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CANON 1 5.

Submitting to the Court of First Instance of Quezon City falsified


documents purporting to be true copies of "Addendum to the Land
Development Agreement dated August 30, 1971" and submitting the same
A.M. No. 1625 February 12, 1990
document to the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City, in connection with the
complaint for estafa filed by respondent against complainant designated as
ANGEL L. BAUTISTA, complainant, I.S. No. 7512936;

vs.ATTY. RAMON A. GONZALES, respondent. 6. Committing acts of treachery and disloyalty to complainant who was his
client;
RESOLUTION
7. Harassing the complainant by filing several complaints without legal basis
PER CURIAM: before the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City;

In a verified complaint filed by Angel L. Bautista on May 19, 1976, respondent Ramon 8. Deliberately misleading the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office
A. Gonzales was charged with malpractice, deceit, gross misconduct and violation of by making false assertion of facts in his pleadings;
lawyer's oath. Required by this Court to answer the charges against him, respondent
filed on June 19, 1976 a motion for a bill of particulars asking this Court to order 9. Filing petitions "cleverly prepared (so) that while he does not intentionally
complainant to amend his complaint by making his charges more definite. In a tell a he, he does not tell the truth either."
resolution dated June 28, 1976, the Court granted respondent's motion and required
complainant to file an amended complaint. On July 15, 1976, complainant submitted
Respondent filed an answer on September 29, 1976 and an amended answer on
an amended complaint for disbarment, alleging that respondent committed the
November 18, 1976, denying the accusations against him. Complainant filed a reply
following acts:
to respondent's answer on December 29, 1976 and on March 24, 1977 respondent
filed a rejoinder.
1. Accepting a case wherein he agreed with his clients, namely, Alfaro
Fortunado, Nestor Fortunado and Editha Fortunado [hereinafter referred to
In a resolution dated March 16, 1983, the Court referred the case to the Office of the
as the Fortunados] to pay all expenses, including court fees, for a contingent
Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation. In the investigation
fee of fifty percent (50%) of the value of the property in litigation.
conducted by the Solicitor General, complainant presented himself as a witness and
submitted Exhibits "A" to "PP", while respondent appeared both as witness and
2. Acting as counsel for the Fortunados in Civil Case No. Q-15143, wherein counsel and submitted Exhibits "1" to "11". The parties were required to submit their
Eusebio Lopez, Jr. is one of the defendants and, without said case being respective memoranda.
terminated, acting as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-
15490;
On May 16, 1988 respondent filed a motion to dismiss the complaint against him,
claiming that the long delay in the resolution of the complaint against him constitutes
3. Transferring to himself one-half of the properties of the Fortunados, which a violation of his constitutional right to due process and speedy disposition of cases.
properties are the subject of the litigation in Civil Case No. Q-15143, while Upon order of the Court, the Solicitor General filed a comment to the motion to
the case was still pending; dismiss on August 8, 1988, explaining that the delay in the investigation of the case
was due to the numerous requests for postponement of scheduled hearings filed by
4. Inducing complainant, who was his former client, to enter into a contract both parties and the motions for extension of time to file their respective memoranda."
with him on August 30, 1971 for the development into a residential [Comment of the Solicitor General, p. 2; Record, p. 365]. Respondent filed a reply to
subdivision of the land involved in Civil Case No. Q-15143, covered by TCT the Solicitor General's comment on October 26, 1988. In a resolution dated January
No. T-1929, claiming that he acquired fifty percent (50%) interest thereof as 16, 1989 the Court required the Solicitor General to submit his report and
attorney's fees from the Fortunados, while knowing fully well that the said recommendation within thirty (30) days from notice.
property was already sold at a public auction on June 30, 1971, by the
Provincial Sheriff of Lanao del Norte and registered with the Register of On April 11, 1989, the Solicitor General submitted his report with the recommendation
Deeds of Iligan City; that Atty. Ramon A. Gonzales be suspended for six (6) months. The Solicitor General
found that respondent committed the following acts of misconduct:

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a. transferring to himself one-half of the properties of his clients base its final action on the case on the report and recommendation submitted by the
during the pendency of the case where the properties were investigating official and the evidence presented by the parties during the
involved; investigation.

b. concealing from complainant the fact that the property subject of Secondly, there is no need to refer the case to the IBP since at the time of the
their land development agreement had already been sold at a effectivity of Rule 139-B [June 1, 1988] the investigation conducted by the Office of
public auction prior to the execution of said agreement; and the Solicitor General had been substantially completed. Section 20 of Rule 139-B
provides that only pending cases, the investigation of which has not been
c. misleading the court by submitting alleged true copies of a substantially completed by the Office of the Solicitor General, shall be transferred to
document where two signatories who had not signed the original (or the IBP. In this case the investigation by the Solicitor General was terminated even
even the xerox copy) were made to appear as having fixed their before the effectivity of Rule 139-B. Respondent himself admitted in his motion to
signatures [Report and Recommendation of the Solicitor General, dismiss that the Solicitor General terminated the investigation on November 26, 1986,
pp. 17-18; Rollo, pp. 403-404]. the date when respondent submitted his reply memorandum [Motion to Dismiss, p. 1;
Record, p. 353].
Respondent then filed on April 14, 1989 a motion to refer the case to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and disposition pursuant to Rule 139-B of Thirdly, there is no need for further investigation since the Office of the Solicitor
the Revised Rules of Court. Respondent manifested that he intends to submit more General already made a thorough and comprehensive investigation of the case. To
evidence before the IBP. Finally, on November 27, 1989, respondent filed a refer the case to the IBP, as prayed for by the respondent, will result not only in
supplemental motion to refer this case to the IBP, containing additional arguments to duplication of the proceedings conducted by the Solicitor General but also to further
bolster his contentions in his previous pleadings. delay in the disposition of the present case which has lasted for more than thirteen
(13) years.
I.
Respondent's assertion that he still has some evidence to present does not warrant
the referral of the case to the IBP. Considering that in the investigation conducted by
Preliminarily, the Court will dispose of the procedural issue raised by respondent. It is the Solicitor General respondent was given ample opportunity to present evidence,
respondent's contention that the preliminary investigation conducted by the Solicitor his failure to adduce additional evidence is entirely his own fault. There was therefore
General was limited to the determination of whether or not there is sufficient ground to no denial of procedural due process. The record shows that respondent appeared as
proceed with the case and that under Rule 139 the Solicitor General still has to file an witness for himself and presented no less than eleven (11) documents to support his
administrative complaint against him. Respondent claims that the case should be contentions. He was also allowed to cross-examine the complainant who appeared as
referred to the IBP since Section 20 of Rule 139-B provides that: a witness against him.

This Rule shall take effect on June 1, 1988 and shall supersede the II.
present Rule 139 entitled DISBARMENT OR SUSPENSION OF
ATTORNEYS. All cases pending investigation by the Office of the
Solicitor General shall be transferred to the Integrated Bar of the The Court will now address the substantive issue of whether or not respondent
Philippines Board of Governors for investigation and disposition as committed the acts of misconduct alleged by complainant Bautista.
provided in this Rule except those cases where the investigation
has been substantially completed. After a careful review of the record of the case and the report and recommendation of
the Solicitor General, the Court finds that respondent committed acts of misconduct
The above contention of respondent is untenable. In the first place, contrary to which warrant the exercise by this Court of its disciplinary power.
respondent's claim, reference to the IBP of complaints against lawyers is not
mandatory upon the Court [Zaldivar v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 79690-707; The record shows that respondent prepared a document entitled "Transfer of Rights"
Zaldivar v. Gonzales, G.R. No. 80578, October 7, 1988]. Reference of complaints to which was signed by the Fortunados on August 31, 1971. The document assigned to
the IBP is not an exclusive procedure under the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised respondent one-half (1/2) of the properties of the Fortunados covered by TCT No. T-
Rules of Court [Ibid]. Under Sections 13 and 14 of Rule 139-B, the Supreme Court 1929, with an area of 239.650 sq. mm., and TCT No. T-3041, with an area of 72.907
may conduct disciplinary proceedings without the intervention of the IBP by referring sq. m., for and in consideration of his legal services to the latter. At the time the
cases for investigation to the Solicitor General or to any officer of the Supreme Court document was executed, respondent knew that the abovementioned properties were
or judge of a lower court. In such a case, the report and recommendation of the the subject of a civil case [Civil Case No. Q-15143] pending before the Court of First
investigating official shall be reviewed directly by the Supreme Court. The Court shall Instance of Quezon City since he was acting as counsel for the Fortunados in said
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case [See Annex "B" of Original Complaint, p. 12; Rollo, p. 16]. In executing the subject to the implementation of the land development agreement. The last paragraph
document transferring one-half (1/2) of the subject properties to himself, respondent of the Transfer of Rights provides that:
violated the law expressly prohibiting a lawyer from acquiring his client's property or
interest involved in any litigation in which he may take part by virtue of his profession ... for and in consideration of the legal services of ATTY. RAMON A.
[Article 1491, New Civil Code]. This Court has held that the purchase by a lawyer of GONZALES, Filipino, married to Lilia Yusay, and a resident of 23 Sunrise
his client's property or interest in litigation is a breach of professional ethics and Hill, New Manila, Quezon City, rendered to our entire satisfaction, we
constitutes malpractice [Hernandez v. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 774 (1920); Go Beltran v. hereby, by these presents, do transfer and convey to the said ATTY.
Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248 (1940)]. RAMON A. GONZALES, his heirs, successor, and assigns, one-half (1/2) of
our rights and interests in the abovedescribed property, together with all the
However, respondent notes that Canon 10 of the old Canons of Professional Ethics, improvements found therein [Annex D of the Complaint, Record, p. 28;
which states that "[t]he lawyer should not purchase any interests in the subject matter Emphasis supplied].
of the litigation which he is conducting," does not appear anymore in the new Code of
Professional Responsibility. He therefore concludes that while a purchase by a lawyer It is clear from the foregoing that the parties intended the transfer of the properties to
of property in litigation is void under Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, such purchase is no respondent to be absolute and unconditional, and irrespective of whether or not the
longer a ground for disciplinary action under the new Code of Professional land development agreement was implemented.
Responsibility.
Another misconduct committed by respondent was his failure to disclose to
This contention is without merit. The very first Canon of the new Code states that "a complainant, at the time the land development agreement was entered into, that the
lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect land covered by TCT No. T-1929 had already been sold at a public auction. The land
for law and legal process" (Emphasis supplied), Moreover, Rule 138, Sec. 3 of the development agreement was executed on August 31, 1977 while the public auction
Revised Rules of Court requires every lawyer to take an oath to 44 obey the laws [of was held on June 30, 1971.
the Republic of the Philippines] as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
authorities therein." And for any violation of this oath, a lawyer may be suspended or
disbarred by the Supreme Court [Rule 138, Sec. 27, Revised Rules of Court]. All of Respondent denies that complainant was his former client, claiming that his
these underscore the role of the lawyer as the vanguard of our legal system. The appearance for the complainant in an anti-graft case filed by the latter against a
transgression of any provision of law by a lawyer is a repulsive and reprehensible act certain Gilbert Teodoro was upon the request of complainant and was understood to
which the Court will not countenance. In the instant case, respondent, having violated be only provisional. Respondent claims that since complainant was not his client, he
Art. 1491 of the Civil Code, must be held accountable both to his client and to society. had no duty to warn complainant of the fact that the land involved in their land
development agreement had been sold at a public auction. Moreover, the sale was
duly annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929 and this, respondent argues, serves as
Parenthetically, it should be noted that the persons mentioned in Art. 1491 of the Civil constructive notice to complainant so that there was no concealment on his part.
Code are prohibited from purchasing the property mentioned therein because of their
existing trust relationship with the latter. A lawyer is disqualified from acquiring by
purchase the property and rights in litigation because of his fiduciary relationship with The above contentions are unmeritorious. Even assuming that the certificate of sale
such property and rights, as well as with the client. And it cannot be claimed that the was annotated at the back of TCT No. T-1929, the fact remains that respondent failed
new Code of Professional Responsibility has failed to emphasize the nature and to inform the complainant of the sale of the land to Samauna during the negotiations
consequences of such relationship. Canon 17 states that "a lawyer owes fidelity to the for the land development agreement. In so doing, respondent failed to live up to the
cause of his client and he shall be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in rigorous standards of ethics of the law profession which place a premium on honesty
him." On the other hand, Canon 16 provides that "a lawyer shall hold in trust all and condemn duplicitous conduct. The fact that complainant was not a former client
moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession." Hence, of respondent does not exempt respondent from his duty to inform complainant of an
notwithstanding the absence of a specific provision on the matter in the new Code, important fact pertaining to the land which is subject of their negotiation. Since he was
the Court, considering the abovequoted provisions of the new Code in relation to Art. a party to the land development agreement, respondent should have warned the
1491 of the Civil Code, as well as the prevailing jurisprudence, holds that the complainant of the sale of the land at a public auction so that the latter could make a
purchase by a lawyer of his client's property in litigation constitutes a breach of proper assessment of the viability of the project they were jointly undertaking. This
professional ethics for which a disciplinary action may be brought against him. Court has held that a lawyer should observe honesty and fairness even in his private
dealings and failure to do so is a ground for disciplinary action against him [Custodio
v. Esto, Adm. Case No. 1113, February 22, 1978, 81 SCRA 517].
Respondent's next contention that the transfer of the properties was not really
implemented, because the land development agreement on which the transfer
depended was later rescinded, is untenable. Nowhere is it provided in the Transfer of Complainant also charges respondent with submitting to the court falsified documents
Rights that the assignment of the properties of the Fortunados to respondent was purporting to be true copies of an addendum to the land development agreement.

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Based on evidence submitted by the parties, the Solicitor General found that in the contracts violates the fiduciary relationship between the lawyer and his client, for
document filed by respondent with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, the which the former must incur administrative sanctions.
signatories to the addendum to the land development agreement namely, Ramon A.
Gonzales, Alfaro T. Fortunado, Editha T. Fortunado, Nestor T. Fortunado, and Angel The Solicitor General next concludes that respondent cannot be held liable for acting
L. Bautista—were made to appear as having signed the original document on as counsel for Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15490 while acting as counsel
December 9, 1972, as indicated by the letters (SGD.) before each of their names. for the Fortunados against the same Eusebio Lopez, Jr. in Civil Case No. Q-15143.
However, it was only respondent Alfaro Fortunado and complainant who signed the The Court, after considering the record, agrees with the Solicitor General's findings on
original and duplicate original (Exh. 2) and the two other parties, Edith Fortunado and the matter. The evidence presented by respondent shows that his acceptance of Civil
Nestor Fortunado, never did. Even respondent himself admitted that Edith and Nestor Case No. Q-15490 was with the knowledge and consent of the Fortunados. The
Fortunado only signed the xerox copy (Exh. 2-A) after respondent wrote them on May affidavit executed by the Fortunados on June 23, 1976 clearly states that they gave
24, 1973, asking them to sign the said xerox copyattached to the letter and to send it their consent when respondent accepted the case of Eusebio Lopez, Jr. [Affidavit of
back to him after signing [Rejoinder to Complainant's Reply, pp. 4-6; Rollo, pp. 327- Fortunados, dated June 23, 1976; Rollo, p. 198]. One of the recognized exceptions to
329]. Moreover, respondent acknowledged that Edith and Nestor Fortunado had the rule against representation of conflicting interests is where the clients knowingly
merely agreed by phone to sign, but had not actually signed, the alleged true copy of consent to the dual representation after full disclosure of the facts by counsel [Canon
the addendum as of May 23, 1973 [Respondent's Supplemental Motion to Refer this 6, Canons of Professional Ethics; Canon 15, Rule 15.03, Code of Professional
Case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, p. 16]. Thus, when respondent Responsibility].
submitted the alleged true copy of the addendum on May 23, 1973 as Annex "A" of
his Manifestation filed with the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, he knowingly
misled the Court into believing that the original addendum was signed by Edith Complainant also claims that respondent filed several complaints against him before
Fortunado and Nestor Fortunado. Such conduct constitutes willful disregard of his the Court of First Instance and the Fiscal's Office of Quezon City for the sole purpose
solemn duty as a lawyer to act at all times in a manner consistent with the truth. A of harassing him.
lawyer should never seek to mislead the court by an artifice or false statement of fact
or law [Section 20 (d), Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court; Canon 22, Canons of The record shows that at the time of the Solicitor General's investigation of this case,
Professional Ethics; Canon 10, Rule 10.01, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Civil Case No. Q-18060 was still pending before the Court of First Instance of Quezon
City, while the complaints for libel (I.S. No. 76-5912) and perjury (I.S. No. 5913) were
Anent the first charge of complainant, the Solicitor General found that no impropriety already dismissed by the City Fiscal for insufficiency of evidence and lack of interest,
was committed by respondent in entering into a contingent fee contract with the respectively [Report and Recommendation, pp. 16-17; Rollo, pp. 402-403]. The
Fortunados [Report and Recommendation, p. 8; Record, p. 394]. The Court, however, Solicitor General found no basis for holding that the complaints for libel and perjury
finds that the agreement between the respondent and the Fortunados, which provides were used by respondent to harass complainant. As to Civil Case No. Q-18060,
in part that: considering that it was still pending resolution, the Solicitor General made no finding
on complainants claim that it was a mere ploy by respondent to harass him. The
determination of the validity of the complaint in Civil Case No. Q-18060 was left to the
We the [Fortunados] agree on the 50% contingent fee, provided, Court of First Instance of Quezon City where the case was pending resolution.
you [respondent Ramon Gonzales] defray all expenses, for the suit,
including court fees.
The Court agrees with the above findings of the Solicitor General, and accordingly
holds that there is no basis for holding that the respondent's sole purpose in filing the
[Annex A to the Complaint, Record, p. 4]. aforementioned cases was to harass complainant.

is contrary to Canon 42 of the Canons of Professional Ethics which provides that a Grounds 6, 8 and 9 alleged in the complaint need not be discussed separately since
lawyer may not properly agree with a client to pay or bear the expenses of litigation. the above discussion on the other grounds sufficiently cover these remaining
[See also Rule 16.04, Code of Professional Responsibility]. Although a lawyer may in grounds.
good faith, advance the expenses of litigation, the same should be subject to
reimbursement. The agreement between respondent and the Fortunados, however,
does not provide for reimbursement to respondent of litigation expenses paid by him. The Court finds clearly established in this case that on four counts the respondent
An agreement whereby an attorney agrees to pay expenses of proceedings to violated the law and the rules governing the conduct of a member of the legal
enforce the client's rights is champertous [JBP Holding Corp. v. U.S. 166 F. Supp. profession. Sworn to assist in the administration of justice and to uphold the rule of
324 (1958)]. Such agreements are against public policy especially where, as in this law, he has "miserably failed to live up to the standards expected of a member of the
case, the attorney has agreed to carry on the action at his own expense in Bar." [Artiaga v. Villanueva, Adm. Matter No. 1892, July 29, 1988, 163 SCRA 638,
consideration of some bargain to have part of the thing in dispute [See Sampliner v. 647]. The Court agrees with the Solicitor General that, considering the nature of the
Motion Pictures Patents Co., et al., 255 F. 242 (1918)]. The execution of these offenses committed by respondent and the facts and circumstances of the case,

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respondent lawyer should be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six government agency. Petitioner points out in reality, respondent enjoys the same
(6) months.WHEREFORE, finding that respondent Attorney Ramon A. Gonzales rights and privileges as a regular employee, to wit: [3]
committed serious misconduct, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from
the practice of law for SIX (6) months effective from the date of his receipt of this 1. Issuance of LWUA properties such as a cellular phone with accessories, as
Resolution. Let copies of this Resolution be circulated to all courts of the country for evidenced by the covering Property Issue Slips with respondent signing as
their information and guidance, and spread in the personal record of Atty. Accountable Employee;[4]
Gonzales.SO ORDERED. 2. Official travel to various places in the country as shown by Reports of
Authorized Travel kept by LWUAs General Services Division[5]and Report of Travel
accomplished by respondent himself;[6]

[A. C. No. 5305. March 17, 2003] MARCIANO P. BRION, JR., petitioner, vs. 3. Designation as supervising officer over other LWUA employees as brought to
FRANCISCO F. BRILLANTES, JR., respondent. light by written instructions personally signed by respondent; [7]
4. Attendance in water district conventions and meetings held in various
provinces;[8]
5. Membership in several sensitive LWUA committees such as
DECISION
the Prequalification, Bids, and Awards Committee (PBAC), Build-Operate-Transfer
QUISUMBING, J.: (BOT) Committee, among others, with receipt of corresponding honoraria as borne
out by various Disbursement Vouchers;[9]
In this petition for disbarment, complainant Marciano Brion, Jr., charges the 6. Sitting at meetings of the LWUA Board of Trustees as evidenced by the
respondent, Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr., of having willfully violated a lawful order of minutes of such meetings;[10] and
this Court in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza v. Judge Francisco
F. Brillantes, Jr.[1] The decretal portion of our resolution in Atienza reads: 7. Receipt of Productivity Incentive Bonus in 1999.
Petitioner submits that all of the foregoing constitute deceitful conduct, gross
WHEREFORE, respondent is DISMISSED from the service with forfeiture of all leave misconduct, and willful disobedience to a decree of this Court, and show that
and retirement benefits and with prejudice to reappointment in any branch, respondent is unfit to be a member of the Bar.
instrumentality or agency of the government, including government-owned and
controlled corporations. This decision is immediately executory. In his comment,[11] respondent admits the existence of the Legal Consultancy
Contract as well as the Special Consultancy Contract.However, he raises the
affirmative defense that under Civil Service Commission (CSC) Memorandum
SO ORDERED.[2]
Circular No. 27, Series of 1993, services rendered pursuant to a consultancy contract
shall not be considered government services, and therefore, are not covered by Civil
Respondents dismissal in the aforesaid case was ordered after he was found Service Law, rules and regulations.
guilty of Gross Immorality and Appearance of Impropriety during his incumbency as
presiding judge of the Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 20, Manila. Further, says respondent, according to the same Memorandum Circular issued
by the Commission, consultancy contracts do not have to be submitted to the
Petitioner now avers that respondent violated our decree of perpetual Commission for approval. With respect to his designation as the 6 th Member of the
disqualification imposed upon him from assuming any post in government service, Board of Directors of the Urdaneta Water District, respondent reasons out that the
including any posts in government-owned and controlled corporations, when he same is not a reappointment, which is prohibited by our ruling in Atienza, as said
accepted a legal consultancy post at the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA), designation is not an organic appointment to a LWUA plantilla position. Hence,
from 1998 to 2000. Said consultancy included an appointment by LWUA as according to respondent, the CSC need not pass approval upon his temporary
6th member of the Board of Directors of the Urdaneta (Pangasinan) Water designation.
District. Upon expiration of the legal consultancy agreement, this was subsequently
renewed as a Special Consultancy Agreement. Respondent also argues that all the members of the Urdaneta Water District
Board, especially the 6th Member, who comes from the LWUA, assumed such
Petitioner contends that while both consultancy agreements contained a proviso functions merely by virtue of a designation and only in addition to their regular
to the effect that nothing therein should be construed as establishing an employer- duties. In any event, says respondent, his designation as 6 th Member was revoked in
employee relationship between LWUA and respondent, the inclusion of this proviso April 2000 and the Special Consultancy Contract was pre-terminated on April 30,
was only a ploy to circumvent our order barring respondent from appointment to a 2000. It has never been renewed since then. With respect to his use of LWUA
properties, respondent admits receiving the cellular phone unit but insists that he
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merely borrowed it from one Solomon Badoy, a former LWUA Board of Trustees processes.[19] That duty in its irreducible minimum entails obedience to the legal
Member. orders of the courts. Respondents disobedience to this Courts order prohibiting his
reappointment to any branch, instrumentality, or agency of government, including
In our Resolution of February 19, 2001, we referred this case to the Integrated government owned and controlled corporations, cannot be camouflaged by a legal
Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. The IBP consultancy or a special consultancy contract. By performing duties and functions of a
Commission on Bar Discipline found that respondent willfully violated a lawful order of contractual employee of LWUA, by way of a consultancy, and receiving compensation
this Court and recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law and perquisites as such, he displayed acts of open defiance of the Courts
for one (1) year and fined ten thousand (P10,000) pesos. authority, and a deliberate rejection of his oath as an officer of the court. It is also
There is no question that the LWUA is a government-owned and controlled destructive of the harmonious relations that should prevail between Bench and Bar, a
corporation, created by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 198.[12] As such, our ruling in harmony necessary for the proper administration of justice. Such defiance not only
the Atienza case, A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, which categorically prohibits respondents erodes respect for the Court but also corrodes public confidence in the rule of law.
appointment to any position in any government-owned and controlled corporation, What aggravates respondents offense is the fact that respondent is no ordinary
clearly encompasses and extends to LWUA positions. lawyer. Having served in the judiciary for eight (8) years, he is very well aware of the
In the instant case the respondent does not deny the petitioners standards of moral fitness for membership in the legal profession. His propensity to
allegations.[13] Instead, he offers the existence of Memorandum Circular No. 27, try to get away with an indiscretion becomes apparent and inexcusable when he
Series of 1993 (MC No. 27, s. 1993) to exculpate himself from the charge against entered into a legal consultancy contract with the LWUA. Perhaps realizing its own
him. However, it does not escape our attention that the very Memorandum Circular mistake, LWUA terminated said contract with respondent, but then proceeded to give
that respondent cites before this Court provides that the duties enumerated in the him a special consultancy. This travesty could not be long hidden from public
consultancy contract are mainly advisory in nature.[14] awareness, hence the instant complaint for disbarment filed by petitioner. Given the
factual circumstances found by Commission on Bar Discipline, we have no hesitance
Without belaboring the definition of advisory, [15] it appears obvious to us that the in accepting the recommendation of the Board of Governors, Integrated Bar of the
tasks and duties that respondent performed pursuant to the consultancy contract Philippines, that respondent be fined and suspended from the practice of law. The
cannot, by any stretch of imagination, be deemed merely advisory in nature. Code of Professional Responsibility, Rule 1.01, provides that a lawyer shall not
engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. For violating the Code as
An adviser does not exercise supervisory powers over LWUA employees nor well as transgressing his oath as an officer of the court, his suspension for one (1)
does he issue written instructions to them. An adviser is not entitled to a seat in such year and a fine of ten thousand (P10,000) pesos are in order.
vital LWUA committees like PBAC and the BOT Committee. Also, respondents
continuous receipt of honoraria for sitting as a member of certain LWUA Committees, WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco Brillantes, Jr., is found liable for
particularly the BOT Committee, belies his claim that he is a mere consultant for the having willfully violated a lawful order of this Court in our decision of March
LWUA. The evidence on record clearly shows that the LWUA Office Order 29, 1995 rendered in A.M. No. MTJ-92-706, entitled Lupo Almodiel Atienza vs. Judge
implementing National Compensation Circular No. 75-95[16]refers to payments of Francisco F. Brillantes, Jr.He is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one
honoraria to officials/employees in consideration of services rendered. (1) year and ordered to pay a FINE of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos, with a
STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar conduct shall be dealt with
Most telling, in our view, is respondents acceptance of his 1998 Productivity more severely. Let a copy of this Decision be furnished to the Bar Confidant and the
Incentive Bonus (PIB). The Board of Trustees Resolution No. 26, Series of 1999, of Integrated Bar of the Philippines and spread on the personal records of respondent
the LWUA,[17] which governed the release of the PIB, limited the entitlement to said as well as circulated to all courts in the Philippines. This decision is immediately
bonus only to officials and employees (permanent, temporary, casual, or contractual) executory.
of LWUA.
SO ORDERED.
In sum, we find that for all intents and purposes, respondent performed duties
and functions of a non-advisory nature, which pertain to a contractual employee of
LWUA. As stated by petitioner in his reply, [18] there is a difference between
a consultant hired on a contractual basis (which is governed by CSC M.C. No. 27, s.
1993) and a contractual employee (whose appointment is governed, among others,
by the CSC Omnibus Rules on Appointment and other Personnel Actions). By
performing duties and functions, which clearly pertain to a contractual employee,
albeit in the guise of an advisor or consultant, respondent has transgressed both
letter and spirit of this Courts decree in Atienza.
The lawyers primary duty as enunciated in the Attorneys Oath is to uphold the
Constitution, obey the laws of the land, and promote respect for law and legal
6
A.M. No. 1608 August 14, 1981 Segundino passed the bar examinations. The results were released on April 25,
1975. Several days after his oath-taking, which Magdalena also attended, he stopped
MAGDALENA T. ARCIGA complainant, corresponding with Magdalena. Fearing that there was something amiss, Magdalena
went to Davao in July, 1975 to contact her lover. Segundino told her that they could
not get married for lack of money. She went back to Ivisan.
vs.SEGUNDINO D. MANIWANG respondent.
In December, 1975 she made another trip to Davao but failed to see Segundino who
Magdalena T. Arciga in her complaint of February 24, 1976 asked for the disbarment was then in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. She followed him there only to be told that their
of lawyer Segundino D. Maniwang (admitted to the Bar in 1975 ) on the ground of marriage could not take place because he had married Erlinda Ang on November 25,
grossly immoral conduct because he refused to fulfill his promise of marriage to her. 1975. She was broken-hearted when she returned to Davao.
Their illicit relationship resulted in the birth on September 4, 1973 of their child,
Michael Dino Maniwang.
Segundino followed her there and inflicted physical injuries upon her because she
had a confrontation with his wife, Erlinda Ang. She reported the assault to the
Magdalena and Segundino got acquainted sometime in October, 1970 at Cebu City. commander of the Padada police station and secured medical treatment in a hospital
Magdalena was then a medical technology student in the Cebu Institute of Medicine (Exh. I and J).
while Segundino was a law student in the San Jose Recoletos College. They became
sweethearts but when Magdalena refused to have a tryst with Segundino in a motel in
January, 1971, Segundino stopped visiting her. Segundino admits in his answer that he and Magdalena were lovers and that he is the
father of the child Michael. He also admits that he repeatedly promised to marry
Magdalena and that he breached that promise because of Magdalena's shady past.
Their paths crossed again during a Valentine's Day party in the following month. They She had allegedly been accused in court of oral defamation and had already an
renewed their relationship. After they had dinner one night in March, 1971 and finding illegitimate child before Michael was born.
themselves alone (like Adam and Eve) in her boarding house since the other
boarders had gone on vacation, they had sexual congress. When Segundino asked
Magdalena why she had refused his earlier proposal to have sexual intercourse with The Solicitor General recommends the dismissal of the case. In his opinion,
him, she jokingly said that she was in love with another man and that she had a child respondent's cohabitation with the complainant and his reneging on his promise of
with still another man. Segundino remarked that even if that be the case, he did not marriage do not warrant his disbarment.
mind because he loved her very much.
An applicant for admission to the bar should have good moral character. He is
Thereafter, they had repeated acts of cohabitation. Segundino started telling his required to produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character
acquaintances that he and Magdalena were secretly married. and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are
pending in any court.
In 1972 Segundino transferred his residence to Padada, Davao del Sur. He continued
his law studies in Davao City. .Magdalena remained in Cebu. He sent to her letters If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued
and telegrams professing his love for her (Exh. K to Z). 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).
When Magdalena discovered in January, 1973 that she was pregnant, she and
Segundino went to her hometown, Ivisan, Capiz, to apprise Magdalena's parents that
they were married although they were not really so. Segundino convinced A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction
Magdalena's father to have the church wedding deferred until after he had passed the of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity
bar examinations. He secured his birth certificate preparatory to applying for a in addition to professional probity.
marriage license.
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is
Segundino continued sending letters to Magdalena wherein he expressed his love "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which
and concern for the baby in Magdalena's womb. He reassured her time and again render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that
that he would marry her once he passed the bar examinations. He was not present what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the
when Magdalena gave birth to their child on September 4, 1973 in the Cebu immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.
Community Hospital. He went to Cebu in December, 1973 for the baptism of his child.

7
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or (4) The conduct of Abelardo Simbol in making a dupe of Concepcion Bolivar by living
shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and on her bounty and allowing her to spend for his schooling and other personal
respectable members of the community" (7 C.J.S. 959). necessities, while dangling before her the mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl
as soon as he had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a secret while continuing
Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became to demand money from the complainant, and trying to sponge on her and persuade
pregnant by reason of intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of six her to resume their broken relationship after the latter's discovery of his perfidy are
children, disbarment of the attorney on the ground of immoral conduct was justified indicative of a character not worthy of a member of the bar (Bolivar vs. Simbol, 123
(In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd 896). Phil. 450).

There is an area where a lawyer's conduct may not be inconsonance with the canons (5) Where Flora Quingwa, a public school teacher, who was engaged to lawyer
of the moral code but he is not subject to disciplinary action because his misbehavior Armando Puno, was prevailed upon by him to have sexual congress with him inside a
or deviation from the path of rectitude is not glaringly scandalous. It is in connection hotel by telling her that it was alright to have sexual intercourse because, anyway,
with a lawyer's behavior to the opposite sex where the question of immorality usually they were going to get married. She used to give Puno money upon his request. After
arises. Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, Puno refused to marry her.
benefit of marriage should be characterized as "grossly immoral conduct," will depend (Quingwa vs. Puno, Administrative Case No. 389, February 28, 1967, 19 SCRA 439).
on the surrounding circumstances.
(6) Where lawyer Anacleto Aspiras, a married man, misrepresenting that he was
This Court in a decision rendered in 1925, when old-fashioned morality still prevailed, single and making a promise of marriage, succeeded in having sexual intercourse
observed that "the legislator well knows the frailty of the flesh and the ease with which with. Josefina Mortel. Aspiras faked a marriage between Josefina and his own son
a man, whose sense of dignity, honor and morality is not well cultivated, falls into Cesar. Aspiras wrote to Josefina: "You are alone in my life till the end of my years in
temptation when alone with one of the fair sex toward whom he feels himself this world. I will bring you along with me before the altar of matrimony." "Through thick
attracted. An occasion is so inducive to sin or crime that the saying "A fair booty and thin, for better or for worse, in life or in death, my Josephine you will always be
makes many a thief" or "An open door may tempt a saint" has become general." the first, middle and the last in my life." (Mortel vs. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586).
(People vs. De la Cruz, 48 Phil. 533, 535).
(7) Where lawyer Ariston Oblena, who had been having adulterous relations for
Disbarment of a lawyer for grossly immoral conduct is illustrated in the following fifteen years with Briccia Angeles, a married woman separated from her husband,
cases: seduced her eighteen-year-old niece who became pregnant and begot a child.
(Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
(1) Where lawyer Arturo P. Lopez succeeded in having carnal knowledge of Virginia
C. Almirez, under promise of marriage, which he refused to fulfill, although they had The instant case can easily be differentiated from the foregoing cases. This case is
already a marriage license and despite the birth of a child in consequence of their similar to the case of Soberano vs. Villanueva, 116 Phil. 1206, where lawyer Eugenio
sexual intercourse; he married another woman and during Virginia's pregnancy, V. Villanueva had sexual relations with Mercedes H. Soberano before his admission
Lopez urged her to take pills to hasten the flow of her menstruation and he tried to to the bar in 1954. They indulged in frequent sexual intercourse. She wrote to him in
convince her to have an abortion to which she did not agree. (Almirez vs. Lopez, 1950 and 1951 several letters making reference to their trysts in hotels.
Administrative Case No. 481, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 169. See Sarmiento vs.
Cui, 100 Phil. 1102). On letter in 1951 contain expressions of such a highly sensual, tantalizing and vulgar
nature as to render them unquotable and to impart the firm conviction that, because
(2) Where lawyer Francisco Agustin made Anita Cabrera believe that they were of the close intimacy between the complainant and the respondent, she felt no
married before Leoncio V. Aglubat in the City Hall of Manila, and, after such fake restraint whatsoever in writing to him with impudicity.
marriage, they cohabited and she later give birth to their child (Cabrera vs. Agustin,
106 Phil. 256). According to the complainant, two children were born as a consequence of her long
intimacy with the respondent. In 1955, she filed a complaint for disbarment against
(3) Where lawyer Jesus B. Toledo abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with Villanueva.
another women who had borne him a child (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117 Phil. 768. As to
disbarment for contracting a bigamous marriage, see Villasanta vs. Peralta, 101 Phil. This Court found that respondent's refusal to marry the complainant was not so
313). corrupt nor unprincipled as to warrant disbarment. (See Montana vs. Ruado,
Administrative Case No. 507, February 24, 1975, 62 SCRA 382; Reyes vs. Wong,
Administrative Case No. 547, January 29, 1975, 63 SCRA 667, Viojan vs. Duran, 114
8
Phil. 322; Abaigar vs. Paz, Administrative Case No. 997, September 10, 1979,93 In the Resolution7 dated February 16, 2004, the Court resolved to refer this
SCRA 91). administrative case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation. In his Report and Recommendation 8dated October 10,
Considering the facts of this case and the aforecited precedents, the complaint for 2008, the Investigating IBP Commissioner recommended that respondent be
disbarment against the respondent is hereby dismissed. suspended for one (1) year from the active practice of law, for violation of the
Lawyer's Oath, Rule 1.01, Canon 1; Rule 7.03, Canon 7 and Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code). The IBP Board of Governors adopted
SO ORDERED. and approved the same in its Resolution No. XIX-2010-4539 dated August

A.C. No. 6116 August 1, 2012 28, 2010. Respondent moved for reconsideration10 which was denied in Resolution
No. XIX-2011-141 dated October 28, 2011.
ENGR. GILBERT TUMBOKON, Complainant, vs.ATTY. MARIANO R.
PEFIANCO, Respondent. After due consideration, We adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board
of Governors.
RESOLUTION
The practice of law is considered a privilege bestowed by the State on those who
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: show that they possess and continue to possess the legal qualifications for the
profession. As such, lawyers are expected to maintain at all times a high standard of
Before the Court is an administrative complaint for disbarment filed by complainant legal proficiency, morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing, and must perform their
Engr. Gilbert Tumbokon against respondent Atty. Mariano R. Pefianco for grave four-fold duty to society, the legal profession, the courts and their clients, in
dishonesty, gross misconduct constituting deceit and grossly immoral conduct. accordance with the values and norms embodied in the Code. 11 Lawyers may, thus,
be disciplined for any conduct that is wanting of the above standards whether in their
professional or in their private capacity.
In his Complaint,1 complainant narrated that respondent undertook to give him 20%
commission, later reduced to 10%, of the attorney's fees the latter would receive in
representing Spouses Amable and Rosalinda Yap (Sps. Yap), whom he referred, in In the present case, respondent's defense that forgery had attended the execution of
an action for partition of the estate of the late Benjamin Yap (Civil Case No. 4986 the August 11, 1995 letter was belied by his July 16, 1997 letter admitting to have
before the Regional Trial Court of Aklan). Their agreement was reflected in a undertaken the payment of complainant's commission but passing on the
letter2 dated August 11, 1995. However, respondent failed to pay him the agreed responsibility to Sps. Yap. Clearly, respondent has violated Rule 9.02, 12 Canon 9 of
commission notwithstanding receipt of attorney's fees amounting to 17% of the total the Code which prohibits a lawyer from dividing or stipulating to divide a fee for legal
estate or about P 40 million. Instead, he was informed through a letter 3 dated July 16, services with persons not licensed to practice law, except in certain cases which do
1997 that Sps. Yap assumed to pay the same after respondent had agreed to reduce not obtain in the case at bar.
his attorney's fees from 25% to 17%. He then demanded the payment of his
commission4 which respondent ignored. Furthermore, respondent did not deny the accusation that he abandoned his legal
family to cohabit with his mistress with whom he begot four children notwithstanding
Complainant further alleged that respondent has not lived up to the high moral that his moral character as well as his moral fitness to be retained in the Roll of
standards required of his profession for having abandoned his legal wife, Milagros Attorneys has been assailed. The settled rule is that betrayal of the marital vow of
Hilado, with whom he has two children, and cohabited with Mae FlorGalido, with fidelity or sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as
whom he has four children. He also accused respondent of engaging in money- it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows
lending business5 without the required authorization from the protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. 13Consequently, We find no
BangkoSentralngPilipinas. reason to disturb the IBP's finding that respondent violated the Lawyer's Oath 14 and
Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in
"unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct."
In his defense, respondent explained that he accepted Sps. Yap's case on a 25%
contingent fee basis, and advanced all the expenses. He disputed the August 11,
1995 letter for being a forgery and claimed that Sps. Yap assumed to pay However, We find the charge of engaging in illegal money lending not to have been
complainant's commission which he clarified in his July 16, 1997 letter. He, thus, sufficiently established.1âwphi1 A "business" requires some form of investment and a
prayed for the dismissal of the complaint and for the corresponding sanction against sufficient number of customers to whom its output can be sold at profit on a
complainant's counsel, Atty. Florencio B. Gonzales, for filing a baseless complaint. 6 consistent basis.15 The lending of money to a single person without showing that such

9
service is made available to other persons on a consistent basis cannot be construed
asindicia that respondent is engaged in the business of lending.

Nonetheless, while We rule that respondent should be sanctioned for his actions, We
are minded that the power to disbar should be exercised with great caution and only
in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the
lawyer as an officer of the court and as member of the bar,16 or the misconduct
borders on the criminal, or committed under scandalous circumstance, 17 which do not
obtain here. Considering the circumstances of the case, We deem it appropriate that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year as
recommended.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. MARIANO R. PEFIANCO is found GUILTY of


violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 9.02, Canon 9 of the same Code andSUSPENDED from the
active practice of law ONE (1) YEAR effective upon notice hereof.

Let copies of this Resolution be entered in the personal record of respondent as a


member of the Philippine Bar and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for
circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.

10
A.M. No. 3249 November 29, 1989 The findings of the IBP Board of Governors may be summed up as follows:

SALVACION DELIZO CORDOVA, complainant, Complainant and respondent Cordova were married on 6 June 1976 and out of this
vs. marriage, two (2) children were born. In 1985, the couple lived somewhere in Quirino
ATTY. LAURENCE D. CORDOVA, respondent. 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
RESOLUTION 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
PER CURIAM: 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
In an unsworn letter-complaint dated 14 April 1988 addressed to then Mr. Chief funds with which to establish a sari-sari store in the public market at Bislig, while at
Justice Claudio Teehankee, complainant Salvacion Delizo charged her husband, Atty. the same time failing to support his legitimate family.
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 On 6 April 1986, respondent Cordova and his complainant wife had an apparent
Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline ("Commission"), for investigation, report reconciliation. Respondent promised that he would separate from Fely Holgado and
and recommendation. 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 Commission, before acting on the complaint, required complainant to submit a the support of his legitimate family. In February 1987, complainant found, upon
verified complaint within ten (10) days from notice. Complainant complied and returning from a trip to Manila necessitated by hospitalization of her daughter Loraine,
submitted to the Commission on 27 September 1988 a revised and verified version of that respondent Cordova was no longer living with her (complainant's) children in their
her long and detailed complaint against her husband charging him with immorality conjugal home; that respondent Cordova was living with another mistress, one Luisita
and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar. Magallanes, and had taken his younger daughter Melanie along with him.
Respondent and his new mistress hid Melanie from the complinant, compelling
In an Order of the Commission dated 1 December 1988, respondent was declared in complainant to go to court and to take back her daughter byhabeas corpus. The
default for failure to file an answer to the complaint within fifteen (15) days from Regional Trial Court, Bislig, gave her custody of their children.
notice. The same Order required complainant to submit before the Commission her
evidence ex parte, on 16 December 1988. Upon the telegraphic request of Notwithstanding respondent's promises to reform, he continued to live with Luisita
complainant for the resetting of the 16 December 1988 hearing, the Commission Magallanes as her husband and continued to fail to give support to his legitimate
scheduled another hearing on 25 January 1989. The hearing scheduled for 25 family.
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 Finally the Commission received a telegram message apparently from complainant,
failed to appear. Respondent Cordova never moved to set aside the order of default, stating that complainant and respondent had been reconciled with each other.
even though notices of the hearings scheduled were sent to him.
After a review of the record, we agree with the findings of fact of the IBP Board. We
In a telegraphic message dated 6 April 1989, complainant informed the Commission also agree that the most recent reconciliation between complainant and respondent,
that she and her husband had already "reconciled". In an order dated 17 April 1989, assuming the same to be real, does not excuse and wipe away the misconduct and
the Commission required the parties (respondent and complainant) to appear before immoral behavior of the respondent carried out in public, and necessarily adversely
it for confirmation and explanation of the telegraphic message and required them to reflecting upon him as a member of the Bar and upon the Philippine Bar itself. An
file a formal motion to dismiss the complaint within fifteen (15) days from notice. applicant for admission to membership in the bar is required to show that he is
Neither party responded and nothing was heard from either party since then. possessed of good moral character. That requirement is not exhausted and
dispensed with upon admission to membership of the bar. On the contrary, that
Complainant having failed to submit her evidence ex parte before the Commission, requirement persists as a continuing condition for membership in the Bar in good
the IBP Board of Governors submitted to this Court its report reprimanding standing.
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 In Mortel v. Aspiras, 1 this Court, following the rule in the United States, held that "the
family as a responsible parent should. 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

11
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.

Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla,
Bidin, Sarmiento,

12
EN BANC
Aggrieved, Ferraren filed with the Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case 25665 a
complaint against Atty. Pactolin for falsification of public document. [1] On November
RE: SC DECISION DATED A.C. No. 7940 12, 2003 the Sandiganbayan found Atty. Pactolin guilty of falsification under Article
MAY 20, 2008 IN G.R. NO. 161455
UNDER RULE 139-B OF THE 172 and sentenced him to the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment of 2 years and 4
RULES OF COURT, Present: months of prision correccional as minimum to 4 years, 9 months and 10 days
ATTY. RODOLFO D. PACTOLIN,
Respondent. Promulgated: of prision correccional as maximum, to suffer all the accessory penalties
of prision correccional, and to pay a fine of P5,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment
April 24, 2012
x --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x in case of insolvency.

DECISION
Atty. Pactolin appealed to this Court but on May 20, 2008 it affirmed his
PER CURIAM: conviction.[2] Since the Court treated the matter as an administrative complaint
against him as well under Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, it referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for appropriate action.
This case resolves the question of whether or not the conviction of a lawyer
for a crime involving moral turpitude constitutes sufficient ground for his disbarment
Because complainant Ferraren neither appeared nor submitted any pleading
from the practice of law under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
during the administrative proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
on October 9, 2010 the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution XIX-2010-632,
The Facts and the Case
adopting and approving the Investigating Commissioners Report and
Recommendation that the case against Atty. Pactolin be dismissed for insufficiency of
In May 1996, Elmer Abastillas, the playing coach of
evidence.
the Ozamis City volleyball team, wrote Mayor Benjamin A. Fuentes ofOzamis City,
requesting financial assistance for his team. Mayor Fuentes approved the request
The Issue Presented
and sent Abastillas letter to the City Treasurer for processing. Mayor Fuentes also
designated Mario R. Ferraren, a city council member, as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of
The only issue presented in this case is whether or not Atty. Pactolin should
the city while Mayor Fuentes was away. Abastillas eventually got the P10,000.00
be disbarred after conviction by final judgment of the crime of falsification.
assistance for his volleyball team.

The Courts Ruling


Meanwhile, respondent lawyer, Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin, then
a Sangguniang Panlalawigan member of Misamis Occidental, got a photocopy of
In his pleadings before the Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Pactolin
Abastillas letter and, using it, filed on June 24, 1996 a complaint with the Office of the
reiterated the defenses he raised before the Sandiganbayan and this Court in the
Deputy Ombudsman-Mindanao against Ferraren for alleged illegal disbursement
falsification case. He claims that the Court glossed over the facts, that its decision
of P10,000.00 in public funds. Atty. Pactolin attached to the complaint a copy of what
and referral to the IBP was factually infirmed [3] and contained factual exaggerations
he claimed was a falsified letter of Abastillas, which showed that it was Ferraren, not
and patently erroneous observation,[4] and was too adventurous.[5]
Mayor Fuentes, who approved the disbursement.

13
To recapitulate, this Court upheld the finding of the Sandiganbayan that the Court has also consistently pronounced that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for
copy of Abastillas letter which Atty. Pactolin attached to his complaint was conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. [11]
spurious. Given the clear absence of a satisfactory explanation regarding his
possession and use of the falsified Abastillas letter, this Court held that the Here, Atty. Pactolins disbarment is warranted. The Sandiganbayan has
Sandiganbayan did not err in concluding that it was Atty. Pactolin who falsified the confirmed that although his culpability for falsification has been indubitably
letter. This Court relied on the settled rule that in the absence of satisfactory established, he has not yet served his sentence. His conduct only exacerbates his
explanation, one found in possession of and who used a forged document is the offense and shows that he falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a
forger and therefore guilty of falsification.[6] vanguard of the legal profession.[12]

This Courts decision in said falsification case had long become final and This Court once again reminds all lawyers that they, of all classes and
executory. In In Re: Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,[7]the Court held that in disbarment professions, are most sacredly bound to uphold the law. [13] The privilege to practice
cases, it is no longer called upon to review the judgment of conviction which has law is bestowed only upon individuals who are competent intellectually, academically
become final.The review of the conviction no longer rests upon this Court. and, equally important, morally. As such, lawyers must at all times conduct
themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the public at large, with
Under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a lawyer may be removed honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach.[14]
or suspended on the following grounds: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice; (3) gross
misconduct in office; (4) grossly immoral conduct; (5) conviction of a crime involving WHEREFORE, Atty. Rodolfo D. Pactolin is hereby DISBARRED and his
moral turpitude; (6) violation of the lawyers oath; (7) willful disobedience of any lawful name REMOVED from the Rolls of Attorney.Let a copy of this decision be attached to
order of a superior court; and (8) corruptly or willfully appearing as a lawyer for a party his personal records and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of
to a case without authority so to do. thePhilippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in
the country.
This Court has ruled that the crime of falsification of public document is
contrary to justice, honesty, and good morals and, therefore, involves moral SO ORDERED.
turpitude.[8] Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice,
honesty, modesty, or good morals. It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or
depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellowmen, or to society in
general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man
and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. [9]

Having said that, what penalty should be imposed then on Atty. Pactolin?

As a rule, this Court exercises the power to disbar with great caution. Being
the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, it is imposed only for the most
imperative reasons and in clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral
character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar. [10] Yet this
14
April 7, 1922 [1894], 6 Tex. Civ. App., 343). But where proceedings to disbar an attorney are
founded on the professional misconduct involved in a transaction which has
In Re MARCELINO LONTOK culminated in a conviction of felony, it has been held that while the effect of the
pardon is to relieve him of the penal consequences of his act, it does not operate as a
bar to the disbarment proceedings, inasmuch as the criminal acts may nevertheless
MALCOLM, J.: constitute proof that the attorney does not possess a good moral character and is not
a fit or proper person to retain his license to practice law. (People vs. Burton [1907],
The Attorney-General asks that an order issue for the removal of Marcelino Lontok 39 Colo., 164; People vs. George [1900],186 Ill., 122; Nelson vs. Com. [1908],128
from his office of lawyer in the Philippine Islands, because of having been convicted Ky., 779; Case of In re———— [1881],86 N.Y., 563.)
of the crime of bigamy. The respondent lawyer, in answer, prays that the charges be
dismissed, and bases his plea principally on a pardon issued to him by former The celebrated case of Ex parte Garland [1866], 4 Wall., 380, is directly in point. The
Governor-General Harrison. petitioner in this case applied for a license to practice law in the United States courts,
without first taking an oath to the effect that he had never voluntarily given aid to any
Marcelino Lontok was convicted by the Court of First Instance of Zambales of the government hostile to the United States, as required by statute. The petitioner, it
crime of bigamy. This judgement was affirmed on appeal to the Supreme Court, while seems, had been a member of the Conferate Congress, during the secession of the
a further attempt to get the case before the United States Supreme Court was South, but had been pardons by the President of the United States. It was held, buy a
unsuccessful. On February 9, 1921, a pardon was issued by the Governor-General of divided court, that to exclude the petitioner from the practice of law for the offense
the following tenor: named would be to enforce a punishment for the offense, notwithstanding the pardon
which the court had no right to do; and the opinion of the court, in part, said:
By virtue of the authority conferred upon me by the Philippine Organic Act on
August 29, 1916, the sentence in the case of Marcelino Lontok convicted by A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the
the Court of First Instance of Zambales of bigamy and sentenced on guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment
February 27, 1918, to imprisonment for eight years, to suffer the accessory and blots out of existence the guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender
penalties prescribed by law, and to pay the costs of the proceedings, which is an innocent as if he had never committed the offense. If granted before
sentence was, on September 8, 1919, confirmed by the Supreme Court is conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, consequent upon
hereby remitted, on condition that he shall not again be guilty of any conviction, from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the
misconduct. penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights; it makes him,
as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.
The particular provision of the Code of Civil Procedure, upon which the Attorney-
General relies in asking for the disbarment of Attorney Lontok, provides that a There is only this limitation to its operation; it does not restore offices
member of the bar may be removed or suspended form his office of lawyer by the forfeited, or property or interest vested in others in consequence of the
Supreme Court "by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude." conviction and judgement.
(Sec. 21) That conviction of the crime of bigamy involves moral turpitude, within the
meaning of the law, cannot be doubted. The debatable question relates to the effect Although much which is contained in the opinion of the four dissenting justices, in the
of the pardon by the Governor-General. On the one hand, it is contended by the Garland case, appeals powerfully to the minds of the court, we feel ourselves under
Government that while the pardon removes the legal infamy of the crime, it cannot obligation to follow the rule laid down by the majority decision of the higher court. We
wash out the moral stain; on the other hand, it is contended by the respondent that do this with the more grace when we recall that according to the article 130 of the
the pardon reaches the offense for which he was convicted and blots it out so that he Penal Code, one of the different ways by which criminal liability is extinguished is by
may not be looked upon as guilty of it. pardon. We must also remember that the motion for disbarment is based solely on
the judgement of conviction for a crime of which the respondent has been pardoned,
The cases are not altogether clear as to just what effect a pardon has on the right of a We must also remember that the motion for disbarment is based solely on the
court of disbar an attorney for conviction of a felony. On close examination, however, judgment of conviction for crime of which the respondent has been pardoned, and
it will be found that the apparent conflict in the decisions is more apparent than real, that the language of the pardon is not such as to amount to a conditional pardon
and arises from differences in the nature of the charges on which the proceedings to similar in nature to a parole. It may be mentioned however, in this connection, that if
disbar are based. Where preceedings to strike an attorney's name from the rolls are Marcelino Lontok should again be guilty of any misconduct, the condition of his
founded on, and depend alone, on a statute making the fact of a conviction for a pardon would be violated, and he would then become subject to disbarment.
felony ground for disbarment, it has been held that a pardon operates to wipe out the
conviction and is a bar to any proceeding for the disbarment of the attorney after the
pardon has been granted. (In re Emmons [1915], 29 Cal. App., 121; Scott vs. State
15
It results, therefore, that the petition of the Attorney-General cannot be granted, and
that the proceedings must be dismissed. Costs shall be taxed as provided by section
24 of the Code of Civil Procedure. So ordered.

16
A.M. No. L-363 July 31, 1962 It is our view that the ruling does not govern the question now before us. In making it
the Court proceeded on the assumption that the pardon granted to respondent Lontok
IN RE: DISBARMENT PROCEEDINGS AGAINST ATTY. DIOSDADO Q. was absolute. This is implicit in the ratio decidendi of the case, particularly in the
GUTIERREZ, respondent. citations to support it, namely. In Re Emmons, 29 Cal. App. 121; Scott vs. State, 6
Tex. Civ. App. 343; and Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 380. Thus in Scott vs. State the
court said:
Victoriano A. Savellano for complaint.
Nestor M. Andrada for respondent.
We are of opinion that after received an unconditional pardon the record of
the felony conviction could no longer be used as a basis for the proceeding
MAKALINTAL, J.: provided for in article 226. The record, when offered in evidence, was met
with an unconditional pardon, and could not, therefore, properly be said to
Respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine Bar, admitted to it afford "proof of a conviction of any felony." Having been thus cancelled, all
on October 5, 1945. In criminal case No. R-793 of the Court of First Instance of its force as a felony conviction was taken away. A pardon falling short of this
Oriental Mindoro he was convicted of the murder of Filemon Samaco, former would not be a pardon, according to the judicial construction which that act
municipal mayor of Calapan, and together with his co-conspirators was sentenced to of executive grace was received. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 344; Knote v.
the penalty of death. Upon review by this Court the judgment of conviction was U.S., 95 U.S. 149, and cases there cited; Young v. Young, 61 Tex. 191.
affirmed on June 30, 1956 (G.R. No. L-17101), but the penalty was changed
to reclusion perpetua. After serving a portion of the sentence respondent was granted And the portion of the decision in Ex parte Garland quoted with approval in the Lontok
a conditional pardon by the President on August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of case is as follows:
the prison term was remitted "on condition that he shall not again violate any of the
penal laws of the Philippines."
A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the
guilt of the offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment
On October 9, 1958 the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco, victim in the murder and blots out the existence of guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender
case, filed a verified complaint before this Court praying that respondent be removed is as innocent as if he had never committed the offense. It granted before
from the roll of lawyers pursuant to Rule 127, section 5. Respondent presented his conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities, consequent upon
answer in due time, admitting the facts alleged by complainant regarding pardon in conviction, from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the
defense, on the authority of the decision of this Court in the case of In re Lontok, 43 penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights it makes him,
Phil. 293. as it were, a new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.

Under section 5 of Rule 127, a member of the bar may be removed suspended from The pardon granted to respondent here is not absolute but conditional, and merely
his office as attorney by the Supreme Court by reason of his conviction of a crime remitted the unexecuted portion of his term. It does not reach the offense itself, unlike
insolving moral turpitude. Murder is, without doubt, such a crime. The term "moral that in Ex parte Garland, which was "a full pardon and amnesty for all offense by him
turpitude" includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or committed in connection with rebellion (civil war) against government of the United
good morals. In re Carlos S. Basa, 41 Phil. 275. As used in disbarment statutes, it States."
means an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties
which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted
rule of right and duty between man and man. State ex rel. Conklin v. Buckingham, 84 The foregoing considerations rendered In re Lontok are inapplicable here.
P. 2nd 49; 5 Am. Jur. Sec. 279. pp. 428-429. Respondent Gutierrez must be judged upon the fact of his conviction for murder
without regard to the pardon he invokes in defense. The crime was qualified by
treachery and aggravated by its having been committed in hand, by taking advantage
The only question to be resolved is whether or not the conditional pardon extended to of his official position (respondent being municipal mayor at the time) and with the use
respondent places him beyond the scope of the rule on disbarment aforecited. of motor vehicle. People vs. Diosdado Gutierrez, supra. The degree of moral turpitude
Reliance is placed by him squarely on the Lontok case. The respondent therein was involved is such as to justify his being purged from the profession.
convicted of bigamy and thereafter pardoned by the Governor-General. In a
subsequent viction, this Court decided in his favor and held: "When proceedings to
strike an attorney's name from the rolls the fact of a conviction for a felony ground for The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain
disbarment, it has been held that a pardon operates to wipe out the conviction and is rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a candidate to the
a bar to any proceeding for the disbarment of the attorney after the pardon has been bar the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic preparation but require
granted." satisfactory testimonials of good moral character. These standards are neither
dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must continue to adhere to

17
them or else incur the risk of suspension or removal. As stated in Ex parte Wall, 107
U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552, 556: "Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most
sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men
in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them under foot and to
ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets
a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body
politic.

WHEREFORE, pursuant to Rule 127, Section 5, and considering the nature of the
crime for which respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez has been convicted, he is ordered
disbarred and his name stricken from the roll of lawyers.

Bengzon, C.J., Labrador, Concepcion, Barrera, Paredes, Dizon and Regala, JJ.,
concur.

18
A.M. No. 439 September 30, 1982 respectable citizen and that he has been active and has cooperated in civic and
social undertakings, sincere and honest in his desire to lead a decent and dignified
IN RE: QUINCIANO D. VAILOCES life" 6 ; the certification of Dean Eduardo G. Flores of the College of Law, Siliman
University, vouching to petitioner's "honest, upright and moral life ... and because of
his conduct he has earned the sympathy of the people of the community and
ESCOLIN, J.: regained the confidence of the people and of his other associates: 7 the statement of
Atty. Alexander G. Amor, former president of the Negros Oriental Chapter of the
This is a petition filed by Quinciano D. Vailoces for readmission to the practice of law Integrated Bar of the Philippines, certifying "that Mr. Quinciano D. Vailoces ... is a
and the inclusion of his name in the roll of attorneys. person of good moral character, whose integrity is beyond question" 8 ; and the
clearance certificates issued by Judge Romeo R. Solis of the City Court of
The records disclose that the Court of First Instance of Negros Oriental in a decision Dumaguete, Provincial Fiscal Andrew S. Namukatkat of Negros Oriental, and City
promulgated on September 30, 1955 found petitioner guilty of falsification of public Fiscal Pablo E. Cabahug of Dumaguete City, to the effect that petitioner "is a person
document, penalized under Article 117 of the Revised Penal Code, and imposed on of good moral character" and that since his release from the national penitentiary he
"has never been accused or convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude." 9
him an indeterminate sentence ranging from 2 years, 4 months and 1 day of prision
mayor, as minimum, to 8 years and 1 day of prision mayor, as maximum, with the
accessory penalties to the law, plus fine and costs. In its decision the court found that When asked to comment, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, through its then
petitioner, as a member of the bar and in his capacity as a notary public, president, Atty. Marcelo D. Fernan, favorably indorsed petitioner's request for
aknowledged the execution of a document purporting to be the last will and testament reinstatement.
of one Tarcila Visitacion de Jesus. Presented for probate before the Court of First
Instance of Negros Oriental, the genuineness of the document was impugned by the On February 13, 1978, Ledesma de Jesus-Paras, complainant in the original
forced heirs of the alleged testatrix, and the court, finding that the document was a disbarment proceedings, filed an opposition to the petitions for reinstatement; and this
forgery, denied probate to the will. was followed by a telegram of Nicanor Vailoces, barangay captain of Domolog,
Bindoy, Negros, Oriental, addressed to his Excellency, President Ferdinand E.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the verdict of conviction; and upon finality Marcos, and referred to this Court, opposing petitioner's readmission to the bar "on
thereof, petitioner commenced service of the sentence. grounds of his non-reformation, immoral conduct and pretensions of being a licensed
lawyer."
Thereafter, Ledesma de Jesus-Paras, complainant in the criminal case, instituted
before this Court disbarment proceedings against petitioner. The same culminated in Anent these oppositions, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, through Atty. Fernan,
his disbarment on April 12, 1961. 1 made the following observations:

On December 27, 1967, the President of the Philippines granted petitioner "absolute By resolution of the Court En Banc dated August 24, 1978, the
and unconditional pardon" and restored him "to full civil and political rights. 2 following matters have been referred to the Integrated Bar for
comment:
Since August 23, 1968, petitioner had repeatedly sought readmission to the practice
of law, the first of which was denied by this Court in a minute resolution dated August (1) The opposition of complainant Ledesma de
30, 1968. Jesus-Paras to respondent's petition and
supplementary petition for reinstatement in the
On February 27, 1970, petitioner reiterated his plea, but consideration thereof was roll of attorneys; and
deferred "until after the integration of the bar has been effected." 3
(2) The telegram dated February 16, 1978 of
On December 12, 1977, he filed another petition, attaching thereto copies, among Nicanor Vailoces, Barangay Captain of Domolog,
others, of the following documents, to wit: the resolution of the Negros Oriental Bar Bindoy, Negros Oriental, addressed to his
Association signed by 78 members thereof, indorsing his plea for reinstatement 4 ; the Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos, requesting the
certificate of the mayor of the municipality of Bindoy, Negros Oriental, where Office of the President to oppose the petition of
petitioner has been residing, to the effect that the latter "is a person of exemplary Quinciano Vailoces for reinstatement in the Roll
moral character, a peace-loving and law-abiding citizen 5 a certification of Governor of Attorneys on grounds stated therein.
William B. Villegas of Negros Oriental, attesting to the fact that since the grant of
absolute pardon to petitioner, "he has comported himself as a morally straight and
19
It may be recalled that on January 17, 1978, the Board of Governors of the a loss as to how a person in the place of Mr. Quinciano D. Vailoces could
Integrated Bar transmitted to the Honorable Supreme Court for its favorable properly defend himself against such charges.
consideration the above stated petition for reinstatement.
Thus, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines reaffirmed its indorsement of petitioner's
Subsequent to its being served with a copy of the resolution of the Supreme "reinstatement in the rolls of attorneys."
Court, the Integrated Bar received a petition dated February 14, 1978 signed
by 'the people of the Municipality of Bindoy, Province of Negros Oriental' This Court likewise referred the oppositions interposed by Mrs. Ledesma de Jesus-
vehemently opposing the reinstatement of Mr. Vailoces in the Roll of Paras and Nicanor Vailoces to the Solicitor General for investigation and
Attorneys. On October 5, 1978 the President of the Integrated Bar wrote to recommendation; and on August 4, 1982, the latter, after conducting an investigation,
Mr. Vailoces asking him to comment on the above mentioned petitions and submitted his report, recommending that "Quinciano D. Vailoces be reinstated in the
telegram. roll of attorneys upon taking his oath anew of the corresponding oath of office."

This Office is now in receipt of Mr. Vailoces' comment dated November 3, The Court sustains the conclusion of the Solicitor General that petitioner has
1978, which is being forwarded herewith to the Honorable Supreme Court sufficiently proven himself fit to be readmitted to the practice of law. True it is that the
together with other pertinent papers. plenary pardon extended to him by the President does not of itself warrant his
reinstatement.
It is believed that Mr. Vailoces' comment is a satisfactory answer to the
adverse allegations and charges which have been referred to him. The Evidence of reformation is required before applicant is entitled to
charges of immorality (publicly maintaining a querida) and gambling are reinstatement, notwithstanding the attorney has received a pardon following
general statements devoid of particular allegations of fact and may well be his conviction, and the requirements of reinstatement had been held to be
disregarded. Then, too, the Municipal Mayor of Bindoy, Negros Oriental - the same as for original admission to the bar, except that the court may
namely, Mr. Jesus A. Mana-ay - who tops the list of persons who have require a greater degree of proof than in an original evidence [7 C.J.S.
signed the February 14, 1978 petition vehemently opposing the Attorney & Client, Sept. 41, p. 815]
reinstatement of Mr. Vailoces, appears to be the very same official who on
October 25, 1977 issued a Certification to the effect that Mr. Vailoces 'is
personally known to me as a person of exemplary character, a peace loving The decisive question on an application for reinstatement is whether
and law abiding citizen' and that 'he is cooperative in all our civic and social applicant is 'of good moral character' in the sense in which that phrase is
activities and that he is one of our respectable citizens in our community.' used when applied to attorneys-at-law and is a fit and proper person to be
That this official should now sign a petition containing statements exactly entrusted with the privileges of the office of an attorney ... [7 C.J.S. Attorney
opposite in thrust and tenor is very intriguing, to say the least, and it is not & Client, Sept. 41, p. 816].
altogether difficult to believe Mr. Vailoces' imputations of politics in the
conduct of Mayor Mana-ay. Petitioner's conduct after disbarment can stand searching scrutiny. He has regained
the respect and confidence of his fellow attorneys as well as of the citizens of his
As for the opposition of Mrs. Ledesma de Jesus-Paras, the alleged absence community. The favorable indorsements of both the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
of remorse on the part of Mr. Vailoces, and his alleged belligerence and and its Negros Oriental Chapter, the testimonials expressed in his behalf by the
display of open defiance and hostility, etc. are matters so subjective in provincial governor of Negros Oriental as well as the municipal and barrio officials of
character that her general allegations and charges in this regard cannot be Bindoy, Negros Oriental, his active participation in civic and social undertakings in the
properly considered. It is significant that Mr. Vailoces in his comment states: community attest to his moral reform and rehabilitation and justify his reinstatement.
"If she is indeed that much desperately so in need of cash assistance, Petitioner, now 69 years of age, has reached the twilight of his life. He has been
considering really that she is an old woman being recently widowed the barred from the practice of his profession for a period of 21 years. Adequate
second time, for her satisfaction and as a gesture of goodwill, I am willing to punishment has been exacted.
assist her but only with a modest amount because I am only a small farmer
with still three college students to support." Chastened by his painful and humiliating experience, he further "pledges with all his
honor ... that if reinstated in the roll of attorneys he will surely and consistently
Regarding the telegram dated February 16, 1978 of one Nicanor Vailoces conduct himself honestly, uprightly and worthily." Indeed, there is reasonable
stating as grounds for denial of Mr. Quinciano D. Vailoces' petition for expectation that he will endeavor to lead an irreproachable life and maintain steadfast
reinstatement the alleged 'grounds of non-reformation, immoral conduct and fidelity to the lawyer's oath.
pretensions of being a licensed lawyer by soliciting cases,' there is such a
lack of specificity and particularity in such statement of grounds that one is at
20
WHEREFORE, petitioner Quinciano D. Vailoces is hereby ordered reinstated in the
roll of attorneys.

21
A.C. No. 5118 September 9, 1999 Realizing that she will be travelling with spurious documents, the
complainant demanded the return of her money, however she was assured
(A.C. CBD No. 97-485) by respondent that there was nothing to worry about for he has been
engaged in the business for quite sometime; with the promise that her
money will be refunded if something goes wrong.
MARILOU SEBASTIAN, complainant,
vs.
ATTY. DOROTHEO CALIS, respondent. Weeks before her departure respondent demanded for the payment of the
required fee which was paid by complainant, but the corresponding receipt
was not given to her.

When complainant demanded for her passport, respondent assured the


PER CURIAM: complainant that it will be given to her on her departure which was
scheduled on September 6, 1994. On said date complainant was given her
For unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct as well as violation of his oath passport and visa issued in the name of Lizette P. Ferrer. Complainant left
as lawyer, respondent Atty. Dorotheo Calis faces disbarment. together with Jennyfer Belo and a certain Maribel who were also recruits of
the respondent.
The facts of this administrative case, as found by the Commission on Bar Discipline of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), 1 in its Report, are as follows: Upon arrival at the Singapore International Airport, complainant together with
Jennyfer Belo and Maribel were apprehended by the Singapore Airport
Complainant (Marilou Sebastian) alleged that sometime in November, 1992, Officials for carrying spurious travel documents; Complainant contacted the
she was referred to the respondent who promised to process all necessary respondent through overseas telephone call and informed him of by her
documents required for complainant's trip to the USA for a fee of One predicament. From September 6 to 9, 1994, complainant was detained at
Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00). Changi Prisons in Singapore.

On December 1, 1992 the complainant made a partial payment of the On September 9, 1994 the complainant was deported back to the
required fee in the amount of Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), which Philippines and respondent fetched her from the airport and brought her to
was received by Ester Calis, wife of the respondent for which a receipt was his residence at 872-A Tres Marias Street, Sampaloc, Manila. Respondent
issued. took complainant's passport with a promise that he will secure new travel
documents for complainant. Since complainant opted not to pursue with her
travel, she demanded for the return of her money in the amount of One
From the period of January 1993 to May 1994 complainant had several Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos (P150,000.00).
conferences with the respondent regarding the processing of her travel
documents. To facilitate the processing, respondent demanded an additional
amount of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) and prevailed upon On June 4, 1996, June 18 and July 5, 1996 respondent made partial refunds
complainant to resign from her job as stenographer with the Commission on of P15,000.00; P6,000.00; and P5,000.00.
Human Rights.
On December 19, 1996 the complainant through counsel, sent a demand
On June 20, 1994, to expedite the processing of her travel documents letter to respondent for the refund of a remaining balance of One Hundred
complainant issued Planters Development Bank Check No. 12026524 in the Fourteen Thousand Pesos (P114,000.00) which was ignored by the
amount of Sixty Five Thousand Pesos (P65,000.00) in favor of Atty. D. Calis respondent.
who issued a receipt. After receipt of said amount, respondent furnished the
complainant copies of Supplemental to U.S. Nonimmigrant Visa Application Sometime in March 1997 the complainant went to see the respondent,
(Of. 156) and a list of questions which would be asked during interviews. however his wife informed her that the respondent was in Cebu attending to
business matters.
When complainant inquired about her passport, Atty. Calis informed the
former that she will be assuming the name Lizette P. Ferrer married to In May 1997 the complainant again tried to see the respondent however she
Roberto Ferrer, employed as sales manager of Matiao Marketing, Inc. The found out that the respondent had transferred to an unknown residence
complainant was furnished documents to support her assumed apparently with intentions to evade responsibility.
identity.1âwphi1.nêt
22
Attached to the complaint are the photocopies of receipts for the amount made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding
paid by complainant, applications for U.S.A. Visa, questions and answers the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and
asked during interviews; receipts acknowledging partial refunds of fees paid the applicable laws and rules, with an amendment that Respondent
by the complainant together with demand letter for the remaining balance of Atty. Dorotheo Calis be DISBARRED for having been found guilty
One Hundred Fourteen Thousand Pesos (P114,000.00); which was received of Gross Misconduct for engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
by the respondent. 2 or deceitful conduct.

Despite several notices sent to the respondent requiring an answer to or comment on We are now called upon to evaluate, for final action, the IBP recommendation
the complaint, there was no response. Respondent likewise failed to attend the contained in its Resolution dated December 4, 1998, with its supporting report.
scheduled hearings of the case. No appearance whatsoever was made by the
respondent. 3 As a result of the inexplicable failure, if not obdurate refusal of the After examination and careful consideration of the records in this case, we find the
respondent to comply with the orders of the Commission, the investigation against Resolution passed by the Board of Governors of the IBP in order. We agree with the
him proceeded ex parte. finding of the Commission that the charge of illegal recruitment was not established
because complainant failed to substantiate her allegation on the matter. In fact she
On September 24, 1998, the Commission on Bar Discipline issued its Report on the did not mention any particular job or employment promised to her by the respondent.
case, finding that: The only service of the respondent mentioned by the complainant was that of
securing a visa for the United States.
It appears that the services of the respondent was engaged for the purpose of
securing a visa for a U.S.A. travel of complainant. There was no mention of job We likewise concur with the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution, that herein
placement or employment abroad, hence it is not correct to say that the respondent is guilty of gross misconduct by engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
respondent engaged in illegal recruitment. or deceitful conduct contrary to Canon I, Rule 101 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Respondent deceived the complainant by assuring her that he could
The alleged proposal of the respondent to secure the U.S.A. visa for the give her visa and travel documents; that despite spurious documents nothing
complainant under an assumed name was accepted by the complainant which untoward would happen; that he guarantees her arrival in the USA and even
negates deceit on the part of the respondent. Noted likewise is the partial promised to refund her the fees and expenses already paid, in case something went
refunds made by the respondent of the fees paid by the complainant. However, wrong. All for material gain.
the transfer of residence without a forwarding address indicates his attempt to
escape responsibility. Deception and other fraudulent acts by a lawyer are disgraceful and dishonorable.
They reveal moral flaws in a lawyer. They are unacceptable practices. A lawyer's
In the light of the foregoing, we find that the respondent is guilty of gross relationship with others should be characterized by the highest degree of good faith,
misconduct for violating Canon 1 Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional fairness and candor. This is the essence of the lawyer's oath. The lawyer's oath is not
Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, mere facile words, drift and hollow, but a sacred trust that must be upheld and keep
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. inviolable. 6 The nature of the office of an attorney requires that he should be a
person of good moral character. 7 This requisite is not only a condition precedent to
admission to the practice of law, its continued possession is also essential for
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that ATTY. DOROTHEO CALIS remaining in the practice of law.8 We have sternly warned that any gross misconduct
be SUSPENDED as a member of the bar until he fully refunds the fees paid to of a lawyer, whether in his professional or private capacity, puts his moral character in
him by complainant and comply with the order of the Commission on Bar serious doubt as a member of the Bar, and renders him unfit to continue in the
Discipline pursuant to Rule 139-B, Sec. 6, of the Rules of Court. 4 practice of law. 9

Pursuant to Section 12, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, this administrative case It is dismaying to note how respondent so cavalierly jeopardized the life and liberty of
was elevated to the IBP Board of Governors for review. The Board in a complainant when he made her travel with spurious documents. How often have
Resolution 5 dated December 4, 1998 resolved to adopt and approve with victims of unscrupulous travel agents and illegal recruiters been imprisoned in foreign
amendment the recommendation of the Commission. The Resolution of the Board lands because they were provided fake travel documents? Respondent totally
states: disregarded the personal safety of the complainant when he sent her abroad on false
assurances. Not only are respondent's acts illegal, they are also detestable from the
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED moral point of view. His utter lack of moral qualms and scruples is a real threat to the
and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Bar and the administration of justice.
Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein
23
The practice of law is not a right but a privilege bestowed by the State on those who
show that they possess, and continue to possess, the qualifications required by law
for the conferment of such privilege. 10 We must stress that membership in the bar is
a privilege burdened with conditions. A lawyer has the privilege to practice law only
during good behavior. He can be deprived of his license for misconduct ascertained
and declared by judgment of the court after giving him the opportunity to be heard. 11

Here, it is worth noting that the adamant refusal of respondent to comply with the
orders of the IBP and his total disregard of the summons issued by the IBP are
contemptuous acts reflective of unprofessional conduct. Thus, we find no hesitation in
removing respondent Dorotheo Calis from the Roll of Attorneys for his unethical,
unscrupulous and unconscionable conduct toward complainant.

Lastly, the grant in favor of the complainant for the recovery of the P114,000.00 she
paid the respondent is in order. 12 Respondent not only unjustifiably refused to return
the complainant's money upon demand, but he stubbornly persisted in holding on to
it, unmindful of the hardship and humiliation suffered by the complainant.

WHEREFORE, respondent Dorotheo Calis is hereby DISBARRED and his name is


ordered stricken from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be
FURNISHED to the IBP and the Bar Confidant to be spread on the personal records
of respondent. Respondent is likewise ordered to pay to the complainant immediately
the amount of One Hundred Fourteen Thousand (P114,000.00) Pesos representing
the amount he collected from her.1âwphi1.nêt

SO ORDERED.

24
A.C. No. 7350 February 18, 2013 On April 15, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVIII-2008-166
which reads:
PATROCINIO V. AGBULOS, Complainant,
vs. RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
ATTY. ROSELLER A. VIRAY, Respondent. APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
DECISION Resolution as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the
evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondent’s
violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility and 2004 Rules on Notarial
PERALTA, J.: Practice, Atty. Roseller A. Viray is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for
one (1) month.13
The case stemmed from a Complaint1 filed before the Office of the Bar Confidant
(OBC) by complainant Mrs. Patrocinio V. Agbulos against respondent Atty. Roseller Respondent moved for the reconsideration of the above decision, but the same was
A. Viray of Asingan, Pangasinan, for allegedly notarizing a document denominated as denied. The above resolution was further modified in Resolution No. XX-2012-117,
Affidavit of Non-Tenancy2 in violation of the Notarial Law. The said affidavit was dated March 10, 2012, to read as follows:
supposedly executed by complainant, but the latter denies said execution and claims
that the signature and the community tax certificate (CTC) she allegedly presented
are not hers. She further claims that the CTC belongs to a certain Christian RESOLVED to DENY Respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration, and unanimously
Anton. 3 Complainant added that she did not personally appear before respondent for MODIFY as it is hereby MODIFIED Resolution No. XVIII- 2008-166 dated April 15,
the notarization of the document. She, likewise, states that respondent's client, 2008, in addition to Respondent’s SUSPENSION from the practice of law for one (1)
Rolando Dollente (Dollente), benefited from the said falsified affidavit as it contributed month, Atty. Roseller A. Viray is hereby SUSPENDED as Notary Public for six (6)
to the illegal transfer of a property registered in her name to that of Dollente.4 months. (Emphasis in the original)

In his Comment,5 respondent admitted having prepared and notarized the document The findings of the IBP are well taken.
in question at the request of his client Dollente, who assured him that it was
personally signed by complainant and that the CTC appearing therein is owned by Section 2 (b) of Rule IV of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice emphasizes the
her.6 He, thus, claims good faith in notarizing the subject document. necessity of the affiant’s personal appearance before the notary public:14

In a Resolution7 dated April 16, 2007, the OBC referred the case to the Integrated Bar xxxx
of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation or decision.
(b) A person shall not perform a notarial act if the person involved as
After the mandatory conference and hearing, the parties submitted their respective signatory to the instrument or document –
Position Papers.8Complainant insists that she was deprived of her property because
of the illegal notarization of the subject document.9 Respondent, on the other hand, (1) is not in the notary’s presence personally at the time of the
admits having notarized the document in question and asks for apology and notarization; and
forgiveness from complainant as a result of his indiscretion.10
(2) is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise
In his report, Commissioner Dennis A. B. Funa (Commissioner Funa) reported that identified by the notary public through competent evidence of
respondent indeed notarized the subject document in the absence of the alleged identity as defined by these Rules.
affiant having been brought only to respondent by Dollente. It turned out later that the
document was falsified and the CTC belonged to another person and not to
complainant. He further observed that respondent did not attempt to refute the Moreover, Section 12,15 Rule II, of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice defines the
accusation against him; rather, he even apologized for the complained "competent evidence of identity" referred to above.
act.11 Commissioner Funa, thus, recommended that respondent be found guilty of
violating the Code of Professional Responsibility and the 2004 Rules on Notarial In this case, respondent admits that not only did he prepare and notarize the subject
Practice, and that he be meted the penalty of six (6) months suspension as a lawyer affidavit but he likewise notarized the same without the affiant’s personal appearance.
and six (6) months suspension as a Notary Public.12 He explained that he did so merely upon the assurance of his client Dollente that the
document was executed by complainant. In notarizing the document, respondent
contented himself with the presentation of a CTC despite the Rules’ clear requirement
25
of presentation of competent evidence of identity such as an identification card with commissioned as notaries public are mandated to discharge with fidelity the duties of
photograph and signature. With this indiscretion, respondent failed to ascertain the their offices, such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public
genuineness of the affiant’s signature which turned out to be a forgery. In failing to interest.251âwphi1
observe the requirements of the Rules, even the CTC presented, purportedly owned
by complainant, turned out to belong to somebody else. As to the proper penalty, the Court finds the need to increase that recommended by
the IBP which is one month suspension as a lawyer and six months suspension as
To be sure, a notary public should not notarize a document unless the person who notary public, considering that respondent himself prepared the document, and he
signed the same is the very same person who executed and personally appeared performed the notarial act without the personal appearance of the affiant and without
before him to attest to the contents and the truth of what are stated therein. 16 Without identifying her with competent evidence of her identity. With his indiscretion, he
the appearance of the person who actually executed the document in question, the allowed the use of a CTC by someone who did not own it. Worse, he allowed himself
notary public would be unable to verify the genuineness of the signature of the to be an instrument of fraud. Based on existing jurisprudence, when a lawyer
acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the party’s free act or commissioned as a notary public fails to discharge his duties as such, he is meted the
deed.17 penalties of revocation of his notarial commission, disqualification from being
commissioned as a notary public for a period of two years, and suspension from the
As aptly observed by the Court in Dela Cruz-Sillano v. Pangan:18 practice of law for one year.26

The Court is aware of the practice of not a few lawyers commissioned as notary WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Roseller A. Viray GUILTY of breach
public to authenticate documents without requiring the physical presence of affiants. of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
However, the adverse consequences of this practice far outweigh whatever Accordingly, the Court SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for one (1)
convenience is afforded to the absent affiants. Doing away with the essential year; REVOKES his incumbent commission, if any; and PROHIBITS him from being
requirement of physical presence of the affiant does not take into account the commissioned as a notary public for two (2) years, effective immediately. He
likelihood that the documents may be spurious or that the affiants may not be who is WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt
they purport to be. A notary public should not notarize a document unless the persons with more severely.
who signed the same are the very same persons who executed and personally
appeared before him to attest to the contents and truth of what are stated therein. The Let all the courts, through the Office of the Court Administrator, as well as the IBP and
purpose of this requirement is to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of the Office of the Bar Confidant, be notified of this Decision and be it entered into
the signature of the acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the respondent's personal record.
party’s free act and deed.19
SO ORDERED.
The Court has repeatedly emphasized in a number of cases 20 the important role a
notary public performs, to wit:

x x x [N]otarization is not an empty, meaningless routinary act but one invested with
substantive public interest. The notarization by a notary public converts a private
document into a public document, making it admissible in evidence without further
proof of its authenticity. A notarized document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit
upon its face. It is for this reason that a notary public must observe with utmost care
the basic requirements in the performance of his duties; otherwise, the public’s
confidence in the integrity of a notarized document would be undermined. 21

Respondent’s failure to perform his duty as a notary public resulted not only damage
to those directly affected by the notarized document but also in undermining the
integrity of a notary public and in degrading the function of notarization. 22 He should,
thus, be held liable for such negligence not only as a notary public but also as a
lawyer.23 The responsibility to faithfully observe and respect the legal solemnity of the
oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is more pronounced when the notary public is a
lawyer because of his solemn oath under the Code of Professional Responsibility to
obey the laws and to do no falsehood or consent to the doing of any.24 Lawyers

26
A.C. No. 6107 January 31, 2005 The respondent alleged that the driver assigned to him by the complainant during the
trip from Lucena City on September 19, 2001 did not exercise extraordinary diligence.
BEL-AIR TRANSIT SERVICE CORPORATION (DOLLAR RENT-A- He averred that they almost figured in an accident, and when he inquired as to why
CAR), Complainant, the said driver was not cautious with his driving, the latter replied that he had just
vs. been on another out-of-town trip driving for another client and only had three hours of
ATTY. ESTEBAN Y. MENDOZA, Respondent. sleep the night before. The respondent decided not to report the incident to the
complainant, thinking that it was going to be the first and last incident. However,
during the trip of September 28, 2001, the respondent again almost figured in an
DECISION accident, prompting the respondent to contact the complainant to complain as to why
the latter was providing drivers to their law firm who had not had enough sleep. No
CALLEJO, SR., J.: one from the complainant’s staff could provide him with a decent answer,
merely "Pasensiya na." The respondent then demanded a meeting with the
In a verified Complaint1 dated June 11, 2003, Bel-Air Transit Service Corporation complainant’s president in order to resolve the matter, but despite repeated requests,
(Dollar Rent-A-Car) charged Atty. Esteban Y. Mendoza with grossly immoral and the latter refused to meet with him. The respondent further averred, thus:
unethical conduct, praying for his disbarment and that his name be stricken-off from
the Roll of Attorneys. 14. It is not only inaccurate but also unfair for the complainant to baselessly
accuse the respondent or M&M of refusing to pay their claims. As shown
The complainant narrated that, on September 19, 2001, the respondent rented a car above, M&M immediately paid all of complainant’s billings for August 2001. It
from it, a Toyota Camry with Plate No. WMK 232, for the amount of P5,549.00. Under was only the billings for September 2001 that remained unpaid because
the terms of the Rental Agreement No. 97206,2 which the respondent personally M&M and respondent first wanted to meet with the President of the
signed, the latter was to be fetched at his residence at No. 483 Northwestern Street, complainant to resolve their complaint. M&M and respondent do not have a
East Greenhills, Mandaluyong City. The respondent rented another Toyota Camry history of not honoring their obligations. As officers of the court, it is
from the complainant on September 28, 2001, this time with Plate No. WRT 557, and cognizant that [they] should conduct [themselves] properly so as not to do
was, likewise, fetched at his residence in accordance with the Rental Agreement No. injustice to anyone, including the complainant.
97420.3 This second contract was also personally signed by the respondent. The
statements of account4 were, thereafter, sent to the respondent at his office and 14.1. Respondent almost met an accident because the complainant provided
business address at Martinez & Mendoza Law Office, Cityland Show Tower, him with drivers that did not have enough rest and sleep before they drove
Mandaluyong City. Despite repeated demands for payment, the respondent refused for him. It is the respondent who is the aggrieved party here and not the
to pay his account, which constrained the complainant to send a formal and final complainant. Thus, it is very unfortunate that it is the respondent who is
demand for payment through counsel.5 This formal demand was, likewise, ignored by slapped with a disbarment case. M&M did not even file a complaint with the
the respondent, further compelling the complainant to resort to filing a complaint 6 for Department of Trade and Industry for violation of the Consumers Act of the
recovery of money on March 12, 2003 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Makati Philippines because it wanted to resolve its complaint amicably.
City, Branch 65, docketed as Civil Case No. 81392.
14.2 Respondent respectfully manifests that, only to buy peace, the
According to the complainant, the respondent’s refusal to pay for the complainant’s questioned billings of the complainant which [were] made the subject of a
car rental services constitutes deceit and grossly immoral and unethical conduct, complaint they filed against him had already been fully satisfied.
which violates the Canons of Professional Ethics and Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the
Civil Code on Human Relations. The complainant further alleged that this is a A copy of Official Receipt No. 52095 dated 4 September 2003 in the name of
sufficient ground for the respondent’s disbarment, considering that the respondent "Martinez & Mendoza Law Office" is attached hereto and made an integral part hereof
even ignored the complainant’s repeated demands for payment. 7 as Annex "H."9

In his Comment, the respondent denied the allegations against him. He averred that it The respondent concluded that the complainant did not have a cause of action for
was the law firm of Martinez & Mendoza which engaged the services of the disbarment against him, as he was merely exercising his right to contest its
complainant, and that all the trips undertaken were for an out-of-town engagement in questionable billings.
Lucena City. To support his claim, the respondent incorporated a letter 8 addressed to
the Chief Operations Manager of the complainant requesting for the latter’s
services.1a\^/phi1.net The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation and was assigned to IBP Commissioner Caesar R.
Dulay. During the hearing of March 1, 2004, the counsel for the complainant

27
manifested that although the respondent had already paid his account, such payment contrived. Lack of funds to pay an obligation may perhaps be a good reason but to
was made only after the court had already decided the case against the respondent use as a reason the said "near accident" on the bare assertion of respondent alone
and after the filing of a motion for execution, 10 which the respondent admitted. Thus, and not supported by any corroborating evidence may not be readily acceptable. We
the parties agreed during the hearing that as far as the monetary obligation was are, on the other hand, also not convinced that respondent was deceitful or grossly
concerned, the said judgment had already been satisfied by the respondent. The negligent by his actions. There is no evidence to show that respondent was acting
parties were then required to file their respective position papers, which were with deceit in not paying for the obligation incurred. However, we find respondent
basically reiterations of their previous allegations. lacking in probity and forthrightness in dealing with the complaint and quite simply
negligent in the handling of this particular obligation to complainant. Taken in the light
In his Report and Recommendation dated April 19, 2004, Commissioner Dulay made of the circumstances presented, we believe respondent should be admonished and
the following findings: warned to avoid such similar conduct in the future.

Respondent offers two reasons for non-payment: First, that the obligation was It was, thus, recommended that the respondent be admonished and advised to be
incurred not by him but by his law office Martinez & Mendoza. Second, that the more forthright in the handling of his monetary obligations in the future. On July 30,
respondent almost met an accident on the two occasions he used the services of the 2004, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline then issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-
complainant and therefore "he should not be penalized for exercising its right to 378, adopting and approving the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner,
contest complainants’ questionable billings." considering that there was no evidence to show that the respondent had acted with
deceit in not paying for the questioned obligation.1awphi1.nét
...
It is settled that a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether
in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
As to the first reason, we reiterate that as decided by the Metropolitan Trial Court, character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an
respondent was liable for the obligation to the complainant. Indeed, respondent officer of the court.11 A lawyer must, at all times, uphold the integrity and dignity of the
cannot avoid the obligation and pass it on to his law firm and just make a complete legal profession.l^vvphi1.net Indeed, a lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by
denial considering that he is a name partner in the firm and law partnership of faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients.
Martinez and Mendoza. The Metropolitan Trial Court, therefore, ruled that respondent To this end, a member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which
was, nevertheless, liable for the obligation of his law partnership. Independent of the might lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the
said decision, we find that the documents attached as Annexes "A" and "B" to the fidelity, honesty and integrity in the legal profession. 12 Thus, lawyers must promptly
complaint appear to have been signed by the respondent and even assuming that it pay their financial obligations.13Their conduct must always reflect the values and
was the law firm that was liable, there is nothing on record to show that the law firm norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
questioned the billings of the complainant or that the respondent referred the same to Responsibility.14
the law firm for proper disposition.
In this case, the respondent refused to pay for the services of the complainant,
As to the second reason, respondent admits that there was no written demand made constraining the latter to file charges in order to collect what was due to it under the
for the complainant to account and answer for the "near accidents" alleged by contracts, in which the respondent himself was the signatory. Moreover, as pointed
respondent, which "near accidents" as we understand are his reasons for not out by IBP Commissioner Dulay, the respondent’s claim that he almost twice figured
immediately paying. We find the absence of a written demand from the respondent in accidents due to the negligent drivers employed by the complainant and that he
quite odd especially in the case of a lawyer who is seeking to exercise his "right to intended to question the company’s billings (which he also posited was a valid excuse
contest complainant’s questionable billings" or otherwise hold complainant for non-payment), appears to have been concocted as a mere afterthought.
accountable for the said "near accidents." It would perhaps be understandable if the
omission was made by a layman; but for a lawyer not to put his demand in writing, it
would be uncharacteristic to say the least. Neither was a demand made by the law Verily, the respondent is guilty of conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar, and
firm of Martinez and Mendoza as a basis for non-payment. We are, therefore, inclined should be admonished for his actuations.
to look at this reason, (near accident) as a mere afterthought and would not justify
respondent in not paying for two (2) years what appears to be a clear and simple WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Esteban Y. Mendoza is hereby ADMONISHED to be
obligation to complainant. As pointed out by complainant, it was only after a writ of more circumspect in his financial obligations and his dealings with the public. He
execution was issued when payment was made. is STERNLY WARNED that similar conduct in the future shall be dealt with more
severely.
The reason offered by respondent for not paying complainant particularly the alleged
"near accident" is, therefore, not justifiable. The said reason appears to us trite and

28
Let a copy of this Decision be included in the respondent’s files which are with the
Office of the Bar Confidant, and circularized to all courts and to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines.

SO ORDERED.

29
G.R. No. 1203 May 15, 1903 opinion that the ends of justice will be served by the suspension of said Howard D.
Terrell from the practice of law in the Philippine Islands for the term of one year from
In the matter of the suspension of HOWARD D. TERRELL from the practice of the 7th day of February, 1903.
law.
It is therefore directed that the said Howard D. Terrell be suspended from the practice
PER CURIAM: of law for a term of one year from February 7, 1903. It is so ordered.

Howard D. Terrell, an attorney-at-law, was ordered to show cause in the Court of First
Instance, in the city of Manila, on the 5th day of February, 1903, why he should not be
suspended as a member of the bar of the city of Manila for the reasons:

First, that he had assisted in the organization of the "Centro Bellas Artes" Club, after
he had been notified that the said organization was made for the purpose of evading
the law then in force in said city; and,

Secondly, for acting as attorney for said "Centro Bellas Artes" during the time of and
after its organization, which organization was known to him to be created for the
purpose of evading the law.

The accused appeared on the return day, and by his counsel, W. A. Kincaid, made
answer to these charges, denying the same, and filed affidavits in answer thereto.
After reading testimony given by said Howard D. Terrell, in the case of the United
States vs. H. D. Terrell,1 wherein he was charged with estafa, and after reading the
said affidavits in his behalf, and hearing his counsel, the court below found, and
decided as a fact, that the charges aforesaid made against Howard D. Terrell were
true, and thereupon made an order suspending him from his office as a lawyer in the
Philippine Islands, and directed the clerk of the court to transmit to this court a
certified copy of the order of suspension, as well as a full statement of the facts upon
which the same was based.

We have carefully considered these facts, and have reached the conclusion that they
were such as to justify the court below in arriving at the conclusion that the knowledge
and acts of the accused in connection with the organization of the "Centro Bellas
Artes" Club were of such a nature and character as to warrant his suspension from
practice.

The promoting of organizations, with knowledge of their objects, for the purpose of
violating or evading the laws against crime constitutes such misconduct on the part of
an attorney, an officer of the court, as amounts to malpractice or gross misconduct in
his office, and for which he may be removed or suspended. (Code of Civil Procedure,
sec. 21.) The assisting of a client in a scheme which the attorney knows to be
dishonest, or the conniving at a violation of law, are acts which justify disbarment.

In this case, however, inasmuch as the defendant in the case of the United
States, vs. Terrell was acquitted on the charge of estafa, and has not, therefore, been
convicted of crime, and as the acts with which he is charged in this proceeding, while
unprofessional and hence to be condemned, are not criminal in their nature, we are of

30
A.C. No. 6057 June 27, 2006 AGREEMENT was tied up with a loan which Mr. Stier had extended to Mr.
Donton.6
PETER T. DONTON, Complainant,
Complainant averred that respondent’s act of preparing the Occupancy Agreement,
vs.ATTY. EMMANUEL O. TANSINGCO, Respondent. despite knowledge that Stier, being a foreign national, is disqualified to own real
property in his name, constitutes serious misconduct and is a deliberate violation of
the Code. Complainant prayed that respondent be disbarred for advising Stier to do
DECISION something in violation of law and assisting Stier in carrying out a dishonest scheme.

CARPIO, J.: In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that complainant filed the
disbarment case against him upon the instigation of complainant’s counsel, Atty.
The Case Bonifacio A. Alentajan,7 because respondent refused to act as complainant’s witness
in the criminal case against Stier and Maggay. Respondent admitted that he
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco "prepared and notarized" the Occupancy Agreement and asserted its genuineness
("respondent") for serious misconduct and deliberate violation of Canon 1,1 Rules and due execution.
1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code").
In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter to the Integrated
The Facts Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.

The IBP’s Report and Recommendation


In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton ("complainant") stated that he
filed a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of a public document 4 against
Duane O. Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A. Maggay ("Maggay") and respondent, as the In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), Commissioner Milagros V. San
notary public who notarized the Occupancy Agreement. Juan ("Commissioner San Juan") of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline found
respondent liable for taking part in a "scheme to circumvent the constitutional
The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-charge for prohibition against foreign ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner San
perjury5 against complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, stated that: Juan recommended respondent’s suspension from the practice of law for two years
and the cancellation of his commission as Notary Public.

5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was prepared and
notarized by me under the following circumstances: In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of Governors
adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended respondent’s suspension
from the practice of law for six months.
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a real property
located at No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, Cubao,
Quezon City. On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as
provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B8 of the Rules of Court.

B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier – a U.S. citizen and thereby


disqualified to own real property in his name – agreed that the property On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before the IBP.
be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino. Respondent stated that he was already 76 years old and would already retire by 2005
after the termination of his pending cases. He also said that his practice of law is his
only means of support for his family and his six minor children.
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to prepare several
documents that would guarantee recognition of him being the actual owner
of the property despite the transfer of title in the name of Mr. Donton. In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for reconsideration
because the IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case as the matter had already been
referred to the Court.
D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY
AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr. Stier’s free and undisturbed use of the
The Ruling of the Court
property for his residence and business operations. The OCCUPANCY

The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code.
31
A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which will involve
defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey.9 A lawyer who assists a
client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in violating the law commits an act
which justifies disciplinary action against the lawyer.10

By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen, was disqualified
from owning real property.11Yet, in his motion for reconsideration,12 respondent
admitted that he caused the transfer of ownership to the parcel of land to Stier.
Respondent, however, aware of the prohibition, quickly rectified his act and
transferred the title in complainant’s name. But respondent provided "some
safeguards" by preparing several documents,13including the Occupancy Agreement,
that would guarantee Stier’s recognition as the actual owner of the property despite
its transfer in complainant’s name. In effect, respondent advised and aided Stier in
circumventing the constitutional prohibition against foreign ownership of lands 14 by
preparing said documents.

Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his oath and the
Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy Agreement to evade the law
against foreign ownership of lands. Respondent used his knowledge of the law to
achieve an unlawful end. Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which
he may be suspended.15

In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended from the practice
of law for three years for preparing an affidavit that virtually permitted him to commit
concubinage. In In re: Santiago,17 respondent Atty. Santiago was suspended from
the practice of law for one year for preparing a contract which declared the spouses
to be single again after nine years of separation and allowed them to contract
separately subsequent marriages.

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


violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the
practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant to be
appended to respondent’s personal record as an attorney, the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.

32
G.R. No. 104599 March 11, 1994 Petitioner then filed an action with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC,
for brevity), Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI, Bacolod City, on October 17, 1984,
JON DE YSASI III, petitioner, docketed therein as RAB Case No. 0452-84, against private respondent for illegal
dismissal with prayer for reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and payment of
full back wages, thirteenth month pay for 1983, consequential, moral and exemplary
vs.NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FOURTH DIVISION), CEBU damages, as well as attorney's fees.
CITY, and JON DE YSASI,respondents.
On July 31, 1991, said complaint for illegal dismissal was dismissed by the
REGALADO, J.: NLRC, 1 holding that petitioner abandoned his work and that the termination of his
employment was for a valid cause, but ordering private respondent to pay petitioner
The adage that blood is thicker than water obviously stood for naught in this case, the amount of P5,000.00 as penalty for his failure to serve notice of said termination
notwithstanding the vinculum of paternity and filiation between the parties. It would of employment to the Department of Labor and Employment as required by Batas
indeed have been the better part of reason if herein petitioner and private respondent Pambansa Blg. 130 and consonant with this Court's ruling in Wenphil Corporation
had reconciled their differences in an extrajudicial atmosphere of familial amity and vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. 2 On appeal to the Fourth Division of
with the grace of reciprocal concessions. Father and son opted instead for judicial the NLRC, Cebu City, said decision was affirmed in toto. 3
intervention despite the inevitable acrimony and negative publicity. Albeit with
distaste, the Court cannot proceed elsewise but to resolve their dispute with the same His motion for reconsideration 4 of said decision having been denied for lack of
reasoned detachment accorded any judicial proceeding before it. merit, 5 petitioner filed this petition presenting the following issues for resolution: (1)
whether or not the petitioner was illegally dismissed; (2) whether or not he is entitled
The records of this case reveal that petitioner was employed by his father, herein to reinstatement, payment of back wages, thirteenth month pay and other benefits;
private respondent, as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao in Hinigaran, Negros and (3) whether or not he is entitled to payment of moral and exemplary damages
Occidental sometime in April, 1980. Prior thereto, he was successively employed as and attorney's fees because of illegal dismissal. The discussion of these issues will
sales manager of Triumph International (Phil.), Inc. and later as operations manager necessarily subsume the corollary questions presented by private respondent, such
of Top Form Manufacturing (Phil.), Inc. His employment as farm administrator was on as the exact date when petitioner ceased to function as farm administrator, the
a fixed salary, with other allowances covering housing, food, light, power, telephone, character of the pecuniary amounts received by petitioner from private respondent,
gasoline, medical and dental expenses. that is, whether the same are in the nature of salaries or pensions, and whether or not
there was abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm administrator.
As farm administrator, petitioner was responsible for the supervision of daily activities
and operations of the sugarcane farm such as land preparation, planting, weeding, In his manifestation dated September 14, 1992, the Solicitor General recommended a
fertilizing, harvesting, dealing with third persons in all matters relating to modification of the decision of herein public respondent sustaining the findings and
the hacienda and attending to such other tasks as may be assigned to him by private conclusions of the Executive Labor Arbiter in RAB Case No. 0452-84, 6 for which
respondent. For this purpose, he lived on the farm, occupying the upper floor of the reason the NLRC was required to submit its own comment on the petition. In
house there. compliance with the Court's resolution of November 16, 1992, 7 NLRC filed its
comment on February 12, 1992 largely reiterating its earlier position in support of the
findings of the Executive Labor Arbiter. 8
Following his marriage on June 6, 1982, petitioner moved to Bacolod City with his
wife and commuted to work daily. He suffered various ailments and was hospitalized
on two separate occasions in June and August, 1982. In November, 1982, he Before proceeding with a discussion of the issues, the observation of the labor arbiter
underwent fistulectomy, or the surgical removal of the fistula, a deep sinuous ulcer. is worth noting:
During his recuperation which lasted over four months, he was under the care of Dr.
Patricio Tan. In June, 1983, he was confined for acute gastroenteritis and, thereafter, This case is truly unique. What makes this case unique is the fact
for infectious hepatitis from December, 1983 to January, 1984. that because of the special relationship of the parties and the
nature of the action involved, this case could very well go down (in)
During the entire periods of petitioner's illnesses, private respondent took care of his the annals of the Commission as perhaps the first of its kind. For
medical expenses and petitioner continued to receive compensation. However, in this case is an action filed by an only son, his father's namesake,
April, 1984, without due notice, private respondent ceased to pay the latter's salary. the only child and therefore the only heir against his own father. 9
Petitioner made oral and written demands for an explanation for the sudden
withholding of his salary from Atty. Apolonio Sumbingco, private respondent's auditor Additionally, the Solicitor General remarked:
and legal adviser, as well as for the remittance of his salary. Both demands, however,
were not acted upon.
33
. . . After an exhaustive reading of the records, two (2) observations We are constrained to heed the underlying policy in the Labor Code relaxing the
were noted that may justify why this labor case deserves special application of technical rules of procedure in labor cases in the interest of due
considerations. First, most of the complaints that petitioner and process, ever mindful of the long-standing legal precept that rules of procedure must
private respondent had with each other, were personal matters be interpreted to help secure, not defeat, justice. For this reason, we cannot indulge
affecting father and son relationship. And secondly, if any of the private respondent in his tendency to nitpick on trivial technicalities to boost his
complaints pertain to their work, they allow their personal arguments. The strength of one's position cannot be hinged on mere procedural
relationship to come in the way. 10 niceties but on solid bases in law and jurisprudence.

I. Petitioner maintains that his dismissal from employment was illegal because of want The fundamental guarantees of security of tenure and due process dictate that no
of just cause therefor and non-observance of the requirements of due process. He worker shall be dismissed except for just and authorized cause provided by law and
also charges the NLRC with grave abuse of discretion in relying upon the findings of after due process. 14 Article 282 of the Labor Code enumerates the causes for which
the executive labor arbiter who decided the case but did not conduct the hearings an employer may validly terminate an employment, to wit:
thereof. (a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the lawful orders of
his employer or representative in connection with his work; (b) gross and habitual
Private respondent, in refutation, avers that there was abandonment by petitioner of neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) fraud or willful breach by the employee of
his functions as farm administrator, thereby arming private respondent with a ground the trust reposed in him by his employer or duly authorized representative; (d)
to terminate his employment at Hacienda Manucao. It is also contended that it is commission of a crime or offense by the employee against the person of his employer
wrong for petitioner to question the factual findings of the executive labor arbiter and or any immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; and (e)
the NLRC as only questions of law may be appealed for resolution by this Court. other causes analogous to the foregoing.
Furthermore, in seeking the dismissal of the instant petition, private respondent faults
herein petitioner for failure to refer to the corresponding pages of the transcripts of The employer may also terminate the services of any employee due to the installation
stenographic notes, erroneously citing Sections 15(d) and 16(d), Rule 44 (should be of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to prevent losses or the closing or
Section 16[c] and [d], cessation of operation of the establishment or undertaking, unless the closing is for
Rule 46 and Section 1[g], Rule 50) of the Rules of Court, which provide that want of the purpose of circumventing the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code, by serving a
page references to the records is a ground for dismissal of an appeal. written notice on the workers and the Department of Labor and Employment at least
one (1) month before the intended date thereof, with due entitlement to the
Prefatorily, we take advertence of the provisions of Article 221 of the Labor Code that corresponding separation pay rates provided by law. 15 Suffering from a disease by
technical rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law and equity shall not be reason whereof the continued employment of the employee is prohibited by law or is
controlling, and that every and all reasonable means to speedily and objectively prejudicial to his and his co-employee's health, is also a ground for termination of his
ascertain the facts in each case shall be availed of, without regard to technicalities of services provided he receives the prescribed separation pay. 16 On the other hand, it
law or procedure in the interest of due process. is well-settled that abandonment by an employee of his work authorizes the employer
to effect the former's dismissal from employment. 17

It is settled that it is not procedurally objectionable for the decision in a case to be


rendered by a judge, or a labor arbiter for that matter, other than the one who After a careful review of the records of this case, we find that public respondent
conducted the hearing. The fact that the judge who heard the case was not the judge gravely erred in affirming the decision of the executive labor arbiter holding that
who penned the decision does not impair the validity of the judgment, 11 provided that petitioner abandoned his employment and was not illegally dismissed from such
he draws up his decision and resolution with due care and makes certain that they employment. For want of substantial bases, in fact or
truly and accurately reflect conclusions and final dispositions on the bases of the facts in law, we cannot give the stamp of finality and conclusiveness normally accorded to
of and evidence submitted in the case. 12 the factual findings of an administrative agency, such as herein public respondent
NLRC, 18 as even decisions of administrative agencies which are declared "final" by
law are not exempt from judicial review when so warranted. 19
Thus, the mere fact that the case was initially assigned to Labor Arbiter Ricardo T.
Octavio, who conducted the hearings therein from December 5, 1984 to July 11,
1985, and was later transferred to Executive Labor Arbiter Oscar S. Uy, who The following perceptive disquisitions of the Solicitor General on this point deserve
eventually decided the case, presents no procedural infirmity, especially considering acceptance:
that there is a presumption of regularity in the performance of a public officer's
functions, 13 which petitioner has not successfully rebutted. It is submitted that the absences of petitioner in his work from
October 1982 to December 1982, cannot be construed as
abandonment of work because he has a justifiable excuse.
Petitioner was suffering from perennial abscess in the peri-anal
34
around the anus and fistula under the medical attention of Dr. There are significant indications in this case, that there is no
Patricio Tan of Riverside Medical Center, Inc., Bacolod City (Tsn, abandonment. First, petitioner's absence and his decision to leave
Vol. III, Dr. Tan, February 19, 1986 at 20-44). his residence inside Hacienda Manucao, is justified by his illness
and strained family relations. Second he has some medical
This fact (was) duly communicated to private respondent by certificates to show his frail health. Third, once able to work,
medical bills sent to Hacienda Manucao (Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, petitioner wrote a letter (Annex "J") informing private respondent of
January 22, 1987 at 49-50). his intention to assume again his employment. Last, but not the
least, he at once instituted a complaint for illegal dismissal when he
realized he was unjustly dismissed. All these are indications that
During the period of his illness and recovery, petitioner stayed in petitioner had no intention to abandon his employment. 20
Bacolod City upon the instruction(s) of private respondent to
recuperate thereat and to handle only administrative matters of the
hacienda in that city. As a manager, petitioner is not really obliged The records show that the parties herein do not dispute the fact of petitioner's
to live and stay 24 hours a day inside Hacienda Manucao. confinement in the hospital for his various afflictions which required medical
treatment. Neither can it be denied that private respondent was well aware of
petitioner's state of health as the former admittedly shouldered part of the medical
xxx xxx xxx and hospital bills and even advised the latter to stay in Bacolod City until he was fit to
work again. The disagreement as to whether or not petitioner's ailments were so
After evaluating the evidence within the context of the special serious as to necessitate hospitalization and corresponding periods for recuperation
circumstances involved and basic human experience, petitioner's is beside the point. The fact remains that on account of said illnesses, the details of
illness and strained family relation with respondent Jon de Ysasi II which were amply substantiated by the attending physician, 21 and as the records are
may be considered as justifiable reason for petitioner Jon de Ysasi bereft of any suggestion of malingering on the part of petitioner, there was justifiable
III's absence from work during the period of October 1982 to cause for petitioner's absence from work. We repeat, it is clear, deliberate and
December 1982. In any event, such absence does not warrant unjustified refusal to resume employment and not mere absence that is required to
outright dismissal without notice and hearing. constitute abandonment as a valid ground for termination of employment. 22

xxx xxx xxx With his position as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao, petitioner unmistakably
may be classified as a managerial employee 23 to whom the law grants an amount of
The elements of abandonment as a ground for dismissal of an discretion in the discharge of his duties. This is why when petitioner stated that "I
employee are as follows: assigned myself where I want to go," 24 he was simply being candid about what he
could do within the sphere of his authority. His duties as farm administrator did not
strictly require him to keep regular hours or to be at the office premises at all times, or
(1) failure to report for work or absence without to be subjected to specific control from his employer in every aspect of his work. What
valid or justifiable reason; and (2) clear intention is essential only is that he runs the farm as efficiently and effectively as possible and,
to sever the employer-employee tie (Samson while petitioner may definitely not qualify as a model employee, in this regard he
Alcantara, Reviewer in Labor and Social proved to be quite successful, as there was at least a showing of increased
Legislation, 1989 edition, p. 133). production during the time that petitioner was in charge of farm operations.

This Honorable Court, in several cases, illustrates what constitute If, as private respondent contends, he had no control over petitioner during the years
abandonment. In Dagupan Bus Company v. NLRC (191 SCRA 1983 to 1984, this is because that was the period when petitioner was recuperating
328), the Court rules that for abandonment to arise, there must be a from illness and on account of which his attendance and direct involvement in farm
concurrence of the intention to abandon and some overt act from operations were irregular and minimal, hence the supervision and control exercisable
which it may be inferred that the employee has no more interest to by private respondent as employer was necessarily limited. It goes without saying that
work. Similarly, in Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, the control contemplated refers only to matters relating to his functions as farm
Inc. v. NLRC(184 SCRA 25), for abandonment to constitute a valid administrator and could not extend to petitioner's personal affairs and activities.
cause for termination of employment, there must be a deliberate,
unjustified refusal of the employee to resume his employment. . .
Mere absence is not sufficient; it must be accompanied by overt While it was taken for granted that for purposes of discharging his duties as farm
acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the employee simply does administrator, petitioner would be staying at the house in the farm, there really was no
not want to work anymore. explicit contractual stipulation (as there was no formal employment contract to begin
with) requiring him to stay therein for the duration of his employment or that any
35
transfer of residence would justify the termination of his employment. That petitioner It will be recalled that private respondent himself admitted being unsure of his son's
changed his residence should not be taken against him, as this is undeniably among plans of returning to work. The absence of petitioner from work since mid-1982,
his basic rights, nor can such fact of transfer of residence per se be a valid ground to prolonged though it may have been, was not without valid causes of which private
terminate an employer-employee relationship. respondent had full knowledge. As to what convinced or led him to believe that
petitioner was no longer returning to work, private respondent neither explains nor
Private respondent, in his pleadings, asserted that as he was yet uncertain of his substantiates by any reasonable basis how he arrived at such a conclusion.
son's intention of returning to work after his confinement in the hospital, he kept
petitioner on the payroll, reported him as an employee of thehacienda for social Moreover, private respondent's claim of abandonment cannot be given credence as
security purposes, and paid his salaries and benefits with the mandated deductions even after January, 1983, when private respondent supposedly "became convinced"
therefrom until the end of December, 1982. It was only in January, 1983 when he that petitioner would no longer work at the farm, the latter continued to perform
became convinced that petitioner would no longer return to work that he considered services directly required by his position as farm administrator. These are duly and
the latter to have abandoned his work and, for this reason, no longer listed him as an correspondingly evidenced by such acts as picking up some farm
employee. According to private respondent, whatever amount of money was given to machinery/equipment from G.A. Machineries, Inc., 28 claiming and paying for
petitioner from that time until additional farm equipment and machinery shipped by said firm from Manila to
April, 1984 was in the nature of a pension or an allowance or mere gratuitous doles Bacolod through Zip Forwarders, 29 getting the payment of the additional cash
from a father to a son, and not salaries as, in fact, none of the usual deductions were advances for molasses for crop year 1983-1984 from Agrotex Commodities,
made therefrom. It was only in April, 1984 that private respondent completely stopped Inc., 30 and remitting to private respondent through
giving said pension or allowance when he was angered by what he heard petitioner Atty. Sumbingco the sums collected along with receipts for medicine and oil. 31
had been saying about sending him to jail.
It will be observed that all of these chores, which petitioner took care of, relate to the
Private respondent capitalizes on the testimony of one Manolo Gomez taken on oral normal activities and operations of the farm. True, it is a father's prerogative to
deposition regarding petitioner's alleged statement to him, "(h)e quemado los request or even command his child to run errands for him. In the present case,
(p)ue(n)tes de Manucao" ("I have burned my bridges with Manucao") as expressive of however, considering the nature of these transactions, as well as the property values
petitioner's intention to abandon his job. In addition to insinuations of sinister motives and monetary sums involved, it is unlikely that private respondent would leave the
on the part of petitioner in working at the farm and thereafter abandoning the job upon matter to just anyone. Prudence dictates that these matters be handled by someone
accomplishment of his objectives, private respondent takes the novel position that the who can be trusted or at least be held accountable therefor, and who is familiar with
agreement to support his son after the latter abandoned the administration of the farm the terms, specifications and other details relative thereto, such as an employee. If
legally converts the initial abandonment to implied voluntary resignation. 25 indeed petitioner had abandoned his job or was considered to have done so by
private respondent, it would be awkward, or even out of place, to expect or to oblige
As earlier mentioned, petitioner ripostes that private respondent undoubtedly knew petitioner to concern himself with matters relating to or expected of him with respect
about petitioner's illness and even paid for his hospital and other medical bills. The to what would then be his past and terminated employment. It is hard to imagine what
assertion regarding abandonment of work, petitioner argues, is further belied by his further authority an employer can have over a dismissed employee so as to compel
continued performance of various services related to the operations of the farm from him to continue to perform work-related tasks:
May to the last quarter of 1983, his persistent inquiries from his father's accountant
and legal adviser about the reason why his pension or allowance was discontinued It is also significant that the special power of attorney 32 executed
since April, 1984, and his indication of having recovered and his willingness and by private respondent on June 26, 1980 in favor of petitioner, specifically stating —
capability to resume his work at the farm as expressed in a letter dated September
14, 1984. 26 With these, petitioner contends that it is immaterial how the monthly xxx xxx xxx
pecuniary amounts are designated, whether as salary, pension or allowance, with or
without deductions, as he was entitled thereto in view of his continued service as farm
administrator. 27 That I, JON de YSASI, Filipino, of legal age, married, and a
resident of Hda. Manucao, hereinafter called and referred to as
PRINCIPAL, am a sugarcane planter, BISCOM Mill District, and a
To stress what was earlier mentioned, in order that a finding of abandonment may duly accredited planter-member of the BINALBAGAN-ISABELA
justly be made there must be a concurrence of two elements, viz.: (1) the failure to PLANTERS' ASSOCIATION, INC.;
report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason, and (2) a clear intention
to sever the employer-employee relationship, with the second element as the more
determinative factor and being manifested by some overt acts. Such intent we find That as such planter-member of BIPA, I have check/checks with
dismally wanting in this case. BIPA representing payment for all checks and papers to which I am
entitled to (sic) as such planter-member;

36
That I have named, appointed and constituted as by these slips or in the receipts prepared by private respondent cannot be deemed to be
presents determinative of petitioner's employment status in view of the peculiar circumstances
I HEREBY NAME, APPOINT AND CONSTITUTE as my true and above set out. Besides, if such amounts were truly in the nature of allowances given
lawful ATTORNEY-IN-FACT by a parent out of concern for his child's welfare, it is rather unusual that receipts
therefor 37 should be necessary and required as if they were ordinary business
JON de YSASI III expenditures.

whose specimen signature is hereunder affixed, TO GET FOR ME Neither can we subscribe to private respondent's theory that petitioner's alleged
and in my name, place and stead, my check/checks abandonment was converted into an implied voluntary resignation on account of the
aforementioned, said ATTORNEY-IN-FACT being herein given the father's agreement to support his son after the latter abandoned his work. As we have
power and authority to sign for me and in my name, place and determined that no abandonment took place in this case, the monthly sums received
stead, the receipt or receipts or payroll for the said check/checks. by petitioner, regardless of designation, were in consideration for services rendered
PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that my said ATTORNEY-IN-FACT emanating from an employer-employee relationship and were not of a character that
cannot cash the said check/checks, but to turn the same over to me can qualify them as mere civil support given out of parental duty and solicitude. We
for my proper disposition. are also hard put to imagine how abandonment can be impliedly converted into a
voluntary resignation without any positive act on the part of the employee conveying a
desire to terminate his employment. The very concept of resignation as a ground for
That I HEREBY RATIFY AND CONFIRM the acts of my termination by the employee of his employment 38 does not square with the elements
Attorney-in-Fact in getting the said check/checks and signing the constitutive of abandonment.
receipts therefor.
On procedural considerations, petitioner posits that there was a violation by private
That I further request that my said check/checks be made a respondent of the due process requirements under the Labor Code for want of notice
"CROSSED CHECK". and hearing. 39 Private respondent, in opposition, argues that Section 2, Rule XIV,
Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code applies only to cases
xxx xxx xxx where the employer seeks to terminate the services of an employee on any of the
grounds enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code, but not to the situation
remained in force even after petitioner's employment was supposed to have been obtaining in this case where private respondent did not dismiss petitioner on any
ground since it was petitioner who allegedly abandoned his employment. 40
terminated by reason of abandonment. Furthermore, petitioner's numerous requests
for an explanation regarding the stoppage of his salaries and benefits, 33 the issuance
of withholding tax reports, 34 as well as correspondence reporting his full recovery and The due process requirements of notice and hearing applicable to labor cases are set
readiness to go back to work, 35 and, specifically, his filing of the complaint for illegal out in Rule XIV, Book V of the Omnibus Rules Implementing the Labor Code in this
dismissal are hardly the acts of one who has abandoned his work. wise:

We are likewise not impressed by the deposition of Manolo Gomez, as witness for Sec. 2. Notice of Dismissal. — Any employer who seeks to dismiss
private respondent, ascribing statements to petitioner supposedly indicative of the a worker shall furnish him a written notice stating the particular acts
latter's intention to abandon his work. We perceive the irregularity in the taking of or omission(s) constituting the grounds for his dismissal. In cases of
such deposition without the presence of petitioner's counsel, and the failure of private abandonment of work, notice shall be served at the worker's last
respondent to serve reasonably advance notice of its taking to said counsel, thereby known address.
foreclosing his opportunity to
cross-examine the deponent. Private respondent also failed to serve notice thereof on xxx xxx xxx
the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI of the NLRC, as certified to by Administrative
Assistant Celestina G. Ovejera of said office. 36 Fair play dictates that at such an
important stage of the proceedings, which involves the taking of testimony, both Sec. 5. Answer and hearing. — The worker may answer the
parties must be afforded equal opportunity to examine and cross-examine a witness. allegations as stated against him in the notice of dismissal within a
reasonable period from receipt of such notice. The employer shall
afford the worker ample opportunity to be heard and to defend
As to the monthly monetary amounts given to petitioner, whether denominated as himself with the assistance of his representative, if he so desires.
salary, pension, allowance orex gratia handout, there is no question as to petitioner's
entitlement thereto inasmuch as he continued to perform services in his capacity as
farm administrator. The change in description of said amounts contained in the pay
37
Sec. 6. Decision to dismiss. — The employer shall immediately somehow showed that he failed to notify the
notify a worker in writing of a decision to dismiss him stating clearly Department of
the reasons therefor. Labor and Employment for his sons'
(sic)/complainants' (sic) aba(n)donment as
Sec. 7. Right to contest dismissal. — Any decision taken by the required by BP 130. And for this failure, the other
employer shall be without prejudice to the right of the worker to requisite for a valid termination by an employer
contest the validity or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint was not complied with. This however, would not
with the Regional Branch of the Commission. work to invalidate the otherwise (sic) existence of
a valid cause for dismissal. The validity of the
cause of dismissal must be upheld at all times
xxx xxx xxx provided however that sanctions must be
imposed on the respondent for his failure to
Sec. 11. Report of dismissal. — The employer shall submit a observe the notice on due process requirement.
monthly report to the Regional Office having jurisdiction over the (Wenphil Corp. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 80587).
place of work at all dismissals effected by him during the month, (Decision Labor Arbiter, at 11-12, Annex "C"
specifying therein the names of the dismissed workers, the reasons Petition), . . .
for their dismissal, the dates of commencement and termination of
employment, the positions last held by them and such other This is thus a very different case from Wenphil Corporation
information as may be required by the Ministry for policy guidance v. NLRC, 170 SCRA 69. In Wenphil, the rule applied to the facts is:
and statistical purposes. once an employee is dismissed for just cause, he must not be
rewarded
Private respondent's argument is without merit as there can be no question that re-employment and backwages for failure of his employer to
petitioner was denied his right to due process since he was never given any notice observe procedural due process. The public policy behind this is
about his impending dismissal and the grounds therefor, much less a chance to be that, it may encourage the employee to do even worse and render
heard. Even as private respondent controverts the applicability of the mandatory twin a mockery of the rules of discipline required to be observed.
requirements of procedural due process in this particular case, he in effect admits that However, the employer must be penalized for his infraction of due
no notice was served by him on petitioner. This fact is corroborated by the process. In the present case, however, not only was petitioner
certification issued on September 5, 1984 by the Regional Director for Region VI of dismissed without due process, but his dismissal is without just
the Department of Labor that no notice of termination of the employment of petitioner cause. Petitioner did not abandon his employment because he has
was submitted thereto. 41 a justifiable excuse. 43

Granting arguendo that there was abandonment in this case, it nonetheless cannot be II. Petitioner avers that the executive labor arbiter erred in disregarding the mandatory
denied that notice still had to be served upon the employee sought to be dismissed, provisions of Article 279 of the Labor Code which entitles an illegally dismissed
as the second sentence of Section 2 of the pertinent implementing rules explicitly employee to reinstatement and back wages and, instead, affirmed the imposition of
requires service thereof at the employee's last known address, by way of substantial the penalty of P5,000.00 on private respondent for violation of the due process
compliance. While it is conceded that it is the employer's prerogative to terminate an requirements. Private respondent, for his part, maintains that there was error in
employee, especially when there is just cause therefor, the requirements of due imposing the fine because that penalty contemplates the failure to submit the
process cannot be lightly taken. The law does not countenance the arbitrary exercise employer's report on dismissed employees to the DOLE regional office, as required
of such a power or prerogative when it has the effect of undermining the fundamental under Section 5 (now, Section 11), Rule XIV of the implementing rules, and not the
guarantee of security of tenure in favor of the employee. 42 failure to serve notice upon the employee sought to be dismissed by the employer.

On the executive labor arbiter's misplaced reliance on the Wenphil case, the Solicitor Both the Constitution and the Labor Code enunciate in no uncertain terms the right of
General rejoins as follows: every worker to security of tenure. 44 To give teeth to this constitutional and statutory
mandates, the Labor Code spells out the relief available to an employee in case of its
The Labor Arbiter held thus: denial:

While we are in full agreement with the Art. 279. Security of Tenure. — In cases of regular employment, the
respondent as to his defense of implied employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for
resignation and/or abandonment, records a just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is
38
unjustly dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement Moral damages, under Article 2217 of the Civil Code, may be awarded to compensate
without loss of seniority rights and other privileges and to his full one for diverse injuries such as mental anguish, besmirched reputation, wounded
backwages, inclusive of allowances, and to his other benefits of feelings, and social humiliation, provided that such injuries spring from a wrongful act
their monetary equivalent computed from the time his or omission of the defendant which was the proximate cause thereof. 50Exemplary
compensation was withheld from him up to the time of actual damages, under Article 2229, are imposed by way of example or correction for the
reinstatement. public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated or compensatory damages.
They are not recoverable as a matter of right, it being left to the court to decide
Clearly, therefore, an employee is entitled to reinstatement with full back wages in the whether or not they should be adjudicated. 51
absence of just cause for dismissal. 45 The Court, however, on numerous occasions
has tempered the rigid application of said provision of the Labor Code, recognizing We are well aware of the Court's rulings in a number of cases in the past allowing
that in some cases certain events may have transpired as would militate against the recovery of moral damages where the dismissal of the employee was attended by
practicability of granting the relief thereunder provided, and declares that where there bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act oppressive to labor, or was done in a manner
are strained relations between the employer and the employee, payment of back contrary to morals, good customs or public policy, 52 and of exemplary damages if the
wages and severance pay may be awarded instead of reinstatement, 46 and more dismissal was effected in a wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner. 53 We do not
particularly when managerial employees are concerned. 47 Thus, where reinstatement feel, however, that an award of the damages prayed for in this petition would be
is no longer possible, it is therefore appropriate that the dismissed employee be given proper even if, seemingly, the facts of the case justify their allowance. In the
his fair and just share of what the law accords him. 48 aforestated cases of illegal dismissal where moral and exemplary damages were
awarded, the dismissed employees were genuinely without fault and were
We note with favor and give our imprimatur to the Solicitor General's ratiocination, to undoubtedly victims of the erring employers' capricious exercise of power.
wit:
In the present case, we find that both petitioner and private respondent can equally
As a general rule, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from be faulted for fanning the flames which gave rise to and ultimately aggravated this
work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority controversy, instead of sincerely negotiating a peaceful settlement of their disparate
rights and to his backwages computed from the time his claims. The records reveal how their actuations seethed with mutual antagonism and
compensation was withheld up to the time of his reinstatement. the undeniable enmity between them negates the likelihood that either of them acted
(Morales vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295). But in Pacific Cement in good faith. It is apparent that each one has a cause for damages against the other.
Company, Inc. vs. NLRC, 173 SCRA 192, this Honorable Court For this reason, we hold that no moral or exemplary damages can rightfully be
held that when it comes to reinstatement, differences should be awarded to petitioner.
made between managers and the ordinary workingmen. The Court
concluded that a company which no longer trusts its managers On this score, we are once again persuaded by the validity of the following
cannot operate freely in a competitive and profitable manner. The recommendation of the Solicitor General:
NLRC should know the difference between managers and ordinary
workingmen. It cannot imprudently order the reinstatement of The Labor Arbiter's decision in RAB Case No. 0452-84 should be
managers with the same ease and liberality as that of rank and file modified. There was no voluntary abandonment in this case
workers who had been terminated. Similarly, a reinstatement may because petitioner has a justifiable excuse for his absence, or such
not be appropriate or feasible in case of antipathy or antagonism absence does not warrant outright dismissal without notice and
between the parties (Morales, vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295). hearing. Private respondent, therefore, is guilty of illegal dismissal.
He should be ordered to pay backwages for a period not exceeding
In the present case, it is submitted that petitioner should not be three years from date of dismissal. And in lieu of reinstatement,
reinstated as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao. The present petitioner may be paid separation pay equivalent to one (1)
relationship of petitioner and private respondent (is) so strained that month('s) salary for every year of service, a fraction of six months
a harmonious and peaceful employee-employer relationship is being considered as one (1) year in accordance with recent
hardly possible. 49 jurisprudence (Tan, Jr. vs. NLRC, 183 SCRA 651). But all claims
for damages should be dismissed, for both parties are equally at
III. Finally, petitioner insists on an award of moral damages, arguing that his dismissal fault. 54
from employment was attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted oppression, or
was contrary to morals, good customs or public policy. He further prays for exemplary The conduct of the respective counsel of the parties, as revealed by the records,
damages to serve as a deterrent against similar acts of unjust dismissal by other sorely disappoints the Court and invites reproof. Both counsel may well be reminded
employers. that their ethical duty as lawyers to represent their clients with
39
zeal 55 goes beyond merely presenting their clients' respective causes in court. It is Narvasa, C.J., Padilla, Nocon and Puno, JJ., concur.
just as much their responsibility, if not more importantly, to exert all reasonable efforts
to smooth over legal conflicts, preferably out of court and especially in consideration
of the direct and immediate consanguineous ties between their clients. Once again,
we reiterate that the useful function of a lawyer is not only to conduct litigation but to
avoid it whenever possible by advising settlement or withholding suit. He is often
called upon less for dramatic forensic exploits than for wise counsel in every phase of
life. He should be a mediator for concord and a conciliator for compromise, rather
than a virtuoso of technicality in the conduct of litigation. 56

Rule 1.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that "(a)
lawyer shall encourage his client to avoid, end or settle the controversy if it will admit
of a fair settlement." On this point, we find that both counsel herein fell short of what
was expected of them, despite their avowed duties as officers of the court. The
records do not show that they took pains to initiate steps geared toward effecting a
rapprochement between their clients. On the contrary, their acerbic and protracted
exchanges could not but have exacerbated the situation even as they may have
found favor in the equally hostile eyes of their respective clients.

In the same manner, we find that the labor arbiter who handled this regrettable case
has been less than faithful to the letter and spirit of the Labor Code mandating that a
labor arbiter "shall exert all efforts towards the amicable settlement of a labor dispute
within his jurisdiction." 57 If he ever did so, or at least entertained the thought, the
copious records of the proceedings in this controversy are barren of any reflection of
the same.

One final word. This is one decision we do not particularly relish having been obliged
to make. The task of resolving cases involving disputes among members of a family
leaves a bad taste in the mouth and an aversion in the mind, for no truly meaningful
and enduring resolution is really achieved in such situations. While we are convinced
that we have adjudicated the legal issues herein squarely on the bases of law and
jurisprudence, sanssentimentality, we are saddened by the thought that we may have
failed to bring about the reconciliation of the father and son who figured as parties to
this dispute, and that our adherence here to law and duty may unwittingly contribute
to the breaking, instead of the strengthening, of familial bonds. In fine, neither of the
parties herein actually emerges victorious. It is the Court's earnest hope, therefore,
that with the impartial exposition and extended explanation of their respective rights in
this decision, the parties may eventually see their way clear to an ultimate resolution
of their differences on more convivial terms.

WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor Relations Commission is


hereby SET ASIDE. Private respondent is ORDERED to pay petitioner back wages
for a period not exceeding three (3) years, without qualification or deduction, 58 and, in
lieu of reinstatement, separation pay equivalent to one (1) month for every year of
service, a fraction of six (6) months being considered as one (1) whole year.

SO ORDERED.

40
41
Rule 2.02 to expedite his release from detention as well as his departure from the
Philippines.6 Finding Strong to be believable and trustworthy, Atty. Manuel agreed to
A.C. No. 9259 August 23, 2012 handle his case.7

JASPER JUNNO F. RODICA, Complainant, During the course of their meeting, Strong casually mentioned that he has a property
vs. in Boracay and that he suspected his neighbors as the persons who caused his
ATTY. MANUEL "LOLONG" M. LAZARO, ATTY. EDWIN M. ESPEJO, ATTY. ABEL arrest. According to Strong, his live-in partner Rodica filed a Complaint before the
M. ALMARIO, ATTY. MICHELLE B. LAZARO, ATTY. JOSEPH C. TAN, and JOHN Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Kalibo, Aklan, for recovery of possession and
DOES, Respondents. damages8(against Hillview Marketing Corporation9 (Hillview), Stephanie Dornau
(Dornau) as President of Hillview, the Alargo Park Neighborhood Association, Inc.
and spouses Robert and Judy Gregoire) in connection with the 353-square meter
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,* property they bought in Boracay. He disclosed that he and Rodica had been trying to
sell the Boracay property to rid themselves of the problems but could not find buyers
PERLAS-BERNABE,** because of the said case. They even offered the property to Apostol but the latter was
hesitant because of the said pending case. Atty. Manuel averred that towards the end
RESOLUTION of the interview with Strong, Rodica arrived. Strong described Rodica as his
"handyman" who will act as his liaison in the case.

DEL CASTILLO, J.:


Upon inquiry with the Bureau of Immigration, it was discovered that Strong’s arrest
was made pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice; and that Strong is wanted in Brazil for
"The power to disbar or suspend ought always to be exercised on the preservative Conspiracy to Commit Fraud, Setting Up a Gang and Other Related Crimes.
and not on the vindictive principle, with great caution and only for the most weighty Specifically, Strong is being indicted for his alleged involvement in "an international
reasons."1 gang involved in shares fraud which led to the creation of hundreds of millions of
dollars in illegal securities."10 Strong denied any participation in the alleged crime.
This is a Complaint2 for disbarment filed by Jasper Junno F. Rodica (Rodica) against Strong then pleaded with Atty. Manuel to expedite his deportation to any country
Atty. Manuel "Lolong" M. Lazaro (Atty. Manuel), Atty. Edwin M. Espejo (Atty. Espejo), except Brazil and reiterated his willingness to pay the success fee of US$100,000.00.
Atty. Abel M. Almario, (Atty. Almario), Atty. Michelle B. Lazaro (Atty. Michelle), and
Atty. Joseph C. Tan (Atty. Tan) for gross and serious misconduct, deceit, malpractice, In her Complaint, Rodica alleged that in one of her meetings with the lawyers of the
grossly immoral conduct, and violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Lazaro Law Office, she hinted that Atty. Tan, a senior partner at the Marcos Ochoa
Serapio Tan and Associates (MOST Law) and who is also the lawyer of Hillview and
Factual Antecedents Dornau, was instrumental in the immigration case of Strong. According to Rodica,
Atty. Manuel called up Atty. Tan. Thereafter, Atty. Manuel allegedly informed Rodica
that Atty. Tan admitted having initiated the immigration case resulting in the detention
On May 5, 2011, William Strong (Strong), an American, was arrested and detained by
of Strong; that Atty. Tan threatened to do something bad against Rodica and her
the operatives of the Bureau of Immigration. Strong sought the assistance of
family; and that Atty. Tan demanded for Rodica to withdraw the RTC case as part of a
Philip3 G. Apostol (Apostol), a friend and neighbor, to secure the services of a lawyer.
settlement package.
Apostol referred him to Atty. Manuel, who is a partner at the M.M. Lazaro and
Associates Law Office (Lazaro Law Office).
On May 25, 2011, the Bureau of Immigration, rendered its Judgment11 granting the
motion of Strong to voluntarily leave the country. On May 31, 2011, Strong left the
Atty. Manuel initially declined because his law office only handles cases of its retained
Philippines. Subsequently, or on June 6, 2011, Rodica filed with the RTC a motion
clients and those known to him or any of the associate lawyers. 4 However, he was
effectively withdrawing her complaint.
eventually prevailed upon by Apostol who would consider it as a special favor if Atty.
Manuel would handle Strong’s case. Hence, Atty. Manuel, together with Atty. Almario
and Atty. Espejo, senior and junior associates, respectively, at the Lazaro Law Office, Rodica alleged that after the deportation of Strong and the withdrawal of the RTC
agreed to meet Strong at the Taguig Detention Center of the Bureau of Immigration. 5 case, she heard nothing from the Lazaro Law Office. She also claimed that contrary
to her expectations, there was no "simultaneous over-all settlement of her grievances
x x x [with] the defendants [in the RTC] case.12 Thinking that she was deceived,
During the meeting, Atty. Manuel explained to Strong the terms of the Lazaro Law
Rodica filed the instant administrative case. In sum, she claimed that:
Office’s engagement as well as the fees. Strong assured him of his capacity to pay
and offered to pay a success fee of US$100,000.00 should the said law office be able

42
21. RESPONDENT ATTORNEYS (MANUEL, MICHELLE, EDWIN and ABEL) of M.M. Otherwise stated, Rodica claimed that she is a client of the Lazaro Law Office and
LAZARO & ASSOCIATES, furthermore, committed GRAVE MISCONDUCT & that she was deceived into causing the withdrawal of the RTC case. Further, she
DECEIT to complainant and the courts when (among other things): claimed that the Lazaro Law Office collected exorbitant fees from her.

(a.) they mis-represented to complainant that the withdrawal of her case at In their Comment, Atty. Almario and Atty. Espejo admitted being present in the May
the Regional Trial Court at Kalibo (Branch VI-Civil Case No. 8987) was only 13, 2011 meeting with Rodica. They denied, however, that Atty. Manuel talked with
the first step in an over-all settlement package of all her differences with her Atty. Tan during the said meeting, or conveyed the information that Atty. Tan and the
legal adversaries (i.e. Hillview Marketing Corporation and the latter’s officials group of Dornau were the ones behind Strong’s arrest and detention.
/ Stephanie Dornau / Atty. Joseph Tan etc.), which respondent Manuel M.
Lazaro had allegedly already taken care of ; Atty. Almario and Atty. Espejo disputed Rodica’s assertion that the withdrawal of the
RTC case was a condition sine qua non to Strong’s departure from the country. They
(b.) they extorted from her more than P 7 MILLION for alleged professional / pointed out that the Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw Motion for
legal fees and PENALTIES involved in William Strong’s immigration case, Reconsideration14 was filed only on June 3, 2011,15 or nine days after the May 25,
when what actually happened was - 2011 Judgment of the Bureau of Immigration was issued, and three days after Strong
left the country on May 31, 2011. They insisted that Rodica withdrew the RTC case
(c.) as complainant came to know later, almost all of said amount was because it was one of the conditions set by Apostol before buying the Boracay
allegedly used as "pay-off" to immigration, police and Malaca[ñ]ang officials property.
as well as Atty. Joseph Tan, and as ‘graft money’/ ‘kotong’ / ‘lagay’ / "tong-
pats", for the expeditious approval of Mr. William Strong’s voluntary As to the preparation of Rodica’s Motion to Withdraw Motion for Reconsideration
deportation plea with the Bureau of Immigration ; relative to the RTC case, Atty. Espejo claimed that the former begged him to prepare
the said motion. Since the two already became close friends, Atty. Espejo
(d.) they even shamelessly denied the status of the complainant as their accommodated Rodica’s request. He admitted to acceding to Rodica’s requests to
client, just so that they can evade their responsibility to her ; put the name of the Lazaro Law Office, the names of its partners, as well as his
name, in the motion and into signing the same, without the prior knowledge and
consent of the other senior lawyers of the firm. Atty. Espejo claimed that he did all of
(e.) they even submitted concocted stories (re Mr. Apostol’s purchase bid for these out of his good intention to help and assist Rodica in making the Boracay
the Boracay villa of complainant; Atty. Espejo’s attempt to cover-up for property more saleable by freeing it from any pending claims.
Lolong Lazaro and accept sole responsibility for signing the questioned
manifestation and withdrawal documents last May 24, 2011, and many
others) with the Regional Trial Court of Kalibo (Branch VI) just so that they In his Comment,16 Atty. Manuel contended that none of the lawyers of the Lazaro Law
can hide the truth, hide their crimes and go scot free ; Office communicated with Atty. Tan relative to the deportation proceedings or the
RTC case. He claimed that it was highly improbable for the Lazaro Law Office to
impress upon Rodica that it will coordinate with Atty. Tan for the withdrawal of the
22. RESPONDENT Atty. JOSEPH C. TAN on the other hand performed as a willing RTC case to expedite the deportation proceedings as the RTC case was already
partner of ATTY. MANUEL M. LAZARO by acting as ‘conduit’ to his Malacañang dismissed as early as March 29, 2011 for failure to state a cause of action. Atty.
patron ("JOHN DOE") in causing the arrest of William Strong last May 5, 2011, and in Manuel averred that the two cases are incongruous with each other and one cannot
packaging with Lolong Lazaro of the ‘magic formula’ regarding William Strong’s be used to compromise the other.
voluntary deportation bid and the conditions attached thereto as sufficiently explained
;
Atty. Joseph Tan’s Arguments
xxxx
For his part, Atty. Tan asserted that the allegations against him are "double hearsay"
because the same were based on information allegedly relayed to Rodica by Atty.
23. RESPONDENTS also violated THEIR OATH AS x x x ATTORNEYS, especially Manuel, who, in turn, allegedly heard it from Atty. Tan. 17He denied any participation in
with the phrases ". . . I will obey the laws . . . I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the the withdrawal of the RTC case and the arrest and deportation of Strong.
doing of any in court ; . . . I will delay no man for money or malice . . . with all good
fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients . . . " ;13
Atty. Tan stressed that Strong was deported on May 31, 2011. Three days thereafter,
or on June 3, 2011, Rodica, with the assistance of her counsel of record, Atty. Joan I.
Tabanar-Ibutnande (Atty. Ibutnande), filed the Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw
Motion for Reconsideration. He averred that if it is indeed true, as Rodica alleged, that
43
the filing of the said motion was a pre-condition to Strong’s voluntary deportation, Rodica’s assertions that Atty. Tan orchestrated Strong’s arrest and that Atty. Manuel
then the filing of the same should have preceded Strong’s deportation. However, it proposed the withdrawal of the RTC case to facilitate the deportation of Strong, are
was the reverse in this case. mere allegations without proof and belied by the records of the case. "The basic rule
is that mere allegation is not evidence, and is not equivalent to proof." 20 Aside from
Atty. Tan also pointed out that it would be inconceivable for him to participate in her bare assertions, Rodica failed to present even an iota of evidence to prove her
Strong’s arrest as he had already obtained a favorable ruling "on the merits" for his allegations. In fact, the records belie her claims. The documents issued by the Bureau
clients in the RTC case even before Strong was arrested and incarcerated. Besides, of Immigration showed that Strong was the subject of the Interpol Red Notice for
Strong is not a party and had nothing to do with the RTC case. Atty. Tan likewise being a fugitive from justice wanted for crimes allegedly committed in Brazil. 21 His
denied having any dealings with the rest of the respondents insofar as the arrest and warrant of arrest was issued sometime in February 2008. Significantly, even before
voluntary deportation of Strong are concerned. Neither did he receive any phone call Strong was arrested and eventually deported, Atty. Tan had already obtained a
or message from his co-respondents nor did he communicate with them in any favorable judgment for his clients.
manner regarding Strong’s case.
We also agree that it is highly inconceivable for Atty. Tan and the Lazaro Law Office
Issue to concoct the scheme of "pressuring" Rodica to withdraw the RTC case for the
purpose of expediting the deportation proceedings of Strong. The following facts are
undisputed: (1) Rodica’s counsel of record in the RTC is Atty. Ibutnande; (2) the RTC
The sole issue to be resolved is whether the allegations in Rodica’s Complaint merit case was already dismissed in the Order22 of March 29, 2011 for failure to state a
the disbarment or suspension of respondents. cause of action; (3) on April 18, 2011, Rodica through her counsel of record filed a
Motion for Reconsideration; (4) on May 5, 2011, Strong was arrested and detained
Our Ruling pursuant to an Interpol Red Notice; (5) Strong hired the Lazaro Law Office to handle
his deportation case; (6) on May 19, 2011 Strong filed a Manifestation with Omnibus
In Siao v. Atty. De Guzman, Jr.,18 this Court reiterated its oft repeated ruling that in Motion to voluntarily leave the country; (7) the Bureau of Immigration rendered a
suspension or disbarment proceedings, lawyers enjoy the presumption of innocence, Judgment23 dated May 25, 2011 granting Strong’s motion to voluntarily leave the
and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to clearly prove her allegations by country; (8) Strong left the country on May 31, 2011; (9) Rodica’s Manifestation with
preponderant evidence. Elaborating on the required quantum of proof, this Court Motion to Withdraw the Motion for Reconsideration was filed on June 6, 2011; and,
declared thus: (8) acting on the said Manifestation with Motion, the RTC on June 14, 2011 issued an
Order24 granting the same.

Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a
whole, superior to or has greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence Given the chronology of events, there appears no relation between the deportation
which is more convincing to the court as worthy of belief than that which is offered in case and the withdrawal of the RTC case. Thus, it would be specious if not far-
opposition thereto. Under Section 1 of Rule 133, in determining whether or not there fetched to conclude that the withdrawal of the RTC case was a pre-condition to
is preponderance of evidence, the court may consider the following: (a) all the facts Strong’s deportation.
and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses’ manner of testifying, their
intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are As regards the alleged participation of Atty. Manuel in the "settlement package"
testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability theory of Rodica, suffice it to say that Atty. Manuel has in his favor "the presumption
of their testimony; (c) the witnesses’ interest or want of interest, and also their that, as an officer of the court, he regularly performs the duties imposed upon him by
personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the his oath as a lawyer and by the Code of Professional Responsibility." 25 Hence, absent
number of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily any competent evidence to the contrary, Atty. Manuel, as Strong’s counsel, is
with the greater number. (Citations omitted.) presumed to have worked out the release and subsequent deportation of his client in
accordance with the proper procedures.
In the absence of preponderant evidence, the presumption of innocence of the lawyer
continues and the complaint against him must be dismissed.19 Preponderance of evidence shows that
Rodica caused the withdrawal of the
In the present case, the totality of evidence presented by Rodica failed to overcome RTC case to facilitate the sale of the
the said presumption of innocence. Boracay property to Apostol.

Rodica’s claim of "settlement package" We cannot lend credence to Rodica’s allegation that she was deceived by Atty.
is devoid of merit. Manuel, Atty. Espejo, Atty. Almario and Atty. Michelle, another senior associate at the
Lazaro Law Office, into believing that the withdrawal of the RTC case was part of a
44
settlement package to settle her differences with her legal adversaries. We accord thoughts and deliberation she cannot now say that she was manipulated and forced
more credence to the explanation of the respondents, particularly Atty. Espejo, that in in signing the same. The Court perceives plaintiff to be an intelligent woman not to be
the course of rendering legal services to Strong, he had become close to Rodica so swayed of her principles and beliefs and manipulated by others, she may have a
much so that he accommodated Rodica’s request to cause the withdrawal of the RTC fickle mind when it comes to other things but definitely it can not be applied to the
case to facilitate the sale of the Boracay property to Apostol. Court.

In their Joint Comment,26 respondents Attys. Almario, Espejo and Michelle debunked The Court does not see the connection between the instant case and that of William
the opinion of Rodica’s "well-meaning lawyer friends" that the withdrawal of the RTC Strong as alleged by the plaintiff. Mr. Strong is not a party in this case, even plaintiff’s
case "absolve[d] all defendants from any wrong-doing" and made "the contents of her counsel thought so too. From the Motion for Reconsideration filed by Atty. Joan
original complaint practically meaningless." Atty. Almario and Atty. Espejo opined that Ibutnande, it was stated in paragraph 5: "That the undersigned counsel was baffled
since the dismissal of Rodica’s complaint was based on her failure to state a cause of as she did not see any connection [between] the incident surrounding the arrest of
action and without prejudice, the same may simply be re-filed by revising her Mr. William Strong and the above-entitled case filed by the [plaintiff], and told the
complaint and ensuring that it states a cause of action. plaintiff about it x x x." As Mr. Strong is not a party in the instance case, his affairs
whatever they are can not dictate the outcome of this case. 33
As argued by Atty. Manuel, he and his lawyers only acted in the best interest of their
client Strong and rendered services in accordance with the latter’s objective of leaving Moreover, it would appear from her own narration that Rodica is not someone who is
the country and not being deported to Brazil. The Lazaro Law Office cannot be faulted naïve or ignorant. In her complaint, she claimed to be an astute businesswoman who
for the dismissal of the RTC case because it had already been dismissed even before even has some business in Barcelona, Spain. 34 Thus, the more reason we cannot
the Lazaro Law Office was engaged to handle Strong’s immigration case. Besides, lend credence to her claim that she was tricked into believing that the withdrawal of
Rodica admittedly agreed to withdraw her RTC case to meet Apostol’s condition and the RTC case was only preliminary to the complete settlement of all her differences
to make the property marketable. with her perceived adversaries. If such had been the agreement, then a Compromise
Agreement enumerating all the terms and conditions should have been filed instead
Apostol corroborated Atty. Manuel’s statement in his Affidavit 27 of July 21, 2011. He of the Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw the Motion for Reconsideration. In
affirmed that he told Rodica that he would only consider purchasing the Boracay addition, the withdrawal should not have been limited to the RTC case as it appears
property if it is cleared of any pending case so that he can protect himself, as a buyer, that there are other cases pending with other tribunals and agencies35 involving the
from any possible issues that may crop up involving the said property. According to same parties. If Rodica is to be believed, then these cases should likewise have been
him, Rodica assured him that she would work for the termination of the RTC case and dismissed in order to achieve the full and complete settlement of her concerns with
consult her lawyers in Boracay on the matter so she could already sell the property. her adversaries.

It is difficult to imagine that Rodica was deceived by some of the respondent lawyers From the above and by preponderance of evidence, it is clear that Rodica’s purpose
into believing that the withdrawal of the RTC case was only the initial step in the in withdrawing the RTC case is to pave the way for Apostol to purchase the Boracay
settlement of her differences with her adversaries. 28 We went over the said property. In fact, Rodica eventually executed a Deed of Absolute Sale in favor of
Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw the Motion for Reconsideration29 and we note Apostol over the Boracay property.36
that paragraph 6 thereof specifically states:
Rodica’s claim of paying more than P 7
6. However, the Plaintiff respectfully manifests that after much serious thought and million to the Lazaro Law Office is not
deliberation, and considering the anxieties caused by the pendency of the instant substantiated.
case, Plaintiff is no longer interested in pursuing the case. Accordingly, Plaintiff
respectfully moves for the withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration dated April There is likewise no merit in Rodica’s allegation that the Lazaro Law Office extorted
14, 2011 of the Order dated March 29, 2011 dismissing the instant Complaint filed on from her more than P 7 million for alleged professional and legal fees and penalties
April 18, 2011.30 relative to Strong’s immigration case. To support her claim, Rodica attached four
statements of account issued by the Lazaro Law Office for US$2,650.00 under
As already noted by the RTC, Branch 6, Kalibo, Aklan in its Order31 dated April 4, Statement of Account No. 13837,37 US$2,400.00 under Statement of Account No.
2011, in the case for recovery of possession with damages: 32 13838,38 US$1,550.00 under Statement of Account No. 13839 39 and US$8,650.00
under Statement of Account No. 13835,40 or for a total amount of US$15,250.00. She
likewise presented photocopies of portions of her dollar savings account passbook to
This Manifestation was signed by plaintiff, her Manila lawyers and Atty. Joan show where the aforesaid funds came from.
Ibutnande, plaintiff’s counsel on record. From the statements made by plaintiff in her
Manifestation to Withdraw Motion for Reconsideration that she had made serious
45
Considering the prevailing exchange rate at that time, the Court notes that the sum 11.1. Upon seeing Atty. Espejo’s initial draft, Rodica requested Atty. Espejo to include
total of the abovementioned figures in its peso equivalent is far less than P 7 million. x x x the name of the Lazaro Law Office as signatory allegedly to give more credence
In fact, the statements of account even support the contention of Atty. Manuel that and weight to the pleading and to show the defendants in the RTC case her sincere
Strong failed to fully pay the amount of US$100,000.00 as success fee. Anent the intention to terminate the case.
alleged withdrawals from Rodica’s dollar savings account, the same merely
established that she made those withdrawals. They do not constitute as competent Due to Rodica’s pleas and insistence, Atty. Espejo, who among all lawyers of the
proof that the amounts so withdrawn were indeed paid to Lazaro Law Office. Lazaro Law Office, became the most familiar and "chummy" with Rodica, agreed to
include the Lazaro Law Office and put his name as the signatory for the Office. Still
Rodica was not the client of the Lazaro not satisfied, Rodica pleaded with Atty. Espejo to further revise the Motion to
Law Office. Withdraw MR to include the names of Atty. Manuel and Atty. Michelle as signatories
and represented that she herself will cause them to sign it. Relying on Rodica’s
Rodica also faulted the Lazaro Law Office lawyers for disclaiming that she is their representations that she would speak to Atty. Manuel about the matter, Atty. Espejo
client. However, Rodica admitted in paragraph 5 of her unnotarized Sworn obliged to include the name of Atty. Michelle and Atty. Manuel. Rodica repeatedly
Affidavit41 that Atty. Manuel and his lawyer-assistants were "engaged by William reminded Atty. Espejo not to bother Atty. Manuel on the matter and that she herself
Strong to handle his case with the Philippine immigration authorities." Thus, this Court will take it up with Atty. Manuel at the proper time.
is more inclined to believe that the Lazaro Law Office agreed to handle only the
deportation case of Strong and such acceptance cannot be construed as to include 11.2 Atty. Espejo has a soft heart. He signed the pleading only with good intentions of
the RTC case. In fact, all the billings of Lazaro Law Office pertained to the helping and assisting Rodica, the common law wife of a client, whom he had learned
immigration case, and not to the RTC case. To reiterate, the RTC case has nothing to to fancy because of being constantly together and attending to her. He never thought
do with Strong’s deportation case. Records also show that the RTC case was filed ill of Rodica and believed her when she said she would speak to Atty. Lazaro about
long before Strong was arrested and detained. In fact, it had already been dismissed the matter as represented. Atty. Espejo only agreed to sign the pleading for purposes
by the trial court long before Strong engaged the legal services of the Lazaro Law of withdrawing Rodica’s MR to attain Rodica’s purpose or desired result and objective
Office. More importantly, Strong is not a party to the RTC case. Also, the counsel of – to convince or facilitate the sale to Apostol and/or to make the property more
record of Rodica in the RTC case is Atty. Ibutnande, and not the Lazaro Law Office. marketable to interested buyers and to attain peace with the defendants in the RTC
There is nothing on record that would show that respondent Attys. Manuel, Michelle, case. Evidently, Rodica took advantage of Atty. Espejo’s youth and naivete and
and Almario had any participation therein. manipulated him to do things on her behalf, and deliberately excluded Atty. Almario
the senior lawyer. Rodica preferred to discuss matters with Atty. Espejo than with
Atty. Espejo’s participation in the RTC Atty. Almario as the latter often contradicts her views. Atty. Espejo apologized to Atty.
case. Manuel for allowing himself to be manipulated by Rodica.42

However, we cannot say the same as regards Atty. Espejo. He admitted drafting At the outset, Atty. Espejo was well aware that Rodica was represented by another
Rodica’s Manifestation and Motion to Withdraw Motion for Reconsideration indicating counsel in the RTC case. As a practicing lawyer, he should know that it is the said
therein the firm name of the Lazaro Law Office as well as his name and the names of counsel, Atty. Ibutnande, who has the duty to prepare the said motion. In fact, he
Atty. Manuel and Atty. Michelle without the knowledge and consent of his superiors, himself stated that it is Atty. Ibutnande who is in a better position to evaluate the merit
and in likewise affixing his signature thereon. of the withdrawal of the Motion for Reconsideration.

Atty. Espejo acknowledged committing the abovementioned acts as a way of Atty. Espejo’s claim that he drafted and signed the pleading just to extend assistance
assisting Rodica who had already become his close friend. Atty. Espejo’s admissions to Rodica deserves scant consideration. It is true that under Rules 2.01 and 2.02,
are as follows: Canon 2 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not reject, except
for valid reasons, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed, and in such cases,
even if he does not accept a case, shall not refuse to render legal advise to the
11. Atty. Espejo further recounts that after being advised to simply withdraw her person concerned if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter’s right.
Motion for Reconsideration ("MR"), Rodica pleaded with Atty. Espejo to prepare the However, in this case, Rodica cannot be considered as defenseless or oppressed
documents required to be filed with the RTC x x x to spare her Boracay lawyers from considering that she is properly represented by counsel in the RTC case. Needless to
preparing the same. Atty. Espejo accommodated Jasper and drafted the state, her rights are amply safeguarded. It would have been different had Rodica not
Manifestation with Motion to Withdraw Motion for Reconsideration ("Motion to been represented by any lawyer, which, however, is not the case.
Withdraw MR") to be given to Rodica’s Boracay counsel, Atty. Joan I. Tabanar-
Ibutnande, who is in a better position to evaluate the merit of the withdrawal of the
MR. Moreover, the Court wonders why Atty. Espejo, knowing fully well that Rodica is not
their law firm’s client and without the knowledge and consent of his superiors, gave in
46
to Rodica’s request for him to indicate in the said motion the names of his law firm,
Atty. Manuel and Atty. Michelle for the purpose of "giving more weight and credit to
the pleading." As a member of the bar, Atty. Espejo ought to know that motions and
pleadings filed in courts are acted upon in accordance with their merit or lack of it,
and not on the reputation of the law firm or the lawyer filing the same. More
importantly, he should have thought that in so doing, he was actually assisting Rodica
in misrepresenting before the RTC that she was being represented by the said law
firm and lawyers, when in truth she was not.

It is well to remind Atty. Espejo that before being a friend to Rodica, he is first and
foremost an officer of the court.43Hence, he is expected to maintain a high standard of
honesty and fair dealings and must conduct himself beyond reproach at all
times.44 He must likewise ensure that he acts within the bounds of reason and
common sense, always aware that he is an instrument of truth and justice. 45 As
shown by his actuations. Atty. Espejo fell short of what is expected of him. Under the
circumstances, Atty. Espejo should have exercised prudence by first diligently
studying the soundness of Rodica’s pleas and the repercussions of his acts.

We note that on August 5, 2011, or even before the filing of the disbarment complaint,
Atty. Espejo already caused the filing of his Motion to Withdraw Appearance 46 before
the RTC. Therein, Atty. Espejo already expressed remorse and sincere apologies to
the RTC for wrongly employing the name of the Lazaro Law Office. Considering that
Atty. Espejo is newly admitted to the Bar (2010), we deem it proper to warm him to be
more circumspect and prudent in his actuations.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Complaint for disbarment against


respondents Atty. Manuel "Lolong" M. Lazaro, Atty. Edwin M. Espejo, Atty. Abel M.
Almario, Atty. Michelle B. Lazaro and Atty. Joseph C. Tan is DISMISSED. Atty. Edwin
M. Espejo is WARNED to be more circumspect and prudent in his actuations.

SO ORDERED.

47
48
Rule 2.03
Grace Park, Caloocan City 362-7821
A.C. No. 6672 September 4, 2009 Cel.: (0926)
2701719
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant,
vs.
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent.
Back
RESOLUTION

CORONA, J.:

This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan SERVICES OFFERED:
Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation
of clients and encroachment of professional services.
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
convinced his clients2 to transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
financial assistance3 and expeditious collection on their claims. 4To induce them to AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages. ABROAD.

To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit 5 of James 1avvphi1
Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client
relations with complainant and utilize respondent’s services instead, in exchange for a
loan of P50,000. Complainant also attached "respondent’s" calling card: 6

Front
(emphasis supplied)

Hence, this complaint.


NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and
circulation of the said calling card.7
LAW OFFFICE
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. 8
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and
Fe Marie L. Labiano recommendation,9 found that respondent had encroached on the professional
Paralegal practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.0210 and other canons11of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against
soliciting cases for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Tel: 362- Section 27, Rule 13812 of the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that
Rm. M-01 7820 respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Fax: (632) heavier penalty.

49
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted
modify the recommended penalty. it during the mandatory hearing.

The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into Through Labiano’s actions, respondent’s law practice was benefited. Hapless
complainant’s professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength of Labiano’s word that
means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct themselves respondent could produce a more favorable result.
constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03,
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
manner by which a lawyer’s services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the Court.1avvphi1
CPR provides:
With regard to respondent’s violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a
CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, lawyer should not steal another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain him by a
fair, dignified and objective information or statement of facts. promise of better service, good result or reduced fees for his services.20 Again the
Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession receiving benefits from Labiano’s "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labiano’s
and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise connection to his office.21Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into
their wares.13 To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill is to commercialize the another’s legal practice. He cannot escape liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability
to efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers,
called.14 respondent violated Rule 16.04:

Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s
interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by independent advice.
RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the interest of justice, he
solicit legal business. has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.

Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is,
personally or through paid agents or brokers. 15 Such actuation constitutes when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses (such as filing
malpractice, a ground for disbarment.16 fees, stenographer’s fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash bond or premium
for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client.
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides:
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyer’s independence of mind so that the free
exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.22 It seeks to ensure his
RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire devotion and
or proceeding or delay any man’s cause. fidelity to the client’s cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with
the client’s case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the
This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal case or an additional stake in its outcome.23 Either of these circumstances may lead
business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in order to gain the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client, or to accept a
employment)17 as a measure to protect the community from barratry and champerty.18 settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the
client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the client’s cause. 24
Complainant presented substantial evidence19 (consisting of the sworn statements of
the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondent’s office) to As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice 25 which calls
prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as well as profited from for the exercise of the Court’s disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes
referrals’ suits. warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a prospective client for the
purpose of obtaining employment.26 Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to
protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and
to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.
50
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition
on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere
reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is grossly
incommensurate to its findings.

A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyer’s
best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to
trust based on his character and conduct.27 For this reason, lawyers are only allowed
to announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple
professional cards.

Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:

(a) lawyer’s name;

(b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;

(c) address;

(d) telephone number and

(e) special branch of law practiced.28

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

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03,
8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law
for a period of one year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He
isSTERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall
be dealt with more severely.

Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar
Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be circulated to all
courts.

SO ORDERED.

51
Rule 3.02 WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name
Baker & McKenzie.
Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985
SO ORDERED.
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant
vs.
BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G. COLLAS JR., LUIS MA. GUERRERO,
VICENTE A. TORRES, RAFAEL E. EVANGELISTA, JR., ROMEO L. SALONGA,
JOSE R. SANDEJAS, LUCAS M. NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO, NATIVIDAD B.
KWAN and JOSE A. CURAMMENG, JR., respondents.

Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.

Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents.

AQUINO, J.:

Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified
complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G. Collas, Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising
law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm organized in Illinois.

In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the
letterhead of Baker & McKenzie, which contains the names of the ten lawyers, asked
Rosie Clurman for the release of 87 shares of Cathay Products International, Inc. to
H.E. Gabriel, a client.

Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of
Clurman to Gabriel. He requested that he be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel
is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your purpose in using the letterhead of
another law office." Not having received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.

We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the
Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in
their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional partnership organized in
1949 in Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world.
Respondents, aside from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the
firm name of Guerrero & Torres, are members or associates of Baker & Mckenzie.

As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker &
McKenzie constitutes a representation that being associated with the firm they could
"render legal services of the highest quality to multinational business enterprises and
others engaged in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). This is
unethical because Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here. (See
Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.)

52
Canon 4 and 5 Obviously, respondent judge did not even bother to read the text of
the cited LOI; otherwise, he would have readily acknowledged the
G.R. No. 116049 July 13, 1995 validity of the argument advanced by the prosecution. As correctly
observed by the Solicitor General, Presidential Decrees, such as
P.D. No. 1, issued by the former President Marcos under his martial
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, law powers have the same force and effect as the laws enacted by
vs. Congress. As held by the Supreme Court in the case of Aquino vs.
HON. EUSTAQUIO Z. GACOTT, JR., Presiding Judge, RTC, Branch 47, Puerto Comelec (62 SCRA 275 [1975]), all proclamations, orders, decrees,
Princesa City, ARNE STROM and GRACE REYES, respondents. instructions and acts promulgated, issued or done by the former
President are part of the law of the land, and shall remain valid,
RESOLUTION legal, binding, and effective, unless modified, revoked or
superseded by subsequent proclamations, orders, decrees,
instructions, or other acts of the President. LOI No. 2 is one such
legal order issued by former President Marcos in the exercise of his
martial law powers to implement P.D. No. 1. Inasmuch as neither
REGALADO, J.: P.D. No. 1 nor LOI No. 2 has been expressly or impliedly revoked
or repealed, both continue to have the force and effect of law
Rebuffed by this Court through the annulment of his order dismissing Criminal Case (Rollo, pp. 7-8).
No. 11529 of the court a quo, complemented with a reprimand and a fine of
P10,000.00 for gross ignorance of the law, respondent Judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. xxx xxx xxx
has filed a motion for reconsideration dated April 1, 1995, and a supplemental motion
for reconsideration dated April 26, 1995.
But even more glaring than respondent judge's utter inexcusable
neglect to check the citations of the prosecution is the mistaken
For reasons of his own but the purposes of which can easily be deduced, separate belief that the duty to inform the court on the applicable law to a
copies of the basic motion were furnished the Chief Justice, Judicial and Bar Council, particular case devolves solely upon the prosecution or whoever
Solicitor General, Bar Confidant, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Court may be the advocate before the court. Respondent judge should be
Administrator and his deputies, Secretary of Justice, and Ombudsman. Copies of the reminded that courts are duty bound to take judicial notice of all the
supplemental motion were also furnished by him to the same officials or entities and, laws of the land (Sec. 1, Rule 129, Rules of Court). Being the trier
additionally, to the individual members of this Court. of facts, judges are presumed to be well-informed of the existing
laws, recent enactments and jurisprudence, in keeping with their
In the judgment now sought to be reconsidered, the Second Division of the Court, sworn duty as members of the bar (and bench) to keep abreast of
speaking through Mr. Justice Abdulwahid A. Bidin, specified that the only issue to be legal developments. . . .
resolved in this case was whether or not respondent judge gravely abused his
discretion in granting the motion to quash the aforementioned criminal case. We xxx xxx xxx
quote the pertinent portions of his ponencia not only for easy reference but to serve
as a basis for determining whether the sanctions imposed were commensurate to the
administrative offense, to wit: The court is fully aware that not every error or mistake of a judge in
the performance of his duties is subject to censure. But where, as
in the present case, the error could have been entirely avoided
The error committed by respondent judge in dismissing the case is were it not for the public respondent's irresponsibility in the
quite obvious in the light of P.D. No. 1, LOI No. 2 and P.D. No. performance of his duties, it is but proper that respondent judge be
1275 aforementioned. The intent to abolish the Anti-Dummy Board reprimanded and his order of dismissal set aside for grave
could not have been expressed more clearly than in the ignorance of the law. For, respondent judge's error is not a simple
aforequoted LOI. Even assuming that the City Fiscal of Puerto error in judgment but one amounting to gross ignorance of the law
Princesa failed to cite P.D. No. 1 in his opposition to the Motion to which could easily undermine the public's perception of the court's
Quash, a mere perusal of the text of LOI No. 2 would have competence.
immediately apprised the respondent judge of the fact that LOI No.
2 was issued in implementation of P.D. No. 1. . . .
We could stop here, since the rehashed arguments raised by respondent judge in his
aforesaid original and supplemental motions are completely refuted by the foregoing
xxx xxx xxx discussion demonstrative not only of his adjudicatory error but also of judicial
53
incompetence. In fact, just to cite a few representative cases, it may be worthwhile for is, to put it mildly, a mite too exaggerated and a tad too melodramatic. The Court
respondent judge to ponder upon the Court's observations regrets that respondent judge appears unaware that he is actually the recipient of
in Aducayan vs. Flores, etc., et al., 1 Ajeno vs. Inserto, 2Libarios uncommon sympathetic consideration in this case.
vs. Dabalos, 3 and Estoya, et al. vs. Singson, etc., 4 which would put his asseverations
at rest. Administrative penalties do not play the final strains of the valkyrian chant to a public
career, judicial or otherwise. It is for respondent judge, by subsequently
Respondent judge, however, would want this Court to pass upon his other demonstrating his true worth through observance of judicial standards, to vindicate
supplications, arguments, and even his insinuations for that matter, which although himself from a misjudgment which is the heritage of the heedless and to rise to higher
born more of fecundity in formulation and less of bases in law, we have decided to levels which is the destiny of the deserving. Besides, it is a curious fact that assuming
anatomize even with some expense of prolixity. as valid his meticulosity on the confidential nature of disciplinary cases, he
nevertheless sent copies of his motions to all the persons enumerated at the start of
Respondent judge prefaces his remedial approach with the assurance that "(t)he only this resolution. It is elementary that copies of such motions are merely filed with the
purpose of (h)is motion is to plead with bended knees and with all humility for the kind court and furnished only to the adverse party. Here, he wants us to keep sub
reconsideration" of the decision in this case, specifically the findings that he is rosa what he himself publicizes.
"grossly ignorant of the law and as such, (he) was reprimanded and fined in the
amount of P10,000.00; and that the aforesaid decision is to be spread on (his) From his initial exhibition of humility and penitential pose, respondent judge then goes
personal records." 5 into a critical second gear by rhetorically wondering aloud in this fashion:

He adverts to his good conduct as a person and as a judge, reiterates that the error On July 27, 1994, the Third Division of the Honorable Supreme
primarily stemmed from the shortcomings of the public prosecutor and, on a personal Court required me to comment on the above-entitled petition. On
note, he expresses this concern: ". . . I am again begging with humility that the August 23, 1994 I filed my comment thereto and on October 24,
spreading of the aforesaid Decision on my personal records be reconsidered because 1994, in a Resolution the Third Division of the Supreme Court
doing so will foreclose any chance for me to aspire for promotion in the judiciary in the resolved to note my Comment. When the Third Division of the
future. This is very painful. I will agonize up to my last day and my last breath in life." 6 Honorable Court required me to comment in G.R. No. 116049, the
supposition is that a valid raffle of said case to that Division had
The Court assures respondent judge that it has taken all the aforesaid matters into already been made. That was my thinking and impression for, why
consideration and is not insensitive thereto, including his argumentum ad would the case go to that Division except thru a valid raffle. I am
misericordiam. It feels, however, that there is more than ample substantiation for the now in quandary, however, as to why all of a sudden, G.R. No.
findings of the ponente in the main case, and compelling legal warrant for the 116049 was transferred to the Second Division of the Supreme
administrative penalties imposed which are even milder than those meted by it under Court without us or any party being informed by the Honorable
similar and comparable situations. Supreme Court about it. In our level at the Regional Trial Court in
Palawan, we observe the raffle of cases with solemnity and abide
by the result of the raffle faithfully. And the said Second Division
The spreading of the decision on the personal record of a respondent is an official meted me out excessive penalties when it was the Third Division
procedure and requirement which, incredibly, respondent judge would want this very that required me to comment. Why did this happen? (Emphasis
Court to violate and forego, in suppression of facts which must appear in official supplied.) 8
documents. His further argument that —
Since this was obviously spoken with the ascriptive courage of the uninformed, we
The spreading of such decision on my personal records will not assure His Honor that the Supreme Court also conducts "a valid raffle," observes
only open criticisms on my private qualifications as a minister in the such raffle of its cases "with solemnity," and abides by the result thereof "faithfully."
temple of justice but will open more comments on my official acts, This case was validly and solemnly raffled to Mr. Justice Bidin who was then with the
competence and credibility as a judge that might undermine the Third Division of the Court. On January 23, 1995, he was transferred to the Second
people's faith in the judicial system in the Province of Palawan, in Division where he served as working chairman until his retirement on April 7, 1995. In
Puerto Princesa City and in the entire country because it is always accordance with the internal rules of the Court, this case remained with him as the
difficult to disassociate my private credential from that of my public original ponente and he accordingly penned the decision therein for and as a member
qualifications. 7 of the Second Division. There is no rule in the Court that the parties be informed that
a case has been transferred to another division, as respondent judge would want or
expect. To do so would easily be revelatory of the identity of the ponente which is
precisely what some litigants used to, and still, watch for and speculate upon.
54
In anticipation of a similar insinuendo, respondent judge is further informed that committees of said Commission, the writer has perforce to rely on his recollection and
because of the retirement of Mr. Justice Bidin and the uncertainty of the date when notes, but he assures this Court of the foregoing facts as they transpired.
his replacement could act upon his unfinished cases and the subsequent proceedings
therein, after its summer session and working recess the Court en banc, after due At any rate, the very text of the present Section 11 of Article VIII clearly shows that
deliberation on respondent judge's successive motions, decided to assign the there are actually two situations envisaged therein. The first clause which states that
preparation of this resolution to the present writer thereof, he having been and still is "the Supreme Court en banc shall have the power to discipline judges of lower
with the Second Division. Respondent judge, with his claim of extensive magisterial courts," is a declaration of the grant of that disciplinary power to, and the
experience, should have verified all the foregoing facts from the records of this Court, determination of the procedure in the exercise thereof by, the Court en banc. It was
instead of proceeding upon speculations. not therein intended that all administrative disciplinary cases should be heard and
decided by the whole Court since it would result in an absurdity, as will hereafter be
Finally, shifting to what he obviously fancies to be high gear on a constitutional basis, explained.
respondent judge questions the competence of the Second Division of this Court to
administratively discipline him. Exordially, a mere allegatio nudus does not create a The second clause, which refers to the second situation contemplated therein and is
constitutional issue as to require the referral of this case, or at least the disciplinary intentionally separated from the first by a comma, declares on the other hand that the
aspect thereof, to the Court en banc. The disposition of that matter merely involves a Court en banc can "order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the Members who
clarification of the misconception of respondent judge thereon, presumably because actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and voted therein."
of his unfamiliarity with circulars adopted and followed by this Court, some of them Evidently, in this instance, the administrative case must be deliberated upon and
being on internal procedure. Be that as it may, since all the members of this Court are decided by the full Court itself.
aware of the submissions of respondent judge on this point through the copies of the
motions which he furnished them, and he insistently harps on constitutional grounds
therein, the Court en banc resolved to accept this aspect of the case from the Second Pursuant to the first clause which confers administrative disciplinary power to the
Division. Court en banc, on February 9, 1993 a Court En Banc resolution was adopted, entitled
"Bar Matter No. 209. — In the Matter of the Amendment and/or Clarification of
Various Supreme Court Rules and Resolutions," and providing inter alia:
His Honor relies on the second sentence of Section 11, Article VIII of the present
Constitution which reads: "The Supreme Court en banc shall have the power to
discipline judges of lower courts, or order their dismissal by a vote of a majority of the For said purpose, the following are considered en banc cases:
Members who actually took part in the deliberations on the issues in the case and
voted thereon." This provision is an expansion of and was taken from the second xxx xxx xxx
sentence of Section 7, Article X of the 1973 Constitution which provided: "The
Supreme Court shall have the power to discipline judges of inferior courts and, by a 6. Cases where the penalty to be imposed is the dismissal of a
vote of at least eight Members, order their dismissal." judge, officer or employee of the Judiciary, disbarment of a lawyer,
or either the suspension of any of them for a period of more than
Stress is apparently laid by respondent judge on the inclusion of the adverbial phrase one (1) year or a fine exceeding P10,000.00, or both.
"en banc" in referring to this Court in the quoted provision of the 1987 Constitution
and, from this, he argues that it is only the full Court, not a division thereof, that can xxx xxx xxx
administratively punish him.

This resolution was amended on March 16, 1993 and November 23, 1993, but the
Fortuitously, the writer of this resolution, as a member of the Committee on the aforequoted provision was maintained.
Judiciary of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, had the opportunity to take up that
precise matter with the committee chairman, retired Chief Justice Roberto
Concepcion, by pointing out the equivalent provision in the 1973 Constitution, Indeed, to require the entire Court to deliberate upon and participate in all
hereinbefore quoted, which merely referred to the "Court," without qualification. It was administrative matters or cases regardless of the sanctions, imposable or imposed,
accordingly explained and agreed that insofar as the power to discipline is concerned, would result in a congested docket and undue delay in the adjudication of cases in
the qualification was not intended to make a difference, as a reference to the Court by the Court, especially in administrative matters, since even cases involving the penalty
itself necessarily means the Court en banc. It was only decided to state "en banc" of reprimand would require action by the Court en banc. This would subvert the
there because all internal procedural and administrative matters, as well as constitutional injunction for the Court to adopt a systematic plan to expedite the
ceremonial functions, are always decided by or conducted in the Court en banc. On decision or resolution of cases or matters pending in the Supreme Court or the lower
the other hand, where the reference is to the Court acting through its divisions, it courts, 9 and the very purpose of authorizing the Court to sit en banc or in divisions of
would necessarily be so specified. For lack of transcription of the proceedings of the three, five, or seven members. 10

55
Yet, although as thus demonstrated, only cases involving dismissal of judges of lower
courts are specifically required to be decided by the Court en banc, in cognizance of
the need for a thorough and judicious evaluation of serious charges against members
of the judiciary, it is only when the penalty imposed does not exceed suspension of
more than one year or a fine of P10,000.00, or both, that the administrative matter
may be decided in division.

It must not also be overlooked that as early as February 7, 1989, the Court
promulgated Circular No. 2-89 which clarifies that:

xxx xxx xxx

2. A decision or resolution of a Division of the Court, when


concurred in by a majority of its members who actually took part in
the deliberations on the issues in a case and voted thereon, and in
no case without the concurrence of at least three of such Members,
is a decision or resolution of the Supreme Court (Section 4[3],
Article VIII, 1987 Constitution).

That guideline or rule in the referral to the Court en banc of cases assigned to a
division thereof rests on the same rationale and applies with equal force to confute
the antithetical theory of respondent Judge Eustaquio Z. Gacott, Jr. Apropos thereto,
it would indeed be desirable for said respondent to hereafter deal with situations like
the one subject of this resolution with more perspicacity and circumspection.

WHEREFORE, the basic and supplemental motions for reconsideration of the


judgment in the case at bar are hereby DENIED. This resolution is immediately final
and executory.

SO ORDERED.

56
Canon 4 and 5 with any document bearing on the case other than the Court of Appeals resolution
denying Lea’s motion for reconsideration.3
A.C. No. 3944 July 27, 2007
He thus told Lea’s mother that he would only file a motion to stay the running of the
LEA P. PAYOD, Petitioner, prescriptive period of appeal and advised her to look for another lawyer who could
vs. assist her in getting the complete certified records of the case from the Court of
ATTY. ROMEO P. METILA, Respondent. Appeals and in filing a petition for review with this Court.

RESOLUTION Neither Lea nor her mother communicated with him, however, until January 21, 1992,
forcing him to finance and defray all the expenses for the initiation of the appeal.
CARPIO MORALES, J.:
He concludes there was no attorney-client relationship between him and Lea, there
being no Special Power of Attorney authorizing her mother to hire him as a lawyer in
Lea P. Payod (Lea) charges Atty. Romeo P. Metila (respondent) with "willful neglect her behalf.4
and gross misconduct" in connection with this Court’s dismissal of her petition in G.R.
No. 102764, "Lea P. Payod v. Court of Appeals," by Resolution dated February 3,
1992, reading: After investigation, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar
Discipline, to which the complaint was referred, found respondent guilty of simple
negligence and recommended that he be seriously admonished and required to
Acting on the pleadings filed in this case, the Court resolved: to DENY: (a) petitioner’s undergo three units of Mandatory Continuing Legal Education in Remedial law for his
second motion for extension of time to file petition for review on certiorari, as failure to update himself with the developments in the legal profession and for the
petitioner’s first motion for extension was denied in the resolution of December 16, cavalier manner by which he denied the existence of an attorney-client relationship
1991 for failure to comply with the requirement of No. two (2) of Revised Circular 1- when one in fact existed.5
88. Moreover, the said second motion for extension still fails to comply with the same
requirement of Revised Circular 1-88, and (b) the petition itself, for having been filed
late and for failure to comply with requirement No. four (4) of Revised Circular 1-88, The IBP Board of Directors adopted the Report and Recommendation of the
and for failure to submit the certification required under Circular 28-91 on forum Investigating Commissioner that respondent be seriously admonished.
shopping.1
This Court upholds the finding and recommendation of the IBP.
Petitioner submits that:
In failing to comply with the requirements in initiating complainant’s appeal before this
It is difficult to believe that practicing lawyers cannot submit very important documents Court in G.R. No. 102764 even after his attention to it was called by this Court,
considered regular pieces of information in their practice of law leading to default with respondent fell short of the standards required in the Canon of Professional
serious consequences prejudicial to the client if the said counsel is not ill motivated or Responsibility for a lawyer to "keep abreast of legal developments" 6 and "serve his
not due to gross misconduct and willful negligence inimical to the best interest of the client with competence and diligence."7
client.
That Lea’s mother did not have a Special Power of Attorney to hire respondent on
Together with my mother Mrs. Restituta Peliño and my sister Mrs. Portia P. Velasco, I Lea’s behalf is immaterial, given that he actually initiated the appeal, albeit
have found difficulty making follow-up with Atty. Romeo P. Metila for him to comply unsuccessfully.
with the submission of required documents to the Supreme Court because of his
unreasonable excuses for non-performance despite our persistent follow-ups, It need not be underlined that a lawyer who accepts a case must give it his full
payments of expenses and attorney’s fees, and willingness to supply him with attention, diligence, skill, and competence,8 and his negligence in connection
materials and needed facts. More often, we got lame excuse[s] and had his no-shows therewith renders him liable.9
in appointed meetings at the Supreme Court.2
The circumstances attendant to respondent’s initial handle of Lea’s case do not
Respondent denies the charges and gives his side of the case as follows: warrant a finding of gross negligence, or sheer absence of real effort on his part to
defend her cause.10 1avvphi1
The case was referred to him by Lea’s mother on November 29, 1991, six days
before the period to perfect an appeal to this Court expired, without supplying him
57
Respondent accepted Lea’s case upon her mother’s insistence, with only six days for
him to file a petition for review before this Court, and without her furnishing him with
complete records, not to mention money, for the reproduction of the needed
documents. Despite these constraints, respondent exerted efforts, albeit lacking in
care, to defend his client’s cause by filing two motions for extension of time to file
petition. And he in fact filed the petition within the time he requested, 11 thus complying
with the guideline of this Court that lawyers should at least file their pleadings within
the extended period requested should their motions for extension of time to file a
pleading be unacted upon.12

Neither do the circumstances warrant a finding that respondent was motivated by ill-
will. In the absence of proof to the contrary, a lawyer enjoys a presumption of good
faith in his favor.13

WHEREFORE, respondent, Atty. Romeo Metila, is SERIOUSLY


ADMONISHED with WARNING that similar charges will be severely dealt with.

SO ORDERED.

CONCHITA CARPIO MORALES


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:

58
Canon 6 lots of the V & G mortgaged to GSIS by the lot buyers. There was no action from the
respondent.
A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991
Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for him to approve or deny
FERNANDO T. COLLANTES, complainant, registration of the uniform deeds of absolute sale with assignment. Still no action
vs. except to require V & G to submit proof of real estate tax payment and to clarify
ATTY. VICENTE C. RENOMERON respondent. certain details about the transactions.

Although V & G complied with the desired requirements, respondent Renomeron


suspended the registration of the documents pending compliance by V & G with a
certain "special arrangement" between them, which was that V & G should provide
PER CURIAM:p him with a weekly round trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila plus P2,000.00 as pocket
money per trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of respondent's Quezon City house and lot
This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case which complainant by V & G or GSIS representatives.
Attorney Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel for V & G Better Homes Subdivision,
Inc. (V & G for short), filed against Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the complainant that he would act favorably
Deeds of Tacloban City, for the latter's irregular actuations with regard to the on the 163 registrable documents of V & G if the latter would execute clarificatory
application of V & G for registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of Absolute Sale with affidavits and send money for a round trip plane ticket for him.
Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present complaint charges the respondent
with the following offenses:
The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket money of P2,000) was sent to
respondent through his niece.
1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic) repeated requests and without
sufficient justification, to act within reasonable time (sic) the
registration of 163 Deeds of Absolute Sale with Assignment and the Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money in addition to plane fare,
eventual issuance and transfer of the corresponding 163 transfer respondent imposed additional registration requirements. Fed up with the
certificates of titles to the GSIS, for the purpose of obtaining some respondent's extortionate tactics, the complainant wrote him a letter on May 20, 1987
pecuniary or material benefit from the person or persons interested challenging him to act on all pending applications for registration of V & G within
therein. twenty-four (24) hours.

2. Conduct unbecoming of public official. On May 22, 1987, respondent formally denied registration of the transfer of 163
certificates of title to the GSIS on the uniform ground that the deeds of absolute sale
with assignment were ambiguous as to parties and subject matter. On May 26, 1987,
3. Dishonesty. Attorney Collantes moved for a reconsideration of said denial, stressing that:

4. Extortion. ... since the year 1973 continuously up to December 1986 for a
period of nearly fifteen (15) years or for a sum total of more than
5. Directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself in 2,000 same set of documents which have been repeatedly and
connection with pending official transaction before him. uniformly registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of
Tacloban City under Attys. Modesto Garcia and Pablo Amascual
6. Causing undue injury to a party, the GSIS [or] Government Jr., it is only during the incumbency of Atty. Vicente C. Renomeron,
through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable that the very same documents of the same tenor have been
negligence. refused or denied registration ... (p. 15, Rollo.)

7. Gross ignorance of the law and procedure. (p. 10, Rollo.) On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en consulta to the Administrator,
National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration (NLTDRA) (now the Land
Registration Authority [LRA]). In a Resolution dated July 27,1987 (Consulta No.
As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the respondent Register of 1579), the NLTDRA ruled that the questioned documents were registrable. Heedless
Deeds to register some 163 deeds of sale with assignment (in favor of the GSIS) of of the NLTDRA's opinion, respondent continued to sit on V & Gs 163 deeds of sale
with assignment.
59
Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant filed with the NLTDRA on The records indicate that the respondent eventually formally denied
June 4, 1987 administrative charges (docketed as Adm. Case No. 87-15), against the registration of the documents involved; that he himself elevated
respondent Register of Deeds. the question on the registrability of the said documents to
Administrator Bonifacio after he formally denied the registration
Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio directed thereof, that the Administrator then resolved in favor of the
respondent to explain in writing why no administrative disciplinary action should be registrability of the said documents in question; and that, such
taken against him. Respondent was further asked whether he would submit his case resolution of the Administrator notwithstanding, the respondent still
on the basis of his answer, or be heard in a formal investigation. refused the registration thereof but demanded from the parties
interested the submission of additional requirements not adverted
to in his previous denial.
In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied the charges of extortion and of
directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself in connection with the
official transactions awaiting his action. xxx xxx xxx

Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA Administrator Bonifacio to hear In relation to the alleged 'special arrangement,' although the
Attorney Collantes' charges against him, Attorney Renomeron waived his right to a respondent claims that he neither touched nor received the money
formal investigation. Both parties submitted the case for resolution based on the sent to him, on record remains uncontroverted the circumstance
pleadings. that his niece, Ms. de la Cruz, retrieved from him the amount of
P800.00 earlier sent to him as plane fare, not in the original
denomination of P100.00 bills but in P50.00 bills. The respondent
The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose, recommended dropping the charges of: had ample opportunity to clarify or to countervail this related
(1) dishonesty; (2) causing undue injury to a party through manifest partiality, evident incident in his letter dated 5 September 1987 to Administrator
bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence; and (3) gross ignorance of the law and Bonifacio but he never did so.
procedure. He opined that the charge of neglecting or refusing, in spite repeated
requests and without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on the
registration of the documents involved, in order to extort some pecuniary or material ... We believe that, in this case, the respondent's being new in
benefit from the interested party, absorbed the charges of conduct unbecoming of a office cannot serve to mitigate his liability. His being so should have
public official, extortion, and directly receiving some pecuniary or material benefit for motivated him to be more aware of applicable laws, rules and
himself in connection with pending official transactions before him. regulations and should have prompted him to do his best in the
discharge of his duties. (pp. 17-18, Rollo.)
Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro
G. Bonifacio on February 22, 1988, recommended to Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Secretary Ordoñez recommended to President Corazon C. Aquino that Renomeron
Ordoñez that the respondent: (1) be found guilty of simple neglect of duty: (2) be be dismissed from the service, with forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits,
reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents presented to him for registration; and and with prejudice to re-employment in the government service, effective
(3) be warned that a repetition of similar infraction will be dealt with more severely. immediately.

After due investigation of the charges, Secretary Ordoñez found respondent guilty of As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the President of the Philippines, by
grave misconduct. Adm. Order No. 165 dated May 3, 1990, dismissed the respondent from the
government service (pp. 1419, Rollo).
Our study and consideration of the records of the case indicate that
ample evidence supports the Investigating Officer's findings that the Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against Renomeron in the NLTDRA,
respondent committed grave misconduct. Attorney Collantes also filed in this Court on June 16, 1987, a disbarment complaint
against said respondent.
The respondent unreasonably delayed action on the documents
presented to him for registration and, notwithstanding The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent register of deeds,
representations by the parties interested for expeditious action on as a lawyer, may also be disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a public
the said documents, he continued with his inaction. official. The answer is yes, for his misconduct as a public official also constituted a
violation of his oath as a lawyer.

60
The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs. De Luna, 102 This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent, honorable, and reliable"
Phil. 968), imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no man for money or malice. may practice the profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every
The lawyer's oath is a source of his obligations and its violation is a ground for his lawyer must pursue "only the highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court
suspension, disbarment or other disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
1983 Edition, pp. 66-67).
The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron committed as a
As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said: public official have demonstrated his unfitness to practice the high and noble calling
of the law (Bautista vs. Judge Guevarra, 142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs.
A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar which is Rodolfo G. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be disbarred.
designed to impress upon him his responsibilities. He thereby
becomes an "officer of the court" on whose shoulders rests the WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron be disbarred
grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper. fair, from the practice of law in the Philippines, and that his name be stricken off the Roll of
speedy, and efficient administration of justice. As an officer of the Attorneys
court he is subject to a rigid discipline that demands that in his
every exertion the only criterion he that truth and justice triumph. SO ORDERED.
This discipline is what as given the law profession its nobility, its
prestige, its exalted place. From a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice
Felix Frankfurter, are expected those qualities of truth-speaking, a
high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the
strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility— all of which,
throughout the centuries, have been compendiously described as
moral character.

Membership in the Bar is in the category of a mandate to public


service of the highest order. A lawyer is an oath-bound servant of
society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms
of law and ethics, and whose primary duty is the advancement of
the quest of truth and justice, for which he has sworn to be a
fearless crusader. (Apostacy in the Legal Profession, 64 SCRA
784, 789- 790; emphasis supplied.)

The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in government service in


the discharge of their official tasks (Canon 6). Just as the Code of Conduct and
Ethical Standards for Public Officials requires public officials and employees to
process documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and
prohibits them from directly or indirectly having a financial or material interest in any
transaction requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars them from soliciting
gifts or anything of monetary value in the course of any transaction which may be
affected by the functions of their office (See. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of
Professional Responsibility forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional Responsibility), or delay any
man's cause "for any corrupt motive or interest" (Rule 103).

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. (Rule 7.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.)

61
Canon 6 On March 19, 1999, the Berenguers filed a motion for reconsideration, 10 claiming that
they were denied due process as they were not furnished with a copy of BARIBAG’s
A.C. No. 5119 April 17, 2013 petition for implementation. Florin denied the motion for reconsideration for lack of
merit in an Order11 dated March 22, 1999.
ROSARIO BERENGUER-LANDERS and PABLO BERENGUER, Complainants,
vs. On March 25, 1999, the Berenguers appealed12 to the DAR Adjudication Board
ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN, ATTY. MARCELINO JORNALES and ATTY. PEDRO (DARAB). BARIBAG, on other hand, filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of
VEGA, Respondents. Possession.13 The Berenguers opposed14 the motion saying that the execution would
be premature in view of their pending appeal before the DARAB. Nevertheless,
BARIBAG still filed a Motion for the Appointment of a Special Sheriff. 15
DECISION
In his Order16 dated April 6, 1999, DAR Acting Secretary Conrado S. Navarro denied
REYES, J.: the Berenguers’ appeal.

This is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Rosario Berenguer-Landers and Pablo On April 8, 1999, Florin issued a Resolution,17 which granted BARIBAG’s Motion for
Berenguer (complainants) against herein respondents Isabel E. Florin (Florin), the Appointment of a Special Sheriff and ordered the issuance of the writ of
Marcelino Jomales (Jomales) and Pedro Vega (Vega). possession prayed for.

The factual antecedents are as follows: On April 13, 1999, the Berenguers filed a motion to set aside18 the Resolution dated
April 8, 1999, arguing that: the DARAB already acquired jurisdiction over case when
Remedios Berenguer-Lintag, Carlo Berenguer and Belinda Berenguer-Aguirre, they seasonably filed an appeal before it; and that Florin should have waited until the
Rosario Berenguer-Landers and Pablo Berenguer (Berenguers) are the registered DARAB has decided the appeal. In an Order19 dated April 21, 1999, Florin denied the
owners of a 58.0649-hectare land in Bibingcahan, Sorsogon, Sorsogon. Sometime in said motion prompting the Berenguers to move for her inhibition 20 on ground of
April 1998, a notice of coverage was issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform partiality.
(DAR) regarding the acquisition of their landholding pursuant to Republic Act No.
6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). The Berenguers The Berenguers elevated the matter via petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals
protested and applied for the exclusion of their land with the DAR and for a notice to (CA), docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 51858, which was denied outright on procedural
lift coverage based on the ground that their landholdings have been used exclusively grounds, to wit: (1) copy of the assailed order bears the words "certified true copy" but
for livestock pursuant to DAR Administrative Order No. 09.2 the name and authority of the person certifying is not indicated as required in SC
Circular No. 3-96, and the signature therein is illegible; (2) only one of the petitioners
On October and November 1998, the DAR Secretary, without acting on the signed the certification on non-forum shopping which is an insufficient compliance of
application for exclusion, cancelled the Berenguers’ certificates of title on the land and Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court; and (3) there is non-exhaustion of
issued Certificates of Land Ownership Award3 (CLOAs) in favor of the members of administrative remedies as the assailed order of the Regional Director is not directly
the Baribag Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (BARIBAG). reviewable by the CA.21

Eventually, DAR Regional Director Percival Dalugdug (Dalugdug) denied their Undaunted, the Berenguers filed a second petition for certiorari with the CA, docketed
application for exclusion from the CARP’s coverage in the Order4 dated February 15, as CA-G.R. SP No. 53174, which questioned the Orders dated March 15, 1999 and
1999 based on the Investigation Report dated February 9, 1999 submitted by the March 22, 1999 issued by Florin. The petition was also denied on grounds of lack of
DAR Region V Investigation that said area sought to be excluded is principally jurisdiction and wrong mode of appeal.22
devoted to coconuts and not the raising of livestock.5
Thus, Florin issued on April 21, 1999 a Writ of Possession 23 in favor of BARIBAG.
Aggrieved, the Berenguers filed a notice of appeal6 with the Secretary of DAR.
Florin subsequently directed the full implementation of the writ of possession pursuant
While the case was pending appeal, BARIBAG filed a petition 7 for the implementation to Rule 71 of the Rules of Court in spite of the Berenguers’ protestations.24
of the Order dated February 15, 1999 before the Regional Agrarian Reform
Adjudicator (RARAD). This was granted by Florin, as RARAD, in an Order8 dated On June 3, 1999, the Berenguers moved to quash 25 the Writ of Possession, to no
March 15, 1999. Accordingly, Florin directed the issuance and implementation of the avail.
Writ of Possession.9
62
On August 4, 1999, the complainants filed the instant Complaint 26 for the disbarment findings of DAR and the issuance of the CLOAs remain undisturbed. Florin also
of respondents Florin, Jornales, in his capacity as Assistant Regional Director for claimed that it is Atty. De Jesus who wants her disbarred and not the Berenguers.
DAR, and Vega, in his capacity as DAR Legal Officer V, for allegedly conspiring and
confederating in the commission of the following acts: In a separate Comment,29 Vega denied the allegations against him arguing that: (1)
the writ of possession is not illegal in the absence of a court order stating its invalidity;
A. ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN AS REGIONAL ADJUDICATOR KNOWINGLY (2) he did not participate in the issuance of the writ of possession because he did not
RENDERING AN UNJUST JUDGEMENT, ORDERS AND RESOLUTIONS appear as the farmers’ counsel; (3) the Legal Division he heads has no control or
ADVERSE AND PREJUDICIAL TO THE INTEREST OF PETITIONERS; influence over the DARAB; and (4) his presence in the execution of the writ of
possession was to ascertain that no violations against any law are committed by the
B. ISSUING AN ORDER AND GRANTING A WRIT OF EXECUTION EX- person/s executing the writ.30
PARTE AND SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUING AND SIGNING THE WRIT OF
POSSESSION WITHOUT CERTIFICATION OF FINALITY ISSUED BY THE Jornales’ Comment,31 for his part, stated that: (1) the writ has no prima facie infirmity;
PROPER OFFICER FULLY KNOWING THAT SHE HAS NO AUTHORITY (2) he is not privy to the issuance thereof; (3) he has no supervision and control over
AND TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE APPLICABLE RULES AND IN the DAR which issued the writ; and (4) he has no authority to determine the writ’s
CONTRAVENTION WITH THE NEW RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE validity or invalidity. Jornales admitted, however, that he was in the meeting presided
DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM ADJUDICATION BOARD; by the PNP Provincial Director of Sorsogon prior to the writ’s implementation in his
FURTHER, HIDING THE WRIT OF POSSESSION FROM PETITIONERS capacity as Regional Assistant Director for Operations of DAR Region V and not as a
INSPITE OF REQUEST FOR A COPY; lawyer. He added that the disbarment complaint against him is not only malicious for
lack of legal basis but is also meant to harass and intimidate DAR employees in
C. REFUSING TO TAKE ACTION ON PLEADINGS FILED BY implementing the CARP.32
PETITIONERS THRU COUNSEL AND FAILING AND REFUSING TO
CONDUCT A HEARING AS PRAYED FOR BY COUNSEL; FAILING AND After the complainants filed their Consolidated Reply,33 the case was referred to the
REFUSING TO FORWARD THE APPEAL TO THE PROPER APPELLATE Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
BOARD;
IBP Commissioner Milagros San Juan (Commissioner San Juan)
D. UNWARRANTED INTERFERENCE IN LAWYER-CLIENT Recommended34 that Florin be "suspended from the practice of law for three (3)
RELATIONSHIPS TO THE PREJUDICE OF PETITIONERS AND LAWYER; years for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, Orders and Resolutions adverse
ABUSE OF AUTHORITY TO CITE COUNSEL FOR PETITIONER IN and prejudicial to the interests of the Complainants."
CONTEMPT AND ISSUING AN ORDER OF ARREST WITHOUT HEARING
CONTRARY TO THE RULES OF COURT; Commissioner San Juan, meanwhile, recommended that the charges against
Jornales and Vega be dismissed for failure of the complainants to substantiate the
E. ATTY. MARCELINO JORNALES AND ATTY. PEDRO VEGA, INSPITE charges against them.35
OF THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE ILLEGALITY OF THE WRIT OF
POSSESSION, PERSISTED AND ASSISTED IN THE ILLEGAL Commissioner San Juan’s recommendation against Florin is based on the
IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WRIT OF POSSESSION TO THE findings36 of the CA in its Decision dated December 26, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No.
PREJUDICE OF LEGITIMATE FARMERS AND PETITIONERS.27 53174,37 which reads:

Florin filed her Comment28 stating, among others, that: (1) the writ of possession is The Petition for Certiorari filed by the complainants before the Court of Appeals was
anchored on the CLOAs issued by the Register of Deeds, and not on a final and treated as a petition for review and the court found the following errors:
executory decision that would require a certification of finality as prescribed by the
DARAB rules; (2) Atty. Federico De Jesus (De Jesus), as Berenguers’ counsel, was
not furnished with a copy of the writ because it was not yet issued at the time when it "1) Respondent DAR Secretary has no jurisdiction over the subject properties being
was requested; (3) there was no intent to hide the writ; (4) when the writ of devoted to pasture and livestock and already classified as residential and industrial
possession was finally signed, it was delivered to the sheriff for service and land, hence, outside the coverage of Republic Act 6657. (Comprehensive Agrarian
enforcement; (4) it was unfair to impute illegal acts against Vega and Jornales as Reform Law) The generation and issuance of Certificate of Landownership Award
DAR lawyers in view of the DAR’s denial of the motion for a cease and desist order (CLOA) was therefore void;"
and because of the legal presumption of regularity in the performance of their duty;
(5) the petitions for certiorari filed with the CA were both dismissed; and (6) the

63
2) Being outside the coverage of CARL (Republic Act 6657), respondent Hon. Isabel SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds
E. Florin who is exercising delegated jurisdiction from the DARAB has no jurisdiction therefore.—A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
over Petitioners’ Properties as held in Krus na Ligas Farmer’s Coop vs. University of attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct
the Philippines; G.R. No. 107022, 8 December 1992, which is squarely in point with in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
the case at bar." involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
before the admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience appearing as an attorney
Anent the issue regarding the qualified beneficiaries of the subject land, the Court for a party without authority so to do. x x x.
ruled thus – "Assuming that the lands are indeed agricultural, we cannot understand
why the DAR awarded them to members of respondent Baribag and not to the In Lahm III v. Mayor, Jr.,41 the Court ruled that:
farmers in the area, in violation of Sec. 22 of the CARL x x x."
A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or
The court further stated – "We cannot xxx close this discussion without mentioning deficiency in his moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Gross
our observation on the actuations of Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator Isabel misconduct is any inexcusable, shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct on the part of a
Florin. Just why she issued a writ of execution and eventually a Writ of Possession in person concerned with the administration of justice; i.e., conduct prejudicial to the
favor of respondent Baribag puzzles us no end. She knew that Baribag is not a party rights of the parties or to the right determination of the cause. The motive behind this
in petitioners’ application for exclusion filed with the Office of DAR Regional Director conduct is generally a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. 42 (Citations
Percival Dalugdug. Obviously, she never acquired jurisdiction over Baribag. She also omitted)
knew that petitioners appealed to the DAR Secretary from the Order of Regional
Director Dalugdug dismissing petitioners’ application for exclusion. Clearly, such In the instant case, the Berenguers want this Court to impose disciplinary sanction
order was not yet final and executory when she issued the assailed writs of execution against the three (3) respondents as members of the bar. The grounds asserted by
and possession. Thus, the writ are [sic] void and would be set aside." 38 the complainants in support of the charges against the respondents, however, are
intrinsically connected with the discharge of their quasi-judicial functions.
On May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of Governors adopted Resolution No. XVII-2006-282 Nevertheless, in Atty. Vitriolo v. Atty. Dasig,43 the Court already ruled that if a
modifying the recommended penalty, viz: misconduct as a government official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a
lawyer, then a lawyer may be disciplined by this Court as a member of the Bar, viz:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED,
with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined
Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government
Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on official. However, if said misconduct as a government official also constitutes a
record and the applicable laws and rules, and for knowingly rendering an unjust violation of his oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by this Court as a
Judgment, Orders and Resolutions, adverse and prejudicial to the interest of the member of the Bar.
complainants, Atty. Isabel F. Florin is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for one (1) year. The charges against Atty. Marcelino Jornales and Atty. Peter Vega xxxx
are DISMISSED for failure of the complainants to substantiate the charges against
Respondents.39
A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional
obligations. Hence, the Code of Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21,
In her opposition,40 Florin averred that: (1) jurisdiction was acquired over BARIBAG at 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct of private practitioners alone, but of all
the time it filed a petition for the implementation of the Order dated February 15, lawyers including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 644 of said
1999; (2) the DARAB has jurisdiction to issue the CLOAs; (3) as RARAD, she has Code. Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to the
concurrent jurisdiction with DARAB; (4) the Berenguers were not denied due process; public service. Thus, they should be more sensitive in the performance of their
and (5) the Berenguers never questioned the regularity of the DAR’s acquisition of professional obligations, as their conduct is subject to the ever-constant scrutiny of
their landholding nor did they file a petition for the cancellation of the CLOAs issued to the public.
BARIBAG.
x x x For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or
This Court agrees with the findings of the IBP Board of Governors but modifies the omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in
penalty to be imposed. government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and
observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing.1âwphi1 Otherwise said, a lawyer
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court provides: in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree
64
of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private The Adjudicator concerned may, upon certification by the proper officer that a
practice.45 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours) resolution, order or decision has been served to the counsel or representative on
record and to the party himself, and has become final and executory, and, upon
Thus, in Tadlip v. Atty. Borres, Jr.,46 the Court ruled that an administrative case motion or motu proprio, issue a writ of execution ordering the DAR Sheriff or any DAR
against a lawyer for acts committed in his capacity as provincial adjudicator of the officer to enforce the same. In appropriate cases, the Board or any of its Members or
DARAB may be likened to administrative cases against judges considering that he is its Adjudicator shall deputize and direct the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces
part of the quasi-judicial system of our government.47 of the Philippines or any of their component units or other law enforcement agencies
in the enforcement of any final order, resolution or decision.
Similarly in this case, Florin, being part of the quasi-judicial system of our
government, performs official functions of a RARAD that are akin to those of judges. Sec. 2. Execution Pending Appeal. — Any motion for execution of the decision of the
Accordingly, the present controversy may be likened that of a judge whose decision, Adjudicator pending appeal shall be filed before the Board which may grant the same
including the manner of rendition, is made subject of an administrative complaint. upon meritorious grounds, upon the posting of a sufficient bond in the amount
conditioned for the payment of damages which the aggrieved party may suffer, in the
event that the final order or decision is reversed on appeal, provided that the bond
Going now to the acts complained of, Section 29 of DAR Administrative Order No. 06- requirement shall not apply if the movant is a farmer-beneficiary/pauper litigant.
00 provides: (Emphasis ours)

SEC. 29. Effect of Appeal.—Appeal to the Secretary, the Office of the President, or In this case, the Order dated February 15, 1999 of DAR Regional Director Dalugdug
the Court of Appeals shall have the following effects: denying the Berenguers’ application for exclusion from CARP is yet to become final
and executory as it was seasonably appealed to the DAR Secretary. There is also
(a) Appeal from the Regional Director or Undersecretary to the Secretary.—The nothing in the records that will show whether BARIBAG posted a bond pursuant to the
appeal shall stay the order appealed from unless the Secretary directs execution Rules.
pending appeal, as he may deem just, considering the nature and circumstances of
the case (Executive Order No. 292 [1987], Book VII, Chapter 4, Sec. 21). While a judge may not be disciplined for error of judgment absent proof that such
error was made with a conscious and deliberate intent to cause an injustice, 51 the
xxxx facts on hand prove otherwise. Florin’s issuance of the writ of execution and writ of
possession in order to fully implement Regional Director Dalugdug’s Order dated
Based on the foregoing provision, the appeal of the Berenguers to the DAR Secretary February 15, 1999 clearly constitutes ignorance of the law for as a rule, a writ of
clearly stayed the implementation of Regional Director Dalugdug’s Order dated execution is issued only after the subject judgment or order has already become final
February 15, 1999. Moreover, it is the DAR Secretary who has jurisdiction to order and executory.52 As aptly stated by IBP Commissioner San Juan, Florin ordered the
execution pending appeal. Records reveal that there was no order by the DAR issuance of such writs despite the pendency of the appeal with the
Secretary directing execution of the Order dated February 15, 1999 during the DARAB.53 Consequently, the Court finds merit in the recommendation of suspension.
pendency of the Berenguers’ appeal.
As to the penalty –
Corollarily, Rule 39 of the 1997 Rules of Court provides for the instances when
execution may be had, namely: (1) after a decision or order has become final and Judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith or deliberate
executory;48 (2) pending appeal, only upon good reasons to be stated in a special intent to do injustice will be administratively sanctioned.54 In this case, it appears,
order after due hearing;49 and (3) execution of several, separate or partial however, that this is the first time that Florin has been made administratively liable.
judgments.50 Although there is no showing that malice or bad faith attended the commission of the
acts complained of, the same does not negate the fact that Florin executed an act
Moreover, Rule XX of the 2009 Rules of the DARAB reads: that would cause an injustice to the Berenguers. To our mind, the act of issuing the
writ of execution and writ of possession is not simply an honest error in judgment but
an obstinate disregard of the applicable laws and jurisprudence.
Sec. 1. Execution Upon Final Order or Decision.—Execution shall issue upon an
order, resolution or decision that finally disposes of the action or proceeding. Such
execution shall issue as a matter of course and upon the expiration of the period to With all these, the Court deems it reasonable to reconsider the penalty recommended
appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected. and instead impose the penalty of suspension for three (3) months 55 without pay. As
also held in Rallos v. Judge Gako, Jr.,56 three (3) months suspension without pay was

65
imposed against a judge after finding out that the ignorance of the law he committed
was not tainted with bad faith.

With respect to the complaint against Jornales and Vega, the Court agrees and
adopts the finding of the IBP that no sufficient evidence was adduced to substantiate
the charges against them. Hence, the complaint against them should be dismissed.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN is


found guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, she is
penalized with SUSPENSION from the practice of law for three (3) months effective
upon notice hereof. The complaint against Atty. Marcelino Jornales and Atty. Pedro
Vega is DISMISSED for lack of sufficient evidence.

Let copies of this Decision be entered in her record as attorney and be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and
guidance.

SO ORDERED.

66
Canon 6.02 date, the same counsel for complainant was absent. In both instances, the said
counsel did not file written motion for postponement but merely sent the complainant
A.M. No. 1418 August 31, 1976 to explain the reason for his absence. When the case was again called for hearing on
October 16, 1975, counsel for complainant failed once more to appear. The
complainant who was present explained that his lawyer was busy "preparing an
JOSE MISAMIN, complainant, affidavit in the Court of First Instance of Manila." When asked if he was willing to
vs. proceed with the hearing' in the absence of his counsel, the complainant declared,
ATTORNEY MIGUEL A. SAN JUAN, respondent. apparently without any prodding, that he wished his complaint withdrawn. He
explained that he brought the present action in an outburst of anger believing that the
RESOLUTION respondent San Juan took active part in the unjust dismissal of his complaint with the
NLRC. The complainant added that after reexamining his case, he believed the
respondent to be without fault and a truly good person." 2

FERNANDO, J.: The Report of the Solicitor-General did not take into account respondent's practice of
his profession notwithstanding his being a police official, as "this is not embraced in
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court which provides the grounds for
It certainly fails to reflect credit on a captain in the Metro Manila Police Force and a the suspension or removal of an attorney. The respondent's appearance at the labor
member of the bar, respondent Miguel A. San Juan, to be charged with being the proceeding notwithstanding that he was an incumbent police officer of the City of
legal representative of certain establishments allegedly owned by Filipinos of Chinese Manila may appropriately be referred to the National Police Commission and the Civil
descent and, what is worse, with coercing an employee, complainant Jose Misamin, Service Commission." 3 As a matter of fact, separate complaints on this ground have
to agree to drop the charges filed by him against his employer Tan Hua, owner of been filed and are under investigation by the Office of the Mayor of Manila and the
New Cesar's Bakery, for the violation of the Minimum Wage Law. There was a denial National Police Commission." As for the charges that respondent conspired with
on the part of respondent. The matter was referred to the Office of the Solicitor- complainant's counsel to mislead complainant to admitting having' received his
General for investigation, report and recommendation. Thereafter, it would seem separation pay and for giving illegal protection to aliens, it is understandable why the
there was a change of heart on the part of complainant. That could very well be the Report of the Solicitor-General recommended that they be dismissed for lack of
explanation for the non- appearance of the lawyer employed by him at the scheduled evidence.
hearings. The efforts of the Solicitor General to get at the bottom of things were thus
set at naught. Under the circumstances, the outcome of such referral was to be
expected. For the law is rather exacting in its requirement that there be competent The conclusion arrived at by the Solicitor-General that the complaint cannot prosper
and adequate proof to make out a case for malpractice. Necessarily, the is in accordance with the settled law. As far back as in re Tionko, 4 decided in 1922,
recommendation was one of the complaints being dismissed, This is one of those the authoritative doctrine was set forth by Justice Malcolm in this wise: "The serious
instances then where this Court is left with hardly any choice. Respondent cannot be consequences of disbarment or suspension should follow only where there is a clear
found guilty of malpractice. preponderance of evidence against the respondent. The presumption is that the
attorney is innocent of the charges preferred and has performed his duty as an officer
of the court in accordance with his oath." 5 The Tionko doctrine has been
Respondent, as noted in the Report of the Solicitor-General, "admits having appeared subsequently adhered to. 6
as counsel for the New Cesar's Bakery in the proceeding before the NLRC while he
held office as captain in the Manila Metropolitan Police. However, he contends that
the law did not prohibit him from such isolated exercise of his profession. He This resolution does not in any wise take into consideration whatever violations there
contends that his appearance as counsel, while holding a government position, is not might have been of the Civil Service Law in view of respondent practicing his
among the grounds provided by the Rules of Court for the suspension or removal of profession while holding his position of Captain in the Metro Manila police force. That
attorneys. The respondent also denies having conspired with the complainant is a matter to be decided in the administrative proceeding as noted in the
Misamin's attorney in the NLRC proceeding in order to trick the complainant into recommendation of the Solicitor-General. Nonetheless, while the charges have to be
signing an admission that he had been paid his separation pay. Likewise, the dismissed, still it would not be inappropriate for respondent member of the bar to
respondent denies giving illegal protection to members of the Chinese community in avoid all appearances of impropriety. Certainly, the fact that the suspicion could be
Sta. Cruz, Manila." 1 entertained that far from living true to the concept of a public office being a public
trust, he did make use, not so much of whatever legal knowledge he possessed, but
the influence that laymen could assume was inherent in the office held not only to
Then came a detailed account in such Report of the proceedings: "Pursuant to the frustrate the beneficent statutory scheme that labor be justly compensated but also to
resolution of this Honorable Court of March 21, 1975, the Solicitor General's Office be at the beck and call of what the complainant called alien interest, is a matter that
set the case for investigation on July 2 and 3, 1975. The counsel for the complainant should not pass unnoticed. Respondent, in his future actuations as a member of the
failed to appear, and the investigation was reset to August 15, 1975. At the latter
67
bar. should refrain from laying himself open to such doubts and misgivings as to his
fitness not only for the position occupied by him but also for membership in the bar.
He is not worthy of membership in an honorable profession who does not even take
care that his honor remains unsullied

WHEREFORE, this administrative complaint against respondent Miguel A. San Juan


is dismissed for not having been duly proved. Let a copy of this resolution be spread
on his record.

Barredo, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur.

68
Canon 6.03 supervision of the court in GENBANK’s liquidation as mandated by Section 29 of
Republic Act No. 265.
G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005
In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the Marcos government. One of the
PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), Petitioners, first acts of President Corazon C. Aquino was to establish the Presidential
vs. Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover the alleged ill-gotten wealth of
SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division), LUCIO C. TAN, CARMEN KHAO TAN, former President Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant to this
FLORENCIO T. SANTOS, NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS, DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI mandate, the PCGG, on July 17, 1987, filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint
NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG LIAN, ESTATE OF BENITO TAN KEE HIONG for "reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting and damages" against
(represented by TARCIANA C. TAN), FLORENCIO N. SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao Tan, Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos,
TAN, TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG POE KEE, MARIANO KHOO, MANUEL KHOO, Domingo Chua, Tan Hui Nee, Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of Benito Tan Kee
MIGUEL KHOO, JAIME KHOO, ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO RANOLA, WILLIAM Hiong, Florencio N. Santos, Jr., Harry C. Tan, Tan Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee,
T. WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM, BENJAMIN T. ALBACITA, WILLY CO, ALLIED Mariano Khoo, Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth Khoo, Celso
BANKING CORP., ALLIED LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION, ASIA Ranola, William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim, Benjamin T. Albacita, Willy Co, Allied
BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP., FOREMOST FARMS, INC., Banking Corporation (Allied Bank), Allied Leasing and Finance Corporation, Asia
FORTUNE TOBACCO CORP., GRANDSPAN DEVELOPMENT CORP., HIMMEL Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp., Foremost Farms, Inc., Fortune Tobacco
INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, Corporation, Grandspan Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris Holdings and
INC., MANUFACTURING SERVICES AND TRADE CORP., MARANAW HOTELS Development Corp., Jewel Holdings, Inc., Manufacturing Services and Trade Corp.,
AND RESORT CORP., NORTHERN TOBACCO REDRYING PLANT, Maranaw Hotels and Resort Corp., Northern Tobacco Redrying Plant, Progressive
PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., SHAREHOLDINGS, INC., SIPALAY TRADING Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc., Sipalay Trading Corp., Virgo Holdings &
CORP., VIRGO HOLDINGS & DEVELOPMENT CORP., and ATTY. ESTELITO P. Development Corp., (collectively referred to herein as respondents Tan, et al.), then
MENDOZA, Respondents. President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, Panfilo O. Domingo, Cesar
Zalamea, Don Ferry and Gregorio Licaros. The case was docketed as Civil Case
No. 0005 of the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan.6 In connection therewith, the
DECISION PCGG issued several writs of sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by the
above-named persons by taking advantage of their close relationship and influence
PUNO, J.: with former President Marcos.

This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with significance for it concerns on Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed petitions for certiorari,
one hand, the efforts of the Bar to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government prohibition and injunction to nullify, among others, the writs of sequestration issued by
service and on the other, its effect on the right of government to recruit competent the PCGG.7 After the filing of the parties’ comments, this Court referred the cases to
counsel to defend its interests. the Sandiganbayan for proper disposition. These cases were docketed as Civil
Case Nos. 0096-0099. In all these cases, respondents Tan, et al. were represented
In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK) encountered financial by their counsel, former Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then resumed
difficulties. GENBANK had extended considerable financial support to Filcapital his private practice of law.
Development Corporation causing it to incur daily overdrawings on its current account
with the Central Bank.1 It was later found by the Central Bank that GENBANK had On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to disqualify respondent Mendoza
approved various loans to directors, officers, stockholders and related interests as counsel for respondents Tan,et al. with the Second Division of
totaling P172.3 million, of which 59% was classified as doubtful and P0.505 million as the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 00058 and 0096-0099.9 The motions alleged
uncollectible.2 As a bailout, the Central Bank extended emergency loans to that respondent Mendoza, as then Solicitor General10 and counsel to Central
GENBANK which reached a total of P310 million.3 Despite the mega loans, Bank, "actively intervened"in the liquidation of GENBANK, which was subsequently
GENBANK failed to recover from its financial woes. On March 25, 1977, the Central acquired by respondents Tan, et al. and became Allied Banking Corporation.
Bank issued a resolution declaring GENBANKinsolvent and unable to resume Respondent Mendoza allegedly "intervened" in the acquisition of GENBANK by
business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public, andordering respondents Tan, et al. when, in his capacity as then Solicitor General,
its liquidation.4 A public bidding of GENBANK’s assets was held from March 26 he advised the Central Bank’s officials on the procedureto bring about GENBANK’s
to 28, 1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group submitted the winning liquidation and appeared as counsel for the Central Bank in connection with its
bid.5 Subsequently, former Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza filed a petition for assistance in the liquidation of GENBANK which he filed with the Court of
petition with the then Court of First Instance praying for the assistance and First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Manila and was docketed as Special
Proceeding No. 107812. The motions to disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the Code of

69
Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits former government The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
lawyers from accepting "engagement or employment in connection with any matter in applies to respondent Mendoza. Again, the prohibition states: "A lawyer shall not,
which he had intervened while in said service." after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection
with any matter in which he had intervened while in the said service."
On April 22, 1991 the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan issued a
resolution denying PCGG’s motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza in Civil Case I.A. The history of Rule 6.03
No. 0005.11 It found that the PCGG failed to prove the existence of an inconsistency
between respondent Mendoza’s former function as Solicitor General and his present A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we trace the historical lineage of
employment as counsel of the Lucio Tan group. It noted that respondent Mendoza did Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
not take a position adverse to that taken on behalf of the Central Bank during his term
as Solicitor General.12 It further ruled that respondent Mendoza’s appearance as
counsel for respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year prohibited period under In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethical standards for lawyers were
Section 7(b) of Republic Act No. 6713 since he ceased to be Solicitor General in the pervasive in England and other parts of Europe. The early statements of standards
year 1986. The said section prohibits a former public official or employee from did not resemble modern codes of conduct. They were not detailed or collected in one
practicing his profession in connection with any matter before the office he used to be source but surprisingly were comprehensive for their time. The principal thrust of the
with within one year from his resignation, retirement or separation from public standards was directed towards the litigation conduct of lawyers. It underscored the
office.13 The PCGG did not seek any reconsideration of the ruling. 14 central duty of truth and fairness in litigation as superior to any obligation to the client.
The formulations of the litigation duties were at times intricate, including specific
pleading standards, an obligation to inform the court of falsehoods and a duty to
It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 were transferred from explore settlement alternatives. Most of the lawyer's other basic duties -- competency,
the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division to the Fifth Division.15 In its resolution dated diligence, loyalty, confidentiality, reasonable fees and service to the poor -- originated
July 11, 2001, the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan denied the other PCGG’s in the litigation context, but ultimately had broader application to all aspects of a
motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza.16 It adopted the resolution of its Second lawyer's practice.
Division dated April 22, 1991, and observed that the arguments were the same in
substance as the motion to disqualify filed in Civil Case No. 0005. The PCGG sought
reconsideration of the ruling but its motion was denied in its resolution dated The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early post-revolutionary
December 5, 2001.17 America did not differ markedly from those in England. The colonies and early states
used oaths, statutes, judicial oversight, and procedural rules to govern attorney
behavior. The difference from England was in the pervasiveness and continuity of
Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing the resolutions dated July such regulation. The standards set in England varied over time, but the variation in
11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan via a early America was far greater. The American regulation fluctuated within a single
petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Civil colony and differed from colony to colony. Many regulations had the effect of setting
Procedure.18 The PCGG alleged that the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of some standards of conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps in the
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed substantive standards. Only three of the traditional core duties can be fairly
resolutions contending that: 1) Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility characterized as pervasive in the formal, positive law of the colonial and post-
prohibits a former government lawyer from accepting employment in connection with revolutionary period: the duties of litigation fairness, competency and reasonable
any matter in which he intervened; 2) the prohibition in the Rule is not time-bound; 3) fees.20
that Central Bank could not waive the objection to respondent Mendoza’s appearance
on behalf of the PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil Case No. 0005 was
interlocutory, thus res judicata does not apply.19 The nineteenth century has been termed the "dark ages" of legal ethics in the
United States. By mid-century, American legal reformers were filling the void in two
ways. First, David Dudley Field, the drafter of the highly influential New York "Field
The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive issues of law. In view, however, Code," introduced a new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. This
of the import and impact of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility to the concise statement of eight statutory duties became law in several states in the
legal profession and the government, we shall cut our way and forthwith resolve the second half of the nineteenth century. At the same time, legal educators, such as
substantive issue. David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many other lawyers were working to
flesh out the broad outline of a lawyer's duties. These reformers wrote about legal
I ethics in unprecedented detail and thus brought a new level of understanding to a
lawyer's duties. A number of mid-nineteenth century laws and statutes, other than the
Substantive Issue Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms of colonial regulations – e.g., the
"do no falsehood" oath and the deceit prohibitions -- persisted in some states.
Procedural law continued to directly, or indirectly, limit an attorney's litigation
70
behavior. The developing law of agency recognized basic duties of competence, In 1928, the ABA amended one canon and added thirteen new canons. 28 To deal with
loyalty and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law started to recognize with problems peculiar to former government lawyers, Canon 36 was minted which
less equivocation the attorney-client privilege and its underlying theory of disqualified them both for "adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent-interest
confidentiality. Thus, all of the core duties, with the likely exception of service to the representation conflicts."29 The rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that
poor, had some basis in formal law. Yet, as in the colonial and early post- the government lawyer’s largely discretionary actions would be influenced by the
revolutionary periods, these standards were isolated and did not provide a temptation to take action on behalf of the government client that later could be to the
comprehensive statement of a lawyer's duties. The reformers, by contrast, were more advantage of parties who might later become private practice clients.30 Canon
comprehensive in their discussion of a lawyer's duties, and they actually ushered a 36 provides, viz.:
new era in American legal ethics.21
36. Retirement from judicial position or public employment
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form of ethical standards began to
guide lawyers in their practice — the bar association code of legal ethics. The bar A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter upon the merits
codes were detailed ethical standards formulated by lawyers for lawyers. They of which he has previously acted in a judicial capacity.
combined the two primary sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century.
Like the academic discourses, the bar association codes gave detail to the statutory
statements of duty and the oaths of office. Unlike the academic lectures, however, the A lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the public employ
bar association codes retained some of the official imprimatur of the statutes and should not, after his retirement, accept employment in connection with any
oaths. Over time, the bar association codes became extremely popular that states matter he has investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ.
adopted them as binding rules of law. Critical to the development of the new codes
was the re-emergence of bar associations themselves. Local bar associations formed Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend many of the canons and
sporadically during the colonial period, but they disbanded by the early nineteenth added Canons 46 and 47 in 1933 and 1937, respectively. 31
century. In the late nineteenth century, bar associations began to form again, picking
up where their colonial predecessors had left off. Many of the new bar associations, In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again adopted as its own Canons 33 to 47
most notably the Alabama State Bar Association and the American Bar Association, of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.32
assumed on the task of drafting substantive standards of conduct for their members. 22

By the middle of the twentieth century, there was growing consensus that the ABA
In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a comprehensive bar association code
Canons needed more meaningful revision. In 1964, the ABA President-elect Lewis
of ethics. The 1887 Alabama Code of Ethics was the model for several states’ codes, Powell asked for the creation of a committee to study the "adequacy and
and it was the foundation for the American Bar Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of effectiveness" of the ABA Canons. The committee recommended that the canons
Ethics.23 needed substantial revision, in part because the ABA Canons failed to distinguish
between "the inspirational and the proscriptive" and were thus unsuccessful in
In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and duties of a lawyer were enforcement. The legal profession in the United States likewise observed that Canon
insufficient to attain the full measure of public respect to which the legal profession 36 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary disqualification
was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar Association adopted as its own, Canons of lawyers for negligible participation in matters during their employment with the
1 to 32 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.24 government.

As early as 1924, some ABA members have questioned the form and function of the The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to replace it in the 1969 ABA Model
canons. Among their concerns was the "revolving door" or "the process by which Code of Professional Responsibility.33 The basic ethical principles in the Code of
lawyers and others temporarily enter government service from private life and then Professional Responsibility were supplemented by Disciplinary Rules that defined
leave it for large fees in private practice, where they can exploit information, contacts, minimum rules of conduct to which the lawyer must adhere. 34 In the case of Canon
and influence garnered in government service." 25 These concerns were classified 9, DR 9-101(b)35 became the applicable supplementary norm. The drafting committee
as adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent-interest conflicts." "Adverse- reformulated the canons into the Model Code of Professional Responsibility, and, in
interest conflicts" exist where the matter in which the former government lawyer August of 1969, the ABA House of Delegates approved theModel Code.36
represents a client in private practice is substantially related to a matter that the
lawyer dealt with while employed by the government and the interests of the current Despite these amendments, legal practitioners remained unsatisfied with the results
and former are adverse.26 On the other hand, "congruent-interest representation and indefinite standards set forth by DR 9-101(b) and the Model Code of Professional
conflicts" are unique to government lawyers and apply primarily to former Responsibility as a whole. Thus, in August 1983, the ABA adopted new Model
government lawyers.27 For several years, the ABA attempted to correct and update Rules of Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used the "restatement
the canons through new canons, individual amendments and interpretative opinions. format," where the conduct standards were set-out in rules, with comments following
71
each rule. The new format was intended to give better guidance and clarity for Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the "matter" which was the subject of intervention
enforcement "because the only enforceable standards were the black letter Rules." by respondent Mendoza while he was the Solicitor General. The PCGG relates the
The Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and reduced the emphasis following acts of respondent Mendoza as constituting the"matter" where he
on narrative discussion, by placing comments after the rules and limiting comment intervened as a Solicitor General, viz:40
discussion to the content of the black letter rules. The Model Rules made a number of
substantive improvements particularly with regard to conflicts of interests.37 In The PCGG’s Case for Atty. Mendoza’s Disqualification
particular, the ABA did away with Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of
the concept of impropriety on the subjective views of anxious clients as well as
the norm’s indefinite nature.38 The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan (Fifth
Division) in issuing the assailed Resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5,
2001 denying the motion to disqualify Atty. Mendoza as counsel for respondents
In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Tan, et al. The PCGG insists that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively
adopted a proposed Code of Professional Responsibility in 1980 which it intervened in the closure of GENBANK by advising the Central Bank on how to
submitted to this Court for approval. The Code was drafted to reflect the local proceed with the said bank’s liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation
customs, traditions, and practices of the bar and to conform with new realities. On with the CFI of Manila.
June 21, 1988, this Court promulgated the Code of Professional
Responsibility.39 Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility deals
particularly with former government lawyers, and provides, viz.: As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum dated March 29, 1977 prepared
by certain key officials of the Central Bank, namely, then Senior Deputy Governor
Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor Jaime C. Laya, then Deputy Governor and
Rule 6.03 – A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement General Counsel Gabriel C. Singson, then Special Assistant to the Governor Carlota
or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in P. Valenzuela, then Asistant to the Governor Arnulfo B. Aurellano and then Director of
said service. Department of Commercial and Savings Bank Antonio T. Castro, Jr., where they
averred that on March 28, 1977, they had a conference with the Solicitor General
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility retained the general structure of (Atty. Mendoza), who advised them on how to proceed with the liquidation of
paragraph 2, Canon 36 of the Canons of Professional Ethics but replaced the GENBANK. The pertinent portion of the said memorandum states:
expansive phrase "investigated and passed upon" with the word"intervened." It is,
therefore, properly applicable to both "adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent- Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference with the Solicitor General and
interest conflicts." he advised that the following procedure should be taken:

The case at bar does not involve the "adverse interest" aspect of Rule 6.03. 1. Management should submit a memorandum to the Monetary Board reporting that
Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded, has no adverse interest problem when he studies and evaluation had been made since the last examination of the bank as of
acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and later as counsel of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank can not be reorganized or placed in a
respondents Tan, et al. in Civil Case No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before condition so that it may be permitted to resume business with safety to its depositors
theSandiganbayan. Nonetheless, there remains the issue of whether there exists and creditors and the general public.
a "congruent-interest conflict"sufficient to disqualify respondent Mendoza from
representing respondents Tan, et al.
2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board, it shall order the liquidation of
the bank and indicate the manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan.
I.B. The "congruent interest" aspect of Rule 6.03
3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal stockholders of Genbank of the
The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first, the meaning foregoing decision to liquidate the bank and the liquidation plan approved by the
of "matter" referred to in the rule and, second, the metes and bounds of Monetary Board.
the "intervention" made by the former government lawyer on the "matter." The
American Bar Association in its Formal Opinion 342, defined "matter" as any
discrete, isolatable act as well as identifiable transaction or conduct involving a 4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting
particular situation and specific party, and not merely an act of drafting, enforcing or the proceedings which had been taken and praying the assistance of the Court in the
interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing liquidation of Genbank.
abstract principles of law.
The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March 29, 1977 of the Monetary
Board where it was shown that Atty. Mendoza was furnished copies of pertinent

72
documents relating to GENBANK in order to aid him in filing with the court the petition take charge of its assets and liabilities, as expeditiously as possible collect and gather
for assistance in the bank’s liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said minutes all the assets and administer the same for the benefit of its creditors, exercising all the
reads: powers necessary for these purposes including, but not limited to, bringing suits and
foreclosing mortgages in the name of the bank or non-bank financial intermediary
The Board decided as follows: performing quasi-banking functions.

... ...

E. To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor General with a copy of the If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm within the said period that the bank
subject memorandum of the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions is insolvent or
dated March 29, 1977, together with copies of: cannot resume business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public,
it shall, if the public interest requires, order its liquidation, indicate the manner of its
liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. The Central Bank shall, by the Solicitor
1. Memorandum of the Deputy Governor, Supervision and Examination Sector, to the General, file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which
Monetary Board, dated March 25, 1977, containing a report on the current situation of have been taken and praying the assistance of the court in the liquidation of such
Genbank; institution. The court shall have jurisdiction in the same proceedings to adjudicate
disputed claims against the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-
2. Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re: General Bank and Trust Co., dated banking functions and enforce individual liabilities of the stockholders and do all that
March 23, 1977; is necessary to preserve the assets of such institution and to implement the
liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. The Monetary Board shall
3. Memorandum of the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank, to the designate an official of the Central Bank, or a person of recognized competence in
Monetary Board, dated March 24, 1977, submitting, pursuant to Section 29 of R.A. banking or finance, as liquidator who shall take over the functions of the receiver
No. 265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a repot on the state of insolvency of previously appointed by the Monetary Board under this Section. The liquidator shall,
Genbank, together with its attachments; and with all convenient speed, convert the assets of the banking institution or non-bank
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions to money or sell, assign or
otherwise dispose of the same to creditors and other parties for the purpose of paying
4. Such other documents as may be necessary or needed by the Solicitor General for the debts of such institution and he may, in the name of the bank or non-bank
his use in then CFI-praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Genbank. financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions, institute such actions as
may be necessary in the appropriate court to collect and recover accounts and assets
Beyond doubt, therefore, the "matter" or the act of respondent Mendoza as Solicitor of such institution.
General involved in the case at bar is "advising the Central Bank, on how to
proceed with the said bank’s liquidation and even filing the petition for its liquidation The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary
with the CFI of Manila." In fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of advising Board under this Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act shall be
the Central Bank on the legal procedure to liquidate GENBANK is included within final and executory, and can be set aside by the court only if there is convincing proof
the concept of "matter" under Rule 6.03.The procedure of liquidation is given in that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith. No restraining order or
black and white in Republic Act No. 265, section 29, viz: injunction shall be issued by the court enjoining the Central Bank from implementing
its actions under this Section and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act,
The provision reads in part: unless there is convincing proof that the action of the Monetary Board is plainly
arbitrary and made in bad faith and the petitioner or plaintiff files with the clerk or
judge of the court in which the action is pending a bond executed in favor of the
SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. – Whenever, upon examination by the head
Central Bank, in an amount to be fixed by the court. The restraining order or
of the appropriate supervising or examining department or his examiners or agents
injunction shall be refused or, if granted, shall be dissolved upon filing by the Central
into the condition of any bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-
Bank of a bond, which shall be in the form of cash or Central Bank cashier(s) check,
banking functions, it shall be disclosed that the condition of the same is one of
in an amount twice the amount of the bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned
insolvency, or that its continuance in business would involve probable loss to its
that it will pay the damages which the petitioner or plaintiff may suffer by the refusal or
depositors or creditors, it shall be the duty of the department head concerned
the dissolution of the injunction. The provisions of Rule 58 of the New Rules of Court
forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary Board of the facts, and the Board may,
insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this Section
upon finding the statements of the department head to be true, forbid the institution to
shall govern the issuance and dissolution of the restraining order or injunction
do business in the Philippines and shall designate an official of the Central Bank or a
contemplated in this Section.
person of recognized competence in banking or finance, as receiver to immediately
73
Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean the inability of a bank or non- Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of the "intervention" contemplated
bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities as by Rule 6.03. "Intervene" means, viz.:
they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of business. Provided, however, That
this shall not include the inability to pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank or non- 1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance . . . 2: to
bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions caused by occur, fall, or come in between points of time or events . . . 3: to come in or between
extraordinary demands induced by financial panic commonly evidenced by a run on by way of hindrance or modification: INTERPOSE . . . 4: to occur or lie between two
the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions in the things (Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an intervening river . . .) 41
banking or financial community.
On the other hand, "intervention" is defined as:
The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A of this Act or the appointment
of a receiver under this Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary Board,
the provision of any law, general or special, to the contrary notwithstanding. (As 1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2: interference that may affect the
amended by PD Nos. 72, 1007, 1771 & 1827, Jan. 16, 1981) interests of others.42

We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza on the procedure to liquidate There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the word "intervene." Under
GENBANK is not the "matter"contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of the first interpretation, "intervene" includes participation in a proceeding even if the
Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal Opinion No. 342 is clear as daylight in intervention is irrelevant or has no effect or little influence. 43 Under the second
stressing that the "drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or agency interpretation, "intervene" only includes an act of a person who has the power to
procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law" are acts influence the subject proceedings.44 We hold that this second meaning is more
which do not fall within the scope of the term "matter" and cannot disqualify. appropriate to give to the word "intervention" under Rule 6.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The evils sought to be remedied by
the Rule do not exist where the government lawyer does an act which can be
Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of argument that the above act of considered as innocuous such as "x x x drafting, enforcing or interpreting government
respondent Mendoza falls within the definition of matter per ABA Formal Opinion No. or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of law."
342. Be that as it may, the said act of respondent Mendoza which is
the "matter" involved in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from
the "matter" involved in Civil Case No. 0096. Again, the plain facts speak for In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and insignificant. Originally,
themselves. It is given that respondent Mendoza had nothing to do with the decision Canon 36 provided that a former government lawyer "should not, after his retirement,
of the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also given that he did not participate accept employment in connection with any matter which he has investigated or
in the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. The "matter" where he got himself passed upon while in such office or employ." As aforediscussed, the broad sweep of
involved was in informing Central Bank on theprocedure provided by law to liquidate the phrase "which he has investigated or passed upon" resulted in unjust
GENBANK thru the courts and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 disqualification of former government lawyers. The 1969 Code restricted its latitude,
in the then Court of First Instance. The subject "matter" of Sp. Proc. No. 107812, hence, in DR 9-101(b), the prohibition extended only to a matter in which the lawyer,
therefore, is not the same nor is related to but is different from the subject while in the government service, had "substantial responsibility." The 1983 Model
"matter" in Civil Case No. 0096. Civil Case No. 0096 involves the sequestration of Rules further constricted the reach of the rule. MR 1.11(a) provides that "a lawyer
the stocks owned by respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank on the alleged ground shall not represent a private client in connection with a matter in which the
that they are ill-gotten. The case does not involve the liquidation of GENBANK. Nor lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee."
does it involve the sale of GENBANK to Allied Bank. Whether the shares of stock of
the reorganized Allied Bank are ill-gotten is far removedfrom the issue of the It is, however, alleged that the intervention of respondent Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No.
dissolution and liquidation of GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated by the Central 107812 is significant and substantial. We disagree. For one, the petition in the special
Bank due, among others, to the alleged banking malpractices of its owners and proceedings is an initiatory pleading, hence, it has to be signed by respondent
officers. In other words, the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is not an issue in Mendoza as the then sitting Solicitor General. For another, the record is arid as to
the sequestration cases. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the PCGG does not include the theactual participation of respondent Mendoza in the subsequent proceedings.
dissolution and liquidation of banks. It goes without saying that Code 6.03 of the Code Indeed, the case was in slumberville for a long number of years. None of the parties
of Professional Responsibility cannot apply to respondent Mendoza because his pushed for its early termination. Moreover, we note that the petition filed merely seeks
alleged intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is an the assistance of the court in the liquidation of GENBANK. The principal role of the
intervention on a matter different from the matter involved in Civil Case No. court in this type of proceedings is to assist the Central Bank in determining claims of
0096. creditors against the GENBANK. The role of the court is not strictly as a court of
justice but as an agent to assist the Central Bank in determining the claims of

74
creditors. In such a proceeding, the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not unconcerned with the
is not that of the usual court litigator protecting the interest of government. prejudice to the client which will be caused by its misapplication. It cannot be
doubted that granting a disqualification motion causes the client to lose not only the
II law firm of choice, but probably an individual lawyer in whom the client has
confidence.51 The client with a disqualified lawyer must start again often without the
benefit of the work done by the latter.52 The effects of this prejudice to the right to
Balancing Policy Considerations choose an effective counsel cannot be overstated for it can result in denial of due
process.
To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility represents a
commendable effort on the part of the IBP to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in the The Court has to consider also the possible adverse effect of a truncated
government service. As aforestressed, it is a take-off from similar efforts especially by reading of the rule on the official independence of lawyers in the government
the ABA which have not been without difficulties. To date, the legal profession in the service. According to Prof. Morgan: "An individual who has the security of knowing
United States is still fine tuning its DR 9-101(b) rule. he or she can find private employment upon leaving the government is free to work
vigorously, challenge official positions when he or she believes them to be in error,
In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional and resist illegal demands by superiors. An employee who lacks this assurance of
Responsibility, the Court took account of various policy considerations to assure private employment does not enjoy such freedom."53 He adds: "Any system that
that its interpretation and application to the case at bar will achieve its end without affects the right to take a new job affects the ability to quit the old job and any limit on
necessarily prejudicing other values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not the ability to quit inhibits official independence." 54 The case at bar involves the
interpreted to cause a chilling effect on government recruitment of able legal position of Solicitor General, the office once occupied by respondent Mendoza. It
talent. At present, it is already difficult for government to match compensation offered cannot be overly stressed that the position of Solicitor General should be
by the private sector and it is unlikely that government will be able to reverse that endowed with a great degree of independence. It is this independence that allows
situation. The observation is not inaccurate that the only card that the government the Solicitor General to recommend acquittal of the innocent; it is this independence
may play to recruit lawyers is have them defer present income in return for the that gives him the right to refuse to defend officials who violate the trust of their office.
experience and contacts that can later be exchanged for higher income in private Any undue dimunition of the independence of the Solicitor General will have a
practice.45 Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned that the sacrifice of entering government corrosive effect on the rule of law.
service would be too great for most men to endure should ethical rules prevent them
from engaging in the practice of a technical specialty which they devoted years in No less significant a consideration is the deprivation of the former government
acquiring and cause the firm with which they become associated to be lawyer of the freedom to exercise his profession. Given the current state of our
disqualified.46 Indeed, "to make government service more difficult to exit can only law, the disqualification of a former government lawyer may extend to all members of
make it less appealing to enter."47 his law firm.55 Former government lawyers stand in danger of becoming the lepers of
the legal profession.
In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye on its use as a litigation
tactic to harass opposing counsel as well as deprive his client of competent legal It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be remedied by Rule 6.03 of the
representation. The danger that the rule will be misused to bludgeon an opposing Code of Professional Responsibility is the possible appearance of impropriety and
counsel is not a mere guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia loss of public confidence in government. But as well observed, the accuracy of
has noted "the tactical use of motions to disqualify counsel in order to delay gauging public perceptions is a highly speculative exercise at best 56 which can lead to
proceedings, deprive the opposing party of counsel of its choice, and harass and untoward results.57 No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the lessening of
embarrass the opponent," and observed that the tactic was "so prevalent in large civil restrictions as to former government attorneys will have any detrimental effect on that
cases in recent years as to prompt frequent judicial and academic free flow of information between the government-client and its attorneys which the
commentary."48 Even the United States Supreme Court found no quarrel with the canons seek to protect.58 Notably, the appearance of impropriety theory has been
Court of Appeals’ description of disqualification motions as "a dangerous game." 49 In rejected in the 1983 ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct59 and some
the case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify respondent Mendoza is difficult to courts have abandoned per sedisqualification based on Canons 4 and 9 when an
divine. The disqualification of respondent Mendoza has long been a dead issue. It actual conflict of interest exists, and demand an evaluation of the interests of the
was resuscitated after the lapse of many years and only after PCGG has lost many defendant, government, the witnesses in the case, and the public. 60
legal incidents in the hands of respondent Mendoza. For a fact, the recycled motion
for disqualification in the case at bar was filed more than four years after the filing of
the petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with the Supreme Court which It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule 6.03 in all its strictness for it
were subsequently remanded to theSandiganbayan and docketed as Civil Case correctly disfavors lawyers who"switch sides." It is claimed that "switching sides"
Nos. 0096-0099.50 At the very least, the circumstances under which the motion to carries the danger that former government employee maycompromise confidential
disqualify in the case at bar were refiled put petitioner’s motive as highly suspect. official information in the process. But this concern does not cast a shadow in the
75
case at bar. As afore-discussed, the act of respondent Mendoza in informing the Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view, among others, that the
Central Bank on the procedure how to liquidate GENBANK is a different matter from congruent interest prong of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
the subject matter of Civil Case No. 0005 which is about the sequestration of the should be subject to a prescriptive period. Mr. Justice Tinga opines that the rule
shares of respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. Consequently, the danger that cannot apply retroactively to respondent Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are
confidential official information might be divulged is nil, if not inexistent. To be sure, disquieted by the fact that (1) when respondent Mendoza was the Solicitor General,
there are no inconsistent "sides" to be bothered about in the case at bar. For there Rule 6.03 has not yet adopted by the IBP and approved by this Court, and (2) the bid
is no question that in lawyering for respondents Tan, et al., respondent Mendoza is to disqualify respondent Mendoza was made after the lapse of time whose length
not working against the interest of Central Bank. On the contrary, he is indirectly cannot, by any standard, qualify as reasonable. At bottom, the point they make
defending the validity of the action of Central Bank in liquidating GENBANK and relates to the unfairness of the rule if applied without any prescriptive period and
selling it later to Allied Bank. Their interests coincide instead of colliding. It is for retroactively, at that. Their concern is legitimate and deserves to be initially addressed
this reason that Central Bank offered no objection to the lawyering of respondent by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court.
Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondents Tan, et al. There is no
switching of sides for no two sides are involved. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and
December 5, 2001 of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos.
It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule 6.03 is intended to 0096-0099 is denied.
avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that a government employee might be subject to a
conflict of loyalties while still in government service.61 The example given by the No cost.
proponents of this argument is that a lawyer who plans to work for the company that
he or she is currently charged with prosecuting might be tempted to prosecute less
vigorously.62 In the cautionary words of the Association of the Bar Committee in 1960: SO ORDERED.
"The greatest public risks arising from post employment conduct may well
occur during the period of employment through the dampening of aggressive
administration of government policies."63 Prof. Morgan, however, considers this
concern as "probably excessive."64 He opines "x x x it is hard to imagine that a private
firm would feel secure hiding someone who had just been disloyal to his or her last
client – the government. Interviews with lawyers consistently confirm that law firms
want the ‘best’ government lawyers – the ones who were hardest to beat – not the
least qualified or least vigorous advocates." 65 But again, this particular concern is a
non factor in the case at bar. There is no charge against respondent Mendoza that
he advised Central Bank on how to liquidate GENBANK with an eye in later defending
respondents Tan, et al. of Allied Bank. Indeed, he continues defending both the
interests of Central Bank and respondents Tan, et al. in the above cases.

Likewise, the Court is nudged to consider the need to curtail what is perceived as
the "excessive influence of former officials" or their "clout."66 Prof. Morgan again
warns against extending this concern too far. He explains the rationale for his
warning, viz: "Much of what appears to be an employee’s influence may actually be
the power or authority of his or her position, power that evaporates quickly upon
departure from government x x x."67 More, he contends that the concern can
be demeaning to those sitting in government. To quote him further: "x x x The idea
that, present officials make significant decisions based on friendship rather than on
the merit says more about the present officials than about their former co-worker
friends. It implies a lack of will or talent, or both, in federal officials that does not seem
justified or intended, and it ignores the possibility that the officials will tend to disfavor
their friends in order to avoid even the appearance of favoritism." 68

III

The question of fairness


76