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A.C. No.

376 April 30, 1963

JOSEFINA ROYONG, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ARISTON OBLENA, respondent.

BARRERA, J.:

In a verified complaint filed with this Court on January 14, 1959, complainant Josefina Royong charged the respondent
Ariston J. Oblena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with rape allegedly committed on her person in the manner described
therein. Upon requirement of this Court, the respondent filed his answer denying all the allegations in the complaint and
praying that he be not disbarred. On February 3, 1959, this Court referred the case to the Solicitor General for investigation,
report and recommendation.

On July 10, 1961, the Solicitor General submitted his report on the case with the recommendation that the respondent "be
permanently removed from his office lawyer and his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys". The pertinent part of the
report reads as follows:

The complainant testified that after lunch on August 5, 1958, Cecilia Angeles, her foster mother, left her alone in
their house and went down to the pig sty to feed the pigs. At about 1:00 p.m., while she" (complainant) was ironing
clothes on the second floor of the house the respondent entered and read a newspaper at her back. Suddenly he
covered her mouth with one hand and with the other hand dragged her to one of the bedrooms of the house and
forced her to lie down on the floor. She did not shout for help because he threatened her and her family with death.
He next undressed as she lay on the floor, then had sexual intercourse with her after he removed her panties and
gave her hard blows on the thigh with his fist to subdue her resistance. After the sexual intercourse, he warned her
not to report him to her foster parents, otherwise, he would kill her and all the members of her family. She resumed
ironing clothes after he left until 5:00 o'clock that afternoon when she joined her foster mother on the first floor of
the house. As a result of the sexual intercourse she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby on June 2, 1959 (pp.
4-8, 21, 23, 26, 27, t.s.n., hearing of Aug. 5, 1959).

She admitted that had she shouted for help she would have been heard by the neighbors that she did not report the
outrage to anyone because of the threat made by the respondent; that she still frequented the respondent's house
after August 5, 1959, sometimes when he was alone, ran errands for him, cooked his coffee, and received his mail
for him. Once, on November 14, 1958, when respondent was sick of influenza, she was left alone with him in his
house while her aunt Briccia Angeles left for Manila to buy medicine (pp. 11, 14-18, 24, t.s.n., hearing of August
5, 1959).

The respondent on the witness stand denied that he raped the complainant (p. 3, t.s.n., hearing of March 25 1960).
He testified that after lunch on August 5, 1958, he went to the Commission Of Civil Service to follow up his
appointment as technical assistant in the office of the mayor of Makati, Rizal, and read the record of the
administrative case against Buenaventura Perez (pp. 23, 24, 34, t.s.n., hearing of March 25, 1960, Exhs. 1 and 2).

The respondent, however, admitted that he had illicit relations with the complainant from January, 1957
to December, 1958, when their clandestine affair was discovered by the complainant's foster parents, but to
avoid criminal liability for seduction, according to him, he limited himself to kissing and
embracing her and sucking her tongue before she completed her eighteenth birthday. They had
their first sexual intercourse on May 11, 1958, after she had reached eighteen, and the second
one week later, on May 18. The last intercourse took place before Christmas in December,
1958. In all, they had sexual intercourse about fifty times, mostly in her house and sometimes in
his house whenever they had the opportunity. He intended to marry her when she could legally contract
marriage without her foster parents' intervention, 'in case occasion will permit ... because we cannot ask permission
to marry, for her foster parents will object and even my common-law wife, will object.' After the discovery of their
relationship by the complainant's foster parents, he confessed the affair to Briccia, explaining that he wanted
to have a child, something she (Briccia) could not give him. (pp. 14-16, 19-25, t.s.n., hearing of March
25, 1960).

xxx xxx xxx

FINDINGS AND COMMENT

There is no controversy that the respondent had carnal knowledge of the complainant. The complainant claims she
surrendered to him under circumstances of violence and intimidation, but the undersigned are convinced that the
sexual intercourse was performed not once but repeatedly and with her consent. From her behaviour before and
after the alleged rape, she appears to have been more a sweetheart than of the victim of an outrage involving her
honor ....

But the foregoing observations notwithstanding, the undersigned cannot in conscience recommend respondent's
exoneration. The respondent tempted Briccia Angeles to live maritally with him not long after she and her
husband parted, and it is not improbable that the spouses never reconciled because of him. His own
evidence shows that, tiring of her after more than fifteen years of adulterous relationship with her and on
the convenient excuse that she, Briccia Angeles, could not bear a child, he seduced Josefina Andalis,
then 17 or 18 years of age, resulting in her pregnancy and the birth of a child, on June 2, 1959. The
seduction was accomplished with grave abuse of confidence and by means of promises of marriage which he knew
he could not fulfill without grievous injury to the woman who forsook her husband so that he, respondent, could
have all of her. He also took advantage of his moral influence over her. From childhood, Josefina Andalis,
treated him as an uncle and called him 'tata' (uncle), undoubtedly because he is the paramour of
a sister of her mother. Considering her age (she was 17 or 18 years old then), it is not difficult to
see why she could not resist him.

The evidence further shows that on July 22, 1954, the respondent filed a sworn petition dated May 22, 1954
alleging "that he is a person of good moral character" (Par. 3) and praying that the Supreme Court permit him "to
take the bar examinations to be given on the first Saturday of August, 1954, or at any time as the Court may fix.."

But he was not then the person of good moral character he represented himself to be. From 1942 to the present, he
has continuously lived an adulterous life with Briccia Angeles whose husband is still alive, knowing that his
concubine is a married woman and that her marriage still subsists. This fact permanently disqualified him from
taking the bar examinations, and had it been known to the Supreme Court in 1954, he would not have been
permitted to take the bar examinations that year or thereafter, or to take his oath of office as a lawyer. As he was
then permanently disqualified from admission to the Philippine Bar by reason of his adulterous relations with a
married woman, it is submitted that the same misconduct should be sufficient ground for his permanent
disbarment, unless we recognize a double standard of morality, one for membership to the Philippine Bar and
another for disbarment from the office of a lawyer.

xxx xxx xxx

RECOMMENDATION

Wherefore, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after due hearing, respondent Ariston J. Oblena be
permanently removed from his office as a lawyer and his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys.

In view of his own findings as a result of his investigation, that even if respondent did not commit the alleged rape
nevertheless he was guilty of other misconduct, the Solicitor General formulated another complaint which he appended to
his report, charging the respondent of falsely and deliberately alleging in his application for admission to the bar that he is a
person of good moral character; of living adulterously with Briccia Angeles at the same time maintaining illicit relations
with the complainant Josefina Royong, niece of Briccia, thus rendering him unworthy of public confidence and unfit and
unsafe to manage the legal business of others, and praying that this Court render judgment ordering "the permanent removal
of the respondent ... from his office as a lawyer and the cancellation of his name from the roll of attorneys."
In his answer to this formal complaint, respondent alleged the special defense that "the complaint does not merit action",
since the causes of action in the said complaint are different and foreign from the original cause of action for rape and that
"the complaint lacks the necessary formalities called for in Sec. 1, Rule 128 of the Rules of Court." Respondent prayed that
after due notice and hearing for additional evidence, the complaint be dismissed.

On September 13, 1961, this Court designated the Court Investigators to receive the additional evidence. Accordingly the
case was set for hearing of which the parties were duly notified. On September 29, 1961, respondent asked leave to submit a
memorandum which was granted, and on October 9, 1961 the same was filed, alleging the following: 1) That the charge of
rape has not been proven; 2) That no act of seduction was committed by the respondent; 3) That no act of perjury or
fraudulent concealment was committed by the respondent when he filed his petition for admission to the bar; and 4) That
the respondent is not morally unfit to be a member of the bar.

Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved by this Honorable
Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not covered by this stipulation of
facts. 1äwphï1.ñët

At the hearing on November 16, 1961, respondent presented his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, who testified as
follows:

... Respondent is her common-law husband (t.s.n. 23). She first met respondent on December 16, 1941 at Cavinti,
Laguna (t.s.n. 23). She and her sister Cecilia Angeles-Royong were evacuated to Cavinti by the Red Cross (t.s.n.
23). She was already married (to Teodoro Arines) at the time (t.s.n. 24). She and Arines are from Iriga, Camarines
Sur (t.s.n. 24). Respondent and one Mr. Flores registered them (t.s.n. 24) as evacuees. When Mr. Flores asked her
about her status she told him she was 'single' (t.s.n. 25). She and her sister, Cecilia, were then told to stay at
respondent's house, respondent courted her (t.s.n. 26). Respondent asked her if she was married and she told him
'we will talk about that later on' (t.s.n. 26). She told respondent she was married (to Arines) when she and
respondent were already living together as 'husband and wife', in 1942( t.s.n. 26). Respondent asked her to marry
him, when they were living as husband and wife (t.s.n. 27). Her sister Cecilia left Cavinti 2 months after their
arrival thereat, but she did not go with her because she and respondent 'had already a good understanding'(sexual
relations) [t.s.n. 27]. Later, she left Cavinti and went to her hometown in Iriga, Camarines Sur, because respondent
was already reluctant to live with her and he told her it was better for her to go home to Iriga (t.s.n. 25). Arriving at
Iriga, she met her legitimate husband (Arines), who told her he had already a wife, named Conching Guevara (t.s.n.
28-29). She then went back to Cavinti (in 1943), with her father, and lived with respondent (t.s.n. 29). Respondent
eventually agreed that she live with him (t.s.n. 35); in fact, she is still presently living with respondent (t.s.n. 35)
[Report of Court Investigators, March 6, 1962, pp. 5-6]."

Thereafter, respondent requested permission to submit an affidavit at a later date, which request was also granted. The
affidavit was filed on December 16, 1961, the respondent averring, among others, the following:.

... That he never committed any act or crime of seduction against the complainant, because the latter was born on
February 19, 1940, and his first sexual intercourse with her took place on May 11, 1958, when she was already
above 18 years of age; that he had been living with his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, for almost 20 years, but
from the time he began courting her, he 'had no intention to alienate' her love for her husband, Arines, or to commit
the crime of adultery; that he courted Briccia on October 16, 1941, and was shortly thereafter accepted by her; that
on February 21, 1942, he found Briccia alone in his house, who told him that her sister, Cecilia, had gone to
Pagsanjan with the other evacuees; that from said date (February 21), to the present, he and Briccia had been living
together as common-law husband and wife; that 2 or 3 weeks thereafter, he asked Briccia to marry him, but she
confessed she was already married, and maybe her husband (Arines) was still living in Iriga; that he could not then
drive Briccia away, because she was a stranger in the place, nor could he urge her to join her sister Cecilia, as the
latter had left Pagsanjan; that in 1943 she told Briccia to separate from him and to return to Iriga, and urged her
never to see him again; that contrary to his expectations, Briccia returned to Cavinti 3 months thereafter; that
Briccia strongly insisted to live with him again, telling him that she cannot separate from him anymore, as he was
ashamed; that Briccia's father told him that Briccia's husband (Arines) had agreed not to molest them as in fact he
(Arines) was already living with another woman; that he had 'no choice but to live with her' (Briccia) again; that
when he filed his petition to take the bar examinations in 1954, he 'did not have the slightest intention to hide' from
this Court the fact of his 'open cohabitation with a married woman' (Briccia Angeles); that he did not state said fact
in his petition, because he did not see in the form of the petition being used in 1954 that the fact must be stated; and
that since his birth, he thought and believed he was a man of good moral character, and it was only from the
Solicitor General that he first learned he was not so; and that he did not commit perjury or fraudulent concealment
when he filed his petition to take the bar examinations in 1954." (Report of the Court Investigators, pp. 6-8, March
6, 1962).

After hearing, the investigators submitted a report with the finding that: 1) Respondent used his knowledge of the law to
take advantage by having illicit relations with complainant, knowing as he did, that by committing immoral acts on her, he
was free from any criminal liability; and 2) Respondent committed gross immorality by continuously cohabiting with a
married woman even after he became a lawyer in 1955 to the present; and 3) That respondent falsified the truth as to his
moral character in his petition to take the 1954 bar examinations, being then immorally (adulterously) in cohabitation with
his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, a married woman. The investigators also recommended that the respondent be
disbarred or alternatively, be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one year.

Upon the submission of this report, a copy of which was served on respondent, through his counsel of record, the case was
set for hearing before the Court on April 30, 1962. Respondent asked leave to file his memorandum in lieu of oral argument.
This was granted and the corresponding memorandum was duly filed.

It is an admitted and uncontroverted fact that the respondent had sexual relations with the complainant several times, and as
a consequence she bore him a child on June 2, 1959; and that he likewise continuously cohabited with Briccia Angeles, in
an adulterous manner, from 1942 up to the present.

The main point in issue is thus limited illicit relations with the complainant Josefina Royong the and the open cohabitation
with Briccia Angeles, a married woman, are sufficient grounds to cause the respondent's disbarment.

It is argued by the respondent that he is not liable for disbarment notwithstanding his illicit relations with the complainant
and his open cohabitation with Briccia Angeles, a married woman, because he has not been convicted of any crime
involving moral turpitude. It is true that the respondent has not been convicted of rape, seduction, or adultery on this count,
and that the grounds upon which the disbarment proceedings is based are not among those enumerated by Section 25, Rule
127 of the Rules of Court for which a lawyer may be disbarred. But it has already been held that this enumeration is not
exclusive and that the power of the courts to exclude unfit and unworthy members of the profession is inherent; it is a
necessary incident to the proper administration of justice; it may be exercised without any special statutory authority, and in
all proper cases unless positively prohibited by statute; and the power may be exercised in any manner that will give the
party be disbarred a fair trial and a fair opportunity to be heard. (1 Francisco, Rules of Court [1958 ed.] 698, citing In Re
Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567). Although it is a well settled rule that the legislature (or the Supreme Court by virtue of its rule-making
power) may provide that certain acts or conduct shall require disbarment, the accepted doctrine is that statutes and rules
merely regulate the power to disbar instead of creating it, and that such statutes (or rules) do not restrict the general powers
of the court over attorneys, who are its officers, and that they may be removed for other than statutory grounds (7 C.J.S.
734). In the United States, where from our system of legal ethics is derived, "the continued possession of a fair private and
professional character or a good moral character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the practice of law
for one who has been admitted, and its loss requires suspension or disbarment even though the statutes do not specify that as
a ground of disbarment". The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred may consist of misconduct in either
his professional or non-professional activities (5 Am. Jur. 417). The tendency of the decisions of this Court has been toward
the conclusion that a member of the bar may be removed or suspended from office as a lawyer for other than statutory
grounds. Indeed, the rule is so phrased as to be broad enough to cover practically any misconduct of a lawyer (In Re Pelaez,
44 Phil. 567). In the case at bar, the moral depravity of the respondent is most apparent. His pretension that before
complainant completed her eighteenth birthday, he refrained from having sexual intercourse with her, so as not to incur
criminal liability, as he himself declared — and that he limited himself merely to kissing and embracing her and sucking her
tongue, indicates a scheming mind, which together with his knowledge of the law, he took advantage of, for his lurid
purpose.

Moreover, his act becomes more despicable considering that the complainant was the niece of his common-law wife and
that he enjoyed a moral ascendancy over her who looked up to him as her uncle. As the Solicitor General observed: "He
also took advantage of his moral influence over her. From childhood, Josefina Andalis (Royong), treated him as an uncle
and called him 'tata' (uncle), undoubtedly because he is the paramour of a sister of her mother. Considering her age (she was
17 or 18 years old then), her inexperience and his moral ascendency over her, it is not difficult to see why she could not
resist him." Furthermore, the blunt admission of his illicit relations with the complainant reveals the respondent to be a
person who would suffer no moral compunction for his acts if the same could be done without fear of criminal liability. He
has, by these acts, proven himself to be devoid of the moral integrity expected of a member of the bar.

The respondent's misconduct, although unrelated to his office, may constitute sufficient grounds for disbarment. This is a
principle we have followed since the ruling in In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567, where this Court quoted with approval the
following portion of the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas in the case of Peyton's Appeal (12 Kan. 398, 404), to wit:.

The nature of the office, the trust relation which exists between attorney and client, as well as between court and
attorney, and the statutory rule prescribing the qualifications of attorneys, uniformly require that an attorney be a
person of good moral character. If that qualification is a condition precedent to a license or privilege to enter upon
the practice of the law, it would seem to be equally essential during the continuance of the practice and the exercise
of the privilege. So it is held that an attorney will be removed not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his
profession, but also for gross misconduct not connected with his professional duties, which shows him to be unfit
for the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the law confer upon him. (Emphasis supplied).

Respondent's conduct though unrelated to his office and in no way directly bearing on his profession, has nevertheless
rendered him unfit and unworthy of the privileges of a lawyer. We cannot give sanction to his acts. For us to do so would be
— as the Solicitor General puts it — recognizing "a double standard of morality, one for membership to the Philippine Bar,
and another for disbarment from the office of the lawyer." If we concede that respondent's adulterous relations and his
simultaneous seduction of his paramour's niece did not and do not disqualify him from continuing with his office of lawyer,
this Court would in effect be requiring moral integrity as an essential prerequisite for admission to the bar, only to later on
tolerate and close its eyes to the moral depravity and character degeneration of the members of the bar.

The decisions relied upon by the respondent in justifying his stand that even if he admittedly committed fornication, this is
no ground for disbarment, are not controlling. Fornication, if committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances
as have proven in this case, as to shock common sense of decency, certainly may justify positive action by the Court in
protecting the prestige of the noble profession of the law. The reasons advanced by the respondent why he continued his
adulterous relations with Briccia Angeles, in that she helped him in some way finish his law studies, and that his "sense of
propriety and Christian charity" did not allow him to abandon her after his admission to the bar after almost 13 years of
cohabitation, are hardly an excuse for his moral dereliction. The means he employed, as he stated, in order to extricate
himself from the predicament he found himself in, by courting the complainant and maintaining sexual relations with her
makes his conduct more revolting. An immoral act cannot justify another immoral act. The noblest means he could have
employed was to have married the complainant as he was then free to do so. But to continue maintaining adulterous
relations with a married woman and simultaneously maintaining promiscuous relations with the latter's niece is moral
perversion that can not be condoned. Respondent's conduct therefore renders him unfit and unworthy for the privileges of
the legal profession. As good character is an essential qualification for admission of an attorney to practice, he may be
removed therefrom whenever he ceases to possess such character (7 C.J.S. 735).

The respondent further maintains that the Solicitor General exceeded his authority in filing the present complaint against
him for seduction, adultery and perjury, as it charges an offense or offenses different from those originally charged in the
complaint of January 14, 1959 for rape, and cites as authority Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, which
state:.

SEC. 4. Report of the Solicitor General.— Based upon the evidence adduced at the hearing, if the Solicitor General
finds no sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall submit a report to the Supreme Court
containing his findings of fact and conclusion, whereupon the respondent shall be exonerated unless the court
orders differently.

SEC. 5. Complaint of the Solicitor General. Answer of the respondent. — If the Solicitor General finds sufficient
ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the corresponding complaint, accompanied with all the
evidence introduced in his investigation, with the Supreme Court, and the respondent shall be served by the clerk
of the Supreme Court with a copy of the complaint with direction to answer the same within fifteen days.

The contention is devoid of merit. Nothing in the language of the foregoing rules requires the Solicitor General to charge in
his complaint the same offense charged in the complaint originally filed by the complainant for disbarment. Precisely, the
law provides that should the Solicitor General find sufficient grounds to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the
corresponding complaint, accompanied by the evidence introduced in his investigation. The Solicitor General therefore is at
liberty to file any case against the respondent he may be justified by the evidence adduced during the investigation..

The respondent also maintains that he did not falsify his petition to take the bar examinations in 1954 since according to his
own opinion and estimation of himself at that time, he was a person of good moral character. This contention is clearly
erroneous. One's own approximation of himself is not a gauge to his moral character. Moral character is not a subjective
term, but one which corresponds to objective reality. Moral character is what a person really is, and not what he or other
people think he is. As former Chief Justice Moran observed: An applicant for license to practice law is required to show
good moral character, or what he really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or from the opinion generally entertained
of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is known. As has been said, ante the standard of
personal and professional integrity which should be applied to persons admitted to practice law is not satisfied by such
conduct as merely enables them to escape the penalties of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least common
honesty (3 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, [1957 ed.] 626, citing In Re Weinstein, 42 P. [2d] 744 B.L.D., Cooper
v. Greeley. 1 Den. [N.Y.] 3447; In Re Del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399; and People v. Macauley, 82 N.E. 612). Respondent,
therefore, did not possess a good moral character at the time he applied for admission to the bar. He lived an adulterous life
with Briccia Angeles, and the fact that people who knew him seemed to have acquiesced to his status, did not render him a
person of good moral character. It is of no moment that his immoral state was discovered then or now as he is clearly not fit
to remain a member of the bar.

WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby entered striking the name of herein respondent, Ariston J. Oblena, from the roll of
attorneys.

A.M. No. 3049 December 4, 1989

PERLA Y. LAGUITAN, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. SALVADOR F. TINIO, respondent.

Joanes G. Caacbay for respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

In the instant Petition for Disbarment dated 21 May 1987, petitioner Perla Y. Laguitan charged Atty. Salvador F. Tinio with
immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar.

After answer was filed on 27 October 1987, the Court, in its Resolution dated 16 November 1987, referred the Petition to
the Solicitor General for Investigation, Report and Recommendation.

During the initial hearing of this case by the Solicitor General on 17 February 1988, only respondent and his counsel
appeared; it turned out that complainant had not been duly served with notice of the hearing. The hearing scheduled for 24
March 1988 was likewise reset to 27 April 1988 upon motion of respondent and upon failure of complainant to appear
before the Office of the Solicitor General.

This case was eventually transmitted by the Solicitor General to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on Bar
Discipline (Commission) for investigation and proper action. Thus, in an order dated 18 August 1988, the Commission set
the case for hearing on 9 September 1988 and required both complainant and respondent to submit additional copies of their
pleadings within ten (10) days from notice.
The initial hearing set by the Commission for 9 September 1988 was reset to 20 September 1988 because only complainant
appeared, respondent having failed to present himself despite due notice to him. The hearing of 20 September 1988 was
again reset to 20 October 1988 because neither complainant nor her counsel appeared. The hearing for 20 October 1988 was
once again reset to 14 November 1988 as only complainant appeared, Finally, the hearing for 14 November 1988 was
rescheduled two (2) more times, first to 15 December 1988 and second to 17 January 1989.

In its Order dated 27 January 1989, the Commission, upon the unexplained failure of respondent to appear at the hearing on
17 January 1989, required petitioner to make a formal offer of evidence ex parte, and thereafter submit the case for
resolution. The Order was duly received by respondent's counsel on 31 January 1989.

On 9 February 1989, petitioner formally offered her exhibits as follows:

1. Exh. 'A' — Certificate of Live Birth of Sheila Laguitan Tinio.

Purpose: To show and prove the filiation of the child as shown on the
document;

2. Exh. 'B' —Certificate of Live Birth of Benedict Laguitan.

Purpose: To show and prove likewise the filiation of the child as


shown on the document:

3. Exh. 'C' to 'C-6' — Receipts issued by the Mt. Carmel Maternity


and Children's Hospital.

Purpose: To prove that petitioner herein gave birth to a baby girl at the
Mt. Carmel Maternity and Children's Hospital and for which
respondent paid the bills for the hospitalization, medicines and
professional fees of doctors;

4. Exh. 'D' to 'D-2' — Receipts issued by the Paulino Medical Clinic.

Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner again gave birth to a baby boy at said clinic
and for which respondent paid the bill for hospitalization, medicines and professional
fees of doctors;

5. Exh. 'E' to 'E-l' — Baptismal certificates of Sheila L. Tinio and


Benedict L. Tinio, respectively

Purpose: To show and prove that respondent admits his paternity of the children:

6. Exh. 'F' to 'F-4' — The family pictures showing respondent either


singly or with the rest of the family during happier times.

Purpose: To show and prove that petitioner and respondent really lived together as
husband and wife and begot two children and the respondent admits these through the
pictures:

7. Exh. 'G' to 'G-3' — The school records of Sheila L. Tinio at the St.
Mary's Academy.

Purpose: To show and prove that respondent was supporting the schooling of the
children as he himself signed the correspondence and was marked as Exh. 'G-2-A'. 1
Based on the aforequoted exhibits, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors submitted to us its findings and
recommendation, which may be summed up as follows:

Sometime in June 1974, complainant and respondent Tinio met each other and in time became lovers. Beginning in 1976,
the parties lived together as husband and wife. As a result, complainant bore respondent two (2) children: Sheila, now about
ten (10) years old and Benedict, now approximately nine (9) years old. In the course of this relationship, petitioner
discovered that respondent Tinio, before meeting her, had contracted marriage with someone else and that
the prior marriage was subsisting. Nonetheless, complainant continued living in with respondent until
eventually, ten (10) years later, she and her children by respondent Tinio were abandoned by the latter
in November 1986. Feeling helpless and aggrieved, she sought the help of respondent's parents in
supporting her children who were then already in school. Respondent's parents gave her P400.00 and
advised her not to see them again.

After examination of the record of this case and noting that respondent Tinio appeared before the IBP Investigating
Commissioner and candidly admitted his illicit relationship with complainant and his having begotten two (2) children by
her, and promised the Commissioner that he would support his illegitimate children but had not lived to his promise, we
agree with the findings of fact of the IBP Board. The IBP Board recommends that respondent Tinio be suspended from the
practice of law "not for having cohabited with the complainant, but for refusal to support his illegitimate children," the
suspension to remain in effect until respondent Tinio complies with his obligation of support.

The Court agrees that respondent Tinio deserves to be suspended from the practice of law but not merely because he has
failed in his obligation to support the children complainant bore him but also because for a prolonged period of time, he
lived in concubinage with complainant, a course of conduct inconsistent with the requirement of good moral character that
is required for the continued right to practice law as a member of the Philippine Bar, 2Concubinage imports moral turpitude
and entails a public assault upon the basic social institution of marriage.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent Salvador F. Tinio from the practice of law until further
orders from this Court. The Court will consider lifting the suspension upon evidence satisfactory to the Commission and to
this Court that respondent is supporting or has made provision for the support of his illegitimate children and that he has
given up his immoral course of conduct.

A.M. No. 3249 November 29, 1989

SALVACION DELIZO CORDOVA, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. LAURENCE D. CORDOVA, respondent.

RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:

In an unsworn letter-complaint dated 14 April 1988 addressed to then Mr. Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee, complainant
Salvacion Delizo charged her husband, Atty. Laurence D. Cordova, with immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the
Bar. The letter-complaint was forwarded by the Court to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on Bar
Discipline ("Commission"), for investigation, report and recommendation.

The Commission, before acting on the complaint, required complainant to submit a verified complaint within ten (10) days
from notice. Complainant complied and submitted to the Commission on 27 September 1988 a revised and verified version
of her long and detailed complaint against her husband charging him with immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the
Bar.

In an Order of the Commission dated 1 December 1988, respondent was declared in default for failure to file an answer to
the complaint within fifteen (15) days from notice. The same Order required complainant to submit before the Commission
her evidence ex parte, on 16 December 1988. Upon the telegraphic request of complainant for the resetting of the 16
December 1988 hearing, the Commission scheduled another hearing on 25 January 1989. The hearing scheduled for 25
January 1989 was rescheduled two (2) more times-first, for 25 February 1989 and second, for 10 and 11 April 1989. The
hearings never took place as complainant failed to appear. Respondent Cordova never moved to set aside the order of
default, even though notices of the hearings scheduled were sent to him.

In a telegraphic message dated 6 April 1989, complainant informed the Commission that she and her husband had already
"reconciled". In an order dated 17 April 1989, the Commission required the parties (respondent and complainant) to appear
before it for confirmation and explanation of the telegraphic message and required them to file a formal motion to dismiss
the complaint within fifteen (15) days from notice. Neither party responded and nothing was heard from either party since
then.

Complainant having failed to submit her evidence ex parte before the Commission, the IBP Board of Governors submitted
to this Court its report reprimanding respondent for his acts, admonishing him that any further acts of immorality in the
future will be dealt with more severely, and ordering him to support his legitimate family as a responsible parent should.

The findings of the IBP Board of Governors may be summed up as follows:

Complainant and respondent Cordova were married on 6 June 1976 and out of this marriage, two (2) children were
born. In 1985, the couple lived somewhere in Quirino Province. In that year, respondent Cordova left his family
as well as his job as Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, Cabarroguis, Quirino Province, and went
to Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao del Sur with one Fely G. Holgado. Fely G. Holgado was herself married and left
her own husband and children to stay with respondent. Respondent Cordova and Fely G. Holgado lived together
in Bislig as husband and wife, with respondent Cordova introducing Fely to the public as his wife, and Fely
Holgado using the name Fely Cordova. Respondent Cordova gave Fely Holgado funds with which to establish a
sari-sari store in the public market at Bislig, while at the same time failing to support his legitimate family.

On 6 April 1986, respondent Cordova and his complainant wife had an apparent reconciliation. Respondent
promised that he would separate from Fely Holgado and brought his legitimate family to Bislig, Surigao del Sur.
Respondent would, however, frequently come home from beerhouses or cabarets, drunk, and continued to
neglect the support of his legitimate family. In February 1987, complainant found, upon returning from a trip to
Manila necessitated by hospitalization of her daughter Loraine, that respondent Cordova was no longer living
with her (complainant's) children in their conjugal home; that respondent Cordova was living with another
mistress, one Luisita Magallanes, and had taken his younger daughter Melanie along with him. Respondent and
his new mistress hid Melanie from the complinant, compelling complainant to go to court and to take back her
daughter by habeas corpus. The Regional Trial Court, Bislig, gave her custody of their children.

Notwithstanding respondent's promises to reform, he continued to live with Luisita Magallanes as her husband and
continued to fail to give support to his legitimate family.

Finally the Commission received a telegram message apparently from complainant, stating that complainant and respondent
had been reconciled with each other.

After a review of the record, we agree with the findings of fact of the IBP Board. We also agree that the most recent
reconciliation between complainant and respondent, assuming the same to be real, does not excuse and wipe away the
misconduct and immoral behavior of the respondent carried out in public, and necessarily adversely reflecting upon him as a
member of the Bar and upon the Philippine Bar itself. An applicant for admission to membership in the bar is required to
show that he is possessed of good moral character. That requirement is not exhausted and dispensed with upon admission to
membership of the bar. On the contrary, that requirement persists as a continuing condition for membership in the Bar in
good standing.

In Mortel v. Aspiras,1 this Court, following the rule in the United States, held that "the continued possession ... of a good
moral character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the practice of the law ... and its loss requires
suspension or disbarment, even though the statutes do not specify that as a ground for disbarment. " 2 It is important to note
that the lack of moral character that we here refer to as essential is not limited to good moral character relating to the
discharge of the duties and responsibilities of an attorney at law. The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member
of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community,
conduct for instance, which makes "a mockery of the inviolable social institution or marriage." 3 In Mortel, the respondent
being already married, wooed and won the heart of a single, 21-year old teacher who subsequently cohabited with him and
bore him a son. Because respondent's conduct in Mortel was particularly morally repulsive, involving the marrying of his
mistress to his own son and thereafter cohabiting with the wife of his own son after the marriage he had himself arranged,
respondent was disbarred.

In Royong v. Oblena, 4 the respondent was declared unfit to continue as a member of the bar by reason of his immoral
conduct and accordingly disbarred. He was found to have engaged in sexual relations with the complainant who
consequently bore him a son; and to have maintained for a number of years an adulterous relationship with another woman.

In the instant case, respondent Cordova maintained for about two (2) years an adulterous relationship with a married woman
not his wife, in full view of the general public, to the humiliation and detriment of his legitimate family which he, rubbing
salt on the wound, failed or refused to support. After a brief period of "reform" respondent took up again with another
woman not his wife, cohabiting with her and bringing along his young daughter to live with them. Clearly, respondent
flaunted his disregard of the fundamental institution of marriage and its elementary obligations before his own daughter and
the community at large.

WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law indefinitely and until farther orders
from this Court. The Court will consider lifting his suspension when respondent Cordova submits proof satisfactory to the
Commission and this Court that he has and continues to provide for the support of his legitimate family and that he has
given up the immoral course of conduct that he has clung to.

THIRD DIVISION

[A.C. No. 5252. May 20, 2004]

PRISCILLA Z. ORBE, complainant, vs. ATTY. HENRY ADAZA, respondent.

DECISION
VITUG, J.:

On 27 March 2000, Mrs. Priscilla Z. Orbe charged respondent Atty. Henry Adaza with gross misconduct and
as being unfit to continue his membership in the Bar. In a three-page complaint-affidavit complainant averred
that respondent obtained a loan from the former and, to secure the repayment thereof, drew and issued two BPI
Family Bank checks. When the first check (No. 0350973) was presented for payment upon maturity, the same
was dishonored for insufficient funds. According to complainant, respondent, acting with malice and deceit,
dated the second check January 24, 1996, so that, once presented for payment, it would be, considering, in
passing, that the loan was incurred on 23 November 1996, a stale check. She alleged that, despite repeated verbal
and written demands, respondent had failed to make good his obligation.
Acting on the complaint, the Court required respondent to comment thereon within ten (10) days from notice. In a
letter, dated 26 September 2000, complainant asked that the complaint be now considered submitted for resolution in view
of the failure of Atty. Adaza to comply with the order of the Court requiring him to file his comment. In a resolution,
dated 06 December 2000, the Court noted the letter of complainant, and it directed that the complaint be thereby referred to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
Despite proper notice to respondent requiring him to file his answer to the complaint, respondent continued to ignore
the matter. Finally, on 20 February 2002, the case was set for hearing by the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. The
complainant appeared. Respondent did not show up despite his having been duly notified of the hearing by personal service
effected on 12 February 2002. Respondents failure to appear prompted the Commission on Bar Discipline to grant the
request of complainant to allow her to adduce evidence ex-parte. An order was issued setting the proceedings on 18 March
2002 for such reception of evidence. A copy of the order was served on respondent on 28 February 2002 at his given
address.
On 21 February 2002, the Commission received a letter from Atty. Adaza, sent via the facilities of PTT, requesting for
a resetting of the hearing from 18 March to 18 April 2002, claiming that he was already committed to attend a hearing at the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, of Dipolog City on 20 March 2002.
The proceedings set for 18 March 2002 for the reception of complainants evidence ex-parte was held, but the same
was without loss of right on the part of respondent to conduct, if desired, a cross-examination of the witness. The evidence
of complainant showed that complainant used to avail of the notarial services of Atty. Adaza at his law office at
Padre Faura, Ermita, Manila. In 1995, respondent requested complainant, and the latter agreed, to be the primary
sponsor in the baptismal of his daughter. In November 1996, respondent accompanied by a certain Arlene went
to the residence of complainant to seek a loan. The latter lent respondent the sum of P60,000.00 payable with
interest at 5% a month. Respondent issued two (2) BPI Family Bank Checks No. 35073 and No. 35076, each for
P31,800.00, dated 23 December 1996 and 24 January 1996, respectively. When presented for collection Check
No. 035073 was dishonored by the drawee bank for having been drawn against insufficient funds. The other
check, Check No. 035076, bearing the date 24 January 1996, was not accepted for being a stale check.
Efforts were exerted by complainant to see respondent but her efforts proved to be futile. Several demand letters were
sent to the respondent by Atty. Ernesto Jacinto, complainants lawyer, but these letters also failed to elicit any response . A
criminal complaint for violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 was filed with the Office of the Prosecutor of
Quezon City for Check No. 035073.Finding probable cause, the complaint was subsequently elevated to the
Metropolitan Trial Court. A warrant of arrest was issued by the court, but respondent somehow succeeded in
evading apprehension. Sometime in November 2000, respondent went to the house of complainant and promised
to pay the checks within a months time. Complainant agreed to have the service of the warrant of arrest withheld
but, again, respondent failed to make good his promise.
The cross-examination of complainant Priscilla Orbe was set on 22 May 2002. The stenographer was directed to
transcribe the stenographic notes as soon as possible for the benefit of Atty. Adaza. An order was issued to this effect, and a
copy thereof was served upon respondent on 09 April 2002.
On 22 May 2002, the complainant appeared for cross-examination but Atty. Adaza did not appear despite due
notice. In light of the manifestation of complainant that she had no other witness to present and was ready to close her
evidence, she was given a period of fifteen (15) days within which to file a formal offer and respondent was given a like
period to thereupon submit his comment and/or opposition thereto. The order, dated 22 May 2002, was served on Atty.
Adaza on 28 May 2002. The formal offer of complainants evidence was deemed submitted for resolution on 25 June
2002 pending proof of service of a copy thereof upon respondent and the filing of the necessary comment or opposition
thereto by the latter.
In an order, dated 16 October 2002, the Commission set the reception of evidence for respondent on 13 November
2002 in order to give him another opportunity to rebut the evidence of complainant. Respondent again failed to appear on
the date set therefor, prompting the Commission to rule on the admissibility of Exhibits A to D with their
submarkings. There being no appearance on the part of respondent despite due notice, the case was considered submitted for
resolution by the Commission in its order of 26 February 2003.
The Commission submitted its report and recommendation, dated 28 May 2003, recommending the suspension of
respondent Atty. Henry Adaza from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year, and that he be ordered to pay
to complainant the value of the two unpaid checks he issued to complainant.
The Court adopts the recommendation.
A member of the bar may be so removed or suspended from office as an attorney for any deceit, malpractice, or
misconduct in office.[1] The word conduct used in the rules is not limited to conduct exhibited in connection with the
performance of the lawyers professional duties but it also refers to any misconduct, although not connected with his
professional duties, that would show him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges which his license and the
law confer upon him. The grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138, of the Rules of Court are not limitative [2] and are
broad enough to cover any misconduct, including dishonesty, of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity. [3] Such
misdeed puts his moral fiber, as well as his fitness to continue in the advocacy of law, [4] in serious doubt.
Respondents issuance of worthless checks and his contumacious refusal to comply with his just obligation for nearly
eight years is appalling[5] and hardly deserves compassion from the Court.
WHEREFORE, respondent Henry M. Adaza is found guilty of gross misconduct, and he is hereby ordered suspended
from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt hereof. This decision is without prejudice to
the outcome of the Criminal Case for Violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 filed against him. Let copies of this decision be
spread on his record in the Bar Confidants Office and furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the
Court Administrator for proper dissemination to all courts.

A.C. No. 8392 June 29, 2010


[ Formerly CBD Case No. 08-2175 ]

ROSARIO T. MECARAL, Complainant,


vs.
ATTY. DANILO S. VELASQUEZ, Respondent.

DECISION

Per Curiam:

Rosario T. Mecaral (complainant) charged Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez (respondent) before the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD)1 with Gross Misconduct and Gross Immoral
Conduct which she detailed in her Position Paper2 as follows:

After respondent hired her as his secretary in 2002, she became his lover and common-law wife. In
October 2007, respondent brought her to the mountainous Upper San Agustin in Caibiran, Biliran
where he left her with a religious group known as the Faith Healers Association of the Philippines, of
which he was the leader. Although he visited her daily, his visits became scarce in November to
December 2007, prompting her to return home to Naval, Biliran. Furious, respondent brought her back
to San Agustin where, on his instruction, his followers tortured, brainwashed and injected her with
drugs. When she tried to escape on December 24, 2007, the members of the group tied her spread-
eagled to a bed. Made to wear only a T-shirt and diapers and fed stale food, she was guarded 24
hours a day by the women members including a certain Bernardita Tadeo.

Her mother, Delia Tambis Vda. De Mecaral (Delia), having received information that she was weak, pale
and walking barefoot along the streets in the mountainous area of Caibiran, sought the help of the
Provincial Social Welfare Department which immediately dispatched two women volunteers to rescue her.
The religious group refused to release her, however, without the instruction of respondent. It took PO3
Delan G. Lee (PO3 Lee) and PO1 Arnel S. Robedillo (PO1 Robedillo) to rescue and reunite her with her
mother.

Hence, the present disbarment complaint against respondent. Additionally, complainant charges
respondent with bigamy for contracting a second marriage to Leny H. Azur on August 2, 1996, despite
the subsistence of his marriage to his first wife, Ma. Shirley G. Yunzal.

In support of her charges, complainant submitted documents including the following: Affidavit3 of Delia
dated February 5, 2008; Affidavit of PO3 Lee and PO1 Robedillo4 dated February 14, 2008; photocopy of
the Certificate of Marriage5 between respondent and Leny H. Azur; photocopy of the Marriage
Contract6 between respondent and Shirley G. Yunzal; National Statistics Office Certification7 dated
April 23, 2008 showing the marriage of Ma. Shirley G. Yunzal to respondent on April 27, 1990 in
Quezon City and the marriage of Leny H. Azur to respondent on August 2, 1996 in Mandaue City,
Cebu; and certified machine copy of the Resolution8 of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of
Naval, Biliran and the Information9 lodged with the RTC-Branch 37-Caibiran, Naval, Biliran, for Serious
Illegal Detention against respondent and Bernardita Tadeo on complaint of herein complainant.

Despite respondent’s receipt of the February 22, 2008 Order10 of the Director for Bar Discipline for him to
submit his Answer within 15 days from receipt thereof, and his expressed intent to "properly make [his]
defense in a verified pleading,"11 he did not file any Answer.
1avv phi1

On the scheduled Mandatory Conference set on September 2, 2008 of which the parties were duly notified,
only complainant’s counsel was present. Respondent and his counsel failed to appear.

Investigating Commissioner Felimon C. Abelita III of the CBD, in his Report and Recommendation12 dated
September 29, 2008, found that:

[respondent’s] acts of converting his secretary into a mistress; contracting two marriages with Shirley and
Leny, are grossly immoral which no civilized society in the world can countenance. The subsequent
detention and torture of the complainant is gross misconduct [which] only a beast may be able to do.
Certainly, the respondent had violated Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which reads:

CANON 1 – A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.

xxxx

In the long line of cases, the Supreme Court has consistently imposed severe penalty for grossly immoral
conduct of a lawyer like the case at bar. In the celebrated case of Joselano Guevarra vs. Atty. Jose Manuel
Eala, the [Court] ordered the disbarment of the respondent for maintaining extra-marital relations with a
married woman, and having a child with her. In the instant case, not only did the respondent commit
bigamy for contracting marriages with Shirley Yunzal in 1990 and Leny Azur in 1996, but the respondent
also made his secretary (complainant) his mistress and subsequently, tortured her to the point of death. All
these circumstances showed the moral fiber respondent is made of, which [leave] the undersigned with no
choice but to recommend the disbarment of Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez.13 (emphasis and underscoring
supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors of Pasig City, by Resolution14 dated December 11, 2008, ADOPTED the
Investigating Commissioner’s findings and APPROVED the recommendation for the disbarment of
respondent.
As did the IBP Board of Governors, the Court finds the IBP Commissioner’s evaluation and
recommendation well taken.

The practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the state upon those who show that they
possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law for the conferment of such
privilege.15 When a lawyer’s moral character is assailed, such that his right to continue

practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, it behooves him to meet the charges squarely and present
evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body and this Court, that he is morally fit to keep his name
in the Roll of Attorneys.16

Respondent has not discharged the burden. He never attended the hearings before the IBP to rebut the
charges brought against him, suggesting that they are true.17 Despite his letter dated March 28, 2008
manifesting that he would come up with his defense "in a verified pleading," he never did.

Aside then from the IBP’s finding that respondent violated Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, he also violated the Lawyer’s Oath reading:

I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear
that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood,
nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false
or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will
conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as
well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental
reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God, (underscoring supplied),

and Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the same Code reading:

Rule 7.03 – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

The April 30, 2008 Resolution18 of the Provincial Prosecutor on complainant’s charge against respondent
and Bernardita Tadeo for Serious Illegal Detention bears special noting, viz:

[T]he counter-affidavit of x x x Bernardita C. Tadeo (co-accused in the complaint) has the effect of
strengthening the allegations against Atty. Danilo Velasquez. Indeed, it is clear now that there was really
physical restraint employed by Atty. Velasquez upon the person of Rosario Mecaral. Even as he claimed
that on the day private complainant was fetched by the two women and police officers, complainant was
already freely roaming around the place and thus, could not have been physically detained. However, it is
not really necessary that Rosario be physically kept within an enclosure to restrict her freedom of
locomotion. In fact, she was always accompanied wherever she would wander, that it could be impossible
for her to escape especially considering the remoteness and the distance between Upper San Agustin,
Caibiran, Biliran to Naval, Biliran where she is a resident. The people from the Faith Healers Association
had the express and implied orders coming from respondent Atty. Danilo Velasquez to keep guarding
Rosario Mecaral and not to let her go freely. That can be gleaned from the affidavit of co-respondent
Bernardita Tadeo. The latter being reprimanded whenever Atty. Velasquez would learn that complainant
had untangled the cloth tied on her wrists and feet.19 (emphasis and underscoring supplied)

That, as reflected in the immediately-quoted Resolution in the criminal complaint against respondent, his
therein co-respondent corroborated the testimonies of complainant’s witnesses, and that the allegations
against him remain unrebutted, sufficiently prove the charges against him by clearly preponderant
evidence, the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer.20

In fine, by engaging himself in acts which are grossly immoral and acts which constitute gross misconduct,
respondent has ceased to possess the qualifications of a lawyer.21

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Danilo S. Velasquez, is DISBARRED, and his name ORDERED
STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. This Decision is immediately executory and ordered to be part of the
records of respondent in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines.

LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.

DECISION

DE LEON, JR., J.:

Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio


for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of
complainant, Leslie Ui.

The relevant facts are:

On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of
Lourdes Church in Quezon City and as a result of their marital union, they had four
[1]

(4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui.
Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband,
Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio
with whom he begot a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living
together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.
Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of the
Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982.

Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent.


Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and
introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted
to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was
over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of
respondent and thought things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit
relationship between her husband and respondent would come to an end.

However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her
husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988,
respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then met
again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to
discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit
relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on that respondent
had been employed by her husband in his company.

A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on
August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before
the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
(hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for
carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her
Answer, respondent averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had
[2]

known him all along to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui
had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been
estranged. She stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his
intention to marry her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985 . Upon
[3]

their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to
live with his children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos
Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second
marriage before they would live together. [4]

In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would
only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew
legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, respondent
was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the
lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil
status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July
1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20,
1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm she was connected
[5]

with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to
her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been communicating with her.

It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because
they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered
Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. Respondent averred
that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam
Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang
in a house which belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said
house was built exclusively from her parents funds. By way of counterclaim,
[6]

respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos


(Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed the present allegedly
malicious and groundless disbarment case against respondent.

In her Reply dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that
[7]

respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had
children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and that the
reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos
Ui.

During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant
also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of
Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed as I.S.
No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish
probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal
complaint against respondent reads:

Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of


the "illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered
by the complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however
show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to
the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989.

It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of


respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in
1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26
Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and
they, admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to
early (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the
same.

From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the
relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie
established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed
to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in
the concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala
Alabang house, proof of which is necessary and indispensable to at
least create probable cause for the offense charged. The statement
alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion
respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainants
evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy,
20 Phil. 178).

It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in


support of their respective positions on the matter support and bolster
the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.

WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant


complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable
cause for the offense charged.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED. [8]

Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the
Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed on the ground of insufficiency
[9]

of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as
husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro
Manila.

In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed
a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission wherein she
[10]

charged respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for submitting
a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the
Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among
others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a
Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of
Marriage duly certified by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file
[11]

in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine
Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage
between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and
not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to
complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted
to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within
the wedlock. It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a
[12]

violation of Articles 183 and 184 of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt
[13] [14]

of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her
Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral
perversity and lack of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of the
Philippine Bar.

In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), respondent [15]

averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate because
the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy
because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage
certificate in her possession.

Respondent filed her Memorandum on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone
[16]

issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which
she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent averred that the
complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:

(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the


requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal
profession; and
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent
conducted herself in an immoral manner. [17]

In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the
victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was
already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent immediately cut-off
all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at
that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent
so much time with her, and he was so open in his courtship. [18]

On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was
highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her
Answer had she known that the same was altered. Respondent reiterated that
there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to
Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that
respondent and Carlos Ui got married before complainant confronted respondent
and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further,
respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the
person responsible for changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to
1985, and complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui
on this matter.

Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of


respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage
with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the
same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same
car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage, does
[19]

not prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value
according to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer from a private security
agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the respondent
presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427
dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence
to establish probable cause for the offense charged and the dismissal of the
[20]

appeal by the Department of Justice to bolster her argument that she was not
[21]

guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In
fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good
faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless,
nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she
believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she
parted ways with him.

In the Memorandum filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she
[22]

prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent
committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which
resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents
mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband since
the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the
Branch Manager. It was thus highly improbable that respondent, who was living
[23]

with her parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that
Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise averred that respondent
committed disrespect towards the Commission for submitting a photocopy of a
document containing an intercalated date.

In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum , respondent stated that complainant


[24]

miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent


insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant, there is no showing that
respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The
allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that
such information was made known to respondent.

Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline
submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that:

In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted
by Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The
Commission does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light
of contemporary human experience.

Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he


represents himself to be single, separated, or without any firm
commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to
fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.

The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic)
true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of
1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the
Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro
Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other
because of the children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time did
they live together.

Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any


act on the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or
disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she
was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve
compassion rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode
destroyed her chance of having a normal and happy family life, a
dream cherished by every single girl.

x..........................x..........................x"

Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a
Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which
reads as follows:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and


APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation
fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is
DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for
knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of
Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a
more severe penalty."

We agree with the findings aforequoted.

The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy
the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a
privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process, once a
lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for
admission to the practice of law are:

a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;

b. a resident thereof;

c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;

d. a person of good moral character;

e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral


turpitude, are filed or pending in court;

f. possess the required educational qualifications; and

g. pass the bar examinations. (Italics supplied)


[25]
Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is
that an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly,
possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the
enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground
for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held -

If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then
the continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for
retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar
may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral
character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).

A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason


of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the
bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional probity.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to


what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency
and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a
member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be
unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral
conduct that warrants disbarment.

Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful,


flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the
opinion of the good and respectable members of the community." (7
C.J.S. 959). [26]

In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met
Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him
and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2)
children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him.

Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of
respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the
standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our
liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness
notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher
degree of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with
greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent
would not have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised
prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis personal
background prior to her intimate involvement with him.
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents
suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved
her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent admitted that she knew that
Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she
never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were
indeed unmarried. Also, despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with
respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible
considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.

All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was
imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her
relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent believed was a
valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct
that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and
respectable members of the community. Moreover, for such conduct to warrant
[27]

disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be
reprehensible to a high degree. [28]

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required
to refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to
avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral
standards." Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui
[29]

upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and
proves that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of
the legal profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve no
credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will
exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear,
convincing and satisfactory evidence. This, herein complainant miserably failed to
[30]

do.

On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her


Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely
relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was provided her by
Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride
would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a
bride, especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got
married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an


attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the
facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate
with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point
cannot stand.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards


of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers
are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts
constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand
no less than the highest degree of morality.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L.


Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.

However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a


photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof,
with a STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on her for
any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.

SO ORDERED.
A.M. No. (2170-MC) P-1356 November 21, 1979

HON. REMIGIO E. ZARI, complainant,


vs.
DIOSDADO S. FLORES, respondent.

FERNANDEZ, J.:

In a letter dated July 15, 1976 addressed to the Supreme Court, Hon. Remigio E. Zari, Presiding Judge of
Branch VI. City Court of Quezon City, recommended the dismissal from the service of Mr. Diosdado S.
Flores, Deputy Clerk of Court of Branch VI, City Court, on the following grounds:

1. Conviction for libel on April 28, 1967, (Criminal Case No. Q- 7171), Branch IV, Court of
First Instance, Quezon City), a crime involving moral turpitude. He was sentenced to pay a
fine of P500.00, which he paid on July 18, 1974, under Receipt No. 4736418.

2. Presistent attempts to unduly influence the undersigned amounting to undue interest in


cases pending before Branch VI as shown by his handwritten notes to the undersigned and
to my present deputy clerk of Court, Atty. Reynaldo Elcano.

On March 8, 1976, Mr. Flores was relieved from his position as Deputy Clerk of Court upon
request of the undersigned primarily to dissociate myself from these actuations of Mr.
Flores, which I strongly disapproved of, and to avail my Court of the services of a full-
fledged lawyer with unquestionable integrity. After his transfer, as can be seen from his
handwritten notes, he persisted in taking this unwarranted course of action in at least three
(3) cases of Branch VI.
3. Gross discourtesy to superior officers as manifested by his uncalled for and unjustified
use of strong and contemptuous language in addressing the City Judges, when he wrote a
letter, dated March 11, 1976. 1

In a resolution of this Court dated July 29, 1976, Deputy Clerk of Court Diosdado S. Flores was required to
file his answer to the letter of Judge Remigio E. Zari and this case was transferred to the First Division. 2

The respondent filed his answers 3 on August 12, 1976 wherein he alleged, among others, that his
conviction for libel did not involve moral turpitude; that the then Commissioner Abelardo Subido, who was
also convicted of the crime of libel and was fined P5,000.00, had approved his appointment as Deputy
Clerk of Court of Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City; that the respondent never tried to unduly
influence the complainant in the discharge of the latter's duties and responsibilities; that while respondent's
language in his letter dated March 11, 1976 is strong, the same could not be considered contemptuous
either directly or indirectly, in as much as he was merely expressing the sentiments of an aggrieved
employee who deserves a better treatment from his superior after more than six years and nine months of
highly dedicated and very efficient service in the City Court of Quezon City; that if ever respondent
requested favors from his superior, these were all done in the spirit of friendship which the complainant
professed to him before he left Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City on March 9, 1976; that from
October 15, 1975 up to his illegal transfer on March 8, 1976, the respondent was practically doing the work
of the complainant; that the respondent has tutored the complainant on the fine interpretation and
application of the law; that it was Judge Zari who tried to corrupt him as may be gathered from the following
instances: On January 8, 1976, after the trial in Criminal Case No VI-5783 vs. Juanito Chua and two
criminal cases against Emerito Lim, Judge Zari instructed the respondent to conduct an ocular inspection
on the illegal constructions, subject of the cases; that Judge Zari, likewise, told the respondent to join him
for lunch at Alfredo's Steakhouse in Quezon City; that after conducting the ocular inspection, the
respondent proceeded to Alfredo's Steakhouse where he joined Judge Zari, Fiscal Loja and the defense
counsel of Chua and Lim; that thereafter, Judge Zari directed the respondent not to prepare anymore his
report on the ocular inspection to the site; that up to the time of his illegal transfer, the respondent did not
see the records of said cases anymore; that in Criminal Case No. VI-166624 vs. Corazon and Macaria
Tolentino, for the crime of estafa, the respondent was instructed to convict both the accused because the
complainant was a relative of a certain Judge Erochi; and that in Criminal Cases Nos. VI-170682 and VI-
170689 versus Gerundio Villanueva y Elazo, Dominador Garcia y Orteza and Balbino Domingo y Ramos,
for the crime of theft, he was instructed by Judge Zari to convict the accused Dominador Garcia y Orteza
because according to said judge, the complainant is AVESCO.

In a resolution dated September 1, 1976, 4 this Court required Judge Zari to file a reply to the answer of the
respondent within ten (10) days from notice thereof.

The complainant alleged in his reply to the answer of the respondent that he had not allowed the
respondent to interfere in the preparation of orders and decisions; that while the complainant is aware of
his limitations, he is certainly not so naive as to allow someone not a member of the Philippine Bar to
"tutor" and give him finer interpretation of the law; that he admits that Criminal Cases Nos. VI-5783 against
Juanito Chua and
VI-5788-5789 against Emerito Lim are pending before this court; that he did not call the respondent to his
chamber and instruct him to conduct an ocular inspection on the illegal constructions; that he did not invite
the respondent for lunch that day; that the truth was that after the trial, he went to Alfredo's Steakhouse in
the company of his fiscal, Fiscal Guillermo Loja; that while in the said place, the complainant was surprised
to see the respondent in the company of the accused; that he counseled the respondent to be more
circumspect as these people had cases before his sala; that it is true that from then on up to the relief of
the respondent on March 8, 1976, the records of the aforesaid case could not be found by the respondent
because the complainant had the records brought inside his chamber in order to forestall any attempt on
the part of the respondent to manipulate the records; that he did not instruct the respondent to convict the
accused in Criminal Case No. VI-166624 and in Criminal Cases Nos. VI-170682 and VI-170689 just
because the complainant is a relative of a certain Judge Erochi and AVESCO, respectively; and that he
requested Atty. Reynaldo Elcano to affix his initial in all orders, decisions and sentences in order to pinpoint
responsibility. 5

In his reply, the complainant additionally charged that when the respondent applied for the position of
Deputy Clerk of Court, Branch VI, City Court of Quezon City, he submitted, among others, an affidavit
dated June 10, 1969 that contains the following statement "That I am a person of good moral character and
integrity and have no administrative, criminal or police record;" that the respondent also accomplished Civil
Service Form No. 212 (1965) which was subscribed and sworn to before then Judge Oscar A. Inocentes;
that in the aforesaid data sheet, the respondent admits having acted as counsel for three companies; and
that the giving of legal advice by notaries and others who are not admitted to the practice of law is
dangerous to the welfare of the community, because such persons have not demonstrated their capacity by
submitting to examinations lawfully established in the practice of law.

This administrative case was referred to the Executive Judge of Rizal, Quezon City, for investigation, report
and recommendation after City Judge Minerva Genovea and City Judge Aloysius Alday had been allowed
to inhibit themselves from investigating this
case. 6

District Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol who conducted the investigation of this administrative case
recommended that the respondent be separated from the service on the following findings:

The first charge is "conviction for libel which is a crime allegedly involving moral turpitude."

Presidential Decree No. 807, Sec. 36(b) No. 10 provides that one of the grounds for
disciplinary action is "conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude."

Evidence adduced by the complainant which was admitted by the respondent was that on
April 28, 1967 respondent was convicted of the crime of Libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171
of Branch IV of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City. Respondent was sentenced to
pay a fine of P5,000.00 which he paid on July 18, 1974 under Official Receipt No. 276418.

Moral turpitude has been defined as including any act done contrary to
justice, honesty, modesty or good morals. 7

Some of the particular crimes which have been held to involve moral
turpitude are adultery, concubinage, 8 rape, arson, evasion of income tax,
barratry, bigamy, blackmail, bribery, 9 criminal conspiracy to smuggle opium,
dueling, embezzlement, extortion, forgery, libel, making fraudulent proof of
loss on insurance contract, murder, mutilation of public records, fabrication
of evidence, offenses against pension laws, perjury, seduction under
promise of marriage, 10 estafa, 11 falsification of public document, 12 estafa
thru falsification of public document. 13

"Moral turpitude" has been defined as an act of baseness, vileness, or


depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes his fellow men,
to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right
and duty between man and woman or conduct contrary to justice, honesty,
modesty, or good morals. 14 It implies something immoral in itself, regardless
of the fact that it is punishable by law or not. It must not merely be mala
prohibita but, the act itself must be inherently immoral. The doing of the act
itself, and not its prohibition by statute fixes the moral turpitude. 15 Moral
turpitude does not, however, include such acts as are not of themselves
immoral but whose illegality lies in the fact of their being positively
prohibited. 16 Hence, the crime of illegal possession of firearm or ammunition
does not involve moral turpitude for under our laws, what is punishable is
the possession of a firearm or ammunition without a license or authority. 17

Bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral turpitude. 18

However in another, the Supreme Court seems to imply that libel is not a
crime involving moral turpitude.

The mere filing of an information for libel, or serious slander, against a


municipal officer is not a ground for suspending him from office, as such
offenses do not necessarily involve moral turpitude. 19

When respondent submitted his application for the position of Deputy Clerk of Court of
Branch VI, City Court of Quezon City, he submitted among others an affidavit dated June
10, 1969, which reads as follows:

That I am a person of good moral character and integrity and have no


administrative, criminal or police record.

On blank space of a personal data sheet opposite question No. 10, which
asked if applicant has previously been convicted of a criminal offense,
accused placed no. It was later discovered that accused was previously
convicted of theft. Accused was acquitted of falsification of public document
under Art. 171, par. 4, because there is no legal obligation to reveal
previous conviction. 20 However he maybe guilty of perjury under Art. 183. 21

One of the grounds for disciplinary action under PD 807, Sec. 36(b) under No. 13 is
"falsification of public documents."

The second charge is "persistent attempts to unduly influence the complainant amounting
to undue interest in cases pending before Branch VI as shown by his handwritten notes to
the complainant and to his present Deputy Clerk of Court, Atty. Reynaldo Elcano."

Respondent admitted that in writing the four (4) notes (Exhibits "F", "F-1", "F-2", & "F-3"), he
intervened for and in behalf of Gaw Chin in Criminal Case No. VI-6196 pending before the
sala of the complainant because the accused was a compadre of his friend, Salvador
Estrada.

On the other hand, the defense of the respondent is that he was practically doing the work
of the complainant and tutoring him in the finer interpretation and application of the law, and
he was preparing the decisions in both criminal and civil cases. Thus he was not trying to
influence the complainant.

The notes marked as Exhibits "F", "F-1, "F-2", & "F-3" speak for themselves. There is no
need for the undersigned to quote the same.

A proposition by an attorney to his client to visit with his wife the family of
the judge before whom the client's cause is to be heard, and to endeavor, in
conversation thus to be had in advance of the hearing, to commit the judge
to an expression of opinion favorable to the client's case warrants his
dismissal from the bar. 22
The acts of the respondent amounts to conducts prejudicial to the best interest of the
service. 23

The Third charge is "discourtesy to superior Officers as manifested by respondent in calling


for and unjust use of strong and contemptuous language in addressing the city judges when
he wrote the letter, dated March 11, 1976."

To quote the pertinent provisions of Exhibit "D":

'By the tenor of your reply, you have made the change of heart and have
developed cold feet. You have badly shaken my belief in your credibility.
Indeed, you are truly a woman, very fickle and unpredictable, but very
impulsive.

I take this as a clear indication of your desire to enlist the sympathies and, if
possible, like the other five (5) judges, involved them in the mess originally
of your own making and design and align them with you against me, hoping
to impress upon me that by the tyranny of numbers, I will be convinced that
mine is a lost cause.

However, I regret to inform the six of you that by your conduct, you have
dismally failed to live up to your oaths, ...

Kindly pardon me if I say that, the six of you must be out of your wits when
you all decided to lay the blame on me and condemned without trial for the
alleged inefficiency.

Yes, when you all decided to sacrifice me you are all laboring under deep
and nagging hallucinations, induced and prompted by your serious concern
to save the face of a colleague.

By the way, could any of the Honorable Judges of Branches I, III, V & IX
honestly and truthfully say the public service in their respective branches is
efficient, so that they could now come to the succor of a colleague and are
also competent to promote the efficiency in Branch VI. My God, if that is
true, promotions of Judges in the City Court would be fast, the Purge in the
Judiciary would not have affected Quezon City and the unprepared and the
inexperienced would not have come to the Bench.'

Respondent reasoned out that the use of strong language by him in his letter was justified
and very much called for it being the indubitable manifestation of the indignation and
disgust of the respondent, urged upon him by the complainant who engineered the
respondent's illegal transfer from Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City which he holds
a valid and subsisting appointment to the Appeal and Docket Division, by virtue of a letter of
the Executive Judge (Exhibit "43"), to quote the pertinent provision of which:

'as a measure to promote more efficient public service, after due and
circumspect deliberation by and among the judges. '

pursuant to the authority granted to the executive judge under Administrative Order No. 6 of
the Supreme Court which provides as follows:
To re-assign temporarily the personnel of one branch (sala) to another
branch (sala) or to the Office of the Clerk of Court, in case of vacancy in the
position of Presiding Judge of a branch (sala), or when the interest of the
service requires. In the latter case, the assignment shall be made in
consultation with the Presiding Judge of the branch (sala) concerned; and in
case of disagreement, the assignment of the Executive Judge shall be
effective immediately, unless revoked by the Supreme Court.

The transfer was made in consultation with the presiding judge of the branch concerned
who is the complainant in this case.

A detail is the movement of an employee from one agency to another


without the issuance of an appointment and shall be allowed, only for a
limited period in the case of employees occupying professional, technical
and scientific positions. If the employee believes that there is no justification
for the detail, he may appeal his case to the commission. Pending appeal,
the decision to detail the employee shall be executory unless otherwise
ordered by the commission. 24

An employee may be reassigned from one organizational unit to another in


the same agency. Provided: That such reassignment shall not involve
reduction in rank, status or salary. 25

In the instant case there was actually a reassignment of employee from one branch to the
Office of the Clerk of Court in accordance with Administrative Order No. 6 of the Supreme
Court and in consonance with PD 807.

The language of attorney in his motion for reconsideration referring to the


Supreme Court as a "Civilized, democratic tribunal," but by innuendo would
suggest that it is not; in his motion to inhibit, categorizing the Court's
decision as "false, erroneous and illegal" and accusing two justices for being
interested in the decision of the case without any basis in fact; asking the
other members of the Court to inhibit themselves for favors or benefits
received from any of the petitioners including the President — constitute
disrespectful language to the Court. It undermines and degrades the
administration of justice.

The language is necessary for the defense of client is no justification. It ill


behooves an attorney to justify his disrespectful language with the
statement that it was necessary for the defense of his client. A client's cause
does not permanent an attorney to cross the line between liberty and
license. Lawyers must always keep in perspective the thought that "since
lawyers are administrators of justice, oathbound servants of society, their
first duty is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to the administration of
justice; to this their client's success is wholly subordinate; and their conduct
ought to and must be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. 26

Thru the use of uncalled language, respondent had committed


insubordination, a ground for disciplinary action. 27

The evidence of record supports the findings of the investigating judge.


It is a fact that the respondent was convicted of libel in Criminal Case No. Q-7171 of the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, Branch IV, at Quezon City. 7 While this fact alone is not sufficient to warrant disciplinary
action, the respondent's conviction for libel shows his propensity to speak ill of others. His letter dated
March 11, 1976 to Judge Minerva C. Genovea, then Executive Judge of the City Court of Quezon
City 8 contains defamatory and uncalled for language.

The handwritten notes of the respondent regarding different cases pending in Branch VI of the City Court of
Quezon City, presided by the complainant, Judge Remigio E. Zari, show that the respondent had exerted
undue influence in the disposition of the cases mentioned therein. 9

It is true that conviction for libel does not automatically justify removal of a public officer. 10 However, the
fact of conviction for libel of the respondent, taken together with the letter he wrote to then Executive City
Judge of the City Court of Quezon City, Judge Minerva C. Genovea, shows the tendency of the respondent
to malign people.

Respondent's act of interfering in the cases pending before Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City
presided by the complainant is inimical to the service. This alone warrants severe disciplinary measures.

In his affidavit subscribed and sworn to before then City Judge Oscar A. Inocentes on June 10, 1969, the
respondent stated "That I am a person of good moral character and integrity and have no administrative,
criminal or police record. " This averment is not true because the respondent had been convicted of libel in
Criminal Case No. Q-7171, of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch IV, in a sentence dated April 28,
1967. This prevarication in a sworn statement is another ground for serious disciplinary action.

The removal from the service of the respondent is warranted by the evidence adduced during the
investigation conducted by Judge Sergio A. F. Apostol of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Branch XVI,
Quezon City.

WHEREFORE, the respondent, Diosdado S. Flores, is hereby DISMISSED as Deputy Clerk of Court of
Branch VI of the City Court of Quezon City, with forfeiture of all retirement privileges and with prejudice to
reinstatement in the national and local governments, as well as, in any government instrumentality or
agency including government owned or controlled corporations effective upon the finality of this decision.

Let a copy of this decision be attached to his personal record.

SO ORDERED.