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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

A.C. No. 378 March 30, 1962

JOSE G. MEJIA and EMILIA N. ABRERA, complainants,


vs.
FRANCISCO S. REYES, respondent.

PADILLA, J.:

This is a disbarment proceedings against attorney Francisco S. Reyes for malpractice.

On 27 September 1947, Francisco S. Reyes, a practicing lawyer, was appointed bank attorney
and notary public for the Baguio Branch of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit H), as follows:

Atty. Francisco S. Reyes


Baguio City, Mt. Province
(Thru: The Manager, Phil. National Bank
Baguio Branch) .

Sir:

Please be advised that you are hereby appointed as Bank Attorney and Notary Public of
our Baguio Branch, effective September 19, 1947, and as such you are to perform the
following: .

1) To ratify documents covering bank transactions;

2) To represent the Bank in cases filed in the local courts when, in the opinion of
the Government Corporation Counsel, there is a necessity for an attorney for the
purpose; and

3) To give legal advise on ordinary routinary matters to our Branch Manager


thereat and sign collection letters when so requested by the latter.

It is understood that you shall receive no regular compensation from the Bank but that
you will be allowed to collect fees authorized by the Notarial Law when ratifying
documents and 5% of the amount of judgment in cases where your appearance for the
Bank is requested, if and when actually collected, which fees, however, may be changed
as circumstances may warrant. Furthermore, it is also understood that under this
appoinment,you are not entitled to any other form of compensation or privileges accorded
to regularly appointed employees of this Bank.

Yours very truly, .


(Sgd.) V. CARMONA
President

I AGREE:
(Sgd.) FRANCISCO S. REYES

In June 1955 while still holding such position his professional services were engaged by Jose G.
Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera, residents of Baguio City, to bring an action in court against the
Philippine National Bank and the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation (now the Development
Bank of the Philippines) as successor-in-interest of the defunct Agricultural and Industrial Bank
for the cancellation of a mortgage on a parcel of land situated in Baguio City recorded on their
certificate of title No. 2499 (civil No. 532). On 28 June 1955 a complaint, signed by Attorney
Francisco S. Reyes for the law firm of Reyes and Cabato, was filed in the Court of First Instance
of Baguio against the two banks, praying that the sum in Japanese war notes of P2,693.53 paid
on 27 October 1944 by Jose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera to the Agricultural and Industrial Bank
and received by the Philippines National Bank, Baguio Branch, to pay the balance of real estate
mortgage loan, be credited by the Rehabilitation Finance Corporation as successor-in-interest of
the defunct Agricultural and Industrial Bank and that the mortgage annotated on transfer
certificate of title No. 2499 be cancelled (Exhibit A). After trial, on 4 August 1956 the Court
rendered judgment declaring valid the payment in Japanese war notes of P2,693.53 on 27
October 1944 but crediting only the sum of P67.34, Philippine currency, the equivalent value of
P2,693.53 under the Ballantyne Schedule (Exhibit 8). On 31 August 1956 the Reyes and Cabato
law firm filed a motion for reconsideration (Exhibit 9) and the Philippine National Bank on 5
September 1956 (Exhibit 10), to which on 15 September 1956 the former filed a written objection
(Exhibit 11). On 15 September 1956 the Court denied both motion for reconsideration (Exhibit
12). No appeal was taken by either party.

In this administrative proceedings, the complainants Jose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera allege
that they had desired to take an appeal from the judgment rendered by the Court of First
Instance of Baguio but did not, upon the respondent's advice; that thereafter for the first time they
learned that the respondent was counsel and notary public of the Baguio Branch of the Philippine
National Bank; that his representing them against the Philippine National Bank, in whose Baguio
Branch he was bank attorney and notary public, without revealing to them such connection with
the Bank, constitutes malpractice; and pray this Court to disbar him.

In his answer filed on 2 March 1959 respondent Francisco S. Reyes avers that after a
conference among the complainants, attorney Federico L. Cabato and himself, they agreed not
to appeal the judgment rendered by the Court and, instead, to take advantage of the provisions
of Republic Act No. 1286 that condoned interests accruing on debts to the Government provided
that the principal was paid on or before 31 December 1956; that all the time he was handling
their case the complainants knew his professional connection with the Baguio Branch of the
Philippine National Bank; that he worked hard with attorney Cabato on their case, for which he
was paid by them a meager sum of P90 as attorney fees; that he is not guilty of malpractice,
because he was not a retainer lawyer of the Philippine National Bank but represented it only in
collection cases where he was paid 5% of any amount collected; that the malpractice charge is
just to harrass, embarrass and force him to pay the complainants' debt to the Rehabilitation
Finance Corporation; and praysthat the complaint be dismissed..

On 4 March 1959 the Court referred the administrative case to the City Attorney of Baguio for
investigation, report and recommendation. After conducting the investigation during which the
parties presented their evidence, on 23 March 1960, Sixto A. Domondo, City Attorney of Baguio,
rendered a report finding the respondent guilty of malpractice and recommending reprimand.. 1wph1.t

Lawyers are prohibited from representing conflicting interests in a case (Cantorne vs. Ducusin,
57 Phil. 23 and In re: De la Rosa, 27 Phil. 258). The respondent's act of appearing and acting as
counsel for the complainantsJose G. Mejia and Emilia N. Abrera in the civil case against the
Philippine National Bank, that had appointed him bank attorney and notary public, constitutes
malpractice. However, it does not appear satisfactorily proventhat during the pendency of their
case the complaints did not know of the respondents connection with the bank as attorney and
notary public. On the other hand, it appears that notwithstanding the letter dated 21 July 1955
written by Mr. L.D. Herrera, manager of the BaguioBranch, quoting a part of a previous letter sent
to him (Herrera) by attorney Ramon B. de los Reyes, chief legal counsel of the Philippine
National Bank, stating that

We note that the complaint is signed by our Bank Attorney and Notary Public, Atty.
Francisco S. Reyes, in behalf of the Law Office of Reyes and Cabato. Needless to say, it
is unethical for Atty. Reyes, who is presently the attorney of the Bank, to represent the
plaintiffs here whose interest are diametrically opposed to those of the Bank. As this is
certainly embarrassing both for Atty. Reyes and for the Bank, it is requested that you
please take this matter with Atty. Reyes with the end in view of advising him to desist
from representing the plaintiffs in this case, otherwise, we will be compelled, much to our
regret, to recommend severance of his official connection with this Bank,.

which shows that the Philippine National Bank knew that the respondent was appearing as
counsel for the complainants, yet it did not revoke or cancel his appointment as bank attorney
and notary public; that in the civil case the respondent did not appear as counsel for the Bank
which was represented by attorneys Ramon B. de los Reyes and Nemesio P. Libunao; that no
appeal was taken from the judgment rendered by the Court of First Instance of Baguio, because
the complainants had chosen to pay the principal of their loan on or before 31 December 1956 in
order that the interests thereon be condoned as provided for in Republic Act No. 1286 (Exhibits
13 to 17); and that the respondent was deeply devoted to his duties as counsel for the
complainants and collected a very small attorney's fees of P90, the malpractice committed by the
respondent is not so serious. He is just admonished and warned not to repeat it.

Bengzon, C.J., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and De Leon, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L. and Concepcion, JJ., took no part.

A.M. Case No. 3195. December 18, 1989

MA. LIBERTAD SJ CANTILLER, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. HUMBERTO V. POTENCIANO, respondent.

Eduardo Cabreros, Jr. for complainant.

RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM

Public interest requires that an attorney exert his best efforts and ability in the
prosecution or defense of his client's cause. A lawyer who performs that duty with
diligence and candor not only protects the interests of his client; he also serves
the ends of justice, does honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect of the
community to the legal profession. This is so because the entrusted privilege to
practice law carries with it the correlative duties not only to the client but also to
the court, to the bar or to the public. That circumstance explains the public
concern for the maintenance of an untarnished standard of conduct by every
attorney towards his client. 1

Subject of this administrative complaint is Humberto V. Potenciano, a practicing lawyer and a


member of the Philippine Bar under Roll No. 21862. He is charged with deceit, fraud, and
misrepresentation, and also with gross misconduct, malpractice and of acts unbecoming of an
officer of the court.

The essential facts are as follows: 2

Complainant herein is the sister of Peregrina Cantiller, defendant in an action for "ejectment"
docketed as Civil Case No. 6046 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Manila, Branch 57, San
Juan, Metro Manila.

Another action, likewise involving Peregrina but this time as plaintiff, was then pending before the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 168, Pasig, Metro Manila docketed as Civil Case No. 54117 for
"reconveyance with damages." Both actions involve the apartment unit being rented by
complainant and her sister.

When the two cases were concluded, Peregrina came out the losing party. Civil Case No. 54117
for reconveyance was ordered dismissed by the Regional Trial Court on June 8, 1987 while Civil
Case No. 6046 for ejectment was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court against her.

On October 8, 1987 pursuant to the writ of execution issued in Civil Case No. 6046 for ejectment,
complainant and Peregrina were served a notice to vacate the rented premises within four (4)
days from receipt of notice.

Desperate and at a loss on what to do, they consulted a certain Sheriff Pagalunan, on the matter.
Pagalunan, in turn, introduced them to herein respondent. After such introduction, the parties
"impliedly agreed" that respondent would handle their case. Forthwith, a petition entitled
"Annulment of Judgment, Annulment of Sale and Damages with prayer for Preliminary Injunction
and/or Status Quo Order, etc." was prepared by respondent to forestall the execution of the order
to vacate in Civil Case No. 6046.

In the afternoon of October 9,1987, the complainant was made to sign by respondent what she
described as a "[h]astily prepared, poorly conceived, and haphazardly composed 3 petition for
annulment of judgment. Complainant alleges that respondent promised her that the necessary
restraining order would be secured if only because the judge who would hear the matter was his
"katsukaran" (close friend).
Thereupon, the petition was filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, Pasig, Metro Manila
and docketed as Civil Case No. 55118. Respondent demanded from the complainant one
thousand pesos (P l,000.00) as attorney's fee which the latter paid that same afternoon.

However, when the case was raffled and assigned to Branch 153, the presiding judge asked
respondent to withdraw as counsel in the case on the ground of their friendship.

On October 11, 1987, respondent went to the house of complainant and asked her to be ready
with two thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) to be given to another judge who will issue the restraining
order in the ejectment case (Civil Case No. 6046). Complainant and her sister were only able to
raise the amount of one thousand pesos which they immediately gave to respondent.

Later respondent informed the complainant and her sister that he could not locate the judge who
would issue the restraining order. The parties, then, instead went to the Max's Restaurant where
respondent ordered some food - including two plastic bags of food allegedly to be given to the
judge who would issue the restraining order. At this juncture, respondent asked for the remaining
balance of the two thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) which he earlier demanded. Complainant gave
her last money-a ten dollar ($ 10.00) bill.

Sometime after the filing of Civil Case No. 55118, respondent informed complainant and
Peregrina that there was a need to file another case with the Regional Trial Court to enable them
to retain possession of the apartment. For this purpose, respondent told complainant to prepare
the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P 10,000.00) allegedly to be deposited with the Treasurer's
Office of Pasig as purchase price of the apartment and another one thousand pesos (P 1,000.00)
to cover the expenses of the suit. Respondent stressed to the complainant the need and urgency
of filing the new complaint.

Complainant and Peregrina raised the said amounts through the kindness of some friends and
relatives. On October 26,1987, the money was handed over to the respondent.

On the same date, a complaint for "Specific Performance, Annulment of Simulated or Spurious
Sale with Damages," later docketed as Civil Case No. 55210, was filed by respondent with the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 165, Pasig, Metro Manila.

At the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil Case No. 55118 on October 30, 1987,
respondent, contrary to his promise that he would secure a restraining order, withdrew his
appearance as counsel for complainant. Complainant was not able to get another lawyer as
replacement. Thus, no restraining order or preliminary injunction was obtained. As a
consequence, the order to vacate in Civil Case No. 6046 was eventually enforced and executed.

Sometime thereafter, it came to complainant's knowledge that there was really no need to make
a deposit of ten thousand pesos (P l0,000.00) relative to Civil Case No. 55210. After further
inquiry, she found out that in fact there was no such deposit made. Thus, on December 23,1987,
complainant sent a demand letter to respondent asking for the return of the total amount of
eleven thousand pesos (P 11,000.00) which the former earlier gave to the latter. However, this
letter was never answered and the money was never returned. Hence, complainant lodged this
administrative complaint against herein respondent.
Meanwhile, on December 29,1987, the Regional Trial Court, Branch 153, dismissed Civil Case
No. 55118 for failure to state a cause of action. 4 On January 20,1988, Civil Case No. 5521 0 was
likewise dismissed for being identical with Civil Case No. 55118. 5

Respondent in his answer contends that the filing of Civil Cases Nos. 55118 and 55210 was
done in good faith and that the allegations of complainant relative to the administrative charge
against him are all lies, product of one's imagination and only intended to harrass him. 6

This Court agrees that the petitions in Civil Cases Nos. 55118 and 55210 appear to be poorly
prepared and written. having represented himself capable of picking up the cudgels for the
apparently lost cause of complainant respondent should have carefully prepared the pleadings if
only to establish the justness of his representation. The little time involved is no excuse.
Complainant reposed full faith in him. His first duty was to file the best pleading within his
capability. Apparently respondent was more interested in getting the most out of the complainant
who was in a hopeless situation. He bragged about his closeness to the judge concerned in one
case and talked about the need to "buy" the restraining order in the other. Worse still he got P
10,000.00 as alleged deposit in court which he never deposited. Instead he pocketed the same.
The pattern to milk the complainant dry is obvious.

When a lawyer takes a client's cause, he thereby covenants that he will exert all effort for its
prosecution until its final conclusion. The failure to exercise due diligence or the abandonment of
a client's cause makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust which the client had reposed on him.
The acts of respondent in this case violate the most elementary principles of professional
ethics . 7

The Court finds that respondent failed to exercise due diligence in protecting his client's interests.
Respondent had knowledge beforehand that he would be asked by the presiding judge in Civil
Case No. 55118 to withdraw his appearance as counsel by reason of their friendship. Despite
such prior knowledge, respondent took no steps to find a replacement nor did he inform
complainant of this fact.

Even assuming that respondent had no previous knowledge that he would be asked to withdraw,
the record is quite clear that four (4) days prior to the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil
Case No. 55118 respondent already filed a motion therein withdrawing as complainant's counsel
interposing as reason therefor his frequent attacks of pain due to hemorrhoids. Despite this void,
respondent failed to find a replacement. He did not even ask complainant to hire another lawyer
in his stead. 8

His actuation is definitely inconsistent with his duty to protect with utmost dedication the interest
of his client and of the fidelity, trust and confidence which he owes his client. 9 More so in this
case, where by reason of his gross negligence complainant thereby suffered by losing all her cases.

The filing of Civil Case No. 55210 on October 26, 1987, the same day that he had already filed a
motion to withdraw as counsel for complainant in Civil Case No. 55118, reveals his lack of good
faith as an advocate. He also failed to appear for the complainant in said case. It was all a show
to get more money from her. This adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. When
confronted with this evident irregularity, he lamely stated that while he did not physically appear
for complainant he nevertheless prepared and drafted the pleadings.
His services were engaged by complainant hoping that the property subject of the ejectment
proceeding would be returned to her. In fact, it was respondent who persuaded complainant that
the filing of these two cases simultaneously were the means by which this objective can be
achieved. His duty was not only to prepare the pleadings but to represent complainant until the
termination of the cases. This he failed to do.

His representation that there was an immediate need to file Civil Case No. 55210 when he
already knew that he could no longer physically handle the same is an act of deception of his
client. 10 It shows lack of fidelity to his oath of office as a member of the Philippine bar.

The allegation of respondent that the ten thousand pesos (P 10,000.00) was given to him as fee
for his services, is simply incredible. Indeed, such amount is grossly disproportionate with the
service he actually rendered. 11 And his failure to return even a portion of the amount upon demand
of complainant all the more bolsters the protestation of complainant that respondent does not deserve
to remain as an officer of the court.

Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of administering justice in this jurisdiction. At
a time when strong and disturbing criticisms are being hurled at the legal profession, strict
compliance with one's oath of office and the canons of professional ethics is an imperative.

Lawyers should be fair, honest, respectable, above suspicion and beyond reproach in dealing
with their clients. The profession is not synonymous with an ordinary business proposition. It is a
matter of public interest.

WHEREFORE, after considering the entirety of the circumstances present in this case, this Court
finds Atty. Humberto V. Potenciano to be guilty of the charges against him and hereby
SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for an indefinite period until such time he can
demonstrate that he has rehabilitated himself as to deserve to resume the practice of law.

Finally, respondent is hereby ordered to return to complainant herein the sum of eleven thousand
pesos (P11,000.00) with legal interest from the date of this resolution until it is actually returned.

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco,
Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Case Digest

FACTS:

This is a petition for the disbarment of Atty. Eduardo M. Tuason, instituted by


Emilio Sta. Maria.

Sometime in June 1955, Atty. Tuason represented the partnership of Sta. Maria,
Guanzon and Chincuanco in a collection case against Enriqueta de Hidalgo,
involving a promissory note of P50,000.00. Defendant Hidalgo in this case was
declared in default and was ordered to pay. By virtue of a writ of execution, the
provincial sheriff of Pampanga was able to obtain the amount of P22,930.64.

Respondent Tuason got the whole amount from the sheriff and applied it in the
following manner : P10,000 attorneys fees, P1,648 supposed expenses of
litigation which he claimed to have advanced during the prosecution and the
balance of P11,282.64 to Fausto Chincuanco, his uncle.

Despite demands from Sta. Maria to turn over the money to him or to the sheriff,
respondent failed to comply and contempt proceedings were instituted against
Tuason. The matter was referred to the Office of the Solicitor General who made
the findings and recommendation that: respondent Tuason was not in connivance
with his uncle Chincuanco in depriving petitioner of his lawful share in the
liquidation of partnership assets, however, the collection of P10,000 as
attorneys fees after the case was terminated after one brief hearing is
unreasonable. There was also no evidence presented to show that Tuason
actually spent P1,648 for the expenses.

The Sol. Gen. recommended that instead of a more severe penalty which he
would otherwise deserve, respondent be reprimanded for professional
indiscretion, with a warning that a more severe penalty be imposed for the
repetition of the same of similar acts.

ISSUE : Whether respondent committed acts that would merit his disbarment.

RULING:

The fact that the respondent placed his private and personal interest over and
above that of his clients constitutes a breach of the lawyers oath, to say the
least. Call it professional indiscretion or any other name, but the cold fact
remains that the act is not conducive to the health growth of the legal
profession. Respondent is hereby admonished that a repetition of similar acts will
merit more drastic action.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

EN BANC

G.R. No. L-961 September 21, 1949

BLANDINA GAMBOA HILADO, petitioner,


vs.
JOSE GUTIERREZ DAVID, VICENTE J. FRANCISCO, JACOB ASSAD and SELIM JACOB
ASSAD,respondents.

Delgado, Dizon and Flores for petitioner.


Vicente J. Francisco for respondents.

TUASON, J.:
It appears that on April 23, 1945, Blandina Gamboa Hilado brought an action against Selim
Jacob Assad to annul the sale of several houses and lot executed during the Japanese
occupation by Mrs. Hilado's now deceased husband.

On May 14, Attorneys Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita filed an answer on behalf of the defendant;
and on June 15, Attorneys Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo registered their appearance as
counsel for the plaintiff. On October 5, these attorneys filed an amended complaint by including
Jacob Assad as party defendant.

On January 28, 1946, Attorney Francisco entered his appearance as attorney of record for the
defendant in substitution for Attorney Ohnick, Velilla and Balonkita who had withdrawn from the
case.

On May 29, Attorney Dizon, in the name of his firm, wrote Attorney Francisco urging him to
discontinue representing the defendants on the ground that their client had consulted with him
about her case, on which occasion, it was alleged, "she turned over the papers" to Attorney
Francisco, and the latter sent her a written opinion. Not receiving any answer to this suggestion,
Attorney Delgado, Dizon, Flores and Rodrigo on June 3, 1946, filed a formal motion with the
court, wherein the case was and is pending, to disqualify Attorney Francisco.

Attorney Francisco's letter to plaintiff, mentioned above and identified as Exhibit A, is in full as
follows:

VICENTE J. FRANCISCO
Attorney-at-Law
1462 Estrada, Manila

July 13, 1945.

Mrs. Blandina Gamboa Hilado


Manila, Philippines

My dear Mrs. Hilado:

From the papers you submitted to me in connection with civil case No. 70075 of the
Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled "Blandina Gamboa Hilado vs. S. J. Assad," I
find that the basic facts which brought about the controversy between you and the
defendant therein are as follows:

(a) That you were the equitable owner of the property described in the complaint, as the
same was purchased and/or built with funds exclusively belonging to you, that is to say,
the houses and lot pertained to your paraphernal estate;

(b) That on May 3, 1943, the legal title to the property was with your husband, Mr. Serafin
P. Hilado; and

(c) That the property was sold by Mr. Hilado without your knowledge on the aforesaid
date of May 3, 1943.

Upon the foregoing facts, I am of the opinion that your action against Mr. Assad will not
ordinarily prosper. Mr. Assad had the right to presume that your husband had the legal
right to dispose of the property as the transfer certificate of title was in his name.
Moreover, the price of P110,000 in Japanese military notes, as of May 3, 1943, does not
quite strike me as so grossly inadequate as to warrant the annulment of the sale. I
believe, lastly, that the transaction cannot be avoided merely because it was made during
the Japanese occupation, nor on the simple allegation that the real purchaser was not a
citizen of the Philippines. On his last point, furthermore, I expect that you will have great
difficulty in proving that the real purchaser was other than Mr. Assad, considering that
death has already sealed your husband's lips and he cannot now testify as to the
circumstances of the sale.

For the foregoing reasons, I regret to advise you that I cannot appear in the proceedings
in your behalf. The records of the case you loaned to me are herewith returned.

Yours very truly,

(Sgd.) VICENTE J. FRANCISCO

VJF/Rag.

In his answer to plaintiff's attorneys' complaint, Attorney Francisco alleged that about May, 1945,
a real estate broker came to his office in connection with the legal separation of a woman who
had been deserted by her husband, and also told him (Francisco) that there was a pending suit
brought by Mrs. Hilado against a certain Syrian to annul the sale of a real estate which the
deceased Serafin Hilado had made to the Syrian during the Japanese occupation; that this
woman asked him if he was willing to accept the case if the Syrian should give it to him; that he
told the woman that the sales of real property during the Japanese regime were valid even
though it was paid for in Japanese military notes; that this being his opinion, he told his visitor he
would have no objection to defending the Syrian;

That one month afterwards, Mrs. Hilado came to see him about a suit she had instituted against
a certain Syrian to annul the conveyance of a real estate which her husband had made; that
according to her the case was in the hands of Attorneys Delgado and Dizon, but she wanted to
take it away from them; that as he had known the plaintiff's deceased husband he did not
hesitate to tell her frankly that hers was a lost case for the same reason he had told the broker;
that Mrs. Hilado retorted that the basis of her action was not that the money paid her husband
was Japanese military notes, but that the premises were her private and exclusive property; that
she requested him to read the complaint to be convinced that this was the theory of her suit; that
he then asked Mrs. Hilado if there was a Torrens title to the property and she answered yes, in
the name of her husband; that he told Mrs. Hilado that if the property was registered in her
husband's favor, her case would not prosper either;

That some days afterward, upon arrival at his law office on Estrada street, he was informed by
Attorney Federico Agrava, his assistant, that Mrs. Hilado had dropped in looking for him and that
when he, Agrava, learned that Mrs. Hilado's visit concerned legal matters he attended to her and
requested her to leave the "expediente" which she was carrying, and she did; that he told
Attorney Agrava that the firm should not handle Mrs. Hilado's case and he should return the
papers, calling Agrava's attention to what he (Francisco) already had said to Mrs. Hilado;

That several days later, the stenographer in his law office, Teofilo Ragodon, showed him a letter
which had been dictated in English by Mr. Agrava, returning the "expedients" to Mrs. Hilado; that
Ragodon told him (Attorney Francisco) upon Attorney Agrava's request that Agrava thought it
more proper to explain to Mrs. Hilado the reasons why her case was rejected; that he forthwith
signed the letter without reading it and without keeping it for a minute in his possession; that he
never saw Mrs. Hilado since their last meeting until she talked to him at the Manila Hotel about a
proposed extrajudicial settlement of the case;

That in January, 1946, Assad was in his office to request him to handle his case stating that his
American lawyer had gone to the States and left the case in the hands of other attorneys; that he
accepted the retainer and on January 28, 1946, entered his appearance.

Attorney Francisco filed an affidavit of stenographer Ragodon in corroboration of his answer.

The judge trying the case, Honorable Jose Gutierrez David, later promoted to the Court of
Appeals, dismissed the complaint. His Honor believed that no information other than that already
alleged in plaintiff's complaint in the main cause was conveyed to Attorney Francisco, and
concluded that the intercourse between the plaintiff and the respondent did not attain the point of
creating the relation of attorney and client.

Stripped of disputed details and collateral matters, this much is undoubted: That Attorney
Francisco's law firm mailed to the plaintiff a written opinion over his signature on the merits of her
case; that this opinion was reached on the basis of papers she had submitted at his office; that
Mrs. Hilado's purpose in submitting those papers was to secure Attorney Francisco's professional
services. Granting the facts to be no more than these, we agree with petitioner's counsel that the
relation of attorney and client between Attorney Francisco and Mrs. Hilado ensued. The following
rules accord with the ethics of the legal profession and meet with our approval:

In order to constitute the relation (of attorney and client) a professional one and not
merely one of principal and agent, the attorneys must be employed either to give advice
upon a legal point, to prosecute or defend an action in court of justice, or to prepare and
draft, in legal form such papers as deeds, bills, contracts and the like. (Atkinson vs.
Howlett, 11 Ky. Law Rep. (abstract), 364; cited in Vol. 88, A. L. R., p. 6.)

To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have
employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . . It is not necessary
that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for; neither is it material
that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the case about which the
consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his business affairs or troubles of any
kind, consults with his attorney in his professional capacity with the view to obtaining
professional advice or assistance, and the attorney voluntarily permits or acquiesces in
such consultation, then the professional employment must be regarded as established. . .
. (5 Jones Commentaries on Evidence, pp. 4118-4119.)

An attorney is employed-that is, he is engaged in his professional capacity as a lawyer or


counselor-when he is listening to his client's preliminary statement of his case, or when
he is giving advice thereon, just as truly as when he is drawing his client's pleadings, or
advocating his client's cause in open court. (Denver Tramway Co. vs. Owens, 20 Colo.,
107; 36 P., 848.)

Formality is not an essential element of the employment of an attorney. The contract may
be express or implied and it is sufficient that the advice and assistance of the attorney is
sought and received, in matters pertinent to his profession. An acceptance of the relation
is implied on the part of the attorney from his acting in behalf of his client in pursuance of
a request by the latter. (7 C. J. S., 848-849; see Hirach Bros. and Co. vs. R. E.
Kennington Co., 88 A. L. R., 1.)

Section 26 (e), Rule 123 of the Rules of Court provides that "an attorney cannot, without the
consent of his client, be examined as to any communication made by the client to him, or his
advice given thereon in the course of professional employment;" and section 19 (e) of Rule 127
imposes upon an attorney the duty "to maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to
himself, to preserve the secrets of his client." There is no law or provision in the Rules of Court
prohibiting attorneys in express terms from acting on behalf of both parties to a controversy
whose interests are opposed to each other, but such prohibition is necessarily implied in the
injunctions above quoted. (In re De la Rosa, 27 Phil., 258.) In fact the prohibition derives validity
from sources higher than written laws and rules. As has been aptly said in In re Merron, 22 N. M.,
252, L.R.A., 1917B, 378, "information so received is sacred to the employment to which it
pertains," and "to permit it to be used in the interest of another, or, worse still, in the interest of
the adverse party, is to strike at the element of confidence which lies at the basis of, and affords
the essential security in, the relation of attorney and client."

That only copies of pleadings already filed in court were furnished to Attorney Agrava and that,
this being so, no secret communication was transmitted to him by the plaintiff, would not vary the
situation even if we should discard Mrs. Hilado's statement that other papers, personal and
private in character, were turned in by her. Precedents are at hand to support the doctrine that
the mere relation of attorney and client ought to preclude the attorney from accepting the
opposite party's retainer in the same litigation regardless of what information was received by
him from his first client.

The principle which forbids an attorney who has been engaged to represent a client from
thereafter appearing on behalf of the client's opponent applies equally even though
during the continuance of the employment nothing of a confidential nature was revealed
to the attorney by the client. (Christian vs. Waialua Agricultural Co., 30 Hawaii, 553,
Footnote 7, C. J. S., 828.)

Where it appeared that an attorney, representing one party in litigation, had formerly
represented the adverse party with respect to the same matter involved in the litigation,
the court need not inquire as to how much knowledge the attorney acquired from his
former during that relationship, before refusing to permit the attorney to represent the
adverse party. (Brown vs. Miller, 52 App. D. C. 330; 286, F. 994.)

In order that a court may prevent an attorney from appearing against a former client, it is
unnecessary that the ascertain in detail the extent to which the former client's affairs
might have a bearing on the matters involved in the subsequent litigation on the
attorney's knowledge thereof. (Boyd vs. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 274 P., 7; 51 Nev.,
264.)

This rule has been so strictly that it has been held an attorney, on terminating his
employment, cannot thereafter act as counsel against his client in the same general
matter, even though, while acting for his former client, he acquired no knowledge which
could operate to his client's disadvantage in the subsequent adverse employment.
(Pierce vs. Palmer [1910], 31 R. I., 432; 77 Atl., 201, Ann. Cas., 1912S, 181.)

Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a complicated
affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In the
complexity of what is said in the course of the dealings between an attorney and a client, inquiry
of the nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that
might only further prejudice the complainant's cause. And the theory would be productive of other
un salutary results. To make the passing of confidential communication a condition precedent;
i.e., to make the employment conditioned on the scope and character of the knowledge acquired
by an attorney in determining his right to change sides, would not enhance the freedom of
litigants, which is to be sedulously fostered, to consult with lawyers upon what they believe are
their rights in litigation. The condition would of necessity call for an investigation of what
information the attorney has received and in what way it is or it is not in conflict with his new
position. Litigants would in consequence be wary in going to an attorney, lest by an unfortunate
turn of the proceedings, if an investigation be held, the court should accept the attorney's
inaccurate version of the facts that came to him. "Now the abstinence from seeking legal advice
in a good cause is by hypothesis an evil which is fatal to the administration of justice." (John H.
Wigmore's Evidence, 1923, Section 2285, 2290, 2291.)

Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client
as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to
prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest
lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. (Strong vs. Int. Bldg., etc.; Ass'n,
183 Ill., 97; 47 L.R.A., 792.) It is founded on principles of public policy, on good taste. As has
been said in another case, the question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as
to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With these thoughts in
mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesar's wife, not only to keep inviolate the client's confidence,
but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be
encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the
administration of justice.

So without impugning respondent's good faith, we nevertheless can not sanction his taking up
the cause of the adversary of the party who had sought and obtained legal advice from his firm;
this, not necessarily to prevent any injustice to the plaintiff but to keep above reproach the honor
and integrity of the courts and of the bar. Without condemning the respondents conduct as
dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent, we do believe that upon the admitted facts it is highly in
expedient. It had the tendency to bring the profession, of which he is a distinguished member,
"into public disrepute and suspicion and undermine the integrity of justice."

There is in legal practice what called "retaining fee," the purpose of which stems from the
realization that the attorney is disabled from acting as counsel for the other side after he has
given professional advice to the opposite party, even if he should decline to perform the
contemplated services on behalf of the latter. It is to prevent undue hardship on the attorney
resulting from the rigid observance of the rule that a separate and independent fee for
consultation and advice was conceived and authorized. "A retaining fee is a preliminary fee given
to an attorney or counsel to insure and secure his future services, and induce him to act for the
client. It is intended to remunerate counsel for being deprived, by being retained by one party, of
the opportunity of rendering services to the other and of receiving pay from him, and the payment
of such fee, in the absence of an express understanding to the contrary, is neither made nor
received in payment of the services contemplated; its payment has no relation to the obligation of
the client to pay his attorney for the services which he has retained him to perform." (7 C.J.S.,
1019.)

The defense that Attorney Agrava wrote the letter Exhibit A and that Attorney Francisco did not
take the trouble of reading it, would not take the case out of the interdiction. If this letter was
written under the circumstances explained by Attorney Francisco and he was unaware of its
contents, the fact remains that his firm did give Mrs. Hilado a formal professional advice from
which, as heretofore demonstrated, emerged the relation of attorney and client. This letter binds
and estop him in the same manner and to the same degree as if he personally had written it. An
information obtained from a client by a member or assistant of a law firm is information imparted
to the firm. (6 C. J., 628; 7 C. J. S., 986.) This is not a mere fiction or an arbitrary rule; for such
member or assistant, as in our case, not only acts in the name and interest of the firm, but his
information, by the nature of his connection with the firm is available to his associates or
employers. The rule is all the more to be adhered to where, as in the present instance, the
opinion was actually signed by the head of the firm and carries his initials intended to convey the
impression that it was dictated by him personally. No progress could be hoped for in "the public
policy that the client in consulting his legal adviser ought to be free from apprehension of
disclosure of his confidence," if the prohibition were not extended to the attorney's partners,
employers or assistants.

The fact that petitioner did not object until after four months had passed from the date Attorney
Francisco first appeared for the defendants does not operate as a waiver of her right to ask for
his disqualification. In one case, objection to the appearance of an attorney was allowed even on
appeal as a ground for reversal of the judgment. In that case, in which throughout the conduct of
the cause in the court below the attorney had been suffered so to act without objection, the court
said: "We are all of the one mind, that the right of the appellee to make his objection has not
lapsed by reason of failure to make it sooner; that professional confidence once reposed can
never be divested by expiration of professional employment." (Nickels vs. Griffin, 1 Wash. Terr.,
374, 321 A. L. R. 1316.)

The complaint that petitioner's remedy is by appeal and not by certiorari deserves scant
attention. The courts have summary jurisdiction to protect the rights of the parties and the public
from any conduct of attorneys prejudicial to the administration of the justice. The summary
jurisdiction of the courts over attorneys is not confined to requiring them to pay over money
collected by them but embraces authority to compel them to do whatever specific acts may be
incumbent upon them in their capacity of attorneys to perform. The courts from the general
principles of equity and policy, will always look into the dealings between attorneys and clients
and guard the latter from any undue consequences resulting from a situation in which they may
stand unequal. The courts acts on the same principles whether the undertaking is to appear, or,
for that matter, not to appear, to answer declaration, etc. (6 C.J., 718 C.J.S., 1005.) This
summary remedy against attorneys flows from the facts that they are officers of the court where
they practice, forming a part of the machinery of the law for the administration of justice and as
such subject to the disciplinary authority of the courts and to its orders and directions with
respect to their relations to the court as well as to their clients. (Charest vs. Bishop, 137 Minn.,
102; 162, N.W., 1062, Note 26, 7 C. J. S., 1007.) Attorney stand on the same footing as sheriffs
and other court officers in respect of matters just mentioned.

We conclude therefore that the motion for disqualification should be allowed. It is so ordered,
without costs.

Moran, C.J., Ozaeta, Paras, Feria, Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Reyes and Torres,
JJ., concur.

DE LA ROSA March 21, 1914

In the matter of the investigation of certain charges preferred by Severino Caoibes against
LUCIANO DE LA ROSA, attorney and counselor at law.

Sumulong & Estrada for respondent.


Attorney-General Villamor for the Government.

PER CURIAM:

The charges presented are threefold. The complaint charges:

1. That the respondent attorney, in collusion with his client, Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, withheld
the payment to the petitioner of certain sums of money which represented, in part, the purchase
price of a piece of land sold by complainant to said Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, which retardation,
by depriving him of money on which he was depending, prevented the complainant from
redeeming certain jewelry which he had sold with a right to repurchase, thereby causing him
serious damage.

2. That the said respondent maliciously placed obstacles in the way of the petitioner in the
collection of the sum which his client owed to the complainant, thereby obliging the complainant
to pay to said respondent, P350 on one occasion and P550 on another occasion, a total of P900,
which was received by said respondent as a consideration for his permitting his client to make
the payments which she had agreed to make to the complainant.

3. That the said respondent has refused to pay to the complainant the sum of P1,330 which his
client had placed in his possession for said complainant, the same being the remainder of the
purchase price of the land sold as above stated.

From the evidence taken in this case it appears that, on the 24th of March, 1912, the
complainant, by an instrument in writing, duly acknowledged before Luciano de la Rosa, a notary
public, sold to Juliana Bayubay y Garcia a parcel of sugar land situated in the barrio of Canda,
municipality of Balayan, Province of Batangas, the area and boundaries whereof were duly set
out in the first paragraph of that instrument for P15,500, to be paid as stated in said instrument
as follows:

4th. That, of the said sum of fifteen thousand five hundred pesos (P15,500), Philippine
currency, the said purchaser, Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, will pay immediately on the
execution of this instrument the sum of two thousand pesos (P2,000), Philippine
currency, which I have received to my entire satisfaction; and that said Juliana Bayubay y
Garcia will pay to me, in addition, the sum of four thousand two hundred pesos (P4,200),
Philippine currency, or whatever sum may be necessary to redeem the property from
Vicente Noble and Matilde Martinez, his wife, and that immediately after the redemption
of said property she will pay to me the sum of one thousand eight hundred pesos
(P1,800), Philippine currency, or the sum necessary to make a total of eight thousand
pesos (P8,000), Philippine currency; that the balance of seven thousand five hundred
pesos (P7,500), Philippine currency, will be paid to me by the said Juliana Bayubay y
Garcia on or before the 10th day of January, 1913, it being understood that the vendor,
Severino Caoibes y Calzado, will continue in the possession and use of the said lands so
sold until the payment of the total sum has been effected.

The sum of P8,000 was paid at the time specified, namely, the execution of the instrument. With
respect to the second payment of P7,500, at the request of the vendor the vendee made several
payments in advance, amounting in all to P2,170, so that, at the beginning of January, 1913,
there was a balance in favor of the vendor of only P5,330. Of this sum the said purchaser, in
accordance with the suggestion of her attorney, the respondent herein, paid to the complainant
the sum of P2,000 on the 10th of January, 1913, another P2,000 on the 22d of February of the
same year, and P1,000 of the balance was levied upon under an execution against the vendor
and taken from the possession of the purchaser and applied upon said execution. As a result
there remains unpaid at this time the sum of P330.

Relative to the first charge the accused attorney alleges that, after having mad the purchase of
the land in question and having paid thereon all but P5,330, it was discovered that the land was
far less area than that represented by the vendor. This fact was, by the accused attorney,
brought to the attention of his client, the purchaser, and it was discussed between them whether
or not, for that reason, the purchaser should refuse to pay the price agreed upon. Following this
discussion the respondent had a talk with the complainant in which he stated that this client was
not disposed to pay the P5,330, and that, instead of dealing directly with her, as he had in the
past, the vendor was to negotiate with her attorney, the respondent.

It appears from the evidence in the case that, according to the representations of the vendor and
the statements in the conveyance itself, the land sold by Caoibes to Juliana Bayubay y Garcia
was 90 hectares in area. When, however, application was made by the purchaser to the Court of
Land Registration for the registration of the title thereto, it was found, from the measurement of
the Bureau of Lands, that the lands contained only 60 hectares. Whether or not by reason of this
shortage in area the purchaser would have had the right to demand and obtain a reduction in the
purchase price or a cancellation of the sale, we do not now undertake to decide; but it is clear
that this difference in area determined the purchaser to retain at least a portion of the moneys
then remaining in her hands as an equivalent for the complainant and charged her son, Ramon
Maglumot, to have De la Rosa tell him the same thing. It does not appear anywhere in the
evidence that the respondents, prior to talking with the complainant, had advised his client,
Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, to reduce the purchase price, s she had stated to the complainant she
was going to do. Respondent himself says that, with the purchase price of the land in question,
he had nothing whatever to do until he had been asked by Caoibes to intervene in connection
therewith, Caoibes having dealt directly with the purchaser both as to the sale and as to the
collection of the purchase price until the purchaser discovered the difference in area between
that alleged and that delivered.

We are satisfied from a review of the evidence relative to the first charge that it cannot be
sustained. There appears no effort on the part either of the respondent or of his client to
embarrass the complainant by delays and there is shown no act upon their part to delay payment
which could not be justified sufficiently to refute the charge.

We may say the same with regard to the third charge. The allegation that there still remains in
the hands of the respondent P1,330 belonging to the complainant is not only not proved, but the
contrary appears. According to the evidence, of the P5,330 which remained in the hands of the
purchaser, P2,000 was paid to Caoibes by the purchaser through the respondent in the month of
January, 1913; P2,000 was paid by the respondent in the month of February to attorney Mariano
P. Leuterio, who at that time represented the complainant; and P1,000 was paid by the
respondent to the office of Kincaid and Hartigan upon an execution issued upon a judgment
obtained against the complainant. There still remains in the hands of the purchaser the sum of
P330. This sum is not in the possession of the respondent, nor has he anything to do therewith.

In relation to the second allegation against the respondent, namely, that he, by reason of the
influence which he had with Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, prevented certain payments from her to
the complainant, and thereby, taking advantage of the complainant's straitened financial
circumstances, forced him, in order to obtain that to which he was in law entitled, to pay to the
respondent P900, P350 at one time and P550 at another, it may be said that the charge, as it
appears in the complaint,, is very indefinite in its allegations. Strictly speaking, those allegations
are insufficient to put the respondent upon his trial; but no objection having been made on that or
any other ground and the evidence in the case having been presented in support thereof and
such evidence having clarified fully the purchase of the allegation, we pass its sufficiency without
comment.

From the evidence one might gather one and possibly two different charges, namely, that the
respondent, knowing complainant's straitened financial circumstances and being able to control
the payments which Juliana Bayubay y Garcia was to make to the complainant, took advantage
of these conditions to squeeze out of complainant certain sums of money; or that, respondent
being the attorney for Juliana Bayubay y Garcia, became also, in effect, the attorney of the
complainant for the recovery of the payments agreed upon between him and said Juliana
Bayubay y Garcia, and that, acting as attorney for both parties, whose interests were opposed to
each other, he collected fees from both. These two charges being fairly within the evidence
adduced, we have considered both of them.

It is undoubted from the evidence that the respondent attorney was retained by the purchaser,
Mrs. Bayubay, to prosecute inquiries to determine whether or not she could procure a reduction
in the purchase price by reason of the discrepancy in the area of the land. On the other hand,
accepting the testimony of the respondent himself, he was asked by the complainant to intervene
on his behalf and to induce the purchaser to pay the full purchase price in spite of her expressed
purpose of obtaining a reduction therein, and accepted that commission from the complainant.

Respondent testified:

Later, at the request of Mrs. Caoibes, I saw Juliana Bayubay and her son, Ramon, as the
latter is the one who attended to the matter and was always consulted by his mother. I
told them that Mrs. Caoibes had sent me there to intercede in his behalf to the end that
Juliana Bayubay should pay him the P5,500 which remained due, notwithstanding the
difference in the extent of the land. Juliana Bayubay at last told me, `out of consideration
for you we will reduce the purchase price two thousand pesos or three thousand pesos
by reason of the misrepresentation as to the area of the land, because the difference is
very great, and that he should agree to this instead of the P5,000 which he ought to lose.'
Two or three days later I saw Mr. Caoibes and told him that Juliana Bayubay insisted on
discounting something by reason of the difference in area. Thereupon Mr. Caoibes
insisted that I investigate further to see if I could not recover all of the P5,000. As I had
already done several things for Mr. Caoibes without his having paid me anything, I said to
him frankly: `I am tired of this matter. I am not the attorney of Juliana Bayubay but rather
you are the one who is utilizing my services without having paid me anything up to the
present time. Now, if I am able to get Doa Juliana Bayubay to pay you P5,000,
notwithstanding the difference in the area of the land which you sold, what am I going to
get out of it?' Mr. Caoibes at first offered me P100, then P200. I told him that I could not
accept it. He then asked me what I wanted and I told him that in view of the fact that he
was being benefited in about P5,000 I could not accept less than P1,000 in case I was
able to get the consent of Juliana Bayubay to make the payment, which payment I was
not sure I was able to accomplish. We finally agreed that he should pay me P1,000.

It appears from the evidence that De la Rosa collected from Caoibes under his agreement with
him the sum of P900. It does not appear that he collected anything from Juliana Bayubay y
Garcia in relation to this matter. What does appear is that he was to receive as attorney for the
purchaser Juliana Bayubay for the registration of her title thereto under the Torrens system the
sum of P800, but, according to the testimony of the respondent, corroborated by Ramon
Maglumot, the son of the purchaser, the respondent forgave the payment of the P800 and
obtained the registration of the title without exacting any fee whatever. This gift of services was
brought about by the assertion of the purchaser that he ought not to collect the P800 from her
inasmuch as she had lost so much by reason of the difference in the area of the land for which
she had not collected anything from Caoibes.

It should be noted that, although it appears that the respondent was acting as attorney for both
parties, the vendor and the purchaser, whose interest were diametrically opposed to each other,
he was doing so with the knowledge and consent of both parties. The complainant knew that De
la Rosa was acting for and on behalf of the purchaser because he had conferred with him as her
representative. the purchaser knew that he was acting for and on behalf of the seller for pay
because he had obtained from her express permission to do so.

Although it appears from the evidence that the respondent was acting for and on behalf of both
parties to the controversy, we do not regard this as constituting malpractice under the law, it
appearing undisputed in the record that he acted thus with the knowledge and consent of both
parties interested. This being the case, neither party was deceived by respondent, and neither
one suffered involuntary damages by reason of his actions.

While it is true that the conduct of respondent in this case does not constitute malpractice within
the provisions of section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure, nevertheless it does constitute a
practice severely to be condemned as strongly tending to deprive the relation of attorney and
client of those special elements which make it one of trust and confidence, with the
corresponding obligations, and to change it into one which may be modified and dallied with in
the interest of the attorney who thinks he sees an opportunity of making more money by a
combination with his client's adversary. It is very difficult for an attorney to give interested advice
where he represent both parties to a controversy so difficult, in fact, that it has become a fixed
rule in all branches of the law that, when one is representing another in a given matter, he
cannot, at the same time, legally represent his principal's adversary. "No servant can serve two
masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and
despise the other." We discourage the practice indulged in by the attorney in this case as
dangerous in its possibilities.

The proceedings are dismissed, costs de oficio.

A.C. No. 555 November 25, 1968

ERNESTO M. NOMBRADO, petitioner,


vs.
ATTY. JUANITO T. HERNANDEZ, respondent.

MAKALINTAL, J.:

This is an administrative case for disbarment instituted by Ernesto M. Nombrado against Juanito
T. Hernandez, a member of the Philippine Bar, charging the latter with malpractice on two counts,
namely: (1) for having appeared as counsel for Crispin Nazareno in a civil case for forcible entry
against Arsenio Pansaon, his former client, being the offended party and complainant, in a
criminal case for serious physical injuries wherein Eufemio Velasco (Nazareno), a son of Crispin,
was the accused; and (2) for having appeared as counsel for the accused and also for the
complaining witness in Criminal Case No. 329 of the Justice of the Peace Court (now municipal
court) of Baganga, Davao (now Davao Oriental).

In our resolution of January 14, 1963, we referred this case for investigation to the Solicitor
General, who in turn endorsed it to the Provincial Fiscal of Davao for the same purpose, but
complainant and respondent being residents of Baganga, Davao Oriental. When the case was
set for hearing by the First Assistant Provincial Fiscal of Davao respondent manifested and
requested that since the charges were the same as those filed by the same complainant against
him in Disbarment Case No. 37 of the Court of First Instance of Davao, wherein a decision had
already been rendered, the records of said proceeding, together with the evidence adduced by
the parties, be forwarded to this Court, through the Solicitor General, for final disposition.
Complainant in turn submitted his evidence in support of the charges against respondent.

With respect to the first count, it is undisputed that sometime in 1952 respondent was engaged
by Arsenio Pansaon as his counsel in the prosecution of a criminal case for serious physical
injuries entitled "People vs. Eufemio Nazareno" of the Justice of the Peace Court of Baganga,
Davao. In that case the accused was charged with having mauled Arsenio Pansaon when the
latter was seen within the perimeter of the land then being disputed between said Arsenio
Pansaon and Eufemio's father, Crispin Nazareno. However, the case was dismissed when the
complaining witness failed to appear on the day of the trial. Several years thereafter Crispin
Nazareno, through respondent, filed a complaint for forcible entry against Arsenio Pansaon and
two other persons, involving the same parcel of land which was the root cause of the mauling
incident. The defendants moved to disqualify respondent from appearing as counsel for the
plaintiff on the ground that he had previously acted as counsel for Arsenio Pansaon in the
criminal case for physical injuries, but the motion was subsequently withdrawn. In the Justice of
the Peace Court the plaintiff lost, but won in the Court of First Instance of Davao on appeal.

When Disbarment Case No. 37 against respondent was heard in the Court of First Instance of
Davao, Arsenio Pansaon testified for petitioner and said that perhaps he lost the forcible entry
case because respondent had become privy to valuable information about his claim of ownership
of the parcel of land in question in the course of their attorney-and-client relationship and must
have used such information against him, including a document obtained by respondent from
notary public Abellanosa. Respondent denied the truth of the foregoing testimony and in turn
declared that the only information he obtained from complainant Pansaon was about the mauling
incident itself how it happened and why he sustained the injuries; that he did not ask Pansaon
for any papers or documents in connection with that criminal case, except a medical certificate
issued to him by the attending physician; that in handling the forcible entry case for Crispin
Nazareno against his former client, he did not use against the latter any fact or information he
acquired in the course of their attorney-and-client relationship; and that if there was any
document he presented in the forcible entry case it came from Crispin Nazareno and not from
notary public Abellanosa.

The Solicitor General is of the opinion, and we find no reason to disagree with him, that even if
respondent did not use against his client any information or evidence acquired by him as counsel
it cannot be denied that he did become privy to information regarding the ownership of the parcel
of land which was later litigated in the forcible entry case, for it was the dispute over the land that
triggered the mauling incident which gave rise to the criminal action for physical injuries. This
Court's remarks in Hilado vs. David, 84 Phil. 571, are apropos:

Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a complicated
affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well known facts. In the
complexity of what is said in the course of dealings between an attorney and client, inquiry of the
nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that might
only further prejudice the complainant's cause.

Whatever may be said as to whether or not respondent utilized against his former client
information given to him in a professional capacity, the mere fact of their previous relationship
should have precluded him from appearing as counsel for the other side in the forcible entry
case. In the same case of Hilado vs. David, supra, this Tribunal further said:
Hence the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client
as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to
prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest
lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice.... It is founded on principles of
public policy, of good taste. As has been said in another case, the question is not necessarily one
of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional
standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesar's wife, not only to keep
inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-
dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is
of paramount importance in the administration of Justice.

This Court went even further in San Jose vs. Cruz, 57 Phil. 792, wherein the respondent was
charged with malpractice for having represented a new client whose interests were opposed to
those of his former client in another case:

... An attorney owes loyalty to his client not only in the case in which he has represented him but
also after the relation of attorney and client has terminated and it is not good practice to permit
him afterwards to defend in another case other person against his former client under the pretext
that the case is distinct from, and independent of the former case. 1

Under the first count, respondent has shown a departure from the strict norms of professional
conduct laid down for members of the bar.

Under the second count, it appears that respondent was counsel for the defendants Sotero
Pontawe and Teofilo Aumada in Criminal Case No. 329 for theft of large cattle before the Justice
of the Peace Court of Baganga. Before the scheduled hearing on September 18, 1959, upon
request of complaining witness Ramon Morales, respondent prepared a motion to dismiss on the
ground that the "real accused in this case are not the above-named persons." Notwithstanding
the motion to dismiss, the complaining witness was cited to appear on September 25, 1959 "to
find out why Mr. Ramon Morales, the complainant of Criminal Case No. 329, did not appear on
September 18, 1959, the date designated for preliminary investigation proper of this case, and to
find out whether the manifestation of counsel of the defense that there is such amicable
settlement in this case, Criminal Case No. 329, is true." During the hearing on September 25,
1959, a heated exchange of argument arose between respondent and the private prosecutor,
Atty. Danao because of the latter's insistence on calling Morales to the witness stand despite his
expressed desistance to prosecute the criminal case. Respondent manifested his intention to
"intervene in behalf of the complaining party in connection with the action of Atty. Danao in this
particular case."

We concur with the Solicitor General's view that under the foregoing circumstances, respondent's
act of preparing the motion to dismiss and stating in the course of the hearing thereof that he was
intervening "in behalf of the complaining party", did not constitute simultaneous appearance in
behalf of the contending parties since there was no longer any conflict to speak of, the
complainant having desisted from prosecuting the case against the accused. Consequently,
there was nothing improper in respondent's conduct.

Upon the facts established in connection with the first count the Solicitor General has
recommended that the penalty of reprimand and warning be administered, citing the decision of
this Court in a comparable case, Caoibes vs. de la Rosa, 27 Phil. 265. We believe the
recommendation is justified.
WHEREFORE, respondent Juanito T. Hernandez is hereby reprimanded and warned that a
repetition of unprofessional conduct on his part will be dealt with more severely. Let this decision
be noted in respondent's record as a member of the Bar.

Concepcion, C. J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Fernando and Capistrano,
JJ., concur.

NOMBRADO v. Hernandez

Facts:

Disbarment case charging respondent with malpractice on two counts namely


for having
appeared as counsel for Crispin Nazareno in a civil case for focible entry
against
Aresenio Pansaon, his former client and for having appeared as counsel for the
accused and also for the complaining witness in a criminal case.
With respect to the first count, respondent was engaged by Arsenio
Pansaon as his counsel in the prosecution of a criminal case against Crispin
Nazareno.
However, the case was dismissed due to the absence of complainant during
trial.
Years later, Nazareno filed a complaint for forcible entry against Pansaon
through Atty.
Hernandez.
Pansaon moved for the disqualification of Hernandez as counsel but the
motion was withdrawn.
When the disbarment case was heard, Pansaon testified for petitioner and said
that he
perhaps lost the case since respondent Atty was privy to valuable
information from
Pansaon.
Respondent denied the claim and averred that he did not receive any valuable
document from Pansaon in connection with the case.
Under the second count, respondent was counsel for Storeo Pontawe
and and Teofilo
Aumida in a criminal case.
Before the hearing, respondent was asked by complaining witness Ramon
Morales to file a motion to dismiss on the ground that the real accused in this
case are not the persons mentioned above.
During the hearing, a heated exchange of arguments arose between
respondent and the private prosecutor Atty. Danao because of the latters
insistence on calling Morales to the witness stand despite expressed desistance
to prosecute the criminal case.
Respondent manifested his intention to intervene in behalf of the complaining
party in connection with the action of Atty. Danao in this case.
Issue: WON respondent was guilty of malpractice

Held:

First Count:
The Court made mention of their remarks in Hilado vs. David.
In that particular case, the court held that communication between attorney
and client are a complicated affair consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant
secret and well known facts.
In the complexity of what is said in the course of dealings between an attorney
and client, inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in
advance of the trial, of other matters that might only further prejudice the
complainant's cause.
Whatever may be said as to whether or not respondent utilized against his
former client
information given to him in a professional capacity, the mere fact of their
previous relationship should have precluded him from appearing as counsel for
the other side in the forcible entry case.
This stern rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from
fraudulent
conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from unfounded
suspicion of unprofessional practice.... It is founded on principles of public policy,
of good taste.
Second Count:
Respondent's act of preparing the motion to dismiss and stating in the course
of the hearing thereof that he was intervening "in behalf of the complaining
party", did not constitute simultaneous appearance in behalf of the contending
parties since there was no longer any conflict to speak of, the complainant
having desisted from prosecuting the case against the accused. Consequently,
there was nothing improper in respondent's conduct.
Upon the facts established in connection with the first count the Solicitor
General has recommended that the penalty of reprimand and warning be
administered.