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ANTONIO DE ZUZUARREGUI, JR. vs. ATTY. APOLONIA A. C.

SOGUILON,
ADM. CASE No. 4495
October 8, 2008
Topic: Misconduct, Concealment of the Truth and Misleading the Court

RESOLUTION
TINGA, J.:
Before us is an administrative case for disbarment filed by complainant Antonio de
Zuzuarregui, Jr. against respondent Atty. Apolonia A.C. Soguilon. Complainant accuses
respondent of misconduct, concealment of the truth and misleading the court.
Respondent acted as counsel for the petitioner in LRC No. Q-7195 (95) before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, Branch 93. In his letter [1]dated 15 September 1995,
complainant narrated that in the course of the presentation of evidence in support of the petition
for reconstitution, respondent introduced as evidence the certified copy of the technical
description and the sketch plan of the land both issued by the Land Management Services. The
documents were subsequently marked as Exhibits F and G, respectively.

A closer study of the documents however revealed that they contained the following
notations:
a)

In re Exhibit F
Note: This is not an updated survey data. This might have been already
superseded by subsequent subd./cons. surveys, Amendment, correction or
[c]ancellation by the order of [the] court or by the Regional Executive/Technical
Director, DENR. This is not valid for land titling/Registration and for preparation of
deed of sale and/or transfer of right.
b)

In re Exhibit G
Note: This plan is used for reference purposes only.[2]

The above-quoted notations notwithstanding, the trial court allowed reconstitution of the
title. As such, complainant submitted that respondent was remiss in not calling the attention of
the trial court to the notations indicated in the documents, emphasizing her duty to avoid
concealment of the truth from the court.
In his Supplemental Letter[3] dated 25 October 1995, complainant additionally charged
respondent of committing fraud. For one, complainant alleged that the requirements of Section

12 in relation to Section 3(f) of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 26 were not observed as the petition
failed to state the names and addresses of the occupants or persons in possession of the
property or the owners of the adjoining properties and of all persons who may have any interest
in the property. Secondly, respondent allegedly manifested untruthfully to the trial court that her
client had complied with the requirements of the Land Registration Authority (LRA) when in fact
there had been no compliance. And finally, complainant contended that per the certification
issued by the Deputy Register of Deeds of Rizal Province, TCT No. 17730, the title sought to be
reconstituted, was missing as of the inventory conducted in September 1981. As such,
complainant asserted, there was no basis for the claim that the said title belonged to one
Gregorio Agabao.
In answer to these allegations, respondent submitted to this Court her Comment[4] dated 6
April 1996 wherein she refuted all the charges against her. Anent the annotations on the
documents, respondent stated that she could not be charged of concealing facts from the court
as she had submitted the documents without alteration for the evaluation of the trial court. With
regard to the alleged non-observance of the requirements of R.A. No. 26, respondent countered
that she had to merely rely, as she did, on the documents and information supplied to her by her
client. As to the charge of having fraudulently claimed compliance with the LRA requirements,
respondent averred that she submitted the documentary requirements to the LRA through
certified copies thereof which were all received by the records clerk of said office. Lastly,
concerning the contention that the certification issued by the Deputy Register of Deeds of Rizal
Province did not contain the name of the real owner, the location and the metes and bounds of
the property referred in the certification, as well as the name and purpose of the person who
requested for it, respondent asserted that she had nothing to do with the preparation of said
certification and therefore cannot be blamed for any of the lapses committed by the one who
issued it.
The Court referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation. Both parties presented their respective evidence before the Commission on Bar
Discipline of the IBP. After investigation, the Commissioner made the following findings and
recommendation:
As to the charge of misleading the court by not pointing out the notations in the
technical description and sketch plan, there appears to be no malice or
intentional machination to mislead the court. Indeed, the said notations were
not hidden or manipulated by Respondent. x x x It is clear that Respondent
and the trial court committed error that should be characterized as reversible
error in the absence of proof of intentional machination or collusion.

The same findings are true for the charge of deliberate omission of persons
entitled to notice under R.A. No. 26. The said omission should have been fatal
omissions that should have jeopardized the petition for reconstitution of title.
Nevertheless, it was allowed by the trial court to prosper. Furthermore, there

appears to be no reason for Respondent to disbelieve or not to rely on the


representation made to her by her client.
As to the alleged fraudulent claim of compliance with LRA requirements, it is
noted that the trial judge of RTC, Quezon City, Branch 93 x x x did not cite
Respondent in contempt of court.
xxxx
Clearly, what should have been fatal omissions on the part of
Respondent, as counsel of the petitioner in the Petition for Reconstitution (LRC
Case No. Q-7195 [95]) were allowed to pass without challenge. A simple perusal
of the Decision dated June 5, 1995 (In Re: Petition for Reconstitution of TCT No.
17730, LRC Case No. Q-7195 [95]) x x x shows that there was reversible
error on the part of the presiding judge of RTC, Branch 93 of Quezon City.
xxxx
x x x However, the disciplinary process does not punish errors, mistakes
or incompetence. Errors and mistakes are corrected by legal remedies such as
motions for reconsideration, appeals, and petitions for relief. The reversal of the
June 5, 1995 Decision of the trial court has remedied the error committed.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is submitted that respondent did not
commit any act for which she should be disciplined or administratively
sanctioned.
It is therefore recommended that this CASE BE DISMISSED for lack of
merit.

[5]

On 25 June 2005, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution [6] dismissing the
complaint based on the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Funa. The parties were
furnished with copies of the IBP Resolution. On 6 September 2005, the Court received a
Petition[7] from complainant praying that his administrative complaint be reinstated on the basis
of the appellate courts pronouncements in its: (1) Decision dated 30 January 1997[8] in C.A.
G.R. SP No. 40897 entitled Edith R. Agabao v. Hon. Demetrio B. Macapagal as RTC Judge, Br.
93, Quezon City, ADEZ REALTY, INC.., AGUEDO EUGENIO and REPUBLIC OF THE
PHILIPPINES, and (2) Decision dated 29 March 2004 [9] in C.A. G.R. CV No. 59363 entitled In
the Matter of the Petition for the Reconstitution of TCT No. 17730 of the Register of Deeds for
the Province of Rizal under R.A. No. 26 Edith R. Agabao v. Adez Realty, Inc. and the Republic
of the Philippines, affirming the Order dated 22 February 2006[10] of the RTC of Quezon City,
Branch 93 which set aside the reconstitution previously ordered.

The crux of the controversy is whether respondent maliciously misled the court by failing
to point out material notations in the documents she had submitted; whether she deliberately
omitted mention of certain persons entitled to notice under the law; and whether she
fraudulently claimed that she had complied with the LRA requirements or whether all these
omissions could be considered honest mistakes or errors.
The Court finds no reason to disturb the findings of the Commissioner.
The Court agrees with the Commissioners evaluation that respondent did not employ
deceit or misrepresentation in acting as counsel for the petitioner in the petition for reconstitution
of title. Anent respondents failure to point out the notations in the documents she had
submitted, in the Courts opinion, the Commissioner correctly observed that there was absence
of proof that respondent had intended to mislead or deceive the trial court. In fact, the said
notations were laid bare for the trial courts evaluation. There were no attempts on respondents
part to manipulate or hide them.
As regards respondents failure to state in the petition certain persons entitled to notice
under the law, specifically the parties allegedly in possession of the properties, respondent
unflinchingly countered that she had duly asked of her client the names of the persons having
interest in the property subject of the title sought to be reconstituted. [11] In fact, the petition for
reconstitution filed before the court contained the names and addresses of the adjoining land
owners.[12]And even in retrospect, it appears that there was no reason for respondent to
disbelieve the representations made by her client on the matter.
Regarding respondents claim that she had complied with the LRA requirements when in
truth she had not, the Court concurs with the Commissioners finding that respondent was not
sufficiently informed that compliance was insufficient and improper.
In administrative cases for disbarment or suspension against lawyers, the quantum of
proof required is clearly preponderant evidence and the burden of proof rests upon the
complainant.[13] In the present case, the Court finds that complainant, who notably owns one of
the properties subject of the title sought to be reconstituted,[14] and is consequently an adverse
party, failed to present clear and preponderant evidence to show respondents guilt of the
charges he had leveled against her. In any event, it is worth mentioning that the prejudice, if
any, caused by respondents oversight against complainant and other interested parties had
been rectified later on by a different judge who set aside the order of reconstitution.[15]
All told, the lapses of respondent were committed without malice and devoid of any desire
to dupe or defraud the opposing party. They are innocuous blunders that were made without
intent to harm. As plain acts of inadvertence, they do not reach the level of professional
incompetence. While professional incompetence is not among the grounds of disbarment
enumerated in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court yet there are instances
where a lawyer may be disciplined for inexcusable ignorance as the list is not exclusive. Indeed,
the Court is convinced that respondent should not be sanctioned.

Pertinently, the Court expressed in Mendoza v. Mercado,[16] to wit:


An attorney-at-law is not expected to know all the law. For an honest
mistake or error, an attorney is not liable. Chief Justice Abbott said that, no
attorney is bound to know all the law; God forbid that it should be imagined that
an attorney or a counsel, or even a judge, is bound to know all the law.
(Montorious v. Jefferys, 2 Car. & P. 113, cited in In Re Filart, 40 Phil. 205, 208).[17]
WHEREFORE, the petition for review is DENIED. The Resolution of the Board of
Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines dated 25 June 2005in Adm. Case No. 4495 is
AFFIRMED. The administrative complaint for disbarment of respondent Atty. Apolonia A.C.
Soguilon is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.

A.C. No. 3294 February 17, 1993


Mario s. Mariveles, complainant, vs. Atty. Odilon c. Mallari, respondent
Topic: Abandonment and Dereliction of duty toward his client (failure to file the
appellant's brief, resulting in the dismissal of the appeal)
PER CURIAM:
On January 11, 1989, Mario S. Mariveles of Davao City filed an administrative complaint against
his former counsel, Attorney Odilon C. Mallari, whose legal services he had engaged in 1984 to
handle his defense in Criminal Case No. 6608 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City where
he was charged with violation of B.P. Blg. 22, otherwise known as the Bouncing Checks Law.
After an adverse decision was rendered on December 26, 1986, Mariveles instructed Attorney
Mallari to appeal the trial court's decision to the Court of Appeals, which the respondent did.
However, in the Court of Appeals, despite numerous extensions of time, totalling 245 days,
which he obtained from the Court, Attorney Mallari failed to file the appellant's brief, resulting in
the dismissal of the appeal.
Complainant discovered his lawyer's desertion only when he was subpoenaed by the trial court
to appear before it for the execution of the decision which had become final.
Through new counsel, complainant filed a Petition for Reinstatement of Appeal, Cancellation of
Entry of Judgment and Admission of Appellant's Brief in CA-G.R. CR No. 04482, but it was
denied by the appellate court.
He sought relief in this court (G.R. No. 85964, "Mario S. Mariveles vs. Court of Appeal, et al.")
which, on March 13, 1989, granted his petition, ordered the Court of Appeals to cancel the entry

of judgment in CA-G.R. CR No. 04482, reinstate the appeal, and admit the appellant's brief filed
by his new counsel. The Court said:
It is true that the failure of counsel to file brief for the appellant which led to the
dismissal of the appeal does not necessarily warrant the reinstatement thereof.
However, where the negligence of counsel is so great that the rights of accused
are prejudiced and he is prevented from presenting his defense, especially where
the appellant raises issues which place in serious doubt the correctness of the
trial court's judgment of conviction, the aforesaid rule must not be rigidly applied
to avoid a miscarriage of justice. These teachings of jurisprudence are present in
the case at bar.
On the first aspect, the failure of petitioner's former counsel to file the brief, for
reasons unknown and without any cause imputable to petitioner, amounted to
deliberate abandonment of his client's interest and justifies reinstatement with
consequent due consideration of petitioner's appeal through a new counsel. (pp.
106-107, Rollo).
On February 15, 1989, the administrative complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The IBP's Committee on Bar Discipline investigated the complaint and held hearings. On March
3, 1992, it submitted to this Court a report/resolution finding:
In sum, what was committed by the respondent is a blatant violation of our Code of
Professional Responsibility.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 12.03 A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file
pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting
the same or offering an explanation for his failure to do so.
Rule 18.03 A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him
and his negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
Suffice it to state that a lawyer has no business practicing his profession if in the course
of that practice, he will eventually wreck and destroy the future and reputation of his
client and thus disgrace the law profession. The last thing that his peers in the law
profession and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines would do is to disrobe a member of
the profession, for he has worked for the attainment of his career burning the midnight oil
throughout school and passing the bar. The undersigned, however, could not find any
mitigating circumstances to recommend a lighter penalty. Disbarment is the only
recourse to remove a rotten apple if only to instill and maintain the respect and
confidence of all and sundry to the noble profession. (pp. 249-250, Rollo)

The Court concurs with the above observations. The respondent demonstrated not only
appalling indifference and lack of responsibility to the courts and his client but also a shameless
disregard for his duties as a lawyer. He is unfit for membership in this noble profession.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Attorney Odilon C. Mallari guilty of abandonment and
dereliction of duty toward his client and hereby orders him DISBARRED from the legal
profession and to immediately cease and desist from the practice of law. Let the Office of the
Court Administrator and the Executive Judges of the Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh and Twelfth Judicial
Regions, be furnished with copies of this resolution for dissemination to all the courts in those
regions.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero,
Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur.
Quiason, J., took no part.
Gutierrez, Jr., J., is on leave.

[A.C. No. 6442. October 21, 2004]


Hon. Mariano s. Macias, complainant, vs. Atty. Alanixon a. Selda, respondent.
Topic: Violation of Lawyers Oath
DECISION
PUNO, J.:
For violation of the lawyers oath, Judge Mariano S. Macias, Presiding Judge of Regional
Trial Court, Branch 28, Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte, filed before the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) a Petition for Administrative Discipline against Atty. Alanixon A. Selda.[1]
The facts are undisputed. On January 24, 2000, respondent Selda withdrew as counsel for
one Norma T. Lim, private protestee in Election Case No. SE-01 entitled Ruth Maraon v. The
Municipal Board of Canvassers, Salud, Zamboanga del Norte, and Norma T. Lim for Annulment
of Election, etc.[2] He basically submitted as ground for his withdrawal that he could not cope up
with the pace of the proceedings in view of his workload. He claimed that the hearings of the
election protest case would run from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and he still had to attend to his other
cases including classes at Philippine Advent College, which start at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays and
Wednesdays.
In light of these representations, complainant granted the Motion and ordered respondent
relieved of all his responsibilities as counsel for private protestee. However, on May 22, 2000,
respondent executed an affidavit disavowing his grounds for withdrawing as counsel for private
protestee. He swore that he only filed theMotion on account of the pre-judgment of the case by

complainant, who, on several occasions insinuated to him that his client would lose in the
protest. He stated that he was convinced that chaos would result if his client were unseated,
and withdrawal from the case was his best recourse.
On the basis of respondents affidavit, his former client and private protestee in subject
election protest case, moved for the inhibition of complainant. On June 2, 2000, complainant
granted the motion for his inhibition if only to disabuse any doubt on his impartiality. But on
August 23, 2000, this Court set aside complainants inhibition after finding no strong and valid
reason therefor, and directed him to continue hearing the case and to resolve it with reasonable
dispatch.
Deploring the act of respondent as serious deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct as a
lawyer and in utter violation of the lawyers oath, complainant requested the IBP to investigate
the matter and recommend to the Court an appropriate penalty against respondent. On January
30, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline[3]required respondent to answer. He failed.
On November 21, 2003, after several postponements filed by the parties, their failure to
personally appear before the IBP investigating commission, and the request of complainant to
resolve the case on the basis of the pleadings, Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala,
submitted her report and recommended to the IBP Board of Governors that respondent be
suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.
The Board, in its Resolution No. XVI-2004-122 dated February 27, 2004, adopted and
approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Maala. It
reduced the suspension of respondent to six (6) months; hence, the transmittal of the case and
its records to this Court for final resolution [4]pursuant to Rule 139-B, Section 12(b) of the Rules
of Court, viz:
Review and Decision by the Board of Governors. x x x x (b) If the Board, by the vote of a
majority of its total membership, determines that the respondent should be suspended from the
practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and
recommendations which, together with the whole record of the case, shall forthwith be
transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action.
We affirm the findings of the IBP on the culpability of respondent.
All members of the legal profession made a solemn oath to, inter alia, do no
falsehood and conduct [themselves] as [lawyers] according to the best of [their] knowledge
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients. These
particular fundamental principles are reflected in the Code of Professional Responsibility,
specifically:
Canon 10 A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in Court, nor
shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by an artifice.

When respondent executed his affidavit of May 22, 2000 retracting his reason for
withdrawing as counsel for Norma T. Lim, he acknowledged, under oath, his
misrepresentation. He misled the court in clear violation of his oath as lawyer and failed to
abide by the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Candor towards the courts is a cardinal requirement of the practicing lawyer. [5] In fact, this
obligation to the bench for candor and honesty takes precedence. [6]Thus, saying one thing in
his Motion to Withdraw as Counsel for Private Protestee and another in his subsequent affidavit
is a transgression of this imperative which necessitates appropriate punishment.
The appropriate penalty to be imposed on an errant attorney involves the exercise of sound
judicial discretion based on the facts of the case. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court
provides, viz:
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 to do so. The practice of soliciting cases for the purpose of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
The circumstances in this case demand that respondent be imposed suspension from the
practice of law for one (1) year. This serves the purpose of protecting the interest of the court,
the legal profession and the public. For indeed, if respect for the courts and for judicial process
is gone or steadily weakened, no law can save us as a society.[7]
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the February 27, 2004 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in
CBD Case No. 02-921 is AFFIRMED with the MODIFICATION that respondent Atty. Alanixon A.
Selda is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year, to commence upon receipt of
this Decision. He is further sternly warned that a repetition of a similar offense will call for a
more severe consequence.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal record of respondent with the Office
of the Bar Confidant. Likewise, let copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and all its chapters, and to all the courts in the land.
Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

A.C. No. 2837 October 7, 1994

Esteban m. Libit vs. Attys. Edelson g. Oliva and florando a. Umali


Topic: Falsification of the Sheriff's Return on the Summons
PER CURIAM:
In civil Case No. 84-24144 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Pedro Cutingting,
plaintiff versus Alfredo Tan, defendant", the Honorable Presiding Judge Domingo Panis issued
the following order:
The Director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is hereby ordered to
conduct an investigation with the end in view of determining the author of the
Sheriff's Return which appears to have been falsified and to institute such
criminal action as the evidence will warrant. (p. 1, Final Report.)
After conducting the necessary investigation, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), through
herein complainant, charged respondents as follows:
That sometime in May 1984 in the City of Manila, at the Regional Trial Court,
Branch XLI, Manila, Philippines, the above-named Respondents, as Counsels for
PEDRO CUTINGTING in Civil Case No. 84-24144, entitled PEDRO
CUTINGTING, Plaintiff vs. ALFREDO TAN, Defendant, did then and there,
knowingly, willfully introduced/presented in evidence before the aforesaid
Regional Trial Court, a falsified Sheriff's Return of Summons during the hearing
of the aforesaid Civil Case thereby impending and/or obstructing the speedy
administration and/or dispensation of Justice. (p. 2, Final Report, ff. p. 69,
Record.)
Respondents in their respective answers denied having any hand in the falsification of the said
sheriff's return.
Pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court and the resolution of the Court En Banc of April
12, 1988, the case was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation.
In view, however, of the report of the National Bureau of Investigation to the effect that the
signature above the typewritten name Florando Umali on the last page of the complaint in said
civil case is not his signature, complainant, through counsel, agreed to the dismissal of the case
with respect to Atty. Umali.
With respect to Atty. Edelson G. Oliva, the IBP submitted the following report and
recommendation:
There
is
ample
evidence
extant
in
the
records
to
prove
that
Atty. Oliva has something to do with the falsification of the Sheriff's Return on the
Summons in said Civil Case No. 84-24144.

The oral and documentary evidence of the complainant strongly tend to show the
following: (1) The Sheriff's Return of the Summon in the said civil case was falsified as it
was not signed by Deputy Sheriff Rodolfo Torella (Exh. "J" Sworn Statement of
Rodolfo Torella dated February 1, 1985, and Exh. "S", which is the falsified Sheriff's
Return); (2) The summons was received from the clerk of the Court of the Manila RTCBranch LXI by Ronaldo Romero, a messenger in the law office of Attys. Umali and Oliva
and said messenger brought the summons to the law office of the respondents (Exh. "H"
Sinumpaang Salaysay ni Ronaldo Romero, and Exh. "G", Exh. "I" Sworn Statement
dated February 28, 1985 of Mariano Villanueva, Chief Staff Asst. 2, RTC, Manila; (3) On
the basis of the falsified Sheriff's Return on the Summons, Atty. Oliva, counsel for the
defendant [should be plaintiff] in said civil case, filed a typewritten Motion to Declare
Defendant in Default (Exh.) "R" Motion to Declare Defendant In Default in said civil
case signed and filed by Atty. Oliva); (4) On March 29, 1984, Atty. Oliva, in his capacity as
Operations Manager of Judge Pio R. Marcos Law Office, sent a final demand letter on
Alfredo Tan, the defendant in said Civil case, for payment of the sum of P70,174.00 (Exh.
"T" Demand Letter dated March 28, 1984 of Atty. Oliva addressed to Alfredo Tan); (5)
The demand letter of Atty. Oliva (Exh. "T"), the complaint in said civil case (Exh. "Q", "Q1", and "Q-2"), the falsified Sheriff's Return on the Summons (Exh. "S"), the Motion To
Declare Defendant In Default dated October 30, 1984 signed and filed by
Atty. Oliva (Exh. "R" and "R-1") were typed on one and the same typewriter, as shown in
the Questioned Document Report No. 198-585 dated 19 June 1985 (Exh. "Q", "Q-1" and
"Q-2"; Exh. "V", "V-1" and "V-2").

After the careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of the IBP,
the Court finds that respondent Atty. Edelson G. Oliva committed acts of misconduct which
warrant the exercise by the Court of its disciplinary powers. The facts, as supported by the
evidence, obtaining in this case indubitably reveal respondent's failure to live up to his duties as
a lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the lawyer's oath, the Code of Professional
Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics. A lawyer's responsibility to protect and
advance the interests of his client does not warrant a course of action propelled by ill motives
and malicious intentions against the other party.
At this juncture, it is well to stress once again that the practice of law is not a right but a privilege
bestowed by the State on those who show that they possess, and continue to possess, the
qualifications required by law for the conferment of such privilege. One of these requirements is
the observance of honesty and candor. It cannot be gainsaid that candidness, especially
towards the courts, is essential for the expeditious administration of justice. Courts are entitled
to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading before
them. A lawyer, on the other hand, has the fundamental duty to satisfy the expectation. It is
essential that lawyers bear in mind at all times that their first duty is not to their clients but rather
to the courts, that they are above all court officers sworn to assist the courts in rendering justice
to all and sundry, and only secondarily are they advocates of the exclusive interests of their
clients. For this reason, he is required to swear to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of
any in court (Chavez vs. Viola, 196 SCRA 10 [1991].

In this case, respondent Atty. Edelson Oliva has manifestly violated that part of his oath as a
lawyer that he shall not do any falsehood. He has likewise violated Rule 10.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:
A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court nor shall he
mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
Accordingly, the Court resolved to impose upon Atty. Edelson Oliva the supreme penalty of
DISBARMENT. His license to practice law in the Philippines is CANCELLED and the Bar
Confidant is ordered to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
The case is ordered dismissed as against Atty. Florando Umali.
SO ORDERED.
Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Padilla, Bidin, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason,
Puno, Vitug, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
Feliciano, J., is on leave.

Molina vs Magat
AC. No. 1900
Topic: Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any
in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.

MENDOZA, J.:

Before the Court is the undated Resolution [1] of the Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) finding Atty. Ceferino R. Magat(Atty. Magat) liable for unethical
conduct and recommending that he be reprimanded.
The Facts:
The case stemmed from a complaint for disbarment [2] filed by Rodrigo A.
Molina (complainant) against Atty. Magat before the Court on May 5, 1978. The complaint
alleged, among others, that complainant filed cases of Assault Upon an Agent of a Person in
Authority and Breach of the Peace and Resisting Arrest against one Pascual de Leon (de
Leon) before the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Manila; that the counsel of record for accused
de Leon in both cases was Atty. Magat; that a case for slight physical injuries was filed against
him (Molina) by de Leon as a counter-charge and Atty. Magat was also the private prosecutor;
that Atty. Magat subsequently filed a motion to quash the information on Assault upon an Agent

of a Person in Authority on the sole ground of double jeopardy claiming that a similar case for
slight physical injuries was filed in court by a certain Pat. Molina (Molina); that based on the
record, no case of slight physical injuries was filed by Molina against de Leon; that Atty. Magat
was very much aware of such fact as he was the counsel and private prosecutor on record of de
Leon from the very start of the case way back on May 24, 1974; that Atty. Magats act of filing
the Motion to Quash was a malicious act done in bad faith to mislead the court, thus, a betrayal
of the confidence of the court of which he is an officer; and that Atty. Magat likewise committed
willful disobedience of the court order when he appeared as counsel for de Leon on two (2)
occasions despite the fact that he was suspended from the practice of law.
In his Answer,[3] Atty. Magat averred that in so far as the filing of the motion to quash was
concerned, he was really under the impression that a criminal case in lieu of the two (2) charges
was indeed filed and that the said motion was opposed by the other party and was denied by
the court. He admitted his appearances in court while under suspension. He explained that his
appearance in the December 21, 1977 hearing was to inform the court that the accused was
sick and to prevent the issuance of a warrant of arrest against the accused. In the January 9,
1978 hearing, he appeared because the accused had no money and pleaded that his testimony
be finished. Atty. Magat begged for the indulgence of the court and conveyed his repentance
and apology and promised that the same would not happen again.
The complaint was endorsed to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for
investigation, report and recommendation.[4] Thereafter, the OSG transmitted the records of the
case to the IBP for proper disposition.
In his Report and Recommendation[5] dated March 20, 2009, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline found merit in the complaint and recommended that Atty. Magat be reprimanded and
fined P50,000.00. It stated that:
This Commission finds it hard to believe that respondent would have
mistakenly been under the impression that a case for physical injuries was filed
against his client when there was no such case filed. Respondent was either
negligently reckless or he had mischievous intentions to deceive the trial court. In
any case, he committed a transgression for which he should be punished.
However, the graver sin of respondent is, and this he admits, that he
appeared as counsel before a trial court on at least two (2) occasions
notwithstanding the fact that he had been suspended by the Supreme Court from
the practice of law. Despite professing his contrition in his Answer, this
Commission is not convinced. Otherwise, respondent should have had, at the
onset of the proceedings, admitted to his misdeeds and put his fate squarely with
the disciplinary body. Yet, he proceeded to fight the charges against him.
Moreover, if respondent was indeed moved by altruistic intentions when
he made those appearances before the trial court despite having been

suspended, he could have so informed the Presiding Judge of his plight and
explained why the party he was representing could not attend. Yet, what he
proceeded to do was to enter his appearance as counsel. Indeed, it is beyond
doubt he trifled with the suspension order handed by the Supreme Court.
If there is one thing going for respondent, it is that the passage of time
with which this case remains pending makes it difficult to impose a penalty of
suspension on him. Under normal circumstances, this Commission would not
have thought twice of suspending respondent. However, the acts committed by
respondent occurred over TWENTY (20) YEARS ago. It would not be fair to now
impose a suspension on respondent, more so considering that he is, in all
likelihood, in the twilight of his career.
On the other hand, there is still a need to discipline respondent if only to
set an example to other lawyers that suspension orders of the Supreme Court
cannot simply be ignored. Thus, it is the recommendation of the undersigned that
respondent be meted a fine of FIFTY THOUSAND PESOS (50,000.00) and that
he be heavily reprimanded for his actions, the passage of time notwithstanding.[6]
On May 14, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors passed its Resolution [7] adopting the
findings of the Investigating Commissioner. It, however, deleted the imposition of fine.
The Court agrees with the findings of the IBP but not with respect to the penalty.
The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on those who show that they possess and
continue to possess the legal qualifications for it. Indeed, lawyers are expected to maintain at all
times a high standard of legal proficiency and morality, including honesty, integrity and fair
dealing. They must perform their four-fold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and
their clients, in accordance with the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the
Code of Professional Responsibility.[8]
Atty. Magats act clearly falls short of the standards set by the Code of Professional
Responsibility, particularly Rule 10.01, which provides:
Rule 10.01 A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any
in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the Court to be misled by any artifice.
In this case, the Court agrees with the observation of the IBP that there was a deliberate
intent on the part of Atty. Magat to mislead the court when he filed the motion to dismiss the
criminal charges on the basis of double jeopardy. Atty. Magat should not make any false and
untruthful statements in his pleadings. If it were true that there was a similar case for slight
physical injuries that was really filed in court, all he had to do was to secure a certification from
that court that, indeed, a case was filed.

Furthermore, Atty. Magat expressly admitted appearing in court on two occasions


despite having been suspended from the practice of law by the Court.Under Section 27, Rule
138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from office as
an attorney for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court and/or for corruptly
or wilfully appearing as an attorney without authority to do so. It provides:
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. [Underlining supplied]
As stated, if Atty. Magat was truly moved by altruistic intentions when he appeared
before the trial court despite having been suspended, he could have informed the Presiding
Judge of his plight and explained why the party he was representing could not attend. On the
contrary, Atty. Magat kept his silence and proceeded to represent his client as counsel.
WHEREFORE, respondent
Atty.
Ceferino
R.
Magat
is
hereby
ordered SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months with a WARNING that the
commission of the same or similar offense in the future would be dealt with more severely.