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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-19450

May 27, 1965

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,


vs.
SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendant-appellant.
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.
Magno T. Buese for defendant-appellant.
PAREDES, J.:
On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna, charged Simplicio Villanueva with the Crime of
Malicious Mischief before the Justice of the Peace Court of said municipality. Said accused was represented by counsel
de officio but later on replaced by counsel de parte. The complainant in the same case was represented by City Attorney
Ariston Fule of San Pablo City, having entered his appearance as private prosecutor, after securing the permission of the
Secretary of Justice. The condition of his appearance as such, was that every time he would appear at the trial of the case,
he would be considered on official leave of absence, and that he would not receive any payment for his services. The
appearance of City Attorney Fule as private prosecutor was questioned by the counsel for the accused, invoking the case
of
Aquino,
et
al.
vs.
Blanco,
et
al.,
L-1532, Nov. 28, 1947, wherein it was ruled that "when an attorney had been appointed to the position of Assistant
Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal and therein qualified, by operation of law, he ceased to engage in private law practice."
Counsel then argued that the JP Court in entertaining the appearance of City Attorney Fule in the case is a violation of the
above ruling. On December 17, 1960 the JP issued an order sustaining the legality of the appearance of City Attorney
Fule.
Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused presented a "Motion to Inhibit Fiscal Fule from Acting as Private
Prosecutor in this Case," this time invoking Section 32, Rule 27, now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court, which
bars certain attorneys from practicing. Counsel claims that City Attorney Fule falls under this limitation. The JP Court
ruled on the motion by upholding the right of Fule to appear and further stating that he (Fule) was not actually enagaged
in private law practice. This Order was appealed to the CFI of Laguna, presided by the Hon. Hilarion U. Jarencio, which
rendered judgment on December 20, 1961, the pertinent portions of which read:
The present case is one for malicious mischief. There being no reservation by the offended party of the civil
liability, the civil action was deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal action. The offended party had,
therefore, the right to intervene in the case and be represented by a legal counsel because of her interest in the
civil liability of the accused.
Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that in the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his
litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an
attorney. Assistant City Attorney Fule appeared in the Justice of the Peace Court as an agent or friend of the
offended party. It does not appear that he was being paid for his services or that his appearance was in a
professional capacity. As Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo he had no control or intervention whatsoever in the
prosecution of crimes committed in the municipality of Alaminos, Laguna, because the prosecution of criminal
cases coming from Alaminos are handled by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal and not by the City Attornev of
San Pablo. There could be no possible conflict in the duties of Assistant City Attorney Fule as Assistant City
Attorney of San Pablo and as private prosecutor in this criminal case. On the other hand, as already pointed out,
the offended party in this criminal case had a right to be represented by an agent or a friend to protect her rights in
the civil action which was impliedly instituted together with the criminal action.
In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst. City Attorney Ariston D. Fule may appear before the Justice
of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna as private prosecutor in this criminal case as an agent or a friend of the
offended party.

WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos, Laguna, allowing the
apprearance of Ariston D. Fule as private prosecutor is dismissed, without costs.
The above decision is the subject of the instant proceeding.
The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without merits.1wph1.t
Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial judge, heretofore reproduced, and which we consider
plausible, the fallacy of the theory of defense counsel lies in his confused interpretation of Section 32 of Rule 127 (now
Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules), which provides that "no judge or other official or employee of the superior courts or of
the office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to
clients." He claims that City Attorney Fule, in appearing as private prosecutor in the case was engaging in private practice.
We believe that the isolated appearance of City Attorney Fule did not constitute private practice within the meaning and
contemplation of the Rules. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a
succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan.
864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or
habitually holding one's self out to the public, as customarily and demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4
S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644, 647). The appearance as counsel on one occasion is not conclusive as determinative of engagement
in the private practice of law. The following observation of the Solicitor General is noteworthy:
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the active and
continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the public for a
compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services.
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been given permission by his immediate superior, the
Secretary of Justice, to represent the complainant in the case at bar, who is a relative.
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from should be, as it is hereby affirmed, in all
respects, with costs against appellant..
Bengzon, C.J., Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Dizon, Regala, Makalintal, Bengzon, J.P., and Zaldivar, JJ., concur.
Bautista Angelo, J., took no part.
Republic
SUPREME
Manila

of

the

Philippines
COURT

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
RENATO
CAYETANO,
petitioner,
vs.
CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON.
GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents.
Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for petitioner.

PARAS, J.:p
We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the
Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a profound effect on the political aspect of our national existence.
The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:

There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be
natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of
age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the
immediately preceding -elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be
members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
(Emphasis supplied)
The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:
There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be
natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of
a college degree. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis supplied)
Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to
an appointive office.
Black defines "practice of law" as:
The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and technique to
serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and
assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident
to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and
the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in
matters connected with the law. An attorney engages in the practice of law by maintaining an office where
he is held out to be-an attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in
legal matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees
for services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. ( Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129
Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he:
... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or
corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in
proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or
commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative
capacity performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under
the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising
clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or
outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley
and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation
of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions
and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In general, all
advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services,
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the
foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings,
and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to
constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr.
p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of any court
and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal
advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution of legal instruments covering an
extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no

direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation. They
require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or
counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid
distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the
work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting
of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold customary
functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and
acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran,
Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices
[Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A.
139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the
dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy, counselling and public service.
One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in the profession. If what he does
exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their
profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such as this he is a practicing attorney
at law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312)
Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the
profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the
use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term
"practice of law."
MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation which I forgot to
do during our review of the provisions on the Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to
make a very brief statement?
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).
The Commissioner will please proceed.
MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the Commission on
Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by Section I is that "They must be
Members of the Philippine Bar" I am quoting from the provision "who have been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years".
To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members of the Bar who are now
employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to make the clarification that this provision
on qualifications regarding members of the Bar does not necessarily refer or involve actual practice of
law outside the COA We have to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers who are employed in
the COA are using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their respective work within COA, then they
are qualified to be considered for appointment as members or commissioners, even chairman, of the
Commission on Audit.
This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies and we deem it
important to take it up on the floor so that this interpretation may be made available whenever this
provision on the qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar engaging in the practice of law
for at least ten years is taken up.
MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is equivalent to
the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the Article on the Commission on
Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is auditing, will
necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work. And, therefore, lawyers who
are employed in COA now would have the necessary qualifications in accordance with
the Provision on qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And,
therefore, the answer is yes.
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is equivalent to the
practice of law.
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
MR. OPLE. Thank you.
... ( Emphasis supplied)
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of
the Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants with not less than ten years of auditing
practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis
supplied)
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today,
although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private
practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly understood, means "an individual or
organization engaged in the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called
"sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are
the partners. Some firms may be organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either
case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced
salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful
defining the practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.:
Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly
understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870
[1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). Because lawyers perform almost
every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be
workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well
as an uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend
their entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the
litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so?
Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer as a business
counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally
tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that
in most developed societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms.
General practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find
themselves spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases. The
business lawyer has been described as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be]
stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).

In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving
different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even the
increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at least some legal services outside their
specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as
advice-giving to an importantly different one such as representing a client before an administrative agency. (Wolfram,
supra, p. 687).
By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the relatively rare types a litigator
who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the
full range of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And
increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are both effective for many clients and a source
of employment. (Ibid.).
Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is constrained in very important ways, at
least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the
most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client
and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common of these roles
are those of corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).
In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice,
a departure from the traditional concept of practice of law.
We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary transformation in corporate law
practice. Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular those members participating in various
legal-policy decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging trends in corporation
law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires an accurate understanding of the
nature and implications of the corporate law research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of
information accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved corporate legal policy
formulation, particularly "model-making" and "contingency planning," has impressed upon us the
inadequacy of traditional procedures in many decisional contexts.
In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the sorting and weighing of
significant conditional factors, the appraisal of major trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences
of given courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in situations of acute danger have
prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic
data processing, and electronic computing equipment. Understandably, an improved decisional structure
must stress the predictive component of the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional
context or a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses of action in terms of
futuristic effects flowing therefrom.
Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in predicting and projecting the trends of
the law, the subject of corporate finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized
attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary
approach to legal research has become a vital necessity.
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those trained primarily in the law can be
improved through an early introduction to multi-variable decisional context and the various approaches
for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or doctorate degree in business
administration or management, functioning at the legal policy level of decision-making now have some
appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques of other professions which are currently engaged
in similar types of complex decision-making.
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would require the services of an astute
attorney because of the complex legal implications that arise from each and every necessary step in
securing and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
1989, p. 4).

In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred to as the "abogado de


campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons
and magnates of business and industry.
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not explain what it is that a
corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with
the size and type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm out all their legal
problems to private law firms. Many others have in-house counsel only for certain matters. Other
corporation have a staff large enough to handle most legal problems in-house.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles the legal affairs of a corporation.
His areas of concern or jurisdiction may include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research,
acting out as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts and other adjudicatory
agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Commission), and in other capacities which require an
ability to deal with the law.
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than the legal affairs of the business of
the corporation he is representing. These include such matters as determining policy and becoming
involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)
In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated from the action, or not
understanding how one's work actually fits into the work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to
someone who needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is sometimes
offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running of the business.
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a multinational corporation
(MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter
the international law field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small number of
companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country is perceived by many as glamorous, tills
is an area coveted by corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the overseas jobs go to experienced
attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international practice" in law libraries. (Business Star,
"Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4).
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of finance. To borrow the lines of
Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a
good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent lawyer is one who surmounts them."
(Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the arm," so to speak. No longer are we
talking of the traditional law teaching method of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code and
the Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern management issues.
Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) types of learning: (1) acquisition of
insights into current advances which are of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an
introduction to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's management responsibilities;
and (3) a devotion to the organization and management of the legal function itself.
These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with a shared area linking them.
Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate
counsel's total learning.
Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the counsel's role. For that matter, the
corporate lawyer reviews the globalization process, including the resulting strategic repositioning that the
firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to think about a corporation's; strategy at
multiple levels. The salience of the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global
multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national governmental units. Firms increasingly
collaborate not only with public entities but with each other often with those who are competitors in
other arenas.

Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within the corporation is rapidly
changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a new role as a stakeholder in some cases
participating in the organization and operations of governance through participation on boards and
other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns develop alongside existing legal institutions and
laws are perceived as barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations organize for global
operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental policies toward the promotion and
management of technology. New collaborative arrangements for promoting specific technologies or
competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that differ from older, more adversarial
relationships and traditional forms of seeking to influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to
be learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are examples of collaborative efforts
between governmental and business Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied)
Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate Counsel comprises a distinct
group within the managerial structure of all kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and
temporary groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable factors in the groupcontext interaction such as the groups actively revising their knowledge of the environment coordinating
work with outsiders, promoting team achievements within the organization. In general, such external
activities are better predictors of team performance than internal group processes.
In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial
mettle of corporations are challenged. Current research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective
managerial procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability and insurance considerations.
(Emphasis supplied)
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are apropos:
First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an effective tool for new
managerial thinking regarding both planning and pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the
role of feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all sorts of systematic
problems physical, economic, managerial, social, and psychological. New programming techniques
now make the system dynamics principles more accessible to managers including corporate counsels .
(Emphasis supplied)
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions involving complexity and
uncertainty. In the context of a law department, it can be used to appraise the settlement value of
litigation, aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in managing a portfolio
of cases. (Emphasis supplied)
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can be used directly by parties and
mediators in all lands of negotiations. All integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective
negotiation support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A simulation case of an
international joint venture may be used to illustrate the point.
[Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal function, concern three pointed areas of
consideration, thus:
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that comprise a major part of the
general counsel's responsibilities. They differ from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is
concerned with minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such legal entities at
that time when transactional or similar facts are being considered and made.
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are undertaken those activities of the firm
to which legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving economic
and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in a global, interdependent environment.
The practice and theory of "law" is not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to
make a global economy work.

Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The general counsel has emerged in the
last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including structuring its global operations,
managing improved relationships with an increasingly diversified body of employees, managing
expanded liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions with public decision-makers, coping
internally with more complex make or by decisions.
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is not enough to make one a good
general corporate counsel nor to give him a full sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities.
And even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's effects on corporate activities,
he must, at the very least, also gain a working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to
grasp not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem corporation. "Business Star", "The
Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4).
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more than a passing knowledge of
financial law affecting each aspect of their work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the
financial law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional security: Will the lawyer admit
ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the position of Chairman of the
COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner
opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years.
On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.
Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a
citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the
consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 8655%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has
also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his
father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two
years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans
and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked
with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and subsequently of a business
conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief
executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work
involved being knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the
Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops
Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the farmer and
urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately
the urban land reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast
judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission (19861987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for which he was cited by the President of the
Commission, Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile government functions with
individual freedoms and public accountability and the party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129
Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)
Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to be a member.
In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and which is adequately constituted
to meet the various contingencies that arise during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower
concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the finance manager, and an operations

officer (such as an official involved in negotiating the contracts) who comprise the members of the team.
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No.
2, Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied)
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays down the law as far as the loan
transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5)
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4)
covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13).
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring program. For aside from
performing the tasks of legislative drafting and legal advising, they score national development policies as
key factors in maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work paper, entitled
"Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal
adviser of the United States Agency for International Development, during the Session on Law for the
Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored by the World Peace
Through Law Center on August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely renegotiation policies, demand
expertise in the law of contracts, in legislation and agreement drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily,
a sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist or an economist in the formulation
of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical
language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only with the advise of competent counsel in
conjunction with the guidance of adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of
the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321).
( Emphasis supplied)
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is the set of terms and conditions
which determines the contractual remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements of the contract.
A good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both parties, but must also state the
recourse open to either party when the other fails to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt
restructuring represents a devotion to that principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for
foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in domestic and international affairs of whose
kind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, they beat
no drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet genius and serene
mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of the
Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law". particularly the modern concept of law
practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of the Constitution, Atty.
Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyernegotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional
requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:
Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in which it is
vested according to his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee should possess the
qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that there
are others better qualified who should have been preferred. This is a political question involving
considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide. (emphasis supplied)
No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and all the other legal requirements
are satisfied, the Commission has no alternative but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the
Civil Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an appointment on the ground that another
person is more qualified for a particular position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a
substitute of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment on the discretion vested upon the appointing
authority. An appointment is essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested, subject

to the only condition that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis
supplied)
The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2)
confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the Philippines, upon submission by
the Commission on Appointments of its certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent appointment; and
(4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales,
Law on Public Officers, p. 200)
The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the
Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides:
The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the
Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first appointed,
three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and the last Members for
three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of
the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting
capacity.
Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his definition of the practice of law
is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the
practice of law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the eminent framers of the
1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's definition would require generally a habitual law practice,
perhaps practised two or three times a week and would outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for
ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from the constitutional intent.
Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in my written opinion, I made use of a
definition of law practice which really means nothing because the definition says that law practice " . . . is what people
ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my
statement that the definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a
phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being defined.
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of
the law, or in advising others on what the law means, are actually practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not
lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over
ten years. This is different from the acts of persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers.
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected President of the Philippines, say, on the
ground that he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an action or petition
be brought against the President? And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be entertained
since he is the incumbent President?
We now proceed:
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly
determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission
in the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a
grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where
such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the instant
case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of
discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has
been clearly shown.
Additionally, consider the following:
(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the President, may the Supreme Court
reverse the Commission, and thus in effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the
negative.

(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the Commission has confirmed? The
answer is likewise clear.
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S. Congress) decides to confirm a
Presidential nominee, it would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S.
Senate.
Finally, one significant legal maxim is:
We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's
beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that
No blade shall touch his skin;
No blood shall flow from his veins.
When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or
three inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her
beloved, Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his
word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator
was clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.
SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., I certify that he voted to dismiss the petition. (Fernan, C.J.)
Sarmiento, J., is on leave.
Regalado, and Davide, Jr., J., took no part.
Separate Opinions

NARVASA, J., concurring:


I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras, albeit only in the result; it does not appear to me
that there has been an adequate showing that the challenged determination by the Commission on Appointments-that the
appointment of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections should, on the basis of his stated
qualifications and after due assessment thereof, be confirmed-was attended by error so gross as to amount to grave abuse
of discretion and consequently merits nullification by this Court in accordance with the second paragraph of Section 1,
Article VIII of the Constitution. I therefore vote to DENY the petition.
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require
the respondents to comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to
enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his
constitutional qualification for the office. My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience and even
embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to finally decide for respondent Monsod's disqualification.
Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in relation to established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that
respondent Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in the practice of law for at least
ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.

After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even more convinced that the constitutional requirement
of "practice of law for at least ten (10) years" has not been met.
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be
resolved in this petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision requiring a majority of the membership of
COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." (Art.
IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution). Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are best left to
judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown
the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries."
The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC Chairman. Among these are that he must have
been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this Court to ensure that such
standard is met and complied with.
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to the actual performance or application of
knowledge as distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary
action. 1 To "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an employment or profession
actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily.
Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said
to be in the "practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a clerk, cannot be said to practice his
profession as an accountant. In the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a corporate manager,
other than as head or attorney of a Legal Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to be in
the practice of law.
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva: 2
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a
succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127,
p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been
interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding
payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied).
It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated
several factors determinative of whether a particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the
public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644)
such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of
law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary
public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all
courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109
citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864).
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the active and
continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the public for
compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services. (People v. Villanueva,
supra). Hence, charging for services such as preparation of documents involving the use of legal
knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in Legal and Judicial
Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who
renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to that extent,
practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If
compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with the
law; are practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor, 94A-L.R. 356-359)

3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for legal knowledge, training and
experience is within the term "practice of law". (Martin supra)
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law presupposes the existence of lawyer-client
relationship. Hence, where a lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but involves
no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing law books or articles, he cannot be said to
be engaged in the practice of his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30). 3
The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets
the constitutional qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his appointment as COMELEC
Chairman.
The following relevant questions may be asked:
1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to the practice of law?
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually?
3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10)
YEARS prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman?
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he
did perform any of the tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY for at least ten (10)
years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which could be latitudinarianly considered activities
peculiar to the practice of law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal opinion or advice, such were
isolated transactions or activities which do not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become engaged in the
practice of law, there must be a continuity, or a succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General in People vs.
Villanueva: 4
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the
active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the
public for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services.
ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of
COMELEC Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment to
such position.
CRUZ, J., dissenting:
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I must dissent just the same. There are certain
points on which I must differ with him while of course respecting hisviewpoint.
To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the qualifications of the respondent simply because his
nomination has been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a political question that we
are barred from resolving. Determination of the appointee's credentials is made on the basis of the established facts, not
the discretion of that body. Even if it were, the exercise of that discretion would still be subject to our review.
In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the discretion of the appointing authority to choose
between two claimants to the same office who both possessed the required qualifications. It was that kind of discretion
that we said could not be reviewed.
If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted by this Court for lack of the required qualifications,
I see no reason why we cannot disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the Commission on Appointments.
Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this Court in an appropriate proceeding
notwithstanding that he has been found acceptable by no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is that what we
would be examining is not the wisdom of his election but whether or not he was qualified to be elected in the first place.

Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that the ponencia may have been too sweeping in its
definition of the phrase "practice of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From the numerous activities
accepted as embraced in the term, I have the uncomfortable feeling that one does not even have to be a lawyer to be
engaged in the practice of law as long as his activities involve the application of some law, however peripherally. The
stock broker and the insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under the definition as they deal with or give advice on
matters that are likely "to become involved in litigation."
The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main occupation is another business and he interprets
and applies some law only as an incident of such business. That covers every company organized under the Corporation
Code and regulated by the SEC under P.D. 902-A. Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any
activity that is not affected by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact,
again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner.
He can be so deemed when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these acts involve his
knowledge and application of the laws regulating such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main
source of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he must obey the Public Service Act
and the rules and regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board.
The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the "performance of any acts ... in or out of
court, commonly understood to be the practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say that
"because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition
would obviously be too global to be workable."
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law
even if he does not earn his living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even if
only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose income is
derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not persuade me that he has been engaged in the
practice of law for ten years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in business and
finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer.
The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as
a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he
was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and the
Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide
Commission, he has not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-year period of actual
practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections.
I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr. Justice Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the
petition.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice of law as a qualification for public office would
be settled one way or another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one
of these 5 leaving his vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically
stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no error so gross as to amount to grave abuse
of discretion; one of official leave with no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in the
deliberations and the decision.
There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on
Appointments whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons appointed to high office. Even if the
Commission errs, we have no power to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of discretion or whimsically and
arbitrariness. Second is our belief that Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability,
proficiency in management, educational background, experience in international banking and finance, and instant
recognition by the public. His integrity and competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.

Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional duty. He has never engaged in the practice of
law for even one year. He is a member of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the term beyond rational
limits.
A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an
activity where membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to have been engaged in the practice
of law.
Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC chairman but also for appointment to the
Supreme Court and all lower courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if there main occupation is selling real
estate, managing a business corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or operating a farm with no
active involvement in the law, whether in Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant
past, they happened to pass the bar examinations?
The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." The deliberate choice of words
shows that the practice envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental, intermittent, incidental,
seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in an activity for ten years requires committed participation in something
which is the result of one's decisive choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; one is obliged or
pledged to carry it out with intent and attention during the ten-year period.
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by respondent Monsod to the Commission on
Appointments, the latter has not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if appears that Mr.
Monsod has never practiced law except for an alleged one year period after passing the bar examinations when he worked
in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice must have been extremely limited because he was also working for
M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period. How could he practice law in
the United States while not a member of the Bar there?
The professional life of the respondent follows:
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar examinations in 1961 consist of the
following:
1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of Pennsylvania
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry Department; Operations, Latin American
Department; Division Chief, South Asia and Middle East, International Finance Corporation
3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various companies, i.e., Meralco Securities Corporation,
Philippine Petroleum Corporation, Philippine Electric Corporation
4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital Development Corporation and affiliated
companies
5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer
6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission Member
8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989 Coup Attempt Member
9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the following companies:
a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
b. Dataprep, Philippines
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.

d. Semirara Coal Corporation


e. CBL Timber Corporation
Member of the Board of the Following:
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
b. First Philippine Energy Corporation
c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation
d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
e. Graphic Atelier
f. Manila Electric Company
g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.
h. Philippine Electric Corporation
i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22)
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that respondent Monsod has given the law enough
attention or a certain degree of commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity and candor the claim of
having engaged in its practice for at least ten years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him.
Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an executive but
not as a lawyer.
The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with
the use of legal knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic work, blue ribbon
investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such knowledge would be helpful.
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which even an ordinary layman accepts as having a
familiar and customary well-defined meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age of discernment has
to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary for the business
executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain, teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to name
only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they are engaged in the practice of law?
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having
been "a member of the Philippine bar for at least ten years."
Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows:
The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection with litigation but also services
rendered out of court, and it includes the giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the
use of legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument, the legal effect of
which, under the facts and conditions involved, must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar
Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards
State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited.

It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition of what constitutes the practice
of law. "Practicing law" has been defined as "Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to
the laws and customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort of service by any
person, firm or corporation when the giving of such advice or rendition of such service requires the use of
any degree of legal knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to it as being
substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill.
462,176 N.E. 901. (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a
lawyer, they should also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather evasive. He was asked whether or not
he ever prepared contracts for the parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring agent.
He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how many times he had prepared contracts
for the parties during the twenty-one years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it
would be more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked if he did not recall making the
statement to several parties that he had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I
don't recall exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember saying that he had made a
practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances
where he was not the broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that is not a practice."
Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he was
not the broker, he finally answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books as far as real estate
is concerned."
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he has a lawful right to do any legal
work in connection with real-estate transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has engaged in these practices over the years
and has charged for his services in that connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
xxx xxx xxx
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or employed by another to act in his
stead; an agent; more especially, one of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or
defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are attorneys at law, and nonprofessional agents are properly styled "attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning
an attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another, without being an attorney at law.
Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public attorney, or attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of
law, legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. "The
principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business
of his client with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the state of his business;
(4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... His rights are to be justly compensated for his services."
Bouv. Law Dict. tit. "Attorney." The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, means 'to do or
perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform by a succession of acts, as, to practice
gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a
profession, trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523;
Emphasis supplied)
In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the
case of People v. Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]):
xxx xxx xxx
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the
same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768).

Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self
out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112)
It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself recognizes habituality as a required component of the
meaning of practice of law in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:
l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually holding one's self out to the
public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644)
such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of
law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary
public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all
courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09
citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)
xxx xxx xxx
While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such
legal knowledge is incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the denomination of practice of
law. Admission to the practice of law was not required for membership in the Constitutional Commission or in the FactFinding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr.
Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign corporations in the Philippines which do not
categorize the foreign corporations as doing business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing business also
should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not
within the context of doing business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of appeals, 143
SCRA 288 [1986]).
Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of the Constitutional Commission may possess the
background, competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as President, Vice-President, Senator,
Congressman or Governor but the Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having engaged in the practice
of law for at least ten (10) years for the position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be confirmed for
that office. The Constitution charges the public respondents no less than this Court to obey its mandate.
I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed grave abuse of discretion in confirming the
nomination of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
I vote to GRANT the petition.
Bidin, J., dissent
Separate Opinions
NARVASA, J., concurring:
I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras, albeit only in the result; it does not appear to me
that there has been an adequate showing that the challenged determination by the Commission on Appointments-that the
appointment of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections should, on the basis of his stated
qualifications and after due assessment thereof, be confirmed-was attended by error so gross as to amount to grave abuse
of discretion and consequently merits nullification by this Court in accordance with the second paragraph of Section 1,
Article VIII of the Constitution. I therefore vote to DENY the petition.
Melencio-Herrera, J., concur.
PADILLA, J., dissenting:
The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require
the respondents to comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to

enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his
constitutional qualification for the office. My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience and even
embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to finally decide for respondent Monsod's disqualification.
Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in relation to established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that
respondent Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in the practice of law for at least
ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even more convinced that the constitutional requirement
of "practice of law for at least ten (10) years" has not been met.
The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be
resolved in this petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision requiring a majority of the membership of
COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." (Art.
IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution). Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are best left to
judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown
the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries."
The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC Chairman. Among these are that he must have
been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this Court to ensure that such
standard is met and complied with.
What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to the actual performance or application of
knowledge as distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary
action. 1 To "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an employment or profession
actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily.
Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said
to be in the "practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a clerk, cannot be said to practice his
profession as an accountant. In the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a corporate manager,
other than as head or attorney of a Legal Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to be in
the practice of law.
As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva: 2
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a
succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127,
p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been
interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding
payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied).
It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated
several factors determinative of whether a particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states:
1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the
public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644)
such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of
law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary
public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all
courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109
citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864).
2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the active and
continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the public for
compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services. (People v. Villanueva,
supra). Hence, charging for services such as preparation of documents involving the use of legal
knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in Legal and Judicial

Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who
renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to that extent,
practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If
compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with the
law; are practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor, 94A-L.R. 356-359)
3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for legal knowledge, training and
experience is within the term "practice of law". (Martin supra)
4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law presupposes the existence of lawyer-client
relationship. Hence, where a lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but involves
no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing law books or articles, he cannot be said to
be engaged in the practice of his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30). 3
The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets
the constitutional qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his appointment as COMELEC
Chairman.
The following relevant questions may be asked:
1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to the practice of law?
2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually?
3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10)
YEARS prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman?
Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he
did perform any of the tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY for at least ten (10)
years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman.
While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which could be latitudinarianly considered activities
peculiar to the practice of law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal opinion or advice, such were
isolated transactions or activities which do not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become engaged in the
practice of law, there must be a continuity, or a succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General in People vs.
Villanueva: 4
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the
active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the
public for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services.
ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of
COMELEC Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment to
such position.
CRUZ, J., dissenting:
I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I must dissent just the same. There are certain
points on which I must differ with him while of course respecting hisviewpoint.
To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the qualifications of the respondent simply because his
nomination has been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a political question that we
are barred from resolving. Determination of the appointee's credentials is made on the basis of the established facts, not
the discretion of that body. Even if it were, the exercise of that discretion would still be subject to our review.
In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the discretion of the appointing authority to choose
between two claimants to the same office who both possessed the required qualifications. It was that kind of discretion
that we said could not be reviewed.

If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted by this Court for lack of the required qualifications,
I see no reason why we cannot disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the Commission on Appointments.
Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this Court in an appropriate proceeding
notwithstanding that he has been found acceptable by no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is that what we
would be examining is not the wisdom of his election but whether or not he was qualified to be elected in the first place.
Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that the ponencia may have been too sweeping in its
definition of the phrase "practice of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From the numerous activities
accepted as embraced in the term, I have the uncomfortable feeling that one does not even have to be a lawyer to be
engaged in the practice of law as long as his activities involve the application of some law, however peripherally. The
stock broker and the insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under the definition as they deal with or give advice on
matters that are likely "to become involved in litigation."
The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main occupation is another business and he interprets
and applies some law only as an incident of such business. That covers every company organized under the Corporation
Code and regulated by the SEC under P.D. 902-A. Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any
activity that is not affected by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact,
again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner.
He can be so deemed when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these acts involve his
knowledge and application of the laws regulating such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main
source of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he must obey the Public Service Act
and the rules and regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board.
The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the "performance of any acts . . . in or out of
court, commonly understood to be the practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say that
"because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition
would obviously be too global to be workable."
The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law
even if he does not earn his living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even if
only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose income is
derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions.
The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not persuade me that he has been engaged in the
practice of law for ten years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in business and
finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer.
The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as
a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he
was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and the
Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide
Commission, he has not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-year period of actual
practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections.
I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr. Justice Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the
petition.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting:
When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice of law as a qualification for public office would
be settled one way or another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result.
Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one
of these 5 leaving his vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically
stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no error so gross as to amount to grave abuse
of discretion; one of official leave with no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in the
deliberations and the decision.

There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on
Appointments whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons appointed to high office. Even if the
Commission errs, we have no power to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of discretion or whimsically and
arbitrariness. Second is our belief that Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability,
proficiency in management, educational background, experience in international banking and finance, and instant
recognition by the public. His integrity and competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is
compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution.
Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional duty. He has never engaged in the practice of
law for even one year. He is a member of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the term beyond rational
limits.
A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an
activity where membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to have been engaged in the practice
of law.
Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC chairman but also for appointment to the
Supreme Court and all lower courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if there main occupation is selling real
estate, managing a business corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or operating a farm with no
active involvement in the law, whether in Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant
past, they happened to pass the bar examinations?
The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." The deliberate choice of words
shows that the practice envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental, intermittent, incidental,
seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in an activity for ten years requires committed participation in something
which is the result of one's decisive choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; one is obliged or
pledged to carry it out with intent and attention during the ten-year period.
I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by respondent Monsod to the Commission on
Appointments, the latter has not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if appears that Mr.
Monsod has never practiced law except for an alleged one year period after passing the bar examinations when he worked
in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice must have been extremely limited because he was also working for
M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period. How could he practice law in
the United States while not a member of the Bar there?
The professional life of the respondent follows:
1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar examinations in 1961 consist of the
following:
1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of Pennsylvania
2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry Department; Operations, Latin American
Department; Division Chief, South Asia and Middle East, International Finance Corporation
3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various companies, i.e., Meralco Securities Corporation,
Philippine Petroleum Corporation, Philippine Electric Corporation
4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital Development Corporation and affiliated
companies
5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer
6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer
7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission Member
8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989 Coup Attempt Member

9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the following companies:
a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc.
b. Dataprep, Philippines
c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc.
d. Semirara Coal Corporation
e. CBL Timber Corporation
Member of the Board of the Following:
a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines
b. First Philippine Energy Corporation
c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation
d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation
e. Graphic Atelier
f. Manila Electric Company
g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc.
h. Philippine Electric Corporation
i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises
j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation
k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation
l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22)
There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that respondent Monsod has given the law enough
attention or a certain degree of commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity and candor the claim of
having engaged in its practice for at least ten years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him.
Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an executive but
not as a lawyer.
The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with
the use of legal knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic work, blue ribbon
investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such knowledge would be helpful.
I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which even an ordinary layman accepts as having a
familiar and customary well-defined meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age of discernment has
to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary for the business
executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain, teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to name
only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they are engaged in the practice of law?
The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having
been "a member of the Philippine bar for at least ten years."
Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows:

The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection with litigation but also services
rendered out of court, and it includes the giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the
use of legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument, the legal effect of
which, under the facts and conditions involved, must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar
Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards
State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited.
It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition of what constitutes the practice
of law. "Practicing law" has been defined as "Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to
the laws and customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort of service by any
person, firm or corporation when the giving of such advice or rendition of such service requires the use of
any degree of legal knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to it as being
substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill.
462,176 N.E. 901. (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776)
For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a
lawyer, they should also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather evasive. He was asked whether or not
he ever prepared contracts for the parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring agent.
He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how many times he had prepared contracts
for the parties during the twenty-one years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it
would be more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked if he did not recall making the
statement to several parties that he had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I
don't recall exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember saying that he had made a
practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances
where he was not the broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that is not a practice."
Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he was
not the broker, he finally answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books as far as real estate
is concerned."
xxx xxx xxx
Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he has a lawful right to do any legal
work in connection with real-estate transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds,
mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has engaged in these practices over the years
and has charged for his services in that connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773)
xxx xxx xxx
... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or employed by another to act in his
stead; an agent; more especially, one of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or
defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are attorneys at law, and nonprofessional agents are properly styled "attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning
an attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another, without being an attorney at law.
Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public attorney, or attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of
law, legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. "The
principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business
of his client with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the state of his business;
(4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... His rights are to be justly compensated for his services."
Bouv. Law Dict. tit. "Attorney." The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, means 'to do or
perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform by a succession of acts, as, to practice
gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a
profession, trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523;
Emphasis supplied)

In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the
case of People v. Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]):
xxx xxx xxx
... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the
same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768).
Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self
out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112)
It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself recognizes habituality as a required component of the
meaning of practice of law in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit:
l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually holding one's self out to the
public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644)
such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of
law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary
public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all
courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968).
Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09
citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115)
xxx xxx xxx
While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such
legal knowledge is incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the denomination of practice of
law. Admission to the practice of law was not required for membership in the Constitutional Commission or in the FactFinding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr.
Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign corporations in the Philippines which do not
categorize the foreign corporations as doing business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing business also
should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not
within the context of doing business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of appeals, 143
SCRA 288 [1986]).
Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of the Constitutional Commission may possess the
background, competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as President, Vice-President, Senator,
Congressman or Governor but the Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having engaged in the practice
of law for at least ten (10) years for the position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be confirmed for
that office. The Constitution charges the public respondents no less than this Court to obey its mandate.
I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed grave abuse of discretion in confirming the
nomination of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC.
I vote to GRANT the petition.
Bidin, J., dissent

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-53869 March 25, 1982
RAUL A. VILLEGAS, petitioner,
vs.
ASSEMBLYMAN VALENTINO L. LEGASPI, COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE OF CEBU, BRANCH 11, presided
by HON. FRANCISCO P. BURGOS, District Judge; BRIGIDA VERA CRUZ, joined in and assisted by her
husband JOSE VERA CRUZ, and PRIMITIVO CANIA JR., respondents.
G.R. No. L-51928 March 25, 1982
EUGENIO J. PUYAT, ERWIN L. CHIONGBIAN, EDGARDO P. REYES, ANTONIO G. PUYAT, JAIME R.
BLANCO, RAFAEL R. RECTO and REYNALDO L. LARDIZABAL, petitioners,
HON. SIXTO T. J. DE GUZMAN, JR., as Associate Commissioner of the Securities & Exchange Commission,
EUSTAQUIO T. C. ACERO, R. G. VILDZIUS ENRIQUE M. BELO, MANUEL G. ABELLO, SERVILLANO
DOLINA, JUANITO MERCADO and ESTANISLAO A. FERNANDEZ, respondents.
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
These two cases (L-53869 and L-51928) filed in May, 1980 and September, 1979, respective, involved the prohibition in
Section 11, Article VIII of the 1973 Charter, which used to read:
Sec. 11. No member of the National Assembly shall appear as counsel before any court inferior to a court
with appellate jurisdiction, ...
The antecedents facts follows:
L-53869
On September 27, 1979, a complaint for annulment of bank checks and damages was filed by Raul A. Villegas against the
Vera Cruz spouses and Primitivo Cania, Jr. (private respondents) before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch XVI,
then presided by Hon. Ceferino E. Dulay (Civil Case No. 431-L). An answer, dated October 11, 1979, was filed by private
respondents through their counsel, Assemblyman Valentino 1. Legaspi, a member of the Batasang Pambansa from the
province of Cebu. Raul A. Villegas "challenged" the appearance of Assemblyman Legaspi as counsel of record on the
ground that he is barred under the Constitution from appearing before Courts of First Instance, which are essentially trial
Courts or Courts of First Instance, which are essentially trial Courts or Courts of First Instance, which are essentially trial
Courts or Courts of original jurisdiction. After the Opposition and Reply to the Opposition were filed, Judge Dulay issued
an Order inhibiting himself from the aforesaid case because Assemblyman Legaspi was likewise the lawyer of his wife in
two pending cases. The case was re-raffled and redocketed as Civil Case No. R-18857, and transferred to Branch II,
presided by Judged Francisco P. Burgos (respondent Court).
In an Order, dated February 27, 1980, Judge Burgos denied the disqualification of Assemblyman Legaspi, as well as the
Motion for Reconsideration filed thereafter. Hence, this recourse to certiorari and Prohibition.
A temporary Restraining Order was issued ex-parte by this Tribunal on May 22, 1980 enjoining respondent Court from
acting in Civil Case No. R-18857 below.
L-51928
Edgardo P. Reyes filed, on July 3, 1979, Civil Case No. 33739 before the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch
XXI, against N. V. Verenigde Buinzenfabrieken Excelsior-De Maas and private respondent Eustaquio T.C. Acero to annul
the sale of Excelsior's shares in the International Pipe Industries Corporation (IPI) to Eustaquio T.C Acero, allegedly on
the ground that, prior thereto, the same shares had already been sold to him (Reyes). Assemblyman Estanislao Fernandez

entered his appearance as counsel for Excelsior. This appearance was questioned on the ground that it was barred by
Section 11, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, above-quoted.
Initially, this case (L-51928) was filed as a Supplemental Petition to L-51122 (Eugenio Puyat, et als. Hon. Sixto T.J. de
Guzman), but this Court ordered it docketed separately. And since the issue involved is on all fours with L-53869, the
Court opted to resolve Case No. L-51928 jointly with L-53869 instead of with L-51122 as originally directed.
The novel issue for determination is whether or not members of the Batasang Pambansa, like Attorneys Valentino L.
Legaspi and Estanislao A. Fernandez, can appear as counsel before Courts of First Instance.
A comparison of Section 11, Article VIII, of the 1973 Constitution prohibiting any Assemblyman from appearing as
counsel "before any Court inferior to a Court with appellate jurisdiction", and the "similar" provision of Section 17,
Article VI, of the 1935 Charter is elucidating. The last sentence of the latter provision reads:
... No member of the Commission on Appointments shall appear as counsel before any Court inferior to a
collegiate Court of appellate jurisdiction.
A significant amendment is the deletion of the term "collegiate". Further, the limitation now comprehends all members of
the Batasang Pambansa, and is no longer confined to members of the Commissions on Appointments, a body not provided
for under the 1973 Constitution.
Under the amendment to Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, ratified in a national plebiscite held on April 7, 1981,
Section 11 now reads:
SEC. 11. No member of the Batasang Pambansa shall appear as counsel before any court without
appellate jurisdiction, ...
The term 'collegiate" remains deleted , and the terminology is now "Court without appellate jurisdiction."
Although the cases at bar were filed prior to the aforesaid amendment, they should be resolved under the amended
provision. We abide by the proposition that "as a general rule, the provisions of a new Constitution take effect
immediately and become operative on pending litigation." 1
Clearly, what is prohibited to a Batasang Pambansa member is "appearance as counsel" "before any Court without
appellate jurisdiction.
"Appearance" has been defined as "voluntary submission to a court's jurisdiction". 2 "Counsel" means "an adviser, a
person professionally engaged in the trial or management of a cause in court; a legal advocate managing a case at law; a
lawyer appointed or engaged to advise and represent in legal matters a particular client, public officer, or public body". 3
Ballantine's Law Dictionary says a counsel is "counselor, an attorney at law; one or more attorneys representing parties in
an action". 4 Thus, "appearance as counsel" is a voluntary submission to a court's jurisdiction by a legal advocate or
advising lawyer professionally engaged to represent and plead the cause of another. This is the common, popular
connotation of this word which the Constitution must have adopted. In one case, 5 in resolving the question of what
constitutes 'appearance as an advocate," the Court held that "advocate" the Court held that "advocate" means one who
pleads the cause of another before a tribunal or judicial court, a counselor.
Judging from the prescribed criteria, there should be no question that Assemblyman Valentino L. Legaspi, in preparing the
Answer for private respondent-spouses in Civil Case No. R-18857 before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch II,
appears as their counsel. Similarly, Assemblyman Estanislao A. Fernandez appears as counsel for Excelsior in Civil Case
No. 33739 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch XXI. They represent and plead the cause of another
before a Court of justice.
The next poser then arises: are the Courts of First Instance, where Assemblyman Legaspi and Fernandez, respectively,
appear as counsel of record, Courts with appellate jurisdiction?
There are authorities to the effect that the essential criterion of appellate jurisdiction is that it revises and corrects the
proceedings in a case already instituted and does not create that cause 6 Or, that it necessarily implies that the subjectmatter has been instated in and acted upon by some other court whose judgment or proceedings are to be reviewed. 7 In an

early Philippine case, 8 it was held to mean jurisdiction to review the judgment of an inferior court. And, that it calls for
and demands previous legitimate jurisdiction by a court of origin. 9
By law, Courts of First Instance are Courts of general original jurisdiction. 10 However, under the same statute, their
jurisdiction has been stated to be of two kinds: (a) original and (b) appellate. 11 They have appellate jurisdiction over all
cases arising in City and Municipal Courts in their respective provinces except over appeals from cases tried by Municipal
judges of provincial capatals or City Judges pursuants to the authority granted under the last paragraph of Section 87 of
the Judiciary Act. 12
It is rather clear that Courts of First Instance, by virtue of a specific bestowal by the Judiciary Act of 1948, as amended,
can be Courts with appellate jurisdiction. And, by the deliberate omission of the word "collegiate" in both the original and
amended Section 11, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, the obvious intention of the framers is that Courts of First
Instance, as appellate Tribunals, no longer fall within the ambit of the previous prohibition. They are single-Judge Courts
with appellate jurisdiction from decisions and orders of City and Municipal Courts. 13 Stated otherwise, under the
amended proviso, Courts of First Instance are not Courts without appellate jurisdiction.
It is contended, however, that the Courts of First Instance in these two cases took cognizance of the suits in the exercise of
their exclusive original and not appellate jurisdiction, hence, Assemblymen Fernandez and Legaspi are still prohibited
from appearing before said Courts as counsel. There is merit to this contention.
It should be borne in mind that Courts of First Instance have dual "personality". Depending on the case before it, said
Courts can be either of appellate or original jurisdiction. The question then to be resolved is whether or not Assemblymen
can appear as counsel before Courts of First Instance in cases originally filed with them.
We are of the considered opinion that, to render effective the Constitutional provision, appearance by legislators before
Courts of First Instance should be limited to cases wherein said Courts exercise appellate jurisdiction. This is true to the
time-honored principle that whatever is necessary to render effective any provision of a Constitution, whether the same be
a prohibition or a restriction, must be deemed implied and intended in the provision itself. 14
It bears repeating that under Section 17, Article VI of the 1935 Charter, it was provided that members of the Commission
on Appointments shall not "appear as counsel before any Court inferior to a collegiate Court of appellate jurisdiction."
The intent was clear that members of the Commission on Appointments shall not "appear as counsel before any Court
inferior to a collegiate Court of appellate jurisdiction." The intent was clear that members of the Commission on
Appointments could not appear before Courts of First Instance. Uppermost in the minds of the framers was "appellate
jurisdiction" more than Court. Under Section 11, Article VIII of the 1973 Constitution, the scope of the prohibition was
expanded to embrace all members of the National Assembly who were barred from "appear(ing) as counsel before any
Court without appellate jurisdiction." Consistently, the principal criterion is "appellate jurisdiction." So that, when a
legislator appears in an original case filed with a Court with "appellate jurisdiction."
Appellate practice is all that is permitted because of the admitted predominance of lawyers in the legislature. 15 Their
office has always favored them with the influence and prestige that it carried. Today, as before, it is only "appellate
practice" that is allowed with the significant difference that, this time, the Court need not be a collegial body. This so
because with the removal of the legislative power to review appointments the source of power and influence that members
of the National Assembly could unduly exert in the exercise of the legal profession has been greatly minimized.
This is a situation where the restricted meaning must prevail over the general because the nature of the subject matter of
the context clearly indicates that the limited sense is intended. 16 In fact, the original emandement proposed by Antonio V.
Raquiza, Delegate of the First District, Ilocos Norte, in Resolution No. 345 entitled "Prohibiting Members of the National
Assembly to Use Their Office As a Means of Promoting Sel-Interest" was to bar a National Assembly member from
appearing as counsel before any Court. In the "Whereas" clauses, that proposal was believed to be an "improvement" over
Section 17, Article VI of the 1935 Constitution and the purpose of the proposed amendement was explained as follows:
xxx xxx xxx
2. The Constitutional provision enumerates the kind of court or administrative cases where a legislator
cannot appear. In our proposal he is absolutely barred because it is feared that the practice of his
profession will interfere with the performance of his duties or that because the power of his office might
influence the administration of justice.

... (Emphasis supplied) 17


The co-author of Resolution No. 345. Delegate Leocadio E. Ignacio from the lone District of Isabela, and Floor Leader of
the 1971 Constitutional Convention, elucidated further on the purpose behind the prohibition when he wrote in his
Position Paper that 'The prohibition against appearing as counsel is necessary because of the under influence which
members of Congress enjoy when they practice before the Courts and especially before administrative agencies. It is an
accepted fat that our legislature is composed of a predominance of practicing lawyers, and who are therefor expected to be
naturally not averse to exerting all influence that they can muster in the pursuit of their profession." Continuing, he said:
"The inability to practice as counsel ... should be part of the sacrifices entailed in running for the position of lawmaker. 18
The amendement proposed by Delegate Gonzalo O. Catan, Jr. of Negros Oriental even went further: "No member of the
National Assembly shall, during his term of office, appear as counsel, directly or indirectly, in any Court or administrative
body ..." 19 Delegate Emerito M. Salva from the Second District, Ilocos Norte, substituted his own amendment, thus:
Section 13. No member of the National Assembly shall, during his term of office, practice directly or
indirectly any occupation or profession or be allowed to engage directly or indirectly in any trade,
business, or industry. 20
and explained:
10.2. Explaining the substitute amendment, Delegate Salva said that the assemblymen should render fulltime service to the national. He pointed out that they should be barred from the practice of their respective
professions since they would reasonably be compensated for devoting their time to the work of the
National Assembly. 21
While Section 11, Article VIII, as finally adopted by the Constitutional Convention, did not carry the several amendments
proposed, they are reflective of the sentiment prevailing at the 1971 Constitutional Conventional, and reinforce the
condition that appearance as counsel by Assemblymen was meant to be confined to appellate practice and not unlimited
practice before Courts of First Instance. That sentiment has been carried over the amendment ratified in the April, 1981
plebiscite. For, there is no substantial difference between "Court inferior to a Court with appellate jurisdiction" (the
original 1973 provision) and "Court without appellate jurisdiction' (the amended provision).
The objective of the prohibition, then and now, is clearly to remove any possibility of undue influence upon the
administration of justice, to eliminate the possible use of office for personal gain, to ensure impartiality in trials and thus
preserve the independence of the Judiciary. The possible influence of an Assemblyman on a signed Judge of the Court of
First Instance, though not entirely removed, is definitely diminished where the latter Court acts in the exercise of its
appellate instead of original jurisdiction. The upper hand that a party represented by an Assemblyman by virtue of his
office possesses is more felt and could be more feared in original cases than in appealed cases because the decision or
resolution appealed from the latter situation has already a presumption not only of regularity but also of correctness in its
favor.
In fine, "appellate practice" is an intended qualification dictated by principles of reason, justice and public interest.
The limited application to "appellate practice" is a view-point favored by constitutionalist of eminence, Chief Justice
Enrique M. Fernando, in his scholarly work "The Constitution of the Philippine, 22 where he said:
It is to be noted that at present he may appear as counsel in any criminal case, but he cannot do so before
any administrative body. Also, while it is only appellate practice that is allowed a member of the National
Assembly, formerly, such a limitation applied solely to a Senator or Representative who was in the
Commission on Appointments, a body abolished under the present Constitution. Those differences should
be noted (Emphasis supplied) 23
Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando also expounded on the reason behind the Constitutional prohibition, thus:
... The need for it was felt by the 1934 Constitutional Convention, a sentiment shared by the last
Constitutional Convention, because of the widespread belief that legislators found it difficult to resist, as
perhaps most men, the promptings of self-interest. Clearly, the purpose was and is to stress the fiduciary
aspect of the position. There is thus fidelity to the maxim that a public office is a public trust. ... 24

Since the respective Courts of First Instance, before which Assemblymen Legaspi and Fernandez appeared as counsel,
were acting in the exercise of original and not appellate jurisdiction, they must be held barred from appearing as counsel
before said Courts in the two cases involved herein.
WHEREFORE, granting the Writs prayed for, the Order issued on February 27, 1980 by the Court of First Instance of
Cebu, Branch II, in Civil Case No. R-18857, is hereby set aside, and Attorneys Estanislao A. Fernandez and Valentino
Legaspi hereby declared prohibited from appearing as counsel before the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Pasig), Branch
XXI, in Civil Case No. 33739, and before the Court of First Instance of Cebu, Branch II, in Civil Case No. r-18857,
respectively. The Restraining Order issued heretofore in L-53869 is hereby made permanent.
No costs in either case.
SO ORDERED.
Fernando, C.J., Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez, Guerrero, Abad Santos, De Castro, Ericta,
Plana and Escolin, JJ., concur.
Aquino, J., took no part.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 5377

June 30, 2014

VICTOR C. LINGAN, Complainant,


vs.
ATTYS. ROMEO CALUBAQUIB and JIMMY P. BALIGA, Respondents.
RESOLUTION
LEONEN, J.:
This court has the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law. When this court orders a lawyer suspended from
the practice of law, the lawyer must desist from performing all functions requiring the application of legal knowledge
within the period of suspension. This includes desisting from holding a position in government requiring the authority to
practice law.
For our resolution is respondent Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga's motion to lift one-year suspension from the practice of law.1
In the resolution2 dated June 15, 2006, this court found Attys. Romeo I. Calubaquib and Jimmy P. Baliga guilty of
violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility3 and of the Lawyer's Oath.4 Respondents
allowed their secretaries to notarize documents in their stead, in violation of Sections 2455 and 2466 of the Notarial Law.
This court suspended respondents from the practice of law for one year, revoked their notarial commissions, and
disqualified them from reappointment as notaries public for two years.
Complainant Victor C. Lingan filed his motion for reconsideration,7 praying that respondents be disbarred, not merely
suspended from the practice of law. In the resolution8 dated September 6, 2006, this court denied complainant Lingan's
motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
On March 22, 2007, Atty. Baliga, also the Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office for
Region II, filed the undated ex parte clarificatory pleading with leave of court.9
In his ex parte clarificatory pleading, Atty. Baliga alleged that on July 14, 2006, complainant Lingan wrote the
Commission on Human Rights. Lingan requested the Commission to investigate Atty. Baliga following the latter's
suspension from the practice of law.

After this court had suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law, the Commission on Human Rights En Banc issued
the resolution10 dated January 16, 2007, suspending him from his position as Director/Attorney VI of the. Commission on
Human Rights Regional Office for Region II. According to the Commission on Human Rights En Banc, Atty. Baliga's
suspension from the practice of law "prevent[ed] [him] from assuming his post [as Regional Director] for want of
eligibility in the meantime that his authority to practice law is suspended."11
Atty. Baliga argued that he cannot be suspended for acts not connected with his functions as Commission on Human
Rights Regional Director. According to Atty. Baliga, his suspension from the practice of law did not include his
suspension from public office. He prayed for clarification of this court's resolution dated June 15, 2006 "to prevent further
injury and prejudice to [his] rights."12
This court noted without action Atty. Baliga's ex parte clarificatory pleading as this court does not render advisory
opinions.13
On May 8, 2009, this court received a letter from complainant Lingan. In his letter14 dated May 4, 2009, Lingan alleged
that Atty. Baliga continued practicing law and discharging his functions as Commission on Human Rights Regional
Director, in violation of this court's order of suspension.
Complainant Lingan allegedly received a copy of the Commission on Human Rights En Banc 's resolution suspending
Atty. Baliga as Regional Director. On Atty. Baliga's motion, the ommission reconsidered Atty. Baliga's suspension and
instead admonished him for "[violating] the conditions of his commission as a notary public." 15 According to
complainant Lingan, he was not served a copy of Atty. Baliga's motion for reconsideration.16
Complainant Lingan claimed that the discharge of the functions of a Commission on Human Rights Regional Director
necessarily required the practice of law. A Commission on Human Rights Regional Director must be a member of the bar
and is designated as Attorney VI. Since this court suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law, Atty. Baliga was in
effect "a non-lawyer . . . and [was] disqualified to hold the position of [Regional Director] [during the effectivity of the
order of suspension]."17 The Commission on Human Rights, according to complainant Lingan, should have ordered Atty.
Baliga to desist from performing his functions as Regional Director. Complainant Lingan prayed that this court give
"favorable attention and action on the matter."18
This court endorsed complainant Lingan's letter to the Office of the Bar Confidant for report and recommendation.19
In its report and recommendation20 dated June 29, 2009, the Office of the Bar Confidant found that the period of
suspension of Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga had already lapsed. It recommended that respondents be required to file their
respective motions to lift order of suspension with certifications from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the
Executive Judge of the court where they might appear as counsel and state that they desisted from practicing law during
the period of suspension.
On the claim that the Commission on Human Rights allowed Atty. Baliga to perform his functions as Regional Director
during the period of suspension, the Office of the Bar Confidant said that the Commission "deliberate[ly] disregard[ed]" 21
this court's order of suspension. According to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Commission on Human Rights had no
power to "[alter, modify, or set aside any of this court's resolutions] which [have] become final and executory. "22
Thus, with respect to Atty. Baliga, the Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that this court require him to submit a
certification from the Commission on Human Rights stating that he desisted from performing his functions as Regional
Director while he was suspended from the practice of law.23
The Office of the Bar Confidant further recommended that Atty. Baliga and the Commission .on Human Rights be
required to comment on complainant Lingan's allegation that Atty. Baliga continued to perform his functions as Regional
Director while he was suspended from the practice of law.
On July 17, 2009, Atty. Baliga filed a manifestation,24 arguing that his suspension from the practice of law did not include
his suspension from public office. Atty. Baliga said, "[t]o stretch the coverage of [his suspension from the practice of law]
to [his] public office would be tantamount to [violating] his constitutional rights [sic] to due process and to the statutory
principle in law that what is not included is deemed excluded."25
In the resolution26 dated September 23, 2009, this court required respondents to file their respective motions to lift order
of suspension considering the lapse of the period of suspension. This court further ordered Atty. Baliga and the

Commission on Human Rights to comment on complainant Lingari's allegation that Atty. Baliga continued performing his
functions as Regional Director while he was suspended from the practice of law. The resolution dated September 23, 2009
provides:
Considering that the period of suspension from the practice of law and disqualification from being commissioned as
notary public imposed on respondents have [sic] already elapsed, this Court resolves:
(1) to require both respondents, within ten (10) days from notice, to FILE their respective motions to lift relative
to their suspension and disqualification from being commissioned as notary public and SUBMIT certifications
from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and Executive Judge of the Court where they may appear as counsel,
stating that respondents have actually ceased and desisted from the practice of law during the entire period of their
suspension and disqualification, unless already complied with in the meantime;
(2) to require Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga to SUBMIT a certification from the Commission on Human Rights [CHR]
stating that he has been suspended from office and has stopped from the performance of his functions for the
period stated in the order of suspension and disqualification, within ten (10) days from notice hereof;
(3) to require respondent Atty. Baliga and the CHR to COMMENT on the allegations of complainant against
them, both within ten (10) days from receipt of notice hereof; ...27 (Emphasis in the original)
In compliance with this court's order, Attys. Calubaquib and Baliga filed their respective motions to lift order of
suspension.28 Atty. Baliga also filed his comment on complainant Lingan's allegation that he continued performing his
functions as Regional Director during his suspension from the practice of law.
In his comment29 dated November 13, 2009, Atty. Baliga alleged that as Regional Director, he "perform[ed], generally,
managerial functions,"30 which did not require the practice of law. These managerial functions allegedly
included ."[supervising] ... the day to day operations of the regional office and its personnel";31 "monitoring progress of
investigations conducted by the [Commission on Human Rights] Investigation Unit";32 "monitoring the implementation
of all other services and assistance programs of the [Commission on Human Rights] by the different units at the regional
level";33 and "[supervising] . . . the budgetary requirement preparation and disbursement of funds and expenditure of the
[Regional Office]."34 The Commission allegedly has its own "legal services unit which takes care of the legal services
matters of the [Commission]."35
Stating that his functions as Regional Director did not require the practice of law, Atty. Baliga claimed thaf he "faithful[ly]
[complied] with [this court's resolution suspending him from the practice of law]."36
The Commission on Human Rights filed its comment37 dated November 27, 2009. It argued that "the penalty imposed
upon Atty. Baliga as a member of the bar is separate and distinct from any penalty that may be imposed upon him as a
public official for the same acts."38 According to the Commission, Atty. Baliga's suspension from the practice of law is a
"bar matter"39 while the imposition of penalty upon a Commission on Human Rights official "is an entirely different
thing, falling as it does within the exclusive authority of the [Commission as] disciplining body."40
Nevertheless, the Commission manifested that it would defer to this court's resolution of the issue and would "abide by
whatever ruling or decision [this court] arrives at on [the] matter. "41 In reply42 to Atty. Baliga's comment, complainant
Lingan argued that Atty. Baliga again disobeyed this. court. Atty. Baliga failed to submit a certification from the
Commission on Human Rights stating that he was suspended from office and desisted from performing his functions as
Regional Director.
As to Atty. Baliga's claim that he did not practice law while he held his position as Regional Director and only performed
generally managerial functions, complainant Lingan countered that Atty. Baliga admitted to defying the order of
suspension. Atty. Baliga admitted to performing the functions of a "lawyer-manager,"43 which under the landmark case of
Cayetano v. Monsod44 constituted practice of law. Complainant Lingan reiterated that the position of Regional Director/
Attorney VI requires the officer "to be a lawyer [in] good standing."45 Moreover, as admitted by Atty. Baliga, he had
supervision and control over Attorneys III, IV, and V. Being a "lawyer-manager," Atty. Baliga practiced law while he held
his position as Regional Director.
With respect to Atty. Baliga's claim that he was in good faith in reassuming his position as Regional Director, complainant
Lingan countered that if Atty. Baliga were really in good faith, he should have followed the initial resolution of the
Commission on Human Rights suspending him from office. Atty. Baliga did not even furnish this court a copy of his

motion for reconsideration of the Commission on Human Right's resolution suspending him from office. By "playing
ignorant on what is 'practice of law', twisting facts and philosophizing,"46 complainant Lingan argued that Atty. Baliga
"[no longer has that] moral vitality imperative to the title of an attorney."47 Compfainant Lingan prayed that Atty. Baliga
be disbarred.
On February 17, 2010, this court lifted the order of suspension of Atty. Calubaquib.48 He was allowed to resume his
practice of law and perform notarial acts subject to compliance with the requirements for issuance of a notarial
commission.
On the other hand, this court referred to the Office of the Bar Confidant for evaluation, report, and recommendation Atty.
Baliga's motion to lift one-year suspension and the respective comments of Atty. Baliga and the Commission on Human
Rights.49
In its report and recommendation50 dated October 18, 2010, the Office of the Bar Confidant stated that Atty. Baliga
"should not [have been] allowed to perform his functions, duties, and responsibilities [as Regional Director] which
[required acts constituting] practice .of law."51 Considering that Atty. Baliga claimed that he did not perform his functions
as Regional Director which required the practice of law, the Office of the Bar Confidant recommended that the
Commission on Human Rights be required to comment on this claim. The Office of the Bar Confidant also recommended
holding in abeyance the resolution of Atty. Baliga's motion to lift suspension "pending [the Commission on Human
Right's filing of comment]."52
In the resolution53 dated January 12, 2011, this court held in abeyance the resolution of Atty. Baliga's motion to lift oneyear suspension. The Commission on Human Rights was ordered to comment on Atty. Baliga's claim that he did not
practice law while he held his position as Regional Director.
In its comment54 dated April 6, 2011, the Commission on Human Rights reiterated that the penalty imposed on Atty.
Baliga as a member of the bar is separate from the penalty that might be imposed on him as Regional Director. The
Commission added that it is "of honest belief that the position of [Regional Director] is managerial and does not [require
the practice of law]."55 It again manifested that it will "abide by whatever ruling or decision [this court] arrives on [the]
matter."56
The issue for our resolution is whether Atty. Baliga's motion to lift order of suspension should be granted.
We find that Atty. Baliga violated this court's order of suspension. We, therefore, suspend him further from the practice of
law for six months.
Practice of law is "any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge,
training and experience."57 It includes "[performing] acts which are characteristics of the [legal] profession"58 or
"[rendering any kind of] service [which] requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill."59
Work in government that requires the use of legal knowledge is considered practice. of law. In Cayetano v. Monsod, 60
this court cited the deliberations of the 1986 Constitutional Commission and agreed that work rendered by lawyers in the
Commission on Audit requiring "[the use of] legal knowledge or legal talent"61 is practice of law.
The Commission on Human Rights is an independent office created under the Constitution with power to investigate "all
forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights[.]"62 It is divided into regional offices with each
office having primary responsibility to investigate human rights violations in its territorial jurisdiction.63 Each regional
office is headed by the Regional Director who is given the position of Attorney VI.
Under the Guidelines and Procedures in the Investigation and Monitoring of Human Rights Violations and Abuses, and
the Provision of CHR Assistance,64 the Regional Director has the following powers and functions:
a. To administer oaths or affirmations with respect to "[Commission on Human Rights] matters;"65
b. To issue mission orders in their respective regional offices;66
c. To conduct preliminary evaluation or initial investigation of human rights complaints in the absence of the legal
officer or investigator;67

d. To conduct dialogues or preliminary conferences among parties and discuss "immediate courses of action and
protection remedies and/or possible submission of the matter to an alternative dispute resolution";68
e. To issue Commission on Human Rights processes, including notices, letter-invitations, orders, or subpoenas
within the territorial jurisdiction of the regional office;69 and
f. To review and approve draft resolutions of human rights cases prepared by the legal officer.70
These powers and functions are characteristics of the legal profession. Oaths and affirmations are usually performed by
members of the judiciary and notaries public71 - officers who are necessarily members of the bar.72 Investigating human
rights complaints are performed primarily by the Commission's legal officer.73 Discussing immediate courses of action
and protection remedies and reviewing and approving draft resolutions of human rights cases prepared by the legal officer
require the use of extensive legal knowledge.
The exercise of the powers and functions of a Commission on Human Rights Regional Director constitutes practice of
law. Thus, the Regional Director must be an attorney - a member of the bar in good standing and authorized to practice
law.74 When the Regional Director loses this authority, such as when he or she is disbarred or suspended from the practice
of law, the Regional Director loses a necessary qualification to the position he or she is holding. The disbarred or
suspended lawyer must desist from holding the position of Regional Director.
This court suspended Atty. Baliga from the practice of law for one year on June 15, 2006, "effective immediately." 75
From the time Atty. Baliga received the court's order of suspension on July 5, 2006,76 he has been without authority to
practice law. He lacked a necessary qualification to his position as Commission on Human Rights Regional Director/
Attorney VI. As the Commission on Human Rights correctly resolved in its resolution dated January 16, 2007:
WHEREAS, this suspension under ethical standards, in effect, prevents Atty. Baliga from assuming his post, for want of
eligibility in the meantime that his authority to practice law is suspended. This is without prejudice to the investigation to
be conducted to the practice of law of Atty. Baliga, which in the case of all Regional Human Rights Directors is not
generally allowed by the Commission;
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines resolved to put into
effect and implement the legal implications of the SC decision by decreeing the suspension of Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga in the
discharge of his functions and responsibilities as Director/Attorney VI of CHRP-Region II in Tuguegarao City for the
period for which the Supreme Court Resolution is in effect.77 (Emphasis in the original)
In ordering Atty. Baliga suspended from office as Regional Director, the Commission on Human Rights did not violate
Atty. Baliga's right to due process. First, he was only suspended after: investigation by the Commission on Human Rights
Legal and Investigation Office.78 Second, the Commission gave Atty. Baliga an opportunity to be heard when he filed his
motion for reconsideration.
Atty. Baliga's performance of generally managerial functions was not supported by the record. It was also
immaterial.1wphi1 He held the position of Commission on Human Rights Regional Director because of his authority to
practice law. Without this authority, Atty. Baliga was disqualified to hold that position.
All told, performing the functions of a Commission on Human Rights Regional Director constituted practice of law. Atty.
Baliga should have desisted from holding his position as Regional Director.
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, willful disobedience to any lawful order of a superior court is a ground
for disbarment or suspension from the practice of law:
SEC. 27. Disbarment or 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 admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of
any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without
authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents
or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

In Molina v. Atty. Magat,79 this court suspended further Atty. Ceferino R. Magat from the practice of law for six months
for practicing his profession despite this court's previous order of suspension.
We impose the same penalty on Atty. Baliga for holding his position as Regional Director despite lack.of authority to
practice law.1wphi1
We note that the Commission on Human Rights En Banc issued the resolution dated April 13, 2007, reconsidering its first
resolution suspending Atty. Baliga as Regional Director/ Attorney VI. Instead, the Commission admonished Atty. Baliga
and sternly warned him that repeating the same offense will cause his dismissal from the service. The resolution with
CHR (III) No. A2007-045 dated April 13, 2007 reads:
In his Motion for Reconsideration dated March 15, 2007, respondent Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga prays before the Honorable
Commission to recall and annul his suspension as Regional Director/ Attorney VI of the Commission on Human Rights Regional Office No. II, per 16 January 2007 Commission en Banc Resolution CHR (III) No. A2007-013.
The grounds relied upon the motion are not sufficient to convince the Commission that Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga is totally
blameless and should not suffer the appropriate penalty for breach of the Code of Professional Responsibility and his
Lawyer's oath.
The Commission, in the exercise of its authority to discipline, is concerned with the transgression by Atty. Baliga of his
oath of office as government employee. As records have it, the Commission granted Atty. Baliga authority to secure a
commission as a notary public. With this, he is mandated to act as a notary public in accordance with the rules and
regulations, to include the conditions expressly set forth by the Commission.
With the findings clearly enunciated in the Supreme Court resolution in SC Administrative Case No. 5277 dated 15 June
2006, the Commission cannot close its eyes to the act of Atty. Baliga that is clearly repugnant to the conduct of an officer
reposed with public trust.
This is enough just cause to have this piece of word, short of being enraged, and censure Atty. Baliga for having
contravened the conditions of his commission as a notary public. What was granted to Atty. Baliga is merely a privilege,
the exercise of which requires such high esteem to be in equal footing with the constitutional mandate of the Commission.
Clearly, Atty. Baliga should keep in mind that the Commission exacts commensurate solicitude from whatever privilege
the Commission grants of every official and employee.
The Commission notes that by now Atty. Baliga is serving the one year suspension imposed on him pursuant to the
Supreme Court resolution. The Commission believes that the further suspension of Atty. Baliga from the office may be too
harsh in the meantime that the Supreme Court penalty is being served. This Commission is prevailed upon that the
admonition of Atty. Baliga as above expressed is sufficient to complete the cycle of penalizing an erring public officer.
WHEREFORE, the Commission hereby modifies its ruling in Resolution CHR (III) No. A2007-013 and imposes the
penalty of admonition with a stem warning that a repetition of the same will merit a penalty of dismissal from the
service.80 (Emphasis in the original)
The Commission on Human Rights erred in issuing the resolution dated April 13, 2007. This resolution caused Atty.
Baliga to reassume his position as Regional Director/ Attorney VI despite lack of authority to practice law.
We remind the Commission on Human Rights that we have the exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the practice of law.81
The Commission cannot, by mere resolutions and .other issuances, modify or defy this court's orders of suspension from
the practice of law. Although the Commission on Human Rights has the power to appoint its officers and employees, 82 it
can only retain those with the necessary qualifications in the positions they are holding.
As for Atty. Baliga, we remind him that the practice of law is a "privilege burdened with conditions."83 To enjoy the
privileges of practicing law, lawyers must "[adhere] to the rigid standards of mental fitness, [maintain] the highest degree
of morality[,] and [faithfully comply] with the rules of [the] legal profession."84
WHEREFORE, we further SUSPEND Atty. Jimmy P. Baliga from the practice of law for six ( 6) months. Atty. Baliga
shall serve a total of one (1) year and six (6) months of suspension from the practice of law, effective upon service on
Atty. Baliga of a copy of this resolution.

SERVE copies of this resolution to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant, and the
Commission on Human Rights.
SO ORDERED.
MARVIC MARIO VICTOR F. LEONEN
Associate Justice
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 6705

March 31, 2006

RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and for defying the prohibition against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor.
The Facts
Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and Special Administratrix of his estate. 1 Alfonso
Lim is a stockholder and the former President of Taggat Industries, Inc.
Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries,
Inc. until his appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao, Cagayan in 1992.
Taggat Industries, Inc. ("Taggat") is a domestic corporation engaged in the operation of timber concessions from the
government. The Presidential Commission on Good Government sequestered it sometime in 1986, and its operations
ceased in 1997.
Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees") filed a criminal complaint entitled "Jesus Tagorda,
Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-Santiago," docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 ("criminal complaint"). Taggat employees alleged that
complainant, who took over the management and control of Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of their
salaries and wages without valid cause from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997.
Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to conduct the preliminary investigation. He resolved the
criminal complaint by recommending the filing of 651 Informations for violation of Article 288 in relation to Article 116
of the Labor Code of the Philippines.
Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing conflicting interests. Respondent, being the former
Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very well. Respondent should have
inhibited himself from hearing, investigating and deciding the case filed by Taggat employees. Furthermore, complainant
claims that respondent instigated the filing of the cases and even harassed and threatened Taggat employees to accede and
sign an affidavit to support the complaint.

2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor


Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the private practice of law while working as a
government prosecutor. Complainant presented evidence to prove that respondent received P10,000 as retainers fee for
the months of January and February 1995, another P10,000 for the months of April and May 1995, and P5,000 for the
month of April 1996.
Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and
for defying the prohibition against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor.
Respondent refutes complainants allegations and counters that complainant was merely aggrieved by the resolution of the
criminal complaint which was adverse and contrary to her expectation.
Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, respondent had resigned from Taggat for more than five
years. Respondent asserts that he no longer owed his undivided loyalty to Taggat. Respondent argues that it was his sworn
duty to conduct the necessary preliminary investigation. Respondent contends that complainant failed to establish lack of
impartiality when he performed his duty. Respondent points out that complainant did not file a motion to inhibit
respondent from hearing the criminal complaint but instead complainant voluntarily executed and filed her counteraffidavit without mental reservation.
Respondent states that complainants reason in not filing a motion to inhibit was her impression that respondent would
exonerate her from the charges filed as gleaned from complainants statement during the hearing conducted on 12
February 1999:
xxx
Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didnt think he would do it, Madam Witness?
A. Because he is supposed to be my fathers friend and he was working with my Dad and he was supposed to be trusted
by my father. And he came to me and told me he gonna help me. x x x.
Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he was not representing Taggat employees or
complainant. Respondent claims he was merely performing his official duty as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor.
Respondent argues that complainant failed to establish that respondents act was tainted with personal interest, malice and
bad faith.
Respondent denies complainants allegations that he instigated the filing of the cases, threatened and harassed Taggat
employees. Respondent claims that this accusation is bereft of proof because complainant failed to mention the names of
the employees or present them for cross-examination.
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his appointment as government prosecutor, of retainer fees from
complainant but claims that it
was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in 1996. Respondent contends that the fees were paid for his consultancy
services and not for representation. Respondent submits that consultation is not the same as representation and that
rendering consultancy services is not prohibited. Respondent, in his Reply-Memorandum, states:
x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were paid voluntarily by Taggat without the respondents asking,
intended as token consultancy fees on a case-to-case basis and not as or for retainer fees. These payments do not at all
show or translate as a specie of conflict of interest. Moreover, these consultations had no relation to, or connection with,
the above-mentioned labor complaints filed by former Taggat employees.
Respondent insists that complainants evidence failed to prove that when the criminal complaint was filed with the Office
of the Provincial Prosecutor of Cagayan, respondent was still the retained counsel or legal consultant.
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order issued by respondent to file 651 Informations against
complainant was reversed and set aside by Regional State Prosecutor of Cagayan Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 January
1999. Hence, the criminal complaint was dismissed.

The IBPs Report and Recommendation


The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating Commissioner Ma. Carmina M. Alejandro-Abbas ("IBP
Commissioner Abbas") heard the case and allowed the parties to submit their respective memoranda. Due to IBP
Commissioner Abbas resignation, the case was reassigned to Commissioner Dennis A.B. Funa ("IBP Commissioner
Funa").
After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve the case, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No.
XVI-2004-479 ("IBP Resolution") dated 4 November 2004 adopting with modification 39 IBP Commissioner Funas
Report and Recommendation ("Report") finding respondent guilty of conflict of interests, failure to safeguard a former
clients interest, and violating the prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government prosecutor. The
IBP Board of Governors recommended the imposition of a penalty of three years suspension from the practice of law. The
Report reads:
Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts with his role as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor
in deciding I.S. No. 97-240. A determination of this issue will require the test of whether the matter in I.S. No. 97-240 will
conflict with his former position of Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code" (see Resolution of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, Annex "B"
of Complaint). Herein Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was being accused as having the "management and control" of
Taggat (p. 2, Resolution of the Prov. Pros. Office, supra).
Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat, herein Respondent undoubtedly handled the
personnel and labor concerns of Taggat. Respondent, undoubtedly dealt with and related with the employees of Taggat.
Therefore, Respondent undoubtedly dealt with and related with complainants in I.S. No. 97-240. The issues, therefore, in
I.S. No. 97-240, are very much familiar with Respondent. While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain to the periods 19961997, the mechanics and personalities in that case are very much familiar with Respondent.
A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent owes to Taggat, a former client, the duty to "maintain
inviolate the clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which
he previously represented him" (Natam v. Capule, 91 Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 4th ed.)
Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he does not represent any client or any interest except justice. It
should not be forgotten, however, that a lawyer has an immutable duty to a former client with respect to matters that he
previously handled for that former client. In this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies, and labor relations
that he previously handled as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was for "Violation of the
Labor Code." Here lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have been different had I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor-related, or if
Respondent had not been a Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No. 97-240 is labor-related
and Respondent was a former Personnel Manager of Taggat.
xxxx
While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992 and the unpaid salaries being sought in I.S. No. 97-240 were
of the years 1996 and 1997, the employees and management involved are the very personalities he dealt with as
Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat. Respondent dealt with these persons in his fiduciary relations with
Taggat. Moreover, he was an employee of the corporation and part of its management.
xxxx
As to the propriety of receiving "Retainer Fees" or "consultancy fees" from herein Complainant while being an Assistant
Provincial Prosecutor, and for rendering legal consultancy work while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, this
matter had long been settled. Government prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private practice of law (see
Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto Pineda, 1994 ed., p. 20; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil.
647). The act of being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the practice of law is to do any of those acts that
are characteristic of the legal profession (In re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It covers any activity, in or out of court, which
required the application of law, legal principles, practice or procedures and calls for legal knowledge, training and
experience (PLA v. Agrava, 105 Phil. 173; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111; Cayetano v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210).
Respondent clearly violated this prohibition.

As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain employees of Taggat and instigating the filing of criminal
complaints, we find the evidence insufficient.
Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of interest, failure to safeguard a former clients interest, and
violating the prohibition against the private practice of law while being a government prosecutor.
The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B of the Rules
of Court.
The Ruling of the Court
The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
("Code"). However, the Court finds respondent liable for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility against unlawful conduct. Respondent committed unlawful conduct when he violated Section 7(b)(2) of the
Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA 6713").
Canon 6 provides that the Code "shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official duties." A
government lawyer is thus bound by the prohibition "not [to] represent conflicting interests." However, this rule is subject
to certain limitations. The prohibition to represent conflicting interests does not apply when no conflict of interest exists,
when a written consent of all concerned is given after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorney-client
relationship exists. Moreover, considering the serious consequence of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the
Bar, clear preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the administrative penalty.
Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage in "unlawful x x x conduct." Unlawful conduct
includes violation of the statutory prohibition on a government employee to "engage in the private practice of [his]
profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict
with [his] official functions."
Complainants evidence failed to substantiate the claim that respondent represented conflicting interests
In Quiambao v. Bamba, the Court enumerated various tests to determine conflict of interests. One test of inconsistency of
interests is whether the lawyer will be asked to use against his former client any confidential information acquired through
their connection or previous employment. In essence, what a lawyer owes his former client is to maintain inviolate the
clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he
previously represented him.
In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent handled the preliminary investigation of the criminal
complaint filed by Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains to non-payment of wages that
occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that period
since he resigned sometime in 1992.
In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests, evidence must be presented to prove that respondent
used against Taggat, his former client, any confidential information acquired through his previous employment. The only
established participation respondent had with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the one who conducted the
preliminary investigation. On that basis alone, it does not necessarily follow that respondent used any confidential
information from his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving the criminal complaint.
The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he
resolved as government prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge respondent for representing
conflicting interests. A lawyers immutable duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond the
lawyers employment with the client. The intent of the law is to impose upon the lawyer the duty to protect the clients
interests only on matters that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that arose after the lawyerclient relationship has terminated.
Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of evidence to prove her allegations. Thus, respondent is not guilty of
violating Rule 15.03 of the Code.
Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor

The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as


x x x any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and
experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession.
Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any
degree of legal knowledge or skill."
"Private practice of law" contemplates a succession of acts of the same nature habitually or customarily holding ones self
to the public as a lawyer.
Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to Taggat intermittently and he was not a retained counsel
of Taggat from 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This argument is without merit because the law does not distinguish between
consultancy services and retainer agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts that are usually rendered by
lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls within the ambit of the term "practice of law."
Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to complainant while working as a government
prosecutor. Even the receipts he signed stated that the payments by Taggat were for "Retainers fee." Thus, as correctly
pointed out by complainant, respondent clearly violated the prohibition in RA 6713.
However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Professional Responsibility
unless the violations also constitute infractions of specific provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate violations of RA 6713 the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards
for Public Officials and Employees unless the acts involved also transgress provisions of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Here, respondents violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that "[a]
lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Respondents admission that he received
from Taggat fees for legal services while serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which constitutes a
violation of Rule 1.01.
Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with unlawful conduct when respondent stated in his Demurrer to
Evidence:
In this instant case, the complainant prays that the respondent be permanently and indefinitely suspended or disbarred
from the practice of the law profession and his name removed from the Roll of Attorneys on the following grounds:
xxxx
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross violation of his oath of office and in his dealings with the
public.
On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent
The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding
facts.
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of
profession is suspension for six months and one day to one year. We find this penalty appropriate for respondents
violation in this case of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio 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.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Associate Justice
THIRD DIVISION

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, 332 Edang St., Pasay City, G.R. No. 154464
Petitioner,
Present:
- versus TINGA, J.,*
JUDGE PRISCILLA MIJARES, Presiding Judge,
Regional Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City, Metro CHICO-NAZARIO,
Manila, Public Respondent.
Acting Chairperson,
BENJAMIN MINA, JR., 332 Edang St., Pasay City,
VELASCO, JR.,*
Private Respondent.
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ
Promulgated:
September 11, 2008

DECISION
NACHURA, J.:
This is a Petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus, with prayer for the issuance of a writ of preliminary
injunction under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. It was directly filed with this Court assailing the Resolutions dated May
10, 2001and July 31, 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 108, Pasay City, which denied the appearance of the
plaintiff Ferdinand A. Cruz, herein petitioner, as party litigant, and the refusal of the public respondent, Judge Priscilla
Mijares, to voluntarily inhibit herself from trying the case. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this Court.
The antecedents:
On March 5, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) sought permission to enter his appearance for and on his behalf,
before the RTC, Branch 108, Pasay City, as the plaintiff in Civil Case No. 01-0410, for Abatement of Nuisance. Petitioner,
a fourth year law student, anchors his claim on Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court that a non-lawyer may appear
before any court and conduct his litigation personally.
During the pre-trial, Judge Priscilla Mijares required the petitioner to secure a written permission from the Court
Administrator before he could be allowed to appear as counsel for himself, a party-litigant. Atty. Stanley Cabrera, counsel
for Benjamin Mina, Jr., filed a Motion to Dismiss instead of a pre-trial brief to which petitioner Cruz vehemently objected
alleging that a Motion to Dismiss is not allowed after the Answer had been filed. Judge Mijares then remarked, On March
6, 2002, petitioner Cruz filed a Manifestation and Motion to Inhibit, praying for the voluntary inhibition of Judge Mijares.
The Motion alleged that expected partiality on the part of the respondent judge in the conduct of the trial could be inferred
from the contumacious remarks of Judge Mijares during the pre-trial. It asserts that the judge, in uttering an uncalled for
remark, reflects a negative frame of mind, which engenders the belief that justice will not be served. In an Order dated
April 19, 2002, Judge Mijares denied the motion for inhibition stating that throwing tenuous allegations of partiality based
on the said remark is not enough to warrant her voluntary inhibition, considering that it was said even prior to the start of
pre-trial. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the said order.
1

On May 10, 2002, Judge Mijares denied the motion with finality. In the same Order, the trial court held that for
the failure of petitioner Cruz to submit the promised document and jurisprudence, and for his failure to satisfy the
requirements or conditions under Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, his appearance was denied.
In a motion for reconsideration, petitioner reiterated that the basis of his appearance was not Rule 138-A, but
Section 34 of Rule 138. He contended that the two Rules were distinct and are applicable to different circumstances, but
the respondent judge denied the same, still invoking Rule 138-A, in an Order dated July 31, 2002.
On August 16, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant petition and assigns the following
errors:
THE RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS
DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED THE APPEARANCE OF THE PETITIONER, FOR AND IN THE
LATTERS BEHALF, IN CIVIL CASE NO. 01-0401 [sic] CONTRARY TO RULE 138, SECTION 34 OF
THE RULES OF COURT, PROVIDING FOR THE APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS AS A PARTY
LITIGANT;
II.
THE RESPONDENT COURT GRAVELY ERRED AND ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT DID
NOT VOLUNTARILY INHIBIT DESPITE THE ADVENT OF JURISPRUDENCE [sic] THAT SUCH
AN INHIBITION IS PROPER TO PRESERVE THE PEOPLES FAITH AND CONFIDENCE TO THE
COURTS.

The core issues raised before the Court are: (1) whether the extraordinary writs of certiorari, prohibition and
mandamus under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court may issue; and (2) whether the respondent court acted with grave
abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction when it denied the appearance of the petitioner as party
litigant and when the judge refused to inhibit herself from trying the case.
This Courts jurisdiction to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus and injunction is not exclusive; it has
concurrent jurisdiction with the RTCs and the Court of Appeals. This concurrence of jurisdiction is not, however, to be
taken as an absolute, unrestrained freedom to choose the court where the application therefor will be directed. A becoming
regard of the judicial hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against the
RTCs should be filed with the Court of Appeals. The hierarchy of courts is determinative of the appropriate forum for
petitions for the extraordinary writs; and only in exceptional cases and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the
nature of the issues reviewed, may this Court take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.
Considering, however, that this case involves the interpretation of Section 34, Rule 138 and Rule 138-A of the
Rules of Court, the Court takes cognizance of herein petition. Nonetheless, the petitioner is cautioned not to continue his
practice of filing directly before this Court petitions under Rule 65 when the issue raised can be resolved with dispatch by
the Court of Appeals. We will not tolerate litigants who make a mockery of the judicial hierarchy as it necessarily delays
more important concerns before us.
In resolving the second issue, a comparative reading of Rule 138, Section 34 and Rule 138-A is necessary.
Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides:
RULE 138-A
LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE
Section 1.
Conditions for Student Practice. A law student who has successfully completed
his 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law
school's clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer,
to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.

Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, shall be under the
direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited
by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must be
signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic.

The respondent court held that the petitioner could not appear for himself and on his behalf because of his failure
to comply with Rule 138-A. In denying petitioners appearance, the court a quo tersely finds refuge in the fact that, on
December 18, 1986, this Court issued Circular No. 19, which eventually became Rule 138-A, and the failure of Cruz to
prove on record that he is enrolled in a recognized schools clinical legal education program and is under supervision of an
attorney duly accredited by the law school.
However, the petitioner insisted that the basis of his appearance was Section 34 of Rule 138, which provides:
Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace, a party may conduct his litigation
in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other
court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal
or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
and is a rule distinct from Rule 138-A.
From the clear language of this provision of the Rules, it will have to be conceded that the contention of the petitioner has
merit. It recognizes the right of an individual to represent himself in any case to which he is a party. The Rules state that a
party may conduct his litigation personally or with the aid of an attorney, and that his appearance must either be personal
or by a duly authorized member of the Bar. The individual litigant may personally do everything in the course of
proceedings from commencement to the termination of the litigation. Considering that a party personally conducting his
litigation is restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as those qualified to practice law, petitioner, not being a
lawyer himself, runs the risk of falling into the snares and hazards of his own ignorance. Therefore, Cruz as plaintiff, at
his own instance, can personally conduct the litigation of Civil Case No. 01-0410. He would then be acting not as a
counsel or lawyer, but as a party exercising his right to represent himself.
The trial court must have been misled by the fact that the petitioner is a law student and must, therefore, be
subject to the conditions of the Law Student Practice Rule. It erred in applying Rule 138-A, when the basis of the
petitioners claim is Section 34 of Rule 138. The former rule provides for conditions when a law student may appear in
courts, while the latter rule allows the appearance of a non-lawyer as a party representing himself.
The conclusion of the trial court that Rule 138-A superseded Rule 138 by virtue of Circular No. 19 is misplaced.
The Court never intended to repeal Rule 138 when it released the guidelines for limited law student practice. In fact, it
was intended as an addendum to the instances when a non-lawyer may appear in courts and was incorporated to the Rules
of Court through Rule 138-A.
It may be relevant to recall that, in respect to the constitutional right of an accused to be heard by himself and
counsel, this Court has held that during the trial, the right to counsel cannot be waived. The rationale for this ruling was
articulated in People v. Holgado, where we declared that even the most intelligent or educated man may have no skill in
the science of law, particularly in the rules of procedure, and without counsel, he may be convicted not because he is
guilty but because he does not know how to establish his innocence.
The case at bar involves a civil case, with the petitioner as plaintiff therein. The solicitous concern that the
Constitution accords the accused in a criminal prosecution obviously does not obtain in a civil case. Thus, a party litigant
in a civil case, who insists that he can, without a lawyers assistance, effectively undertake the successful pursuit of his
claim, may be given the chance to do so. In this case, petitioner alleges that he is a law student and impliedly asserts that
he has the competence to litigate the case himself. Evidently, he is aware of the perils incident to this decision.

In addition, it was subsequently clarified in Bar Matter 730, that by virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student
may appear as an agent or a friend of a party litigant, without need of the supervision of a lawyer, before inferior courts.
Here, we have a law student who, as party litigant, wishes to represent himself in court. We should grant his wish.

Additionally, however, petitioner contends that the respondent judge committed manifest bias and partiality by
ruling that there is no valid ground for her voluntary inhibition despite her alleged negative demeanor during the pre-trial
when she said: Petitioner avers that by denying his motion, the respondent judge already manifested conduct indicative of
arbitrariness and prejudice, causing petitioners and his co-plaintiffs loss of faith and confidence in the respondents
impartiality.
We do not agree.
It must be noted that because of this incident, the petitioner filed an administrative case against the respondent for
violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, which we dismissed for lack of merit on September 15, 2002. We now adopt
the Courts findings of fact in the administrative case and rule that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of
Judge Mijares when she did not inhibit herself from the trial of the case.
In a Motion for Inhibition, the movant must prove the ground for bias and prejudice by clear and convincing
evidence to disqualify a judge from participating in a particular trial, as voluntary inhibition is primarily a matter of
conscience and addressed to the sound discretion of the judge. The decision on whether she should inhibit herself must be
based on her rational and logical assessment of the circumstances prevailing in the case before her. Absent clear and
convincing proof of grave abuse of discretion on the part of the judge, this Court will rule in favor of the presumption that
official duty has been regularly performed.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the Regional
Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City are MODIFIED. Regional Trial Court, Branch 108, Pasay City is DIRECTED to
ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Civil Case No. 01-0410 as a party litigant.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 5737. October 25, 2004]
FERDINAND A. CRUZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, respondent.
RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
In an administrative complaint dated July 7, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz charges Atty. Stanley Cabrera with
misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of 2001, he instituted several
actions against his neighbors; he appeared for and in his behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as
the counsel of his neighbors; during a hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad Cuerdo, the following exchange transpired:
xxx xxx So, may we know your honor, if he is a lawyer or not?
The Court having been inhibited by the respondent from hearing the case, replied:
You are asking for my inhibition and yet you want me to rule on his appearance xxx xxx.
Thereafter, the respondent said:
Because your honor, he (pertaining to the complainant) is misrepresenting himself to be a lawyer!
To this the complainant remarked:
Your Honor, Im not xxx xxx.
Respondent, this time engulfed with anger in a raising voice said:
Appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna; x x x.
Respondents imputations were uncalled for and the latters act of compelling the court to ask complainant
whether he is a lawyer or not was intended to malign him before the public, inasmuch as respondent knew that
complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared for and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior cases; respondents
imputations of complainants misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently with malice to discredit his honor, with
the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases respondent was handling; the manner, substance,
tone of voice and how the words were uttered were totally with the intention to annoy, vex and humiliate,
malign, ridicule, incriminate and discredit complainant before the public.
Complainant claims that respondents display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, misconduct in the
performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent
transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold in their dealings with society and corresponding
appropriate penalty or sanctions for the said administrative violations should be imposed on the respondent.
In his Comment, respondent contends that the complaint filed against him is a vicious scheme to dissuade him
from appearing as counsel for the Mina family against whom complainant had filed several civil and criminal
cases including him to further complainants illegal practice of law; complainants complaint occurred during a
judicial proceeding wherein complainant was able to represent himself considering that he was appearing in
barong tagalog thus the presiding judge was misled when she issued an order stating in todays hearing both
lawyers appeared; because of which, respondent stated: Your honor I would like to manifest that this counsel

(referring to complainant) who represents the plaintiff in this case is not a lawyer, to which complainant replied:
The counsel very well know that I am not yet a lawyer; the reason he informed the court that complainant is not
a lawyer was because the presiding judge did not know that complainant is not a lawyer and complainant did not
inform the presiding judge that he is not a lawyer when he stated: for the plaintiff your honor; he stated out of
indignation because of complainants temerity in misrepresenting himself as lawyer; it is surprising that the City
Prosecutor of Pasay City filed a complaint for oral defamation against him considering that in a precedent case
the Supreme Court stated: It is a settled principle in this jurisdiction that statements made in the course of
judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged (Navarrete vs. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 540); in another
malicious prosecution being perpetuated by the complainant against the Mina family pending before Judge
Priscilla Mijares of RTC Branch 108, Pasay City, they were able to prohibit the appearance of complainant as
counsel for himself as authenticated by an Order of Judge Priscilla Mijares which allegedly stated among other;
to wit:
In connection with Ferdinand A. Cruzs motion to appear as counsel, the motion is likewise denied, movant not
having satisfied the requirements and conditions under Rule 138-A, Sections 1 and 2.
Respondent alleges that when complainant filed an administrative case against Judge Priscilla Mijares when said
Judge stated in Tagalog in open court the same was dismissed by the Honorable Courts Third Division which
stated among others: That the questioned remarks of respondent were uttered more out of frustration and in
reaction to complainants actuations and taking into account that complainant is not yet a lawyer but was already
lecturing the court on a matter which is not even a point of discussion was sheer arrogance on the part of the
complainant. Respondent prays that the complaint against him be dismissed for lack of merit.
The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.
In a report, dated March 4, 2004, IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended respondents suspension
from the practice of law for a period of three months for violating Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility which provides:
A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
In her report, Commissioner Navarro stated:
After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned noted that respondents averment that the
utterances he made in open court is (sic) privileged communication does not hold water for the same was (sic)
not relevant to the issue of the case in question under trial before the said court.
Respondent did not refute the fact that the same utterances he made in open court against the complainant had
been the basis for his indictment of Oral Defamation and later Unjust Vexation under Criminal Cases Nos. 021031 and No. 02-2136 respectively, pending trial before MTC Branch 45, Pasay City.
Likewise respondent did not refute complainants allegation that in 1979 he was held in contempt and was not
allowed to practice law for seven years by the Supreme Court in the administrative case filed against him by
Emilia E. Andres on December 14, 1979 docketed as A.M. L-585 for his fondness in using contumacious
language in his dealing with others.
From the facts obtaining, it is apparent that the utterance hurled by the respondent in the manner, substance and
tone of his voice which was not refuted by him in whatever manner it was uttered are in itself not only abusive
but insulting specially on the part of law students who have not yet taken nor passed the bar examination
required of them.
Respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in informing the court if it was his purpose relative to
complainants appearance in court; although the latter appeared only in his behalf but not for others if he had
complied with the requirements of Rule 138 (Sections 1 and 3) of the Rules of Court.

Respondent should have been more temperate in making utterances in his professional dealings so as not to
offend the sensitivities of the other party as in this case.
On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution to annul and set aside the recommendation
of the investigating commissioner and to approve the dismissal of the case for lack of merit.
Prefatorily, we note that the IBP Board of Governors failed to observe the procedural requirements of Sec. 12 of
Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court on review and decision by the Board of Governors which states:
SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors. (a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be
reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors upon the record and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with
his report. The decision of the Board upon such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly
state the facts and the reasons on which it is based. It shall be promulgated within a period not exceeding
thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following the submittal of the Investigators report.
(Emphasis supplied)
In Teodosio vs. Nava, the Court stressed the important function of the requirement that the decision of the Board
of Governors state the facts and the reasons on which it is based, which is akin to what is required of the
decisions of courts of record, thus:
For aside from informing the parties the reason for the decision to enable them to point out to the appellate court
the findings with which they are not in agreement, in case any of them decides to appeal the decision, it is also
an assurance that the judge, or the Board of Governors in this case, reached his judgment through the process of
legal reasoning.
In this case, the Board of Governors resolution absolving respondent of any misconduct does not contain any
findings of facts or law upon which it based its ruling. Ordinarily, non-compliance with the rule would result in
the remand of the case. Nonetheless, where the controversy has been pending resolution for quite sometime and
the issues involved could be resolved on the basis of the records on appeal, the Court has opted to resolve the
case in the interest of justice and speedy disposition of cases. This case falls within the exception.
We hold that respondents outburst of does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Based on the facts of this case, such outburst came about when respondent pointed out to the trial court that
complainant is not a lawyer to correct the judges impression of complainants appearance, inasmuch as the judge,
in her Order of January 14, 2002, noted that complainant is a lawyer. Such single outburst, though uncalled for,
is not of such magnitude as to warrant respondents suspension or reproof. It is but a product of impulsiveness or
the heat of the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has been said that lawyers should not be
held to too strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, and that
the big way is for the court to condone even contemptuous language.
Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases. A
partys right to conduct litigation personally is recognized by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court:
SEC. 34. By whom litigation conducted. -- In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation
in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In
any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must
be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
In Maderada vs. Mediodea, this Court expounded on the foregoing provision, thus:
This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally do everything during its progress -- from its
commencement to its termination. When they, however, act as their own attorneys, they are restricted to the same
rules of evidence and procedure as those qualified to practice law; otherwise, ignorance would be unjustifiably
rewarded. Individuals have long been permitted to manage, prosecute and defend their own actions; and when

they do so, they are not considered to be in the practice of law. One does not practice law by acting for himself
any more than he practices medicine by rendering first aid to himself.
The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a profession or vocation
usually for gain, mainly as attorney by acting in a representative capacity and as counsel by rendering legal
advise to others. Private practice has been defined by this Court as follows:
x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession
of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the
prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition for judges and other officials or employees of the superior
courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private practice] has been interpreted as
customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such
services. x x x.
Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding herself out to the public
as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the
practice of law.
On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are
empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are
devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to
maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly. Though a
lawyers language may be forceful and emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful, befitting the
dignity of the legal profession. The use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no place in the
dignity of judicial forum
WHEREFORE, the complaint against respondent Atty. Stanley Cabrera for misconduct in violation of the Code
of Professional Responsibility is DISMISSED for lack of merit. He is, however, admonished to be more
circumspect in the performance of his duties as an officer of the court.
SO ORDERED.
FIRST DIVISION
Adm. Case No. 6290
ANA MARIE CAMBALIZA, Complainant,
- versus ATTY. ANA LUZ B. CRISTAL-TENORIO, Respondent.

RESOLUTION
DAVIDE, JR., C.J.:
In a verified complaint for disbarment filed with the Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) on 30 May 2000, complainant Ana Marie Cambaliza, a former employee of respondent Atty.
Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio in her law office, charged the latter with deceit, grossly immoral conduct, and
malpractice or other gross misconduct in office.
On deceit, the complainant alleged that the respondent has been falsely representing herself to be
married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., who has a prior and subsisting marriage with another woman. However,
through spurious means, the respondent and Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., were able to obtain a false marriage

contract,[1] which states that they were married on 10 February 1980 in Manila. Certifications from the Civil
Registry of Manila[2] and the National Statistics Office (NSO)[3] prove that no record of marriage exists
between them. The false date and place of marriage between the two are stated in the birth certificates of their
two children, Donnabel Tenorio[4] and Felicisimo Tenorio III.[5] But in the birth certificates of their two other
children, Oliver Tenorio[6] and John Cedric Tenorio,[7] another date and place of marriage are indicated,
namely, 12 February 1980 in Malaybalay, Bukidnon.
As to grossly immoral conduct, the complainant alleged that the respondent caused the dissemination to
the public of a libelous affidavit derogatory to Makati City Councilor Divina Alora Jacome. The respondent
would often openly and sarcastically declare to the complainant and her co-employees the alleged immorality of
Councilor Jacome.
On malpractice or other gross misconduct in office, the complainant alleged that the respondent (1)
cooperated in the illegal practice of law by her husband, who is not a member of the Philippine Bar; (2)
converted her clients money to her own use and benefit, which led to the filing of an estafa case against her; and
(3) threatened the complainant and her family on 24 January 2000 with the statement to deter them from
divulging respondents illegal activities and transactions.
In her answer, the respondent denied all the allegations against her. As to the charge of deceit, she
declared that she is legally married to Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. They were married on 12 February 1980 as
shown by their Certificate of Marriage, Registry No. 2000-9108 of the Civil Registry of Quezon City.[8] Her
husband has no prior and subsisting marriage with another woman.
As to the charge of grossly immoral conduct, the respondent denied that she caused the dissemination of
a libelous and defamatory affidavit against Councilor Jacome. On the contrary, it was Councilor Jacome who
caused the execution of said document. Additionally, the complainant and her cohorts are the rumormongers who
went around the city of Makati on the pretext of conducting a survey but did so to besmirch respondents good
name and reputation.
The charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in office was likewise denied by the respondent.
She claimed that her Cristal-Tenorio Law Office is registered with the Department of Trade and Industry as a
single proprietorship, as shown by its Certificate of Registration of Business Name.[9] Hence, she has no
partners in her law office. As to the estafa case, the same had already been dropped pursuant to the Order of 14
June 1996 issued by Branch 103 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City.[10] The respondent likewise denied
that she threatened the complainant with the words on 24 January 2000.
Further, the respondent averred that this disbarment complaint was filed by the complainant to get even
with her. She terminated complainants employment after receiving numerous complaints that the complainant
extorted money from different people with the promise of processing their passports and marriages to foreigners,
but she reneged on her promise. Likewise, this disbarment complaint is politically motivated: some politicians
offered to re-hire the complainant and her cohorts should they initiate this complaint, which they did and for
which they were re-hired. The respondent also flaunted the fact that she had received numerous awards and
citations for civic works and exemplary service to the community. She then prayed for the dismissal of the
disbarment case for being baseless.
The IBP referred this case to Investigating Commissioner Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico.
During the hearing on 30 August 2000, the parties agreed that the complainant would submit a Reply to
respondents Answer, while the respondent would submit a Rejoinder to the Reply. The parties also agreed that
the Complaint, Answer, and the attached affidavits would constitute as the respective direct testimonies of the
parties and the affiants.[11]
In her Reply, the complainant bolstered her claim that the respondent cooperated in the illegal practice of
law by her husband by submitting (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office[12] where the name of
Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is listed as a senior partner; and (2) a Sagip Communication Radio Group
identification card[13] signed by the respondent as Chairperson where her husband is identified as Atty.

Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr. She added that respondents husband even appeared in court hearings.
In her Rejoinder, respondent averred that she neither formed a law partnership with her husband nor
allowed her husband to appear in court on her behalf. If there was an instance that her husband appeared in court,
he did so as a representative of her law firm. The letterhead submitted by the complainant was a false
reproduction to show that her husband is one of her law partners. But upon cross-examination, when confronted
with the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office bearing her signature, she admitted that Felicisimo R. Tenorio,
Jr., is not a lawyer, but he and a certain Gerardo A. Panghulan, who is also not a lawyer, are named as senior
partners because they have investments in her law office.[14]
The respondent further declared that she married Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., on 12 February 1980 in
Quezon City, but when she later discovered that their marriage contract was not registered she applied for late
registration on 5 April 2000. She then presented as evidence a certified copy of the marriage contract issued by
the Office of the Civil Registrar General and authenticated by the NSO. The erroneous entries in the birth
certificates of her children as to the place and date of her marriage were merely an oversight.[15]
Sometime after the parties submitted their respective Offer of Evidence and Memoranda, the
complainant filed a Motion to Withdraw Complaint on 13 November 2002 after allegedly realizing that this
disbarment complaint arose out of a misunderstanding and misappreciation of facts. Thus, she is no longer
interested in pursuing the case. This motion was not acted upon by the IBP.
In her Report and Recommendation dated 30 September 2003, IBP Commissioner on Bar Discipline
Milagros V. San Juan found that the complainant failed to substantiate the charges of deceit and grossly immoral
conduct. However, she found the respondent guilty of the charge of cooperating in the illegal practice of law by
Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
based on the following evidence: (1) the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office, which lists Felicisimo R.
Tenorio, Jr., as a senior partner; (2) the Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card of Atty.
Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., signed by respondent as Chairperson; (3) and the Order dated 18 June 1997 issued by
the Metropolitan Trial Court in Criminal Cases Nos. 20729 20734, wherein Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., entered
his appearance as counsel and even moved for the provisional dismissal of the cases for failure of the private
complainants to appear and for lack of interest to prosecute the said cases. Thus, Commissioner San Juan
recommended that the respondent be reprimanded.
In its Resolution No. XVI-2003-228 dated 25 October 2003, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner San Juan. The modification
consisted in increasing the penalty from reprimand to suspension from the practice of law for six months with a
warning that a similar offense in the future would be dealt with more severely.
We agree with the findings and conclusion of Commissioner San Juan as approved and adopted with
modification by the Board of Governors of the IBP.
At the outset, we find that the IBP was correct in not acting on the Motion to Withdraw Complaint filed
by complainant Cambaliza. In Rayos-Ombac vs. Rayos,[16] we declared:
The affidavit of withdrawal of the disbarment case allegedly executed by complainant does not, in any
way, exonerate the respondent. A case of suspension or disbarment may proceed regardless of interest or lack of
interest of the complainant. What matters is whether, on the basis of the facts borne out by the record, the charge
of deceit and grossly immoral conduct has been duly proven. This rule is premised on the nature of disciplinary
proceedings. A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant
is a plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and
afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare. They
are undertaken for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministration of persons unfit to
practice in them. The attorney is called to answer to the court for his conduct as an officer of the court. The
complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no sense
a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice. Hence, if the evidence on record warrants, the respondent may be suspended or

disbarred despite the desistance of complainant or his withdrawal of the charges. Hence, notwithstanding the
Motion to Withdraw Complaint, this disbarment case should proceed accordingly.
The IBP correctly found that the charges of deceit and grossly immoral conduct were not substantiated.
In disbarment proceedings, the complainant has the burden of proving his case by convincing evidence.[17]
With respect to the estafa case which is the basis for the charge of malpractice or other gross misconduct in
office, the respondent is not yet convicted thereof. In Gerona vs. Datingaling,[18] we held that when the
criminal prosecution based on the same act charged is still pending in court, any administrative disciplinary
proceedings for the same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory findings.
We, however, affirm the IBPs finding that the respondent is guilty of assisting in the unauthorized
practice of law. A lawyer who allows a non-member of the Bar to misrepresent himself as a lawyer and to
practice law is guilty of violating Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which read
as follows:
Canon 9 A lawyer shall not directly or indirectly assist in the unauthorized
practice of law.
Rule 9.01 A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of any task
which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good standing.
The term practice of law implies customarily or habitually holding oneself out to the public as a lawyer
for compensation as a source of livelihood or in consideration of his services. Holding ones self out as a lawyer
may be shown by acts indicative of that purpose like identifying oneself as attorney, appearing in court in
representation of a client, or associating oneself as a partner of a law office for the general practice of law.[19]
Such acts constitute unauthorized practice of law.
In this case, Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., is not a lawyer, but he holds himself out as one. His wife, the
respondent herein, abetted and aided him in the unauthorized practice of the legal profession.
At the hearing, the respondent admitted that the letterhead of Cristal-Tenorio Law Office listed
Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., Gerardo A. Panghulan, and Maricris D. Battung as senior partners. She admitted that
the first two are not lawyers but paralegals. They are listed in the letterhead of her law office as senior partners
because they have investments in her law office.[20] That is a blatant misrepresentation.
The Sagip Communication Radio Group identification card is another proof that the respondent assisted
Felicisimo R. Tenorio, Jr., in misrepresenting to the public that he is a lawyer. Notably, the identification card
stating that he is Atty. Felicisimo Tenorio, Jr., bears the signature of the respondent as Chairperson of the Group.
The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized practice of law is
founded on public interest and policy. Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those
individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyer is an
individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and
professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client, and the bar from the
incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary control of the
Court. It devolves upon a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the
profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of, or to make possible
the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency, personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on
his part, subject to disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.[21]
WHEREFORE, for culpable violation of Canon 9 and Rule 9.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, respondent Atty. Ana Luz B. Cristal-Tenorio is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
a period of six (6) months effective immediately, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the
future will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Resolution be attached to respondent Cristal-Tenorios record as attorney in this Court
and furnished to the IBP and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts. SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 5365

April 27, 2005

SPOUSES FRANKLIN and LOURDES OLBES, Complainants,


vs.
ATTY. VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE, Respondent.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Constituting a serious transgression of the Code of Professional Responsibility was the malevolent act of
respondent, who filled up the blank checks entrusted to him as security for a loan by writing on those checks
amounts that had not been agreed upon at all, despite his full knowledge that the loan they were meant to secure
had already been paid.
The Case
Before us is a verified Petition 1 for the disbarment of Atty. Victor V. Deciembre, filed by Spouses Franklin and
Lourdes Olbes with the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court. Petitioners charged respondent with willful
and deliberate acts of dishonesty, falsification and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. After he had filed
his Comment2 on the Petition, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), through Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay, held several
hearings. During those hearings, the last of which was held on May 12, 2003, 3 the parties were able to present
their respective witnesses and documentary evidence. After the filing of the parties' respective formal offers of
evidence, as well as petitioners' Memorandum, 4 the case was considered submitted for resolution. Subsequently,
the commissioner rendered his Report and Recommendation dated January 30, 2004, which was later adopted
and approved by the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution No. XV-2003-177 dated July 30, 2004.
The Facts
In their Petition, Spouses Olbes allege that they were government employees working at the Central Post Office,
Manila; and that Franklin was a letter carrier receiving a monthly salary of P6,700, and Lourdes, a mail sorter,
P6,000.5
Through respondent, Lourdes renewed on July 1, 1999 her application for a loan from Rodela Loans, Inc., in the
amount of P10,000. As security for the loan, she issued and delivered to respondent five Philippine National
Bank (PNB) blank checks (Nos. 0046241-45), which served as collateral for the approved loan as well as any
other loans that might be obtained in the future.6
On August 31, 1999, Lourdes paid respondent the amount of P14,874.37 corresponding to the loan plus
surcharges, penalties and interests, for which the latter issued a receipt, 7 herein quoted as follows:
"August 31, 1999Received the amount of P14,874.37 as payment of the loan of P10,000.00 taken earlier
by Lourdes Olbes.

(Sgd.)
Atty.
Victor
V.
Deciembre
8-31-99
P10,000.00
PNB Check No. 46241 8/15/99"8Notwithstanding the full payment of the loan, respondent filled up four (of the
five) blank PNB Checks (Nos. 0046241, 0046242, 0046243 and 0046244) for the amount of P50,000 each, with
different dates of maturity -- August 15, 1999, August 20, 1999, October 15, 1999 and November 15, 1999,
respectively.9
On October 19, 1999, respondent filed before the Provincial Prosecution Office of Rizal an Affidavit-Complaint
against petitioners for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa (BP) 22. He alleged therein that on July 15, 1999,
around one-thirty in the afternoon at Cainta, Rizal, they personally approached him and requested that he
immediately exchange with cash their postdated PNB Check Nos. 0046241 and 0046242 totaling P100,000.10
Several months after, or on January 20, 2000, respondent filed against petitioners another Affidavit-Complaint
for estafa and violation of BP 22. He stated, among others, that on the same day, July 15, 1999, around two
o'clock in the afternoon at Quezon City, they again approached him and requested that he exchange with cash
PNB Check Nos. 0046243 and 0046244 totaling P100,000.11
Petitioners insisted that on the afternoon of July 15, 1999, they never went either to Cainta, Rizal, or to Quezon
City to transact business with respondent. Allegedly, they were in their office at the time, as shown by their
Daily Time Records; so it would have been physically impossible for them to transact business in Cainta, Rizal,
and, after an interval of only thirty minutes, in Quezon City, especially considering the heavy traffic conditions
in those places.12
Petitioners averred that many of their office mates -- among them, Juanita Manaois, Honorata Acosta and
Eugenia Mendoza -- had suffered the same fate in their dealings with respondent. 13
In his Comment,14 respondent denied petitioners' claims, which he called baseless and devoid of any truth and
merit. Allegedly, petitioners were the ones who had deceived him by not honoring their commitment regarding
their July 15, 1999 transactions. Those transactions, totaling P200,000, had allegedly been covered by their four
PNB checks that were, however, subsequently dishonored due to "ACCOUNT CLOSED." Thus, he filed
criminal cases against them. He claimed that the checks had already been fully filled up when petitioners signed
them in his presence. He further claimed that he had given them the amounts of money indicated in the checks,
because his previous satisfactory transactions with them convinced him that they had the capacity to pay.
Moreover, respondent said that the loans were his private and personal transactions, which were not in any way
connected with his profession as a lawyer. The criminal cases against petitioners were allegedly private actions
intended to vindicate his rights against their deception and violation of their obligations. He maintained that his
right to litigate should not be curtailed by this administrative action.
Report of the Investigating Commissioner
In his Report and Recommendation, Commissioner Dulay recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for two years for violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The commissioner said that respondent's version of the facts was not credible. Commissioner Dulay rendered
the following analysis and evaluation of the evidence presented:
"In his affidavit-complaint x x x executed to support his complaint filed before the Provincial
Prosecution Office of Rizal respondent stated that:
2.
That last July 15, 1999, in the jurisdiction of Cainta, Rizal, both LOURDES E. OLBES
and FRANKLIN A. OLBES x x x, personally met and requested me to immediately exchange
with cash, right there and then, their postdated checks totaling P100,000.00 then, to be
immediately used by them in their business venture.

"Again in his affidavit-complaint executed to support his complaint filed with the Office of the City
Prosecutor of Quezon City respondent stated that:
2.
That last July 15, 1999, at around 2PM, in the jurisdiction of Quezon City, M.M., both
LOURDES E. OLBES and FRANKLIN A. OLBES x x x, personally met and requested me to
immediately exchange with cash, right there and then, their postdated checks totaling
P100,000.00 then, to be immediately used by them in their business venture.
"The above statements executed by respondent under oath are in direct contrast to his testimony before
this Commission on cross-examination during the May 12, 2003 hearing, thus:
ATTY PUNZALAN: (continuing)
Q.
Based on these four (4) checks which you claimed the complainant issued to you, you
filed two separate criminal cases against them, one, in Pasig City and the other in Quezon City,
is that correct?
A.

Yes, Your Honor, because the checks were deposited at different banks.

Q.
These four checks were accordingly issued to you by the complainants on July 15, 1999,
is that correct?
A.
I will consult my records, You Honor, because it's quite a long time. Yes, Your Honor, the
first two checks is in the morning and the next two checks is in the afternoon (sic).
COMM. DULAY:
Which are the first two checks?
ATTY. DECIEMBRE:
The first two checks covering check Nos. 46241 and 46242 in the morning. And Check
No. 46243 and 46244 in the afternoon, Your Honor.
ATTY. PUNZALAN:
Q.
Could you recall what particular time in the morning that these two checks with number
0046241 and 0046242 xxx have been issued to you?
A.

I could not remember exactly but in the middle part of the morning around 9:30 to 10:00.

Q.

This was issued to you in what particular place?

A.

Here in my office at Garnet Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

Q.

Is that your house?

A.

No, it's not my house?

Q.

What is that, is that your law office?

A.

That is my retainer client.

Q.

What is the name of that retainer client of yours?

ATTY. DECIEMBRE:

Your Honor, may I object because what is the materiality of the question?
ATTY. PUNZALAN:
That is very material. I am trying to test your credibility because according to you these
checks have been issued in Pasig in the place of your client on a retainer. That's why I
am asking your client
COMM. DULAY:
The name of the client is not material I think. It is enough that he said it was issued here
in Pasig. What building?
ATTY. DECIEMBRE:
AIC Corporate Center, Your Honor.
COMM. DULAY:
What is the materiality of knowing the name of his client's office?
ATTY. PUNZALAN:
Because, Your Honor, the materiality is to find out whether he is telling the truth. The
place, Your Honor, according to the respondent is his client. Now I am asking who is
that client?
COMM. DULAY:
Your answer.
ATTY. DECIEMBRE:
A.

It is AIC Realty Corporation at AIC Building.

Q.
And the same date likewise, the complainants in the afternoon issued PNB Check Nos.
0046243 and 0046244, is that correct?
A.

Yes.

Q.
So would you want to tell this Honorable office that there were four checks issued in the
place of your client in Pasig City, two in the morning and two in the afternoon?
A.

That is correct, sir.

"Respondent was clearly not being truthful in his narration of the transaction with the complainants. As
between his version as to when the four checks were given, we find the story of complainant[s] more
credible. Respondent has blatantly distorted the truth, insofar as the place where the transaction
involving the four checks took place. Such distortion on a very material fact would seriously cast doubt
on his version of the transaction with complainants.
"Furthermore respondent's statements as to the time when the transactions took place are also obviously
and glaringly inconsistent and contradicts the written statements made before the public prosecutors.
Thus further adding to the lack of credibility of respondent's version of the transaction.

"Complainants' version that they issued blank checks to respondent as security for the payment of a loan
of P10,000.00 plus interest, and that respondent filled up the checks in amounts not agreed upon appears
to be more credible. Complainants herein are mere employees of the Central Post Office in Manila who
had a previous loan of P10,000.00 from respondent and which has since been paid x x x. Respondent
does not deny the said transaction. This appears to be the only previous transaction between the parties.
In fact, complainants were even late in paying the loan when it fell due such that they had to pay
interest. That respondent would trust them once more by giving them another P200,000.00 allegedly to
be used for a business and immediately release the amounts under the circumstances described by
respondent does not appear credible given the background of the previous transaction and personal
circumstances of complainants. That respondent who is a lawyer would not even bother to ask from
complainants a receipt for the money he has given, nor bother to verify and ask them what businesses
they would use the money for contributes further to the lack of credibility of respondent's version.
These circumstances really cast doubt as to the version of respondent with regard to the transaction. The
resolution of the public prosecutors notwithstanding we believe respondent is clearly lacking in honesty
in dealing with the complainants. Complainant Franklin Olbes had to be jailed as a result of
respondent's filing of the criminal cases. Parenthetically, we note that respondent has also filed similar
cases against the co-employees of complainants in the Central Post Office and respondent is facing
similar complaints in the IBP for his actions."15
The Court's Ruling
We agree with the findings and conclusions of Commissioner Dulay, as approved and adopted by the IBP Board
of Governors. However, the penalty should be more severe than what the IBP recommended.
Respondent's Administrative Liability
Membership in the legal profession is a special privilege burdened with conditions. 16 It is bestowed upon
individuals who are not only learned in the law, but also known to possess good moral character. 17 "A lawyer is
an oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics,
and whose primary duty is the advancement of the quest for truth and justice, for which he [or she] has sworn to
be a fearless crusader."18
By taking the lawyer's oath, an attorney becomes a guardian of truth and the rule of law, and an indispensable
instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice. 19 Lawyers should act and comport themselves with
honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach, in order to promote the public's faith in the legal
profession.20
The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically mandates the following:
"Canon 1. A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support
the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xxx

xxx

xxx

"Rule 7.03.
A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of
the legal profession."
A high standard of excellence and ethics is expected and required of members of the bar. 21 Such conduct of
nobility and uprightness should remain with them, whether in their public or in their private lives. As officers of
the courts and keepers of the public's faith, they are burdened with the highest degree of social responsibility and

are thus mandated to behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and honor.22
The oath that lawyers swear to likewise impresses upon them the duty of exhibiting the highest degree of good
faith, fairness and candor in their relationships with others. The oath is a sacred trust that must be upheld and
kept inviolable at all times. Thus, lawyers may be disciplined for any conduct, whether in their professional or
in their private capacity, if such conduct renders them unfit to continue to be officers of the court. 23
In the present case, the IBP commissioner gave credence to the story of petitioners, who said that they had given
five blank personal checks to respondent at the Central Post Office in Manila as security for the P10,000 loan
they had contracted. Found untrue and unbelievable was respondent's assertion that they had filled up the checks
and exchanged these with his cash at Quezon City and Cainta, Rizal. After a careful review of the records, we
find no reason to deviate from these findings.
Under the circumstances, there is no need to stretch one's imagination to arrive at an inevitable conclusion.
Respondent does not deny the P10,000 loan obtained from him by petitioners. According to Franklin Olbes'
testimony on cross-examination, they asked respondent for the blank checks after the loan had been paid. On the
pretext that he was not able to bring the checks with him, 24 he was not able to return them. He thus committed
abominable dishonesty by abusing the confidence reposed in him by petitioners. It was their high regard for him
as a member of the bar that made them trust him with their blank checks. 25
It is also glaringly clear that the Code of Professional Responsibility was seriously transgressed by his
malevolent act of filling up the blank checks by indicating amounts that had not been agreed upon at all and
despite respondent's full knowledge that the loan supposed to be secured by the checks had already been paid.
His was a brazen act of falsification of a commercial document, resorted to for his material gain.
And he did not stop there. Because the checks were dishonored upon presentment, respondent had the temerity
to initiate unfounded criminal suits against petitioners, thereby exhibiting his vile intent to have them punished
and deprived of liberty for frustrating the criminal duplicity he had wanted to foist on them. As a matter of fact,
one of the petitioners (Franklin) was detained for three months 26 because of the Complaints. Respondent is
clearly guilty of serious dishonesty and professional misconduct. He committed an act indicative of moral
depravity not expected from, and highly unbecoming, a member of the bar.
Good moral character is an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into the practice of law. It is equally
essential to observe this norm meticulously during the continuance of the practice and the exercise of the
privilege.27 Good moral character includes at least common honesty. 28 No moral qualification for bar
membership is more important than truthfulness and candor.29 The rigorous ethics of the profession places a
premium on honesty and condemns duplicitous behavior.30 Lawyers must be ministers of truth. Hence, they
must not mislead the court or allow it to be misled by any artifice. In all their dealings, they are expected to act
in good faith.31
Deception and other fraudulent acts are not merely unacceptable practices that are disgraceful and
dishonorable;32 they reveal a basic moral flaw. The standards of the legal profession are not satisfied by conduct
that merely enables one to escape the penalties of criminal laws. 33
Considering the depravity of the offense committed by respondent, we find the penalty recommended by the IBP
of suspension for two years from the practice of law to be too mild. His propensity for employing deceit and
misrepresentation is reprehensible. His misuse of the filled-up checks that led to the detention of one petitioner
is loathsome.
In Eustaquio v. Rimorin,34 the forging of a special power of attorney (SPA) by the respondent to make it appear
that he was authorized to sell another's property, as well as his fraudulent and malicious inducement of Alicia
Rubis to sign a Memorandum of Agreement to give a semblance of legality to the SPA, were sanctioned with
suspension from the practice of law for five years. Here, the conduct of herein respondent is even worse. He
used falsified checks as bases for maliciously indicting petitioners and thereby caused the detention of one of
them.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Victor V. Deciembre is found guilty of gross misconduct and violation of Rules 1.01 and
7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby indefinitely SUSPENDED from the practice of
law effective immediately. Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts as well as the Office of the Bar
Confidant, which is directed to append a copy to respondent's personal record. Let another copy be furnished the
National Office of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
BAR MATTER No. 914

October 1, 1999

RE: APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE PHILIPPINE BAR,


vs.
VICENTE D. CHING, applicant
RESOLUTION

KAPUNAN, J.:
Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino mother and an alien father validly elect
Philippine citizenship fourteen (14) years after he has reached the age of majority? This is the question sought to
be resolved in the present case involving the application for admission to the Philippine Bar of Vicente D. Ching.
The facts of this case are as follows:
Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a Chinese citizen, and Prescila A. Dulay, a
Filipino, was born in Francia West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his birth, Ching has resided in the
Philippines.
On 17 July 1998, Ching, after having completed a Bachelor of Laws course at the St. Louis University in Baguio
City, filed an application to take the 1998 Bar Examinations. In a Resolution of this Court, dated 1 September
1998, he was allowed to take the Bar Examinations, subject to the condition that he must submit to the Court
proof of his Philippine citizenship.
In compliance with the above resolution, Ching submitted on 18 November 1998, the following documents:
1. Certification, dated 9 June 1986, issued by the Board of Accountancy of the Professional Regulations
Commission showing that Ching is a certified public accountant;
2. Voter Certification, dated 14 June 1997, issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, Election Officer of the Commission on
Elections (COMELEC) in Tubao La Union showing that Ching is a registered voter of the said place; and
3. Certification, dated 12 October 1998, also issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, showing that Ching was elected as a
member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tubao, La Union during the 12 May 1992 synchronized elections.
On 5 April 1999, the results of the 1998 Bar Examinations were released and Ching was one of the successful
Bar examinees. The oath-taking of the successful Bar examinees was scheduled on 5 May 1999. However,

because of the questionable status of Chings citizenship, he was not allowed to take his oath. Pursuant to the
resolution of this Court, dated 20 April 1999, he was required to submit further proof of his citizenship. In the
same resolution, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was required to file a comment on Chings petition
for admission to the bar and on the documents evidencing his Philippine citizenship.
The OSG filed its comment on 8 July 1999, stating that Ching, being the legitimate child of a Chinese father
and a Filipino mother born under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen and continued to be so, unless
upon reaching the age of majority he elected Philippine citizenship 1 in strict compliance with the provisions of
Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled An Act Providing for the Manner in which the Option to Elect Philippine
Citizenship shall be Declared by a Person Whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen. The OSG adds that (w)hat he
acquired at best was only an inchoate Philippine citizenship which he could perfect by election upon reaching
the age of majority. 2 In this regard, the OSG clarifies that two (2) conditions must concur in order that the
election of Philippine citizenship may be effective, namely: (a) the mother of the person making the election
must be a citizen of the Philippines; and (b) said election must be made upon reaching the age of majority. 3 The
OSG then explains the meaning of the phrase upon reaching the age of majority:
The clause upon reaching the age of majority has been construed to mean a reasonable time after reaching the
age of majority which had been interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be three (3) years (VELAYO, supra at
p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice No. 70, s. 1940, Feb. 27, 1940). Said period may be extended under certain
circumstances, as when a (sic) person concerned has always considered himself a Filipino (ibid., citing Op. Nos.
355 and 422, s. 1955; 3, 12, 46, 86 and 97, s. 1953). But in Cuenco, it was held that an election done after over
seven (7) years was not made within a reasonable time.
In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has not formally elected Philippine citizenship and, if ever he does,
it would already be beyond the reasonable time allowed by present jurisprudence. However, due to the
peculiar circumstances surrounding Chings case, the OSG recommends the relaxation of the standing rule on
the construction of the phrase reasonable period and the allowance of Ching to elect Philippine citizenship in
accordance with C.A. No. 625 prior to taking his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar.
On 27 July 1999, Ching filed a Manifestation, attaching therewith his Affidavit of Election of Philippine
Citizenship and his Oath of Allegiance, both dated 15 July 1999. In his Manifestation, Ching states:
1. I have always considered myself as a Filipino;
2. I was registered as a Filipino and consistently declared myself as one in my school records and other official
documents;
3. I am practicing a profession (Certified Public Accountant) reserved for Filipino citizens;
4. I participated in electoral process[es] since the time I was eligible to vote;
5. I had served the people of Tubao, La Union as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan from 1992 to 1995;
6. I elected Philippine citizenship on July 15, 1999 in accordance with Commonwealth Act No. 625;
7. My election was expressed in a statement signed and sworn to by me before a notary public;
8. I accompanied my election of Philippine citizenship with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the
Government of the Philippines;
9. I filed my election of Philippine citizenship and my oath of allegiance to (sic) the Civil Registrar of Tubao La
Union, and
10. I paid the amount of TEN PESOS (Ps. 10.00) as filing fees.

Since Ching has already elected Philippine citizenship on 15 July 1999, the question raised is whether he has
elected Philippine citizenship within a reasonable time. In the affirmative, whether his citizenship by election
retroacted to the time he took the bar examination.
When Ching was born in 1964, the governing charter was the 1935 Constitution. Under Article IV, Section 1(3)
of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father
followed the citizenship of the father, unless, upon reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine
citizenship. 4 This right to elect Philippine citizenship was recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it provided
that (t)hose who elect Philippine citizenship pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred
and thirty-five are citizens of the Philippines. 5 Likewise, this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried
over to the 1987 Constitution which states that (t)hose born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who
elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority are Philippine citizens. 6 It should be noted,
however, that the 1973 and 1987 Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship should not be
understood as having a curative effect on any irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for those covered by
the 1935 Constitution. 7 If the citizenship of a person was subject to challenge under the old charter, it remains
subject to challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been commenced before the
effectivity of the new Constitution. 8
C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the
procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship. Under Section 1
thereof, legitimate children born of Filipino mothers may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing such
intention in a statement to be signed and sworn to by the party concerned before any officer authorized to
administer oaths, and shall be filed with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the aforesaid
statement with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines.
However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not prescribe a time period within which the election of
Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the election should be made upon
reaching the age of majority. The age of majority then commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. 9 In
the opinions of the Secretary of Justice on cases involving the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this
dilemma was resolved by basing the time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935
Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the
pronouncements of the Department of State of the United States Government to the effect that the election
should be made within a reasonable time after attaining the age of majority. 10 The phrase reasonable time
has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made within three (3) years from reaching the age of
majority. 11 However, we held in Cuenco vs. Secretary of Justice, 12 that the three (3) year period is not an
inflexible rule. We said:
It is true that this clause has been construed to mean a reasonable period after reaching the age of majority, and
that the Secretary of Justice has ruled that three (3) years is the reasonable time to elect Philippine citizenship
under the constitutional provision adverted to above, which period may be extended under certain circumstances,
as when the person concerned has always considered himself a Filipino. 13
However, we cautioned in Cuenco that the extension of the option to elect Philippine citizenship is not
indefinite:
Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was born on February 16, 1923. He became of age on February 16, 1944.
His election of citizenship was made on May 15, 1951, when he was over twenty-eight (28) years of age, or over
seven (7) years after he had reached the age of majority. It is clear that said election has not been made upon
reaching the age of majority. 14
In the present case, Ching, having been born on 11 April 1964, was already thirty-five (35) years old when he
complied with the requirements of C.A. No. 625 on 15 June 1999, or over fourteen (14) years after he had
reached the age of majority. Based on the interpretation of the phrase upon reaching the age of majority,
Chings election was clearly beyond, by any reasonable yardstick, the allowable period within which to exercise
the privilege. It should be stated, in this connection, that the special circumstances invoked by Ching, i.e., his
continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines and his being a certified public accountant, a registered

voter and a former elected public official, cannot vest in him Philippine citizenship as the law specifically lays
down the requirements for acquisition of Philippine citizenship by election.
Definitely, the so-called special circumstances cannot constitute what Ching erroneously labels as informal
election of citizenship. Ching cannot find a refuge in the case of In re: Florencio Mallare, 15 the pertinent portion
of which reads:
And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were (sic) legally married to an alien, Estebans exercise of the
right of suffrage when he came of age, constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship. It has been
established that Esteban Mallare was a registered voter as of April 14, 1928, and that as early as 1925 (when he
was about 22 years old), Esteban was already participating in the elections and campaigning for certain
candidate[s]. These acts are sufficient to show his preference for Philippine citizenship. 16
Chings reliance on Mallare is misplaced. The facts and circumstances obtaining therein are very different from
those in the present case, thus, negating its applicability. First, Esteban Mallare was born before the effectivity of
the 1935 Constitution and the enactment of C.A. No. 625. Hence, the requirements and procedures prescribed
under the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 for electing Philippine citizenship would not be applicable to him.
Second, the ruling in Mallare was an obiter since, as correctly pointed out by the OSG, it was not necessary for
Esteban Mallare to elect Philippine citizenship because he was already a Filipino, he being a natural child of a
Filipino mother. In this regard, the Court stated:
Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is therefore himself a Filipino, and no other act would
be necessary to confer on him all the rights and privileges attached to Philippine citizenship (U.S. vs. Ong
Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543, Serra vs. Republic, L4223, May 12, 1952, Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16, 1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28,
1954). Neither could any act be taken on the erroneous belief that he is a non-Filipino divest him of the
citizenship privileges to which he is rightfully entitled. 17
The ruling in Mallare was reiterated and further elaborated in Co vs. Electoral Tribunal of the House of
Representatives, 18 where we held:
We have jurisprudence that defines election as both a formal and an informal process.
In the case of In re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45 [1974]), the Court held that the exercise of the right of
suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship.
In the exact pronouncement of the Court, we held:
Estebans exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age constitutes a positive act of Philippine
citizenship. (p. 52: emphasis supplied)
The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of suffrage. He has established his life here in the
Philippines.
For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent who cannot be excepted to have elected Philippine
citizenship as they were already citizens, we apply the In Re Mallare rule.
xxx xxx xxx
The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a requirement for those who still have to elect
citizenship. For those already Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of deliberate choice which
cannot be less binding. Entering a profession open only to Filipinos, serving in public office where citizenship is
a qualification, voting during election time, running for public office, and other categorical acts of similar nature
are themselves formal manifestations for these persons.
An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that the person electing is an alien. Or his status is doubtful
because he is a national of two countries. There is no doubt in this case about Mr. Ongs being a Filipino when

he turned twenty-one (21).


We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of the private respondent would not only have
been superfluous but it would also have resulted in an absurdity. How can a Filipino citizen elect Philippine
citizenship? 19
The Court, like the OSG, is sympathetic with the plight of Ching. However, even if we consider the special
circumstances in the life of Ching like his having lived in the Philippines all his life and his consistent belief that
he is a Filipino, controlling statutes and jurisprudence constrain us to disagree with the recommendation of the
OSG. Consequently, we hold that Ching failed to validly elect Philippine citizenship. The span of fourteen (14)
years that lapsed from the time he reached the age of majority until he finally expressed his intention to elect
Philippine citizenship is clearly way beyond the contemplation of the requirement of electing upon reaching the
age of majority. Moreover, Ching has offered no reason why he delayed his election of Philippine citizenship.
The prescribed procedure in electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious and painstaking process. All
that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file
the same with the nearest civil registry. Chings unreasonable and unexplained delay in making his election
cannot be simply glossed over.
Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that can be claimed when needed and suppressed
when convenient. 20 One who is privileged to elect Philippine citizenship has only an inchoate right to such
citizenship. As such, he should avail of the right with fervor, enthusiasm and promptitude. Sadly, in this case,
Ching slept on his opportunity to elect Philippine citizenship and, as a result, this golden privilege slipped away
from his grasp.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court Resolves to DENY Vicente D. Chings application for admission
to the Philippine Bar.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.C. No. 4585

November 12, 2004

MICHAEL P. BARRIOS, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. FRANCISCO P. MARTINEZ, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:
This is a verified petition1 for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco Martinez for having been convicted by
final judgment in Criminal Case No. 6608 of a crime involving moral turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional
Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.2
The dispositive portion of the same states:
WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime for (sic) violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 charged in the Information. He is imposed a penalty
of one (1) year imprisonment and fine double the amount of the check which is EIGHT THOUSAND
(8,000.00) PESOS, plus payment of the tax pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue Code and
costs against the accused.3

Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and the Entry of Judgment from this Court
dated 20 March 1996.
On 03 July 1996, we required4 respondent to comment on said petition within ten (10) days from notice. On 17
February 1997, we issued a second resolution 5 requiring him to show cause why no disciplinary action should be
imposed on him for failure to comply with our earlier Resolution, and to submit said Comment. On 07 July
1997, we imposed a fine of P1,000 for respondent's failure to file said Comment and required him to comply
with our previous resolution within ten days. 6 On 27 April 1998, we fined respondent an additional P2,000 and
required him to comply with the resolution requiring his comment within ten days under pain of imprisonment
and arrest for a period of five (5) days or until his compliance. 7 Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost three
years later, we declared respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec. 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of
Civil Procedure and ordered his imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid resolutions. 8
On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported 9 that respondent was arrested in Tacloban City
on 26 March 1999, but was subsequently released after having shown proof of compliance with the resolutions
of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998 by remitting the amount of P2,000 and submitting his long overdue
Comment.
In the said Comment 10 dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that:
1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he was at that time undergoing
medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo, Leyte;
2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997; and
3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was decided in respondent's favor
(as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent avers that as a result of his moving for the execution of
judgment in his favor and the eviction of the family of herein complainant Michael Barrios, the latter
filed the present administrative case.
In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the Provincial Prosecution Office of Tacloban
City submitted a letter11 to the First Division Clerk of Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged
in another estafa case before the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch 9, as well as a civil case
involving the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar,
Branch 30 rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having been dismissed by the Court of Appeals.
In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar, 12 it appears that herein
respondent Atty. Martinez offered his legal services to the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy for free. However,
when the plaintiff in the said civil case was issued a check for P90,000 by Sulpicio Lines representing
compensation for the deaths of his wife and two daughters, Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse said check,
which was then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, Atty. Martinez's wife. When plaintiff asked for his
money, he was only able to recover a total of P30,000. Atty. Martinez claimed the remaining P60,000 as his
attorney's fees. Holding that it was "absurd and totally ridiculous that for a simple legal service he would
collect 2/3 of the money claim," the trial court ordered Atty. Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the amount of
P60,000 with interest, P5,000 for moral and exemplary damages, and the costs of the suit.
Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinez's dilatory tactics during the trial, citing fourteen (14)
specific instances thereof. Martinez's appeal from the above judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for
his failure to file his brief, despite having been granted three thirty (30)-day extensions to do so. 13
On 16 June 1999, we referred14 the present case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report, and recommendation.
The report15 of IBP Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan stated in part that:

Several dates for the hearing of the case were scheduled but none of the parties appeared before the
Commission, until finally it was considered submitted for resolution last 27 June 2002. On the same date
respondent filed a motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the complainant died sometime
in June 1997 and that dismissal is warranted because "the case filed by him does not survive due to his
demise; as a matter of fact, it is extinguished upon his death."
We disagree with respondent's contention.
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, the Honorable Supreme Court or the
IBP may motu proprio initiate the proceedings when they perceive acts of lawyers which deserve
sanctions or when their attention is called by any one and a probable cause exists that an act has been
perpetrated by a lawyer which requires disciplinary sanctions.
As earlier cited, respondent lawyer's propensity to disregard or ignore orders of the Honorable Supreme
Court for which he was fined twice, arrested and imprisoned reflects an utter lack of good moral
character.
Respondent's conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (estafa and/or violation of BP Blg. 22)
clearly shows his unfitness to protect the administration of justice and therefore justifies the imposition
of sanctions against him (see In re: Abesamis, 102 Phil. 1182; In re: Jaramillo, 101 Phil. 323; In re:
Vinzon, 19 SCRA 815; Medina vs. Bautista, 12 SCRA 1, People vs. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30
Jan. 1990).
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that respondent Atty. Francisco P.
Martinez be disbarred and his name stricken out from the Roll of Attorneys immediately.
On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution 16 adopting and approving the report and
recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner.
On 03 December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation, 17 in the
instant case alleging that:
1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner is tantamount to a
deprivation of property without due process of law, although admittedly the practice of law is a
privilege;
2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and allowed to adduce evidence, the
result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at by the Investigating Commissioner; and
3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in various capacities (from acting city
judge to Municipal Judges League Leyte Chapter President) for almost 17 years prior to resuming his
law practice.
On 14 January 2004, we required18 complainant to file a comment within ten days. On 16 February 2004, we
received a Manifestation and Motion 19 from complainant's daughter, Diane Francis Barrios Latoja, alleging that
they had not been furnished with a copy of respondent's Motion, notwithstanding the fact that respondent
ostensibly lives next door to complainant's family. Required to Comment on 17 May 2004, respondent has until
now failed to do so.
The records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of said Motion to herein complainant. The
records also show that respondent was given several opportunities to present evidence by this Court 20 as well as
by the IBP.21 Indeed, he only has himself to blame, for he has failed to present his case despite several occasions
to do so. It is now too late in the day for respondent to ask this court to receive his evidence.
This court, moreover, is unwilling to exercise the same patience that it did when it waited for his comment on the
original petition. At any rate, after a careful consideration of the records of the instant case, we find the evidence

on record sufficient to support the IBP's findings.


Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended from his
office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office,
grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any
violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of
any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case
without authority to do so.
In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by final judgment for violation of B.P. Blg.
22 for issuing a worthless check in the amount of P8,000. The issue with which we are now concerned is
whether or not the said crime is one involving moral turpitude. 22
Moral turpitude "includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals." 23 It
involves "an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to
society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or
conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals." 24
In People of the Philippines v. Atty. Fe Tuanda,25 where the erring lawyer was indefinitely suspended for having
been convicted of three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, we held that conviction by final judgment of
violation of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude and stated:
We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and violation of her
attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey
the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant case,
violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, it
certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such offense26
(emphasis supplied)
Over ten years later, we reiterated the above ruling in Villaber v. Commission on Elections27 and disqualified a
congressional candidate for having been sentenced by final judgment for three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22
in accordance with Sec. 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, which states:
SEC. 12. Disqualifications. Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or
incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any
offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months, or for a crime
involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has
been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty. (emphasis supplied)
Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time
of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the check in
full upon its presentment, is a manifestation of moral turpitude. Notwithstanding therein petitioner's averment
that he was not a lawyer, we nevertheless applied our ruling in People v. Tuanda, to the effect that
(A) conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, "imports deceit" and "certainly relates to and affects the
good moral character of a person." [Indeed] the effects of the issuance of a worthless check, as we held
in the landmark case of Lozano v. Martinez, through Justice Pedro L. Yap, "transcends the private
interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at
large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public"
since the circulation of valueless commercial papers "can very well pollute the channels of trade and
commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest."
Thus, paraphrasing Black's definition, a drawer who issues an unfunded check deliberately reneges on
his private duties he owes his fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary
rule of right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals.28 (emphasis supplied)
In the recent case of Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro,29 we stated that:

(T)he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account
indicates a lawyer's unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal
honesty and good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. [Cuizon v. Macalino,
A.C. No. 4334, 07 July 2004] The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless
attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public interest and public
order. [Lao v. Medel, 405 SCRA 227] It also manifests a lawyer's low regard for her commitment to the
oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the
profession she should hold in high esteem. [Sanchez v. Somoso, A.C. No. 6061, 03 October 2003]
Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check without sufficient funds to cover the same constitutes
such willful dishonesty and immoral conduct as to undermine the public confidence in law and lawyers. And
while "the general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily
assume jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in his non-professional or private capacity, where, however,
the misconduct outside of the lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a character as to show him morally unfit
for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer on him, the court may be
justified in suspending or removing him from the office of attorney." 30
The argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due
process of law is also untenable. As respondent himself admits, the practice of law is a privilege. The purpose of
a proceeding for disbarment is "to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this
important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose
confidence."31 "A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the
complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private
interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public
welfare, and for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of persons unfit to
practice them."32 "Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the
courts and to their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as
embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend
lawyers for any professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
probity and good demeanor or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the Court." 33
Nor are we inclined to look with favor upon respondent's plea that if "given another chance to have his day in
court and to adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at." We note with
displeasure the inordinate length of time respondent took in responding to our requirement to submit his
Comment on the original petition to disbar him. These acts constitute a willful disobedience of the lawful orders
of this Court, which under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is in itself a cause sufficient for suspension or
disbarment. Thus, from the time we issued our first Resolution on 03 July 1996 requiring him to submit his
Comment, until 16 March 1999, when he submitted said Comment to secure his release from arrest, almost three
years had elapsed.
It is revealing that despite the unwarranted length of time it took respondent to comply, his Comment consists of
all of two pages, a copy of which, it appears, he neglected to furnish complainant. 34 And while he claims to have
been confined while undergoing medical treatment at the time our Resolution of 17 February 1997 was issued,
he merely reserved the submission of a certification to that effect. Nor, indeed, was he able to offer any
explanation for his failure to submit his Comment from the time we issued our first Resolution of 03 July 1996
until 16 March 1999. In fact, said Comment alleged, merely, that the complainant, Michael Barrios, passed away
sometime in June 1997, and imputed upon the latter unsupported ill-motives for instituting the said Petition
against him, which argument has already been resolved squarely in the abovementioned IBP report.
Moreover, the IBP report cited the failure of both parties to appear before the Commission as the main reason for
the long delay, until the same was finally submitted for Resolution on 27 June 2002. Respondent, therefore,
squandered away seven years to "have his day in court and adduce evidence" in his behalf, which inaction also
unduly delayed the court's prompt disposition of this petition.
In Pajares v. Abad Santos,35 we reminded attorneys that "there must be more faithful adherence to Rule 7,
Section 5 of the Rules of Court [now Rule 7, Section 3] which provides that the signature of an attorney

constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to the best of his knowledge, information
and belief, there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay, and expressly admonishes
that for a willful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to disciplinary action. 36 It is noteworthy that
in the past, the Court has disciplined lawyers and judges for willful disregard of its orders to file comments or
appellant's briefs, as a penalty for disobedience thereof. 37
For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondent's old age and the fact that he served in the judiciary
in various capacities in his favor. If at all, we hold respondent to a higher standard for it, for a judge should be
the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence, 38 and his conduct should be above reproach.39 The
fact that respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean he is now free to conduct himself in
less honorable or indeed in a less than honorable manner.
We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege, 40 demanding a high degree of good moral
character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice of
law.41 Sadly, herein respondent falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal
profession.
The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law. We agree.
We come now to the matter of the penalty imposable in this case. In Co v. Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we
upheld the imposition of one year's suspension for non-payment of debt and issuance of worthless checks, or a
suspension of six months upon partial payment of the obligation. 42 However, in these cases, for various reasons,
none of the issuances resulted in a conviction by the erring lawyers for either estafa or B.P. Blg. 22. Thus, we
held therein that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be
sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law.
In the instant case, however, herein respondent has been found guilty and stands convicted by final judgment of a
crime involving moral turpitude. In People v. Tuanda, which is similar to this case in that both respondents were
convicted for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 which we have held to be such a crime, we affirmed the order of
suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals, until further orders.
However, in a long line of cases, some of which were decided after Tuanda, we have held disbarment to be the
appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Thus:
1. In In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo,43 we disbarred a lawyer
convicted of estafa without discussing the circumstances behind his conviction. We held that:
There is no question that the crime of estafa involves moral turpitude. The review of
respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has become final but has
been executed. No elaborate argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the
privilege bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his conviction, the
respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the administration of justice. 44
2. In In Re: Dalmacio De Los Angeles,45 a lawyer was convicted of the crime of attempted bribery in a
final decision rendered by the Court of Appeals. "And since bribery is admittedly a felony involving
moral turpitude (7 C.J.S., p. 736; 5 Am. Jur. p. 428), this Court, much as it sympathizes with the plight
of respondent, is constrained to decree his disbarment as ordained by Section 25 of Rule 127." 46
3. In Ledesma De Jesus-Paras v. Quinciano Vailoces,47 the erring lawyer acknowledged the execution of
a document purporting to be a last will and testament, which later turned out to be a forgery. He was
found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document, which the Court
held to be a crime involving moral turpitude, said act being contrary to justice, honesty and good morals,
and was subsequently disbarred.
4. In In Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Atty. Diosdado Q. Gutierrez,48 Atty. Gutierrez was
convicted for murder. After serving a portion of the sentence, he was granted a conditional pardon by the

President. Holding that the pardon was not absolute and thus did not reach the offense itself but merely
remitted the unexecuted portion of his term, the court nevertheless disbarred him.
5. In In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon,49 Atty. Vinzon was convicted of the crime of estafa for
misappropriating the amount of P7,000.00, and was subsequently disbarred. We held thus:
Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there can be no question that
the term "moral turpitude" includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or
good morals. In essence and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral
turpitude because the act is unquestionably against justice, honesty and good morals (In re
Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962; Bouvier's Law Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil.
275-76). As respondent's guilt cannot now be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable. (emphasis
supplied)50
6. In In Re: Attorney Jose Avancea,51 the conditional pardon extended to the erring lawyer by the Chief
Executive also failed to relieve him of the penalty of disbarment imposed by this court.
7. In In Re Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,52 a lawyer was charged and found guilty of the crime of
falsification of public document for having prepared and notarized a deed of sale of a parcel of land
knowing that the supposed affiant was an impostor and that the vendor had been dead for almost eight
years. We ruled that disbarment follows as a consequence of a lawyer's conviction by final judgment of a
crime involving moral turpitude, and since the crime of falsification of public document involves moral
turpitude, we ordered respondent's name stricken off the roll of attorneys.
8. In Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana,53 we upheld the recommendation of the IBP Board
of Governors to disbar a lawyer who had been convicted of estafa through falsification of public
documents, because she was "totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession." 54
9. In Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson,55 a lawyer was disbarred for having been
convicted of estafa by final judgment for misappropriating the funds of his client.
In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. "Of all classes and professions, the lawyer
is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to
repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bands of society, argues
recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements
of the body politic."56
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez is hereby dISBARRED and his name is ORDERED
STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondent's 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.
SECOND DIVISION
[A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000]
LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an
immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.

The relevant facts are:


On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon
City[1] and as a result of their marital union, they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and
Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband,
Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a
daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang
Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of the
Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982.
Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then visited respondent at
her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon,
respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was over
between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought things would
turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent would come to an
end.
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent
continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child.
Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to
discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and
complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company.
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the
complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on
an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,[2] respondent averred that she
met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however,
that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She
stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got
married in Hawaii, USA in 1985[3]. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The
latter continued to live with his children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted
to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.
[4]
In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only return occasionally to
the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in
June 1988, respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful
wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left
for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On
March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm[5] she was connected with, the woman
who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui
has been communicating with her.
It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because they were married abroad
and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him.
Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street,
Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her
mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively from her parents funds.[6] By way
of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00)
against complainant for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against
respondent.
In her Reply[7] dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent knew perfectly well that
Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos
Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui.

During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also charged her husband, Carlos
Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed
as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the
offense charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads:
Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit relationship"
between the respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The same
evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the
latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989.
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of respondents started and
was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still
living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they,
admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or
later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as
complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by complainants evidence, this same
evidence had failed to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the
concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is
necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense charged. The
statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of
cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs.
Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their respective
positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for
want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.[8]
Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but the
same was dismissed [9] on the ground of insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and
Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro
Manila.
In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite
Respondent in Contempt of the Commission [10] wherein she charged respondent with making false allegations
in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in
the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she was
married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment.
However, the Certificate of Marriage [11] duly certified by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file
in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio
was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to
complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP
that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.[12] It is the contention of complainant that
such act constitutes a violation of Articles 183[13] and 184[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt of
the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and submitting an
altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her
unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt),[15] respondent averred that she did not have
the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she

annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in
her possession.
Respondent filed her Memorandum [16] on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue of whether or not she
has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law.
Respondent averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of good
moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself in an
immoral manner.[17]
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim in this case and not Leslie
Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent
immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time
that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so
open in his courtship.[18]
On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her to have
knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered.
Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to Carlos
Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before
complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988.
Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for
changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to
rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter.

Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child, pictures of
respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS
313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car bearing
Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage,[19] does not prove that she acted in an immoral
manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer from a
private security agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the
Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui
against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged [20] and the dismissal
of the appeal by the Department of Justice [21] to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or
illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship
with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless, nor can
it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her
discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him.
In the Memorandum [22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of
Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a
married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents mother, Mrs.
Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were clients of
the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager.[23] It was thus highly improbable that respondent, who
was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a
married man. Complainant likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for
submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date.
In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum [24], respondent stated that complainant miserably failed to show
sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant,
there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The

allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was made
known to respondent.
Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and
Recommendation, finding that:
In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter
represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to
believe in the light of contemporary human experience.
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents himself to be single,
separated, or without any firm commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to
fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.
The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos
Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When
she returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro
Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom
he was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the part of
respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high
degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve
compassion rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of
having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl.
x..........................x..........................x"
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated
December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case,
herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the complaint for
Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is
REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of
Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty."
We agree with the findings aforequoted.
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal
profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate
of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the
practice of law are:
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
b. a resident thereof;
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
d. a person of good moral character;
e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed or
pending in court;

f. possess the required educational qualifications; and


g. pass the bar examinations.[25] (Italics supplied)
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must
possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a
requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the
revocation of such privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession
of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession.
Membership in the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character.
(Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a
crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition
to professional probity.
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly
immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer
unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be
unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants
disbarment.
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and
which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the
community." (7 C.J.S. 959).[26]
In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and
believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such
marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left
him.
Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent are not only far from
simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined.
Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness
notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility
and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to believe that
perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised prudence
and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis personal background prior to her intimate
involvement with him.
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents suspicion that something was
amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent
admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she
never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite
their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply
incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing her
personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what
respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that
shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community.[27] Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral,"
that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a
high degree.[28]

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous
relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that
he is flouting those moral standards."[29] Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui
upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no
intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainants bare assertions
to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will
exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.
[30] This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her Answer, we find improbable
to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which
was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would
verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the
case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and
highly improbable.
Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her pleading,
especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching
such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot
stand.
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal
profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar,
free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand
no less than the highest degree of morality.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality,
is hereby DISMISSED.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage
Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction
will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
[SBC Case No. 519. July 31, 1997]
PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR., respondent.
RESOLUTION
ROMERO, J.:
In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be
denied admission to the legal profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the fourth
attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Before he could take his oath, however,
complainant filed the instant petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts, that a child out of
wedlock was born to them and that respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises to marry her.
The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June and July 1971.
Respondent and complainant were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their teens,
they were steadies. Respondent even acted as escort to complainant when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town
fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual congress with respondent sometime in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a
son, Rafael Barranco, born on December 11, 1964.[1] It was after the child was born, complainant alleged, that

respondent first promised he would marry her after he passes the bar examinations. Their relationship continued
and respondent allegedly made more than twenty or thirty promises of marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the
child on the latters birthdays. Her trust in him and their relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that
respondent married another woman. Hence, this petition.
Upon complainants motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies of witnesses by deposition in 1972.
On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing complainants
failure to comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid
testimonies by deposition. Complainant filed her comment stating that she had justifiable reasons in failing to
file the earlier comment required and that she remains interested in the resolution of the present case. On June
18, 1974, the Court denied respondents motion to dismiss.
On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on the ground of abandonment filed by
respondent on September 17, 1979.[2] Respondents third motion to dismiss was noted in the Courts Resolution
dated September 15, 1982.[3] In 1988, respondent repeated his request, citing his election as a member of the
Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay, Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic organizations and good
standing in the community as well as the length of time this case has been pending as reasons to allow him to
take his oath as a lawyer.[4]
On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of complainant to prosecute the
case for an unreasonable period of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyers oath upon payment
of the required fees.[5]
Respondents hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the Court, in response to complainants
opposition, resolved to cancel his scheduled oath-taking. On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBPs report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the case and that respondent be allowed to
take the lawyers oath.
We agree.
Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyers oath in 1971 because of the charges of gross immorality
made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, Patricia
Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise to marry her after he passes the bar examinations.
We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of respondent
from the legal profession. His engaging in premarital sexual relations with complainant and promises to marry
suggests a doubtful moral character on his part but the same does not constitute grossly immoral conduct. The
Court has held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be immoral, but
grossly immoral. A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[6] It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act
which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of respectable members of the community.[7]
We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang[8] quite relevant because mere intimacy between a man and a woman,
both of whom possess no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on the part of
respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against
him, even if as a result of such relationship a child was born out of wedlock.[9]
Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently consensual. We do not find
complainants assertions that she had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to see and be
respondents girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of amicable
and intimate relations refute her allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with him. Complainant
was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued their relationship and was not an innocent young girl
who could be easily led astray. Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with another
woman. We cannot castigate a man for seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a sacred and

perpetual bond which should be entered into because of love, not for any other reason.
We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to
the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing the
profession he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the
twenty-six years that respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient punishment
therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion attributed to him.[10] Respondent, who is
now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed, albeit belatedly, to take the lawyers oath.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to
take his oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees.
SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
A.M. No. L-363

July 31, 1962

IN RE: DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ATTY. DIOSDADO Q. GUTIERREZ, respondent.


Victoriano A. Savellano for complaint.
Nestor M. Andrada for respondent.
MAKALINTAL, J.:
Respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine Bar, admitted to it on October 5, 1945. In
criminal case No. R-793 of the Court of First Instance of Oriental Mindoro he was convicted of the murder of
Filemon Samaco, former municipal mayor of Calapan, and together with his co-conspirators was sentenced to
the penalty of death. Upon review by this Court the judgment of conviction was affirmed on June 30, 1956 (G.R.
No. L-17101), but the penalty was changed to reclusion perpetua. After serving a portion of the sentence
respondent was granted a conditional pardon by the President on August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of the
prison term was remitted "on condition that he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of the Philippines."
On October 9, 1958 the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco, victim in the murder case, filed a verified
complaint before this Court praying that respondent be removed from the roll of lawyers pursuant to Rule 127,
section 5. Respondent presented his answer in due time, admitting the facts alleged by complainant regarding
pardon in defense, on the authority of the decision of this Court in the case of In re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.
Under section 5 of Rule 127, a member of the bar may be removed suspended from his office as attorney by the
Supreme Court by reason of his conviction of a crime insolving moral turpitude. Murder is, without doubt, such
a crime. The term "moral turpitude" includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or
good morals. In re Carlos S. Basa, 41 Phil. 275. As used in disbarment statutes, it means an act of baseness,
vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in
general, contrary to the accepted rule of right and duty between man and man. State ex rel. Conklin v.
Buckingham, 84 P. 2nd 49; 5 Am. Jur. Sec. 279. pp. 428-429.
The only question to be resolved is whether or not the conditional pardon extended to respondent places him
beyond the scope of the rule on disbarment aforecited. Reliance is placed by him squarely on the Lontok case.
The respondent therein was convicted of bigamy and thereafter pardoned by the Governor-General. In a
subsequent viction, this Court decided in his favor and held: "When proceedings to strike an attorney's name
from the rolls the fact of a conviction for a felony ground for disbarment, it has been held that a pardon operates
to wipe out the conviction and is a bar to any proceeding for the disbarment of the attorney after the pardon has

been granted."
It is our view that the ruling does not govern the question now before us. In making it the Court proceeded on the
assumption that the pardon granted to respondent Lontok was absolute. This is implicit in the ratio decidendi of
the case, particularly in the citations to support it, namely. In Re Emmons, 29 Cal. App. 121; Scott vs. State, 6
Tex. Civ. App. 343; and Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 380. Thus in Scott vs. State the court said:
We are of opinion that after received an unconditional pardon the record of the felony conviction could
no longer be used as a basis for the proceeding provided for in article 226. The record, when offered in
evidence, was met with an unconditional pardon, and could not, therefore, properly be said to afford
"proof of a conviction of any felony." Having been thus cancelled, all its force as a felony conviction
was taken away. A pardon falling short of this would not be a pardon, according to the judicial
construction which that act of executive grace was received. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 344; Knote v.
U.S., 95 U.S. 149, and cases there cited; Young v. Young, 61 Tex. 191.
And the portion of the decision in Ex parte Garland quoted with approval in the Lontok case is as follows:
A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt of the offender; and when
the pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out the existence of guilt, so that in the eye of the
law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense. It granted before conviction, it
prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, consequent upon conviction, from attaching; if granted
after conviction, it removes the penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights it makes
him, as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.
The pardon granted to respondent here is not absolute but conditional, and merely remitted the unexecuted
portion of his term. It does not reach the offense itself, unlike that in Ex parte Garland, which was "a full pardon
and amnesty for all offense by him committed in connection with rebellion (civil war) against government of the
United States."
The foregoing considerations rendered In re Lontok are inapplicable here. Respondent Gutierrez must be judged
upon the fact of his conviction for murder without regard to the pardon he invokes in defense. The crime was
qualified by treachery and aggravated by its having been committed in hand, by taking advantage of his official
position (respondent being municipal mayor at the time) and with the use of motor vehicle. People vs. Diosdado
Gutierrez, supra. The degree of moral turpitude involved is such as to justify his being purged from the
profession.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain rigid standards of mental and
moral fitness. For the admission of a candidate to the bar the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic
preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character. These standards are neither dispensed
with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension
or removal. As stated in Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552, 556: "Of all classes and professions, the
lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the
world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them under foot and to ignore the very bonds of society,
argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous
elements of the body politic.
WHEREFORE, pursuant to Rule 127, Section 5, and considering the nature of the crime for which respondent
Diosdado Q. Gutierrez has been convicted, he is ordered disbarred and his name stricken from the roll of
lawyers.
Bengzon, C.J., Labrador,
Padilla, J., took no part.

EN BANC

Concepcion,

Barrera,

Paredes,

Dizon

and

Regala,

JJ.,

concur.

[G.R. No. 159486-88. November 25, 2003]


PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN
[SPECIAL DIVISION], HON. MINITA CHICO-NAZARIO, HON. EDILBERTO SANDOVAL, HON.
TERESITA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
On 23 September 2003, this Court issued its resolution in the above-numbered case; it read:
The case for consideration has been brought to this Court via a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules
of Court filed by Joseph Ejercito Estrada, acting through his counsel Attorney Alan F. Paguia, against the
Sandiganbayan, et al. The Petition prays
1. That Chief Justice Davide and the rest of the members of the Honorable Court disqualify
themselves from hearing and deciding this petition;
2. That the assailed resolutions of the Sandiganbayan be vacated and set aside; and
3. That Criminal Cases No. 26558, No. 26565 and No. 26905 pending before the Sandiganbayan
be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Attorney Alan F. Paguia, speaking for petitioner, asserts that the inhibition of the members of the Supreme Court
from hearing the petition is called for under Rule 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting justices or
judges from participating in any partisan political activity which proscription, according to him, the justices have
violated by attending the EDSA 2 Rally and by authorizing the assumption of Vice-President Gloria Macapagal
Arroyo to the Presidency in violation of the 1987 Constitution. Petitioner contends that the justices have thereby
prejudged a case that would assail the legality of the act taken by President Arroyo. The subsequent decision of
the Court in Estrada v. Arroyo (353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA 108) is, petitioner states, a patent mockery of
justice and due process.
Attorney Paguia first made his appearance for petitioner when he filed an Omnibus Motion on 19 May 2003,
before the Sandiganbayan, asking that the appointment of counsels de officio (sic) be declared functus officio and
that, being the now counsel de parte, he be notified of all subsequent proceedings in Criminal Cases No. 26558,
No. 26565 and No. 26905 pending therein. Finally, Attorney Paguia asked that all the foregoing criminal cases
against his client be dismissed.
During the hearing of the Omnibus Motion on 30 May 2003, petitioner presented to the court several portions of
the book, entitled Reforming the Judiciary, written by Justice Artemio Panganiban, to be part of the evidence for
the defense. On 9 June 2003, petitioner filed a motion pleading, among other things, that
a)

x x x President Estrada be granted the opportunity to prove the truth of the statements
contained in Justice Artemio Panganibans book, REFORMING THE JUDICIARY, in
relation to the prejudgment committed by the Supreme Court justices against President
Estrada in the subject case/s of Estrada v. Arroyo, 353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA 108;
and,

b)

A subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum be issued to Justice Artemio Panganiban,


Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Renato Corona, Secretary Angelo Reyes of the
Department of National Defense, Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator
Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., and Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. for them to testify and bring
whatever supporting documents they may have in relation to their direct and indirect
participation in the proclamation of Vice President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on January
20, 2001, as cited in the book of Justice Panganiban, including the material events that

led to that proclamation and the ruling/s in the Estrada vs. Arroyo, supra. (Rollo, pp. 67.)
The truth referred to in paragraph a) of the relief sought in the motion of petitioner pertains to what he claims
should have been included in the resolution of the Sandiganbayan; viz:
The request of the movant is simply for the Court to include in its Joint Resolution the TRUTH of the acts of
Chief Justice Davide, et al., last January 20, 2001 in:
a)

going to EDSA 2;

b)

authorizing the proclamation of Vice-President Arroyo as President on the ground of


permanent disability even without proof of compliance with the corresponding
constitutional conditions, e.g., written declaration by either the President or majority of
his cabinet; and

c)

actually proclaiming Vice-President Arroyo on that same ground of permanent


disability.

It is patently unreasonable for the Court to refuse to include these material facts which are obviously undeniable.
Besides, it is the only defense of President Estrada. (Petition, Rollo, pp. 13-14.)
On 2 July 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued an order denying the foregoing motion, as well as the motion to
dismiss, filed by petitioner. Forthwith, petitioner filed a Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon of the foregoing order.
According to Attorney Paguia, during the hearing of his Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon on 11 June 2003, the
three justices of the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan made manifest their bias and partiality against his
client. Thus, he averred, Presiding Justice Minita V. Chico-Nazario supposedly employed foul and disrespectful
language when she blurted out, Magmumukha naman kaming gago, (Rollo, p. 13.) and Justice Teresita
Leonardo-De Castro characterized the motion as insignificant even before the prosecution could file its
comments or opposition thereto, (Rollo, p. 12.) remarking in open court that to grant Estradas motion would
result in chaos and disorder. (Ibid.) Prompted by the alleged bias and partial attitude of the Sandiganbayan
justices, Attorney Paguia filed, on 14 July 2003, a motion for their disqualification. On 31 July 2003, petitioner
received the two assailed resolutions, i.e., the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July 2003.) of 28 July 2003,
denying petitioners motion for reconsideration of 6 July 2003; viz:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused-movant Joseph Ejercito Estradas Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon
(Na tumutukoy sa Joint Resolution ng Hulyo 2, 2003) dated July 6, 2003 is DENIED for lack of merit. (Rollo, p.
37.)
and the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July 2003.) of 25 July 2003, denying petitioners motion for
disqualification of 14 July 2003; viz:
WHEREFORE, prescinding from all the foregoing, the Court, for want of merit, hereby DENIES the Motion for
Disqualification. (Rollo, p. 48.)
The instant petition assailing the foregoing orders must be DISMISSED for gross insufficiency in substance and
for utter lack of merit. The Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion, an indispensable requirement
to warrant a recourse to the extraordinary relief of petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of
Civil Procedure. On the one hand, petitioner would disclaim the authority and jurisdiction of the members of this
tribunal and, on the other hand, he would elevate the petition now before it to challenge the two resolutions of
the Sandiganbayan. He denounces the decision as being a patent mockery of justice and due process. Attorney
Pagula went on to state thatThe act of the public officer, if LAWFUL, is the act of the public office. But the act of the public officer, if
UNLAWFUL, is not the act of the public office. Consequently, the act of the justices, if LAWFUL, is the act of
the Supreme Court. But the act of the justices, if UNLAWFUL, is not the act of the Supreme Court. It is

submitted that the Decision in ESTRADA vs. ARROYO being patently unlawful in view of Rule 5.10 of the
CODE OF JUDICIAL CONDUCT, is not the act of the Supreme Court but is merely the wrong or trespass of
those individual Justices who falsely spoke and acted in the name of the Supreme Court. (Urbano vs. Chavez,
183 SCRA [347]). Furthermore, it would seem absurd to allow the Justices to use the name of the Supreme Court
as a shield for their UNLAWFUL act. (Petition, Rollo, p. 11.)
Criticism or comment made in good faith on the correctness or wrongness, soundness or unsoundness, of a
decision of the Court would be welcome for, if well-founded, such reaction can enlighten the court and
contribute to the correction of an error if committed. (In Re Sotto, 82 Phil 595.)
The ruling in Estrada v. Arroyo, being a final judgment, has long put to end any question pertaining to the
legality of the ascension of Arroyo into the presidency. By reviving the issue on the validity of the assumption of
Mme. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the presidency, Attorney Paguia is vainly seeking to breathe life into the
carcass of a long dead issue.
Attorney Paguia has not limited his discussions to the merits of his clients case within the judicial forum; indeed,
he has repeated his assault on the Court in both broadcast and print media. Rule 13.02 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility prohibits a member of the bar from making such public statements on any pending
case tending to arouse public opinion for or against a party. By his acts, Attorney Paguia may have stoked the
fires of public dissension and posed a potentially dangerous threat to the administration of justice.
It is not the first time that Attorney Paguia has exhibited similar conduct towards the Supreme Court. In a letter,
dated 30 June 2003, addressed to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and Associate Justice Artemio V.
Panganiban, he has demanded, in a clearly disguised form of forum shopping, for several advisory opinions on
matters pending before the Sandiganbayan. In a resolution, dated 08 July 2003, this Court has strongly warned
Attorney Alan Paguia, on pain of disciplinary sanction, to desist from further making, directly or indirectly,
similar submissions to this Court or to its Members. But, unmindful of the well-meant admonition to him by the
Court, Attorney Paguia appears to persist on end.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED, and the Court hereby orders Attorney Alan
Paguia, counsel for petitioner Joseph Ejercito Estrada, to SHOW CAUSE, within ten days from notice hereof,
why he should not be sanctioned for conduct unbecoming a lawyer and an officer of the Court.
On 10 October 2003, Atty. Paguia submitted his compliance with the show-cause order. In a three-page pleading,
Atty. Paguia, in an obstinate display of defiance, repeated his earlier claim of political partisanship against the
members of the Court.
Canon 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which Atty. Paguia has tirelessly quoted to give some semblance of
validity for his groundless attack on the Court and its members, provides Rule 5.10. A judge is entitled to entertain personal views on political questions. But to avoid suspicion of
political partisanship, a judge shall not make political speeches, contribute to party funds, publicly endorse
candidates for political office or participate in other partisan political activities.
Section 79(b) of the Omnibus Election Code defines the term partisan political activities; the law states:
The term election campaign or partisan political activity refers to an act designed to promote the election or
defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office which shall include:
(1) Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other groups of persons for the purpose of
soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign for or against a candidate;
(2) Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, or other similar assemblies, for the
purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate.

(3) Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding interviews for or against the election of any
candidate for public office;
(4) Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any
candidate; or
(5) Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against a candidate.
It should be clear that the phrase partisan political activities, in its statutory context, relates to acts designed to
cause the success or the defeat of a particular candidate or candidates who have filed certificates of candidacy to
a public office in an election. The taking of an oath of office by any incoming President of the Republic before
the Chief Justice of the Philippines is a traditional official function of the Highest Magistrate. The assailed
presence of other justices of the Court at such an event could be no different from their appearance in such other
official functions as attending the Annual State of the Nation Address by the President of the Philippines before
the Legislative Department.
The Supreme Court does not claim infallibility; it will not denounce criticism made by anyone against the Court
for, if well-founded, can truly have constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not countenance any
wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our peoples faith in the judicial system, let alone, by those who have been
privileged by it to practice law in the Philippines.
Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that the lawyer should observe and maintain the
respect due to the courts and judicial officers and, indeed, should insist on similar conduct by others. In liberally
imputing sinister and devious motives and questioning the impartiality, integrity, and authority of the members
of the Court, Atty. Paguia has only succeeded in seeking to impede, obstruct and pervert the dispensation of
justice.
The attention of Atty. Paguia has also been called to the mandate of Rule 13.02 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility prohibiting a member of the bar from making such public statements on a case that may
tend to arouse public opinion for or against a party. Regrettably, Atty. Paguia has persisted in ignoring the
Courts well-meant admonition.
On the 7th September 2003 issue of the Daily Tribune, Atty. Paguia wrote to say What is the legal effect of that violation of President Estradas right to due process of law? It renders the
decision in Estrada vs. Arroyo unconstitutional and void. The rudiments of fair play were not observed.
There was no fair play since it appears that when President Estrada filed his petition, Chief Justice Davide
and his fellow justices had already committed to the other party - GMA - with a judgment already made
and waiting to be formalized after the litigants shall have undergone the charade of a formal hearing.
After the justices had authorized the proclamation of GMA as president, can they be expected to
voluntarily admit the unconstitutionality of their own act?
Unrelentingly, Atty. Paguia has continued to make public statements of like nature.
The Court has already warned Atty. Paguia, on pain of disciplinary sanction, to become mindful of his grave
responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court. Apparently, he has chosen not to at all take heed.
WHEREFORE, Attorney Alan Paguia is hereby indefinitely suspended from the practice of law, effective upon
his receipt hereof, for conduct unbecoming a lawyer and an officer of the Court.
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and all courts of the land through the Office of the Court Administrator.
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 532-4333/5212667.[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 decades-old 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 self-styled 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.
FIRST DIVISION
[A.C. NO. 6672 : September 4, 2009]
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant, v. ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent.
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 respondent's services
instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached "respondent's" calling card: 6
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
respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02 10 and other canons11
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 complainant's 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 lawyer's
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 public's 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
man's 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 respondent's 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 Labiano's actions, respondent's law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer
representation on the strength of Labiano's 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.rbl rl l lbrr
With regard to respondent's violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal
another lawyer's 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 Labiano's "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labiano's connection to his
office.21 Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into another's 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 client's 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, stenographer's 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 lawyer's 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 client's cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the
client's 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 client's cause. 24
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice 25 which calls for the exercise of the
Court's 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 lawyer's 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) lawyer's 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
Labiano's 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 Labiano's 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 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of 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.
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
A.C. No. 6501 August 31, 2006
(CBD Case Nos. 03-1076, 03-1108, 03-1109, 03-1125)
ATTY. LEON L. ASA and ATTY. JOSE A. OLIVEROS, Complainants,
vs.
ATTY. PABLITO M. CASTILLO and ATTY. GINGER ANNE CASTILLO, Respondents.
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
ATTY. PABLITO M. CASTILLO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. JOSE A. OLIVEROS, Respondent.
x-----------------------x
ATTY. PABLITO M. CASTILLO, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. LEON L. ASA, Respondent.

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
ATTY. LEON L. ASA, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. PABLITO M. CASTILLO, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
Subject of the present Decision are four administrative cases, docketed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(IBP) as Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) Case Nos. 03-1076,03-1108,03-1109, and 03-1125.
I. CBD Case No. 03-1076
In 1996, Atty. Pablito M. Castillo (Castillo), then an associate of the Laurel Law Offices of which Attorneys
Leon L. Asa (Asa) and Jose A. Oliveros (Oliveros) are partners, endorsed to the law firm a guardianship case,
Special Proceeding No. 5222, "In re: Guardianship of the Minors Honeylyn, Alexandra and Jerill Nonan," which
was pending before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Angeles City, Branch 59. Castillo appeared as counsel of
record for the therein petitioner, Dr. Salvador H. Laurel, guardian ad litem of the minors Nonan who appear to
have inherited a sizeable amount of US dollars.
A misunderstanding later occurred between Asa and Castillo as regards their sharing in the attorneys fees in the
guardianship case.
On page 6 of a pleading entitled "Reply to Petitioner-Guardians Comment/Opposition, 1 ETC." dated July 19,
2002 filed before Branch 59 of the Angeles RTC and signed by Castillos daughter Ginger Anne Castillo (Ginger
Anne) as "counsel" for Castillo who filed a Notice Ad Cautelam, it was alleged that, inter alia, "Asa wants to be
paid an additional $75,000.00 for his services in providing coffee and opening doors whenever there is a
conference at the Laurel Law Offices."2
Finding the above statement of Castillo and Ginger Anne to be a brazen falsehood concocted to besmirch Asas
reputation, Asa and Oliveros filed before IBP an administrative complaint 3 against Castillo and Ginger Anne, for
gross violation of the lawyers oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. The case was docketed as CBD
Case No. 03-1076.
In their complaint, Asa and Oliveros also charged Castillo with machinations and deceit arising from the
following alleged incidents:
In a conference held at the Laurel Law Offices prior to January 20, 2000 attended by Dr. Laurel, the Nonan
minors counsel abroad Atty. Benjamin Cassiday III (Cassiday), Asa and Castillo, it was agreed that the amount
to be received by Dr. Laurel in trust for the Nonan heirs would be deposited at the Rizal Commercial Banking
Corporation (RCBC), St. Francis Square Branch, Pasig City under Dollar Savings Account No. 8-250-00043-0.
Castillo, however, proposed that the funds be deposited instead at the United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), he
explaining that he knew an employee there who could facilitate "the transaction." Dr. Laurel rejected this
proposition and instead instructed Castillo to file the appropriate motion to have the funds deposited at the
RCBC.4
Without showing to Dr. Laurel the motion he was instructed to prepare, Castillo filed the same with the Angeles
trial court. Dr. Laurel subsequently received a copy of a March 2, 2000 RTC Order 5 signed by the then trial
Judge Eliezer R. De los Santos granting his motion and accordingly directing that the funds to be held in trust for
the Nonan children be deposited at the Trust Department of the UCPB Head Office. Dr. Laurel, Cassiday and
Asa thus filed with the Angeles City trial court an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration 6 of the March 2, 2000
Angeles RTC Order in order to have the funds deposited at the RCBC transferred to the RTC, as previously
agreed upon. This motion was granted.

Still in the same complaint, Asa and Oliveros alleged that in a "Reply to Answer" 7 dated June 25, 2001 filed by
Castillo with the RTC of Makati City, Branch 145 in Civil Case No. 01-506, "Atty. P.M. Castillo v. United
Coconut Planters Bank, Lorenzo V. Tan and Angelica S. Hernandez," Castillo again committed a clear falsehood
when he therein stated that:
On the other hand, retired Justice Felipe Kalalo of the Court of Appeals who personally knew the plaintiff
[Castillo] was also profuse in extolling his academic credentials and accomplishments as a Trial lawyer as
follows:
Q: Do you know the claimant Atty. P.M. Castillo?
A: Yes sir, because we were both active Senior Trial lawyers of the Laurel Law Offices,8 (Underscoring
supplied),
he knowing that retired Justice Kalalo had never been at any time a lawyer at the Laurel Law Offices. In support
of this allegation, they appended to the complaint a certified true copy of the Service Record 9 of Justice Kalalo
which does not show that he was ever connected with the Laurel Law Office.
In their Answer10 to the complaint, Castillo and Ginger Anne declared:
There is nothing wrong or objectionable to the statement that Asas services in the guardianship case consisted in
providing coffee and opening doors whenever there was a conference at the Laurel Law Offices, as this was in
fact the truth, the comportment being "strictly in accordance with long cherished Filipino hospitality," and "he
[Castillo] would have done the same with his own visitors." 11 In any event, they claim that the assailed factual
narration was material and relevant to Castillos question why Asa was given the lions share of attorneys fees
when he had not rendered any known material service which redounded to the benefit of the Nonan children.
Moreover, the Castillos declared that the deposit of the Nonan funds at the UCPB was not attended with malice
or bad faith, nor was it intended to benefit them as the funds could only be withdrawn by Dr. Laurel who had
exclusive access to all the information pertaining to the interest and benefits accruing thereto.
As regards the assailed June 25, 2001 "Reply to Answer" filed with the Makati RTC in Civil Case No. 01-506,
the Castillos asserted that Castillo had no control nor influence over the voluntary and spontaneous testimony of
retired Justice Kalalo in his favor during the proceedings adverted to. 12
II. CBD Case No. 03-1108
Castillo subsequently filed a complaint13 against Oliveros before the IBP, docketed as CBD Case No. 03-1108,
for gross violation of lawyers oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Castillo alleged that: (1) Oliveros assisted Cassiday in embezzling US $950,000 representing the share
adjudicated to the Nonan heirs; (2) in conspiracy with Dr. Laurel and a certain Atty. Douglas Cushnie, Oliveros
resorted to forum shopping to undermine and defeat the jurisdiction of the Philippine court in the guardianship
proceedings; (3) Oliveros, along with Asa, Dr. Laurel and Cassiday, perpetuated other acts of fraud in the
guardianship proceedings; and (4) Oliveros, together with Asa, deliberately and maliciously filed a groundless
administrative complaint against him and Ginger Anne.
In his Answer14 to the Complaint in CBD Case No. 03-1108, Oliveros, decrying the allegations against him as
patently false, baseless and malicious, claimed that the complaint was Castillos way of retaliating against him
for having joined Asa in filing the administrative complaint against him and Ginger Anne (CBD Case No. 031076).
III. CBD Case No. 03-1109
Castillo also filed an administrative complaint 15 against Asa before the IBP, charging him with embezzlement,
dishonesty, betrayal of trust, grave abuse of confidence and violation of the lawyers oath and the Code of

Professional Responsibility. The case was docketed as CBD Case No. 03-1109.
Castillo alleged that (1) Asa, Cassiday and Dr. Laurel scandalously mismanaged the estate of the Nonan heirs,
the bulk of which they indiscriminately pocketed; (2) Asa and Oliveros filed a groundless administrative
complaint against him and Ginger Anne to compel him to withdraw his claim for attorneys fees against Dr.
Laurel and his bid to replace the latter as guardian of the Nonan heirs; (3) despite an Agreement 16 dated February
16, 2000 between him and Asa that the latter would receive only 25% of whatever he (Castillo) would receive as
attorneys fees, Asa secretly pocketed the amounts of $24,500 and $160,500 from the guardianship case on April
18, 2000; (4) Asa refused to account for and turn over the amount of $130,000 in attorneys fees which belonged
to him (Castillo); and (5) Asa embarked on a scheme to force him into resigning as counsel for Dr. Laurel to
enable them to exercise absolute control over the guardianship case and appropriate for themselves the attorneys
fees allocated for him.
In his Answer to the Complaint 17 in CBD Case No. 03-1109, Asa alleged as follows: It was in fact Castillo who
reneged on their February 16, 2000 Agreement as the latter had earlier bluntly told him that he changed his mind
and that he would not give him (Asa) any share in the attorneys fees he would receive from the guardianship
case, Castillo reasoning that he was the therein counsel of record and had endorsed the case to the Laurel Law
Offices. He thus reported the matter to Dr. Laurel and informed him that he "would likewise not give Castillos
share in the attorneys fees he [Asa] might receive because [Castillo] has no word of honor." 18
As regards the $24,500 that he allegedly secretly pocketed, Asa explained that several days prior to April 18,
2000, Dr. Laurel and Atty. Cassiday fixed the attorneys fees of both Castillo and Asa at $100,000 each, based on
the amount to be paid by the four heirs or $25,000 per heir. When the first heir Merceditas Feliciano
(Merceditas) paid $1,150,000 on April 18, 2000, he deposited $24,500 of this amount in his and his wifes joint
Dollar Account No. 247-702-9275 at the Philippine National Bank (PNB), Ortigas Branch as his share in the
attorneys fees, while he opened a new account in the name of Dr. Laurel to which he deposited the amount of
$160,500.
Asa went on to declare that Castillo received his own $25,000 plus interest amounting to $25,023.13
representing full payment of his attorneys fees from Merceditas, as evidenced by a Receipt 19 dated May 2, 2000
signed by Castillo.
Continuing, Asa declared that of the $160,500 belonging to Dr. Laurel, $100,000 represented partial payment for
his consenting to be the guardian ad litem of the Nonan heirs and $60,000 represented reimbursement for
expenses incurred over several years by Dr. Laurel, the total of which was placed temporarily on April 18, 2000
in his (Asas) Dollar Account No. 8-250-00047-3 in RCBC. Dr. Laurel, however, withdrew $160,000.00 the
following day from RCBC and placed it in his own Dollar Time Deposit Account for which $500.00 was spent
for the purpose. A Certification20 to this effect, issued by RCBC Ortigas Business Center Manager Dolores L.
Del Valle, was appended to Asas Answer.
Finally, Asa declared that Castillos claim for $130,000 in attorneys fees is baseless and unconscionable, and
that Castillo filed the complaint merely to harass him in retaliation for the complaint he and Oliveros priorly
filed against him and Ginger Anne.
IV. CBD Case No. 03-1125
On August 25, 2003, Asa filed yet another administrative complaint, 21 against Castillo before the IBP, for
disbarment/suspension, docketed as CBD Case No. 03-1125, charging him with deceit, malpractice, gross
misconduct in office, immoral conduct, violation of the lawyers oath and the Code of Professional
Responsibility in light of his baseless, malicious and derogatory allegations in CBD Case No. 03-1109 which
were founded on deceit and deliberate falsehood, and of promoting a groundless, false and unlawful suit.
IBP REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION:
By Report and Recommendation22 of February 27, 2004, the IBP CBD, through Commissioner Rebecca
Villanueva-Maala, recommended the dismissal of the consolidated cases in this wise.

From the facts and evidence presented, what have been shown by the counsels are mutual bickerings, unjustified
recriminations and offensive personalities between brother lawyers which detract from the dignity of the legal
profession and do not deserve the attention of the Commission. The voluminous case record contains but
personal peculiarities and idiosyncrasies hurled by the counsels against each other which constitute highly
unprofessional conduct. A great part of mans comfort, as well as of his success at the bar, depends upon his
relations with his professional brethren. With them he is in daily necessary intercourse, and he must have their
respect and confidence, if he wishes to sail along in smooth waters. Hence, the parties are advised to conduct
themselves honorably, fairly and candidly toward each other and try to maintain the dignity of the legal
profession.23 (Underscoring supplied)
By Resolution24 of April 16, 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP adopted and approved the February 27,
2004 Report and Recommendation and dismissed the consolidated cases for lack of merit.
The records of the cases were then forwarded for final action to this Court.
Asa filed with this Court an August 2, 2004 a Motion for Reconsideration 25 in CBD Case No. 03-1125. He too,
together with Oliveros, filed on August 3, 2004 a Motion for Reconsideration 26 in CBD Case No. 03-1076.
Castillo likewise filed with this Court a Consolidated Omnibus Motion for Partial Reconsideration 27 dated
August 9, 2004 in CBD Case No. 03-1108 and CBD Case No. 03-1109.
On January 12, 2005, Asa filed his Comment 28 on Castillos Consolidated Omnibus Motion for Partial
Reconsideration in CBD Case No. 03-1109 while also Oliveros filed his Comment on the same motion on
February 28, 2005.
On March 16, 2005, Castillo filed his Consolidated Reply to the Comments of Asa and Oliveros, with Omnibus
Motion to Appoint a Commissioner.29
THIS COURTS RULING
In his questioned "Reply to Petitioner-Guardians Comment/Opposition," Castillos statement reads:
x x x Atty. Leon Asa wants to be paid an additional $75,000.00 for his services in providing coffee and opening
the doors whenever there is a conference at the Laurel Law Offices. He also conveniently provides himself with
the Nonan expediente to give assistance to the parties during their so-called conferences. Worse, his express
reluctance to appear before this Honorable Court was repeatedly announced by Atty. Jose Oliveros because of
his so-called failing health x x x30
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy,
fairness and candor toward his professional colleagues and shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing
counsel. Rule 8.01 of the same Canon mandates that a lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use
language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper.
That a member of the bar is enjoined to observe honorable, candid and courteous dealing with other lawyers 31
and employ respectful and restrained language is in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession. 32 It is
through a scrupulous preference for respectful language that a lawyer best demonstrates his observance or
respect due to the courts and judicial officers. 33
In the case at bar, Castillo and Ginger Annes choice of words manifestly falls short of this criterion. Their
disparaging statements in the pleading referred to above belie their proffered good intention and exceed the
bounds of civility and propriety.
Castillos claim that the statement about Asas services is relevant and pertinent to the claim for attorneys fees
and was, for all legal intents and purposes, a "privileged communication" 34 deserves short shrift. Indulging in
offensive personalities in the course of judicial proceedings constitutes unprofessional conduct subject to
disciplinary action, even if the publication thereof is privileged. 35

x x x this Court will not be inhibited from exercising its supervisory authority over lawyers who misbehave or
fail to live up to that standard expected of them as members of the Bar. Indeed, the rule of absolute privileged
communication absolves beforehand the lawyer from civil and criminal liability based on the statements made in
the pleadings. But like the member of the legislature who enjoys immunity from civil and criminal liability
arising from any speech or debate delivered in the Batasan or in any committee thereof, but nevertheless remains
subject to the disciplinary authority of the legislature for said speech or debate, a lawyer equally remains subject
to this Courts supervisory and disciplinary powers for lapses in the observance of his duty as a member of the
legal profession.36 (Underscoring supplied)
Castillo and Ginger Anne are thus admonished to exercise greater care and circumspection in the preparation of
their pleadings and refrain from using offensive or otherwise improper language.
In support of Asa and Oliveros allegation that Castillo employed deceit and falsehood in attempting to change
the depositary bank for the funds to be held in trust by Dr. Laurel for the Nonan heirs, they presented the March
2, 2000 RTC Order directing Dr. Laurel and his principal counsel Castillo to deposit the balance of the proceeds
of the settlement with any and all of the adjudicated heirs with UCPB and the March 14, 2000 RTC Order
directing the deposit of the settlement proceeds with the RCBC.
A perusal of the Urgent Motion for Reconsideration dated March 8, 2000 signed by Dr. Laurel, however, fails to
establish any wrongdoing on the part of Castillo in having filed the Motion to deposit the funds at UCPB. It
simply stated that:
Considering the present raging controversy arising from the P50 Billion coconut levy funds, the stability of the
United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB), Head Office at Makati, may be seriously affected x x x
The Petitioner-Guardian can best protect the deposits of the Nonan children if the proceeds of the settlement will
be deposited with a solvent and more conservative bank like the RIZAL COMMERCIAL BANKING
CORPORATION (RCBC) x x x37
In administrative cases against lawyers, the quantum of proof required is clearly preponderant evidence and the
burden of proof rests upon the complainant. Moreover, an administrative case against a lawyer must show the
dubious character of the act done as well as the motivation thereof. 38 In the case at bar, Asa and Oliveros failed to
present clear and preponderant evidence to show that Castillo willfully and deliberately resorted to deceit and
falsehood in filing the Motion to have the funds deposited at UCPB.
Respecting Castillos June 25, 2001 Reply to Answer in the Makati RTC Civil Case No. 01-506, he therein
alleged:
On the other hand, retired Justice Felipe Kalalo of the Court of Appeals who personally knew the plaintiff, was
also profuse in extolling his academic credentials and accomplishments as a Trial lawyer, as follows:
Q: Do you know the claimant Atty. P.M. Castillo?
A: Yes sir, because we were both active Senior Trial lawyers at the Laurel Law Offices.
Q: How could you characterize and rate the trial competency, performance and expertise of Atty. P.M. Castillo?
A: He is highly competent, low key, aggressive and very brilliant in the conduct of trial, as well as, in the
formulation of courtroom strategies. His pleadings are also very well written, direct to the point, convincing,
scholarly and exhaustive. To be sure, he is one of the popular trial lawyers of our firm (The Laurel Law Offices),
not only because he came from an exclusive school, but also because of his scholastic records at Ateneo de
Manila was also impressive. That is why he was taken in by former VP Salvador H. Laurel even before the
release of the 1964 bar where he was also No. 2 among the Ateneo bar candidates for the year. He was No. 15
among the bar topnotchers. This is not to mention his impressive and highly (sic) batting average of winning
about 80% to 90% of his load cases and work. He was also one of the busy lawyers of our office, until he went
on private practice and excelled as one of the more successful and respected trial practitioners. 39 (Underscoring

supplied)
To Asa, by the foregoing allegation, Castillo committed clear falsehood for Justice Kalalo had never been a
lawyer at any time at the Laurel Law Offices.
Castillo explained, however, that he "can only say that he has no control, nor influence on the voluntary and
spontaneous declaration and testimony of Retired Justice Felipe Kalalo of the Court of Appeals in his favor
during the highly adversarial proceedings."40
Castillos explanation does not impress, however. The records show that the above-quoted statements attributed
by Castillo to Justice Kalalo were lifted from an unsigned and unsubscribed affidavit entitled "Question and
Answer Format in Lieu of Direct Testimony of Justice Felipe Kalalo" 41 dated January 21, 1993. This affidavit
was earlier filed by Castillo with the Pasig RTC, Branch 154 in connection with his claim for attorneys fees in
Civil Cases Nos. 43049 and 56637 which affidavit was subsequently withdrawn, 42 however, as it was unsigned
and unsubscribed.
Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith
to the courts. Rule 10.01 of said Canon specifically commands that a member of the bar shall not do any
falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any
artifice. Rule 10.02 of the same Canon provides that a member of the bar shall not knowingly misquote or
misrepresent the contents of a paper or assert as a fact that which has not been proved.
And Section 20(d), Rule 138 of the Rules of Court directs that a lawyer must employ such means only as are
consistent with truth and honor, and never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by any artifice or
false statement of fact or law.43
Complete candor or honesty is thus expected from lawyers, particularly when they appear and plead before the
courts.44 They have an obligation to the court as well as to the opposing party to make only truthful statements in
their pleadings.45 The burden cast on the judiciary would be intolerable if it could not take at face value what is
asserted by counsel. The time that will have to be devoted just to the task of verification of allegations submitted
could easily be imagined.46
In light of the above findings reflecting Castillos administrative culpability, his charge against Asa and Oliveros
of filing groundless disbarment cases against him and Ginger Anne necessarily fails.
As regards Castillos claim that Asa secretly pocketed $24,500 and $160,500, the undated certification issued by
RCBC Branch Operation Head Dolores del Valle reading:
This is to certify that on April 18, 2000, Mr. Leon L. Asa opened a Dollar Savings Account at our Business
Center. A credit was made to his assigned Dollar Savings Account Number 8-250-00047-3 in the amount of US
Dollars: One Hundred Sixty Thousand Five Hundred (USD: 160,500.00) as initial transaction. We further certify
that on April 19, 2000, there was a debit made for said account in the amount of US Dollars: One Hundred Sixty
Thousand (USD: 160,000.00) and that same amount was placed in the Dollar Time Deposit Account of Salvador
H. Laurel. Mr. Leon Asa left the amount of USD: Five Hundred in his account to serve as the maintaining
balance requirement. Subject Dollar Savings Account had closed already, 47
and Dr. Laurel Partial Inventory, Account and Report of Guardian 48 dated February 13, 2002 filed with the
Angeles City RTC, Branch 59 in Sp. Proc. No. 5222 stating that:
3. On April 18, 2000, Guardian Ad Litem Salvador H. Laurel and his Principal Foreign Legal Counsel, Atty.
Benjamin Cassiday III received by way of settlement from one of the duly adjudicated heirs of Larry Lee
Hillblom, Mercedita Feliciano, by and through her Guardian Ad Litem, Milagros Feliciano, the amount of ONE
MILLION ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND US DOLLARS (US$1,150,000.00) which was deposited with
the Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC), St. Francis Square Branch, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
under Dollar Savings Account No. 8-250-000430-ABA. Routing No. RCBC PH MM in the name of "Salvador
H. Laurel, in trust for Honeylyn, Alexandra and Jeril Nonan", in compliance with the Order of this Honorable

Court dated April 26, 2000;


4. Pursuant to the above-stated Orders of this Honorable Court, the Guardian Ad Litem and Atty. Benjamin
Cassiday III disbursed the following amounts for the purposes indicated:
A. ATTORNEYS FEES & OTHER NECESSARY LEGAL EXPENSES:
xxxx
(7) Partial payment of the fee of Salvador H. Laurel for consenting to be the guardian ad litem of the Nonan
children and accepting all responsibilities attached to said position .US$100,000.00
(8) Reimbursement to Salvador H. Laurel for expenses incurred during the last six (6) years for airfare, car
rentals, overseas calls, and representation and other incidental expenses while in the various states in the United
States in order to pursue the claim of the Nonan children against the Hillblom estate .US$60,000.00
x x x x49 (Underscoring supplied),
validate Asas explanation that the amount of $160,500 belonged to Dr. Laurel but was merely temporarily
placed in his (Asas) account.
The Partial Inventory, Account and Report of Guardian shows that $12,500 was received by Asa as attorneys
fees for assisting Dr. Laurel and Castillo from 1996 to 2000. 50 Confirming such disbursement is a Receipt 51 dated
April 18, 2000 signed by Asa. The remaining $12,500 of the $25,000 attorneys fees of Asa per heir (as priorly
agreed upon by Dr. Laurel and Cassiday) were remitted by Asa to the Laurel Law Offices as Official Receipt No.
176652 issued by the treasurer/cashier of the Laurel Law Offices dated April 19, 2000 shows:
RECEIVED from Atty. Leon L. Asa the sum of Twelve thousand five hundred US Dollars US$12,500.00 as fifty
percent (50%) share of LLO [Laurel Law Offices] in attorneys fees of US$25,000 of Atty. Asa in SP Proc. 5222
of RTC Angeles City, Br. 59.
Cash.US$12,500By: Sgd.
Treasurer/Cashier
On Asas alleged unjust refusal to turn over Castillos attorneys fees: It appears that Asa and Castillo each
received $25,000 as attorneys fees but pursuant to their February 2000 Agreement, the aggregate amount of
$50,000 would be divided between them, and Castillo would receive 75% thereof or $37,500, while Asa would
receive 25% or $12,500. The records show that Asa kept only $12,500 for himself, he having remitted, as
reflected above, the remaining $12,500 to the Laurel Law Offices.
Dr. Laurel eventually gave Castillo $10,000 out of the $12,500 which Asa remitted to the Laurel Law Offices, as
reflected in the Partial Inventory, Account and Report of Guardian. 53
Respecting Castillos claim that, in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Asa and Oliveros
"embarked on another sinister strategy to spite, insult and provoke him to ostracize him and make him feel
unwanted to continue as [Dr. Laurels] lawyer in furtherance of their conspiracy to force him into resignation for
them to replace him and have absolute control over the guardianship case, the funds of the estate and the
attorneys fees," the same is unsubstantiated, hence, deserves no further consideration.
As to Castillos charge against Asa and Oliveros of embezzlement due to alleged scandalous mismanagement of
the estate of the Nonan heirs, premised on the October 13, 2003 RTC Order 54 in SP No. 5222, this Court finds
the evidence presented insufficient to warrant the imposition of sanctions against them.

Finally, on Castillos Omnibus Motion to Appoint a Commissioner, the matters raised therein 55 being entirely
inappropriate, to say the least, for consideration in these administrative proceedings, the same is denied.
A final word. The spectacle of members of the bar being engaged in bickering and recrimination is far from
edifying. Mutual bickerings and unjustified recriminations between brother attorneys detract from the dignity of
the legal profession and will not receive any sympathy from this Court. 56 Personal colloquies between counsels
which promote unseemly wrangling should thus be carefully avoided. 57
It appears that Castillo had previously been suspended for Six (6) Months by this Court in CBD Case No. 176,
Bongalonta v. Castillo,58 for committing falsehood in violation of his lawyers oath and of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. He was then warned that commission of the same or similar offense in the future
would call for the imposition of a more severe penalty. This Court thus imposes upon him a penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of One (1) year.
WHEREFORE, the administrative cases filed against Atty. Leon L. Asa and Atty. Jose A. Oliveros are
DISMISSED.
Atty. Ginger Anne Castillo is found GUILTY of breach of Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and is hereby admonished to refrain from using offensive and improper language in her pleadings.
Atty. Pablito M. Castillo is likewise found GUILTY of breach of Canons 8, as well as Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of One (1) Year, effective
upon receipt of this Decision.
Let copies of this Decision be entered in the respective personal records of Atty. Ginger Anne Castillo and of
Atty. Pablito M. Castillo in the Office of the Bar Confidant. Let copies too be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines.
SO ORDERED.