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SECOND DIVISION

[A.C. No. 6408. August 31, 2004]


ISIDRA BARRIENTOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. ELERIZZA A. LIBIRAN
!ETEORO respondent.
R E S O L " T I O N
A"STRIA!ARTINEZ, J.#
Before this Court is a complaint for disbarment filed against Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"
#eteoro for deceit and non"payment of debts.
A letter"complaint dated #ay $%& $''% (as filed (ith the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines
*IB)+ under the names of Isidra Barrientos and Oli,ia C. #ercado& (hich (as signed& ho(e,er&
by Isidra only. It states that- sometime in September of $'''& respondent issued se,eral
E.uitable )CIBan/ Chec/s in fa,or of both Isidra and Oli,ia& amounting to )01&'''.''& and in
fa,or of Oli,ia& totaling )$23&'''.''& for the payment of a pre"e4isting debt5 the chec/s bounced
due to insufficient funds thus charges for ,iolation of B.). $$ (ere filed by Isidra and Oli,ia (ith
the City )rosecutor of Cabanatuan5 respondent sent te4t messages to complainants as/ing for
the deferment of the criminal charges (ith the promise that she (ill pay her debt5 respondent
ho(e,er failed to fulfill said promise5 on #ay %0& $''%& respondent& through her sister"in"la(&
tried to gi,e complainants a title for a parcel of land in e4change for the bounced chec/s (hich
(ere in the possession of complainants5 the title co,ered an area of 6&''' s.uare meters
located at Bantug& !a 7orre& 7ala,era& Nue,a Eci8a& registered in the name of Victoria Villamar
(hich (as allegedly paid to respondent by a client5 complainants chec/ed the property and
disco,ered that the land belonged to a certain Dra. 9elen :arcia& the sole heir of Victoria
Villamar& (ho merely entrusted said title to respondent pursuant to a transaction (ith the
;uedancor5 complainants tried to get in touch (ith respondent o,er the phone but the latter (as
al(ays una,ailable& thus the present complaint.
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On >uly %2& $''%& in compliance (ith the Order
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of the IB)"Commission on Bar Discipline
*CBD+& respondent filed her Ans(er alleging that- she issued se,eral E.uitable )CIBan/ chec/s
amounting to )$23&'''.'' in fa,or of Oli,ia but not to Isidra5 said chec/s (ere issued in
payment of a pre"e4isting obligation but said amount had already been paid and replaced (ith
ne( chec/s5 Isidra signed a document attesting to the fact that the sub8ect of her letter"
complaint no longer e4ists5
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she also issued in fa,or of Oli,ia se,eral E.uitable )CIBan/
chec/s amounting to)01&'''.'' for the payment of a pre"e4isting obligation5 the chec/s (hich
(ere the sub8ect of the complaint filed at the City )rosecutor?s Office in Cabanatuan City are
already in the possession of respondent and the criminal case filed by complainants before the
#unicipal 7rial Court of Cabanatuan City Branch 2 (as already dismissed5 the Informations for
Violation of B.). $$ under I.S. Nos. '%"%3'@'"'2
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(ere ne,er filed in court5 Oli,ia already
signed an affida,it of desistance5 respondent did not send te4t messages to Isidra and Oli,ia
as/ing for deferment of the criminal complaints neither did she present any title in e4change for
her bounced chec/s5 she ne,er transacted (ith Isidra since all dealings (ere made (ith Oli,ia5
and the present complaint (as initiated by Isidra only because she had a misunderstanding (ith
Oli,ia and she (ants to e4tract money from respondent.
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Attached to said Ans(er is an affida,it signed by Oli,ia C. #ercado (hich states as follo(s-
%. 7hat I am one of the complainants for the Disbarment of Atty. Eleria !ibiran"#eteoro filed
before the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines National Office in )asig City& )hilippines doc/eted
as CBD case no. '%"A3'5
$. 7hat the filing of the said complaint before the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines (as brought
about by some misunderstanding and error in the accounting of the records of the account of
Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro5
2. 7hat I (as the one (ho transacted (ith Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro and not my co"complainant
Isidra Barrientos5
3. 7hat all the pieces of 8e(elry (ere ta/en from me by Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro and the
corresponding chec/s (ere gi,en to Isidra Barrientos through me5
6. 7hat my name (as indicated as co"complainant in a letter"complaint filed by #s. Isidra
Barrientos against Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro but I am not interested in pursuing the complaint
against Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro since the complaint (as brought about by a case of some
mista/es in the records5
0. 7hat I& together (ith Isidra Barrientos had already signed an affida,it of desistance and
submitted the same before the #unicipal 7rial Court Branch III of Cabanatuan City (*h+ere
Criminal Case Nos. 11A6% to 60 for ,iolation of B) $$ (ere filed against Atty. #eteoro5
1. 7hat (ith respect to I.S. nos. '2"'%"%260 to %20% the case (as not filed in court and I ha,e
also e4ecuted an affida,it of desistance for said complaint5
A. 7hat I am e4ecuting this affida,it to attest to the truth of all the foregoing and to pro,e that I
ha,e no cause of action against Atty. Eleria !. #eteoro.
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On August @& $''%& the IB)"CBD issued a Notice of 9earing re.uiring both parties to
appear before it on September 0& $''%. On said date& both parties appeared and agreed to
settle their misunderstanding.
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On No,ember $1& $''%& the parties agreed that the balance of )%23&'''.'' (hich
respondent ac/no(ledged as her indebtedness to complainant (ill be settled on a staggered
basis. Another hearing (as then set for Bebruary 6& $''$. Cespondent failed to appear in said
hearing despite due notice. It (as then reset to Bebruary $A& $''$ (ith the order that should
respondent fail to appear& the case shall already be submitted for resolution.
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Cespondent appeared in the ne4t t(o hearings. 9o(e,er& this time& it (as complainant
(ho (as una,ailable. In the hearing of >uly 2%& $''$& respondent (as absent and (as (arned
again that should she fail to appear in the ne4t hearing& the Commissioner shall resol,e the
case. On said date& respondent did not appear despite due notice.
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On August %& $''$& respondent filed (ith the Commission a motion for reconsideration of
the >uly 2% order stating that- she got sic/ a fe( days before the scheduled hearing5 she had
already paid complainant the amount of)03&'''.''5 in #arch of $''$& respondent?s father (as
admitted to the Intensi,e Care Dnit of the Dni,ersity of Santo 7omas 9ospital thus she (as not
able to settle her remaining balance as planned5 and because of said emergency& respondent
(as not able to fully settle the balance of her debt up to this date. Cespondent prayed that
she be gi,en another 0' days from August %&$''$ to finally settle her debt (ith complainant.
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On April 2'& $''2& the IB)"CBD issued an order granting respondent?s motion and setting
aside the order dated >uly 2%& $''$. It noted that (hile respondent claims that she already paid
complainant )03&'''.''& the photocopies of the receipts she submitted e,idencing payment
amount only to )36&'''.''.
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A hearing (as then set for #ay $A& $''2 at (hich time
respondent (as directed to present proof of her payments to the complainant. 7he hearing (as
ho(e,er reset se,eral times until August $'& $''2 at (hich time& only complainant appeared.
Cespondent sent somebody to as/ for a postponement (hich the commission denied. 7he
commission ga,e respondent a last opportunity to settle her accounts (ith complainant. 7he
hearing (as set for October 1& $''2 (hich the commission said (as Eintransferrable.F
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On October 1& $''2& only complainant appeared. 7he commission noted that respondent
(as duly notified and e,en personally recei,ed the notice for that day?s hearing. 7he case (as
thereafter submitted for resolution.
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On October $3& $''2& the In,estigating IB) Commissioner Cenato :. Cunanan submitted
his report pertinent portions of (hich read as follo(s-
7he issue to be resol,ed is (hether or not Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"#eteoro has committed a
,iolation of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility. 7his Office holds that she has. #ore
particularly& the respondent& by initially and ,ehemently denying her indebtedness to herein
complainant and then subse.uently admitting liability by proposing a staggered settlement has
displayed a glaring fla( in her integrity. She has sho(n herself to possess poor moral
characters. In her motion for reconsideration& see/ing the reopening of this case& the
respondent made a false assertion that she had settled up to )03&'''.'' of her indebtedness
but the receipts she submitted total only )6'&'''.''. Ghat is more disconcerting is that (hile
she is a(are and duly notified of the settings of this Office respondent has seemingly ignored
the same deliberately. Binally& the respondent has not offered any satisfactory e4planation for&
nor has she contro,erted the complainant?s charge that she *respondent+ had tried to negotiate
a transfer certificate of title *7C7+ (hich had been entrusted by a certain Dra. 9elen :arcia to
her relati,e to a transaction (hich the former had (ith the ;uedancor (here respondent (as
formerly employed. Based on all the foregoing findings and the deliberate failure of the
respondent to come for(ard and settle her accountabilities& inspite of se,eral (arnings gi,en
her by the undersigned& and her failure to attend the scheduled hearings despite due notice& this
Office is con,inced that Atty. Eleria !ibiran"#eteoro has committed a glaring ,iolation not only
of her oath as a la(yer but also the dictates of Canon %& Cule %.'% (hich mandates that a
(orthy member of the Bar must constantly be of good moral character and unsullied honesty.
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9e then recommended that Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"#eteoro be suspended from the
practice of la( for t(o years and meted a fine of t(enty thousand pesos.
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On October $@& $''2& respondent filed another motion for reconsideration stating that- she
(as not able to recei,e the notice for the October 1 hearing because she (as in Bicol attending
to pressing personal problems5 she only arri,ed from the pro,ince on October $6& $''2 and it
(as only then that she got hold of the Order dated October 15 from the ,ery beginning&
respondent ne,er intended to ignore the Commission?s hearings5 as much as she (anted to pay
complainant in full& the financial crisis (hich hit her family since $''% has gra,ely affected her
ability to pay5 until that day& the e4penses incurred by respondent due to the hospitaliation of
her father has not been paid in full by her family5 the family home of respondent in Cabanatuan
has already been foreclosed by the ban/5 respondent?s husband has been confined recently
due to thyroid problems and respondent herself had sought medical help on se,eral occasions
due to her inability to concei,e despite being married for more than fi,e years5 if not for said
reasons& respondent could ha,e already paid the complainant despite respondent?s /no(ledge
that the amount complainant (anted to collect from her is merely the interest of her debt since
she already returned most of the pieces of 8e(elry she purchased and she already paid for
those that she (as not able to return. Cespondent prays that the resolution of the case be
deferred and that she be gi,en another @' days from said date or until >anuary %@& $''2 to
settle (hate,er balance remains after proper accounting and presentation of receipts.
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On Bebruary $1& $''3& the Board of :o,ernors of the IB) passed a resolution as follo(s-
CESO!D7ION NO. HVI"$''2"01
CBD Case No. '%"A3'
Isidra Barrientos ,s.
Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"#eteoro
CESO!VED to ADO)7 and A))COVE& as it is hereby ADO)7ED and A))COVED& the Ceport
and Cecommendation of the In,estigating Commissioner of the abo,e"entitled case& herein
made part of this Cesolution as Anne4 EAF5 and& finding the recommendation fully supported by
the e,idence on record and the applicable la(s and rules& $%t& 'o(%)%*+t%o,, and considering
respondent?s glaring ,iolation not only of her oath as a la(yer but of Cule %.'%& Canon % of the
Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility& Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"#eteoro is
hereby S"S-ENDED from the practice of la( for si4 *0+ months and R.st%tut%o, of)A3&'''.''
to complainant.
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Ge agree (ith the findings and recommendation of the IB) e4cept as to the alleged matter
of respondent offering a transfer certificate of title to complainants in e4change for the bounced
chec/s that (ere in their possession.
Ge ha,e held that deliberate failure to pay 8ust debts and the issuance of (orthless chec/s
constitute gross misconduct& for (hich a la(yer may be sanctioned (ith suspension from the
practice of la(.
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!a(yers are instruments for the administration of 8ustice and ,anguards of our
legal system. 7hey are e4pected to maintain not only legal proficiency but also a high standard
of morality& honesty& integrity and fair dealing so that the people?s faith and confidence in the
8udicial system is ensured.
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7hey must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society& to
the bar& the courts and to their clients& (hich include prompt payment of financial obligations.
7hey must conduct themsel,es in a manner that reflect the ,alues and norms of the legal
profession as embodied in the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility.
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Canon % and Cule %.'%
e4plicitly states that-
CANON % "" A la(yer shall uphold the constitution& obey the la(s of the land and promote
respect for la( and for legal processes.
Cule %.'% "" A la(yer shall not engage in unla(ful& dishonest& immoral or deceitful conduct.
In this case& respondent in her ans(er initially tried to deny ha,ing any obligation to(ards
Isidra Barrientos. Dpon appearing before the IB)"CBD& ho(e,er& respondent e,entually
ac/no(ledged her indebtedness to Isidra in the amount of )%23&'''.''& promising only to pay
in a staggered basis. 9er attempt to e,ade her financial obligation runs counter to the precepts
of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility& abo,e .uoted& and ,iolates the la(yer?s oath (hich
imposes upon e,ery member of the bar the duty to delay no man for money or malice.
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After respondent ac/no(ledged her debt to complainant& she committed herself to the
payment thereof. Iet she failed many times to fulfill said promise. She did not appear in most
of the hearings and merely submitted a motion for reconsideration on August %& $''$ after the
IB)"CBD Commissioner had already submitted the case for resolution. She claimed that she
got sic/ days before the hearing and as/ed for si4ty days to finally settle her account. Again&
she failed to fulfill her promise and did not appear before the Commission in the succeeding
hearings despite due notice. After the case (as submitted ane( for resolution on October 0&
$''2& respondent filed another motion for reconsideration& this time saying that she (as in the
pro,ince attending to personal matters. Again she as/ed for another ninety days to settle her
entire debt. 7his repeated failure on her part to fulfill her promise puts in .uestion her integrity
and moral character. 9er failure to attend most of the hearings called by the commission and
her belated pleas for reconsideration also manifest her propensity to delay the resolution of the
case and to ma/e full use of the mechanisms of administrati,e proceedings to her benefit.
She also could not deny that she issued se,eral chec/s (ithout sufficient funds& (hich
prompted Isidra and Oli,ia to file complaints before the prosecutor?s office in Cabanatuan City.
9er only e4cuse is that she (as able to replace said chec/s and ma/e arrangements for the
payment of her debt& (hich led to the dismissal of the criminal complaints against her.
Ge ha,e held that the issuance of chec/s (hich (ere later dishonored for ha,ing been
dra(n against a closed account indicates a la(yer?s unfitness for the trust and confidence
reposed on her. It sho(s a lac/ of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her
un(orthy of public confidence.
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7he issuance of a series of (orthless chec/s also sho(s the
remorseless attitude of respondent& unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public
interest and public order.
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It also manifests a la(yer?s lo( regard to her commitment to the
oath she has ta/en (hen she 8oined her peers& seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of
the profession she should hold in high esteem.
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#ere issuance of (orthless chec/s by a la(yer& regardless of (hether or not the same
(ere issued in his professional capacity to a client& calls for appropriate disciplinary measures.
As (e e4plained in Co vs. Bernardino:
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T&. g.,./+0 /u0. %s t&+t + 0+$1./ '+1 ,ot 2. sus3.,(.( o/ (%s2+//.(, +,( t&. *ou/t '+1
,ot o/(%,+/%01 +ssu'. 4u/%s(%*t%o, to (%s*%30%,. &%' )o/ '%s*o,(u*t %, &%s ,o,
3/o).ss%o,+0 o/ 3/%5+t. *+3+*%t1. 6&./., &o$.5./, t&. '%s*o,(u*t outs%(. o) t&. 0+$1./7s
3/o).ss%o,+0 (.+0%,gs %s so g/oss + *&+/+*t./ +s to s&o$ &%' 'o/+001 u,)%t )o/ t&. o))%*.
+,( u,$o/t&1 o) t&. 3/%5%0.g. $&%*& &%s 0%*.,s.s +,( t&. 0+$ *o,)./ o, &%', t&. *ou/t
'+1 2. 4ust%)%.( %, sus3.,(%,g o/ /.'o5%,g &%' )/o' t&. o))%*. o) +tto/,.1.
7he e,idence on record clearly sho(s respondent?s propensity to issue bad chec/s. T&%s
g/oss '%s*o,(u*t on his part& though not related to his professional duties as a member of the
bar& puts his moral character in serious doubtJ
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*Citations omitted+.
She also claims that her father (as hospitalied in #arch $''$ and that she and her
husband also had to see/ medical help (hich greatly affected her ability to pay. She ho(e,er
did not present any proof to substantiate such claims. She also did not appear personally
before the complainant and the commission& in spite of the many opportunities gi,en her& to
ma/e arrangements for the payment of her debt considering the circumstances that befell her
family. Instead& she (aited until the case (as submitted for resolution to allege such facts&
(ithout presenting any proof therefor.
Ge cannot uphold the IB) in finding that since respondent has not offered any e4planation
for& nor has she contro,erted the complainants? charge that she tried to negotiate (ith them a
transfer certificate of title that had been entrusted to her by a client& she should be held liable
therefor. Basic is the principle that if the complainant& upon (hom rests the burden of pro,ing
her cause of action& fails to sho( in a satisfactory manner the facts upon (hich she bases her
claim& the respondent is under no obligation to pro,e her e4ception or defense.
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Simply put&
the burden is not on the respondent to pro,e her innocence but on the complainants to pro,e
her guilt. In this case& complainants submitted a photocopy of a 7C7 in the name of Victoria
Villamar together (ith their letter"complaint& (hich according to complainants (as the title
respondent tried& through her sister"in"la(& to negotiate (ith them in e4change for the bounced
chec/s in their possession.
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No other e,idence or s(orn statement (as submitted in support of
such allegation. Cespondent in her ans(er& mean(hile& denied ha,ing any /no(ledge
regarding such matter and no further discussion (as made on the matter& not e,en in the
hearings before the commission.
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Bor this reason& (e hold that respondent should not be held
liable for the alleged negotiation of a 7C7 to complainants for lac/ of sufficient e,idence& but
only for the non"payment of debts and the issuance of (orthless chec/s (hich (ere sufficiently
pro,ed and (hich respondent herself admitted.
Ge reiterate that membership in the legal profession is a pri,ilege and demands a high
degree of good moral character& not only as a condition precedent to admission& but also as a
continuing re.uirement for the practice of la(.
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Accordingly& administrati,e sanction is (arranted by respondent?s misconduct. 7he IB)
Board of :o,ernors recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of la( for
si4 months. In Lao vs. Medel&
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(hich also in,ol,ed non"payment of debt and issuance of
(orthless chec/s& the Court held that suspension from the practice of la( for one year (as
appropriate. Dnli/e in the Lao case ho(e,er& respondent is this case paid a portion of her debt&
as e,idenced by receipts amounting to )6'&'''.''. 7hus (e deem that si4 months suspension
from the practice of la( and the restitution of )A3&'''.'' to complainant Isidra Barrientos (ould
be sufficient in this case.
68ERE9ORE& Atty. Eleria A. !ibiran"#eteoro is found guilty of gross misconduct and is
hereby SDS)ENDED for si4 months from the practice of la(& effecti,e upon her receipt of this
Decision& and is ordered to pay complainant Isidra Barrientos the amount of )A3&'''.''& as
balance of her debt to the latter& plus 0K interest from date of finality of herein decision.
!et copies of this Cesolution be entered in the record of respondent and ser,ed on the IB)
as (ell as the court administrator (ho shall circulate herein Cesolution to all courts for their
information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
79ICD DIVISION
[A.C. No. :113. O*to2./ ;, 2004]
DOLORES SIL<A <(+. DE 9A=ARDO, complainant, vs. Att1. RE>IE E9REN A.
B"?ARIN?,respondent.
D E C I S I O N
-AN?ANIBAN, J.:
!a(yers must be completely truthful& more so (hen they plead their o(n causes against
former clients. In the present case& the la(yer misrepresented facts in his claim for attorney?s
fees5 hence& he must be sanctioned.
T&. C+s.
7he administrati,e case before the Court stems from a Complaint
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filed by Dolores Sil,a
,da. de Ba8ardo& see/ing the disbarment of Atty. Ce4ie Efren A. Bugaring for untruthful
statements in allegedly trying to fleece her of)2&62$&%1' in attorney?s fees. 7he Complaint and
respondent?s Comment
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thereon (ere referred
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by the Court to the Integrated Bar of the
)hilippines *IB)+ for in,estigation& report and recommendation.
IB) Commissioner Cebecca Villanue,a"#aala?s Ceport
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recommending the suspension of
respondent from the practice of la( for one year (as adopted and appro,ed by the IB) Board of
:o,ernors in its >une $%& $''2 Cesolution No. HV"$''2"23A. On >une 2'& $''2& the Notice of
the IB) Cesolution
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and the records of the case "" including the Commissioner?s Ceport "" (ere
for(arded to this Court by Atty. >ulio C. Elamparo& director for bar discipline of the IB).
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T&. 9+*ts
7he facts are narrated by the in,estigating commissioner in her Ceport as follo(s-
EComplainant alleged that she had /no(n respondent since %@A@ (hen she& together (ith her
co"heirs& (ere trying to sell <the= properties (hich they inherited from their predecessors& >ose
and Buena,entura Sil,a 4 4 4. <7hey= (ere encountering disputes (ith the heirs of Alfredo Sil,a
Cru *LCru Bamily?+& then represented by one Atty. Cicardo Dantes& and (ith their tenants& o,er
4 4 4 !ots $323 and $363 located in Sta. Cosa& !aguna& <(hich they (ere trying to sell= to
:olden Bay Cealty and De,elopment Corporation.
EAtty. Bugaring (as recommended by Atty. Dantes to complainant to assist her and her co"heirs
(ith the legal aspects of the disputes they (ere encountering. Atty. Bugaring and Atty. Dantes
(ere close associates and they hold and belong to the same la( office of Bugaring& 7ugonon
and Associates !a( Offices. Ghene,er complainant and her companion #aria !uisa
7amondong (ould go to the office of Atty. Bugaring to see him& they also see Atty. Dantes at the
same office. 7hin/ing that Atty. Bugaring (as an honest and honorable man& complainant
accepted the recommendation. At that time& complainant thought that there (as nothing (rong
or anomalous in she being represented by Atty. Bugaring& (ho belong to the same la( office as
that of Atty. Dantes& counsel of the Cru family (ith (hich complainant and her co"heirs (ere
then ha,ing disputes o,er !ots $323 and $363. She did not /no( that it (as improper and
unethical for la(yers of the same firm to handle conflicting interests of clients.
EInitially& Atty. Bugaring assisted complainant (ith their problems (ith the tenants of !ots $323
and $363. 7he tenants then had the preferential right to purchase the said properties they (ere
occupying 4 4 4. <7=hey <had= ,erbally e4pressed their non"interest in purchasing the same but
refused to ,acate the premises <and= demanded that they be gi,en %M2 of the total land area of
the t(o lots before they agree to ,acate. Atty. Bugaring (rote& on behalf of the complainant and
her co"heirs& the said tenants and the Agrarian Ceform Office. #ean(hile& the dispute of
complainant and her co"heirs (ith the Cru family later led to the filing of the case entitled LAlicia
Cru& et al.& ,s. Dolores Ba8ardo& et al.? (ith the Cegional 7rial Court of BiNan& !aguna& doc/eted
as Ci,il Case No. B"231$ *hereinafter the L#other Case?+. 7he Cru family (as asserting an
alleged right o,er !ots $323 and $363. Atty. Bugaring represented the complainant and her co"
heirs for purposes of this case.
EE,ery time there (as a hearing in the L#other Case? in !aguna& the dri,er of complainant (ould
fetch Atty. Bugaring at 6-'' o?cloc/ in the morning from his residenceMoffice in ;ueon City& and
(ould li/e(ise dri,e him bac/ after the hearing. Complainant paid Atty. Bugaring e,ery hearing
an appearance fee of )%&'''.''& (hether hearings (ere postponed or not& treated him to lunch
and used to send him off (ith ,egetables& candies and other goodies.
EComplainant had al(ays as/ed Atty. Bugaring ho( much <he (ould= charge for his professional
fees& but Atty. Bugaring (ould 8ust ans(er- L9u(ag na ninyo alalahanin iyon. )ara /o na
/ayong nanay o lola.? All along& complainant (as s(ayed to belie,e that Atty. Bugaring (as nice
and courteous.
E!ater& the dispute of complainant and her co"heirs (ith the Cru family got (orse. 7he L#other
Case? soon branched out to more and more cases& about ele,en *%%+ cases in all& (hich (ere
but the offshoots of the L#other Case&? *Ci,il Case No. 231$+. Atty. Bugaring continued to
represent the complaint and her co"heirs in the foregoing cases and as in the L#other Case&?
(hene,er there (ere hearings& Atty. Bugaring (as fetched bac/ and forth by complainant?s
dri,er 4 4 4& <(as paid= an appearance fee of )%&'''.'' per hearing& <(as= treated to lunch and
sent 4 4 4 off <(ith= some goodies. In all these cases& complainant had as/ed Atty. Bugaring of
his professional fees& but the complainant (ould get the usual reply of- L9u(ag na ninyo
alalahanin iyon. )ara /o na /ayong nanay o lola.? Gith the rate things (ere going on then& Atty.
Bugaring all the more earned the trust and respect of the complainant more than anybody else.
EIn No,ember %@@$& complainant had a meeting (ith her co"heirs and the latter e4pressed their
discontent (ith the (ay Atty. Bugaring (as handling the L#other Case? and the offshoot cases
because the cases (ere derailing their intended sale of !ots $323 and $363 to :olden Bay
Cealty and De,elopment Corporation. Complainant (as hounded by .uestions regarding her
arrangement (ith Atty. Bugaring to (hich complainant could not gi,e any ans(er because there
really (as no contract or agreement bet(een her and Atty. Bugaring& (ho refused to discuss
any arrangement (ith complainant. After their meeting& complainant told Atty. Bugaring of the
discontent of her co"heirs& and Atty. Bugaring told complainant that he can dra( a fictitious
LContract? for his ser,ices (hich complainant can sho( to her co"heirs. Indeed& Atty. Bugaring
dre( up t(o *$+ fictitious LContract of Ser,ices? both dated %% December %@@$. One specifically
states that it (as for the L#other Case? and the other (as for the case of LCatalina Coberto& et al.
,. Dolores Ba8ardo& et al.? Each of said fictitious contracts stipulate<d= 4 4 4 an acceptance fee
of )6'&'''.''& per appearance fee of)%&'''.'' and upon the termination of the case& an
additional attorney?s fee Le.ui,alent to $6K of the ,alue of the sub8ect property in litigation.?
Ghen the fictitious contracts (ere sho(n to complainant& she (as assured by Atty. Bugaring
that the contracts (ere not ,alid and binding and told her LIto ho ay para lamang may maipa/ita
/ayo sa /anila& pero hindi ito totoo.? Gith that assurance& complainant signed the contract and
(as gi,en a copy of the same.
EAround %@@$& complainant and her co"heirs entered into separate compromise agreements
(ith the tenants of !ots $323 and $363 and (ith the Cru family. 7he agreement (ith the Cru
family (as later put into (riting (ith the e4ecution of a Compromise Agreement dated 1 >une
%@@$& (hich (as submitted to the court before (hich the L#other Case? (as pending. <I=t
became the basis of the >udgment dated $$ No,ember %@@2 4 4 4 <and the dismissal of= all the
offshoot cases 4 4 4. <On the other hand&= the Compromise Agreement reached (ith the tenants
of !ots $323 and <$363= consisted of an agreement totally ceding !ot $363 to the tenants as
<d=isturbance <c=ompensation. Complainant and her co"heirs decided not to re,eal these
agreements <to Atty. Bugaring= until they (ere finalied because they /ne( that <he= did not (ant
such settlement for reasons /no(n <only= to him.
EGith the settlement of the disputes o,er !ots $323 and $363& the sale of the remaining property
*!ot $323+ to :olden Bay <C=ealty and De,elopment Corporation materialied on $ #arch %@@3.
Complainant (as accompanied by Atty. Bugaring and #aria !uisa 7am<o=ndong to the office of
:olden Bay Cealty (hen the sale (as finalied. Ghen complainant recei,ed the proceeds of
the sale& they (ent to see Atty. Bugaring to settle their account (ith him. 7hey tendered to Atty.
Bugaring the amount of )%''&'''.'' (hich they belie,ed (as commensurate for his ser,ices
considering <that= the cases ended 4 4 4 by compromise agreement. 9o(e,er& Atty. Bugaring
re8ected the amount. On said occasion& Atty. Bugaring re.uested the companions of
complainant to step out of the room first and said he (anted to tal/ to complainant alone. Atty.
Bugaring proposed to complainant a deal to the effect that only)A6&'''.'' (ill be paid to him by
complainant and he (ill charge the estate or the complainant?s co"heirs the amount
of)%&$''&'''.''. <C=omplainant ,ehemently ob8ected to <this= because the estate or her co"
heirs did not ha,e that amount of money. 7he co"heirs of complainant maintained that they
(ould only pay Atty. Bugaring )%''&'''.''& (hich <amount= the latter re8ected.
E4 4 4 <C=omplainant did not hear 4 4 4 from Atty. Bugaring <since April %@@3=. <9o(e,er& almost
three years later=& she learned that her property in 7andang Sora (as already attached by Atty.
Bugaring. Dn/no(n to complainant& Atty. Bugaring had filed the case entitled LCe4ie Efren A.
Bugaring ,s. Dolores Ba8ardo? doc/eted as Ci,il Case No. ;"@0"$@3$$ in the Cegional 7rial
Court of ;ueon City& Branch 1A& for Sum of #oney and Damages (ith )rayer for )reliminary
Attachment for 4 4 4 collection of his legal 4 4 4 fees. Atty. Bugaring specifically prayed for the
attachment of complainant?s properties and other assets to ans(er for his claim
of)2&62$&%1'.'' plus %$K interest per annum for 4 4 4 unpaid attorney?s fees& )%&'''&'''.''
as moral damages& )6''&'''.'' as e4emplary damages and such amount e.ui,alent to $6K
from the total claim as attorney?s fees plus )$&'''.'' per court attendance as appearance fee
plus other pro,en litigation e4penses.
4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4
EAtty. Bugaring& by (ay of comment& a,ers that from %@@% to #ay %@@3& complainant retained
his ser,ices as her personal legal consultant and 4 4 4 la(yer in nineteen *%@+ court cases.
Considering that Ci,il Case Nos. B"231$ and 2<A=@0 before the C7C& BiNan& !aguna& in,ol,ed
,arious real estate properties& complainant as/ed Atty. Bugaring to prepare a (ritten contract for
his attorney?s fees& (hich (as thereafter signed by the complainant 4 4 4. <7he= Contract of
Ser,ices dated %% December %@@$ 4 4 4 pro,ide<d= that complainant (ill pay Atty. Bugaring an
*%+ acceptance fee of )6'&'''.''5 *$+ appearance fee for e,ery court appearance of )%&'''.''
and *2+ attorney?s fee e.ui,alent to $6K of the ,alue of the properties in litigation. <As to= all the
other cases <he= handled& <Atty. Bugaring charged= a minimum amount of )6'&'''.'' as
attorney?s fees and )%&'''.'' appearance fee <for= e,ery court attendance. Dnder these
conditions& considering the comple4ities of the cases& Atty. Bugaring laboriously and
painsta/ingly represented the rights and interest of the complainant& and thereby successfully
terminated all cases& e4cept Ci,il Cases Nos. B"2@1% and 2<A=@0& (hich (ere still under
litigation.
EDue to the failure and adamant refusal of complainant to settle and pay Atty. Bugaring 4 4 4 his
accumulated professional fees& he (as constrained to ma/e ,erbal& and finally& (ritten demands
on 2' April %@@3 and 0 #ay %@@3. Not(ithstanding the receipts of the demand letters& (hich
e4plicitly indicated to her the computation of the amount of professional fees demanded&
complainant simply remained silent about the matter& thereby signifying her adamant refusal to
settle and pay her legitimately contracted obligations to Atty. Bugaring. Gith no other e4tra"
8udicial recourse& and after Atty. Bugaring (as able to sa,e an amount for payment of filing fees&
attachment bond and other initial e4penses *)%''&'''.'' more or less+ for a collection case on
the matter& 4 4 4 Atty. Bugaring instituted an action for sum of money (ith damages against
complainant before C7C ;ueon City& Branch 1A& doc/eted as Ci,il Case No. ;"@0"$@33$ <on
%% No,ember %@@0=. After recei,ing complainant?s Ans(er to the Complaint& the trial court set
the case for <p=re"trial conference on 2 >une %@@1. 9o(e,er& due to the failure of complainant
and her counsel to appear& the court declared complainant in default and Atty. Bugaring (as
allo(ed to present e,idence e4"parte 4 4 4 on 0 >une %@@1. On %6 October %@@1& the court
rendered 8udgment in fa,or of Atty. Bugaring. As no appeal (as underta/en by complainant&
Atty. Bugaring on %3 >uly %@@A filed his #otion for Issuance of Grit of E4ecution thereto (hich
(as granted by the court on $A September %@@A. Ghen the Grit of E4ecution (as issued on $3
December %@@A& complainant filed <a= )etition for Certiorari (ith 7emporary Cestraining
In8unction andMor 7emporary Cestraining Order (ith the Court of Appeals& doc/eted as CA :.C.
S) No. 3@A00& .uestioning the trial court?s orders dated 2 and %2 Bebruary %@@A& as (ell as the
resolution dated $A September %@@A. 7he Court of Appeals& finding no merit in the petition&
dismissed the same and affirmed the trial court?s Cesolution on 3 Bebruary %@@@. Complainant&
finding the ad,erse decision of the Court of Appeals& filed a #otion for Ceconsideration on $0
April %@@@. Complainant also filed a #otion dated %6 >uly %@@@ as/ing for the issuance of a
Cease& Desist and Cefrain Order against the <p=ublic <a=uction sale <scheduled= on 2' >uly %@@@
<by= the deputy sheriff of the trial court. Acting on complainant?s motion& the Court of Appeals
issued a 7emporary Cestraining Order dated $@ >uly %@@@. <9=o(e,er& on 2' September %@@@&
the appellate court finally issued its resolution denying complainant?s #otion for
Ceconsideration.F
<1=
E5+0u+t%o, +,( R.*o''.,(+t%o, o) t&. IB-
Commissioner #aala found respondent guilty of gross misconduct for ma/ing untruthful
statements and for misleading the trial courts on se,eral occasions in Ci,il Case No. ;"@0"
$@3$$ and Ci,il Case No. B"2A@0. Cespondent allegedly lied to and misled these courts in the
follo(ing instances-
%. Ghen he included in his claim for attorney?s fees in Ci,il Case ;"@0"$@3$$ $6
percent of the ,alue of t(o lots *at)2&01'&''' and )16'&'''+& (hich (ere not
among the properties in litigation in the E#other CaseF and had already been sold in
%@A1 and %@0A& respecti,ely
$. Ghen he concealed the fact that !ot $363 had been gi,en to complainant?s tenants
as disturbance compensation
2. Ghen he failed to disclose that the Contract of Ser,ice for the E#other CaseF (as
e4ecuted si4 months after it had already been settled by a Compromise Agreement
on >une 1& %@@$
3. Ghen he led the C7C of San )edro !aguna *Branch @2+& to belie,e in his )etition
for Cecording and Enforcement of Attorney?s !ien in Ci,il Case No. B"2A@0 that no
other action or claim (as pending e4cept his case for collection
6. Ghen he made t(o inconsistent statements regarding the date (hen his
professional ser,ices had actually been engaged by complainant
Commissioner #aala also found that respondent had not completely been honest (ith the
Commission. According to his Comment&
<A=
he decided to forego his professional fees
amounting to )$ million in Ci,il Case No. B"2A@05 actually& those fees (ere included in his
collection case. It (as also in the said case that he filed a )etition for the Cecording and
Enforcement of Attorney?s !ien.
Commissioner #aala held that respondent had ,iolated his s(orn duty to tell no falsehood
in court. 9ence& she recommended his suspension from the practice of la( for one year.
T&. Cou/t7s Ru0%,g
Ge agree (ith the findings and recommendation of IB).
R.s3o,(.,t7s A('%,%st/+t%5. L%+2%0%t1
Canon %' of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility pro,ides that a la(yer o(es candor&
fairness and good faith to the courts. Accordingly& Cule %'.'% re.uires a member of the bar Enot
<to tell= any falsehood& nor consent to the doing of any in court& nor shall he mislead& or allo( the
court to be misled by any artifice.F
#oreo,er& Section $'*d+ of Cule %2A of the Cules of Court pro,ides that a la(yer must
employ Esuch means only as are consistent (ith truth and honor& and ne,er see/ to mislead the
8udge or any 8udicial officer by any artifice or false statement of fact or la(.F
In his September $A& $''2 CommentMOpposition
<@=
to the IB) Commissioner?s Ceport and
Cecommendation& respondent points out alleged distortions in the findings of fact. Dpon a
re,ie( of the records& ho(e,er& the Court finds the in,estigating commissioner?s conclusions to
be in order.
Falsehood
Indeed& respondent has not completely been honest (hen he claimed that the entire estate
of Adela Sil,a (as the sub8ect of litigation in the case for partition. First& it is clear that !ots
$323 and $363 (ere the only properties mentioned in the Complaint
<%'=
for partition& (hich (e
.uote-
E4 4 4. 7he late Adela Sil,a died intestate& single and (ithout sur,i,ing heirs e4cept the herein
plaintiffs and defendants. She died 4 4 4 lea,ing as her estate the t(o *$+ parcels of land
located at Bgy. )latero& BiNan& !aguna. 7he first /no(n as !ot $323 of the BiNan Estate is
co,ered by 7C7 No. C7"%1'$ *N.A.+ (hile the second /no(n as !ot $363 of the same BiNan
Estate is embraced by 7C7 No. Ct"%1'2 *N.A.+ issued by the Cegister of Deeds *Calamba
branch+ of !aguna5F
<%%=
Second& the Compromise Agreement and the >udgment in the E#other CaseF for partition
did not indicate that the sub8ect of partition (as the late Adela Sil,a?s estate& but they did refer to
the other properties belonging to her& including the 12&3'3 s.uare"meter agricultural land in
)uting Oahoy& Silang& Ca,ite5 and the %6' s.uare"meter residential lot in Sampaloc& #anila.
Ghat appears from the Compromise Agreement and the >udgment is that these properties (ere
enumerated merely to sho( that !ots $323 and $363 (ere part of the said estate. 7hat only
these lots (ere referred to is plain from the terms and conditions of the >udgment-
E%. 7hat the parties herein hereby agree to refrain from discussing (hether their claims and
counter claims o,er !ot $323 *7C7 %$1'$+ and !ot $363 *7C7 %1'2+ are meritorious or not& and
further agree to put an end to all their litigations 4 4 4. 7hus to this effect& all their claims are
hereby (ai,ed and abandoned sub8ect to the follo(ing terms and conditions-
a. 7hat the defendant Dolores Sil,a Ba8ardo hereby agree<s= to pay the plaintiffs?
representati,e Alicia Cru& the sum of four hundred thousand *)3''&'''.''+
pesos )hilippine currency upon signing of this Agreement.
b. 7hat the defendant Dolores Sil,a Ba8ardo be authoried to consummate the
sale of !ot No. $323& and !ot $363& co,ered by 7C7 No. %1'$ and %1'2&
respecti,ely of the Cegistry of Deeds of !aguna& Calamba branch& and to
e4ecute all the necessary documents in fa,or of the Vendee& :olden Bay
Cealty and De,elopment Corporation.F
<%$=
Third& it (as ade.uately established that the Ca,ite and the Sampaloc lots mentioned in the
Compromise Agreement and the >udgment had already been sold long before the ad,ent of
Ci,il Case B"231$. 7here is no reason to doubt that respondent& as complainant?s counsel&
/ne( this fact.
Lastly& (e note that the failure of respondent to include all the properties of the estate in his
claim for attorney?s fees runs counter to his other claim that complainant?s entire estate (as in
litigation. If it (ere so& should he not then ha,e also as/ed for $6 percent of the ,alue
of all such properties enumerated in the >udgmentP
As regards his professional fees& (e stress that the proper time to deal (ith this delicate
issue is upon the commencement of the la(yer"client relationship. In this case& respondent
should ha,e determined and entered into an agreement regarding his fees in %@@% at the latest&
(hen he (as first retained by complainant as her counsel in the partition case. Such prudence
(ould ha,e spared the Court this contro,ersy o,er a la(yer?s compensation& a suit that should
be a,oided e4cept to pre,ent imposition& in8ustice or fraud.
<%2=
7o be sure& a la(yer is entitled to the protection of the courts against any attempt on the
part of a client to escape payment of legitimate attorney?s fees.
<%3=
9o(e,er& such protection
must not be sought at the e4pense of truth. Complete candor or honesty is e4pected from
la(yers& particularly (hen they appear and plead before the courts for their o(n causes against
former clients& as in this case. Gith his armada of legal /no(ledge and s/ills& respondent
clearly en8oyed the upper hand. #ore important& he had the sole opportunity to present
e,idence in the collection case after complainant (as declared in default& and after he (as
allo(ed to present his e,idence e4 parte.
Cespondent is thus reminded that he is first and foremost an officer of the court. 9is
bounden duty is to assist it in rendering 8ustice to all.
<%6=
!est he has forgotten& la(yers must
al(ays be disciples of truth.
<%0=
It is highly reprehensible (hen they themsel,es ma/e a tra,esty
of the truth and mangle the ends of 8ustice. Such beha,ior runs counter to the standards of
honesty and fair dealing e4pected from court officers.
E.ually (ithout merit are respondent?s other arguments that the real issue herein is his
claim for attorney?s fees& (hose merit has already been ad8udicated in court& as (ell as of his
allegation that complainant has engaged in forum shopping to delay the e4ecution of the
8udgment against her for attorney?s fees.
7o start (ith& this proceeding is not about the merits of respondent?s fees& but about his
conduct as an officer of the court. It has been emphasied in a number of cases that
disbarment proceedings belong to a class of their o(n& distinct from that of a ci,il or a criminal
action.
<%1=
In Re Almacen
<%A=
e4plained this basic principle-
E4 4 4 <D=isciplinary proceedings 4 4 4 are sui generis. Neither purely ci,il nor purely criminal&
this proceeding is not "" and does not in,ol,e "" a trial of an action or a suit& but is rather an
in,estigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being intended to inflict
punishment& it is in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly& there is neither a plaintiff nor a
prosecutor therein. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. )ublic interest is its primary
ob8ecti,e& and the real .uestion for determination is (hether or not the attorney is still a fit
person to be allo(ed the pri,ileges as such. 9ence& in the e4ercise of its disciplinary po(ers&
the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of
the Court (ith the end in ,ie( of preser,ing the purity of the legal profession and the proper and
honest administration of 8ustice by purging the profession of members (ho by their misconduct
ha,e pro,ed themsel,es no longer (orthy to be entrusted (ith the duties and responsibilities
pertaining to the office of an attorney. 4 4 4.F
<%@=
*Italics supplied+
Clearly then& this disbarment case may proceed independently of the ci,il action for
collection& (ithout running afoul of the prohibition against forum shopping. #oreo,er& the
elements of forum shopping
<$'=
are conspicuously absent. Bet(een these t(o cases& there is no
identity of parties& as the complainant is in no sense a party to the administrati,e proceeding.
Ob,iously& there is neither identity of rights asserted nor reliefs prayed for. !astly& the 8udgment
in the disbarment proceeding (ould not bar the collection case.
68ERE9ORE& Cespondent Ce4ie Efren A. Bugaring is found LIABLE for gross misconduct
and is hereby SUSPE!E! from the practice of la( for a period of ONE *%+ IEAC& effecti,e
upon the finality of this Decision. 9e is "ARE! that a repetition of the same or of a similar
misconduct (ill be dealt (ith more se,erely.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
[A.C. No. :1:1. O*to2./ 1@, 2004]
-EDRO ?. TOLENTINO, RO!EO !. LAY?O, SOLO!ON !. L"!ALAN?, SR., !ELITON D.
E<AN?ELISTA, SR., +,( NELSON B. !EL?AR, complainants, vs. ATTY.
NORBERTO !. !ENDOZA, respondent.
R E S O L " T I O N
A"STRIA!ARTINEZ, J.#
Before us is a complaint filed by )edro :. 7olentino& Comeo #. !aygo& Solomon #.
!umalang& Sr.& #eliton D. E,angelista& Sr.& and Nelson B. #elgar against Atty. Norberto #.
#endoa for :rossly Immoral Conduct and :ross #isconduct.
Complainants allege in their Affida,it"Complaint that respondent& a former #unicipal 7rial
Court >udge& abandoned his legal (ife& Belicitas V. Valderia in fa,or of his paramour& #arilyn
dela Buente& (ho is& in turn& married to one Camon :. #arcos5 respondent and #arilyn dela
Buente ha,e been cohabiting openly and publicly as husband and (ife in Brgy. Estrella& Nau8an&
Oriental #indoro5 respondent had fathered t(o children by his paramour #arilyn dela Buente5
respondent and #arilyn dela Buente declared in the birth certificates of their t(o daughters that
they (ere married on #ay %$& %@A0& ma/ing it appear that their t(o children are legitimate&
(hile in respondent?s Certificate of Candidacy filed (ith the CO#E!EC during the %@@6
elections& respondent declared that his (ife is Belicitas V. Valderia5 in respondent?s certificate of
candidacy for the %@@A elections& he declared his ci,il status as separated5 such declarations in
the birth certificates of his children and in his certificate of candidacy are acts constituting
falsification of public documents5 and respondent?s acts betray his lac/ of good moral character
and constitute grounds for his remo,al as a member of the bar.
Cespondent filed his Comment (herein he states that complainants& (ho are his political
opponents in Nau8an& Oriental #indoro& are merely filing this case to e4act re,enge on him for
his filing of criminal charges against them5 complainants illegally procured copies of the birth
certificates of #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente #endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela
Buente #endoa& in ,iolation of Cule $3& Administrati,e Order No. %& series of %@@2& thus& such
documents are inadmissible in e,idence5 respondent did not participate in the preparation and
submission (ith the local ci,il registry of sub8ect birth certificates5 respondent ne,er declared
that he had t(o (i,es& as he has al(ays declared that he is separated in fact from his (ife&
Belicitas V. Valderia5 and complainants ha,e used this issue against him during elections and
yet& the people of Nau8an& Oriental #indoro still elected him as #ayor& hence& respondent has
not offended the public?s sense of morality.
7he administrati,e case (as referred to the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines *hereinafter
IB)+ for in,estigation& report and recommendation. 7hereafter& the Commission on Bar
Discipline of the IB) conducted hearings.
Gitnesses for complainants& Nelson B. #elgar and Comeo #. !aygo& submitted their
affida,its as their direct testimony and (ere sub8ected to cross"e4amination by respondent?s
counsel.
Gitness Nelson B. #elgar declares in his affida,it as follo(s- 9e /no(s respondent for
they both reside in Nau8an& Oriental #indoro. Cespondent is /no(n as a practicing la(yer and
a former #unicipal 7rial Court >udge. Cespondent has been cohabiting openly and publicly (ith
#arilyn dela Buente& representing themsel,es to be husband and (ife& and from their
cohabitation& they produced t(o children& namely& #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente
#endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa. Sometime in %@@6& he *(itness
#elgar+ recei,ed a letter from a concerned citien& informing him that respondent (as married
to Belicitas Valderia of San Cafael& Bulacan& on >anuary %0& %@A'& but respondent abandoned
his (ife to cohabit (ith #arilyn dela Buente. Attached to the letter (as a photocopy of a
Certification issued by the Ci,il Cegister attesting to the marriage bet(een respondent and
Belicitas Valderia. 9e also recei,ed information from concerned citiens that #arilyn dela
Buente is also legally married to one Camon :. #arcos& as e,idenced by a Certification from
the Office of the Ci,il Cegister. Cespondent stated in his Certificate of Candidacy filed (ith the
CO#E!EC in %@@6 that he is still legally married to Belicitas Valderia. In respondent?s
Certificate of Candidacy filed (ith the CO#E!EC in %@@A& he declared his ci,il status as
separated. Cespondent has represented to all that he is married to #arilyn dela Buente. In
the a#$ane%s& a local ne(spaper (here respondent holds the position of Chairman of the
Board of the Editorial Staff& respondent (as reported by said ne(spaper as husband to #arilyn
dela Buente and the father of #ara Ohrisna Charmina and #yrra Ohrisna Normina.
On cross"e4amination& (itness #elgar testified as follo(s- 9e (as the former mayor of
Nau8an and he and respondent belong to (arring political parties. It (as not respondent (ho
told him about the alleged immoral conduct sub8ect of the present case. Although he recei,ed
the letter of a concerned citien regarding the immoral conduct of respondent as far bac/ as
%@@6& he did not immediately file a case for disbarment against respondent. It (as only after
respondent filed a criminal case for falsification against him that he decided to file an
administrati,e case against respondent.
<%=
On re"direct e4amination& (itness #elgar testified that there (ere people (ho (ere against
the open relationship bet(een respondent and #arilyn dela Buente as respondent had been
publicly introducing the latter as his (ife despite the fact that they are both still legally married to
other persons& and so someone un/no(n to him 8ust handed to their maid copies of the birth
certificates of #ara Ohrisna Charmina and #yrra Ohrisna Normina.
<$=
7he affida,it of #r. Comeo #. !aygo& (hich (as adopted as his direct testimony& is
practically identical to that of (itness #elgar. On cross"e4amination& (itness !aygo testified
that he (as not the one (ho procured the certified true copies of the birth certificates of #ara
Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente #endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa& as
somebody 8ust ga,e said documents to Nelson #elgar. 9e (as a municipal councilor in %@@6
(hen the letter of a concerned citien regarding respondent?s immorality (as sent to #elgar& but
he did not ta/e any action against respondent at that time.
<2=
Complainants then formally offered documentary e,idence consisting of photocopies (hich
(ere admitted by respondent?s counsel to be faithful reproductions of the originals or certified
true copies thereof& to (it- a letter of one !uis Bermude informing Nelson #elgar of
respondent?s immoral acts&
<3=
the Certification of the !ocal Ci,il Cegistrar of San Cafael& Bulacan&
attesting to the celebration of the marriage bet(een respondent and one Belicitas Valderia&
<6=
the
Birth Certificate of #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente #endoa&
<0=
the Birth Certificate of #yrra
Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa&
<1=
the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent dated
#arch @& %@@6&
<A=
the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent dated #arch $6& %@@A&
<@=
Certification issued by the Ci,il Cegistrar of Nau8an& Oriental #indoro dated October $1& %@@A&
attesting to the marriage celebrated bet(een #arilyn dela Buente and Camon #arcos&
<%'=
and
the editorial page of the a#$ane%s *Bebruary"#arch %@@@ issue+&
<%%=
(herein it (as stated that
respondent has t(o daughters (ith his (ife& #arilyn dela Buente.
Cespondent& on the other hand& opted not to present any e,idence and merely submitted a
memorandum e4pounding on his arguments that the testimonies of complainants? (itnesses are
mere hearsay& thus& said testimonies and their documentary e,idence ha,e no probati,e (eight.
On Bebruary $1& $''3& the Board of :o,ernors of the IB) passed Cesolution No. HVI"$''3"
%$2& reading as follo(s-
CESO!VED to ADO)7 and A))COVE& as it is hereby ADO)7ED and A))COVED& the Ceport
and Cecommendation of the In,estigating Commissioner of the abo,e"entitled case& herein
made part of this Cesolution as Anne4 EAF5 and& finding the recommendation fully supported by
the e,idence on record and the applicable la(s and rules& and considering respondent?s
,iolation of Cule %.'% of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility& Atty. Norberto #. #endoa is
hereby S"S-ENDED INDE9INITELYfrom the practice of la( until he submits satisfactory proof
that he is no longer cohabiting (ith a (oman (ho is not his (ife and has abandoned such
immoral course of conduct.
)ortions of the report and recommendation of the IB) Commission on Bar Discipline& upon
(hich the abo,e".uoted Cesolution (as based& read as follo(s-
BINDIN:S-
7he e,idence of complainants to support their charge of immorality consists in a+ the
testimonies of Nelson #elgar and Comeo !aygo gi,en by (ay of affida,its e4ecuted under oath
and affirmed before the Commission and b+ their documentary e,idence consisting of their
E4hibits EAF to E9F.
Cespondent filed his comment through counsel and did not formally present or offer any
e,idence. Cespondent opted not to present his e,idence anymore because according to him
Ethere is none to rebut ,is"Q",is the e,idence presented by the pri,ate complainants.F
Cespondent instead submitted a memorandum through counsel to argue his position. As can
be seen from the comment and memorandum submitted& respondent?s counsel argues that the
complaint is politically moti,ated since complainants are political ri,als of respondent and that
the birth certificates E4hibits EDF and ED"%F (hich (ere offered to sho( that respondent sired the
children namely #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente #endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela
Buente #endoa out of his cohabitation (ith #arilyn dela Buente are inadmissible because they
(ere allegedly secured in ,iolation of Administrati,e Order No. %& Series of %@@2. 7he rest of
the e4hibits are either hearsay or self"ser,ing according to respondent.
7he (itnesses (ho are also t(o of the complainants herein& on the other hand& categorically
state in their affida,its <E4hibits EAF and EBF= particularly in paragraph $ that ECespondent has
been cohabiting openly and publicly (ith #arilyn de la Buente& representing themsel,es to be
husband and (ife.F In paragraph %' of said affida,its the (itnesses also categorically state that
Erespondent has e,en represented to all and sundry that #arilyn de la Buente is his (ife.F
7hese categorical statements made under oath by complainants are not hearsay and remain
un"rebutted. Cespondent chose not to rebut them.
E4hibit EE&F the Certificate of Candidacy e4ecuted by respondent sho(s that respondent is
married to one& Belicitas V. Valderia. As sho(n by E4hibit E9F& a marriage certificate& #arilyn de
la Buente is married to one& Camon :. #arcos. Duly certified true copies of said e4hibits ha,e
been presented by complainants.
Gith respect to E4hibits EDF and ED"%F& (e belie,e that they are competent and rele,ant
e,idence and admissible in this proceedings. 7he e4clusionary rule (hich bars admission of
illegally obtained e,idence applies more appropriately to e,idence obtained as a result of illegal
searches and seiures. 7he instant case cannot be analogous to an illegal search or seiure. A
person (ho ,iolates Cule $3 of Administrati,e Order No. % Series of %@@2 as cited by
respondent ris/s the penalty of imprisonment or payment of a fine but it does not ma/e the
document so issued inadmissible as e,idence specially in proceedings li/e the present case.
E4hibits EDF and ED"%F (hich are duly certified birth certificates are therefore competent
e,idence to sho( paternity of said children by respondent in the absence of any e,idence to the
contrary.
By and large the e,idence of complainants consisting of the testimonies of (itnesses Nelson
#elgar and Comeo !aygo& and corroborated by the documentary e4hibits (ill sho( that indeed
respondent has been cohabiting publicly (ith a certain #arilyn de la Buente (ho is not his (ife
and that out of said cohabitation respondent sired t(o children. 7hese facts (e repeat ha,e not
been denied by respondent under oath since he chose to 8ust argue on the basis of the
improper moti,ations and the inadmissibility& hearsay and self"ser,ing nature of the documents
presented. Complainants ha,e presented e,idence sufficient enough to con,ince us that
indeed respondent has been cohabiting publicly (ith a person (ho is not his (ife. 7he
e,idence ta/en together (ill support the fact that respondent is not of good moral character.
7hat respondent chose not to deny under oath the gra,e and serious allegations made against
him is to our mind his undoing and his silence has not helped his position before the
Commission. As bet(een the documents and positi,e statements of complainants& made under
oath and the arguments and comments of respondent submitted through his la(yers& (hich
(ere not ,erified under oath by respondent himself& (e are inclined and so gi,e (eight to the
e,idence of complainants. 7he direct and forthright testimonies and statements of Nelson
#elgar and Comeo !aygo that respondent (as openly cohabiting (ith #arilyn de la Buente is
not hearsay. 7he (itnesses may ha,e admitted that respondent #endoa did not tell them that
a certain #arilyn de la Buente (as his paramour *for (hy (ould respondent admit that to
complainants+ but the (itnesses did state clearly in their affida,its under oath that respondent
(as cohabiting (ith #arilyn de la Buente (ho is not respondent?s (ife. Again their categorical
statements ta/en together (ith the other documents& are enough to con,ince us and conclude
that respondent is not of good moral character.
!.'2./s o) t&. B+/ &+5. 2.., /.3.+t.(01 /.'%,(.( t&+t 3oss.ss%o, o) goo( 'o/+0
*&+/+*t./ %s + *o,t%,u%,g *o,(%t%o, )o/ '.'2./s&%3 %, t&. B+/ %, goo( st+,(%,g. T&.
*o,t%,u.( 3oss.ss%o, o) goo( 'o/+0 *&+/+*t./ %s + /.Au%s%t. *o,(%t%o, )o/ /.'+%,%,g %,
t&. 3/+*t%*. o) 0+$ [ Mortel vs. Aspiras 100 -&%0. :86 B1@:6CD Cordova vs. Cordova 1;@
SCRA 680 B1@8@CD People vs. Tuanda 181 SCRA 682 B1@@0C]. T&. 'o/+0 (.0%,Au.,*1 t&+t
+)).*ts t&. )%t,.ss o) + '.'2./ o) t&. 2+/ to *o,t%,u. +s su*& %,*0u(.s *o,(u*t t&+t
out/+g.s t&. g.,./+001 +**.3t.( 'o/+0 st+,(+/(s o) t&. *o''u,%t1, *o,(u*t )o/ %,st+,*.,
$&%*& '+E.s F'o*E./1 o) t&. %,5%o0+20. so*%+0 %,st%tut%o, o) '+//%+g.G [!%4+/.s 5s.
<%00+0uH 2;4 SCRA 1 B1@@;C].
In the instant case respondent has disregarded and made a moc/ery of the fundamental
institution of marriage. Cespondent in fact e,en so stated in E4hibit EBF that he is separated
from his (ife. 7his fact and statement (ithout any further e4planation from respondent only
contributes to the blot in his moral character (hich good moral character (e repeat is a
continuing condition for a member to remain in good standing. Dnder Cule %.'% of the Code of
)rofessional Cesponsibility& a la(yer shall not engage in unla(ful& dishonest& immoral or
deceitful conduct. Cespondent has ,iolated this rule against engaging in immoral conduct.
Ge agree& as cited by the respondent& (ith the pronouncement made in Santos ,s. Dischoso&
A3 SCCA 0$$ *%@1A+ that courts should not be used by pri,ate persons particularly disgruntled
opponents to ,ent their rancor on members of the Bar through un8ust and unfounded
accusations. 9o(e,er& in the instant case the charges can hardly be considered as unfounded
or un8ust based on the e,idence presented. 7he e,idence presented sho(s that respondent no
longer possess *sic+ that good moral character necessary as a condition for him to remain a
member of the Bar in good standing. 9e is therefore not entitled to continue to engage in the
practice of la(.
Ge find such report and recommendation of the IB) to be fully supported by the pleadings
and e,idence on record& and& hence& appro,e and adopt the same.
7he e,idence presented by complainants reach that .uantum of e,idence re.uired in
administrati,e proceedings (hich is only substantial e,idence& or that amount of rele,ant
e,idence that a reasonable mind might accept as ade.uate to support a con,iction.
<%$=
Gitness #elgar?s testimony that respondent had been publicly introducing #arilyn dela
Buente as his (ife is corroborated by the contents of an article in the a#$ane%s& introducing
respondent as one of Nau8an?s public ser,ants& and stating therein that respondent has been
blessed (ith t(o beautiful children (ith his (ife& #arilyn dela Buente.
<%2=
It should be noted that
said publication is under the control of respondent& he being the Chairman of the Board thereof.
7hus& it could be reasonably concluded that if he contested the truth of the contents of sub8ect
article in the a#$ane%s& or if he did not (ish to publicly present #arilyn dela Buente as his (ife&
he could ha,e easily ordered that the damning portions of said article to be edited out.
Gith regard to respondent?s argument that the credibility of (itnesses for the complainants
is tainted by the fact that they are moti,ated by re,enge for respondent?s filing of criminal cases
against them& (e opine that e,en if (itnesses #elgar and !aygo are so moti,ated& the credibility
of their testimonies cannot be discounted as they are fully supported and corroborated by
documentary e,idence (hich spea/ for themsel,es. 7he birth certificates of #ara Ohrisna
Charmina dela Buente #endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa born on
>une %0& %@AA and #ay $$& %@@'& respecti,ely& to Norberto #. #endoa and #arilyn Dela
Buente5 and the Certification from the Office of the !ocal Ci,il Cegistrar of Bulacan attesting to
the e4istence in its records of an entry of a marriage bet(een respondent and one Belicitas
Valderia celebrated on >anuary %0& %@A'& are public documents and are &rima 'aciee,idence of
the facts contained therein& as pro,ided for under Article 3%'
<%3=
of the Ci,il Code of the
)hilippines.
Cespondent mista/enly argues that the birth certificates of #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela
Buente #endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa born on >une %0& %@AA and
#ay $$& %@@'& respecti,ely& to Norberto #. #endoa and #arilyn Dela Buente& are inadmissible
in e,idence for ha,ing been obtained in ,iolation of Cule $3& Administrati,e Order No. %& series
of %@@2& (hich pro,ides as follo(s-
Cule $3. Non"Disclosure of Birth Cecords. R
*%+ 7he records of a person?s birth shall be /ept strictly confidential and no information
relating thereto shall be issued e4cept on the re.uest of any of the follo(ing-
a. the concerned person himself& or any person authoried by him5
b. the court or proper public official (hene,er absolutely necessary in administrati,e&
8udicial or other official proceedings to determine the identity of the child?s parents or
other circumstances surrounding his birth5 and
c. in case of the person?s death& the nearest of /in.
*$+ Any person ,iolating the prohibition shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of at
least t(o months or a fine in an amount not e4ceeding fi,e hundred pesos& or both
in the discretion of the court. *Article 1& ).D. 0'2+
Section 2& Cule %$A of the Ce,ised Cules on E,idence pro,ides that Ee,idence is
admissible (hen it is rele,ant to the issue and is not e4cluded by the la( or these rules.F 7here
could be no dispute that the sub8ect birth certificates are rele,ant to the issue. 7he only
.uestion& therefore& is (hether the la( or the rules pro,ide for the inadmissibility of said birth
certificates allegedly for ha,ing been obtained in ,iolation of Cule $3& Administrati,e Order No.
%& series of %@@2.
Note that Cule $3& Administrati,e Order No. %& series of %@@2 only pro,ides for sanctions
against persons ,iolating the rule on confidentiality of birth records& but no(here does it state
that procurement of birth records in ,iolation of said rule (ould render said records inadmissible
in e,idence. On the other hand& the Ce,ised Cules of E,idence only pro,ides for the e4clusion
of e,idence if it is obtained as a result of illegal searches and seiures. It should be
emphasied& ho(e,er& that said rule against unreasonable searches and seiures is meant only
to protect a person from interference by the go,ernment or the state.
<%6=
In Peo&le vs. (i&ol&
<%0=
(e e4plained that-
7he Constitutional proscription enshrined in the Bill of Cights does not concern itself (ith the
relation bet(een a pri,ate indi,idual and another indi,idual. It go,erns the relationship bet(een
the indi,idual and the State and its agents. 7he Bill of Cights only tempers go,ernmental po(er
and protects the indi,idual against any aggression and un(arranted interference by any
department of go,ernment and its agencies. Accordingly& it cannot be e4tended to the acts
complained of in this case. 7he alleged E(arrantless searchF made by Co.ue& a co"employee of
appellant at the treasurer?s office& can hardly fall (ithin the ambit of the constitutional
proscription on un(arranted searches and seiures.
Conse.uently& in this case (here complainants& as pri,ate indi,iduals& obtained the sub8ect
birth records as e,idence against respondent& the protection against unreasonable searches
and seiures does not apply.
Since both Cule $3& Administrati,e Order No. %& series of %@@2 and the Ce,ised Cules on
E,idence do not pro,ide for the e4clusion from e,idence of the birth certificates in .uestion& said
public documents are& therefore& admissible and should be properly ta/en into consideration in
the resolution of this administrati,e case against respondent.
Verily& the facts stated in the birth certificates of #ara Ohrisna Charmina dela Buente
#endoa and #yrra Ohrisna Normina dela Buente #endoa and respondent?s Certificate of
Candidacy dated #arch @& %@@6 (herein respondent himself declared he (as married to
Belicitas Valderia& (ere ne,er denied nor rebutted by respondent. 9ence& said public
documents sufficiently pro,e that he fathered t(o children by #arilyn dela Buente despite the
fact that he (as still legally married to Belicitas Valderia at that time.
In Bar #atter No. %%63&
<%1=
good moral character (as defined thus-
. . . good moral character is (hat a person really is& as distinguished from good reputation or
from the opinion generally entertained of him& the estimate in (hich he is held by the public in
the place (here he is /no(n. #oral character is not a sub8ecti,e term but one (hich
corresponds to ob8ecti,e reality. 7he standard of personal and professional integrity is not
satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the penalty of criminal la(.
In )a*#irre vs. Castillo&
<%A=
(e reiterated the definition of immoral conduct& to (it-
. . . that conduct (hich is so (illful& flagrant& or shameless as to sho( indifference to the
opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Burthermore& such conduct must
not only be immoral& but grossly immoral. 7hat is& it must be so corrupt as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such
scandalous or re,olting circumstances as to shoc/ the common sense of decency.
In the abo,e".uoted case& (e pointed out that a member of the Bar and officer of the court
is not only re.uired to refrain from adulterous relationships or the /eeping of mistresses but
must also beha,e himself as to a,oid scandaliing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards and& thus& ruled that siring a child (ith a (oman other than his
(ife is a conduct (ay belo( the standards of morality re.uired of e,ery la(yer.
<%@=
Ge must rule in the same (ise in this case before us. 7he fact that respondent continues
to publicly and openly cohabit (ith a (oman (ho is not his legal (ife& thus& siring children by
her& sho(s his lac/ of good moral character. Cespondent should /eep in mind that the
re.uirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the
)hilippine Bar but is also a continuing re.uirement to maintain one?s good standing in the legal
profession.
<$'=
In Aldovino vs. P#$alte+ ,r .&
<$%=
(e emphasied that-
7his Court has been e4acting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of members
of the Bar. 7hey are e4pected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession and refrain from any act or omission (hich might lessen the trust and confidence
reposed by the public in the fidelity& honesty& and integrity of the legal profession. #embership in
the legal profession is a pri,ilege. And (hene,er it is made to appear that an attorney is no
longer (orthy of the trust and confidence of the public& it becomes not only the right but also the
duty of this Court& (hich made him one of its officers and ga,e him the pri,ilege of ministering
(ithin its Bar& to (ithdra( the pri,ilege.
68ERE9ORE& respondent Atty. Norberto #. #endoa is hereby found :DI!7I of
immorality& in ,iolation of Cule %.'% of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility. 9e is
SDS)ENDED INDEBINI7E!I from the practice of la( until he submits satisfactory proof that he
has abandoned his immoral course of conduct.
!et a copy of this resolution be ser,ed personally on respondent at his last /no(n address
and entered in his record as attorney. !et the IB)& the Bar Confidant& and the Court
Administrator be furnished also a copy of this resolution for their information and guidance as
(ell as for circulariation to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.
Cepublic of the )hilippines
S"-RE!E CO"RT
#anila
SECOND DIVISION
A('. C+s. No. 62@8 !+1 2;, 2004
BCBD C+s. No. 0310;1C
9EDERICO D. RICA9ORT, complainant&
,s.
ATTY. EDDIE R. BANSIL, respondent.
C E S O ! D 7 I O N
A"STRIA!ARTINEZ, J.#
On #arch %1& $''2& Atty. Bederico D. Cicafort filed (ith the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines
*IB)+& a ,erified complaint against respondent Atty. Eddie C. Bansil for misconduct and for
,iolation of the Constitution on the right of the people to information on matters of public concern
and C.A. No. 01%2& other(ise /no(n as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for )ublic
Officials and Employees. 7he case& doc/eted as CBD Case No. '2"%'1%& (as referred by the
Commission on Bar Discipline to In,estigating Commissioner Cebecca Villanue,a"#aala for
in,estigation& report and recommendation.
7he factual and procedural antecedents are summaried by the In,estigating Commissioner as
follo(s-
Complainant alleged that respondent has been commissioned as a Notary )ublic for
:uagua& )ampanga& (ith the obligation to submit his notarial boo/ and documents e,ery
month and each time he applies for a re"commission to the Cler/ of Court of the
Cegional 7rial Court of :uagua& )ampanga.
According to the C7C Cler/ of Court of :uagua& Atty. >orge Bacani *LAtty. Bacani?+&
respondent submitted his notarial boo/ and documents but the same (ere returned to
him for safe/eeping considering that there (as no space in the Office of the Cler/ of
Court to accommodate the notarial boo/s and documents. 9o(e,er& they are re.uired to
bring them to the Cler/ of Court (hen needed for inspectionM,erification of documents
upon re.uest.
Complainant has re.uested the Cler/ of Court& Atty. Bacani& to send (ord to respondent
that he (anted to ,erify some documents purportedly notaried by respondent
particularly the documents contained in Notarial Boo/ No HV& Series of $''$ and to bring
the same to the Office of the Cler/ of Court. 7he re.uest (as made to respondent on
se,eral occasions& the last of (hich (as on $' #ay $''2. Atty. Bacani repeatedly called
up respondent regarding the re.uest of complainant but respondent repeatedly failed
and refused to heed the re.uest.
On $' Bebruary $''2& complainant sent a formal letter reiterating his re.uest to e4amine
respondent?s Notarial Boo/ HV& Series of $''$ for ,erification purposes at the office of
the cler/ of court on $A Bebruary $''2. 9o(e,er& despite the fact that respondent
recei,ed the said letter on 2 #arch $''2& respondent still failed and refused the re.uest
(ithout any 8ustifiable reason and did not e,en responded *sic+ to the said letter. 9ence&
this complaint.
In his Ans(er& respondent states that there (as no failure and refusal to heed the
re.uest& and the reason of inability to bring for ,erification the said Notarial Boo/ CHV&
Series of $''$ is the fact of lost *sic+ thereof attributable to hea,y flooding from >uly 0 to
$'& $''$.
7he letter"re.uest (as lately sho(n to him by a member of his household& ho(e,er&
complainant did not mention any particular document or he could ha,e readily e4tended
the desired help for ,erification or certification. Cespondent contends that he is ready
and (illing to be of help to complainant if sho(n the particular document necessitating
,erification andMor certification.
Complainant claims that ho( can respondent help ,erify the genuineness or ,eracity of
the documents notaried by him& if respondent alleged that the same (ere lost in a flood.
Complainant a,ers that the certification issued as to the e4istence of flood in :uagua&
)ampanga in 0 to $' >uly $''$ deals only (ith the flood in the to(n proper and did not
say that the house of respondent in San Antonio& :uagua& (as hit by the flood. 7he
streets (ere flooded but not the house of respondent (hich is situated on a higher
ground. 7he to(n of :uagua& )ampanga has been perennially flooded during rainy
season for (hich reason respondent (ho had to bring his notarial boo/s at his house in
San Antonio& :uagua& could ha,e guarded the same against such contingency. A Notary
)ublic should al(ays place his boo/s and documents in a safe place at his residence&
other(ise this could aggra,ate the suspicion that he (as grossly negligent in /eeping his
boo/s (hich are public documents and destruction of public documents is punishable by
la(.
At the hearing held on 3 >une $''2 only complainant appeared. Cespondent?s notice for
the reason of his absence (as belatedly recei,ed by the office. )arties (ere directed to
submit their )osition )aper and thereafter the case (as submitted for report and
recommendation.
I, &./ R.3o/t +,( R.*o''.,(+t%o, su2'%tt.( to t&. IB- Bo+/( o) ?o5./,o/s,
Co''%ss%o,./ <%00+,u.5+!++0+ )ou,( t&. /.s3o,(.,t +('%,%st/+t%5.01 0%+20. )o/ &%s
)+%0u/. to +tt.,( to t&. /.Au.st o) *o'30+%,+,t to 0ooE %,to &%s ,ot+/%+0 2ooE +,(
/.*o''.,(.( t&+t /.s3o,(.,t 2. sus3.,(.( )/o' t&. 3/+*t%*. o) 0+$ )o/ + 3./%o( o) o,.
1.+/.
In its resolution dated October $6& $''2& the IB) Board of :o,ernors adopted the findings of
Commissioner Villanue,a"#aala but reduced the recommended penalty to a mere reprimand5
and referred the same to this Court.
E4cept for the penalty recommended& the Court agrees (ith the findings of the IB) Board of
:o,ernors that respondent should be held administrati,ely liable for not attending to
complainant?s re.uest to loo/ into his notarial boo/.
Before del,ing into the main issue of the case& (e deem it proper to discuss t(o preliminary
matters.
Birst& it is noted that at the hearing scheduled on >une 3& $''2& only the complainant
appeared.
%
As a matter of procedure& the In,estigating Commissioner should ha,e proceeded
(ith the in,estigation e- &arte pursuant to the pro,isions of Section A& Cule %2@"B of the Cules
of Court.
$
7he In,estigating Commissioner should ha,e re.uired the complainant to present
e,idence to substantiate his allegations. 9o(e,er& instead of proceeding (ith the hearing& the
In,estigating Commissioner issued an order re.uiring both parties to submit their respecti,e
memoranda (ithin %6 days from the date of issuance of the order& (ith respect to the
complainant& and (ithin %6 days from notice (ith respect to respondent. Despite due receipt of
the said order on >une %A& $''2& respondent failed to submit the re.uired memorandum. 7he
In,estigating Commissioner?s Ceport and Cecommendation (as dated September %0& $''2
(hile the resolution of the IB) Board of :o,ernors adopting and appro,ing said Ceport and
Cecommendation (as passed on October $6& $''2. 7he records of the case do not sho( that
from >une %A& $''2 until October $6& $''2& respondent had ta/en any action or that he
submitted the re.uired memorandum. Conse.uently& he is deemed to ha,e (ai,ed not only his
right to file said memorandum but also the right to a hearing.
Second& the complaint against respondent is in connection (ith the discharge of his functions as
a notary public& and not as an elected barangay chairman. 7hus& the Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for )ublic Officials and Employees in,o/ed by complainant (ill not apply to
the present administrati,e complaint against respondent. Cespondent& as a la(yer and a notary
public& is co,ered by the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility and Code of )rofessional Ethics.
Coming to the main issue in the instant case& despite absence of reception of e,idence& as
re.uired by Sec. A& Cule %2@"B& Cules of Court& (e find the follo(ing admissions made by the
respondent in his Ans(er to the complaint& to (it-
*%+ 9e has been commissioned as a Notary )ublic for :uagua& )ampanga (ith
obligation to submit his notarial boo/ and documents e,ery month and each time he
applies for a commission to the Cler/ of Court& Cegional 7rial Court of :uagua&
)ampanga5
2
*$+ 9is notarial boo/s co,ering $''%"$''$ (ere presented before the Cler/ of Court for
the rene(al of his notarial commission for the succeeding year but (as returned to him
after ,erification because of limited (or/ing space in the office of the Cler/ of Court
(hich is shared by Branch 62& C7C& :uagua& )ampanga5
3
*2+ 9e (as notified by Cler/ of Court Bacani regarding the re.uest of complainant to
e4amine some notaried documents in his notarial boo/5
6
Sufficient to hold him liable for ,iolating the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility.
Cespondent li/e(ise admitted in his Ans(er that he recei,ed complainant?s letter"re.uest dated
Bebruary $'& $''2. 9o(e,er& he claims that said letter"re.uest (as belatedly sho(n to him by a
member of his household. Ge find this a lame e4cuse. :ranting that complainant?s letter"
re.uest (as belatedly sho(n to respondent& elementary rules of courtesy still dictate that
respondent should ha,e& at the least& responded to complainant?s re.uest to loo/ at his notarial
boo/. 7his is e4pected from respondent especially (hen the one re.uesting is a colleague in the
same profession. #oreo,er& respondent admitted that Cler/ of Court Bacani had earlier notified
him of the re.uest of complainant. Cespondent simply ignored the re.uests of both complainant
and Cler/ of Court Bacani.
E,en if the sub8ect notarial boo/ (as& as claimed by him& indeed lost by reason of flooding in his
place of residence& although there is no e,idence to pro,e this belated self"ser,ing assertion&
respondent could ha,e easily (ritten a letter or called up Cler/ of Court Bacani to inform him of
such loss so that the complainant may be informed thereof in due time.
Cespondent further contends that he could ha,e easily helped complainant had the latter
personally gone to see him and sho(ed him the particular document that needed to be ,erified.
R.s3o,(.,t7s *o,t.,t%o, +,( %,+*t%o, s'+*Es o) +//og+,*. +,( (./.0%*t%o, o) &%s (ut1 to
2/%,g t&. ,ot+/%+0 2ooEs +,( (o*u'.,ts to t&. C0./E o) Cou/t u3o, /.Au.st o) t&. 0+tt./.
6o/s., %t s3.+Es o) &%s )+%0u/. to 0%5. u3 to t&. .I+*t%,g st+,(+/(s o) *o,(u*t (.'+,(.(
)/o' .+*& +,( .5./1 '.'2./ o) t&. 0.g+0 3/o).ss%o, +s '+,(+t.( 21 t&. Co(. o)
-/o).ss%o,+0 R.s3o,s%2%0%t1 +,( t&. Co(. o) -/o).ss%o,+0 Et&%*s.
Canon A of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility pro,ides that a la(yer shall conduct himself
(ith courtesy& fairness and candor to(ard his professional colleagues and shall a,oid harassing
tactics against opposing counsel. Canon $$ of the Canons of )rofessional Ethics pro,ides that
the conduct of a la(yer before the court and (ith other la(yers should be characteried by
candor and fairness. Indeed& the obligations of a member of the bar include the obser,ance of
honorable& candid and courteous dealing (ith other la(yers& fidelity to /no(n and recognied
customs and practices of the profession& and performance of duties to the Integrated Bar of the
)hilippines.
0
7hus& respondent is guilty of unprofessional conduct. Dnprofessional conduct in an attorney is
that (hich ,iolates the rules or ethical code of his profession or (hich is unbecoming a member
of that profession.
1
Dnder the circumstances& a mere reprimand is not sufficient. Ge deem it proper to impose on
respondent a fine in the amount of )6&'''.'' not only for his unprofessional conduct but also
because his un8ustified failure to heed complainant?s re.uest or to inform complainant or the
Cler/ of Court that the sub8ect notarial boo/s (ere lost in the flood& forced the latter to go to the
e4tent of filing the instant administrati,e case thereby (asting the time and resources not only of
the complainant and the IB)& but also of the Court.
G9ECEBOCE& (e find respondent Atty. Eddie C. Bansil ?"ILTY O9 "N-RO9ESSIONAL
COND"CT and 9INED in the amount of Bi,e 7housand )esos *)6&'''.''+& (ith a (arning that
a commission of the same or similar acts in the future (ill be dealt (ith more se,erely.
Once again& the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines is admonished to see to it that Section A& Cule
%2@"B of the Cules of Court is obser,ed by its In,estigating Commissioners.
SO OCDECED.
SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 6403. August 31, 2004
RUDECON MANAGEMENT CORPORATION a! ATT". RUDEGE#IO D.
TACORDA, complainants, v. ATT". MANUE# N. CAMAC$O, Respondent.
R E S O # U T I O N
ADS7CIA"#AC7INES& ,.-
On No,ember $2& $'''& Cudecon #anagement Corporation and Atty. Cudegelio D. 7acorda
filed (ith the Integrated Bar of the )hilippines *IB)+ a ,erified complaint for disbarment or
suspension from the practice of la( against Atty. #anuel N. Camacho for /no(ingly committing
forum"shopping& in ,iolation of Supreme Court Administrati,e Circular No. '3"@3 in relation to
the pro,isions of Section 6& Cule 1& %@@1 Cules of Ci,il )rocedure and the Canons of the Code
of )rofessional Cesponsibility.
7he factual antecedents leading to the instant complaint are as follo(s-
On September 2& %@@A& Sisenando Singson& represented by herein respondent Atty. #anuel N.
Camacho& filed (ith the Cegional 7rial Court *C7C+ of ;ueon City a complaint against herein
complainant Cudecon #anagement Corporation for damages and recon,eyance& doc/eted as
Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333.<% 7he case (as originally raffled to Branch 1@& C7C& ;ueon City
*Branch 1@ for bre,ity+ but (as e,entually re"raffled to Branch A6 of the same court.
On September $%& %@@A& Singson& again represented by Atty. Camacho& filed (ith Branch 1A&
C7C& ;ueon City *Branch 1A for bre,ity+ a #otion for Inter,ention *Gith Attached Ans(er in
Inter,ention Gith Affirmati,e Defenses and Compulsory Counterclaim+ in Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"
262$0& entitled& Cudecon #anagement Corporation& &lainti''.a&&ellee ,s. Camon #.
Velu& de'endant.a&&ellant& a case for unla(ful detainer on appeal before said court.<$
On October %& %@@A& Cudecon filed a motion before Branch 1A see/ing to cite Singson and his
counsel& Atty. Camacho& for contempt for ha,ing allegedly ,iolated the rule against forum
shopping. Cudecon contends that the ans(er"in"inter,ention filed before Branch 1A in,ol,es the
same issues already raised in the complaint filed (ith Branch 1@.
On No,ember 0& %@@A& Branch 1A& issued an order& (ith the follo(ing dispositi,e portion-
G9ECEBOCE& finding appellees herein #otion to be (ell ta/en& this Court finds (ould"be"
inter,enor& Sisenando Singson and his counsel& Atty. #anuel N. Camacho to ha,e ,iolated the
rule on forum"shopping and holds them liable for contempt of Court under Circular No. '3"@3
and Section 6& Cule 1& Cules of Court in relation to Cule 1% and hereby reprimands both of them
(ithout pre8udice to any administrati,e and appropriate action against (ould"be"inter,enors
counsel.
SO OCDECED.<2
Singson and Camacho did not appeal the order.
On the basis of the abo,e"cited order& Cudecon and 7acorda filed the instant complaint for
disbarment or suspension against Atty. Camacho. Complainants submit that aside from
disregarding the rule against forum shopping& contained in Supreme Court Administrati,e
Circular No. '3"@3 and Section 6& Cule 1 of the %@@1 Cules of Court& respondent is also guilty of
,iolating Cules %.'% and %.'$& Canon % and Cule %'.'%& Canon %' of the Code of )rofessional
Cesponsibility.<3
Cespondent filed his Ans(er to the instant complaint. 9e denies the allegations of complainant
and contends that he is not guilty of forum shopping. 9e claims that the Ans(er in Inter,ention
filed (ith Branch 1A in Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"262$0 and the Complaint filed (ith Branch 1@ in
Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333 do not in,ol,e the same issues and reliefs prayed for and that he did
not resort to the filing of both actions in order to increase the chances of his client obtaining a
fa,orable decision.<6
7he case (as doc/eted by IB) as CBD Case No. ''"11@ and (as referred by the Commission
on Bar Discipline of the IB) to an In,estigating Commissioner for in,estigation& report and
recommendation.
On October $3& $''2& In,estigating Commissioner >ulio C. Elamparo submitted his report to the
IB) Board of :o,ernors (ith the follo(ing findings and recommendation-
. . . . .
7(o court cases ga,e rise to the present complaint. 7he first is Sisenando Singson ,s. Cudecon
#anagement Corp.& Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333 before ;ueon City& C7C Branch 1@ and the
other case is Cudecon #anagement Corp. ,s. Camon #. Velu& Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"262$0
before ;ueon City& C7C Branch 1A.
7he respondent does not deny the e4istence of an Order dated No,ember 0& %@@A issued by
C7C Branch 1A of ;ueon City in the case entitled Cudecon #anagement Corp. ,s. Camon #.
Velu& Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"262$0. Cespondent does not deny also that this Order has become
final and e4ecutory. Ghat the respondent asserts is that he is not guilty of forum shopping
because the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for in Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"262$0 are
different from the cause of action and reliefs prayed for in Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333 are
different.
Ghen respondent failed to contest the Order dated No,ember 0& %@@A& the same (as rendered
final and e4ecutory. 7his office is therefore de,oid of any 8urisdiction to re,ie( the factual finding
of the trial court (hich gi,e rise to said order finding the respondent guilty of forum shopping.
7his office has no other option but to recognie the ,alidity of said order.
. . . . .
Accordingly& it is respectfully recommended that the penalty of (arning be meted out against the
respondent for ,iolating the prohibition against forum shopping& specifically& Supreme Court
Adm. No. '3"@3& paragraph $ and Section 6& Cule 1& paragraph $ of the %@@1 Cules of Ci,il
)rocedure.<0
On Bebruary $1& $''3& the IB) Board of :o,ernors passed Cesolution No. HVI"$''3"32
adopting and appro,ing the report and recommendation of In,estigating Commissioner
Elamparo.<1
Ge do not entirely agree (ith the IB) Cesolution.
Based on the records& there are t(o issues to be resol,ed- *%+ (hether respondent is guilty of
forum shopping5 and *$+ (hether respondent may be held administrati,ely liable for ,iolation of
the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility. As to the first issue& (e rule in the affirmati,e. As to the
second issue& (e rule in the negati,e.
Anent the first issue.
Cespondent maintains that he is not guilty of forum shopping. 9o(e,er& it is not disputed that
the C7C found respondent and his client guilty of forum shopping& on the basis of (hich it held
both of them in contempt. 7his order has become final and e4ecutory for failure of respondent to
appeal the same. 7he general rule is that once an issue has been ad8udicated in a ,alid final
8udgment of a competent court& it can no longer be contro,erted ane( and should be finally laid
to rest.<A Ghen a final 8udgment becomes e4ecutory& it becomes immutable and unalterable.
7he 8udgment may no longer be modified in any respect& directly or indirectly& e,en if the
modification is meant to correct (hat is percei,ed to be an erroneous conclusion of fact or la(&
and regardless of (hether the modification is attempted to be made by the court rendering it or
by this Court.<@ 7he only recognied e4ceptions are the correction of clerical errors or the
ma/ing of so called n#nc &ro t#nc entries (hich cause no pre8udice to any party& and& of course
(here the 8udgment is ,oid.<%' 7he instant case does not fall under any of these e4ceptions.
Indeed& it has been held that controlling and irresistible reasons of public policy and of sound
practice in the courts demand that at the ris/ of occasional error& 8udgments of courts
determining contro,ersies submitted to them should become final at some definite time fi4ed by
la(& or by a rule of practice recognied by la(& so as to be thereafter beyond the control e,en of
the court (hich rendered them for the purpose of correcting error of fact or of la(& into (hich& in
the opinion of the court it may ha,e fallen.<%% In the present case& since the order of the trial
court dated No,ember 0& %@@A has already attained finality& (e are no( precluded from see/ing
other(ise.
Anent the second issue.
After a perusal of the records before us& (e agree (ith respondent that there (as no intention
on his part to mislead the court by concealing the pendency of Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333 in
Branch 1@ (hen they filed the #otion for Inter,ention and Ans(er in Inter,ention in Ci,il Case
No. ;"@A"262$0 in Branch 1A. Indeed& the first paragraph of the said Ans(er in Inter,ention
sho(s that respondent and his client called the trial courts attention (ith respect to the
pendency of Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333. 9erein complainant& (hich is the plaintiff in Ci,il Case
No. ;"@A"262$0& does not dispute respondents allegation that the latter and his client attached
to their Ans(er in Inter,ention a copy of their complaint in Ci,il Case No. ;"@A"26333.
Cules %.'%& %.'$& Canon % and Cule %'.'%& Canon %' of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility
pro,ide as follo(s-
CANON % A la(yer shall uphold the constitution& obey the la(s of the land and promote respect
for la( and for legal processes.
Cule %.'% A la(yer shall not engage in unla(ful& dishonest& immoral or deceitful conduct.
Cule %.'$ A la(yer shall not counsel or abet acti,ities aimed at defiance of the la( or at
lessening confidence in the legal system.
. . . . .
CANON %' A la(yer o(es candor& fairness and good faith to the court.
Cule %'.'% A la(yer shall not do any falsehood& nor consent to the doing of any in court5 nor
shall he mislead or allo( the court to be misled by any artifice.
Complainants see/ the disbarment or suspension of respondent from the practice of la( for his
ha,ing allegedly ,iolated the abo,e".uoted pro,isions of the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility
in relation to Supreme Court Administrati,e Circular '3"@3 and Section 6& Cule 1<%$ of the %@@1
Cules of Court.
In administrati,e cases for disbarment or suspension against la(yers& the .uantum of proof
re.uired is clearly preponderant e,idence and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant.
<%2 #oreo,er& an administrati,e case against a la(yer must sho( the dubious character of the
act done as (ell as of the moti,ation thereof.<%3In the present case& complainant failed to
present clear and preponderant e,idence to sho( that respondent (illfully and deliberately
resorted to falsehood and unla(ful and dishonest conduct in ,iolation of the standards of
honesty as pro,ided for by the Code of )rofessional Cesponsibility (hich (ould ha,e (arranted
the imposition of administrati,e sanction against him.
G9ECEBOCE& Cesolution No. HVI"$''3"32 dated Bebruary $1& $''3 of the Integrated Bar of
the )hilippines is SE7 ASIDE and the instant administrati,e case filed against Atty. #anuel N.
Camacho is DIS#ISSED for lac/ of merit.
SO OCDECED.