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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 6057

June 27, 2006

PETER T. DONTON, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. EMMANUEL O. TANSINGCO, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco
("respondent") for serious misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1, 1 Rules
1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code").
The Facts
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton ("complainant") stated that he filed
a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of a public document 4 against Duane O.
Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A. Maggay ("Maggay") and respondent, as the notary public who
notarized the Occupancy Agreement.
The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-charge for
perjury5 against complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, stated that:
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was prepared and
notarized by me under the following circumstances:
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a real property
located at No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, Cubao, Quezon
City.
B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen and thereby
disqualified to own real property in his name agreed that the property be
transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino.

C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to prepare several


documents that would guarantee recognition of him being the actual owner of the
property despite the transfer of title in the name of Mr. Donton.
D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT,
recognizing Mr. Stiers free and undisturbed use of the property for his residence
and business operations. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT was tied up with a
loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr. Donton.6
Complainant averred that respondents act of preparing the Occupancy Agreement,
despite knowledge that Stier, being a foreign national, is disqualified to own real
property in his name, constitutes serious misconduct and is a deliberate violation of the
Code. Complainant prayed that respondent be disbarred for advising Stier to do
something in violation of law and assisting Stier in carrying out a dishonest scheme.
In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that complainant filed the
disbarment case against him upon the instigation of complainants counsel, Atty.
Bonifacio A. Alentajan,7 because respondent refused to act as complainants witness in
the criminal case against Stier and Maggay. Respondent admitted that he "prepared
and notarized" the Occupancy Agreement and asserted its genuineness and due
execution.
In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan
("Commissioner San Juan") of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent
liable for taking part in a "scheme to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against
foreign ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner San Juan recommended
respondents suspension from the practice of law for two years and the cancellation of
his commission as Notary Public.
In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of Governors
adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended respondents suspension
from the practice of law for six months.
On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as
provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B8 of the Rules of Court.

On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP.
Respondent stated that he was already 76 years old and would already retire by 2005
after the termination of his pending cases. He also said that his practice of law is his
only means of support for his family and his six minor children.
In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for reconsideration
because the IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case as the matter had already been
referred to the Court.
The Ruling of the Court
The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code.
A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will involve
defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey.9 A lawyer who assists a
client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating the law commits an act which
justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.10
By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen, was disqualified
from owning real property.11Yet, in his motion for reconsideration,12 respondent admitted
that he caused the transfer of ownership to the parcel of land to Stier. Respondent,
however, aware of the prohibition, quickly rectified his act and transferred the title in
complainants name. But respondent provided "some safeguards" by preparing several
documents,13including the Occupancy Agreement, that would guarantee Stiers
recognition as the actual owner of the property despite its transfer in complainants
name. In effect, respondent advised and aided Stier in circumventing the constitutional
prohibition against foreign ownership of lands 14 by preparing said documents.
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and the
Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law
against foreign ownership of lands. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to
achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he
may be suspended.15
In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended from the practice of
law for three years for preparing an affidavit that virtually permitted him to commit
concubinage. In In re: Santiago,17 respondent Atty. Santiago was suspended from the
practice of law for one year for preparing a contract which declared the spouses to be
single again after nine years of separation and allowed them to contract separately
subsequent marriages.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco GUILTY of violation of


Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly,
we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the practice of law for SIX
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be appended
to respondents personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the
Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. 491 October 6, 1989
IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE 1989 ELECTIONS OF THE
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.

PER CURIAM:
In the election of the national officers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereafter
"IBP") held on June 3, 1989 at the Philippine International Convention Center (or PICC),
the following were elected by the House of Delegates (composed of 120 chapter
presidents or their alternates) and proclaimed as officers:

NAME

POSITION

Atty. Violeta Drilon

President

Atty. Bella Tiro

Executive Vice-President

Atty. Salvador Lao

Chairman, House of Delegates

Atty. Renato F. Ronquillo

Secretary, House of Delegates

Atty. Teodoro Quicoy

Treasurer, House of Delegates

Atty. Oscar Badelles

Sergeant at Arms, House of Delegates

Atty. Justiniano Cortes

Governor & Vice-President for Northern Luzon

Atty. Ciriaco Atienza

Governor & Vice-President for Central Luzon

Atty. Mario Jalandoni

Governor & Vice-President for Metro Manila

Atty. Jose Aguilar


Grapilon

Governor & Vice-President for Southern Luzon

Atty. Teodoro Almine

Governor & Vice-President for Bicolandia

Atty. Porfirio Siyangco

Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Visayas

Atty. Ricardo Teruel

Governor & Vice-President for Western Visayas

Atty. Gladys Tiongco

Governor & Vice-President for Eastern

Mindanao

Atty. Simeon
Datumanong

Governor & Vice-President for Western


Mindanao

The newly-elected officers were set to take the their oath of office on July 4,1989, before
the Supreme Court en banc. However,disturbed by the widespread reports received by
some members of the Court from lawyers who had witnessed or participated in the
proceedings and the adverse comments published in the columns of some newspapers
about the intensive electioneering and overspending by the candidates, led by the main
protagonists for the office of president of the association, namely, Attorneys Nereo
Paculdo, Ramon Nisce, and Violeta C. Drilon, the alleged use of government planes,
and the officious intervention of certain public officials to influence the voting, all of
which were done in violation of the IBP By-Laws which prohibit such activities. The
Supreme Court en banc, exercising its power of supervision over the Integrated Bar,
resolved to suspend the oath-taking of the IBP officers-elect and to inquire into the
veracity of the reports.
It should be stated at the outset that the election process itself (i.e. the voting and the
canvassing of votes on June 3, 1989) which was conducted by the "IBP Comelec,"
headed by Justice Reynato Puno of the Court of Appeals, was unanimously adjudged
by the participants and observers to be above board. For Justice Puno took it upon
himself to device safeguards to prevent tampering with, and marking of, the ballots.
What the Court viewed with considerable concern was the reported electioneering and
extravagance that characterized the campaign conducted by the three candidates for
president of the IBP.
I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN.
Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions Drilon Election" (Manila Standard,
Sunday, June 17, 1989), Luis Mauricio, in two successive columns: "The Invertebrated
Bar" (Malaya, June 10, 1989) and "The Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989),
and Teodoro Locsin Jr. in an article, entitled "Pam-Pam" (The Philippines Free Press,
July 8,1989), and the editorial, entitled 'Wrong Forum" of the Daily Globe (June 8,
1989), were unanimously critical of the "vote-buying and pressure tactics" allegedly
employed in the campaign by the three principal candidates: Attys. Violeta C. Drilon,
Nereo Paculdo and Ramon Nisce who reportedly "poured heart, soul, money and
influence to win over the 120 IBP delegates."
Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's rivals who felt at a disadvantage
because Atty. Drilon allegedly used PNB helicopters to visit far-flung IBP chapters on

the pretext of distributing Bigay Puso donations, and she had the added advantage of
having regional directors and labor arbiters of the Department of Labor and Employment
(who had been granted leaves of absence by her husband, the Labor Secretary)
campaigning for her. Jurado's informants alleged that there was rampant vote-buying by
some members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity (Secretary Drilon's fraternity), as well
as by some lawyers of ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion, Cruz, Regala and Abello Law
Office) where Mrs. Drilon is employed, and that government positions were promised to
others by the office of the Labor Secretary.
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same matters and, in addition, mentioned
"talk of personnel of the Department of Labor, especially conciliators and employers,
notably Chinese Filipinos, giving aid and comfort to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the
billeting of out-of-town delegates in plush hotels where they were reportedly "wined and
dined continuously, womened and subjected to endless haggling over the price of their
votes x x x" which allegedly "ranged from Pl5,000 to P20,000, and, on the day of the
election, some twelve to twenty votes which were believed crucial, appreciated to
P50,000."
In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a top official of the judiciary
allegedly involved himself in IBP politics on election day by closeting himself with
campaigners as they plotted their election strategy in a room of the PICC (the Philippine
International Convention Center where the convention/election were held) during a
recess x x x."
Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially re-echoed Mauricio's reports with
some embellishments.
II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE.
Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en banc resolution dated June 15,
1989, directed the outgoing and incoming members of the IBP Board of Governors, the
principal officers and Chairman of the House of Delegates to appear before it on
Tuesday, June 20, 1989, at 2:00 o'clock p.m., and there to inform the Court on the
veracity of the aforementioned reports and to recommend, for the consideration of the
Court, appropriate approaches to the problem of confirming and strengthening
adherence to the fundamental principles of the IBP.
In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a basic postulate of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its organization and
commencement of existence, is that the IBP shall be non-political in character and that
there shall be no lobbying nor campaigning in the choice of members of the Board of
Governors and of the House of Delegates, and of the IBP officers, national, or regional,
or chapter. The fundamental assumption was that officers, delegates and governors
would be chosen on the basis of professional merit and willingness and ability to serve."

The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply disturbed to note that in
connection with the election of members of the Board of Governors and of the House of
Delegates, there is a widespread belief, based on reports carried by media and
transmitted as well by word of mouth, that there was extensive and intensive
campaigning by candidates for IBP positions as well as expenditure of considerable
sums of money by candidates, including vote-buying, direct or indirect."
The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP President Emeritus, Jose B.L.
Reyes, attended the dialogue, upon invitation of the Court, to give counsel and advice.
The meeting between the Court en banc on the one hand, and the outgoing and in
coming IBP officers on the other, was an informal one. Thereafter, the Court resolved to
conduct a formal inquiry to determine whether the prohibited acts and activities
enumerated in the IBP By-Laws were committed before and during the 1989 elections
of IBP's national officers.
The Court en banc formed a committee and designated Senior Associate Justice
Andres R. Narvasa, as Chairman, and Associate Justices Teodoro R. Padilla, Emilio A.
Gancayco, Abraham F. Sarmiento, and Carolina C. Grio-Aquino, as members, to
conduct the inquiry. The Clerk of Court, Atty. Daniel Martinez, acted as the committee's
Recording Secretary.
A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and testified in response to subpoenas
issued by the Court to shed light on the conduct of the elections. The managers of three
five-star hotels the Philippine Plaza, the Hyatt, and the Holiday Inn where the three
protagonists (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) allegedly set up their respective headquarters
and where they billeted their supporters were summoned. The officer of the Philippine
National Bank and the Air Transport Office were called to enlighten the Court on the
charge that an IBP presidential candidate and the members of her slate used PNB
planes to ferry them to distant places in their campaign to win the votes of delegates.
The Philippine Airlines officials were called to testify on the charge that some candidates
gave free air fares to delegates to the convention. Officials of the Labor Department
were also called to enable the Court to ascertain the truth of the reports that labor
officials openly campaigned or worked for the election of Atty. Drilon.
The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio, Jesus Bigornia and Emil Jurado
were subpoenaed to determine the nature of their sources of information relative to the
IBP elections. Their stories were based, they said, on letters, phone calls and personal
interviews with persons who claimed to have knowledge of the facts, but whom they,
invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to identify.
The Committee has since submitted its Report after receiving, and analyzing and
assessing evidence given by such persons as were perceived to have direct and
personal knowledge of the relevant facts; and the Court, after deliberating thereon, has
Resolved to accept and adopt the same.
III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP BY-LAWS.

Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the "strictly non-political" character
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, thus:
"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. The Integrated Bar is strictly non-political,
and every activity tending to impair this basic feature is strictly prohibited
and shall be penalized accordingly. No lawyer holding an elective, judicial,
quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government or any political
subdivision or instrumentality thereof shall be eligible for election or
appointment to any position in the Integrated Bar or any Chapter thereof. A
Delegate, Governor, officer or employee of the Integrated Bar, or an officer
or employee of any Chapter thereof shall be considered ipso
facto resigned from his position as of the moment he files his certificate of
candidacy for any elective public office or accepts appointment to any
judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government or any
political subdivision or instrumentality thereof. "'
Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the prohibited acts relative to
IBP elections:
SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to elections. The
following acts and practices relative to election are prohibited, whether
committed by a candidate for any elective office in the Integrated Bar or by
any other member, directly or indirectly, in any form or manner, by himself
or through another person:
(a) Distribution, except on election day, of election campaign material;
(b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign material other than a
statement of the biodata of a candidate on not more than one page of a
legal-size sheet of paper; or causing distribution of such statement to be
done by persons other than those authorized by the officer presiding at the
elections;
(c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while holding an elective,
judicial, quasi-judicial or prosecutory office in the Government or any
political subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof;
(d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations of candidates, as
well as the advertisement thereof;
(e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a member to withhold his
vote, or to vote for or against a candidate, (1) payment of the dues or
other indebtedness of any member; (2) giving of food, drink,
entertainment, transportation or any article of value, or any similar
consideration to any person; or (3) making a promise or causing an
expenditure to be made, offered or promised to any person."

Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for violations of the above rules:
(d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or commission of any of
the prohibited acts and practices defined in Section 14 prohibited Acts and
Practices relative to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated Bar shall be
a ground for the disqualification of a candidate or his removal from office if
elected, without prejudice to the imposition of sanctions upon any erring
member pursuant to the By-laws of the Integrated Bar.
At the formal investigation which was conducted by the investigating committee, the
following violations were established:
(1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by the candidates for president,
executive vice-president, the officers of candidate the House of Delegates and Board of
Governors.
The three candidates for IBP President Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo began travelling
around the country to solicit the votes of delegates as early as April 1989. Upon the
invitation of IBP President, Leon Garcia, Jr. (t.s.n., July 13,1989, p. 4), they attended the
Bench and Bar dialogues held in Cotabato in April 1989 (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, p. 123),
in Tagaytay City, Pampanga, and in Baguio City (during the conference of chapter
presidents of Northern Luzon (t.s.n., July 3,1989, p. 113; t.s.n., July 10, p. 41; t.s.n., July
13, p. 47) where they announced their candidacies and met the chapter presidents.
Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country seeking the help of IBP chapter
officers, soliciting their votes, and securing their written endorsements. He personally
hand-carried nomination forms and requested the chapter presidents and delegates to
fill up and sign the forms to formalize their commitment to his nomination for IBP
President. He started campaigning and distributing the nomination forms in March 1989
after the chapter elections which determined the membership of the House of Delegates
composed of the 120 chapter presidents (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-86). He obtained
forty (40) commitments. He submitted photocopies of his nomination forms which read:
"Nomination Form

I Join in Nominating
RAMON M. NISCE
as
National President of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines

______________ _______________
Chapter Signature"
Among those who signed the nomination forms were: Onofre P. Tejada, Candido P.
Balbin, Jr., Conizado V. Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico Ernesto S. Salun-at, Gloria C.
Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo, Feliciano F. Wycoco, Amor L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose
N. Contreras, Romeo T. Mendoza, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Paulino G. Clarin, Julius Z.
Neil, Roem J. Arbolado Democrito M. Perez, Abelardo Fermin, Diosdado B. Villarin, Jr.,
Daniel C. Macaraeg, Confesor R. Sansano Dionisio E. Bala, Jr., Emesto A. Amores,
Romeo V. Pefianco, Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T. Viray, Ceferino C. Cabanas, Jose S.
Buban, Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr., Cesar C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez, Ricardo B. Teruel
Rodrigo R. Flores, Sixto Marella, Jr., Arsenio C. Villalon, Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G.
Nalapo Romualdo A. Din Jr., Jose P. Icaonapo Jr., and Manuel S. Person.
Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the Hyatt Hotel based on the
commitments he had obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85). Unfortunately, despite
those formal commitments, he obtained only 14 votes in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1
989, p. 86). The reason, he said, is that. some of those who had committed their votes
to him were "manipulated, intimidated, pressured, or remunerated" (t.s.n., June
29,1989, pp. 8695; Exhibit "M-4-Nisce," t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-1 04).
(2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.
The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit C-1-Crudo and Exhibit C-2-Crudo)
show that Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of the Department of Environment &
Natural Resources (DENR) borrowed a plane from the Philippine National Bank for his
Bicol CORD (Cabinet Officers for Regional Development) Assistant, Undersecretary
Antonio Tria. The plane manifest (Exh. C-2-Crudo) listed Atty. Violeta Drilon, Arturo Tusi
(Tiu), Assistant Secretary for Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Tony Tria,
Atty. Gladys Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria, the rest of the passengers
were IBP candidates.
Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB plane. She said that she was
informed by Atty. Tiu about the availability of a PNB plane (t.s.n., July 3,1989, pp. 116118).
Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-president in the Drilon ticket,
testified that sometime in May 1989 he failed to obtain booking from the Philippine
Airlines for the projected trip of his group to Bicol. He went to the DENR allegedly to
follow up some papers for a client. While at the DENR, he learned that Assistant
Secretary Tria was going on an official business in Bicol for Secretary Fulgencio
Factoran and that he would be taking a PNB plane. As Assistant Secretary Tria is his
fraternity brother, he asked if he, together with the Drilon group, could hitch a ride on the

plane to Bicol. His request was granted. Their purpose in going to Bicol was to assess
their chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon company talked with the IBP chapter
presidents in Daet, Naga, and Legaspi, and asked for their support (t.s.n., July 10,
1989, pp. 549).
Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use of a PNB plane by Atty. Drilon and
her group. He recalled that on May 23,1989, DENR Secretary Factoran instructed him
to go to Bicol to monitor certain regional development projects there and to survey the
effect of the typhoon that hit the region in the middle of May. On the same day, Atty. Tiu,
a fraternity brother (meaning that Tiu belongs to the Sigma Rho fraternity) went to the
DENR office and requested the Secretary (Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be allowed to hitch
a ride on the plane. Assistant Secretary Tria, together with the Drilon group which
included Attorneys Drilon, Grapilon, Amy Wong, Gladys Tiongco, and Tiu, took off at the
Domestic Airport bound for Naga, Daet and Legaspi. In Legaspi the Drilon group had
lunch with Atty. Vicente Real, Jr., an IBP chapter president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 5469).
(3) Formation of tickets and single slates.
The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, admitted having formed their own
slates for the election of IBP national officers on June 3, 1989.
Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of himself for President; Bella D. Tiro, for Executive
Vice-President; and for Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez (Northern Luzon), Oscar C.
Fernandez (Central Luzon), Mario C.V. Jalandoni (Greater Manila), Petronilo A. de la
Cruz (Southern Luzon), Teodorico C. Almine, Jr. (Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel
(Western Visayas), Porfirio P. Siyangco (Eastern Visayas), Jesus S. Anonat (Western
Mindanao), Guerrero A. Adaza, Jr. (Eastern Mindanao) (Exhibit M-Nisce).
The Drilon ticket consisted of. Violeta C. Drilon for President, Arturo Tiu for Executive
Vice President, Salvador Lao for Chairman of the House of Delegates, and, for
Governors: Basil Rupisan (Northern 'Luzon), Acong Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong
(Metro Manila), Jose Grapilon (Southern Tagalog), Teodoro Almine (Bicolandia),
Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern Visayas), Joelito Barrera (Western Visayas), Gladys
Tiongco (Eastern Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong (Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1Nisce).
Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Confessor B. Sansano Benjamin B.
Bernardino, Antonio L. Nalapo Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria C. Agunos, Mario
Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin Jr., Oscar C. Fernandez, Cesar G. Viola, Leo C.
Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr., Jose S. Buban, Joel A. Llosa, Jesus T. Albacite
and Oscar V. Badelles.
(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates and alternates.

Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for some delegates to the convention.
He mentioned Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four round-trip tickets (worth about
P10,000) from Iligan City to Manila and back. Badelles was a voting delegate. Nisce,
however, failed to get a written commitment from him because Atty. Medialdea assured
him (Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan, h'wag mo nang papirmahin." Badelles won as sergeantat-arms, not in Nisce's ticket, but in that of Drilon.
Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane tickets, but he Badelles said that
he did not use them, because if he did, he would be committed to Nisce, and he
Badelles did not want to be committed (t.s.n., July 4,1989, pp. 77-79, 95-96).
Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was his candidate, and another ticket
to Mrs. Linda Lim of Zamboanga. Records of the Philippine Airlines showed that Atty.
Nisce paid for the plane tickets of Vicente Real, Jr. (Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes
(Exh. D-1-Calica), Cesar Batica (Exh. D-2-Calica), Jose Buban of Leyte (Exh. D-2Calica), Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-3- Calica), and Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3-Calica).
In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's candidates won: Renato
Ronquillo of Manila 4, as Secretary of the House of Delegates (t.s.n. July 3, p. 161).
(5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks, entertainment to delegates.
(a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO
Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms and three suites at the Holiday
Inn, which served as his headquarters. The 24 rooms were to be occupied by his staff
(mostly ladies) and the IBP delegates. The three suites were to be occupied by himself,
the officers of the Capitol Bar Association, and Atty. Mario Jalandoni. He paid P150,000
for the hotel bills of his delegates at the Holiday Inn, where a room cost P990 per day
with breakfast.
Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday Inn were: Emesto C. Perez,
Tolomeo Ligutan Judge Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag, Antonio Bisnar, Benedicto
Balajadia, Jesus Castro, Restituto Villanueva, Serapio Cribe Juanita Subia, Teodorico J.
Almine, Rudy Gumban, Roem Arbolado, Ricardo Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon Roco,
Alberto Trinidad, Teodoro Quicoy Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera Vicente Tordilla, Julian
Ocampo, Francisco Felizmenio Marvel Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio Maristela,
Porfirio Siyangco, William Llanes, Jr., Marciano Neri, Guerrero Adaza, Diosdado
Peralta, Luis C. Formilleza, Jr., Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores, Dennis Rendon, Judge
Ceferino Chan, Mario Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo Bella Tiro, Antonio Santos, Tiburcio
Edano James Tan, Cesilo A. Adaza, Francisco Roxas, Angelita Gacutan, Jesse
Pimentel, Judge Jaime Hamoy, Jesus Anonat, Carlos Egay, Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge
Jesus Carbon, Joven Zach, and Benjamin Padon.
Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager, testified that Atty. Paculdo booked 52
(not 24) rooms, including the presidential suite, which was used as the Secretariat. The

group bookings were made by Atty. Gloria Paculdo, the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n.
June 28, 1989, pp. 63-68). The total sum of P227,114.89 was paid to Holiday Inn for the
use of the rooms.
(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON
The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were billeted at the Philippine Plaza Hotel
where her campaign manager, Atty. Renato Callanta, booked 40 rooms, 5 of which were
suites. According to Ms. Villanueva, Philippine Plaza banquet and conventions
manager, the contract that Atty. Callanta signed with the Philippine Plaza was made in
the name of the "IBP c/o Atty. Callanta."
Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine Plaza, recalled that it was Mr.
Mariano Benedicto who first came to book rooms for the IBP delegates. She suggested
that he obtain a group (or discounted) rate. He gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who
would make the arrangements with her. Mr. Benedicto turned out to be the Assistant
Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Callanta for the rooms, food, and
beverages consumed by the Drilon group, with an unpaid balance of P302,197.30. Per
Attorney Daniel Martinez's last telephone conversation with Ms. Villanueva, Atty.
Callanta still has an outstanding account of P232,782.65 at Philippine Plaza.
Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for 40 rooms at the Philippine Plaza.
He made a downpayment of P123,000. His "working sheet' showed that the following
persons contributed for that down payment:

(a) Nilo Pena (Quasha Law Office)

P 25,000

(b) Antonio Carpio

20,000

(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office)

10,000

(d) Jay Castro

10,000

(e) Danny Deen

20,000

(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office)

10,000

(g) Alfonso Reyno

20,000

(h) Cosme Rossel

15,300

(t.s.n. July 4, 1 989, pp. 3-4)


Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons have been contributing money
every time the IBP embarks on a project. This time, they contributed so that their
partners or associates could attend the legal aid seminar and the IBP convention too.
Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty. Callanta had billeted her delegates at
the Philippine Plaza. She allegedly did not also know in whose name the room she
occupied was registered. But she did ask for a room where she could rest during the
convention. She admitted, however, that she paid for her hotel room and meals to Atty.
Callanta, through Atty. Loanzon (t.s.n. July 3,1989).
The following were listed as having occupied the rooms reserved by Atty. Callanta at the
Philippine Plaza: Violeta Drilon, Victoria A. Verciles, Victoria C. Loanzon, Leopoldo A.
Consulto Ador Lao, Victoria Borra, Aimee Wong, Callanta, Pena, Tiu, Gallardo, Acong
Atienza, D. Bernardo, Amores, Silao Caingat, Manuel Yuson, Simeon Datumanong,
Manuel Pecson, Sixto Marella, Joselito Barrera, Radon Macalalag, Oscar Badelles,
Antonio Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto, Nestor Atienza, Gil Batula Array Corot, Dimakuta
Corot Romeo Fortes Irving Petilla, Teodoro Palma, Gil Palma, Danilo Deen, Delsanto,
Resuello, Araneta, Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad Espina, Guerrero, Julius Neri, Linda
Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis Formilleza, Felix Macalag Mariano Benedicto, Atilano,
Araneta, Renato Callanta.
Atty. Nilo Pena admitted that the Quasha Law Office of which he is a senior partner,
gave P25,000 to Callanta for rooms at the Philippine Plaza so that some members of
his law firm could campaign for the Drilon group (t.s.n. July 5,1989, pp. 7678) during the
legal aid seminar and the IBP convention. Most of the members of his law firm are
fraternity brothers of Secretary Drilon (meaning, members of the Sigma Rho Fraternity).
He admitted being sympathetic to the candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her
slate, two of whom Jose Grapilon and Simeon Datumanong are Sigma Rhoans. They
consider Atty. Drilon as a "sigma rho sister," her husband being a sigma rhoan.

Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a room for the members of his own
firm who attended the legal aid seminar and the convention. He made the reservation
through Atty. Callanta to whom he paid P20,000 (t.s.n. July 6,1989, pp. 30-34).
Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign during the convention, by soliciting the
votes of delegates he knew, like Atty. Albacite his former teacher (but the latter was
already committed to Nisce), and Atty. Romy Fortes, a classmate of his in the U.P.
College of Law (t. t.s.n. July 6, 1989, pp. 22, 29, 39).
(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE.
Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, entered into a contract with the
Hyatt Hotel for a total of 29 rooms plus one (1) seventh-floor room. He made a
downpayment of P20,000 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 58) on April 20, 1989, and
P37,632.45 on May 10, or a total of P57,632.45.
Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. Ramon Jacinto, the sales department
manager, credit manager, and reservation manager, respectively of the Hyatt, testified
that Atty. Nisce's bill amounted to P216,127.74 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits
E-Flores, F-Jacinto G-Ocampo).
As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms for those who
committed themselves to his candidacy.
The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos Dennis Habanel B. Batula, John E.
Asuncion, Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer Datuin, Romualdo Din, Antonio
Nalapo, Israel Damasco, Candido Balbin, Serrano Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, Eltanal,
Ruperto, Asuncion, Q. Pilotin Reymundo P. Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R.
Ronquillo, Dominador Carillo, Filomeno Balinas, Ernesto Sabulan, Yusop Pangadapun,
A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio Pamintuan, Daniel Macaraeg,
Onofre Tejada.
(6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta Drilon
In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for or against a candidate while
holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Government'
(Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP By-Laws), Mariano E. Benedicto II, Assistant Secretary,
Department of Labor and Employment, testified that he took a leave of absence from his
office to attend the IBP convention. He stayed at the Philippine Plaza with the Drilon
group admittedly to give "some moral assistance" to Atty. Violeta Drilon. He did so
because he is a member of the Sigma Rho Fraternity. When asked about the
significance of Sigma Rho, Secretary Benedicto explained: "More than the husband of
Mrs. Drilon being my boss, the significance there is that the husband is my brother in
the Sigma Rho."

He cheered up Mrs., Drilon when her spirits were low. He talked to her immediate circle
which included Art Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pena, Amy Wong, Atty. Grapilon, Victor
Lazatin, and Boy Reyno. They assessed the progress of the campaign, and measured
the strengths and weaknesses of the other groups The group had sessions as early as
the later part of May.
Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant Secretary Benedicto toted up a bill
of P23,110 during the 2-day IBP convention/election. A total of 113 phone calls
(amounting to Pl,356) were recorded as emanating from his room.
Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite, listed in the names of Mrs. Drilon,
Gladys Tiongco (candidate for Governor, Eastern Mindanao) and Amy Wong (candidate
for Governor, Metro Manila). These two rooms served as the "action center' or "war
room" where campaign strategies were discussed before and during the convention. It
was in these rooms where the supporters of the Drilon group, like Attys. Carpio,
Callanta, Benedicto, the Quasha and the ACCRA lawyers met to plot their moves.
(7) Paying the dues or other indebtedness of any number (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).
Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she has heard of candidates paying
the IBP dues of lawyers who promised to vote for or support them, but she has no way
of ascertaining whether it was a candidate who paid the delinquent dues of another,
because the receipts are issued in the name of the member for whom payment is made
(t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 24-28).
She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of payments in March, April, May
during any election year. This year, the collections increased by P100,000 over that of
last year (a non-election year from Pl,413,425 to Pl,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p.
25).
(8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not more than one page of legal size
sheet of paper (Sec. 14[a], IBP By-Laws).
On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. Paculdo caused to be
distributed his bio-data and copies of a leaflet entitled "My Quest," as wen as, the lists of
his slate. Attys. Drilon and Nisce similarly distributed their tickets and bio-data.
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from P15,000 to P20,000. They were
printed by his own printing shop.
(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done by persons other than those
authorized by the officer presiding at the election (Sec. 14[b], IBP By-Laws).
Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his campaign materials on the
convention floor. Atty. Carpio noted that there were more campaign materials distributed

at the convention site this year than in previous years. The election was more heated
and expensive (t.s.n. July 6,1989, p. 39).
Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of the IBP Rizal Chapter, and a
candidate for chairman of the House of Delegates on Nisce's ticket, testified that
campaign materials were distributed during the convention by girls and by lawyers. He
saw members of the ACCRA law firm campaigning for Atty. Drilon (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp.
142-145).
(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a
candidate (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).
Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo Capulong, urged him to
withdraw his candidacy for chairman of the House of Delegates and to run as vicechairman in Violy Drilon's slate, but he declined (t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 137, 149).
Atty. Gloria Agunos personnel director of the Hyatt Terraces Hotel in Baguio and
president of the Baguio-Benguet IBP Chapter, recalled that in the third week of May
1989, after the Tripartite meet of the Department of Labor & Employment at the Green
Valley Country Club in Baguio City, she met Atty. Drilon, together with two labor officers
of Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin and Atty. Mansala Atty. Drilon solicited her (Atty.
Agunos') vote and invited her to stay at the Philippine Plaza where a room would be
available for her. Atty. Paculdo also tried to enlist her support during the chapter
presidents' meeting to choose their nominee for governor for the Northern Luzon region
(t.s.n. July 13,1989, pp. 43-54).
Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate, Marcial Magsino, who had earlier
committed his vote to Nisce changed his mind when he was offered a judgeship (This
statement, however, is admittedly hearsay). When Nisce confronted Magsino about the
alleged offer, the latter denied that there was such an offer. Nisce's informant was
Antonio G. Nalapo an IBP candidate who also withdrew.
Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from the race and refused to be
nominated (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104). Vicente P. Tordilla who was Nisce's candidate
for Governor became Paculdo's candidate instead (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104).
Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue in Cotabato City, Court
Administrator Tiro went around saying, "I am not campaigning, but my wife is a
candidate." Nisce said that the presidents of several IBP chapters informed him that
labor officials were campaigning for Mrs. Drilon (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp. 109-110). He
mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who allegedly campaigned in La Union (t.s.n. June
29,1989,p.111)
Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for governor of the Western
Visayas, expressed his disappointment over the IBP elections because some delegates
flip-flopped from one camp to another. He testified that when he arrived at the Manila

Domestic Airport he was met by an assistant regional director of the DOLE who offered
to bring him to the Philippine Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the legal aid
seminar, Atty. Drilon invited him to transfer to the Philippine Plaza where a room had
been reserved for him. He declined the invitation (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 102-106).
Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete City, he already knew that the three
candidates had their headquarters in separate hotels: Paculdo, at the Holiday Inn;
Drilon, at the Philippine Plaza; and Nisce, at the Hyatt. He knew about this because a
week before the elections, representatives of Atty. Drilon went to Dumaguete City to
campaign. He mentioned Atty. Rodil Montebon of the ACCRA Law Office, accompanied
by Atty. Julve the Assistant Regional Director of the Department of Labor in Dumaguete
City. These two, he said, offered to give him two PAL tickets and accommodations at the
Philippine Plaza (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp. 101-104). But he declined the offer because he
was already committed to Atty. Nisce.
Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila on May 31, 1989, a businessman,
Henry Dy, approached him to convince him to vote for Atty. Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy
that he was already committed to Nisce.
He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce because he and his two
companions (Atty. Eltanal and Atty. Ruperto) had earlier bought their own tickets for
Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p. 101).
SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED
BY THE CANDIDATES
Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 during his three weeks of
campaigning. Of this amount, the Capitol Bar Association (of which he was the chapter
president) contributed about P150,000. The Capitol Bar Association is a voluntary bar
association composed of Quezon City lawyers.
He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his trips to the provinces (Bicol
provinces, Pampanga, Abra, Mountain Province and Bulacan) (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp.
9-14).
Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to P216,127.74. This does not include the
expenses for his campaign which began several months before the June 3rd election,
and his purchases of airplane tickets for some delegates.
The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, headquarters of Atty. Drilon's camp, showed
that her campaign rang up over P600,000 in hotel bills. Atty. Callanta paid P316,411.53
for the rooms, food, and beverage consumed by Atty. Drilon's supporters, but still left an
unpaid bill of P302,197.30 at convention's end.
FINDINGS.

From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in which the principal candidates for
the national positions in the Integrated Bar conducted their campaign preparatory to the
elections on June 3, 1989, violated Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty
of the idea of a "strictly non-political" Integrated Bar enshrined in Section 4 of the ByLaws.
The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three principal candidates (Drilon,
Nisce and Paculdo) in five-star hotels: The Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn and The
Hyatt the better for them to corral and entertain the delegates billeted therein; the island
hopping to solicit the votes of the chapter presidents who comprise the 120-member
House of Delegates that elects the national officers and regional governors; the
formation of tickets, slates, or line-ups of candidates for the other elective positions
aligned with, or supporting, either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the procurement of written
commitments and the distribution of nomination forms to be filled up by the delegates;
the reservation of rooms for delegates in three big hotels, at the expense of the
presidential candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and some members of her
ticket to enable them to "assess their chances" among the chapter presidents in the
Bicol provinces; the printing and distribution of tickets and bio-data of the candidates
which in the case of Paculdo admittedly cost him some P15,000 to P20,000; the
employment of uniformed girls (by Paculdo) and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their
campaign materials on the convention floor on the day of the election; the giving of
assistance by the Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her group; the use of labor
arbiters to meet delegates at the airport and escort them to the Philippine Plaza Hotel;
the giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel accommodations to delegates (and some
families who accompanied them) in exchange for their support; the pirating of some
candidates by inducing them to "hop" or "flipflop" from one ticket to another for some
rumored consideration; all these practices made a political circus of the proceedings
and tainted the whole election process.
The candidates and many of the participants in that election not only violated the ByLaws of the IBP but also the ethics of the legal profession which imposes on all lawyers,
as a corollary of their obligation to obey and uphold the constitution and the laws, the
duty to "promote respect for law and legal processes" and to abstain from 'activities
aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system" (Rule 1.02,
Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility). Respect for law is gravely eroded when
lawyers themselves, who are supposed to be millions of the law, engage in unlawful
practices and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for their
observance.
The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued the presidency of the
association detracted from the dignity of the legal profession. The spectacle of lawyers
bribing or being bribed to vote one way or another, certainly did not uphold the honor of
the profession nor elevate it in the public's esteem.
The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be the evasions, denials and
outright prevarications that tainted the statements of the witnesses, including tome of

the candidates, during the initial hearing conducted by it before its fact-finding
committee was created. The subsequent investigation conducted by this Committee has
revealed that those parties had been less than candid with the Court and seem to have
conspired among themselves to deceive it or at least withhold vital information from it to
conceal the irregularities committed during the campaign. Disdain
CONCLUSIONS.
It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the provision in the 1987 Constitution
(See. 8, Art. VIII) providing for a Judicial and Bar Council composed of seven (7)
members among whom is "a representative of the Integrated Bar," tasked to participate
in the selection of nominees for appointment to vacant positions in the judiciary, may be
the reason why the position of IBP president has attracted so much interest among the
lawyers. The much coveted "power" erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office
might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. To impress upon the participants
in that electoral exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which attended it and the
stern disapproval with which it is viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political
character of the IBP and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, expensive electioneering for
the top positions in the organization which, as the recently concluded elections
revealed, spawned unethical practices which seriously diminished the stature of the IBP
as an association of the practitioners of a noble and honored profession, the Court
hereby ORDERS:
1. The IBP elections held on June3,1989 should be as they are hereby annulled.
2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct election by the House of Delegates
(approved by this Court in its resolution of July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) of the
following national officers:
(a) the officers of the House of Delegates;
(b) the IBP president; and
(c) the executive vice-president,
be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, modify or repeal the By-Laws of
the IBP under Section 77, Art. XI of said By-Laws.
3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-President elected
by the Board of Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [91 IBP regions)
from among themselves (as provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should
be restored. The right of automatic succession by the Executive Vice-President to the
presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished by this
Court's resolution dated July 9,1985 in Bar Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby
restored.

4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-President shall
automatically succeed to the office of president. The incoming board of governors shall
then elect an Executive Vice-President from among themselves. The position of
Executive Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has
served as president may not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a
succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among the nine (9) regions
shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines
shall have a President and Executive Vice-President to be chosen by the
Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much as
practicable, on a rotation basis. The governors shall be ex oficio VicePresident for their respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and
Treasurer of the Board of Governors to be appointed by the President with
the consent of the Board.
6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby amended as follows:
(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the IBP shall be the
Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the House of Delegates.
The Secretary, Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by the
President with the consent of the House of Delegates.'
7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions of Chairman, Vice-Chairman,
Secretary-Treasurer and Sergeant-at- Arms of the House of Delegates is hereby
repealed
8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 37. Composition of the Board. The Integrated Bar of the
Philippines shall be governed by a Board of Governors consisting of nine
(9) Governors from the nine (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of the
Integration Rule, on the representation basis of one (1) Governor for each
region to be elected by the members of the House of Delegates from that
region only. The position of Governor should be rotated among the
different Chapters in the region.
9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:
Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors at least one (1)
month before the national convention the delegates from each region shall
elect the governor for their region, the choice of which shall as much as
possible be rotated among the chapters in the region.

10. Section33(a), Article V hereby is amended by addingthe following provision as part


of the first paragraph:
No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the general membership
shall be held prior to any election in an election year.
11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7) of Article VI should be as they
are hereby deleted.
All other provisions of the By-Laws including its amendment by the Resolution en
banc of this Court of July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are inconsistent herewith
are hereby repealed or modified.
12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall be held in the nine (9) IBP
regions within three (3) months, after the promulgation of the Court's resolution in this
case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP
Central Office in Manila to elect from among themselves the IBP national president and
executive vice-president. In these special elections, the candidates in the election of the
national officers held on June 3,1989, particularly identified in Sub-Head 3 of this
Resolution entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as well as those identified
in this Resolution as connected with any of the irregularities attendant upon that
election, are ineligible and may not present themselves as candidate for any position.
13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board shall be appointed by the Court to
administer the affairs of the IBP. The Court makes clear that the dispositions here made
are without prejudice to its adoption in due time of such further and other measures as
are warranted in the premises.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION
RE: REPORT ON THE
FINANCIAL AUDIT CONDUCTED
ON THE BOOKS OF ACCOUNTS
OF ATTY. RAQUEL G. KHO,
CLERK OF COURT IV,
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
ORAS, EASTERN SAMAR

A.M. No. P-06-2177


(Formerly A.M. No. 06-4-268-RTC)

Present:
PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ,

CORONA,
AZCUNA and
GARCIA, JJ.
Promulgated:
April 19, 2007
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

RESOLUTION
CORONA, J.:

In our resolution dated June 27, 2006, we found Atty. Raquel G. Kho,
former clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Oras, Eastern
Samar, guilty of gross misconduct for his failure to make a timely remittance of
judiciary funds in his custody as required by OCA Circular No. 8A-93. [1] We
ordered him to pay a fine of P10,000 for his transgression. The matter did not
end there, however. Because his malfeasance prima facie contravened Canon 1,
Rule 1.01[2] of the Code of Professional Responsibility, we ordered him to show
cause why he should not be disciplined as a lawyer and as an officer of the
court.

Atty.

Kho

submitted

his

explanation

in

compliance

with

our

directive. We shall now resolve this pending matter and bring to a close this
regrettable chapter in his career as a government lawyer.
In his explanation, Atty. Kho admitted that his failure to make a timely
remittance of the cash deposited with him was inexcusable. He maintained,
however, that he kept the money in the courts safety vault and never once used
it for his own benefit.

Atty. Khos apparent good faith and his ready admission of the infraction,
although certainly mitigating, cannot negate the fact that his failure to
remit P65,000 in judiciary funds for over a year was contrary to the mandatory
provisions of OCA Circular 8A-93. That omission was a breach of his oath to
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
authorities[3] and of his duties under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility:
CANON 1 A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY
THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND
FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.
RULE 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
deceitful conduct.

It is no accident that these are the first edicts laid down in the Code of
Professional Responsibility for these are a lawyers foremost duties. Lawyers
should always keep in mind that, although upholding the Constitution and
obeying the law is an obligation imposed on every citizen, a lawyers
responsibilities under Canon 1 mean more than just staying out of trouble with
the law. As servants of the law and officers of the court, lawyers are required to
be at the forefront of observing and maintaining the rule of law. They are
expected to make themselves exemplars worthy of emulation. [4] This, in fact, is
what a lawyers obligation to promote respect for law and legal processes
entails.
The least a lawyer can do in compliance with Canon 1 is to refrain from
engaging in unlawful conduct.[5] By definition, any act or omission contrary to
law is unlawful.[6] It does not necessarily imply the element of criminality

although it is broad enough to include it.[7] Thus, the presence of evil intent on
the part of the lawyer is not essential in order to bring his act or omission
within the terms of Rule 1.01 which specifically prohibits lawyers from
engaging in unlawful conduct.
Atty. Khos conduct was not only far from exemplary, it was unlawful as
well. For this, he must be called to account. However, his candid and repentant
admission of his error, his lack of intent to gain and the fact that this is his
first

offense

should

temper

his

culpability

considerably.

Under

the

circumstances, a fine of P5,000 should suffice.


WHEREFORE, Atty. Raquel G. Kho is hereby found GUILTY of unlawful
conduct in violation of the Attorneys Oath, Section 20(a), Rule 138 of the Rules
of Court, and Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He
is ordered to pay a FINE of P5,000 within ten days from receipt of this
resolution.
The Financial Management Office, Office of the Court Administrator, is
hereby DIRECTED to deduct from Atty. Khos accrued leave credits as a former
clerk of court of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 5, Oras, Eastern Samar the
fines imposed in this resolution and in the resolution dated June 27, 2006.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
A.C. No, 6854
April 25, 2007
[Formerly CBD Case No. 04-1380]

JUAN DULALIA, JR., Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. PABLO C. CRUZ, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Atty. Pablo C. Cruz, Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, Bulacan (respondent), is
charged by Juan Dulalia, Jr. (complainant) of violation Rules 1.01, 1 6.02,2 and 7.033 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The facts which gave rise to the filing of the present complaint are as follows:
Complainants wife Susan Soriano Dulalia filed an application for building permit for the
construction of a warehouse. Despite compliance with all the requirements for the
purpose, she failed to secure a permit, she attributing the same to the opposition of
respondents who wrote a September 13, 2004 letter to Carlos J. Abacan, Municipal
Engineer and concurrent Building Official of Meycauayan, reading as follows, quoted
verbatim:
xxxx
This is in behalf of the undersigned himself and his family, Gregoria F. Soriano, Spouses
David Perez and Minerva Soriano-Perez and Family and Mr. and Mrs. Jessie de Leon
and family, his relatives and neighbors.
It has been more than a month ago already that the construction of the building of the
abovenamed person has started and that the undersigned and his family, and those
other families mentioned above are respective owners of the residential houses
adjoining that of the high-rise building under construction of the said Mrs. SorianoDulalia. There is no need to mention the unbearable nuisances that it creates and its
adverse effects to the undersigned and his above referred to clients particularly the
imminent danger and damage to their properties, health and safety.
It was represented that the intended construction of the building would only be a regular
and with standard height building and not a high rise one but an inspection of the same
would show otherwise. Note that its accessory foundation already occupies portion of
the vacant airspace of the undersigneds residential house in particular, which readily
poses danger to their residential house and life.

To avert the occurrence of the above danger and damage to property, loss of life and for
the protection of the safety of all the people concerned, they are immediately requesting
for your appropriate action on the matter please at your earliest opportune time.
Being your co-municipal official in the Municipal Government of Meycauayan who is the
Chief Legal Counsel of its Legal Department, and by virtue of Sub par. (4), Paragraph
(b), Section 481 of the Local Government Code of 1991, he is inquiring if there was
already full compliance on the part of the owner of the Building under construction with
the requirements provided for in Sections 301, 302 and 308 of the National Building
Code and on the part of your good office, your compliance with the provisions of
Sections 303 and 304 of the same foregoing cited Building Code.
Please be reminded of the adverse and unfavorable legal effect of the non-compliance
with said Sections 301, 302, 303 and 304 of the National Building Code by all the
parties concerned. (Which are not confined only to penalties provided in Sections 211
and 212 thereof.)
x x x x4 (Emphasis and underscoring partly in the original, partly supplied)
By complainants claim, respondent opposed the application for building permit because
of a personal grudge against his wife Susan who objected to respondents marrying her
first cousin Imelda Soriano, respondents marriage with Carolina Agaton being still
subsisting.5
To the complaint, complainant attached a copy of his Complaint Affidavit 6 he filed
against respondent before the Office of the Ombudsman for violation of Section 3 (e) 7 of
Republic Act No. 3019, as amended (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act) and
Section 4 (a) and (c)8 of Republic Act No. 6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards
for Public Officials and Employees).9
By Report and Recommendation dated May 6, 2005, 10 the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline, through Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala, recommended the
dismissal of the complaint in light of the following findings:
The complaint dealt with mainly on the issue that respondent allegedly opposes the
application of his wife for a building permit for the construction of their commercial
building. One of the reason[s] stated by the complainant was that his wife was not in
favor of Imeldas relationship with respondent who is a married man. And the other
reason is that respondent was not authorized to represent his neighbors in opposing the
construction of his building.

From the facts and evidence presented, we find respondent to have satisfactorily
answered all the charges and accusations of complainant. We find no clear, convincing
and strong evidence to warrant the disbarment or suspension of respondent. An
attorney enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges preferred
against him until the contrary is proved. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant
to overcome the presumption and establish his charges by a clear preponderance of
evidence. In the absence of the required evidence, the presumption of innocence on the
part of the lawyer continues and the complaint against him should be dismissed (In re
De Guzman, 55 SCRA 1239; Balduman vs. Luspo, 64 SCRA 74; Agbayani vs. Agtang,
73 SCRA 283).
x x x x.11 (Underscoring supplied)
By Resolution of June 25, 2005,12 the Board of Governors of the IBP adopted and
approved the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Villanueva-Maala.
Hence, the present Petition for Review13 filed by complainant.
Complainant maintains that respondent violated Rule 1.01 when he contracted a
second marriage with Imelda Soriano on September 17, 1989 while his marriage with
Carolina Agaton, which was solemnized on December 17, 1967, is still subsisting.
Complainant further maintains that respondent used his influence as the Municipal
Legal Officer of Meycauayan to oppose his wifes application for building permit, in
violation of Rule 6.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
And for engaging in the practice of law while serving as the Municipal Legal Officer of
Meycauayan, complainant maintains that respondent violated Rule 7.03.
To his Comment,14 respondent attached the July 29, 200515 Joint Resolution of the
Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon dismissing complainants complaint for
violation of Sec. 3 (e) of RA 3019 and Section 4 (a) and (c) of RA 6713, the pertinent
portion of which joint resolution reads:
x x x A perusal of the questioned letter dated September 13, 2004 of herein respondent
Atty. Pablo Cruz addressed to the Building official appears to be not an opposition for
the issuance of complainants building permit, but rather to redress a wrong and an
inquiry as to whether compliance with the requirements for the construction of an edifice
has been met. In fact, the Office of the Building Official after conducting an investigation
found out that there was [a] violation of the Building Code for constructing without a
building permit committed by herein complainants wife Susan Dulalia. Hence, a Work

Stoppage Order was issued. Records disclose fu[r]ther [that] it was only after the said
violation had been committed that Susan Dulalia applied for a building permit. As
correctly pointed out by respondent, the same is being processed pending approval by
the Building Official and not of the Municipal Zoning Administrator as alleged by
complainant. Anent the allegation that respondent was engaged in the private practice
of his law profession despite being employed in the government as Municipal Legal
Officer of Meycauayan, Bulacan, the undersigned has taken into consideration the
explanation and clarification made by the respondent to be justifiable and
meritorious. Aside from the bare allegations of herein complainant, there is no sufficient
evidence to substantiate the complaints against the respondent. 16(Underscoring
supplied)
After a review of the record of the case, this Court finds the dismissal of the charges of
violating Rules 6.02 and 7.03 in order.
Indeed, complaint failed to prove that respondent used his position as Municipal Legal
Officer to advance his own personal interest against complainant and his wife.
As for respondents September 13, 2004 letter, there is nothing to show that he opposed
the application for building permit. He just inquired whether complainants wife fully
complied with the requirements provided for by the National Building Code, on top of
expressing his concerns about "the danger and damages to their properties, health and
safety" occasioned by the construction of the building.
Besides, as reflected above, the application for building permit was filed on September
28, 2004,17 whereas the questioned letter of respondent was priorly written and received
on September 13, 2004 by the Municipal Engineer/ Building Official, who on the same
day, ordered an inspection and issued a Cease and Desist Order/Notice stating that
"[f]ailure to comply with th[e] notice shall cause this office to instate proper legal action
against you."18
Furthermore, as the Certification dated April 4, 2005 19 from the Office of the Municipal
Engineer showed, complainants wife eventually withdrew the application as she had
not yet secured clearances from the Municipal Zoning Administrator and from the
barangay where the building was to be constructed.
Respecting complainants charge that respondent engaged in an unauthorized private
practice of law while he was the Municipal Legal Officer of Meycauayan, a position
coterminous to that of the appointing authority, suffice it to state that respondent
proffered proof that his private practice is not prohibited. 20

It is, however, with respect to respondents admitted contracting of a second marriage


while his first marriage is still subsisting that this Court finds respondent liable, for
violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Respondent married Imelda Soriano on September 17, 1989 at the Clark County,
Nevada, USA,21 when the Family Code of the Philippines had already taken effect. 22 He
invokes good faith, however, he claiming to have had the impression that the applicable
provision at the time was Article 83 of the Civil Code. 23 For while Article 256 of the
Family Code provides that the Code shall have retroactive application, there is a
qualification thereunder that it should not prejudice or impair vested or acquired rights in
accordance with the Civil Code or other laws.
Immoral conduct which is proscribed under Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, as opposed to grossly immoral conduct, connotes "conduct that shows
indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable
members of the community."24 Gross immoral conduct on the other hand must be so
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible
to a high degree.25
In St. Louis University Laboratory High School v. De la Cruz, 26 this Court declared that
the therein respondents act of contracting a second marriage while the first marriage
was still subsisting constituted immoral conduct, for which he was suspended for two
years after the mitigating following circumstances were considered:
a. After his first failed marriage and prior to his second marriage or for a period of
almost seven (7) years, he has not been romantically involved with any woman;
b. His second marriage was a show of his noble intentions and total love for his
wife, whom he described to be very intelligent person;
c. He never absconded from his obligations to support his wife and child;
d. He never disclaimed paternity over the child and husbandry (sic) with relation
to his wife;
e. After the annulment of his second marriage, they have parted ways when the
mother and child went to Australia;
f. Since then up to now, respondent remained celibate. 27
In respondents case, he being out of the country since 1986, he can be given the
benefit of the doubt on his claim that Article 83 of the Civil Code was the applicable

provision when he contracted the second marriage abroad. From 1985 when allegedly
his first wife abandoned him, an allegation which was not refuted, until his marriage in
1989 with Imelda Soriano, there is no showing that he was romantically involved with
any woman. And, it is undisputed that his first wife has remained an absentee even
during the pendency of this case.
As noted above, respondent did not deny he contracted marriage with Imelda Soriano.
The community in which they have been living in fact elected him and served as
President of the IBP-Bulacan Chapter from 1997-1999 and has been handling free legal
aid cases.
Respondents misimpression that it was the Civil Code provisions which applied at the
time he contracted his second marriage and the seemingly unmindful attitude of his
residential community towards his second marriage notwithstanding, respondent may
not go scotfree.
As early as 1957, this Court has frowned on the act of contracting a second marriage
while the first marriage was still in place as being contrary to honesty, justice, decency
and morality.28
In another vein, respondent violated Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
which provides:
CANON 5 A lawyer shall keep abreast of legal developments, participate in continuing
legal education programs, support efforts to achieve high standards in law schools as
well as in the practical training of law students and assist in disseminating information
regarding the law and jurisprudence.
Respondents claim that he was not aware that the Family Code already took effect on
August 3, 1988 as he was in the United States from 1986 and stayed there until he
came back to the Philippines together with his second wife on October 9, 1990 does not
lie, as "ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith."
Apropos is this Courts pronouncement in Santiago v. Rafanan:29
It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the laws of the land
and promote respect for the law and legal processes. They are expected to be in the
forefront in the observance and maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with
it the obligation to be well-informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with
legal developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence. It is imperative that they
be conversant with basic legal principles. Unless they faithfully comply with such

duty, they may not be able to discharge competently and diligently their
obligations as members of the bar. Worse, they may become susceptible to
committing mistakes.30 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Pablo C. Cruz is guilty of violating Rule 1.01 and
Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for one year. He is WARNED that a similar infraction will be dealt with
more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, and all courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.

FIRST DIVISION

PEDRO L. LINSANGAN,

A.C. No. 6672

Complainant,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,


CARPIO,
- versus -

CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO and
BERSAMIN, JJ.

ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO,

Respondent.

Promulgated:

September 4, 2009

x-----------------------------------------x

RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the


Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes
Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.

Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie


Labiano, convinced his clients[2] to transfer legal representation. Respondent
promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious collection on their
claims.[4] To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and
sent them text messages.

To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit [5] of


James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his
lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondents services
instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached
respondents calling card:[6]

Front

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
LAW OFFFICE
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Fe Marie L. Labiano
Paralegal

1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01

Tel: 362-7820

6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar

Fax: (632) 362-7821

Grace Park, Caloocan City

Cel.: (0926) 2701719

Back
SERVICES OFFERED:
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE

TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
ABROAD.
(emphasis supplied)

Hence, this complaint.

Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the


printing and circulation of the said calling card.[7]

The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of


the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.[8]

Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report


and

recommendation,[9] found that

professional

practice

of

respondent

complainant,

violating

had encroached
Rule

on

8.02 [10] and

the
other

canons[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he


contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or through
paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138[12] of the Rules of

Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a


stern warning that any repetition would merit a heavier penalty.

We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent


but we modify the recommended penalty.

The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent


into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the
CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said
misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.

Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to,
including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known.
Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:

CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES


SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE
INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a
profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as
merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or
skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the
publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently render that high
character of service to which every member of the bar is called.[14]

Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:

RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE ANY


ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.

Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers. [15] Such actuation
constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.[16]

Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which
provides:

RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE OR


INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR DELAY ANY
MANS CAUSE.

This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any kind of
legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain
employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community from barratry and
champerty.[18]

Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn


statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to

respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as


well as profited from referrals suits.

Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he


later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.

Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited.


Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of
Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.

Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating


Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of
the Rules of Court.

With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is


the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce the
latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced fees
for his services.[20] Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having
these seafarers in his client list nor receiving benefits from Labianos referrals.
Furthermore, he never denied Labianos connection to his office. [21] Respondent
committed an unethical, predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He
cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.

Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as


borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless
the clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by
independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except,
when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a
legal matter he is handling for the client.

The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only
exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary
expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of stenographic
notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is
handling for the client.

The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so


that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected. [22] It seeks
to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his
entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends money to
the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in effect acquires an
interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its outcome.
[23]

Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own

recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a settlement which may
take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in violation
of his duty of undivided fidelity to the clients cause.[24]

As

previously

mentioned,

any

act

of

solicitation

constitutes

malpractice[25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary powers.
Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating
contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment.
[26]

Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect the public from

the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the


nobility of the legal profession.

Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of


the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended by the
IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is
grossly incommensurate to its findings.

A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner.


A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional
capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.[27] For this
reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by publication in
reputable law lists or use of simple professional cards.

Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:

(a)

lawyers name;

(b)

name of the law firm with which he is connected;

(c)

address;

(d)

telephone number and

(e)

special branch of law practiced.[28]

Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance.


The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had representation)
to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance their legal actions. Money
was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking
advantage of their financial distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass
commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no place in the
legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his
culpability, the Court is not prepared to rule that respondent was personally
and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling
cards.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules


1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility

and

Section

hereby SUSPENDED from

27,

the

Rule

practice

138

of

of

law

the
for

Rules
a

of

period

Court
of

is

one

year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He is STERNLY


WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be
dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of
the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the

Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to
be circulated to all courts.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
ROLANDO B. PACANA, JR.,
Complainant,

A.C. No. 8243


Present:

- versus -

ATTY. MARICEL PASCUAL-LOPEZ,


Respondent.

PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
BRION,*
PERALTA, and
BERSAMIN, JJ.
Promulgated:
July 24, 2009

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This case stems from an administrative complaint [1] filed by Rolando Pacana, Jr. against
Atty. Maricel Pascual-Lopez charging the latter with flagrant violation of the provisions of the
Code of Professional Responsibility.[2] Complainant alleges that respondent committed acts
constituting conflict of interest, dishonesty, influence peddling, and failure to render an
accounting of all the money and properties received by her from complainant.
On January 2, 2002, complainant was the Operations Director for Multitel
Communications Corporation (MCC). MCC is an affiliate company of Multitel International
Holdings Corporation (Multitel). Sometime in July 2002, MCC changed its name to Precedent
Communications Corporation (Precedent).[3]
According to complainant, in mid-2002, Multitel was besieged by demand letters from its
members and investors because of the failure of its investment schemes. He alleges that he
earned the ire of Multitel investors after becoming the assignee of majority of the shares of stock
of Precedent and after being appointed as trustee of a fund amounting to Thirty Million Pesos
(P30,000,000.00) deposited at Real Bank.
Distraught, complainant sought the advice of respondent who also happened to be a
member of the Couples for Christ, a religious organization where complainant and his wife were
also active members. From then on, complainant and respondent constantly communicated, with
the former disclosing all his involvement and interests in Precedent and Precedents relation with
Multitel. Respondent gave legal advice to complainant and even helped him prepare standard
quitclaims for creditors. In sum, complainant avers that a lawyer-client relationship was
established between him and respondent although no formal document was executed by them at
that time. A Retainer Agreement[4] dated January 15, 2003 was proposed by respondent.
Complainant, however, did not sign the said agreement because respondent verbally asked for
One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00) as acceptance fee and a 15% contingency fee upon
collection of the overpayment made by Multitel to Benefon, [5] a telecommunications company
based in Finland. Complainant found the proposed fees to be prohibitive and not within his
means.[6] Hence, the retainer agreement remained unsigned.[7]

After a few weeks, complainant was surprised to receive a demand letter from
respondent[8] asking for the return and immediate settlement of the funds invested by
respondents clients in Multitel. When complainant confronted respondent about the demand
letter, the latter explained that she had to send it so that her clients defrauded investors of
Multitel would know that she was doing something for them and assured complainant that
there was nothing to worry about.[9]
Both parties continued to communicate and exchange information regarding the
persistent demands made by Multitel investors against complainant. On these occasions,
respondent impressed upon complainant that she can closely work with officials of the AntiMoney Laundering Council (AMLC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), the National Bureau of
Investigation (NBI), the Bureau of Immigration and Deportations (BID), [10] and the Securities
and Exchange Commission (SEC)[11]to resolve complainants problems. Respondent also
convinced complainant that in order to be absolved from any liability with respect to the
investment scam, he must be able to show to the DOJ that he was willing to divest any and all of
his interests in Precedent including the funds assigned to him by Multitel.[12]
Respondent also asked money from complainant allegedly for safekeeping to be used
only for his case whenever necessary. Complainant agreed and gave her an initial amount
of P900,000.00 which was received by respondent herself.[13]Sometime thereafter, complainant
again gave respondent P1,000,000.00.[14] Said amounts were all part of Precedents collections
and sales proceeds which complainant held as assignee of the companys properties.[15]
When complainant went to the United States (US), he received several messages from
respondent sent through electronic mail (e-mail) and short messaging system (SMS, or text
messages) warning him not to return to the Philippines because Rosario Baladjay, president of
Multitel, was arrested and that complainant may later on be implicated in Multitels failed
investment system. Respondent even said that ten (10) arrest warrants and a hold departure order
had been issued against him. Complainant, thereafter, received several e-mail messages from
respondent updating him of the status of the case against Multitel and promised that she will
settle the matter discreetly with government officials she can closely work with in order to clear
complainants name.[16] In two separate e-mail messages,[17] respondent again asked money from
complainant, P200,000 of which was handed by complainants wife while respondent was
confined in Saint Lukes Hospital after giving birth,[18]and another P700,000 allegedly to be
given to the NBI.[19]

Through respondents persistent promises to settle all complainants legal problems,


respondent was able to convince complainant who was still in the US to execute a deed of
assignment in favor of respondent allowing the latter to retrieve 178 boxes containing cellular
phones and accessories stored in complainants house and inside a warehouse. [20] He also signed
a blank deed of sale authorizing respondent to sell his 2002 Isuzu Trooper.[21]
Sometime in April 2003, wary that respondent may not be able to handle his legal
problems, complainant was advised by his family to hire another lawyer. When respondent knew
about this, she wrote to complainant via e-mail, as follows:
Dear Butchie,
Hi! Ok ka lang? Hope you are fine. Sorry if I shocked you but I had to do it as
your friend and lawyer. The charges are all non-bailable but all the same as the
SEC report I told you before. The findings are the same, i.e. your company was
the front for the fraud of Multitel and that funds were provided you.
I anticipated this, that is why I really pushed for a quitclaim. Rolly is willing to
return the Crosswind, laptap (sic) and [P]alm [P]ilot. Manny Cancio really helped.
Anthony na lang. Then, I will need the accounting of all the funds you received
from the sale of the phones, every employees and directors[] quitclaim (including
yours), the funds transmitted to the clients through me, the funds you utilized, and
whatelse (sic) is still unremitted, every centavo must be accounted for as DOJ and
NBI can have the account opened.
I will also need the P30 M proof of deposit with Real [B]ank and the trust given
[to] you. So we can inform them [that] it was not touched by you.
I have been informed by Efie that your family is looking at hiring Coco Pimentel.
I know him very well as his sister Gwen is my best friend. I have no problem if
you hire him but I will be hands off. I work differently kasi. In this cases (sic),
you cannot be highprofile (sic)because it is the clients who will be sacrificed at
the expense of the fame of the lawyer. I have to work quietly and discreetly. No
funfare. Just like what I did for your guys in the SEC. I have to work with people
I am comfortable with. Efren Santos will sign as your lawyer although I will do
all the work. He can help with all his connections. Vals friend in the NBI is the
one is (sic) charge of organized crime who is the entity (sic) who has your
warrant. My law partner was the state prosecutor for financial fraud. Basically we
have it covered in all aspects and all departments. I am just trying to liquidate the
phones I have allotted for you s ana (sic) for your trooper kasi whether we like it
or not, we have to give this agencies (sic) to make our work easier according to
Val. The funds with Mickey are already accounted in the quit claims (sic) as

attorneys (sic) fees. I hope he will be able to send it so we have funds to work
with.
As for your kids, legally they can stay here but recently, it is the children
who (sic) the irate clients and government officials harass and kidnap to make the
individuals they want to come out from hiding (sic). I do not want that to happen.
Things will be really easier on my side.
Please do not worry. Give me 3 months to make it all disappear. But if you
hire Coco, I will give him the free hand to work with your case. Please trust
me. I have never let you down, have I? I told you this will happen but we are
ready and prepared. The clients who received the phones will stand by you and
make you the hero in this scandal. I will stand by you always. This is my
expertise. TRUST me! That is all. You have an angel on your side. Always pray
though to the best legal mind up there. You will be ok!
Candy[22]
On July 4, 2003, contrary to respondents advice, complainant returned to the country. On
the eve of his departure from the United States, respondent called up complainant and
conveniently informed him that he has been cleared by the NBI and the BID.[23]
About a month thereafter, respondent personally met with complainant and his wife and
told them that she has already accumulated P12,500,000.00 as attorneys fees and was willing to
give P2,000,000.00 to complainant in appreciation for his help. Respondent allegedly told
complainant that without his help, she would not have earned such amount. Overwhelmed and
relieved, complainant accepted respondents offer but respondent, later on, changed her mind and
told complainant that she would instead invest the P2,000,000.00 on his behalf in a business
venture. Complainant declined and explained to respondent that he and his family needed the
money instead to cover their daily expenses as he was no longer employed. Respondent allegedly
agreed, but she failed to fulfill her promise.[24]

Respondent even publicly announced in their religious organization that she was able to
help settle the ten (10) warrants of arrest and hold departure order issued against complainant
and narrated how she was able to defend complainant in the said cases.[25]
By April 2004, however, complainant noticed that respondent was evading him.
Respondent would either refuse to return complainants call or would abruptly terminate their
telephone conversation, citing several reasons. This went on for several months.[26] In one
instance, when complainant asked respondent for an update on the collection of Benefons
obligation to Precedent which respondent had previously taken charge of, respondent arrogantly
answered that she was very busy and that she would read Benefons letter only when she found
time to do so.
On November 9, 2004, fed up and dismayed with respondents arrogance and
evasiveness, complainant wrote respondent a letter formally asking for a full accounting of all
the money, documents and properties given to the latter.[27] Respondent rendered an accounting
through a letter dated December 20, 2004.[28] When complainant found respondents explanation
to be inadequate, he wrote a latter expressing his confusion about the accounting. [29] Complainant
repeated his request for an audited financial report of all the properties turned over to her;
otherwise, he will be constrained to file the appropriate case against respondent. [30] Respondent
replied,[31] explaining that all the properties and cash turned over to her by complainant had been
returned to her clients who had money claims against Multitel. In exchange for this, she said that
she was able to secure quitclaim documents clearing complainant from any liability. [32] Still
unsatisfied, complainant decided to file an affidavit-complaint [33] against respondent before the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) seeking the
disbarment of respondent.
In her Answer-Affidavit,[34] respondent vehemently denied being the lawyer for
Precedent. She maintained that no formal engagement was executed between her and
complainant. She claimed that she merely helped complainant by providing him with legal
advice and assistance because she personally knew him, since they both belonged to the same
religious organization.[35]
Respondent insisted that she represented the group of investors of Multitel and that she
merely mediated in the settlement of the claims her clients had against the complainant. She also
averred that the results of the settlement between both parties were fully documented and
accounted for.[36] Respondent believes that her act in helping complainant resolve his legal

problem did not violate any ethical standard and was, in fact, in accord with Rule 2.02 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility.[37]
To bolster her claim that the complaint was without basis, respondent noted that a
complaint for estafa was also filed against her by complainant before the Office of the City
Prosecutor in Quezon City citing the same grounds. The complaint was, however, dismissed by
Assistant City Prosecutor Josephus Joannes H. Asis for insufficiency of evidence. [38] Respondent
argued that on this basis alone, the administrative case must also be dismissed.
In her Position Paper,[39] respondent also questioned the admissibility of the electronic
evidence submitted by complainant to the IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline. Respondent
maintained that the e-mail and the text messages allegedly sent by respondent to complainant
were of doubtful authenticity and should be excluded as evidence for failure to conform to the
Rules on Electronic Evidence (A.M. No. 01-7-01-SC).
After due hearing, IBP Investigating Commissioner Patrick M. Velez issued a Report and
Recommendation[40] finding that a lawyer-client relationship was established between respondent
and complainant despite the absence of a written contract. The Investigating Commissioner also
declared that respondent violated her duty to be candid, fair and loyal to her client when she
allowed herself to represent conflicting interests and failed to render a full accounting of all the
cash and properties entrusted to her. Based on these grounds, the Investigating Commissioner
recommended her disbarment.
Respondent moved for reconsideration,[41] but the IBP Board of Governors issued a
Recommendation[42] denying the motion and adopting the findings of the Investigating
Commissioner.
The case now comes before this Court for final action.
We affirm the findings of the IBP.
Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional responsibility provides:
Rule 15.03 A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written
consent of all concerned given after full disclosure of the facts.

This prohibition is founded on principles of public policy, good taste [43] and, more
importantly, upon necessity. In the course of a lawyer-client relationship, the lawyer learns all the
facts connected with the clients case, including its weak and strong points. Such knowledge
must be considered sacred and guarded with care. No opportunity must be given to him to take
advantage of his client; for if the confidence is abused, the profession will suffer by the loss
thereof.[44] It behooves lawyers not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to
avoid the appearance of treachery and double dealing for only then can litigants be encouraged
to entrust their secrets to their lawyers, which is paramount in the administration of justice. [45] It
is for these reasons that we have described the attorney-client relationship as one of trust and
confidence of the highest degree.[46]
Respondent must have known that her act of constantly and actively communicating with
complainant, who, at that time, was beleaguered with demands from investors of Multitel,
eventually led to the establishment of a lawyer-client relationship. Respondent cannot shield
herself from the inevitable consequences of her actions by simply saying that the assistance she
rendered to complainant was only in the form of friendly accommodations, [47] precisely
because at the time she was giving assistance to complainant, she was already privy to the cause
of the opposing parties who had been referred to her by the SEC.[48]
Respondent also tries to disprove the existence of such relationship by arguing that no
written contract for the engagement of her services was ever forged between her and
complainant.[49] This argument all the more reveals respondents patent ignorance of fundamental
laws on contracts and of basic ethical standards expected from an advocate of justice. The IBP
was correct when it said:
The absence of a written contract will not preclude the finding that there
was a professional relationship between the parties. Documentary formalism is
not an essential element in the employment of an attorney; the contract may
be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is sufficient that the advice and
assistance of an attorney is sought and received in any matter pertinent to his
profession.[50] (Emphasis supplied.)

Given the situation, the most decent and ethical thing which respondent should have done
was either to advise complainant to engage the services of another lawyer since she was already
representing the opposing parties, or to desist from acting as representative of Multitel investors

and stand as counsel for complainant. She cannot be permitted to do both because that would
amount to double-dealing and violate our ethical rules on conflict of interest.
In Hornilla v. Atty. Salunat,[51] we explained the concept of conflict of interest, thus:

There is conflict of interest when a lawyer represents inconsistent interests


of two or more opposing parties. The test is whether or not in behalf of one
client, it is the lawyers duty to fight for an issue or claim, but it is his duty to
oppose it for the other client. In brief, if he argues for one client, this argument
will be opposed by him when he argues for the other client. This rule covers not
only cases in which confidential communications have been confided, but also
those in which no confidence has been bestowed or will be used. Also, there is
conflict of interests if the acceptance of the new retainer will require the attorney
to perform an act which will injuriously affect his first client in any matter in
which he represents him and also whether he will be called upon in his new
relation to use against his first client any knowledge acquired through their
connection. Another test of the inconsistency of interests is whether the
acceptance of a new relation will prevent an attorney from the full discharge of
his duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to his client or invite suspicion of
unfaithfulness or double dealing in the performance thereof.[52]
Indubitably, respondent took advantage of complainants hapless situation, initially, by
giving him legal advice and, later on, by soliciting money and properties from him. Thereafter,
respondent impressed upon complainant that she had acted with utmost sincerity in helping him
divest all the properties entrusted to him in order to absolve him from any liability. But
simultaneously, she was also doing the same thing to impress upon her clients, the party
claimants against Multitel, that she was doing everything to reclaim the money they invested
with Multitel. Respondent herself admitted to complainant that without the latters help, she
would not have been able to earn as much and that, as a token of her appreciation, she was
willing to share some of her earnings with complainant. [53] Clearly, respondents act is shocking,
as it not only violated Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,[54] but also
toyed with decency and good taste.
Respondent even had the temerity to boast that no Multitel client had ever complained of
respondents unethical behavior.[55] This remark indubitably displays respondents gross
ignorance of disciplinary procedure in the Bar. As a member of the Bar, she is expected to know
that proceedings for disciplinary actions against any lawyer may be initiated and prosecuted by

the IBP Board of Governors, motu proprio or upon referral by this Court or by the Board of
Officers of an IBP Chapter[56]even if no private individual files any administrative complaint.
Upon review, we find no cogent reason to disturb the findings and recommendations of
the IBP Investigating Commissioner, as adopted by the IBP Board of Governors, on the
admissibility of the electronic evidence submitted by complainant. We, accordingly, adopt the
same in toto.
Finally, respondent argues that the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to
disbar her on the grounds of deceit, malpractice and other gross misconduct, aside from violation
of the Lawyers Oath, has been rendered moot and academic by voluntary termination of her IBP
membership, allegedly after she had been placed under the Department of Justices Witness
Protection Program.[57] Convenient as it may be for respondent to sever her membership in the
integrated bar, this Court cannot allow her to do so without resolving first this administrative
case against her.
The resolution of the administrative case filed against respondent is necessary in order to
determine the degree of her culpability and liability to complainant. The case may not be
dismissed or rendered moot and academic by respondents act of voluntarily terminating her
membership in the Bar regardless of the reason for doing so. This is because membership in the
Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. [58] The conduct of a lawyer may make him or her
civilly, if not criminally, liable to his client or to third parties, and such liability may be
conveniently avoided if this Court were to allow voluntary termination of membership. Hence, to
terminate ones membership in the Bar voluntarily, it is imperative that the lawyer first prove that
the voluntary withdrawal of membership is not a ploy to further prejudice the public or to evade
liability. No such proof exists in the present case.
WHEREFORE,
respondent
Attorney
Maricel
Pascual-Lopez
is
hereby DISBARRED for representing conflicting interests and for engaging in unlawful,
dishonest and deceitful conduct in violation of her Lawyers Oath and the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as a member of the Bar,
and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of
the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5299. August 19, 2003]
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public
Information
Office, complainant,
vs. ATTY.
RIZALINO
T.
SIMBILLO, respondent.
[G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003]
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON BAR
DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity as Assistant
Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,respondents.
RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in the
July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads:
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667. [1]
Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of the
Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number and pretended to be an
interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed that her husband, Atty.
Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a
court decree within four to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of
property or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges a fee
of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of filing of the case and the other half
after a decision thereon has been rendered.
Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public Information
Office revealed that similar advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6, 2000
issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000 issue of The Philippine Star.[2]
On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court
Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed an administrative

complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper advertising and solicitation of his
legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. [3]
In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that
advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to
change our views about the prohibition on advertising and solicitation; that the interest
of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the
Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decadesold prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be exonerated from all
the charges against him and that the Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of
legal services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as
long as it is dignified.[4]
The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
report and recommendation.[5] On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306, [6] finding respondent guilty of violation of
Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section
27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year
with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more severely. The
IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11, 2002. [7]
In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, [8] which
was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002 [9]
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053
entitled, Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,
Respondents. This petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts
Resolution dated March 4, 2003.
In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest
whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
pleadings.[10] Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003, stating that he is not
submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its early
resolution on the basis of pleadings and records thereof. [11] Respondent, on the other
hand, filed a Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606.
Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:

Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal
business.
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading,
deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or
legal services.
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:
SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A
member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful
disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so.
It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business. [12] It is a
profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary
consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law
advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits. [13] The gaining of a livelihood
should be a secondary consideration. [14] The duty to public service and to the
administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must
subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves. [15] The following
elements distinguish the legal profession from a business:
1.

A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and in which


one may attain the highest eminence without making much money;

2.

A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice involving


thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability;

3.

A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;

4.

A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and


unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and
encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.[16]

There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself
admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements. While he professes
repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition rings
hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he pleaded
for compassion and after claiming that he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight

months after filing his answer, he again advertised his legal services in the August 14,
2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper.[17] Ten months later, he caused the
same advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.[18] Such
acts of respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Courts authority.
What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising himself as a selfstyled Annulment of Marriage Specialist, he wittingly or unwittingly erodes and
undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of an institution still considered
sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed,
in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four to six months
from the time of the filing of the case, [19] he in fact encourages people, who might have
otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving their marriage
bonds, to do so.
Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether
proscribed. However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity
of the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous manner, it would bring no
injury to the lawyer and to the bar.[20] Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or
names of the lawyers, the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as
advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even
the use of calling cards is now acceptable. [21] Publication in reputable law lists, in a
manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief
biographical and informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v.
Legal Clinic, Inc.:[22]
Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyers name and the
names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of
law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of
graduation, degrees and other educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of
honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations
and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings
in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their written
consent, the names of clients regularly represented.
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere
supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published
principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief
biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society
program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct,
management, or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the
bar, or to lower dignity or standing of the profession.

The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a
statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone
number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the
opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address,
being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his
name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of
law. (emphasis and italics supplied)
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is
found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He
is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be
dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information
and guidance.
SO ORDERED.
Vitug, (Acting Chairman),Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman ), abroad, on official business.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. L-1117

March 20, 1944

THE DIRECTOR OF RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS, complainant,


vs.
ESTANISLAO R. BAYOT, respondent.
Office of the Solicitor General De la Costa and Solicitor Feria for complainant.
Francisco Claravall for respondent.
OZAETA, J.:

The respondent, who is an attorney-at-law, is charged with malpractice for having


published an advertisement in the Sunday Tribune of June 13, 1943, which reads as
follows:
Marriage
license promptly secured thru our assistance & the annoyance of delay or
publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to wishes of parties.
Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.

Legal assistance service


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

Appearing in his own behalf, respondent at first denied having published the said
advertisement; but subsequently, thru his attorney, he admitted having caused its
publication and prayed for "the indulgence and mercy" of the Court, promising "not to
repeat such professional misconduct in the future and to abide himself to the strict
ethical rules of the law profession." In further mitigation he alleged that the said
advertisement was published only once in the Tribune and that he never had any case
at law by reason thereof.
Upon that plea the case was submitted to the Court for decision.
It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the
respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from
the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid
agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to
advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and
not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts
the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public.
As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the
money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worth and effective
advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the establishment of a wellmerited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced
but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.)
In In re Tagorda, 53 Phil., the respondent attorney was suspended from the practice of
law for the period of one month for advertising his services and soliciting work from the
public by writing circular letters. That case, however, was more serious than this
because there the solicitations were repeatedly made and were more elaborate and
insistent.

Considering his plea for leniency and his promise not to repeat the misconduct, the
Court is of the opinion and so decided that the respondent should be, as he hereby is,
reprimanded.
Yulo, C.J., Moran, Horrilleno, Paras and Bocobo, JJ., concur.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
March 23, 1929
In re LUIS B. TAGORDA,
Duran & Lim for respondent.
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government.
MALCOLM, J.:
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial
board of Isabela, admits that previous to the last general elections he made use of a
card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows:
LUIS B. TAGORDA
Attorney
Notary Public
CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER
Province of Isabela
(NOTE. As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the
purchase of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of
your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead;
and can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your
loans although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come
or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is
willing to help and serve the poor.)
The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant
of barrio in his home municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as
follows:

ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928


MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for
our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of
next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your
suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for
your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague,
to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire.
I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my
residence here in Echague. I will attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but
will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with
you as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the
Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary
public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that
you can always find me there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will
receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of sales and
affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays.
I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people
are in the belief that my residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and
that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as
notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to
exercise my profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in
Echague.
I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in
any of your meetings or social gatherings so that they may be informed of my
desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary public. If
the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other
lawyers in connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to
handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every
registration.
Yours respectfully,
(Sgd.) LUIS TAGORDA
Attorney
Notary Public.

The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal
provisions. Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to
disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar
Association, said codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end
thereof the following: "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain,
either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice."
The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics
adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association
in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide:
27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. The most worthy and effective
advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother
lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional
capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of
character and conduct. The publication or circulation of ordinary simple business
cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of
convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or
advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by
personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure
business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate
firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or
offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced
by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring
newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of
the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like
self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are
intolerable.
28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. It is
unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare
cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring
up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common
law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of action and
inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by
seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other
grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or
runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who
bring or influence the bringing of such cases to his office, or to remunerate
policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or others who
may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in

influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek
his professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves
upon every member of the bar having knowledge of such practices upon the part
of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender may
be disbarred.
Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between
individuals was a crime at the common law, and one of the penalties for this offense
when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same
evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar
itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is
not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not
seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be
unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625;
Peoplevs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.)
It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of
cases by lawyers. It is destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the
standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the community in the
integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to
strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens.
The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension.
That should be distinctly understood.
Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the
respondent stands convicted of having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those
canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action which
should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the
representative of the Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the case, suggests
that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further
than this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which
unfortunately the respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature
would amply justify permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating,
circumstances working in favor of the respondent there are, first, his intimation that he
was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the
bar, and, third, his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest
period of suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it should be
distinctly understood that this result is reached in view of the considerations which have
influenced the court to the relatively lenient in this particular instance and should,

therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of practice of this kind will
not be dealt with by disbarment.
In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the
respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is hereby suspended from the practice as an
attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929,
Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur.
Johnson, J., reserves his vote.