28 Bamba, we held that:
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The proscription against representation of conflicting interests applies to a situation where the opposing parties are present clients in the same action or in an unrelated action. It is of no moment that the lawyer would not be called upon to contend for one client that which the lawyer has to oppose for the other client, or that there would be no occasion to use the confidential information acquired from one to the disadvantage of the other as the two actions are wholly unrelated. It is enough that the opposing parties in one case, one of whom would lose the suit, are present clients and the nature or conditions of the lawyer's respective retainers with each of them would affect the performance of the duty of undivided fidelity to both 29 clients. Respondent is bound to comply with Canon 21 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which states that "a lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his client even after the attorneyclient relation is terminated." The reason for the prohibition is found in the relation of attorney and client, which is one of trust and confidence of the highest degree. A lawyer becomes familiar with all the facts connected with his client's case. He learns from his client the weak points of the action as well as the strong ones. Such knowledge must be considered sacred and 30 guarded with care. From the foregoing, it is evident that respondent's representation of Valdez and Alba against Bustamante and her husband, in one case, and Valdez against Alba, in another case, is a clear case of conflict of interests which merits a corresponding sanction from this Court. Respondent may have withdrawn his representation in Civil Case 31 No. 95-105-MK upon being warned by the court, but the same will not exculpate him from the charge of representing conflicting interests in his representation in Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK. Respondent is reminded to be more cautious in accepting professional employments, to refrain from all appearances and acts of impropriety including circumstances indicating conflict of interests, and to behave at all times with circumspection and dedication

citing the case of Quiambao v.

befitting a member of the Bar, especially observing candor, fairness 32 and loyalty in all transactions with his clients. On knowingly misleading the court by submitting false documentary evidence. Complainant alleges that in Civil Case No. 00-7137 filed before MTC, Branch 75 for ejectment, respondent submitted TCT No. 273020 as evidence of Valdez's ownership despite the fact that a new TCT No. 275500 was already issued in the name of Alba on February 2, 1995. Records reveal that respondent filed Civil Case No. 00-7137 on November 27, 2000 and presented TCT No. 273020 as evidence of 33 Valdez's ownership of the subject property. During the hearing before Commissioner Raval, respondent avers that when the Answer was filed in the said case, that was the time that he came to know that the title was already in the name of Alba; so that when the court dismissed the complaint, he did not do anything 34 anymore. Respondent further avers that Valdez did not tell him the truth and things were revealed to him only when the case for rescission was filed in 2002. Upon examination of the record, it was noted that Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK for rescission of contract and cancellation of TCT No. 35 275500 was also filed on November 27, 2000, before RTC, Branch 273, Marikina City, thus belying the averment of respondent that he came to know of Alba's title only in 2002 when the case for rescission was filed. It was revealed during the hearing before Commissioner Raval that Civil Case Nos. 00-7137 and 2000-657-MK were filed on the same date, although in different courts and at different times. Hence, respondent cannot feign ignorance of the fact that the title he submitted was already cancelled in lieu of a new title issued in the name of Alba in 1995 yet, as proof of the latter's ownership. Respondent failed to comply with Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he

mislead, or allow the Court to be mislead by any artifice. It matters not that the trial court was not misled by respondent's submission of TCT No. 273020 in the name of Valdez, as shown by its decision 36 dated January 8, 2002 dismissing the complaint for ejectment. What is decisive in this case is respondent's intent in trying to mislead the court by presenting TCT No. 273020 despite the fact that said title was already cancelled and a new one, TCT No. 275500, was already issued in the name of Alba. In Young v. Batuegas,37 we held that a lawyer must be a disciple of truth. He swore upon his admission to the Bar that he will "do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court" and he shall "conduct himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his 38 clients." He should bear in mind that as an officer of the court his high vocation is to correctly inform the court upon the law and the facts of the case and to aid it in doing justice and arriving at correct 39 conclusion. The courts, on the other hand, are entitled to expect only complete honesty from lawyers appearing and pleading before them. While a lawyer has the solemn duty to defend his client's rights and is expected to display the utmost zeal in defense of his client's cause, his conduct must never be at the expense of truth. A lawyer is the servant of the law and belongs to a profession to which society has entrusted the administration of law and the 40 dispensation of justice. As such, he should make himself more an 41 exemplar for others to emulate. >On initiating numerous cases in exchange for nonpayment of rental fees. Complainant alleges that respondent filed the following cases: (a) Civil Case No. 2000-657-MK at the RTC, Branch 272; (b) Civil Case No. 00-7137 at the MTC, Branch 75; and (c) I.S. Nos. 00-4439 and 01-036162 both entitled "Valencia v. Samala" for estafa and grave coercion, respectively, before the Marikina City Prosecutor. Complainant claims that the two criminal cases were filed in retaliation for the cases she filed against Lagmay docketed as I.S.

No. 00-4306 for estafa and I.S. No. 00-4318 against Alvin Valencia (son of respondent) for trespass to dwelling. As culled from the records, Valdez entered into a retainer agreement with respondent. As payment for his services, he was allowed to occupy the property for free and utilize the same as his office 42 pursuant to their retainer agreement. Respondent filed I.S. Nos. 00-4439 and 01-036162 both entitled "Valencia v. Samala" for estafa and grave coercion, respectively, to protect his client's rights against complainant who filed I.S. No. 0045 46 4306 for estafa against Lagmay, and I.S. No. 00-4318 against 47 Alvin Valencia for trespass to dwelling. We find the charge to be without sufficient basis. The act of respondent of filing the aforecited cases to protect the interest of his client, on one hand, and his own interest, on the other, cannot be made the basis of an administrative charge unless it can be clearly shown that the same was being done to abuse judicial processes to commit injustice. The filing of an administrative case against respondent for protecting the interest of his client and his own right would be putting a burden on a practicing lawyer who is obligated to defend and prosecute the right of his client. On having a reputation for being immoral by siring illegitimate children. We find respondent liable for being immoral by siring illegitimate children. During the hearing, respondent admitted that he sired three children 48 by Teresita Lagmay who are all over 20 years of age, while his first wife was still alive. He also admitted that he has eight children by his first wife, the youngest of whom is over 20 years of age, and after his 49 wife died in 1997, he married Lagmay in 1998. Respondent further admitted that Lagmay was staying in one of the apartments being claimed by complainant. However, he does not consider his affair
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with Lagmay as a relationship and does not consider the latter as 51 his second family. He reasoned that he was not staying with Lagmay because he has two houses, one in Muntinlupa and another 52 in Marikina. In this case, the admissions made by respondent are more than enough to hold him liable on the charge of immorality. During the hearing, respondent did not show any remorse. He even justified his transgression by saying that he does not have any relationship with Lagmay and despite the fact that he sired three children by the latter, he does not consider them as his second family. It is noted that during the hearing, respondent boasts in telling the commissioner that he has two houses - in Muntinlupa, where his first wife lived, and 53 in Marikina, where Lagmay lives. It is of no moment that respondent eventually married Lagmay after the death of his first wife. The fact still remains that respondent did not live up to the exacting standard of morality and decorum required of the legal profession. Under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. It may be difficult to specify the degree of moral delinquency that may qualify an act as immoral, yet, for purposes of disciplining a lawyer, immoral conduct has been defined as that "conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of 54 the community. Thus, in several cases, the Court did not hesitate to discipline a lawyer for keeping a mistress in defiance of the mores 55 and sense of morality of the community. That respondent subsequently married Lagmay in 1998 after the death of his wife and that this is his first infraction as regards immorality serve to mitigate his liability. ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent Atty. Luciano D. Valencia GUILTY of misconduct and violation of Canons 21, 10 and 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years, effective immediately upon receipt of herein Resolution.

50

Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant for their information and guidance, and let it be entered in respondent's personal records. SO ORDERED.

Thereafter, complainant prayed that respondent be disbarred in violation of the Code for the act of preparing the Occupancy Agreement, despite the knowledge that Stier was disqualified to own a real property for being a foreign national. On Oct 1, 2003 the Court referred the matter to the IBP for investigation and on Feb 26, 2004, Commissioner San Juan found respondent liable for taking part in a scheme to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of land in the Philippines and recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for 2 years and cancellation of his commission as Notary Public. On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors adopted the report with modification and recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for 6 months. Then on July 28, 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP stating that his practice of law is his only means of supporting his family and 6 minor children. Issue: WON respondent is guilty of violation of Canon I and Rule 1.02 of the Codeof Professional Responsibility. Held: A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold. Respondents knowledge that Stier, a US citizen, was disqualified from owning real property and his preparation of Occupancy Agreement that would guarantee Stiers recognition as the actual owner of the property, aided in circumventing the constitutionalprohibition against foreign ownershipof lands. Thus, he violated his oathand the Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he may be suspended.

Donton vs Tansingco A.C 6057 June 27, 2006


Facts: On May 20, 2003, Peter T. Donton (complainant) filed a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of public document against Duane O.Stier, Emelyn A. Maggay, and respondent Atty. Emmanuel O.Tansingco, as the notary public who notarized the Occupancy Agreement. Subsequently, respondent Tansingco filed a counter-charge for perjury against complainant. The affidavit-complaint stated that: The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was prepared and notarized under the following circumstances: A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a real property located at No. 33 Don Jose Street,Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon City. B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen and thereby disqualified to own real property in his name agreed that the property be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino. C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to prepare several documents that would guarantee recognition of him being the actual owner of the property despite the transfer of title in the name of Mr. Donton. D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr. Stiers free and undisturbed use of the property for his residence and business operations. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT was tied up with a loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr. Donton.

Quirino Tomlin II vs. Atty. Salvador N. Moya II 23 February 2006


Ponente: Ynares-Santiago, J. FACTS: Atty. Salvador Moya II allegedly issued seven postdated checks to Quirino Tomlin II as partial payment for the P600,000.00 that the former borrowed from the latter. When Tomlin realized that all the said checks were dishonored by the bank, he made several demands to Moya but the latter still refused to pay his debt. Thereafter, the complainant filed seven counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 to the Municipal Trial Court of Sta. Maria, Bulacan as well as an instant case for disbarment against Moya. ISSUES: 1. Whether or not the administrative case for the respondents disbarment should be dismissed for violation of the rule on non-forum shopping; and 2. Whether or not Atty. Moya is guilty of Gross Misconduct and violation or the Code of Professional Responsibility. HELD: 1. No. The instant petition for disbarment was not a violation of the rule against forum shopping. Forum shopping is only applicable to judicial cases or proceedings, not to disbarment proceedings. Furthermore, the main object of the seven criminal cases of the respondents violation of BP Blg. 22 is different from the administrative case at hand. The former refers to the issuance of bouncing checks, while the latter refers to the dishonesty of the respondent in the payment of his debts. 2. Yes. Atty. Moya is guilty of Gross Misconduct and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. His refusal to pay his monetary obligations His refusal to pay his monetary obligations without justifiable cause, despite acknowledging said obligations and doing so without remorse, fails to

comply with the expectation of lawyers to be honest in their dealings be it in their professional or private affairs. What is more, his failure to file his answer and verified position paper despite extensions of time is a manifestation of his disrespect for judicial authorities. For his acts, he was then sentenced to be suspended from practice for two years.

Atty. Policarpio I. Catalan vs Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa (A.C. No. 7360)


FACTS: Atty. Silvosa was an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Bukidnon and a Prosecutor in Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. Atty. Silvosa appeared as counsel for the accused in the same case for which he previously appeared as prosecutor. Atty. Silvosa appeared as public prosecutor in Criminal Case No. 10256-00 (Esperon Case), for the complex crime of double frustrated murder and later on November 23, 2005, Atty. Silvosa, as private lawyer and as counsel for the accused, filed a motion to reinstate bail pending finality of judgement of the Esperon Case. Atty. Silvosa made an attempt to bribe Prosecutor Toribio for 30,000.00php and failed. Prosecutor Toribio excuted her affidavit on June 14, 1999, a day after the failed bribery attempt, and had it notarized by Atty. Nemesio Beltran, then President of the IBPBukidnon Chapter. On May 18, 2006, the Sandiganbayan convicted Atty. Silvosa in Criminal Case. 27776 for direct bribery on an NBI set-up entrapment operation, wherein, Atty. Silvosa demanded 15,000.00php from Lanticse for the dismissal of the case and for the release of Cadinas who was in detention for more than two years. ISSUE: 1. Whether or not respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. 2. Whether or not a delay of the filing for an administrative complaint exonerate a respondent. 3. Whether or not crime involving moral turpitude can be a

ground for disbarment. HELD: 1. Yes, respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Atty. Silvosa's attempt to minimize his role in said case would be unavailing. The fact is that he is presumed to have acquainted himself with the facts of the said case. Such would constitute sufficient intervention in the case. Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states "A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service." The Court agree with Commissioner Funa's finding that Atty. Silvosa violated Rule 6.03, when he entered his appearance in the motion to Post Bail Pending Appeal, Atty. Silvosa conveniently forgot Rule 15.03 which provides that "A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interest except by written consent of concern given after a full disclosure of facts." Atty. Silvosa's representation of conflicting interests merit at least the penalty of suspension. 2. No, delay of filing for an administrative complaint does not exonerate a respondent. There is certain difficulty to dissect a claim of bribery that occurred more than seven years ago. In this instance, the conflicting allegations are merely based on the word of one person against the word of another. When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges against him. He must show proof that he still maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times expected of him. Atty. Silvosa failed in this respect. The Court says, mere delay in filing of an administrative complaint against a member of the bar does not automatically exonerate a respondent. Administrative offenses do not prescribe. No matter how much time has elapsed from the time of the commission of the act complaint

of and the time of the institution of the complaint, erring member of the bench and bar can not escape the disciplining arm of the Court. Atty. Silvosa's failed attempt at bribing Prosecutor Toribio also merit at least the penalty of suspension. 3. Yes, crime involving moral turpitude can be a ground for disbarment. Moral turpitude is defined as an act of baseness,vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes to his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals. There is no doubt that the Sandiganbayans' judgement in Criminal Case No. 27776 is a matter of public record and is already final. Rule 138, Section 27 provides, A member of the bar may be disbarred by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. The crime of direct bribery is a crime involving moral turpitude, as ruled, in Magno vs COMELEC. The practice of Law is a priveledge, and Atty. Silvosa has proved himself unfit to exercise his privilege. Wherefore, respondent Atty. Joselito M. Silvosa is hereby disbarred and his name ordered stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. So ordered.

RURAL BANK OF SILAY, INC., vs. ATTY. ERNESTO H. PILLA


KAPUNAN, J.: Rural Bank of Silay. Inc. (complainant) filed with this Court the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla (respondent) alleging deceit and gross misconduct on the part of the latter. The complaint alleges as follows: 1. That on July 23, 1975 the respondent executed a Real Estate Mortgage in favor of the complainant over a parcel of land located in the Municipality of Sagay, Negros Occidental, covered by Transfer

Certificate of Title No. T-55380, purportedly as Attorney-in-Fact of the registered owners thereof, Pedro N. Torres and Oscar D. Granada. A copy of this Real Estate Mortgage is herewith attached as Annex A. 2. That together with the aforesaid Real Estate Mortgage the respondent submitted a Special Power of Attorney by virtue of which he was purportedly authorized and empowered by the registered owners Pedro Torres and Oscar D. Granada to mortgage the aforesaid parcel of land in favor of the complainant. A copy of this Special Power of Attorney is herewith attached as Annex B. 3. That on the security of, among others, the aforesaid parcel of land over which the respondent represented that he is authorized to mortgage, complainant extended and released a loan to the respondent in the amount of P91,427.00. 4. That complainant subsequently and much later learned that the respondent was not at all authorized and empowered by the registered owner Oscar D. Granada to mortgage the aforesaid parcel of land when it was joined as a defendant in a complaint filed by the aforesaid Oscar D. Grananda for removal of cloud on title with preliminary injunction and damages. A copy of this complaint is herewith attached as Annex C. 5. That in the aforesaid complaint as well as in the hearing conducted in connection therewith Oscar D. Granada specifically and categorically denied having executed and signed the Special Power of Attorney, Annex B, submitted by the respondent to the complainant in support of his application for a loan. 6. That the aforesaid civil case, Civil Case No. 1 of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental, Branch 60, was subsequently decided against the respondent wherein the aforesaid Court found that the Special Power of Attorney, Annex B, was indeed forged and falsified because the spouses Oscar D. Grananda and Lolita L. Granada have not signed the same and wherein the Court also made the finding that the defendant, considering that he has benefited from the said falsified document, is presumed to have a

hand in the preparation of the same. A copy of this Decision is herewith attached as Annex D. 7. That the respondent has not appealed from the aforesaid Decision thereby making the findings of fact made therein final as against him. 8. That the foregoing acts of the respondent in presenting to the complainant Bank a forged and falsified Power of Attorney for the purpose of obtaining a loan is a betrayal of his oath as a lawyer to do falsehood to no man and by his conduct herein has forfeited his right [1] to continue further in the practice of law. Upon the instance of the Court, respondent filed his comment refuting the charges of deceit and gross misconduct against him. Respondent denied employing any deceit or misrepresentation in obtaining a loan from complainant rural bank. According to respondent, he did not know that the signature of Oscar Granada on the special power of attorney appointing him (respondent) as attorney-in-fact was forged. The special power of attorney purportedly authorized respondent to mortgaged the parcel of land in Sagay, Negros Occidental in favor of complainant rural bank. Respondent also claimed that if indeed said document was forged, he was not a party to the forgery. He cited the findings of the trial court in Civil Case No. 1-C, thus: Although there is no showing that Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla has actually falsified the signatures of the spouses, Atty. Oscar D. Granada, yet considering that he actually benefited from the said falsified documents, he is presumed to have a hand on the same. (Decision, [2] p. 20-annex D.) Respondent maintained that he obtained the loan from complainant rural bank without depriving it of the opportunity to investigate his financial capacity as well as to ascertain the genuineness of the special power of attorney under which he acted as the mortgagor. Thus, respondent is of the view that, under the circumstances, it cannot be said that he employed deceit and gross misconduct against complainant rural bank.

After receipt of respondents comment, the Court referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation. Both parties adduced their respective evidence before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP. Upon agreement of the parties, the matter was resolved on the basis of their respective pleadings and the annexes attached thereto. From these pleadings, the IBP, through Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo, established the following uncontroverted facts: Purportedly acting as attorney-in-fact of a certain Pedro Torres and Oscar D. Granada, by virtue of a special power of attorney, respondent applied for a loan and concomitantly executed a Real Estate Mortgage in favor of the complainant bank covering the property of Pedro Torres and Oscar D. Granada. With such security, complainant extended to the respondent his loan in the amount of P91,427.00. In view of the failure of the respondent to pay the loan, the mortgaged property was foreclosed by the complainant bank. Later, Oscar Granada, the real registered owner of the mortgaged property filed a complaint against the respondent and the complainant for the annulment of the Real Estate Mortgage and Special Power of Attorney. After the trial, the court declared null and void the said Special Power of Attorney as well as the Real Estate Mortgage for being products of forgery. This decision was not appealed by the defendants. There is no showing that respondent, despite the adverse decision, returned or offered to return the money he took from the complainant bank. The bank then instituted this disbarment proceeding against [3] the respondent. The IBP found from the above facts that respondent violated his oath as a lawyer to do no falsehood, thus: This office believes that the actuation of the respondent constitutes a betrayal of his oath as a lawyer. The findings of the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental has persuasive effect in this proceeding. As found by the Regional Trial Court of Negros Occidental in its decision in Civil Case No. 1-C, entitled Spouses Oscar D. Granada

and Lolita L. Granada vs. Ernesto H. Pilla, et al, the plaintiffs Granada spouses have not signed the questioned Special Power of Attorney in favor of the respondent and the said spouses signatures as appearing in the Special Power of Attorney are not their true and genuine signatures for actually they have not executed nor granted a Special Power of Attorney in favor of herein respondent authorizing him to mortgage the one-third (1/3) share of the said spouses in the mortgaged property. The trial court stressed that: Although there is no showing that Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla has actually falsified the signatures of the spouses, Atty. Oscar D. Granada, yet considering that he actually benefited from the said falsified documents, he is presumed to have a hand on the same. Defendant Antonio Pura testified and in fact he admitted that he notarized the said documents, Exhibit A and B, with the assurance of Atty. Pilla that the signatures appearing in the said documents were the signatures of Atty. Oscar D. Granada and of Pedro Torres, registered owners of the property in question. Antonio G. Pura, the notary public who notarized the questioned Special Power of Attorney in favor of the respondent, testified in said Civil Case as follows: Q Now, compaero, will you please relate to this Honorable Court the circumstances under which you notarized this Special Power of Attorney now marked as Exh. A on April 21, 1975? A Yes, sir. I remember that on the same day, April 21, 1975, defendant Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla personally appeared before me and he brought along with him this Special Power of Attorney executed in his favor. He told me to notarize it. I asked him about the signature of Atty. Oscar D. Granada if this is his signature and he said Yes. I also asked him about the signature of the other principal and he said also Yes. With that assurance and being a brother lawyer I accommodated him. Knowing that he will not do anything that is illegal and I have confidence in him considering that he is a

lawyer and he knows accommodated him.

what

he

was

doing,

and rules, said recommendation is with modification that Respondent be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for THREE(3) [5] years for misrepresentation. We fully agree Commissioner. with the findings of the Investigating

(TSN, Hearing March 15, 1993, pp. 22-23, Civil Case No. 1, RTC, Branch LX, Cadiz City, Negros Occidental) If indeed, respondent is not responsible for the falsification of the Special Power of Attorney, why did he not explain before the trial court or before this office the circumstances on how he obtained the same. He did not even bother to identify his alleged client who provided him the forged Special Power of Attorney. Instead, respondent is banking on his defense that the complainant bank has not introduced any evidence to prove that he forged the Special Power of Attorney. He relied on the argument that his transaction with the complainant bank was purely commercial business and did not involve his capacity as a lawyer. Further, if it is true that the respondent maintains the highest degree of morality and integrity as he asserted, why did he represent before the notary public that the signatures appearing in the Special Power of Attorney were the signatures of the real owners if he was not actually aware that the signatures were that of the real owners. The office is convinced that the actuation of the respondent is misrepresentation constituting gross misconduct at the very least. This is a violation of his oath as a lawyer to do falsehood to [4] no man. In conclusion, Commissioner Elamparo recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for five (5) years. The IBP, through Resolution No. XIV-00-175, dated 7 April 2000, of its Board of Governors, substantially adopted and approved the report and recommendation of Commissioner Elamparo but modified the penalty. The IBP RESOLVED as follows: to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as annex A, and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws

As correctly pointed out by the trial court in Civil Case No. 1-C, since respondent actually benefited from the falsified document, he is presumed to have a hand in the falsification of the same. Respondent miserably failed to rebut this presumption with his barefaced denial that he had no knowledge of the forgery. The Court cannot give credence to respondents negative assertion that he did not know that the special power of attorney issued in his favor was falsified. As a lawyer, respondent knows or ought to know that parties to a public document must personally appear before the notary public to attest that the same is their own free act and deed. In utter disregard of this requirement, respondent caused the special power of attorney to be notarized without the parties appearing before the notary public. Thereafter, respondent presented the same to complainant rural bank in order to obtain a loan therefrom. It is thus apparent that respondent had a hand in the falsification of the document especially considering that it was he who chiefly benefited from it. Indeed, the settled rule is that in the absence of satisfactory explanation, one found in possession of and who used a forged document is the forger and therefore guilty of [6] falsification. Further, if a person had in his possession a falsified document and he made use of it (uttered it), taking advantage of it and profiting thereby, the clear presumption is that he is the material [7] author of the falsification. Respondents acts clearly fall short of the standards set by the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Rule 1.01 thereof, which provides that [a] lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The fact that the conduct pertained to respondents private dealings with complainant rural bank is of no moment. A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for ANY misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, or [8] good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a

good condition precedent to the practice of law, but a continuing [9] qualification for all members of the bar. Considering the foregoing, the recommendation of the IBP that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years is approved. WHEREFORE, the Court hereby finds respondent Atty. Ernesto H. Pilla guilty of misconduct. He is suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years effective from receipt of this Resolution, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be more severely dealt with. Let a copy of this Resolution be furnished, upon its finality, to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all the courts in the Philippines, and spread on the personal record of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. SO ORDERED. SCRA 1.

Rivera v. Corral, A.C. No. 3548, July 4, 2002, 384

By its Board Resolution No. 1 dated March 7, 1998, the South Cotabato-Sarangani-General Santos City (SOCSARGEN)

Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) resolved to refer to the IBP Board of Governors in Manila, for appropriate action and investigation, the purported anomaly involving
[1]

Judge Teodoro Dizon Jr. and Atty. Ricardo G. Barrios, Jr. on March 24, 1998, Atty. Joeffrey L. Montefrio,

Thus, the

SPOUSES RAFOLS vs. ATTY. RICARDO BARRIOS


PER CURIAM: The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers, and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their lawyers oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar. A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.

SOCSARGEN IBP Chapter President, transmitted the referral to the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA). The matter involving Judge Dizon, Jr., which was docketed as Administrative Matter (AM) No. RTJ-98-1426 entitledManuel C. Rafols and Lolita C. Rafols v. Judge Teodoro Dizon, Jr., RTC, General Santos City, Branch 37,
[2]

was

resolved
[3]

in

a per curiam decision promulgated on January 31, 2006,

whereby

the Court dismissed Judge Dizon, Jr. from the service, with forfeiture of all benefits, except accrued leave credits, and with prejudice to reemployment in the government or any of its subdivisions, instrumentalities or agencies, including government-owned and government -controlled corporations.

In the same per curiam decision, the Court reiterated its resolution of October 21, 1998 for the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) to conduct an investigation of the actuations of Atty. Barrios, Jr. (respondent), and to render its report and recommendation. Hence, this decision. Antecedents The anomaly denounced by the SOCSARGEN IBP Chapter was narrated in the joint affidavit dated March 3, 1998 of Spouses Manuel C. Rafols, Jr. and Lolita B. Rafols (complainants),
[5] [4]

own investigation in the matter with respect to the [8] actuations of Atty. Ricardo Barrios, Jr. xxx In the resolution dated October 21, 1998, the Court approved the recommendations,
[9]

and directed the Office of the Bar Confidant

to investigate the actuations of the respondent, and to render its report and recommendation thereon. Proceedings of the OBC Only the respondent appeared during the hearing before the OBC. Denying the charges against him, he sought the dismissal of the complaint and re-affirmed the contents of his comment. Despite notice, the complainants did not appear before the OBC. However, the complainants and the respondent had testified during the administrative hearing involving Judge Dizon, Jr. before Court of Appeals Associate Justice Jose Sabio Jr. as the Investigating Justice. Also testifying thereat were the complainants witnesses, namely: Allan Rafols, Daisy Rafols and Larry Sevilla. In turn, then Senior Deputy Court Administrator Reynaldo L. Suarez filed with the Court an Administrative Matter for Agenda, recommending in relation to Atty. Barrios, Jr., as follows: xxx 5. The Office of the Bar Confidant be FURNISHED with a copy of the letternote and its attachments so that it may conduct its A. Evidence for the Complainants The complainants were the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 6209 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in General Santos City, wherein they sought the cancellation of a deed of sale. Civil Case No. 6209 was assigned to Branch 37 of the RTC, presided by Judge Dizon, Jr.

whose

narrative was corroborated by the affidavit dated March 11, 1998 of Larry Sevilla; Allan Rafols;
[6] [7]

the affidavit dated March 16, 1998 of affidavit dated March 16, 1998 of

and

the

Daisy Rafols,

all of which were attached to the letter of the IBP

Chapter President. Atty. Erlinda C.Verzosa, then Deputy Clerk of Court and Bar Confidant, referred for appropriate action a copy of the letter and affidavits to then Court Administrator Alfredo L. Benipayo.

The complainants were represented by the respondent, paying to him P15,000.00 as acceptance fee. On December 22, 1997, at 9:30 a.m., the respondent visited the complainants at their residence and informed complainant Manuel that the judge handling their case wanted to talk to him. The respondent and Manuel thus went to the East Royal Hotels coffee shop where Judge Dizon, Jr. was already waiting. The respondent introduced Manuel to the judge, who informed Manuel that their case was pending in his sala. The judge likewise said that he would resolve the case in their favor, assuring their success up to the Court of Appeals, if they could deliver P150,000.00 to him. As he had no money at that time, Manuel told the judge that he would try to produce the amount. The judge then stated that he would wait for the money until noon of that day. Thus, Manuel left the coffee shop together with the respondent, who instructed Manuel to come up with the money before noon because the judge badly needed it. The two of them went to a lending institution, accompanied by Allan Rafols, but Manuel was told there that only P50,000.00 could be released the next day. From the lending institution, they went to the complainants shop to look for Ditas Rafols, Allans wife, who offered to withdrawP20,000.00 from her savings account. On their way to the bank, Manuel, Allan and Ditas dropped off the respondent at the hotel for the latter to assure Judge Dizon, Jr. that the money was forthcoming. Afterwards, Ditas and Manuel

withdrew P20,000.00 and P30,000.00 from their respective bank accounts, and went back to the hotel with the cash. There, they saw the judge and his driver, who beckoned to them to go towards the judges Nissan pick-up then parked along the highway in front of the hotel. Manuel alighted from his car and approached the judge. Manuel personally handed the money to the judge, who told Manuel after asking about the amount that it was not enough. Thereafter, Manuel entered the hotels coffee shop and informed the respondent that he had already handed the money to the judge. On December 24, 1997, at about 6:00 a.m., the respondent again visited the complainants. He was on board the judges Nissan pick-up driven by the judges driver. The respondent relayed to the complainants the message that the judge needed the balance of P100,000.00 in order to complete the construction of his new house in time for the reception of his daughters wedding. However, the complainants managed to raise only P80,000.00, which they delivered to the respondent on that same day. On January 20, 1998, Judge Dizon, Jr. called up the complainants residence and instructed their son to request his parents to return his call, leaving his cell phone number. When Manuel returned the call the next day, the judge instructed Manuel to see him in his office. During their meeting in his chambers, the judge demanded the balance of P30,000.00. Manuel clarified to the judge that his balance was only P20,000.00 due to the previous amount

given being already P80,000.00. The judge informed him that the amount that the respondent handed was short. Saying that he badly needed the money, the judge insisted on P30,000.00, and even suggested that the complainants should borrow in order to raise that amount. On January 22, 1998, Judge Dizon, Jr. called the

that they were being fooled about their case, they consulted Larry Sevilla, their mediamen friend, and narrated to Sevilla all the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.They agreed that the details should be released to the media. The expos was published in the Newsmaker, a local newspaper. Thereafter, the respondent and Judge Dizon, Jr. made several attempts to appease the complainants by sending gifts and offering to return a portion of the money, but the complainants declined the offers. According to the complainants, the respondent

complainants to inquire whether the P30,000.00 was ready for pick up. After Manuel replied that he was ready with the amount, the judge asked him to wait for 20 minutes. The judge and his driver later arrived on board his Nissan pick-up. Upon instructions of the judges driver, the complainants followed inside the Nissan pick-up until

somewhere

the Doa Soledad

demanded P25,000.00 as his expenses in securing the testimony of Soledad Elevencionado-Provido in Iloilo City to be used as evidence in their civil case. In addition, the respondent requested the complainants to borrow P60,000.00 from the bank because he wanted to redeem his foreclosed Isuzu Elf, and because he needed to give P11,000.00 to his nephew who was due to leave for work abroad. B. Evidence for the Respondent In his verified comment dated March 22, 2006,
[10]

Estate, Espina, General Santos City. There, the judge alighted and approached the complainants and shook their hands. At that point, Manuel handed P30,000.00 to the judge. The judge then told Manuel that the RTC judge in Iloilo City before whom the perpetuation of the testimony of Soledad Elevencionado-Provido was made should still testify as a witness during the trial in his sala in order for the complainants to win. The judge persuaded the complainants to give money also to that judge; otherwise, they should not blame him for the outcome of the case.

the

The complainants were forced to give money to the judge, because they feared that the judge would be biased against them unless they gave in to his demands. But when they ultimately sensed

respondent confirmed that the complainants engaged him as their counsel in Civil Case No. 6209. His version follows.

On December 22, 1997, the respondent introduced Manuel to Judge Dizon, Jr. inside the East Royal Hotels coffee shop. The respondent stayed at a distance, because he did not want to hear their conversation. Later, Manuel approached the respondent and gave him P2,000.00. When the respondent asked what the money was for, Manuel replied that it was in appreciation of the formers introducing the latter to the judge. The respondent stated that Manuel did not mention what transpired between the latter and the judge; and that the judge did not tell him (respondent) what transpired in that conversation. Two days later, the respondent again visited the

the judge became physically weak in his presence and was on the verge of collapsing. Nonetheless, the respondent refused to notarize the document. In that affidavit dated January 27, 1998,
[11]

the respondent

denied that Judge Dizon, Jr. asked money from the complainants; and stated that he did not see the complainants handing the money to the judge. He admitted that he was the one who had requested the judge to personally collect his unpaid attorneys fees from the complainants with respect to their previous and terminated case; and that the judge did not ask money from the complainants in exchange for a favorable decision in their case. On January 28, 1998, the respondent returned to the complainants residence, but was surprised to find complainant Lolita crying aloud. She informed him that the judge was again asking an additional P30,000.00 although they had given himP30,000.00 only the week before. She divulged that the judge had told her that their case would surely lose because: (a) they had engaged a counsel who was mahinang klase; (b) the judge hearing Civil Case No. 5645 in Iloilo and the woman who had testified in Civil Case No. 6029 had not been presented; and (c) they would have to spend at least P10,000.00 for said judges accommodations in General
[12]

complainants at their house in General Santos City on board the judges Nissan pick -up driven by the judges driver, in order to receive the P80,000.00 from the complainants. The amount was being borrowed by the judge for his swimming pool. Later on, the judge told the respondent to keep P30,000.00 as a token of their friendship. After Manuel handed the P80,000.00, the respondent and the judges driver headed towards DavaoCity, where, according to the judges instruction, they redeemed the judges wristwatch for P15,000.00 from a pawnshop. The driver brought the remaining amount of P35,000.00 to the judge in his home. On January 27, 1998, Judge Dizon, Jr. visited the

Santos City.

respondent at the latters house to ask him to execute an affidavit. Declining the request at first, the respondent relented only because On January 31, 1998, Judge Dizon, Jr. went to the house of the respondent, but the latter was not home. The judge left a note

addressed to the complainants, and instructed the respondents secretary to deliver the note to the complainants along with a gift (imported table clock).
[13]

going to return whatever he had borrowed from them. However, the complainants informed the respondent that he should tell the judge that they were no longer interested in getting back the money. The respondent made a follow-up at the NBI and PNP Regional Offices in Davao City of his request for assistance after

According

to

the

respondent,

the

complainants consistently refused to accept the gift several times; it was later stolen from his house in Cebu City. On February 1, 1998, the respondent delivered the note and gift to the complainants, but the latter refused to receive it, telling him that they were no longer interested to continue with the case. At the same time, the complainants assured him that they bore no personal grudge against him, because they had a problem only with Judge Dizon, Jr. On February 24, 1998, the respondent went to the National Bureau of Investigation Regional Office, Region XI, and the Philippine National Police Regional Office, Region XI, both in Davao City, to request the investigation of the matter.
[14]

Manuel mentioned to him that he (Manuel) knew of many armed men ready at any time to help him in his problem with the judge Report and Recommendation of the OBC In its Report and Recommendation dated May 15, 2008,
[17]

the OBC opined that the administrative case against the

respondent could not be dismissed on the ground of failure to prosecute due to the complainants failure to appear in the scheduled hearing despite due notice. Based on the facts already established and identified, as rendered in the
[18]

On March 2, 1998, the respondent paid Judge Dizon, Jr. a visit upon the latters request. In that meeting, the respondent told the judge about the refusal of the complainants to accept the judges gift and about their decision not to continue with the case.
[15]

decision Lolita

dated January

21,

2006 in ManuelRafols and Judge Teodoro A. Dizon,

B. Rafols v.

the OBC rejected the respondents

denial of any knowledge of the transaction between his clients and the judge.

On the next day, Judge Dizon, Jr. sent a note to the respondent to inform him that the judge had raised the amount that he had borrowed from the complainants.
[16]

The OBC recommended: WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing premises, it is respectfully recommended that respondent ATTY. RICARDO BARRIOS, Jr. be

The judge requested the

respondent to tell the complainants that he (Judge Dizon, Jr.) was

SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years with a stern warning that a repetition of similar act in the future will be dealt more severely. Ruling of the Court We approve and adopt the report and recommendations of the OBC, which we find to be fully and competently supported by the evidence adduced by the complainants and their witnesses, but we impose the supreme penalty of disbarment, which we believe is the proper penalty. I

The burden of proof in disbarment and suspension proceedings always rests on the shoulders of the complainant. The Court exercises its disciplinary power only if the complainant establishes the complaint by clearly preponderant evidence that warrants the imposition of the harsh penalty.
[19]

As a rule, an attorney

enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges made against him until the contrary is proved. An attorney is further presumed as an officer of the Court to have performed his duties in accordance with his oath.
[20]

Here, Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which governs the disbarment and suspension of attorneys, provides: Section 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by the Supreme Court; grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers constitute malpractice.

the

complainants

successfully

overcame

the

respondents presumed innocence and the presumed regularity in the performance of his duties as an attorney of the complainants. The evidence against him was substantial, and was not contradicted.

To begin with, the respondents denial of knowledge of the transaction between the complainants and Judge Dizon, Jr. was not only implausible, but also unsubstantiated. It was the respondent himself who had introduced the complainants to the judge. His act of introducing the complainants to the judge strongly implied that the respondent was aware of the illegal purpose of the judge in wanting to talk with the respondents clients. Thus, we unqualifiedly accept the aptness of the following evaluation made in the OBCs Report and Recommendation, viz:

xxx Being the Officer of the Court, he must have known that meeting litigants outside the court is something beyond the bounds of the rule and that it can never be justified by any reason. He must have known the purpose of Judge Dizon in requesting him to meet the complainants-litigants outside the chamber of Judge Dizon. By his overt act in arranging the meeting between Judge Dizon and complainants- litigants in the Coffee Shop of the East Royal Hotel, it is crystal clear that he must have allowed himself and consented to Judge Dizons desire to ask money from the complainants-litigants for a favorable decision of their case which was pending before the salaof [21] Judge Dizon. Secondly, the respondents insistence that he did not see the complainants act of handing the money to the judge is unbelievable. In his comment, the respondent even admitted having himself received the P80,000.00 from the complainants, and having
[22]

the gross impropriety of the transaction. Being the complainants attorney in the civil case being heard before the judge, the respondent could not but know that for the judge to borrow money from his clients was highly irregular and outrightly unethical. If he was innocent of wrongdoing, as he claimed, he should have desisted from having any part in the transaction. Yet, he did not, which rendered his explanation unbelievable. Compounding the

unworthiness of his explanation was his admission of having retained P30,000.00 of the borrowed money upon the judges instruction. And, lastly, the OBC has pointed out that the respondents act of requesting the NBI Regional Office in Davao City to investigate was an afterthought on his part. We agree with the OBC, for the respondent obviously acted in order to anticipate the com plainants moves against him and the judge. To be sure, the respondent sensed that the complainants would not simply forgive and forget the mulcting they had suffered at the hands of the judge and their own attorney from the time that the complainants assured him that they were no longer interested to get back their money despite their being very angry at the judges greed. Overall, the respondent denials were worthless and unavailing in the face of the uncontradicted evidence showing that he had not only personally arranged the meeting between Manuel and Judge Dizon, Jr., but had also communicated to the complainants

kept P30,000.00 of that amount pursuant to the instruction of the judge as a token of the friendship between him and the judge. The

admission proved that the respondent had known all along of the illegal transaction between the judge and the complainants, and belied his feigned lack of knowledge of the delivery of the money to the judge. Thirdly, his attempt to explain that the complainants had given the money to the judge as a loan, far from softening our strong impression of the respondents liability, confirmed his awareness of

the judges illegal reason for the meeting. It is axiomatic that any denial, to be accepted as a viable defense in any proceeding, must be substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. This need derives from the nature of a denial as evidence of a negative and self-serving character, weightless in law and insufficient to overcome the testimony of credible witnesses on affirmative matters. II The practice of law is a privilege heavily burdened with conditions.
[24] [23]

The respondent did not measure up to the exacting standards of the Law Profession, which demanded of him as an attorney the absolute abdication of any personal advantage that conflicted in any way, directly or indirectly, with the interest of his clients. For monetary gain, he disregarded the vow to delay no man for money or malice and to conduct myse lf as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion, with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients that he made when he took the Lawyers Oath.
[30]

He also disobeyed the explicit command to him as

The attorney is a vanguard of our legal system, and,

an attorney to accept no compensation in connection with his clients business except from him or with his knowledge and approval.
[31]

as such, is expected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a very high standard of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing in order that the peoples faith and confidence in the legal system are ensured.
[26] [25]

He conveniently ignored that the relation between him


[32]

and his clients was highly fiduciary in nature and of a very delicate, exacting, and confidential character.

Thus, he must conduct himself, whether in dealing with

his clients or with the public at large, as to be beyond reproach at all times. Any violation of the high moral standards of the legal
[27]

Verily, the respondent was guilty of gross misconduct, which is improper or wrong conduct, the transgression of some established and definite rule of action, a forbidden act, a dereliction of duty, willful in character, and implies a wrongful intent and not mere error of judgment.
[33]

profession justifies the imposition on the attorney of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment.

Specifically, the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins an attorney from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful conduct.
[28]

Any gross misconduct of an attorney in

his professional or private capacity shows him unfit to manage the affairs of others, and is a ground for the imposition of the penalty of suspension or disbarment, because good moral character is an essential qualification for the admission of an attorney and for the continuance of such privilege.
[34]

Corollary to this injunction is the rule that an attorney


[29]

shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the Legal Profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.

The conclusion that the respondent and the disgraced Judge Dizon, Jr. were conspirators against the formers own clients, whom he was sworn to protect and to serve with utmost fidelity and morality, is inevitable for the Court to make in this administrative case. And, being conspirators, they both deserve the highest penalty. The disbarment of the respondent is in order, because such sanction is on par with the dismissal of Judge Dizon, Jr. WHEREFORE, Atty. Ricardo G. Barrios, Jr. is disbarred. This decision shall be entered in the records of Atty. Barrios, Jr. as a member of the Philippine Bar. Copies of the decision shall be furnished to the Bar Confidant and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for record purposes; and to the Court Administrator, for circulation to all courts nationwide. SO ORDERED.

Complainants Espinosa and Glindo charged Omaa with violation of her oath as a lawyer, malpractice, and gross misconduct in office. Complainants alleged that on 17 November 1997, Espinosa and his wife Elena Marantal (Marantal) sought Omaas legal advice on whether they could legally live separately and dissolve their marriage solemnized on 23 July 1983. Omaa then prepared a document entitled Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay (contract) which reads:

REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS BAYAN NG GUMACA LALAWIGAN NG QUEZON KASUNDUAN NG PAGHIHIWALAY


KAMI, ELENA MARANTAL AT RODOLFO ESPINOSA, mga Filipino, may sapat na gulang, dating legal na magasawa, kasalukuyangnaninirahan at may pahatirang sulat sa Brgy. Buensoceso, Gumaca, COMELEC, Intramuros,Manila ayon sa pagkakasunod sunod,matapos makapanumpa ng naaayon sa batas ay nagpapatun ay ng nagkasundo ng mga sumusunod: Quezon, at

ESPINOSA vs. ATTY JULIETA OMANA


1. The Case Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Rodolfo A. Espinosa (Espinosa) and Maximo A. Glindo (Glindo) against Na nais na naming maghiwalay at magkanyakanya ng aming mga buhay ng walang pakialaman, kung kayat bawat isa sa amin aymaaari ng humanap ng makakasa ma sa buhay; 2. Na ang aming mga anak na sina Ariel John Espinosa,

Atty. Julieta A. Omaa (Omaa). The Antecedent Facts

14 na taong gulang; Aiza Espinosa,

11 taong gulang at Aldrin Espinosa, 10taong gulang ay namili na kung kanino sasama sa aming dalawa. Si Ariel John at Aiza Espinosa ay sasama sa kanilang ama, Rodolfo Espinosa, at sasama naman sa ina na si Elena; 3. Na dahil sina Ariel John at Aiza ay nagsisipagat ang bunso, Aldrin Espinosa 7. Na lahat ng maaaring maipundar ng sino man sa amin dalawa

sa mga panahong darating ay aming mga sari-sariling pagaari na athindi na pinagsamahan o conjugal. BILANG PATUNAY ng lahat ng ito, nilagdaan namin ito ngayong ika17 ng Nobyembre, 1997, dito sa Gumaca, Quezon.

aral sa kasalukuyan sila ay pansamantalang mananatili sa kanilang i na, habangtinatapos ang kanilang pag-aaral. Sa pasukan sila ay maaari ng isama ng ama, sa lugar kung saan siy a ay naninirahan; 4. Na ang mga bata ay maaaring dalawin ng sino man sa aming d

alawa tuwing may pagkakataon; 5. Na magbibigay ng buwanang gastusin o suporta ang ama kay

(Sgd) (Sgd) ELENA MARANTAL RODOLFO ESPINOSA Nagkasundo Nagkasundo


PINATUNAYAN AT PINANUMPAAN dito sa harap ko ngayong ika17 ng Nobyembre, 1997, dito sa Gumaca, Quezon

Aldrin at ang kakulangan sa mga pangangailangan nito ay pupunan ngina; 6. Na lahat ng mga kasangkapan sa bahay tulad ng T.V., gas

stove, mga kagamitan sa kusina ay aking (Rodolfo) ipinagkakaloob k ayElena at hindi na ako interesado dito;

ATTY. JULIETA A. OMAA Notary Public PTR No. 3728169; 1-10-97 Gumaca, Quezon Doc. No. 482; Page No. 97; Book No. XI;
Series of 1997. Complainants alleged that Marantal and Espinosa, fully convinced of the validity of the contract dissolving their marriage, started implementing its terms and conditions. However, Marantal eventually

took custody of all their children and took possession of most of the property they acquired during their union. Espinosa sought the advice of his fellow employee,

stated that Omaa was not in her office when the contract was notarized. The Decision of the Commission on Bar Discipline In its Report and Recommendation dated 6 February 2007, the IBP-CBD stated that Espinosas desistance did not put an end to the proceedings. The IBP-CBD found that Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
1

complainant Glindo, a law graduate, who informed him that the contract executed by Omaa was not valid. Espinosa

and Glindo then hired the services of a lawyer to file a complaint against Omaabefore the Integrated Bar of the Philippines

Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD). Omaa alleged that she knows Glindo but she does not personally know Espinosa. She denied that she prepared the contract. She admitted that Espinosa went to see her and requested for the notarization of the contract but she told him that it was illegal.Omaa alleged that Espinosa returned the next day while she was out of the office and managed to persuade her part-time office staff to notarize the document. Her office staff forged her signature and notarized the contract. Omaa presented MarantalsSinumpaang Salaysay (affidavit) to support her allegations and to show that the complaint was instigated by Glindo. Omaafurther presented a letter of apology from her staff, Arlene Dela Pea, acknowledging that she notarized the document withoutOmaas knowledge, consent, and authority. Espinosa later submitted a Karagdagang Salaysay stating

deceitful conduct. The IBP-CBD stated thatOmaa had failed to exercise due diligence in the performance of her function as a notary public and to comply with the requirements of the law. The IBP-CBD noted the inconsistencies in the defense of Omaa who first claimed that it was her part-time staff who notarized the contract but then later claimed that it was her former maid who notarized it. The IBPCBD found: Respondent truly signed the questioned document, yet she still disclaimed its authorship, thereby revealing much more her propensity to lie and make deceit, which she is deserving [of] disciplinary sanction or disbarment. The IBP-CBD recommended that Omaa be suspended for one year from the practice of law and for two years as a notary public.

that Omaa arrived at his residence together with a girl whom he later recognized as the person who notarized the contract. He further

In a Resolution dated 19 September 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the recommendation of the IBPCBD. Omaa filed a motion for reconsideration. In a Resolution dated 26 June 2011, the IBP Board of Governors denied Omaas motion for reconsideration. The Issue The sole issue in this case is whether Omaa violated the Canon of Professional Responsibility in the notarization of Marantaland Espinosas Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay. The Ruling of this Court We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD. This case is not novel. This Court has ruled that the extrajudicial dissolution of the conjugal partnership without judicial approval is void. The Court has also ruled that a notary public should not facilitate the disintegration of a marriage and the family by encouraging the separation of the
3 2

the contract in this case, such as: notarizing a document between the spouses which permitted the husband to take a concubine and allowed the wife to live with another man, without opposition from each other; ratifying a document entitled Legal Separation where the couple agreed to be separated from each other mutually and voluntarily, renouncing their rights and obligations, authorizing each other to remarry, and renouncing any action that they might have against each other; preparing a document authorizing a married couple who had been separated for nine years to marry again, renouncing the right of action which each may have against the other; and preparing a document declaring the conjugal partnership dissolved.
8 7 6 5

We cannot accept Omaas allegation that it was her part-time office staff who notarized the contract. We agree with the IBP-CBD that Omaa herself notarized the contract. Even if it were true that it was her part-time staff who notarized in doing the contract, it only We

showed Omaas negligence

her notarial duties.

reiterate that a notary public is personally responsible for the entries in his notarial register and he could not relieve himself of this responsibility by passing the blame on his secretaries or any member of his staff. We likewise agree with the IBP-CBD that in preparing and notarizing a void document, Omaa violated Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that [a] lawyer shall not
9

spouses

and extrajudicially dissolving the conjugal partnership, which is exactly what Omaadid in this case. In Selanova v. Judge Mendoza, the Court cited a number of cases where the lawyer was sanctioned for notarizing similar documents as
4

engage

in

unlawful,

dishonest,

immoral that

or

deceitful the

registered in the name of the heirs of Vicente Paras wherein respondent was one of the signatories therein.

conduct. Omaa knew fully well

Kasunduan Ng Paghihiwalay has no legal effect and is against public policy. Therefore, Omaa may be suspended from office as an attorney for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. WHEREFORE,
10

Complainant alleged that on May 4, 1966 on the basis of said Special Power of Attorney, Ledesma J. Paras-Sumabang executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of Aurora Dy-Yap over the subject

we SUSPEND Atty. Julieta A. Omaa from

the

real property located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental which was with the respondents full knowledge since he was residing at the house of Soledad Dy-Yap at that time and from that time, the Yap family had been in possession of the subject real property up to the present. Complainant alleged that sometime in June 1998 her

practice of law for ONE YEAR. We REVOKE Atty. Omaas notarial commission, if still existing, and SUSPEND her as a notary public for TWO YEARS.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Omaas personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant. Let a copy of this Decision be also furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the land. SO ORDERED.

attention was called to the fact that a free patent title to the aforesaid property was issued in respondents name and upon verification with the DENR, Bureau of Lands, Dumaguete City, complainant was able to get copies of the documents for lot Nos. 660, 490 and 585 pertaining to the Notice of Application for Free Patent dated April 2, 1985 signed by the respondent; over the aforesaid lots previously sold by Ledesma de Jesus to Aurora D. Yap; Quitclaim/Renunciation of Property Rights and Interest Over Real Property executed by Ledesma de Jesus dated May 28, 1985; Letter

Rosa Yap-Paras vs. Atty. Justo Paras [A.C. No. 4947. February 14, 2005]
Facts: Complainant alleged that on February 9, 1965 the children of Ledesma de Jesus Paras-Sumabong namely Conegunda,

Justo,Corazon, Carmen and Cataluna all surnamed Paras executed a Special Power of Attorney prepared by the respondent to sell parcels of land located in Matobato, Bindoy, Negros Oriental giving authority to their mother to sell the subject real properties previously

of Application datedApril 2, 1985 signed by respondent under oath before Apolonio Tan authorized officer to administer oath; Letter of Certification signed by Apolonio Tan dated June 4, 1985 and Order of Approval dated August 19, 1985 signed by District Land Officer

Teopisto L. Gallozo with a Free Patent No. 328 in the name of respondent Justo J. Paras.

Held: The Court has always reminded that a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession as the bar should always maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well

Complainant alleged that the aforementioned application was made by the respondent without her knowledge and consent and those acts of deceit, machinations and falsification of documents were deliberately willfully, and maliciously committed by the respondent in violation of Art. 172 in relation to Art. 171 of the RPC; in betrayal of his oath as a lawyer and a transgression of the Canons of Professional Responsibility. Complainant alleged that respondent surreptitiously obtained a free patent title over real properties which had been previously sold by his own mother to Aurora D. Yap and now still under the control and possession of complainants natural family, a fact respondent allegedly withheld from the Bureau of Lands which he had full knowledge in successfully causing the release of a free patent in his name and unjustly and unlawfully deprived the rightful owners of their legitimate title to the said property in betrayal of the court to pervert the administration of justice in gross violation of his oath of office.

as of honesty and fair dealing among its members. By and large, a lawyer can do honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession. In the instant case, it is clear to the Court that respondent violated his lawyers oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to society and to the courts, the obligation to obey the laws of the land and to do no falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in court. Respondent has been deplorably lacking in the candor required of him as a member of the Bar and an officer of the court in his acts of applying for the issuance of a free patent over the properties in issue despite his knowledge that the same had already been sold by his mother to complainants sister. This fact, respondent even admitted in the comment that he filed before this Court when he alleged that the said properties were public land

Issue: Whether or not respondent may be suspended for violating the Canons of Professional Responsibility.

under the Forestal Zone when the mother of the respondent ceded to Aurora Yap some portions of entire occupancy of the Parases. Moreover, respondent committed deceit and falsehood in

hisapplication for free patent over the said properties when he manifested under oath that he had been in the actual possession and occupation of the said lands despite the fact that these were continuously in the possession and occupation of complainants family, as evidenced no less by respondents own statements in the pleadings filed before the IBP.

Professional Responsibility for which he is suspended from the practice of law for six months. Nemesio Floran and Caridad Floran v. Atty. Roy Prule Ediza. A.C. No. 5325. October 19, 2011.

Tomas P. Tan, Jr. v. Atty. Haide V. Gumba. A.C. No. 9000. October 5, 2011.
Attorney; grave misconduct. Respondent attorney was found to

Nemesio Floran and Caridad Floran vs. Atty. Roy Prule Ediza
It is clear from the records that respondent Atty. Ediza deceived the Spouses Floran when he asked them to unknowingly sign a deed of sale transferring a portion of their land to him. Respondent also

have violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Respondents actions clearly show that she deceived complainant into lending money to her through the use of documents and false representations and by taking advantage of her education and complainants ignorance in legal matters. As manifested by complainant, he would have never granted the loan to respondent were it not for respondents misrepresentation that she was authorized to sell the property and that complainant could register the open deed of sale if respondent fails to pay the loan. By her misdeed, respondent has eroded not only complainants perception of the legal profession but the publics perception as well. Her actions constitute gross misconduct for which she may be disciplined. Tomas P. Tan, Jr. v. Atty. Haide V. Gumba. A.C. No. 9000. October 5, 2011.

made it appear that the original owner of the land conveyed her rights therto to respondent and not to the Spouses Floran. When the sale of the Spouses Florans land pushed through, respondent received half of the proceeds given by the buyer and falsely misled the Spouses Floran into thinking that he will register the remaining portion of the land. Lamentably, Atty. Ediza played on the navet of the Spouses Floran to deprive them of their valued property. This is an unsavory behavior from a member of the legal profession. Aside from giving adequate attention, care and time to his clients case, a lawyer is also expected to be truthful, fair and honest in protecting his clients rights. Once a lawyer fails in this duty, he is not true to his oath as a lawyer. Respondent lawyer violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, Canon 15, and Rule 18.03 of Canon 18 of the Code of

In re LUIS B. TAGORDA - A Case Digest


Nature of the case:

The case is a suspension from the practice of law. Facts:The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, that he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows:

employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. (Canon 27 & 28, Code of Ethics)

SAN JOSE HOMEOWNERS ASSN. vs ROMANILLOS


Facts:

LUIS B. TAGORDA Attorney Notary Public CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER Province of Isabela. Respondent also admitted having written a letter in Ilocano addressed to a lieutenant in his home municipality (Echague, Isabela) in which he stated his continued exercise of his profession as a lawer and a notary public, besides being a Member of the Board of the municipality of Ilagan, Isabela. He also stated that he would be willing to render his legalservices to the people who have not contracted any other lawyers services. Issue: Whether or not the suspension of Luis B. Tagorda is meritorious. Held: Respondent Luis B. Tagorda was suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month. The solicitation of This is a disbarment case against Atty. Roberto Romanillos, for representing conflicting interests and for using the title Judge despite having been found guilty of grave and serious misconduct (in Zarate v Romanillos). Apparently, Romanillos was previously an active board member as corporate secretary of Durano Corp. Inc. (DCI).But it allowed itself to represent San Jose Homeowners Association, Inc (SJHAI) before the human Settlements Regulation Commission in a case against the same DCI. Irrelevant info: the case above was an alleged violation of DCI of the Subdivision and Condominium BuyersProtection a land designated as a school site, Act. DCI sold it

without disclosing

as such. (page 106) When SJHAIs petition over the land was denied, the SJHAIs Board terminated Romanillos services.

Also, Romanillos acted as counsel for Lydia Durano-Rodriguez who substituted for DCI. Thus, a disbarment case was filed for conflicting interests.

The title judge should be reserved only to judges, incumbent and retired, and not to those who were dishonorably discharged from the service.

Atty. Ismael G. Khan Jr. vs. Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo


The IBP handled the case, but he was merely reprimanded. Facts: In spite of this, he still continued to serve as counsel for DuranoRodriguez. Thus, a second disbarment case was filed. It also included his use of judge although he was found guilty of grave and serious misconduct. Issue: 6, 2000 and in the Philippine Star in August 5, 2000. W/N Romanillos should be disbarred Held: Yes. It is inconsequential that SJHAI never questioned the propriety of respondents continued representation of Durano-Rodriguez. The lack of opposition does not mean consent. As long as the lawyer represents 2 or moreopposing clients, he is guilty of violating his oath. His continued use of judge violated Rules 1.01 and 3.01. The penalty imposed on him in the Zarate caseforfeiture of all leave and retirement benefits and privileges: including the title judge. (he was a judge before,but he resigned instead of being booted out) In September 1, 2000, Simbillo was charged for improper advertising and solicitation of legal services, filed by Assistant Court Simbillo advertised himself as an Annulment of Marriage Specialist. These advertisements appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and further research showed that similar advertisements were published in the Manila Bulletin in August 2 and

Administrator and Chief of Public Information Office, Atty. Ismael G, Khan. Simbillos advertisement undermined the stability and sanctity of marriage, and violated rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and Rule 138, Sec. 27 of the Rules of Court. Simbillo professed repentance and beg for the Courts indulgence, this rings hollow as he again advertised his services in an issue of

Buy and Sell Free Ads Newspaper in August 14, 2001, and again in October 5, 2001. Rulings: Rizalino Simbillo was found to have violated Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibilty, and Rule 138, section 27 of the Rules of Court, and therefore, suspended from the practice of Law for One year. Repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

During the pendency of the appeal, the plaintiff-appellee therein, Eulogio B. Reyes, died. Upon prior leave of the respondent Court, he was substituted by his heirs Enrique N. Reyes, Felicisima R. Natividad, Donna Marie N. Reyes and Renne Marie N. Ryes who are now the private respondents in this present petition. On 19 February 1974, petitioner, thru its then counsel of record, received notice to file Appellant's Brief within 45 days from receipt thereof. It had, therefore, until 5 April 1974 within which to comply. Counsel for petitioner failed to file the Brief; thus, on 9 July 1974, respondent Court issued a Resolution requiring said counsel to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the 4 Appellant's Brief within the reglementary period. A copy of this 5 Resolution was received by counsel for petitioner on 17 July 1974. As the latter failed to comply with the above Resolution, respondent Court, on 9 September 1974, issued another Resolution this time dismissing petitioner's appeal: It appearing that counsel for defendant-appellant failed to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed (for failure to file the appellant's brief within the reglementary period which expired on April 5, 1974) within the period of 10 days fixed in the resolution of July 9, 1974, copy of which was 6 received by said counsel on July 17, 1974; . . . On 28 September 1974, petitioner, this time thru the BAIZAS LAW 7 OFFICE, filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dismissing its appeal alleging that as a result of the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas, senior partner in the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES, the affairs of the said firm are still being settled between Atty. Jose Baizas (son of Crispin Baizas) and Atty. Ruby Alberto, the latter having established her own law office; furthermore, Atty. Rodolfo Espiritu, the lawyer who handled this case in the trial court and who is believed to have also attended to the preparation of the Appellant's Brief but failed to submit it through oversight and inadvertence, had also left the firm.

B. R. SEBASTIAN ENTERPRISES, INC vs.CA


This is a petition for prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for preliminary injunction, to review the Resolution dated 10 November 1975 of respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. 53546-R denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, earlier dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. The material operative facts of this case, as gathered from the pleadings of the parties, are not disputed. Eulogio B. Reyes, now deceased, filed an action for damages with the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, against the Director of Public Works, the Republic of the Philippines and petitioner herein, B. R. Sebastian 1 Enterprises, Inc. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 757-R. On 7 May 1973, the trial court rendered a decision finding petitioner 2 liable for damages but absolving the other defendants. Petitioner, thru its counsel, the law firm of Baizas, Alberto and Associates, timely appealed the adverse decision to the respondent Court of Appeals, which docketed the case as C.A.-G.R. No. 535463 R.

In its Resolution of 9 October 1974, respondent Court denied the motion for reconsideration, stating that: Upon consideration of the motion of counsel for defendant-appellant, praying, on the grounds therein stated, that the resolution of September 9, 1974, dismissing the appeal, be set aside, and that appellant be granted a reasonable period of time within which to file its brief: considering that six (6) months had elapsed since the expiration of the original period and more than two and one-half (2-) months since counsel received copy of the resolution requiring him to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file brief; Motion Denied. 8 No action having been taken by petitioner from the above Resolution within the period to file a petition for review, the same became final and executory, and the records of the case were remanded to the court of origin for execution. The trial court issued a writ of execution on 21 October 9 1975. Pursuant thereto, respondent Provincial Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff attached petitioner's Hough Pay Loader with Hercules Diesel Engine and issued on 5 November 1975 a Notice of Sheriff's Sale, scheduling for Friday, 14 November 1975 at 10:00 o'clock in the 10 morning, the auction sale thereof. On 6 November 1975, petitioner filed with respondent Court a Motion to Reinstate Appeal with Prayer for Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary 11 Injunction dated 5 November 1975, and containing the following allegations: 1. That late as it may be, this Honorable Court has the inherent power to modify and set aside its processes, in the interest of justice, especially so in this case when the case was dismissed on account of the untimely death of Atty. Crispin D. Baizas, counsel of BRSEI (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc.).

2. That to dismiss the case for failure to file the appellant's brief owing to the untimely death of the late Atty. Crispin D. Baizas would be tantamount to denying BRSEI its (sic) day in court, and is, therefore, a clear and unmistakable denial of due process on the part of BRSEI. 3. That to reinstate BRSEI's appeal would not impair the rights of the parties, since all that BRSEI is asking for, is a day in court to be heard on appeal in order to have the unfair, unjust and unlawful decision, set aside and reversed. The respondent Court denied the said motion in its Resolution of 10 12 November 1975: . . . it appearing that appellant was represented by the law firm of Baizas, Alberto & Associates, and while Atty. Baizas died on January 16, 1974, his law firm was not dissolved since it received the notice to file brief on February 19, 1974, and the copy of the Resolution of July 9, 1974, requiring appellant to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed was received by the law firm on July 17, 1974 and no cause was shown; . . . Hence, on 13 November 1975, petitioner filed the original 13 petition in this case against the Court of Appeals, Eulogio B. Reyes, Nicanor G. Salaysay, as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and Antonio Marinas, as Deputy Sheriff. The petition likewise prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. In the Resolution of 13 November 1975, this Court required respondents to comment on the petition within ten (10) days from 14 receipt thereof, and issued a Temporary Restraining Order. On 12 January 1976, respondents filed a Partial Comment on the 15 Petition with a Motion to Suspend the Proceedings on the ground that respondent Eulogio B. Reyes is already dead and his lawful

heirs had already been ordered substituted for him during the pendency of the appeal before the respondent Court of Appeals. In the Resolution of 21 January 1976, this Court ordered petitioner to amend its petition within then (10) days from receipt of notice, and suspended the filing of respondents' Comment until after the 16 amendment is presented and admitted. In compliance therewith, petitioner filed on 9 February 1976 a Motion for Leave to Admit Amended Petition to which it attached the said 17 Amended Petition. The amendment consists in the substitution of Eulogio B. Reyes with his heirs. This Court admitted the Amended Petition and required the respondents to file their Comment within ten (10) days from notice 19 thereof, which they complied with on 5 April 1976. Petitioner filed 20 its Reply to the Comment on 29 April 1976. In the Resolution of 12 May 1976, this Court denied the petition for 21 lack of merit: L-41862 (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, et. al.). Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the amended petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals, respondents' comment thereon, as well as petitioner's reply to said comment, the Court Resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit. However, on 31 May 1976, petitioner filed a motion for its 22 reconsideration claiming that since it was deprived of the right to appeal without fault on its part, the petition should be given due course. Respondents submitted on 22 July 1976 their Comment Motion for Reconsideration.
23 18

On 10 September 1976, this Court resolved to reconsider its Resolution of 12 May 1976 and required both parties to submit simultaneously their respective Memoranda within thirty (30) days from notice thereof. Petitioner submitted its Memorandum on 5 November 1976 while 26 respondents submitted theirs on 22 November 1976. On 29 November 1976, this Court deemed the present case submitted for 27 decision. The sole issue to be addressed is whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, previously dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. Petitioner, in its Memorandum, extensively expounds on respondent Court's authority to reinstate dismissed appeals and cites as basis thereof the decision of this Court in Heirs of Clemente Celestino vs. 28 Court of Appeals, et al., Indeed, in said case, this Court affirmed the resolution of the Court of Appeals reinstating an appeal after being dismissed for failure by the appellants therein to file their brief, and after entry of judgment and remand of the records to the lower court and cancelled the entry of judgment, requiring the lower court to return the records to the Court of Appeals and admit appellant's brief. Said case, however, had a peculiar or singular factual situation" which prompted the Court of Appeals to grant the relief and which this Court found sufficient to justify such action. As this Court, through Associate Justice Ramon Aquino, said: We are of the opinion that under the peculiar or singular factual situation in this case and to forestall a miscarriage of justice the resolution of the Court of Appeals reinstating the appeal should be upheld. That Court dismissed the appeal of the Pagtakhans in the mistaken belief that they had abandoned it because they allegedly failed to give to their counsel the money needed for paying the cost of printing their brief.
25

24

to said

But presumably the Appellate Court realized later that fraud might have been practised on appellants Pagtakhans since their oppositions were not included in the record on appeal. In (sic) sensed that there was some irregularity in the actuations of their lawyer and that Court (sic) itself had been misled into dismissing the appeal. Counsel for the Pagtakhans could have furnished them with copies of his motions for extension of time to file brief so that they would have known that the Court of Appeals had been apprised of their alleged failure to defray the cost of printing their brief and they could have articulated their reaction directly to the Court. Counsel could have moved in the Appellate Court that he be allowed to withdraw from the case or that the Pagtakhans be required to manifest whether they were still desirous of prosecuting their appeal or wanted a mimeographed brief to be filed for them (See People vs. Cawili, L30543, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 728). Since counsel did none of those things, his representation that the appellants had evinced lack of interest in pursuing their appeal is difficult to believe. If the appellate court has not yet lost its jurisdiction, it may exercise its discretion in reinstating an appeal, having in mind the circumstances obtaining in each case and the demands of substantial justice (Alquiza vs. Alquiza, L-23342, February 10, 1968, 22 SCRA 494, 66 O.G. 276; C. Vda. de Ordoveza vs. Raymundo, 62 Phil. 275; Chavez vs. Ganzon, 108 Phil. 6). But even if it has already lost jurisdiction over the appeal by reason of the remand of the record to the lower court, it, nevertheless, has the inherent right to recall the remittitur or the remand of the record to the lower court if it had rendered a decision or issued a resolution which was induced by fraud practised

upon it. Such a right is not affected by the statutory provision that after the record has been remanded, the appellate court has no further jurisdiction over the appeal (5 Am Jur. 2nd 433 citingLovett vs. State, 29 Fla. 384, 11 So. 176; 84 ALR 595; State vs. Ramirez, 34 Idaho 623, 203 Pac. 279). In the instant case, no fraud is involved; what obtain is simple negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel, which is neither excusable nor unavoidable. Petitioner thus failed to demonstrate sufficient cause to warrant a favorable action on its plea. As held in Chavez, et al. vs. Ganzon, et al., and reiterated 30 in Negros Stevedoring Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, We said: Granting that the power or discretion to reinstate an appeal that had been dismissed is included in or implied from the power or discretion to dismiss an appeal, still such power or discretion must be exercised upon a showing of good and sufficient cause, in like manner as the power or discretion vested in the appellate court to allow extensions of time for the filing of briefs. There must be such a showing which would call for, prompt and justify its exercise (sic). Otherwise, it cannot and must not be upheld. To justify its failure to file the Appellant's Brief, petitioner relies mainly on the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas and the supposed confusion it brought to the firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES. It 31 says: Petitioner, thru its president Bernardo R. Sebastian, engaged the services of Atty. Crispin D. Baizas to handle its defense in Civil Case No. 757-R; however, it appears that Atty. Baizas entered petitioner's case as a case to be handled by his law firm operating under the name and style "Crispin D. Baizas & Associates." Hence, the Answer to the
29

complaint, Answer to Cross-Claim, and Answer to Fourth-party Complaint filed for petitioner in said case, evince that the law firm "Crispin D. Baizas & Associates" represents petitioner in the action. After rendition of the assailed Decision of the trial court, petitioner's counsel appears to have changed its firm name to "Baizas, Alberto & Associates." The appeal was thus pursued for petitioner by the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates." On January 16, 1974, Atty. Crispin D. Baizas died as a result of a brief heart attack. In consequence (sic) of his death, the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" was in a terribly confused state of affairs. In effect, said law firm was dissolved. Atty. Ruby Alberto formed her own law office and other associates left the dissolved law firms (sic) joining other offices or putting up their own. Atty. Jose Baizas, son of deceased Crispin D. Baizas, took over the management of why may have been left of his father's office, it appearing that some, if not many, cases of the defunct office were taken over by the associates who left the firm upon its dissolution. But, none of the former partners and associates/assistants of the dissolved law firm filed the required appellant's brief for herein petitioner in its appealed case before the respondent Court of Appeals. No notice was served upon petitioner by any of the surviving associates of the defunct law firm that its appellant's brief was due for filing or that the law office had been dissolved and that the law office had been dissolved and that none of the lawyers herein formerly connected desired to handle the appealed case of petitioner. . . . The circumstances that the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" was dissolved and that none of the

associates took over petitioner's case, and no notice of such state of affairs was given to petitioner who could have engaged the services of another lawyer to prosecute its appeal before respondent Court, constitutes (sic) an UNAVOIDABLE CASUALTY that entitles petitioner to the relief prayed for. On the other hand, the non-dissolution of said law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" will not defeat petitioner's claim for relief since, in such event, the said firm had ABANDONED petitioner's cause, which act constitutes fraud and/or reckless inattention the result of which is deprivation of petitioner's day in court. In the abovementioned Yuseco case, this Honorable Court had emphatically and forcefully declared that it will always be disposed to grant relief to parties aggrieved by perfidy, fraud, reckless inattention and downright incompetence of lawyers, which has the consequence of depriving their day (sic) in court. We find no merit in petitioner's contentions. Petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death of the latter did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner. In Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, the appeal filed by the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES on behalf of respondent therein was dismissed for failure to comply with the requisites enumerated in the Rules of Court; the excuse presented by said counsel was also the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas. This Court held therein that: The death of Attorney Baizas was not a valid excuse on the part of his associates for not attending to Alvendia's appeal, supposing arguendo that his office was solely entrusted with the task of representing Alvendia in the Court of Appeals. Attorney Espiritu (not Attorney Baizas) was the one actually collaborating with Viola in handling
32

Alvendia's case. He did not file a formal appearance in the Court of Appeals. Undoubtedly, there was inexcusable negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel in failing to file the Appellant's Brief. As revealed by the records, petitioner's counsel, the BAIZAS ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES law firm, received the notice to file Brief on 19 February 1974. It failed to do so within the 45 days granted to it. Said law firm also received a copy of the respondent Court's Resolution of 9 July 1974 requiring it to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Brief within the reglementary period. Petitioner chose not to comply with it, thus compelling the respondent Court to issue on 9 September 1974 a Resolution dismissing the appeal, a copy of which the former also received. Then, on 28 September 1974, the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE moved for reconsideration of the said Resolution which respondent Court denied in its Resolution of 9 October 1974. Nothing more was heard from petitioner until after a year when, on 6 November 1975, it filed the instant petition in reaction to the issuance of a writ of execution by the trial court following receipt of the records for the respondent Court. The "confusion" in the office of the law firm following the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas is not a valid justification for its failure to file the Brief. With Baizas' death, the responsibility of Atty. Alberto and his Associates to the petitioner as counsel remained until withdrawal by the former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of Court. This is so because it was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both the trial and appellate courts. That Atty. Espiritu, an associate who was designated to handle the case, later left the office after the death of Atty. Baizas is of no moment since others in the firm could have replaced him.. Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have re-assigned the case to another associate or, it could have withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by the Rules of Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new lawyer. In the Negros Stevedoring case, supra., this Court held:

The negligence committed in the case at bar cannot be considered excusable, nor (sic) is it unavoidable. Time and again the Court has admonished law firms to adopt a system of distributing pleadings and notices, whereby lawyers working therein receive promptly notices and pleadings intended for them, so that they will always be informed of the status of their cases. Their Court has also often repeated that the negligence of clerks which adversely affect the cases handled by lawyers, is binding upon the latter. Compounding such negligence is the failure of the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, which filed on 28 September 1974 the motion for reconsider the Resolution of 9 September 1974, to take any further appropriate action after the respondent Court denied said motion on 9 October 1974. The appearance of said counsel is presumed to be duly authorized by petitioner. The latter has neither assailed nor questioned such appearance. The rule is settled that negligence of counsel binds the client.
33

Moreover, petitioner itself was guilty of negligence when it failed to make inquiries from counsel regarding its case. As pointed out by respondents, the president of petitioner corporation claims to be the intimate friend of Atty. Crispin Baizas; hence, the death of the latter 34 must have been known to the former. This fact should have made petitioner more vigilant with respect to the case at bar. Petitioner failed to act with prudence and diligence, thus, its plea that they were not accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit either 35 approval or sympathy. Based on the foregoing, it is clear that there was failure to show a good and sufficient cause which would justify the reinstatement of petitioner's appeal. Respondent Court of Appeals did not them commit any grave abuse of discretion when it denied petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal. WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED and the temporary restraining order issued in this case is lifted.

Costs against petitioner. IT SO ORDERED.

legal services of

the

higher

quality to multinational business

enterprises and others engaged in foreign trade and investment. This is unethical, as Baker & McKenzie is unauthorized to practise here.

Dacanay vs. Baker & McKenzie [10 May 1985]


Facts: Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay sought to enjoin respondents from practicing law under the name of Baker & McKenize, a law firm organized in Illinois. A letter dated 16 November 1979, using the letterhead of the said firm and carrying the name of the respondents, requested Rosie Clurman to release 87 shares of Cathay Products International, Inc. to H.E. Gabriel, a client. Atty. Dacanay, in his reply dated 07 December 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He asked whether Gabriel is represented by Baker & McKenzie, and if not, why they misrepresented themselves by using the letterhead of another law firm. Not receiving a reply, he filed this instant complaint. Issue: Whether or not respondents can make use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie

Director of Religious Affairs vs. Bayot , 74 Phil. 579


Facts: Respondent is charged with malpractice for having published an advertisement in Sunday Tribunal on June 13, 1943 which reads as follows

Marriage license promptly secured thru our assistance and the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired and marriage arranged to wishes of parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.

Legal assistance service 12 Escolta, Manila Room 105, Tel. 2-41-60

Issue: Whether or not the advertisement is ethical. Held: Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the Philippines. The respondents, members of the Philippine Bar and practicing under the firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker & McKenzie. Respondents use of the firm name constitutes a representation that they could rende r Held: It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or

through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a

requires that the appellants brief be filed after the records of the case have been elevated to the CA. Respondent, as a litigator, was

merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practice of merchantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct. (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.) The supposed lack of time given to respondent to acquaint himself with the facts of the case does not excuse his negligence. Rule 18.02 of the Code provides that a lawyer shall not handle any legal Attorney; Neglect etc. Acceptance of money from a client establishes matter without adequate preparation. While it is true that respondent an attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the clients cause. Once a lawyer agrees to handle a case, it is that lawyers duty to serve the client with competence and diligence. Respondent has failed to fulfill this duty. When the RTC to study the pertinent matters involved, as he was approached by ruled against complainant and her husband, they filed a Notice of complainants husband only two days before the expiration of the Appeal. Consequently, what should apply is the rule on ordinary period for filing the Appellants Brief, respondent should have filed a appealed cases or Rule 44 of the Rules on Civil Procedure. Rule 44 was not complainants lawyer from the trial to the appellate court stage, this fact did not excuse him from his duty to diligently study a case he had agreed to handle. If he felt he did not have enough time achieve high standards in law schools as well as in the practical training of law students and assist in disseminating information regarding the law and jurisprudence. expected to know this procedure. Canon 5 of the Code reads: CANON 5 A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing legal education programs, support efforts to

Emilia R. Hernandez vs. Atty. Venancio B. Padilla

motion for extension of time to file the proper pleading instead of whatever pleading he could come up with, just to beat the deadline set by the Court of Appeals.

The failure of respondent to file the proper pleading and a comment on Duigans Motion to Dismiss is negligence on his par t. Under 18.03 of the Code, a lawyer is liable for negligence in handling the clients case, viz:

Also, as counsel, he had the duty to inform his clients of the status of their case. His failure to do so amounted to a violation of Rule 18.04 of the Code, which reads:

Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.

18.04 A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and shall respond within a reasonable time to the clients request for information.

Lawyers should not neglect legal matters entrusted to them, otherwise their negligence in fulfilling their duty would render them liable for disciplinary action. Respondent has failed to live up to his duties as a lawyer. When a lawyer violates his duties to his client, he

If it were true that all attempts to contact his client proved futile, the least respondent could have done was to inform the CA by filing a Notice of Withdrawal of Appearance as counsel. He could have thus explained why he was no longer the counsel of complainant and her husband in the case and informed the court that he could no longer contact them. His failure to take this measure proves his negligence.

engages in unethical and unprofessional conduct for which he should be held accountable.