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[AC-5365.

April 27, 2005] Time Records; so it would have been physically impossible for them to transact business in Cainta, Rizal, and, after
an interval of only thirty minutes, in Quezon City, especially considering the heavy traffic conditions in those
Spouses FRANKLIN and LOURDES OLBES, complainants, vs. Atty. VICTOR V. DECIEMBRE, respondent.
places.[12]
DECISION
Petitioners averred that many of their office mates -- among them, Juanita Manaois, Honorata Acosta and
PANGANIBAN, J.: Eugenia Mendoza -- had suffered the same fate in their dealings with respondent.[13]
Constituting a serious transgression of the Code of Professional Responsibility was the malevolent act of In his Comment,[14] respondent denied petitioners claims, which he called baseless and devoid of any truth
respondent, who filled up the blank checks entrusted to him as security for a loan by writing on those checks and merit. Allegedly, petitioners were the ones who had deceived him by not honoring their commitment regarding
amounts that had not been agreed upon at all, despite his full knowledge that the loan they were meant to secure their July 15, 1999 transactions. Those transactions, totaling P200,000, had allegedly been covered by their four PNB
had already been paid. checks that were, however, subsequently dishonored due to ACCOUNT CLOSED. Thus, he filed criminal cases
against them. He claimed that the checks had already been fully filled up when petitioners signed them in his
The Case
presence. He further claimed that he had given them the amounts of money indicated in the checks, because his
Before us is a verified Petition[1] for the disbarment of Atty. Victor V. Deciembre, filed by Spouses Franklin and previous satisfactory transactions with them convinced him that they had the capacity to pay.
Lourdes Olbes with the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court. Petitioners charged respondent with willful and
Moreover, respondent said that the loans were his private and personal transactions, which were not in any
deliberate acts of dishonesty, falsification and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. After he had filed his
way connected with his profession as a lawyer. The criminal cases against petitioners were allegedly private actions
Comment[2] on the Petition, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
intended to vindicate his rights against their deception and violation of their obligations. He maintained that his right
investigation, report and recommendation.
to litigate should not be curtailed by this administrative action.
The IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), through Commissioner Caesar R. Dulay, held several hearings.
Report of the Investigating Commissioner
During those hearings, the last of which was held on May 12, 2003,[3]the parties were able to present their respective
witnesses and documentary evidence. After the filing of the parties respective formal offers of evidence, as well as In his Report and Recommendation, Commissioner Dulay recommended that respondent be suspended from
petitioners Memorandum,[4] the case was considered submitted for resolution. Subsequently, the commissioner rendered the practice of law for two years for violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
his Report and Recommendation dated January 30, 2004, which was later adopted and approved by the IBP Board of
The commissioner said that respondents version of the facts was not credible. Commissioner Dulay rendered
Governors in its Resolution No. XV-2003-177 dated July 30, 2004.
the following analysis and evaluation of the evidence presented:
The Facts
In his affidavit-complaint x x x executed to support his complaint filed before the Provincial Prosecution Office of
In their Petition, Spouses Olbes allege that they were government employees working at the Central Post Rizal respondent stated that:
Office, Manila; and that Franklin was a letter carrier receiving a monthly salary of P6,700, and Lourdes, a mail
2. That last July 15, 1999, in the jurisdiction of Cainta, Rizal, both LOURDES E. OLBES and FRANKLIN A. OLBES x x x,
sorter, P6,000.[5]
personally met and requested me to immediately exchange with cash, right there and then, their postdated
Through respondent, Lourdes renewed on July 1, 1999 her application for a loan from Rodela Loans, Inc., in checks totaling P100,000.00 then, to be immediately used by them in their business venture.
the amount of P10,000. As security for the loan, she issued and delivered to respondent five Philippine National Bank
Again in his affidavit-complaint executed to support his complaint filed with the Office of the City Prosecutor of
(PNB) blank checks (Nos. 0046241-45), which served as collateral for the approved loan as well as any other loans
Quezon City respondent stated that:
that might be obtained in the future.[6]
2. That last July 15, 1999, at around 2PM, in the jurisdiction of Quezon City, M.M., both LOURDES E. OLBES and
On August 31, 1999, Lourdes paid respondent the amount of P14,874.37 corresponding to the loan plus
FRANKLIN A. OLBES x x x, personally met and requested me to immediately exchange with cash, right there and
surcharges, penalties and interests, for which the latter issued a receipt,[7]herein quoted as follows:
then, their postdated checks totaling P100,000.00 then, to be immediately used by them in their business venture.
August 31, 1999
The above statements executed by respondent under oath are in direct contrast to his testimony before this
Received the amount of P14,874.37 as payment of the loan of P10,000.00 taken earlier by Lourdes Commission on cross-examination during the May 12, 2003 hearing, thus:
Olbes.
ATTY PUNZALAN: (continuing)
(Sgd.) Atty. Victor V. Deciembre
Q. Based on these four (4) checks which you claimed the complainant issued to you, you filed two
8-31-99 separate criminal cases against them, one, in Pasig City and the other in Quezon City, is that
correct?
P10,000.00
A. Yes, Your Honor, because the checks were deposited at different banks.
PNB Check No. 46241 8/15/99[8]
Q. These four checks were accordingly issued to you by the complainants on July 15, 1999, is that
Notwithstanding the full payment of the loan, respondent filled up four (of the five) blank PNB Checks (Nos.
correct?
0046241, 0046242, 0046243 and 0046244) for the amount of P50,000 each, with different dates of maturity -- August
15, 1999, August 20, 1999, October 15, 1999 and November 15, 1999, respectively.[9] A. I will consult my records, You Honor, because its quite a long time. Yes, Your Honor, the first two
checks is in the morning and the next two checks is in the afternoon (sic).
On October 19, 1999, respondent filed before the Provincial Prosecution Office of Rizal an Affidavit-Complaint
against petitioners for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa (BP) 22. He alleged therein that on July 15, 1999, COMM. DULAY:
around one-thirty in the afternoon at Cainta, Rizal, they personally approached him and requested that he
Which are the first two checks?
immediately exchange with cash their postdated PNB Check Nos. 0046241 and 0046242 totaling P100,000.[10]
ATTY. DECIEMBRE:
Several months after, or on January 20, 2000, respondent filed against petitioners another Affidavit-Complaint
for estafa and violation of BP 22. He stated, among others, that on the same day, July 15, 1999, around two oclock The first two checks covering check Nos. 46241 and 46242 in the morning. And Check No. 46243 and
in the afternoon at Quezon City, they again approached him and requested that he exchange with cash PNB 46244 in the afternoon, Your Honor.
Check Nos. 0046243 and 0046244 totaling P100,000.[11]
ATTY. PUNZALAN:
Petitioners insisted that on the afternoon of July 15, 1999, they never went either to Cainta, Rizal, or to Quezon
City to transact business with respondent. Allegedly, they were in their office at the time, as shown by their Daily
Q. Could you recall what particular time in the morning that these two checks with number 0046241 loan of P10,000.00 from respondent and which has since been paid x x x. Respondent does not deny the said
and 0046242 xxx have been issued to you? transaction. This appears to be the only previous transaction between the parties. In fact, complainants were even
late in paying the loan when it fell due such that they had to pay interest. That respondent would trust them once
A. I could not remember exactly but in the middle part of the morning around 9:30 to 10:00.
more by giving them another P200,000.00 allegedly to be used for a business and immediately release the amounts
Q. This was issued to you in what particular place? under the circumstances described by respondent does not appear credible given the background of the previous
transaction and personal circumstances of complainants. That respondent who is a lawyer would not even bother
A. Here in my office at Garnet Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
to ask from complainants a receipt for the money he has given, nor bother to verify and ask them what businesses
Q. Is that your house? they would use the money for contributes further to the lack of credibility of respondents version. These
circumstances really cast doubt as to the version of respondent with regard to the transaction. The resolution of the
A. No, its not my house?
public prosecutors notwithstanding we believe respondent is clearly lacking in honesty in dealing with the
Q. What is that, is that your law office? complainants. Complainant Franklin Olbes had to be jailed as a result of respondents filing of the criminal cases.
Parenthetically, we note that respondent has also filed similar cases against the co-employees of complainants in
A. That is my retainer client.
the Central Post Office and respondent is facing similar complaints in the IBP for his actions.[15]
Q. What is the name of that retainer client of yours?
The Courts Ruling
ATTY. DECIEMBRE:
We agree with the findings and conclusions of Commissioner Dulay, as approved and adopted by the IBP
Your Honor, may I object because what is the materiality of the question? Board of Governors. However, the penalty should be more severe than what the IBP recommended.
ATTY. PUNZALAN: Respondents Administrative Liability
That is very material. I am trying to test your credibility because according to you these checks have Membership in the legal profession is a special privilege burdened with conditions.[16] It is bestowed upon
been issued in Pasig in the place of your client on a retainer. Thats why I am asking your client individuals who are not only learned in the law, but also known to possess good moral character. [17] A lawyer is an
COMM. DULAY: oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and
whose primary duty is the advancement of the quest for truth and justice, for which he [or she] has sworn to be a
The name of the client is not material I think. It is enough that he said it was issued here in Pasig. fearless crusader.[18]
What building?
By taking the lawyers oath, an attorney becomes a guardian of truth and the rule of law, and an
ATTY. DECIEMBRE: indispensable instrument in the fair and impartial administration of justice.[19] Lawyers should act and comport
AIC Corporate Center, Your Honor. themselves with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach, in order to promote the publics faith in the
legal profession.[20]
COMM. DULAY:
The Code of Professional Responsibility specifically mandates the following:
What is the materiality of knowing the name of his clients office?
Canon 1. A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal
ATTY. PUNZALAN: processes.
Because, Your Honor, the materiality is to find out whether he is telling the truth. The place, Your xxxxxxxxx
Honor, according to the respondent is his client. Now I am asking who is that client?
Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities
COMM. DULAY: of the Integrated Bar.
Your answer. xxxxxxxxx
ATTY. DECIEMBRE: Rule 7.03. A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he,
A. It is AIC Realty Corporation at AIC Building. whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

Q. And the same date likewise, the complainants in the afternoon issued PNB Check Nos. 0046243 and A high standard of excellence and ethics is expected and required of members of the bar.[21] Such conduct
0046244, is that correct? of nobility and uprightness should remain with them, whether in their public or in their private lives. As officers of the
courts and keepers of the publics faith, they are burdened with the highest degree of social responsibility and are
A. Yes. thus mandated to behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and honor.[22]
Q. So would you want to tell this Honorable office that there were four checks issued in the place of The oath that lawyers swear to likewise impresses upon them the duty of exhibiting the highest degree of
your client in Pasig City, two in the morning and two in the afternoon? good faith, fairness and candor in their relationships with others. The oath is a sacred trust that must be upheld and
A. That is correct, sir. kept inviolable at all times. Thus, lawyers may be disciplined for any conduct, whether in their professional or in their
private capacity, if such conduct renders them unfit to continue to be officers of the court.[23]
Respondent was clearly not being truthful in his narration of the transaction with the complainants. As between his
version as to when the four checks were given, we find the story of complainant[s] more credible. Respondent has In the present case, the IBP commissioner gave credence to the story of petitioners, who said that they had
blatantly distorted the truth, insofar as the place where the transaction involving the four checks took place. Such given five blank personal checks to respondent at the Central Post Office in Manila as security for the P10,000 loan
distortion on a very material fact would seriously cast doubt on his version of the transaction with complainants. they had contracted. Found untrue and unbelievable was respondents assertion that they had filled up the checks
and exchanged these with his cash at Quezon City and Cainta, Rizal. After a careful review of the records, we find
Furthermore respondents statements as to the time when the transactions took place are also obviously and no reason to deviate from these findings.
glaringly inconsistent and contradicts the written statements made before the public prosecutors. Thus further
adding to the lack of credibility of respondents version of the transaction. Under the circumstances, there is no need to stretch ones imagination to arrive at an inevitable conclusion.
Respondent does not deny the P10,000 loan obtained from him by petitioners. According to Franklin Olbes
Complainants version that they issued blank checks to respondent as security for the payment of a loan testimony on cross-examination, they asked respondent for the blank checks after the loan had been paid. On the
of P10,000.00 plus interest, and that respondent filled up the checks in amounts not agreed upon appears to be pretext that he was not able to bring the checks with him,[24] he was not able to return them. He thus committed
more credible. Complainants herein are mere employees of the Central Post Office in Manila who had a previous
abominable dishonesty by abusing the confidence reposed in him by petitioners. It was their high regard for him as children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of
a member of the bar that made them trust him with their blank checks.[25] filing of the case and the other half after a decision thereon has been rendered.
It is also glaringly clear that the Code of Professional Responsibility was seriously transgressed by his malevolent Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public Information Office revealed that
act of filling up the blank checks by indicating amounts that had not been agreed upon at all and despite similar advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6, 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000
respondents full knowledge that the loan supposed to be secured by the checks had already been paid. His was a issue of The Philippine Star.[2]
brazen act of falsification of a commercial document, resorted to for his material gain.
On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of
And he did not stop there. Because the checks were dishonored upon presentment, respondent had the the Public Information Office, filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper
temerity to initiate unfounded criminal suits against petitioners, thereby exhibiting his vile intent to have them advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional
punished and deprived of liberty for frustrating the criminal duplicity he had wanted to foist on them. As a matter of Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.[3]
fact, one of the petitioners (Franklin) was detained for three months[26] because of the Complaints. Respondent is
In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that advertising and solicitation per
clearly guilty of serious dishonesty and professional misconduct. He committed an act indicative of moral depravity
se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to change our views about the prohibition on advertising and
not expected from, and highly unbecoming, a member of the bar.
solicitation; that the interest of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the
Good moral character is an essential qualification for the privilege to enter into the practice of law. It is Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades-old prohibition should be
equally essential to observe this norm meticulously during the continuance of the practice and the exercise of the abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be exonerated from all the charges against him and that the Court
privilege.[27] Good moral character includes at least common honesty.[28] No moral qualification for bar membership promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy
is more important than truthfulness and candor.[29] The rigorous ethics of the profession places a premium on and public order as long as it is dignified.[4]
honesty and condemns duplicitous behavior.[30] Lawyers must be ministers of truth. Hence, they must not mislead
The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and
the court or allow it to be misled by any artifice. In all their dealings, they are expected to act in good faith.[31]
recommendation.[5] On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-
Deception and other fraudulent acts are not merely unacceptable practices that are disgraceful and 306,[6] finding respondent guilty of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule
dishonorable;[32] they reveal a basic moral flaw. The standards of the legal profession are not satisfied by conduct 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year with the warning
that merely enables one to escape the penalties of criminal laws.[33] that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more severely. The IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on
November 11, 2002.[7]
Considering the depravity of the offense committed by respondent, we find the penalty recommended by
the IBP of suspension for two years from the practice of law to be too mild. His propensity for employing deceit and In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,[8] which was denied by the IBP in
misrepresentation is reprehensible. His misuse of the filled-up checks that led to the detention of one petitioner is Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002[9]
loathsome.
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053 entitled, Atty. Rizalino T.
In Eustaquio v. Rimorin,[34] the forging of a special power of attorney (SPA) by the respondent to make it Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and
appear that he was authorized to sell anothers property, as well as his fraudulent and malicious inducement of Chief, Public Information Office, Respondents. This petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts
Alicia Rubis to sign a Memorandum of Agreement to give a semblance of legality to the SPA, were sanctioned with Resolution dated March 4, 2003.
suspension from the practice of law for five years. Here, the conduct of herein respondent is even worse. He used
In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest whether or not they were willing to
falsified checks as bases for maliciously indicting petitioners and thereby caused the detention of one of them.
submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings.[10]Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003,
WHEREFORE, Atty. Victor V. Deciembre is found guilty of gross misconduct and violation of Rules 1.01 and 7.03 stating that he is not submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its early
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby indefinitely SUSPENDED from the practice of law effective resolution on the basis of pleadings and records thereof. [11] Respondent, on the other hand, filed a Supplemental
immediately. Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant, which is Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
directed to append a copy to respondents personal record. Let another copy be furnished the National Office of
We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606.
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:
SO ORDERED.
Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-
[A.C. No. 5299. August 19, 2003]
laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, complainant, vs. ATTY.
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:
RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, respondent.
SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be
[G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003]
disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, respondents. turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a
willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so.
RESOLUTION
It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business.[12] It is a profession in which duty to
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making
This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of the venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.[13] The gaining of a livelihood should be a
newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667.[1] secondary consideration.[14] The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary
consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.[15]The
Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, called up
following elements distinguish the legal profession from a business:
the published telephone number and pretended to be an interested party.She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed
that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a court 1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and in which one may attain the
decree within four to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of property or custody of highest eminence without making much money;
2. A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, A.C. No. 6672 September 4, 2009
integrity and reliability;
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, Complainant,
3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary; vs.
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO, Respondent.
4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to
current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly RESOLUTION
with their clients.[16]
CORONA, J.:
There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself admits that he caused
This is a complaint for disbarment1 filed by Pedro Linsangan of the Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office
the publication of the advertisements. While he professes repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his
against Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional services.
contrition rings hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he pleaded for
compassion and after claiming that he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his answer, he Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie Labiano, convinced his clients2 to
again advertised his legal services in the August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper.[17] Ten months transfer legal representation. Respondent promised them financial assistance3 and expeditious collection on their
later, he caused the same advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.[18] Such acts of claims.4To induce them to hire his services, he persistently called them and sent them text messages.
respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Courts authority.
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn affidavit5 of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano
What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising himself as a self-styled Annulment of tried to prevail upon him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize respondent’s services
Marriage Specialist, he wittingly or unwittingly erodes and undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of instead, in exchange for a loan of ₱50,000. Complainant also attached "respondent’s" calling card:6
an institution still considered sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed,
Front
in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four to six months from the time of the filing of
the case,[19] he in fact encourages people, who might have otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained
from dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so.
NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be
proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous LAW OFFFICE
manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar.[20] Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
names of the lawyers, the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now
acceptable.[21]Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by Fe Marie L. Labiano
the canon, of brief biographical and informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Paralegal
Clinic, Inc.:[22]
Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyers name and the names of his Tel: 362-7820
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01
professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and Fax: (632) 362-7821
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar
place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational Cel.: (0926)
Grace Park, Caloocan City
distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership 2701719
and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the
fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, Back
the names of clients regularly represented.
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental
feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that
reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, SERVICES OFFERED:
trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct,
management, or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
dignity or standing of the profession.
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, ABROAD.
associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may
1avvphi1
likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of
law. (emphasis and italics supplied)
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03
and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED (emphasis supplied)
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He is likewise STERNLY WARNED Hence, this complaint.
that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the printing and circulation of the said calling
Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the card.7
Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
SO ORDERED. for investigation, report and recommendation.8
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report and recommendation,9 found that The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has
respondent had encroached on the professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.0210 and other to advance necessary expenses (such as filing fees, stenographer’s fees for transcript of stenographic notes, cash
canons11of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover, he contravened the rule against soliciting cases bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a matter that he is handling for the client.
for gain, personally or through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 13812 of the Rules of Court. Hence,
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyer’s independence of mind so that the free exercise of his judgment may
the CBD recommended that respondent be reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a
not be adversely affected.22 It seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well as his entire
heavier penalty.
devotion and fidelity to the client’s cause. If the lawyer lends money to the client in connection with the client’s
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent but we modify the recommended case, the lawyer in effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an additional stake in its
penalty. outcome.23Either of these circumstances may lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his
client, or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict to the prejudice of the client in
The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent into complainant’s professional practice in
violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to the client’s cause.24
violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said misconduct
themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules. As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes malpractice25 which calls for the exercise of the Court’s
disciplinary powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions for initiating contact with a
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to, including the manner by which a lawyer’s
prospective client for the purpose of obtaining employment.26 Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to
services are to be made known. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
protect the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers and to uphold the nobility of the
CANON 3 - A lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective legal profession.
information or statement of facts.
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the prohibition on lending money to clients),
Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a profession and not a business; lawyers the sanction recommended by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed penalty is
should not advertise their talents as merchants advertise their wares.13 To allow a lawyer to advertise his talent or skill grossly incommensurate to its findings.
is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the profession in the public’s estimation and impair its ability to
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by petitioner. A lawyer’s best advertisement is a well-
efficiently render that high character of service to which every member of the bar is called.14
merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and conduct.27 For this
Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple
professional cards.
RULE 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business.
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents
or brokers.15 Such actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.16 (a) lawyer’s name;
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which provides: (b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;
RULE 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any (c) address;
man’s cause.
(d) telephone number and
This rule proscribes "ambulance chasing" (the solicitation of almost any kind of legal business by an attorney,
(e) special branch of law practiced.28
personally or through an agent in order to gain employment)17 as a measure to protect the community from
barratry and champerty.18 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.
Complainant presented substantial evidence19
(consisting of the sworn statements of the very same persons
Money was dangled to lure clients away from their original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial
coaxed by Labiano and referred to respondent’s office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal business as
distress and emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity of the bar and deserved no
well as profited from referrals’ suits.
place in the legal profession. However, in the absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is
Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he later admitted it during the mandatory not prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible for the printing and distribution of
hearing. Labiano’s calling cards.
Through Labiano’s actions, respondent’s law practice was benefited. Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the
representation on the strength of Labiano’s word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. 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 is STERNLY
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of
WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with more severely.
the CPR and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.1avvphi1
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the
With regard to respondent’s violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is the rule that a lawyer should not steal
Philippines, and be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator to be
another lawyer’s client nor induce the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or reduced
circulated to all courts.
fees for his services.20 Again the Court notes that respondent never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor
receiving benefits from Labiano’s "referrals." Furthermore, he never denied Labiano’s connection to his SO ORDERED.
office.21Respondent committed an unethical, predatory overstep into another’s legal practice. He cannot escape
liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR.
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04:
Rule 16.04 – A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the client’s interests are fully protected by the
nature of the case or by independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, when in the
interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses in a legal matter he is handling for the client.
March 23, 1929 The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar
Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide:
In re LUIS B. TAGORDA,
27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. — The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for
Duran & Lim for respondent.
a young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government.
for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of
MALCOLM, J.: character and conduct. The publication or circulation of ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of
personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, admits that
business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by
previous to the last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation,
personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection through
reads as follows:
touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of
LUIS B. TAGORDA deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by the
Attorney lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the
Notary Public manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position,
CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER and all other like self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are
Province of Isabela intolerable.
(NOTE. — As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase of land as required by 28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. — It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer
the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of your animals; can make your application and final advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to
requisites for your homestead; and can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is
collect your loans although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come or write to disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of action and inform thereof in order to the
him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing to help and serve the poor.) employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those
having any other grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or runners for
The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his home
like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or influence the bringing of such
municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows:
cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or
ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928 others who may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the
criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek his professional services. A duty to the
MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for our induction into office as
public and to the profession devolves upon every member of the bar having knowledge of such
member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of next month. Before my induction into office I should
practices upon the part of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender
be very glad to hear your suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and
may be disbarred.
for your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague, to submit to me any
kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire. Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a crime at the
common law, and one of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes
I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence here in Echague. I will
intended to reach the same evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar
attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back home on the following day here in Echague
itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The
to live and serve with you as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial
law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not seek or obtain employment by himself or through others
Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see me at
for to do so would be unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625; People vs. Mac Cabe
home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find me there on every Sunday. I also inform
[1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.)
you that I will receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of sales and affidavits to
be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays. It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by lawyers. It is
destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It works against the
I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are in the belief that my
confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in
residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I would then be disqualified to exercise my
incenting to strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens.
profession as lawyer and as notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to
exercise my profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in Echague. The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be distinctly
understood.
I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in any of your meetings or
social gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands convicted of
as lawyer and notary public. If the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is
lawyers in connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the work in court to fix upon the action which should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the
and would charge only three pesos for every registration. representative of the Attorney-General in the oral presentation of the case, suggests that the respondent be only
reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this
Yours respectfully,
character of which unfortunately the respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would
(Sgd.) LUIS TAGORDA amply justify permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the
Attorney respondent there are, first, his intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and
Notary Public. inexperience at the bar, and, third, his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of
The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21 of the Code suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that this result is
of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to the relatively lenient in this particular
the Philippine Bar Association, said codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of practice of this kind will not be
following: "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or dealt with by disbarment.
brokers, constitutes malpractice." In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and
is hereby suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929.
Adm. Case No. 2131 May 10, 1985 temporary restraining order was hasty and irregular as she was never notified of the application for preliminary
injunction.
ADRIANO E. DACANAY, complainant
vs. Complainant further alleges that when she went to Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, to inquire about the reason for
BAKER & MCKENZIE and JUAN G. COLLAS JR., LUIS MA. GUERRERO, VICENTE A. TORRES, RAFAEL E. EVANGELISTA, JR., the issuance of the temporary restraining order, respondent Atty. Rolando Gatdula, blamed her lawyer for writing
ROMEO L. SALONGA, JOSE R. SANDEJAS, LUCAS M. NUNAG, J. CLARO TESORO, NATIVIDAD B. KWAN and JOSE A. the wrong address in the complaint for ejectment, and told her that if she wanted the execution to proceed, she
CURAMMENG, JR., respondents. should change her lawyer and retain the law office of respondent, at the same time giving his calling card with the
name "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera" with office at Rm. 220 Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd.,
Adriano E. Dacanay for and his own behalf.
Cubao, Quezon City; otherwise she will not be able to eject the defendant Dave Knope. Complainant told
Madrid, Cacho, Angeles, Dominguez & Pecson Law Office for respondents. respondent that she could not decide because she was only representing her sister. To her consternation, the RTC
Branch 220 issued an order granting the preliminary injunction as threatened by the respondent despite the fact
that the MTC, Brach 37 had issued an Order directing the execution of the Decision in Civil Case No. 37-14552.
AQUINO, J.:
Asked to comment, respondent Atty. Gatdula recited the antecedents in the ejectment case and the issuance of
Lawyer Adriano E. Dacanay, admitted to the bar in 1954, in his 1980 verified complaint, sought to enjoin Juan G. the restraining order by the Regional Trial Court, and claimed that contrary to complainant Samonte's allegation
Collas, Jr. and nine other lawyers from practising law under the name of Baker & McKenzie, a law firm organized in that she was not notified of the raffle and the hearing, the Notice of Hearing on the motion for the issuance of a
Illinois. Temporary Retraining Order was duly served upon the parties, and that the application for injunctive relief was
heard before the temporary restraining order was issued. The preliminary injunction was also set for hearing on
In a letter dated November 16, 1979 respondent Vicente A. Torres, using the letterhead of Baker & McKenzie, which
August 7, 1996.
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. The respondent's version of the incident is that sometime before the hearing of the motion for the issuance of the
temporary restraining order, complainant Samonte went to court "very mad" because of the issuance of the order
Attorney Dacanay, in his reply dated December 7, 1979, denied any liability of Clurman to Gabriel. He requested
stopping the execution of the decision in the ejectment case. Respondent tried to calm her down, and assured her
that he be informed whether the lawyer of Gabriel is Baker & McKenzie "and if not, what is your purpose in using the
that the restraining order was only temporary and that the application for preliminary injunction would still be heard.
letterhead of another law office." Not having received any reply, he filed the instant complaint.
Later the Regional Trial Court granted the application for a writ of preliminary injunction. The complainant went
We hold that Baker & McKenzie, being an alien law firm, cannot practice law in the Philippines (Sec. 1, Rule 138, back to court "fuming mad" because of the alleged unreasonableness of the court in issuing the injunction.
Rules of Court). As admitted by the respondents in their memorandum, Baker & McKenzie is a professional
Respondent Gatdula claims that thereafter complainant returned to his office, and informed him that she wanted
partnership organized in 1949 in Chicago, Illinois with members and associates in 30 cities around the world.
to change counsel and that a friend of hers recommended the Law Firm of "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig
Respondents, aside from being members of the Philippine bar, practising under the firm name of Guerrero & Torres,
and Celera," at the same time showing a calling card, and asking if he could handle her case. Respondent refused
are members or associates of Baker & Mckenzie.
as he was not connected with the law firm, although he was invited to join but he choose to remain in the judiciary.
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, respondents' use of the firm name Baker & McKenzie constitutes a Complainant returned to court a few days later and told him that if he cannot convince the judge to recall the writ
representation that being associated with the firm they could "render legal services of the highest quality to of preliminary injunction, she will file an administrative case against respondent and the judge. The threat was
multinational business enterprises and others engaged in foreign trade and investment" (p. 3, respondents' memo). repeated but the respondent refused to be pressured. Meanwhile, the Complainant's Motion to Dissolve the Writ of
This is unethical because Baker & McKenzie is not authorized to practise law here. (See Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Preliminary Injunction was denied. Respondent Gatdula claims that the complainant must have filed this
Ethics, 1983 Ed., p. 115.) administrative charge because of her frustration in procuring the ejectment of the defendant lessee from the
premises. Respondent prays for the dismissal of the complainant against him.
WHEREFORE, the respondents are enjoined from practising law under the firm name Baker & McKenzie.
The case was referred to Executive Judge Estrella Estrada, RTC, Quezon City, for investigation, report and
SO ORDERED.
recommendation.
In her report, Judge Estrada states that the case was set for hearing three times, on September 7, 1997, on
A.M. No. P-99-1292 February 26, 1999 September 17, and on September 24, 1997, but neither complainant nor her counsel appeared, despite due notice.
JULIETA BORROMEO SAMONTE, complainant, The return of service of the Order setting the last hearing stated that complainant is still abroad. There being no
vs. definite time conveyed to the court for the return of the complainant, the investigating Judge proceeded with the
ATTY. ROLANDO R. GATDULA, Branch Clerk of Court, respondent. investigation by "conducting searching question" upon respondent based on the allegations in the complaint, and
asked for the record of Civil Case No. Q-96-28187 for evaluation. The case was set for hearing for the last time on
RESOLUTION October 22, 1997, to give complainant a last chance to appear, but there was again no appearance despite
GONZAGA-REYES, J.: notice.

The complaint filed by Julieta Borremeo Samonte charges Rolando R. Gatdula, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon City with The respondent testified in his own behalf to affirm the statements in his Comment, and submitted documentary
grave misconduct consisting in the alleged engaging in the private practice of law which is in conflict with his evidence consisting mainly of the pleadings in MTC Civil Case No. 37-14552, and in RTC Civil Case No. Q-9628187 to
official functions as Branch Clerk of Court. show that the questioned orders of the court were not improperly issued.

Complainant alleges that she is the authorized representative of her sister Flor Borromeo de Leon, the plaintiff, in Civil The investigating judge made the following findings:
Case No. 37-14552 for ejectment, filed with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 37. A typographical For failure of the complainant to appear at the several hearings despite notice, she failed to
error was committed in the complaint which stated that the address of defendant is No. 63-C instead of 63-B, P. substantiate her allegations in the complaint, particularly that herein respondent gave her his
Tuazon Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City. The mistake was rectified by the filing of an amended complaint which was calling card and tried to convince her to change her lawyer. This being the case, it cannot be
admitted by the Court. A decision was rendered in favor of the plaintiff who subsequently filed a motion for established with certainty that respondent indeed gave her his calling card even convinced her
execution. Complainant, however, was surprised to receive a temporary restraining order signed by Judge to change her lawyer. Moreover, as borne by the records of the Civil Case No. Q-96-28187,
Prudencio Castillo of Branch 220, RTC, Quezon City, where Atty. Rolando Gatdula is the Branch Clerk Court, complainant was duly notified of all the proceedings leading to the issuance of the TRO and
enjoining the execution of the decision of the Metropolitan Trial Court. Complainant alleges that the issuance of the the subsequent orders of Judge Prudencio Altre Castillo, Jr. of RTC, Branch 220. Complainant's
lack of interest in prosecuting this administrative case could be an indication that her filing of
the charge against the respondent is only intended to harass the respondent for her failure to be dealt with more severely. He is further ordered to cause the exclusion of his name in the firm name of any office
obtain a favorable decision from the Court. engaged in the private practice of law.
However, based on the record of this administrative case, the calling card attached as Annex SO ORDERED.
"B" of the complainant's affidavit dated September 25, 1996 allegedly given by respondent to
complainant would show that the name of herein respondent was indeed include in the
BALIGOD, GATDULA, TACARDON, DIMAILIG & CELERA LAW OFFICES. While respondent denied G.R. No. L-12871 July 25, 1959
having assumed any position in said office, the fact remains that his name is included therein
TIMOTEO V. CRUZ, petitioner,
which may therefore tend to show that he has dealings with said office. Thus, while he may not
vs.
be actually and directly employed with the firm, the fact that his name appears on the calling
FRANCISCO G. H. SALVA, respondent.
card as partner in the Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig & Celera Law Offices give the
impression that he is connected therein and may constitute an act of solicitation and private Baizas and Balderrama for petitioner.
practice which is declared unlawful under Republic Act. No. 6713. It is to be noted, however, City Attorney Francisco G. H. Salva in his own behalf.
that complainant failed to establish by convincing evidence that respondent actually offered
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
to her the services of their law office. Thus, the violation committed by respondent in having his
name included/retained in the calling card may only be considered as a minor infraction for This is a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction filed by Timoteo V. Cruz against Francisco G.
which he must also be administratively sanctioned. H. Salva, in his capacity as City Fiscal of Pasay City, to restrain him from continuing with the preliminary investigation
he was conducting in September, 1957 in connection with the killing of Manuel Monroy which took place on June
and recommended that Atty. Gatdula be admonished and censured for the minor infraction he has
15, 1953 in Pasay City. To better understand the present case and its implications, the following facts gathered from
committed.
the pleadings and the memoranda filed by the parties, may be stated.
Finding: We agree with the investigating judge that the respondent is guilty of an infraction. The complainant by her
Following the killing of Manuel Monroy in 1953 a number of persons were accused as involved and implicated in
failure to appear at the hearings, failed to substantiate her allegation that it was the respondent who gave her
said crime. After a long trial, the Court of First Instance of Pasay City found Oscar Castelo, Jose de Jesus, Hipolito
calling card "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera Law Offices" and that he tried to convince her to
Bonifacio, Bienvenido Mendoza, Francis Berdugo and others guilty of the crime of murder and sentenced them to
change counsels. We find however, that while the respondent vehemently denies the complainant's allegations, he
death. They all appealed the sentence although without said appeal, in view of the imposition of the extreme
does not deny that his name appears on the calling card attached to the complaint, which admittedly came into
penalty, the case would have to be reviewed automatically by this Court. Oscar Castelo sought a new trial which
the hands of the complainant. The respondent testified before the Investigating Judge as follows:
was granted and upon retrial, he was again found guilty and his former conviction of sentence was affirmed and
Q: How about your statement that you even gave her a calling card of the reiterated by the same trial court.
"Baligod, Gatdula, Pardo, Dimailig and Celera law Offices at Room 220
It seems that pending appeal, the late President Magsaysay ordered a reinvestigation of the case. The purpose of
Mariwasa building?
said reinvestigation does not appear in the record. Anyway, intelligence agents of the Philippine Constabulary and
A: I vehemently deny the allegation of the complainant that I gave her a investigators of Malacañang conducted the investigation for the Chief Executive, questioned a number of people
calling card. I was surprised when she presented (it) to me during one of her and obtained what would appear to be confession, pointing to persons, other than those convicted and
follow-ups of the case before the court. She told me that a friend of hers sentenced by the trial court, as the real killers of Manuel Monroy.
recommended such firm and she found out that my name is included in
Counsel for Oscar Castelo and his co-defendants wrote to respondent Fiscal Salva to conduct a reinvestigation of
that firm. I told her that I have not assumed any position in the law firm. And
the case presumably on the basis of the affidavits and confessions obtained by those who had investigated the
I am with the Judiciary since I passed the bar. It is impossible for me to enter
case at the instance of Malacañang. Fiscal Salva conferred with the Solicitor General as to what steps he should
an appearance as her counsel in the very same court where I am the
take. A conference was held with the Secretary of Justice who decided to have the results of the investigation by
Branch Clerk of Court.
the Philippine Constabulary and Malacañang investigators made available to counsel for the appellants.
The above explanation tendered by the Respondent is an admission that it is his name appears on the
Taking advantage of this opportunity, counsel for the appellants filed a motion for new trial with this Tribunal
calling card, a permissible form of advertising or solicitation of legal services. 1 Respondent does not claim
supporting the same with the so-called affidavits and confessions of some of those persons investigated, such as the
that the calling card was printed without his knowledge or consent, and the calling card 2 carries his
confessions of Sergio Eduardo y de Guzman, Oscar Caymo, Pablo Canlas, and written statements of several others.
name primarily and the name "Baligod, Gatdula, Tacardon, Dimailig and Celera with address at 220
By resolution of this Tribunal, action on said motion for new trial was deferred until the case was studied and
Mariwasa Bldg., 717 Aurora Blvd., Cubao, Quezon City" in the left corner. The card clearly gives the
determined on the merits. In the meantime, the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, head sent to the Office of Fiscal
impression that he is connected with the said law firm. The inclusion/retention of his name in the
Salva copies of the same affidavits and confessions and written statements, of which the motion for new trial was
professional card constitutes an act of solicitation which violates Section 7 sub-par. (b)(2) of Republic Act
based, and respondent Salva proceeded to conduct a reinvestigation designating for said purposes a committee
No. 6713, otherwise known as "Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for the Public Officials and
of three composed of himself as chairman and Assistant City Attorneys Herminio A. Avendañio and Ernesto A.
Employees" which declares it unlawful for a public official or employee to, among others:
Bernabe.
(2) Engage in the private practice of their profession
In connection with said preliminary investigation being conducted by the committee, petitioner Timoteo Cruz was
unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided
subpoenaed by respondent to appear at his office on September 21, 1957, to testify "upon oath before me in a
that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict
certain criminal investigation to be conducted at the time and place by this office against you and Sergio Eduardo,
with official functions.
et al., for murder." On September 19, 1957, petitioner Timoteo Cruz wrote to respondent Salva asking for the transfer
Time and again this Court has said that the conduct and behavior of every one connected with an office charged of the preliminary investigation from September 21, due to the fact that this counsel, Atty. Crispin Baizas, would
with the dispensation of justice, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk, should be circumscribed with the attend a hearing on that same day in Naga City. Acting upon said request for postponement, Fiscal Salva set the
heavy burden of responsibility. His conduct, at all times must only be characterized by propriety and decorum but preliminary investigation on September 24. On that day, Atty. Baizas appeared for petitioner Cruz, questioned the
above all else must be above suspicion. 3 jurisdiction of the committee, particularly respondent Salva, to conduct the preliminary investigation in view of the
fact that the same case involving the killing of Manuel Monroy was pending appeal in this Court, and on the same
WHEREFORE, respondent Rolando R. Gatdula. Branch Clerk of Court, RTC, Branch 220, Quezon City is hereby
day filed the present petition for certiorari and prohibition. This Tribunal gave due course to the petition for certiorari
reprimanded for engaging in the private practice of law with the warning that a repetition of the same offense will
and prohibition and upon the filing of a cash bond of P200.00 issued a writ of preliminary injunction thereby stopping
the preliminary investigation being conducted by respondent Salva.
The connection, if any, that petitioner Cruz had with the preliminary investigation being conducted by respondent whose interest, therefore, in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win a case, but that justice shall be
Salva and his committee was that affidavits and confessions sent to Salva by the Chief, Philippine Constabulary, done. As such, he is in a peculiar and very definite sense the servant of the law, the twofold aim of which
and which were being investigated, implicated petitioner Cruz, even picturing him as the instigator and mastermind is that guilt shall not escape nor innocent suffer. He may prosecute with earnestness and vigor — indeed,
in the killing of Manuel Monroy. he should do so. But, while he may strike had blows, he is not at liberty to strike foul ones. It is as much his
duty to refrain from improper methods calculated to produce a wrongful conviction as it is to use every
The position taken by petitioner Cruz in this case is that inasmuch as the principal case of People vs. Oscar Castelo,
legitimate means to bring about a just one. (69 United States law Review, June, 1935, No. 6, p. 309, cited
et al., G.R. No. L-10794, is pending appeal and consideration before us, no court, much less a prosecuting attorney
in the case of Suarez vs. Platon, 69 Phil., 556)
like respondent Salva, had any right or authority to conduct a preliminary investigation or reinvestigation of the case
for that would be obstructing the administration of justice and interferring with the consideration on appeal of the With respect to the right of respondent Salva to cite petitioner to appear and testify before him at the scheduled
main case wherein appellants had been found guilty and convicted and sentenced; neither had respondent preliminary investigation, under the law, petitioner had a right to be present at that investigation since as was
authority to cite him to appear and testify at said investigation. already stated, he was more or less deeply involved and implicated in the killing of Monroy according to the
affiants whose confessions, affidavits and testimonies respondent Salva was considering or was to consider at said
Respondent Salva, however, contends that if he subpoenaed petitioner Cruz at all, it was because of the latter's
preliminary investigation. But he need not be present at said investigation because his presence there implies, and
oral and personal request to allow him to appear at the investigation with his witnesses for his own protection,
was more of a right rather than a duty or legal obligation. Consequently, even if, as claimed by respondent Salva,
possibly, to controvert and rebut any evidence therein presented against him. Salva claims that were it not for this
petitioner expressed the desire to be given an opportunity to be present at the said investigation, if he latter
request and if, on the contrary, Timoteo Cruz had expressed any objection to being cited to appear in the
changed his mind and renounced his right, and even strenuously objected to being made to appear at said
investigation he (Salva) would never have subpoenaed him.
investigation, he could not be compelled to do so.
Although petitioner Cruz now stoutly denies having made such request that he be allowed to appear at the
Now we come to the manner in which said investigation was conducted by the respondent. If, as contended by
investigation, we are inclined to agree with Fiscal Salva that such a request had been made. Inasmuch as he,
him, the purpose of said investigation was only to acquaint himself with and evaluate the evidence involved in the
Timoteo Cruz, was deeply implicated in the killing of Manuel Monroy by the affidavits and confessions of several
affidavits and confessions of Sergio Eduardo, Cosme Camo and others by questioning them, then he, respondent,
persons who were being investigated by Salva and his committee, it was but natural that petitioner should have
could well have conducted the investigation in his office, quietly, unobtrusively and without much fanfare, much
been interested, even desirous of being present at that investigation so that he could face and cross examine said
less publicity.
witnesses and affiants when they testified in connection with their affidavits or confessions, either repudiating,
modifying or ratifying the same. Moreover, in the communication, addressed to respondent Salva asking that the However, according to the petitioner and not denied by the respondent, the investigation was conducted not in
investigation, scheduled for September 21, 1957, be postponed because his attorney would be unable to attend, respondent's office but in the session hall of the Municipal Court of Pasay City evidently, to accommodate the big
Timoteo Cruz expressed no opposition to the subpoena, not even a hint that he was objecting to his being cited to crowd that wanted to witness the proceeding, including members of the press. A number of microphones were
appear at the investigation. installed. Reporters were everywhere and photographers were busy taking pictures. In other words, apparently with
the permission of, if not the encouragement by the respondent, news photographers and newsmen had a filed
As to the right of respondent Salva to conduct the preliminary investigation which he and his committee began
day. Not only this, but in the course of the investigation, as shown by the transcript of the stenographic notes taken
ordinarily, when a criminal case in which a fiscal intervened though nominally, for according to respondent, two
during said investigation, on two occasions, the first, after Oscar Caymo had concluded his testimony respondent
government attorneys had been designed by the Secretary of Justice to handle the prosecution in the trial of the
Salva, addressing the newspapermen said, "Gentlemen of the press, if you want to ask questions I am willing to let
case in the court below, is tried and decided and it is appealed to a higher court such as this Tribunal, the functions
you do so and the question asked will be reproduced as my own"; and the second, after Jose Maratella y de
and actuations of said fiscal have terminated; usually, the appeal is handled for the government by the Office of
Guzman had finished testifying and respondent Salva, addressing the newsmen, again said, "Gentlemen of the
the Solicitor General. Consequently, there would be no reason or occasion for said fiscal to conduct a
press is free to ask questions as ours." Why respondent was willing to abdicate and renounce his right and
reinvestigation to determine criminal responsibility for the crime involved in the appeal.
prerogative to make and address the questions to the witnesses under investigation, in favor of the members of the
However, in the present case, respondent has, in our opinion, established a justification for his reinvestigation press, is difficult for us to understand, unless he, respondent, wanted to curry favor with the press and publicize his
because according to him, in the original criminal case against Castelo, et al., one of the defendants named investigation as much as possible. Fortunately, the gentlemen of the press to whom he accorded such unusual
Salvador Realista y de Guzman was not included for the reason that he was arrested and was placed within the privilege and favor appeared to have wisely and prudently declined the offer and did not ask questions, this
jurisdiction of the trial court only after the trial against the other accused had commenced, even after the according to the transcript now before us.
prosecution had rested its case and the defense had begun to present its evidence. Naturally, Realista remained to
But, the newspapers certainly played up and gave wide publicity to what took place during the investigation, and
stand trial. The trial court, according to respondent, at the instance of Realista, had scheduled the hearing at an
this involved headlines and extensive recitals, narrations of and comments on the testimonies given by the witnesses
early date, that is in August, 1957. Respondent claims that before he would go to trial in the prosecution of Realista
as well as vivid descriptions of the incidents that took place during the investigation. It seemed as though the
he had to chart his course and plan of action, whether to present the same evidence, oral and documentary,
criminal responsibility for the killing of Manuel Monroy which had already been tried and finally determined by the
presented in the original case and trial, or, in view of the new evidence consisting of the affidavits and confessions
lower court and which was under appeal and advisement by this Tribunal, was being retried and redetermined in
sent to him by the Philippine Constabulary, he should first assess and determine the value of said evidence by
the press, and all with the apparent place and complaisance of respondent.
conducting an investigation and that should he be convinced that the persons criminally responsible for the killing
of Manuel Monroy were other than those already tried and convicted, like Oscar Castelo and his co-accused and Frankly, the members of this Court were greatly disturbed and annoyed by such publicity and sensationalism, all of
co-appellants, including Salvador Realista, then he might act accordingly and even recommend the dismissal of which may properly be laid at the door of respondent Salva. In this, he committed what was regard a grievous error
the case against Realista. and poor judgment for which we fail to find any excuse or satisfactory explanation. His actuations in this regard
went well beyond the bounds of prudence, discretion and good taste. It is bad enough to have such undue
In this, we are inclined to agree with respondent Salva. For, as contended by him and as suggested by authorities,
publicity when a criminal case is being investigated by the authorities, even when it being tried in court; but when
the duty and role of prosecuting attorney is not only to prosecute and secure the conviction of the guilty but also to
said publicity and sensationalism is allowed, even encouraged, when the case is on appeal and is pending
protect the innocent.
consideration by this Tribunal, the whole thing becomes inexcusable, even abhorrent, and this Court, in the interest
We cannot overemphasize the necessity of close scrutiny and investigation of the prosecuting officers of of justice, is constrained and called upon to put an end to it and a deterrent against its repetition by meting an
all cases handled by them, but whilst this court is averse to any form of vacillation by such officers in the appropriate disciplinary measure, even a penalty to the one liable.
prosecution of public offenses, it is unquestionable that they may, in appropriate cases, in order to do
Some of the members of the Court who appeared to feel more strongly than the others favored the imposition of a
justice and avoid injustice, reinvestigate cases in which they have already filed the corresponding
more or less severe penal sanction. After mature deliberation, we have finally agreed that a public censure would,
informations. In the language of Justice Sutherland of the Supreme Court of the United States,
for the present, be sufficient.
the prosecuting officer "is the representative not of an ordinary party to a controversy, but of a
sovereignty whose obligation to govern impartially is as compelling as its obligation to govern at all; and
In conclusion, we find and hold that respondent Salva was warranted in holding the preliminary investigation In his Compliance and Comment5 dated 3 February 2014, respondent alleged that he did not receive a copy of the
involved in this case, insofar as Salvador Realista is concerned, for which reason the writ of preliminary injunction 5 August 2013 letter of Atty. Reyes. He stated that he was wondering why his application for exemption could not
issued stopping said preliminary investigation, is dissolved; that in view of petitioner's objection to appear and testify be granted. He further alleged that he did not receive a formal denial of his application for exemption by the MCLE
at the said investigation, respondent may not compel him to attend said investigation, for which reason, the Governing Board, and that the notice sent by Prof. Feliciano was based on the letter of complainant who belonged
subpoena issued by respondent against petitioner is hereby set aside. to Romualdo and Arnado Law Office, the law office of his political opponents, the Romualdo family. Respondent
alleged that the Romualdo family controlled Camiguin and had total control of the judges and prosecutors in the
In view of the foregoing, the petition for certiorari and prohibition is granted in part and denied in part. Considering
province. He further alleged that the law firm had control of the lawyers in Camiguin except for himself.
the conclusion arrived at by us, respondent Francisco G. H. Salva is hereby publicly reprehended and censured for
the uncalled for and wide publicity and sensationalism that he had given to and allowed in connection with his
Respondent enumerated his achievements as a lawyer and claimed that he had been practicing law for about 50
investigation, which we consider and find to be contempt of court; and, furthermore, he is warned that a repetition
years. He stated:
of the same would meet with a more severe disciplinary action and penalty. No costs.
xxxx

A.C. No. 9834, August 26, 2015 Fifth, with a great degree of immodesty, I was the first outsider of the Supreme Court WHOM PRESIDENT CORAZON
C. AQUINO, offered, immediately after she took over government in February 1986, a seat as Justice of the Supreme
SAMUEL B. ARNADO, Complainant, v. ATTY. HOMOBONO A. ADAZA, Respondent.
Court but I refused the intended appointment because I did not like some members of the Cory crowd to get me to
DECISION the SC in an effort to buy my silence;
CARPIO, J.:
Sixth, I almost single-handedly handled the case of CORAZON C. AQUINO in the canvassing of the results of the
The Case 1986 snap elections, DISCUSSING CONSTITUTIONAL and legal issues which finally resulted to the EDSAI revolution;

xxxx
This is an administrative case against Atty. Homobono A. Adaza (respondent) for his failure to comply with the
requirements of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) under Bar Matter No. 850.
Eighth; I was one of the two lead counsels of now SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO in the national canvassing
The Antecedent Facts before the National Canvassing Board when she ran for President against then GENERAL FIDEL RAMOS. The other
counsel was former Justice of the Supreme Court SERAFIN CUEVAS;
In a letter, dated 15 March 2013, Atty. Samuel B. Arnado (complainant) called the attention of this Court to the
practice of respondent of indicating "MCLE application for exemption under process" in his pleadings filed in 2009, Ninth, I handled the 1987 and 1989 as well as the 2003 COUP CASES for leading generals like ABENINA and
2010, 2011, and 2012, and "MCLE Application for Exemption for Reconsideration" in a pleading filed in 2012. COMMENDAOR and COLONELS like GREGORIO HONASAN as well as the SIX OAKWOOD CAPTAINS, including now
Complainant informed the Court that he inquired from the MCLE Office about the status of respondent's SENATOR ANTONIO TRILL ANES;
compliance and received the following Certification, dated 2 January 2013, from Prof. Myrna S. Feliciano (Prof.
Feliciano), MCLE's Executive Director: Tenth, I filed a case with the Supreme Court contesting the constitutionality and validity of the 2010 national
elections, still undecided up to this day;
This is to certify that per our records, ATTY. HOMOBONO A. ADAZA with Roll Number 14118 of IBP MIS AMIS ORIENTAL
Chapter did not comply with the requirements of Bar Matter [No.] 850 for the following compliance periods: Eleventh, I filed together with another lawyer, a case in the Supreme Court on the constitutionality and legality of
First Compliance Period (April 15, 2001 -April 14, 2004) the Corona impeachment which the SC only decided after the Senate decided his case and former SC Chief
Justice Corona conceding to the decision, thus the SC declaring the case moot and academic;
a. Second Compliance Period (April 15, 2004 -April 14, 2007)
b. Third Compliance Period (April 15, 2007 -April 14, 2010) Twelfth, I have been implementing and interpreting the Constitution and other laws as GOVERNOR OF MISAMIS
ORIENTAL, COMMISSION OF IMMIGRATION and the senior member of the Opposition in the regular Parliament in the
This is to further certify that Arty. Adaza filed an Application for Exemption from the MCLE requirement on (sic) Committee on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments;
January 2009 but was DENIED by the MCLE Governing Board on (sic) its January 14, 2009 meeting.1
Thirteenth, I was the leading Opposition member of Parliament that drafted the Omnibus Election Law;
In its Resolution dated 17 June 2013, the Court referred this case to he MCLE Committee for evaluation, report and
recommendation. Fourteenth, I was the leading member of the Opposition in Parliament that prepared and orchestrated the debate
in the complaint for impeachment against PRESIDENT FERDINAND MARCOS;
In a letter, dated 5 August 2013, Atty. Jesusa Jean D. Reyes (Atty. Reyes), Assistant Executive Officer of the MCLE
Office, forwarded to the Court the rollo of the case together with the MCLE Governing Board's Evaluation, Report Fifteenth, I have been practicing law for about fifty years now with appearances before the Supreme Court when
and Recommendation.2 In its Evaluation, Report and Recommendation3 dated 14 August 2013,4 the MCLE Justices were like Concepcion, Barrera and JBL REYES; in the Court of Appeals; and numerous courts all over the
Governing Board, through retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Bernardo P. Pardo (Justice Pardo), MCLE country;
Chairman, informed the Court that respondent applied for exemption for the First and Second Compliance Periods
covering 15 April 2001 to 14 April 2004 and 15 April 2004 to 14 April 2007, respectively, on the ground of "expertise in Sixteenth, I have been engaged as lawyer for a number of lawyers who have exemptions from the MCLE;
law" under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850. The MCLE Governing Board denied the request on 14 January
2009. In the same letter, the MCLE Governing Board noted that respondent neither applied for exemption nor x x x x6
complied with the Third Compliance period from 15 April 2007 to 14 April 2010.
Respondent further claimed that he had written five books: (1) Leaders From Marcos to Arroyo; (2) Presidentiables
In its 9 December 2013 Resolution, the Court directed the Second Division Clerk of Court to furnish respondent with and Emerging Upheavals; (3) Beginning, Hope and Change; (4) Ideas, Principles and Lost Opportunities; and (5)
complainant's letter of 15 March 2013. The Court likewise required respondent to file his comment within ten days Corona Impeachment. Thus, he asked for a reconsideration of the notice for him to undergo MCLE. He asked for an
from notice. exemption from MCLE compliance, or in the alternative, for him to be allowed to practice law while complying with
the MCLE requirements.
Respondent did not apply for exemption for the Third Compliance Period. The MCLE Governing Board denied
In its 2 June 2014 Resolution, the Court referred respondent's Compliance and Comment to the Office of the Bar respondent's application for exemption on 14 January 2009 on the ground that the application did not meet the
Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation. requirements of expertise in law under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850. However, the MCLE Office failed to
convey the denial of the application for exemption to respondent. The MCLE Office only informed respondent,
The Report and Recommendation of the OBC
through its letter dated 1 October 2012 signed by Prof. Feliciano, when it received inquiries from complainant,
Judge Sinfroso Tabamo, and Camiguin Deputy Provincial Prosecutor Renato A. Abbu on the status of respondent's
In its Report and Recommendation dated 25 November 2014, the OBC reported that respondent applied for MCLE compliance. Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration after one year, or on 23 October 2013, which the
exemption for the First and Second Compliance Periods on the ground of expertise in law. The MCLE Governing MCLE Governing Board denied with finality on 28 November 2013. The denial of the motion for reconsideration was
Board denied the request on 14 January 2009. Prof. Feliciano informed respondent of the denial of his application in sent to respondent in a letter9 dated 29 November 2013, signed by Justice Pardo.
a letter dated 1 October 2012. The OBC reported that according to the MCLE Governing Board, "in order to be
exempted (from compliance) pursuant to expertise in lp.w under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850, the Clearly, respondent had been remiss in his responsibilities by failing to comply with Bar Matter No. 850. His
applicant must submit sufficient, satisfactory and convincing proof to establish his expertise in a certain area of law." application for exemption for the First and Second Compliance Periods was filed after the compliance periods had
The OBC reported that respondent failed to meet the requirements necessary for the exemption. ended. He did not follow-up the status of his application for exemption. He furnished the Court with his letter dated
7 February 201210 to the MCLE Office asking the office to act on his application for exemption but alleged that his
The OBC reported that this Court requires practicing members of the Bar to indicate in all their pleadings filed with secretary failed to send it to the MCLE Office.11 He did not comply with the Fourth Compliance Period.
the courts the counsel's MCLE Certificate of Compliance or Certificate of Exemption pursuant to 6ar Matter No.
1922. The OBC further reported that the MCLE Office has no record that respondent filed a motion for In its 1 October 2012 letter to respondent, the MCLE Office enjoined him to comply with the requirements for the First
reconsideration; and thus, his representation in a pleading that his "MCLE Application for Exemption [is] for to Third Compliance periods. It was reiterated in the 29 November 2013 letter denying respondent's motion for
Reconsideration" in 2012 is baseless. reconsideration of his application for exemption. The OBC also reported that a Notice of Non-Compliance was sent
to respondent on 13 August 2013. Under Section 12(5) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations, respondent has 60
The OBC further reported that under Rule 12 of Bar Matter No. 850 and Section 12 of the MCLE Implementing days from receipt of the notification to comply. However, in his Compliance and Comment before this Court,
Regulations, non-compliance with the MCLE requirements shall result to the dismissal of the case and the striking out respondent stated that because of his involvement in public interest issues in the country, the earliest that he could
of the pleadings from the records.7 The OBC also reported that under Section 12(d) of the MCLE Implementing comply with Bar Matter No. 850 would be on 10-14 February 2014 and that he already registered with the MCLE
Regulations, a member of the Bar who failed to comply with the MCLE requirements is given 60 days from receipt of Program of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman on those dates.
notification to explain his deficiency or to show his compliance with the requirements. Section 12(e) also provides
that a member who fails to comply within the given period shall pay a non-compliance fee of PI,000 and shall be Section 12(5) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations provides:
listed as a delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the recommendation of the MCLE Section 12. Compliance Procedures
Governing Board. The OBC reported that the Notice of Non-Compliance was sent to respondent on 13 August 2013.
xxxx
The OBC also reported that on 14 August 2013, the MCLE Governing Board recommended that cases be filed
against respondent in connection with the pleadings he filed without the MCLE compliance/exemption number for
(5) Any other act or omission analogous to any of the foregoing or intended to circumvent or evade compliance
the immediately preceding compliance period and that the pleadings he filed be expunged from the records.
with the MCLE requirements.
The OBC found that respondent had been remiss in his responsibilities as a lawyer. The OBC stated that respondent's
A member failing to comply with the continuing legal education requirement will receive a Non-Compliance Notice
failure to comply with the MCLE requirements jeopardized the causes of his clients because the pleadings he filed
stating his specific deficiency and will be given sixty (60) days from the receipt of the notification to explain the
could be stricken off from the records and considered invalid.
deficiency or otherwise show compliance with the requirements. Such notice shall be written in capital letters as
follows:
The OBC recommended that respondent be declared a delinquent member of the Bar and guilty of non-
compliance with the MCLE requirements. The OBC further recommended respondent's suspension from the YOUR FAILURE TO PROVIDE ADEQUATE JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPLIANCE OR PROOF OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE
practice of law for six months with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future will be MCLE REQUIREMENT WITHIN 60 DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS NOTICE SHALL BE A CAUSE FOR LISTING YOU AS A
dealt with more severely. The OBC also recommended that respondent be directed to comply with the DELINQUENT MEMBER AND SHALL NOT BE PERMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW UNTIL SUCH TIME AS ADEQUATE PROOF OF
requirements set forth by the MCLE Governing Board. COMPLIANCE IS RECEIVED BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE.
The Issue
The Member may use the 60-day period to complete his compliance with the MCLE requirement. Credit units
earned during this period may only be counted toward compliance with the prior period requirement unless units in
The only issue here is whether respondent is administratively liable for his failure to comply with the MCLE excess of the requirement are earned in which case the excess may be counted toward meeting the current
requirements. compliance period requirement.
The Ruling of this Court
A member who is in non-compliance at the end of the compliance period shall pay a non-compliance fee of
PI,000.00 and shall be listed as a delinquent member of the IBP by the IBP Board of Governors upon the
Bar Matter No. 850 requires members of the IBP to undergo continuing legal education "to ensure that throughout recommendation of the MCLE Committee, in which case Rule 13 9-A of the Rules of Court shall apply.
their career, they keep abreast with law and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the profession and enhance the
standards of the practice of law."8 The First Compliance Period was from 15 April 2001 to 14 April 2004; the Second
Even if respondent attended the 10-14 February 2014 MCLE Program of UP Diliman, it would only cover his
Compliance Period was from 15 April 2004 to 14 April 2007; and the Third Compliance Period was from 15 April 2007
deficiencies for the First Compliance Period. He is still delinquent for the Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance
to 14 April 2010. Complainant's letter covered respondent's pleadings filed in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 which
Periods. The Court has not been furnished proof of compliance for the First Compliance Period.
means respondent also failed to comply with the MCLE requirements for the Fourth Compliance Period from 15 April
2010 to 14 April 2013.
The Court notes the lackadaisical attitude of respondent towards Complying with the requirements of Bar Matter
No. 850. He assumed that his application for exemption, filed after the compliance periods, would be granted. He
The records of the MCLE Office showed that respondent failed to comply with the four compliance periods. The
purportedly wrote the MCLE Office to follow-up the status of his application but claimed that his secretary forgot to
records also showed that respondent filed an application for exemption only on 5 January 2009. According to the
send the letter. He now wants the Court to again reconsider the MCLE Office's denial of his application for
MCLE Governing Board, respondent's application for exemption covered the First and Second Compliance Periods.
exemption when his motion for reconsideration was already denied with finality by the MCLE Governing Board on A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991
28 November 2013. He had the temerity to inform the Court that the earliest that he could comply was on 10-14
FERNANDO T. COLLANTES, complainant,
February 2014, which was beyond the 60-day period required under Section 12(5) of the MCLE Implementing
vs.
Regulations, and without even indicating when he intended to comply with his deficiencies br the Second, Third,
ATTY. VICENTE C. RENOMERON respondent.
and Fourth Compliance Periods. Instead, he asked the Court to allow him to continue practicing law while
complying with the MCLE requirements.

The MCLE Office is not without fault in this case. While it acted on respondent's application for exemption on 14
PER CURIAM:p
January 2009, it took the office three years to inform respondent of the denial of his application. The MCLE Office
only informed respondent on 1 October 2012 and after it received inquiries regarding the status of respondent's This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case which complainant Attorney Fernando T.
compliance. Hence, during the period when respondent indicated "MCLE application for exemption under process" Collantes, house counsel for V & G Better Homes Subdivision, Inc. (V & G for short), filed against Attorney Vicente C.
in his pleadings, he was not aware of the action of the MCLE Governing Board on his application for exemption. Renomeron, Register of Deeds of Tacloban City, for the latter's irregular actuations with regard to the application of
However, after he had been informed of the denial of his application for exemption, it still took respondent one year V & G for registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of Absolute Sale with Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present
to file a motion for reconsideration. After the denial of his motion for reconsideration, respondent still took, and is still complaint charges the respondent with the following offenses:
aking, his time to satisfy the requirements of the MCLE. In addition, when respondent indicated "MCLE Application
1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic) repeated requests and without sufficient justification, to act within
for Exemption for Reconsideration" in a pleading, he had not filed any motion for reconsideration before the MCLE
reasonable time (sic) the registration of 163 Deeds of Absolute Sale with Assignment and the eventual
Office.
issuance and transfer of the corresponding 163 transfer certificates of titles to the GSIS, for the purpose of
obtaining some pecuniary or material benefit from the person or persons interested therein.
Respondent's failure to comply with the MCLE requirements and disregard of the directives of the MCLE Office
warrant his declaration as a delinquent member of the IBP. While the MCLE Implementing Regulations state that the 2. Conduct unbecoming of public official.
MCLE Committee should recommend to the IBP Board of Governors the listing of a lawyer as a delinquent member,
3. Dishonesty.
there is nothing that prevents the Court from using its administrative power and supervision to discipline erring
lawyers and from directing the IBP Board of Governors o declare such lawyers as delinquent members of the IBP. 4. Extortion.
5. Directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself in connection with pending official
The OBC recommended respondent's suspension from the practice of aw for six months. We agree. In addition, his transaction before him.
listing as a delinquent member pf the IBP is also akin to suspension because he shall not be permitted to practice
law until such time as he submits proof of full compliance to the IBP Board of Governors, and the IBP Board of 6. Causing undue injury to a party, the GSIS [or] Government through manifest partiality, evident bad faith
Governors has notified the MCLE Committee of his reinstatement, under Section 14 of the MCLE Implementing or gross inexcusable negligence.
Regulations. Hence, we deem it proper to declare respondent as a delinquent member of the IBP and to suspend 7. Gross ignorance of the law and procedure. (p. 10, Rollo.)
him from the practice of law for six months or until he has fully complied with the requirements of the MCLE for the
First, Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance Periods, whichever is later, and he has fully paid the required non- As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the respondent Register of Deeds to register some 163 deeds of
compliance and reinstatement fees. sale with assignment (in favor of the GSIS) of lots of the V & G mortgaged to GSIS by the lot buyers. There was no
action from the respondent.
WHEREFORE, the Court resolves to: Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for him to approve or deny registration of the uniform deeds of
absolute sale with assignment. Still no action except to require V & G to submit proof of real estate tax payment
(1) REMIND the Mandatory Continuing Legal Education Office to promptly act on matters that require its immediate and to clarify certain details about the transactions.
attention, such as but not limited to applications for exemptions, and to communicate its action to the interested
parties within a reasonable period; 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 &
(2) DENY the prayer of Atty. Homobono A. Adaza to be exempted from MCLE compliance as the matter had G should provide him with a weekly round trip ticket from Tacloban to Manila plus P2,000.00 as pocket money per
already been denied with finality by the MCLE Governing Board on 28 November 2013; trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of respondent's Quezon City house and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives.
On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the complainant that he would act favorably on the 163 registrable
(3) DECLARE Atty. Homobono A. Adaza as a delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines documents of V & G if the latter would execute clarificatory affidavits and send money for a round trip plane ticket
and SUSPEND him from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS, or until he has fully complied with the MCLE for him.
requirements for the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Compliance Periods, whichever is later, and he has fully paid
the required non-compliance and reinstatement fees. The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket money of P2,000) was sent to respondent through his niece.
Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money in addition to plane fare, respondent imposed additional
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty. Homobono A. Adaza's personal record in the Office of the Bar registration requirements. Fed up with the respondent's extortionate tactics, the complainant wrote him a letter on
Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all courts in the May 20, 1987 challenging him to act on all pending applications for registration of V & G within twenty-four (24)
land. Let copies be also furnished the MCLE Office and the IBP Governing Board for their appropriate actions. hours.

SO ORDERED. 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, Attorney Collantes moved for a reconsideration of said denial, stressing that:
... 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 2,000 same set of documents which have been repeatedly and uniformly
registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tacloban City under Attys. Modesto Garcia and Pablo
Amascual Jr., it is only during the incumbency of Atty. Vicente C. Renomeron, that the very same
documents of the same tenor have been refused or denied registration ... (p. 15, Rollo.)
On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en consulta to the Administrator, National Land Titles and Deeds Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against Renomeron in the NLTDRA, Attorney Collantes also filed in this
Registration Administration (NLTDRA) (now the Land Registration Authority [LRA]). In a Resolution dated July 27,1987 Court on June 16, 1987, a disbarment complaint against said respondent.
(Consulta No. 1579), the NLTDRA ruled that the questioned documents were registrable. Heedless of the NLTDRA's
The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent register of deeds, as a lawyer, may also be
opinion, respondent continued to sit on V & Gs 163 deeds of sale with assignment.
disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a public official. The answer is yes, for his misconduct as a public
Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant filed with the NLTDRA on June 4, 1987 administrative official also constituted a violation of his oath as a lawyer.
charges (docketed as Adm. Case No. 87-15), against respondent Register of Deeds.
The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968), imposes upon every lawyer
Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio directed respondent to explain in writing the duty to delay no man for money or malice. The lawyer's oath is a source of his obligations and its violation is a
why no administrative disciplinary action should be taken against him. Respondent was further asked whether he ground for his suspension, disbarment or other disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, 1983 Edition, pp.
would submit his case on the basis of his answer, or be heard in a formal investigation. 66-67).
In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied the charges of extortion and of directly receiving pecuniary or As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:
material benefit for himself in connection with the official transactions awaiting his action.
A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar which is designed to impress upon him his
Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA Administrator Bonifacio to hear Attorney Collantes' charges responsibilities. He thereby becomes an "officer of the court" on whose shoulders rests the grave
against him, Attorney Renomeron waived his right to a formal investigation. Both parties submitted the case for responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper. fair, speedy, and efficient administration of justice. As an
resolution based on the pleadings. officer of the court he is subject to a rigid discipline that demands that in his every exertion the only
criterion he that truth and justice triumph. This discipline is what as given the law profession its nobility, its
The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose, recommended dropping the charges of: (1) dishonesty; (2) causing
prestige, its exalted place. From a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are expected those
undue injury to a party through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence; and (3) gross
qualities of truth-speaking, a high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the strictest
ignorance of the law and procedure. He opined that the charge of neglecting or refusing, in spite repeated
observance of fiduciary responsibility— all of which, throughout the centuries, have been compendiously
requests and without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on the registration of the documents
described as moral character.
involved, in order to extort some pecuniary or material benefit from the interested party, absorbed the charges of
conduct unbecoming of a public official, extortion, and directly receiving some pecuniary or material benefit for Membership in the Bar is in the category of a mandate to public service of the highest order.1âwphi1 A
himself in connection with pending official transactions before him. 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
Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio on February 22, 1988,
has sworn to be a fearless crusader. (Apostacy in the Legal Profession, 64 SCRA 784, 789- 790; emphasis
recommended to Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoñez that the respondent: (1) be found guilty of simple neglect
supplied.)
of duty: (2) be reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents presented to him for registration; and (3) be
warned that a repetition of similar infraction will be dealt with more severely. 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
After due investigation of the charges, Secretary Ordoñez found respondent guilty of grave misconduct.
employees to process documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5, subpars. [c] and [d] and prohibits them from
Our study and consideration of the records of the case indicate that ample evidence supports the directly or indirectly having a financial or material interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office,
Investigating Officer's findings that the respondent committed grave misconduct. 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
The respondent unreasonably delayed action on the documents presented to him for registration and,
forbids a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of Professional
notwithstanding representations by the parties interested for expeditious action on the said documents,
Responsibility), or delay any man's cause "for any corrupt motive or interest" (Rule 103).
he continued with his inaction.
A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he,
The records indicate that the respondent eventually formally denied the registration of the documents
whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
involved; that he himself elevated the question on the registrability of the said documents to Administrator
(Rule 7.03, Code of Professional Responsibility.)
Bonifacio after he formally denied the registration thereof, that the Administrator then resolved in favor of
the registrability of the said documents in question; and that, such resolution of the Administrator This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent, honorable, and reliable" may practice the profession of
notwithstanding, the respondent still refused the registration thereof but demanded from the parties law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer must pursue "only the highest standards in the practice of his
interested the submission of additional requirements not adverted to in his previous denial. calling" (Court Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269, 278).
xxx xxx xxx The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron committed as a public official have
demonstrated his unfitness to practice the high and noble calling of the law (Bautista vs. Judge Guevarra, 142 SCRA
In relation to the alleged 'special arrangement,' although the respondent claims that he neither touched
632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should therefore be disbarred.
nor received the money sent to him, on record remains uncontroverted the circumstance 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 WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron be disbarred from the practice of law in the
original denomination of P100.00 bills but in P50.00 bills. The respondent had ample opportunity to clarify Philippines, and that his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys
or to countervail this related incident in his letter dated 5 September 1987 to Administrator Bonifacio but
SO ORDERED.
he never did so.
... We believe that, in this case, the respondent's being new in office cannot serve to mitigate his liability.
His being so should have motivated him to be more aware of applicable laws, rules and regulations and
should have prompted him to do his best in the discharge of his duties. (pp. 17-18, Rollo.)
Secretary Ordoñez recommended to President Corazon C. Aquino that Renomeron be dismissed from the service,
with forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits, and with prejudice to re-employment in the government
service, effective immediately.
As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the President of the Philippines, by Adm. Order No. 165 dated May 3,
1990, dismissed the respondent from the government service (pp. 1419, Rollo).
Adm. Case No. 4680 August 29, 2000 appear, however, that the petition was filed on time because a copy of the resolution personally served on the
Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court was received by it on May 18, 1999. Since copies of IBP resolutions are sent
AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., complainant,
to the parties by mail, it is possible that the copy sent to petitioner was received by him later than May 18, 1999.
vs.
Hence, it may be assumed that his present petition was filed within 15 days from his receipt of the IBP resolution. In
ATTYS. ANTONIO M. LLORENTE and LIGAYA P. SALAYON, respondents.
any event, the burden was on respondent, as the moving party, to show that the petition in this case was filed
MENDOZA, J.: beyond the 15-day period for filing it.
This is a complaint for disbarment against respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon for gross Even assuming that petitioner received the IBP resolution in question on May 18, 1999, i.e., on the same date a copy
misconduct, serious breach of trust, and violation of the lawyer's oath in connection with the discharge of their of the same was received by the Office of the Bar Confidant, the delay would only be two days.8 The delay may be
duties as members of the Pasig City Board of Canvassers in the May 8, 1995 elections. Salayon, then election officer overlooked, considering the merit of this case. Disbarment proceedings are undertaken solely for public welfare.
of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), was designated chairman of said Board, while Llorente, who was then The sole question for determination is whether a member of the bar is fit to be allowed the privileges as such or not.
City Prosecutor of Pasig City, served as its ex oficio vice-chairman as provided by law.1 Complainant, now a senator, The complainant or the person who called the attention of the Court to the attorney's alleged misconduct is in no
was also a candidate for the Senate in that election. sense a party, and generally has no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice.9 For this reason, laws dealing with double jeopardy10 or prescription11 or with procedure like
Complainant alleges that, in violation of R.A. No. 6646, §27(b),2 respondents tampered with the votes received by
verification of pleadings12 and prejudicial questions13 have no application to disbarment proceedings.
him, with the result that, as shown in the Statements of Votes (SoVs) and Certificate of Canvass (CoC) pertaining to
1,263 precincts of Pasig City, (1) senatorial candidates Juan Ponce Enrile, Anna Dominique Coseteng, Gregorio Even in ordinary civil actions, the period for perfecting appeals is relaxed in the interest of justice and equity where
Honasan, Marcelo Fernan, Ramon Mitra, and Rodolfo Biazon were credited with votes which were above the the appealed case is clearly meritorious. Thus, we have given due course to appeals even though filed
number of votes they actually received while, on the other hand, petitioner's votes were reduced; (2) in 101 six,14 four,15and three16 days late. In this case, the petition is clearly meritorious.
precincts, Enrile's votes were in excess of the total number of voters who actually voted therein; and (3) the votes
Second. The IBP recommends the dismissal of petitioner's complaint on the basis of the following: (1) respondents
from 22 precincts were twice recorded in 18 SoVs. Complainant maintains that, by signing the SoVs and CoC
had no involvement in the tabulation of the election returns, because when the Statements of Votes (SoVs) were
despite respondents' knowledge that some of the entries therein were false, the latter committed a serious breach
given to them, such had already been accomplished and only needed their respective signatures; (2) the
of public trust and of their lawyers' oath.
canvassing was done in the presence of watchers, representatives of the political parties, the media, and the
Respondents denied the allegations against them. They alleged that the preparation of the SoVs was made by the general public so that respondents would not have risked the commission of any irregularity; and (3) the acts dealt
12 canvassing committees which the Board had constituted to assist in the canvassing. They claimed that the errors with in R.A. No. 6646, §27(b) are mala in se and not mala prohibita, and petitioner failed to establish criminal intent
pointed out by complainant could be attributed to honest mistake, oversight, and/or fatigue. on the part of respondents.17
In his Consolidated Reply, complainant counters that respondents should be held responsible for the illegal padding The recommendation is unacceptable. In disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar, only clear
of the votes considering the nature and extent of the irregularities and the fact that the canvassing of the election preponderance of evidence is required to establish liability.18 As long as the evidence presented by complainant or
returns was done under their control and supervision. that taken judicial notice of by the Court1 9 is more convincing and worthy of belief than that which is offered in
opposition thereto,20 the imposition of disciplinary sanction is justified..
On December 4, 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to which this matter had been referred pursuant to Rule
139-B, §13, in relation to §20 of the Rules of Court, recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of In this case, respondents do not dispute the fact that massive irregularities attended the canvassing of the Pasig
merit.3Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on March 11, 1999, but his motion was denied in a resolution of City election returns. The only explanation they could offer for such irregularities is that the same could be due to
the IBP Board of Governors dated April 22, 1999. On June 4, 1999, he filed this petition pursuant to Rule 139-B, §12(c). honest mistake, human error, and/or fatigue on the part of the members of the canvassing committees who
prepared the SoVs.
It appears that complainant likewise filed criminal charges against respondents before the COMELEC (E.O. Case
No. 96-1132) for violation of R.A. No. 6646, §27(b). In its resolution dated January 8, 1998, the COMELEC dismissed This is the same allegation made in Pimentel v. Commission on Elections.21 In rejecting this allegation and ordering
complainant's charges for insufficiency of evidence. However, on a petition for certiorari filed by complainant,4 this respondents prosecuted for violation of R.A. No. 6646, §27(b), this Court said:
Court set aside the resolution and directed the COMELEC to file appropriate criminal charges against respondents.
There is a limit, we believe, to what can be construed as an honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, in
Reconsideration was denied on August 15, 2000.
the performance of official duty. The sheer magnitude of she error, not only in the total number of votes
Considering the foregoing facts, we hold that respondents are guilty of misconduct. garnered by the aforementioned candidates as reflected in the CoC and the SoVs, which did not tally
with that reflected in the election returns, but also in the total number of votes credited for senatorial
First. Respondent Llorente seeks the dismissal of the present petition on the ground that it was filed late. He contends
candidate Enrile which exceeded the total number of voters who actually voted in those precincts during
that a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading under Rule 139-B, §12(c)5 and, therefore, the filing of such
the May 8, 1995 elections, renders the defense of honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, as incredible
motion before the IBP Board of Governors did not toll the running of the period of appeal. Respondent further
and simply unacceptable.22
contends that, assuming such motion can be filed, petitioner nevertheless failed to indicate the date of his receipt
of the April 22, 1999 resolution of the IBP denying his motion for reconsideration so that it cannot be ascertained Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of mathematical error in the tabulation of votes per precinct as
whether his petition was filed within the 15-day period under Rule 139-B, §12(c). reflected in the election returns and the subsequent entry of the erroneous figures in one or two SoVs23 but a
systematic scheme to pad the votes of certain senatorial candidates at the expense of petitioner in complete
The contention has no merit. The question of whether a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading or not
disregard of the tabulation in the election returns. A cursory look at the evidence submitted by petitioner reveals
under Rule 139-B, §12(c) has been settled in Halimao v. Villanueva,6 in which this Court held:
that, in at least 24 SoVs involving 101 precincts, the votes for candidate Enrile exceeded the number of voters who
Although Rule 139-B, §12(C) makes no mention of a motion for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its actually voted in the said precincts and, in 18 SoVs, returns from 22 precincts were-tabulated twice. In addition, as
history suggests that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed within 15 days from notice to a the Court noted in Pimentel, the total number of votes credited to each of the seven senatorial candidates in
party. Indeed, the filing of such motion should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a question, as reflected in the CoC, markedly differ from those indicated in the SoVs.24
matter of exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the agency rendering the judgment an
Despite the fact that these discrepancies, especially the double recording of the returns from 22 precincts and the
opportunity to correct any error it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts or
variation in the tabulation of votes as reflected in the SoVs and CoC, were apparent on the face of these
misappreciation of the evidenced.7
documents and that the variation involves substantial number of votes, respondents nevertheless certified the SoVs
On the question whether petitioner's present petition was filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 139-B, as true and correct. Their acts constitute misconduct.
§12(c), although the records show that it was filed on June 4, 1999, respondent has not shown when petitioner
Respondent Llorente's contention that he merely certified the genuineness and due execution of the SoVs but not
received a copy of the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors denying his motion for reconsideration. It would
their correctness is belied by the certification which reads:
WE HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing Statement of Votes by . . . [p]recinct is true and correct. IN WITNESS On October and November 1998, the DAR Secretary, without acting on the application for exclusion, cancelled the
WHEREOF, we sign these presents at the City/Municipality of ___________ Province of ________ this _______ Berenguers’ certificates of title on the land and issued Certificates of Land Ownership Award3 (CLOAs) in favor of
day of May, 1995. (Emphasis added) the members of the Baribag Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Development Cooperative (BARIBAG).
Nor does the fact that the canvassing was open to the public and observed by numerous individuals preclude the Eventually, DAR Regional Director Percival Dalugdug (Dalugdug) denied their application for exclusion from the
commission of acts for which respondents are liable. The fact is that only they had access to the SoVs and CoC and CARP’s coverage in the Order4 dated February 15, 1999 based on the Investigation Report dated February 9, 1999
thus had the opportunity to compare them and detect the discrepancies therein. submitted by the DAR Region V Investigation that said area sought to be excluded is principally devoted to
coconuts and not the raising of livestock.5
Now, a lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in
the discharge of his duties as a government official.25 However, if the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Aggrieved, the Berenguers filed a notice of appeal6 with the Secretary of DAR.
Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyer's oath or is of such character as to affect his qualification as a
While the case was pending appeal, BARIBAG filed a petition7 for the implementation of the Order dated February
lawyer or shows moral delinquency on his part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such
15, 1999 before the Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (RARAD). This was granted by Florin, as RARAD, in an
misconduct.26
Order8 dated March 15, 1999. Accordingly, Florin directed the issuance and implementation of the Writ of
Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Possession.9
Code which stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in "unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." By
On March 19, 1999, the Berenguers filed a motion for reconsideration,10 claiming that they were denied due process
express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In addition, they likewise
as they were not furnished with a copy of BARIBAG’s petition for implementation. Florin denied the motion for
violated their oath of office as lawyers to "do no falsehood."
reconsideration for lack of merit in an Order11 dated March 22, 1999.
Nowhere is the-need for lawyers to observe honesty both in their private and in their public dealings better
On March 25, 1999, the Berenguers appealed12 to the DAR Adjudication Board (DARAB). BARIBAG, on other hand,
expressed in Sabayle v. Tandayag27 in which this Court said:
filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Writ of Possession.13 The Berenguers opposed14 the motion saying that the
There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers to behave at all times in a manner consistent execution would be premature in view of their pending appeal before the DARAB. Nevertheless, BARIBAG still filed a
with truth and honor it is important that the common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel Motion for the Appointment of a Special Sheriff.15
compelled to speak the truth and to act honestly, should not become a common reality . . .28
In his Order16 dated April 6, 1999, DAR Acting Secretary Conrado S. Navarro denied the Berenguers’ appeal.
It may be added that, as lawyers in the government service, respondents were under greater obligation to observe
On April 8, 1999, Florin issued a Resolution,17 which granted BARIBAG’s Motion for the Appointment of a Special
this basic tenet of the profession because a public office is a public trust.
Sheriff and ordered the issuance of the writ of possession prayed for.
Third. Respondents' participation in the irregularities herein reflects on the legal profession, in general, and on
On April 13, 1999, the Berenguers filed a motion to set aside18 the Resolution dated April 8, 1999, arguing that: the
lawyers in government in particular. Such conduct in the performance of their official duties, involving no less than
DARAB already acquired jurisdiction over case when they seasonably filed an appeal before it; and that Florin
the ascertainment of the popular will as expressed through the ballot, would have merited for them suspension
should have waited until the DARAB has decided the appeal. In an Order19 dated April 21, 1999, Florin denied the
were it not for the fact that this is their first administrative transgression and, in the case of Salayon, after a long
said motion prompting the Berenguers to move for her inhibition20 on ground of partiality.
public service.29 Under the circumstances, a penalty of fine in the amount of P10,000.00 for each of the respondents
should be sufficient. The Berenguers elevated the matter via petition for certiorari to the Court of Appeals (CA), docketed as CA-G.R. SP
No. 51858, which was denied outright on procedural grounds, to wit: (1) copy of the assailed order bears the words
WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon GUILTY of misconduct and
"certified true copy" but the name and authority of the person certifying is not indicated as required in SC Circular
imposes on each of them a FINE in the amount of P10,000.00 with a WARNING that commission of similar acts will be
No. 3-96, and the signature therein is illegible; (2) only one of the petitioners signed the certification on non-forum
dealt with more severely.1âwphi1.nêt
shopping which is an insufficient compliance of Section 1, Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court; and (3) there is non-
SO ORDERED. exhaustion of administrative remedies as the assailed order of the Regional Director is not directly reviewable by the
CA.21
Undaunted, the Berenguers filed a second petition for certiorari with the CA, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 53174,
A.C. No. 5119 April 17, 2013
which questioned the Orders dated March 15, 1999 and March 22, 1999 issued by Florin. The petition was also
ROSARIO BERENGUER-LANDERS and PABLO BERENGUER, Complainants, denied on grounds of lack of jurisdiction and wrong mode of appeal.22
vs.
Thus, Florin issued on April 21, 1999 a Writ of Possession23 in favor of BARIBAG.
ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN, ATTY. MARCELINO JORNALES and ATTY. PEDRO VEGA, Respondents.
Florin subsequently directed the full implementation of the writ of possession pursuant to Rule 71 of the Rules of Court
DECISION
in spite of the Berenguers’ protestations.24
REYES, J.:
On June 3, 1999, the Berenguers moved to quash25 the Writ of Possession, to no avail.
This is a complaint1 for disbarment filed by Rosario Berenguer-Landers and Pablo Berenguer (complainants) against
On August 4, 1999, the complainants filed the instant Complaint26 for the disbarment of respondents Florin, Jornales,
herein respondents Isabel E. Florin (Florin), Marcelino Jomales (Jomales) and Pedro Vega (Vega).
in his capacity as Assistant Regional Director for DAR, and Vega, in his capacity as DAR Legal Officer V, for allegedly
The factual antecedents are as follows: conspiring and confederating in the commission of the following acts:
Remedios Berenguer-Lintag, Carlo Berenguer and Belinda Berenguer-Aguirre, Rosario Berenguer-Landers and Pablo A. ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN AS REGIONAL ADJUDICATOR KNOWINGLY RENDERING AN UNJUST JUDGEMENT,
Berenguer (Berenguers) are the registered owners of a 58.0649-hectare land in Bibingcahan, Sorsogon, Sorsogon. ORDERS AND RESOLUTIONS ADVERSE AND PREJUDICIAL TO THE INTEREST OF PETITIONERS;
Sometime in April 1998, a notice of coverage was issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) regarding
B. ISSUING AN ORDER AND GRANTING A WRIT OF EXECUTION EX-PARTE AND SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUING AND
the acquisition of their landholding pursuant to Republic Act No. 6657 or the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
SIGNING THE WRIT OF POSSESSION WITHOUT CERTIFICATION OF FINALITY ISSUED BY THE PROPER OFFICER
Program (CARP). The Berenguers protested and applied for the exclusion of their land with the DAR and for a notice
FULLY KNOWING THAT SHE HAS NO AUTHORITY AND TOTALLY DISREGARDING THE APPLICABLE RULES AND IN
to lift coverage based on the ground that their landholdings have been used exclusively for livestock pursuant to
CONTRAVENTION WITH THE NEW RULES OF PROCEDURE OF THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRARIAN REFORM
DAR Administrative Order No. 09.2
ADJUDICATION BOARD; FURTHER, HIDING THE WRIT OF POSSESSION FROM PETITIONERS INSPITE OF REQUEST
FOR A COPY;
C. REFUSING TO TAKE ACTION ON PLEADINGS FILED BY PETITIONERS THRU COUNSEL AND FAILING AND The court further stated – "We cannot xxx close this discussion without mentioning our observation on the actuations
REFUSING TO CONDUCT A HEARING AS PRAYED FOR BY COUNSEL; FAILING AND REFUSING TO FORWARD of Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator Isabel Florin. Just why she issued a writ of execution and eventually a Writ
THE APPEAL TO THE PROPER APPELLATE BOARD; of Possession in favor of respondent Baribag puzzles us no end. She knew that Baribag is not a party in petitioners’
application for exclusion filed with the Office of DAR Regional Director Percival Dalugdug. Obviously, she never
D. UNWARRANTED INTERFERENCE IN LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS TO THE PREJUDICE OF PETITIONERS AND
acquired jurisdiction over Baribag. She also knew that petitioners appealed to the DAR Secretary from the Order of
LAWYER; ABUSE OF AUTHORITY TO CITE COUNSEL FOR PETITIONER IN CONTEMPT AND ISSUING AN ORDER OF
Regional Director Dalugdug dismissing petitioners’ application for exclusion. Clearly, such order was not yet final
ARREST WITHOUT HEARING CONTRARY TO THE RULES OF COURT;
and executory when she issued the assailed writs of execution and possession. Thus, the writ are [sic] void and
E. ATTY. MARCELINO JORNALES AND ATTY. PEDRO VEGA, INSPITE OF THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE ILLEGALITY would be set aside."38
OF THE WRIT OF POSSESSION, PERSISTED AND ASSISTED IN THE ILLEGAL IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WRIT OF
On May 26, 2006, the IBP Board of Governors adopted Resolution No. XVII-2006-282 modifying the recommended
POSSESSION TO THE PREJUDICE OF LEGITIMATE FARMERS AND PETITIONERS.27
penalty, viz:
Florin filed her Comment28 stating, among others, that: (1) the writ of possession is anchored on the CLOAs issued by
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
the Register of Deeds, and not on a final and executory decision that would require a certification of finality as
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution
prescribed by the DARAB rules; (2) Atty. Federico De Jesus (De Jesus), as Berenguers’ counsel, was not furnished with
as Annex "A"; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws
a copy of the writ because it was not yet issued at the time when it was requested; (3) there was no intent to hide
and rules, and for knowingly rendering an unjust Judgment, Orders and Resolutions, adverse and prejudicial to the
the writ; (4) when the writ of possession was finally signed, it was delivered to the sheriff for service and enforcement;
interest of the complainants, Atty. Isabel F. Florin is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year. The
(4) it was unfair to impute illegal acts against Vega and Jornales as DAR lawyers in view of the DAR’s denial of the
charges against Atty. Marcelino Jornales and Atty. Peter Vega are DISMISSED for failure of the complainants to
motion for a cease and desist order and because of the legal presumption of regularity in the performance of their
substantiate the charges against Respondents.39
duty; (5) the petitions for certiorari filed with the CA were both dismissed; and (6) the findings of DAR and the
issuance of the CLOAs remain undisturbed. Florin also claimed that it is Atty. De Jesus who wants her disbarred and In her opposition,40 Florin averred that: (1) jurisdiction was acquired over BARIBAG at the time it filed a petition for
not the Berenguers. the implementation of the Order dated February 15, 1999; (2) the DARAB has jurisdiction to issue the CLOAs; (3) as
RARAD, she has concurrent jurisdiction with DARAB; (4) the Berenguers were not denied due process; and (5) the
In a separate Comment,29 Vega denied the allegations against him arguing that: (1) the writ of possession is not
Berenguers never questioned the regularity of the DAR’s acquisition of their landholding nor did they file a petition
illegal in the absence of a court order stating its invalidity; (2) he did not participate in the issuance of the writ of
for the cancellation of the CLOAs issued to BARIBAG.
possession because he did not appear as the farmers’ counsel; (3) the Legal Division he heads has no control or
influence over the DARAB; and (4) his presence in the execution of the writ of possession was to ascertain that no This Court agrees with the findings of the IBP Board of Governors but modifies the penalty to be imposed.
violations against any law are committed by the person/s executing the writ.30
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court provides:
Jornales’ Comment,31 for his part, stated that: (1) the writ has no prima facie infirmity; (2) he is not privy to the
SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefore.—A member of the bar may
issuance thereof; (3) he has no supervision and control over the DAR which issued the writ; and (4) he has no
be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other
authority to determine the writ’s validity or invalidity. Jornales admitted, however, that he was in the meeting
gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
presided by the PNP Provincial Director of Sorsogon prior to the writ’s implementation in his capacity as Regional
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a wilful
Assistant Director for Operations of DAR Region V and not as a lawyer. He added that the disbarment complaint
disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party without authority so to do. x x x.
against him is not only malicious for lack of legal basis but is also meant to harass and intimidate DAR employees in
implementing the CARP.32 In Lahm III v. Mayor, Jr.,41 the Court ruled that:
After the complainants filed their Consolidated Reply,33
the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or deficiency in his moral character,
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. honesty, probity or good demeanor. Gross misconduct is any inexcusable, shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct on
the part of a person concerned with the administration of justice; i.e., conduct prejudicial to the rights of the parties
IBP Commissioner Milagros San Juan (Commissioner San Juan) Recommended34 that Florin be "suspended from the
or to the right determination of the cause. The motive behind this conduct is generally a premeditated, obstinate or
practice of law for three (3) years for knowingly rendering an unjust judgment, Orders and Resolutions adverse and
intentional purpose.42 (Citations omitted)
prejudicial to the interests of the Complainants."
In the instant case, the Berenguers want this Court to impose disciplinary sanction against the three (3) respondents
Commissioner San Juan, meanwhile, recommended that the charges against Jornales and Vega be dismissed for
as members of the bar. The grounds asserted by the complainants in support of the charges against the
failure of the complainants to substantiate the charges against them.35
respondents, however, are intrinsically connected with the discharge of their quasi-judicial functions. Nevertheless,
Commissioner San Juan’s recommendation against Florin is based on the findings36 of the CA in its Decision dated in Atty. Vitriolo v. Atty. Dasig,43 the Court already ruled that if a misconduct as a government official also constitutes
December 26, 2000 in CA-G.R. SP No. 53174,37 which reads: a violation of his oath as a lawyer, then a lawyer may be disciplined by this Court as a member of the Bar, viz:
The Petition for Certiorari filed by the complainants before the Court of Appeals was treated as a petition for review Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for
and the court found the following errors: misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if said misconduct as a government
official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by this Court as a member of
"1) Respondent DAR Secretary has no jurisdiction over the subject properties being devoted to pasture and livestock
the Bar.
and already classified as residential and industrial land, hence, outside the coverage of Republic Act 6657.
(Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law) The generation and issuance of Certificate of Landownership Award xxxx
(CLOA) was therefore void;"
A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the Code of
2) Being outside the coverage of CARL (Republic Act 6657), respondent Hon. Isabel E. Florin who is exercising Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct of private
delegated jurisdiction from the DARAB has no jurisdiction over Petitioners’ Properties as held in Krus na Ligas Farmer’s practitioners alone, but of all lawyers including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 644 of said
Coop vs. University of the Philippines; G.R. No. 107022, 8 December 1992, which is squarely in point with the case at Code. Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they
bar." should be more sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their conduct is subject to the ever-
constant scrutiny of the public.
Anent the issue regarding the qualified beneficiaries of the subject land, the Court ruled thus – "Assuming that the
lands are indeed agricultural, we cannot understand why the DAR awarded them to members of respondent x x x For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen
Baribag and not to the farmers in the area, in violation of Sec. 22 of the CARL x x x." the trust and confidence of the citizenry in 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 in government Judicial errors tainted with fraud, dishonesty, gross ignorance, bad faith or deliberate intent to do injustice will be
service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than administratively sanctioned.54 In this case, it appears, however, that this is the first time that Florin has been made
her brethren in private practice.45 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours) administratively liable. 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 that would cause an injustice to the
Thus, in Tadlip v. Atty. Borres, Jr.,46 the Court ruled that an administrative case against a lawyer for acts committed in
Berenguers. To our mind, the act of issuing the writ of execution and writ of possession is not simply an honest error in
his capacity as provincial adjudicator of the DARAB may be likened to administrative cases against judges
judgment but an obstinate disregard of the applicable laws and jurisprudence.
considering that he is part of the quasi-judicial system of our government.47
With all these, the Court deems it reasonable to reconsider the penalty recommended and instead impose the
Similarly in this case, Florin, being part of the quasi-judicial system of our government, performs official functions of a
penalty of suspension for three (3) months55 without pay. As also held in Rallos v. Judge Gako, Jr.,56 three (3) months
RARAD that are akin to those of judges. Accordingly, the present controversy may be likened that of a judge whose
suspension without pay was imposed against a judge after finding out that the ignorance of the law he committed
decision, including the manner of rendition, is made subject of an administrative complaint.
was not tainted with bad faith.
Going now to the acts complained of, Section 29 of DAR Administrative Order No. 06-00 provides:
With respect to the complaint against Jornales and Vega, the Court agrees and adopts the finding of the IBP that
SEC. 29. Effect of Appeal.—Appeal to the Secretary, the Office of the President, or the Court of Appeals shall have no sufficient evidence was adduced to substantiate the charges against them. Hence, the complaint against them
the following effects: should be dismissed.
(a) Appeal from the Regional Director or Undersecretary to the Secretary.—The appeal shall stay the order WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent ATTY. ISABEL E. FLORIN is found guilty of violating the Code of
appealed from unless the Secretary directs execution pending appeal, as he may deem just, considering the Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, she is penalized with SUSPENSION from the practice of law for three (3)
nature and circumstances of the case (Executive Order No. 292 [1987], Book VII, Chapter 4, Sec. 21). months effective upon notice hereof. The complaint against Atty. Marcelino Jornales and Atty. Pedro Vega is
DISMISSED for lack of sufficient evidence.
xxxx
Let copies of this Decision be entered in her record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Based on the foregoing provision, the appeal of the Berenguers to the DAR Secretary clearly stayed the
Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance.
implementation of Regional Director Dalugdug’s Order dated February 15, 1999. Moreover, it is the DAR Secretary
who has jurisdiction to order execution pending appeal. Records reveal that there was no order by the DAR SO ORDERED.
Secretary directing execution of the Order dated February 15, 1999 during the pendency of the Berenguers’
appeal.
A.M. Nos. 1302, 1391 and 1543 April 26, 1991
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 executory;48 (2) pending appeal, only upon good reasons to be PAULINO VALENCIA, complainant,
stated in a special order after due hearing;49 and (3) execution of several, separate or partial judgments.50 vs.
ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING, respondent.
Moreover, Rule XX of the 2009 Rules of the DARAB reads:
CONSTANCIA L. VALENCIA, complainant,
Sec. 1. Execution Upon Final Order or Decision.—Execution shall issue upon an order, resolution or decision that
vs.
finally disposes of the action or proceeding. Such execution shall issue as a matter of course and upon the
ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, ATTY. EDUARDO U. JOVELLANOS and ATTY. ARSENIO FER. CABANTING,respondents.
expiration of the period to appeal therefrom if no appeal has been duly perfected.
LYDIA BERNAL, complainant,
The Adjudicator concerned may, upon certification by the proper officer that a resolution, order or decision has
vs.
been served to the counsel or representative on record and to the party himself, and has become final and
ATTY. DIONISIO C. ANTINIW, respondent.
executory, and, upon motion or motu proprio, issue a writ of execution ordering the DAR Sheriff or any DAR officer to
enforce the same. In appropriate cases, the Board or any of its Members or its Adjudicator shall deputize and direct
the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines or any of their component units or other law
enforcement agencies in the enforcement of any final order, resolution or decision.
PER CURIAM:
Sec. 2. Execution Pending Appeal. — Any motion for execution of the decision of the Adjudicator pending appeal
These consolidated administrative cases seek to disbar respondents Dionisio Antiniw, Arsenio Fer. Cabanting and
shall be filed before the Board which may grant the same upon meritorious grounds, upon the posting of a sufficient
Eduardo Jovellanos (the last named, now an MCTC Judge) for grave malpractice and misconduct in the exercise
bond in the amount conditioned for the payment of damages which the aggrieved party may suffer, in the event
of their legal profession committed in the following manner:
that the final order or decision is reversed on appeal, provided that the bond requirement shall not apply if the
movant is a farmer-beneficiary/pauper litigant. (Emphasis ours) 1. Administrative Cases No. 1302 and 1391.
In this case, the Order dated February 15, 1999 of DAR Regional Director Dalugdug denying the Berenguers’ In 1933, complainant Paulino Valencia (Paulino in short) and his wife Romana allegedly bought a parcel of land,
application for exclusion from CARP is yet to become final and executory as it was seasonably appealed to the where they built their residential house, from a certain Serapia Raymundo, an heir of Pedro Raymundo the original
DAR Secretary. There is also nothing in the records that will show whether BARIBAG posted a bond pursuant to the owner. However, they failed to register the sale or secure a transfer certificate of title in their names.
Rules.
Sometime in December, 1968, a conference was held in the house of Atty. Eduardo Jovellanos to settle the land
While a judge may not be disciplined for error of judgment absent proof that such error was made with a conscious dispute between Serapia Raymundo (Serapia in short) another heir of Pedro Raymundo, and the Valencia spouses
and deliberate intent to cause an injustice,51 the facts on hand prove otherwise. Florin’s issuance of the writ of since both were relatives and distant kin of Atty. Jovellanos. Serapia was willing to relinquish ownership if the
execution and writ of possession in order to fully implement Regional Director Dalugdug’s Order dated February 15, Valencias could show documents evidencing ownership. Paulino exhibited a deed of sale written in the Ilocano
1999 clearly constitutes ignorance of the law for as a rule, a writ of execution is issued only after the subject dialect. However, Serapia claimed that the deed covered a different property. Paulino and Serapia were not able
judgment or order has already become final and executory.52 As aptly stated by IBP Commissioner San Juan, Florin to settle their differences. (Report of Investigating Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr., pp. 21-22).
ordered the issuance of such writs despite the pendency of the appeal with the DARAB.53 Consequently, the Court
On December 15, 1969 Serapia, assisted by Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting, filed a complaint against Paulino for the
finds merit in the recommendation of suspension.
recovery of possession with damages. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. V-2170, entitled "Serapia
As to the penalty – Raymundo, Plaintiff, versus Paulino Valencia, Defendant." (Report, p. 11).
Summoned to plead in Civil Case No. V-2170, the Valencias engaged the services of Atty. Dionisio Antiniw. Atty. Administrative Cases Nos. 1302, 1391 and 1543 were referred to the Office of the Solicitor General for investigation,
Antiniw advised them to present a notarized deed of sale in lieu of the private document written in Ilocano. For this report and recommendation.
purpose, Paulino gave Atty. Antiniw an amount of P200.00 to pay the person who would falsify the signature of the
Upon formal request of Constancia L. Valencia and Lydia Bernal dated March 3, 1976, all of these cases were
alleged vendor (Complaint, p. 2; Rollo, p. 7). A "Compraventa Definitiva" (Exh. B) was executed purporting to be a
ordered consolidated by Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza per his handwritten directive of March 9, 1976.
sale of the questioned lot.
On April 12, 1988, We referred the investigation of these cases to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.1âwphi1 When
On January 22, 1973, the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, Branch V, rendered a decision in favor of plaintiff,
Atty. Jovellanos was appointed as Municipal Circuit Trial Court Judge of Alcala-Bautista, Pangasinan, We referred
Serapia Raymundo. The lower court expressed the belief that the said document is not authentic. (Report, p. 14)
the investigation of these cases to Acting Presiding Judge Cesar Mindaro, Regional Trial Court, Branch 50, Villasis,
Paulino, thereafter, filed a Petition for Certiorari, under Rule 65, with Preliminary Injunction before the Court of Pangasinan, for further investigation.
Appeals alleging that the trial court failed to provide a workable solution concerning his house. While the petition
In view of the seriousness of the charge against the respondents and the alleged threats against the person of
was pending, the trial court, on March 9, 1973, issued an order of execution stating that "the decision in this case has
complainant Constancia L. Valencia, We directed the transfer of investigation to the Regional Trial Court of Manila.
already become final and executory" (Exhibits 3 and 3-A). On March 14, 1973, a writ of execution was issued.
The three administrative cases were raffled to Branch XVII of the Regional Trial Court of Manila, under the sala of
On March 20, 1973, Serapia sold 40 square meters of the litigated lot to Atty. Jovellanos and the remaining portion
Judge Catalino Castaneda, Jr.
she sold to her counsel, Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting, on April 25, 1973. (Annex "A" of Administrative Case No. 1302).
After investigation, Judge Catalino Castañeda, Jr., recommended the dismissal of cases against Atty. Jovellanos
On March 4, 1974, Paulino filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed as Administrative Case No. 1302) against Atty.
and Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting; dismissal of Administrative Case No. 1543 and the additional charges in
Cabanting on the ground that said counsel allegedly violated Article 1491 of the New Civil Code as well as Article II
Administrative Case No. 1391 against Antiniw and Judge Jovellanos; however, he recommended the suspension of
of the Canons of Professional Ethics, prohibiting the purchase of property under litigation by a counsel.
Atty. Antiniw from the practice of law for six months finding him guilty of malpractice in falsifying the "Compraventa
On March 21, 1974 the appellate court dismissed the petition of Paulino. Definitiva."
On October 14, 1974, Constancia Valencia, daughter of Paulino, filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed as The simplified issues of these consolidated cases are:
Administrative Case No. 1391) against Atty. Dionisio Antiniw for his participation in the forgery of "Compraventa
I. Whether or not Atty. Cabanting purchased the subject property in violation of Art. 1491 of the New Civil
Definitiva" and its subsequent introduction as evidence for his client; and also, against Attys. Eduardo Jovellanos
Code.
and Arsenio Cabanting for purchasing a litigated property allegedly in violation of Article 1491 of the New Civil
Code; and against the three lawyers, for allegedly rigging Civil Case No. V-2170 against her parents. On August 17, II. Whether or not Attys. Antiniw and Jovellanos are guilty of malpractice in falsifying notarial documents.
1975, Constancia Valencia filed additional charges against Atty. Antiniw and Atty. Jovellanos as follows:
III. Whether or not the three lawyers connived in rigging Civil Case No. V-2170.
1. AGAINST ATTY. DIONISIO ANTINIW:
I
In the year 1973 Atty. Dionisio Antiniw fraudulently and in confabulation with one Lydia Bernal had a deed
Under Article 1491 of the New Civil Code:
of sale, fabricated, executed and ratified before him as Notary Public by one Santiago Bernal in favor of
Lydia Bernal when as a matter of fact said Santiago Bernal had died already about eight years before in The following persons cannot acquire by purchase, even at a public of judicial auction, either in person or
the year 1965. through the mediation of another:
2. AGAINST ATTY. EDUARDO JOVELLANOS: xxx xxx xxx
In the year 1954 Atty. Eduardo Jovellanos, fraudulently and in bad faith, in confabulation with Rosa de los (5) . . . this prohibition includes the act of acquiring by assignment and shall apply to lawyers, with respect
Santos as vendee had, as Notary Public, executed and ratified before him, two (2) deeds of sale in favor to the property and rights which may be the object of any litigation in which they make take part by
of said Rosa de los Santos when as a matter of fact the said deeds were not in fact executed by the virtue of their profession.
supposed vendor Rufino Rincoraya and so Rufino Rincoraya had filed a Civil Case in Court to annul and
Public policy prohibits the transactions in view of the fiduciary relationship involved. It is intended to curtail any
declare void the said sales (p. 7, Report)
undue influence of the lawyer upon his client. Greed may get the better of the sentiments of loyalty and
2. Administrative Case No. 1543. disinterestedness. Any violation of this prohibition would constitute malpractice (In re: Attorney Melchor Ruste, 40
O.G. p. 78) and is a ground for suspension. (Beltran vs. Fernandez, 70 Phil. 248).
A deed of donation propter nuptias involving the transfer of a piece of land by the grandparents of Lydia Bernal
(complainant,) in favor of her parents, was lost during the last world war. For this reason, her grandmother (the living Art. 1491, prohibiting the sale to the counsel concerned, applies only while the litigation is pending. (Director of
donor) executed a deed of confirmation of the donation propter nuptias with renunciation of her rights over the Lands vs. Adaba, 88 SCRA 513; Hernandez vs. Villanueva, 40 Phil. 775).
property. (Complaint, p. 1). Notwithstanding the deed, her grandmother still offered to sell the same property in
In the case at bar, while it is true that Atty. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting purchased the lot after finality of judgment, there
favor of the complainant, ostensibly to strengthen the deed of donation (to prevent others from claim-ing the
was still a pending certiorari proceeding. A thing is said to be in litigation not only if there is some contest or litigation
property).
over it in court, but also from the moment that it becomes subject to the judicial action of the judge. (Gan Tingco
On consultation, Atty., Antiniw advised them to execute a deed of sale. Atty. Antiniw allegedly prepared and vs. Pabinguit, 35 Phil. 81). Logic indicates, in certiorari proceedings, that the appellate court may either grant or
notarized the deed of sale in the name of her grandfather (deceased at the time of signing) with her grandmother's dismiss the petition. Hence, it is not safe to conclude, for purposes under Art. 1491 that the litigation has terminated
approval. when the judgment of the trial court become final while a certiorari connected therewith is still in progress. Thus,
purchase of the property by Atty. Cabanting in this case constitutes malpractice in violation of Art. 1491 and the
Felicidad Bernal-Duzon, her aunt who had a claim over the property filed a complaint against her (Lydia Bernal)
Canons of Professional Ethics. Clearly, this malpractice is a ground for suspension.
and her counsel, Atty. Antiniw for falsification of a public document. (Complaint, pp. 1-2) The fiscal exonerated the
counsel for lack of evidence, while a case was filed in court against Lydia Bernal. The sale in favor of Atty. Jovellanos does not constitute malpractice. There was no attorney-client relationship
between Serapia and Atty. Jovellanos, considering that the latter did not take part as counsel in Civil Case No. V-
On October 3, 1975, Lydia Bernal filed a disbarment proceeding (docketed as Administrative Case No.1543) against
2170. The transaction is not covered by Art. 1491 nor by the Canons adverted to.
Atty. Antiniw for illegal acts and bad advice.
II
Pursuant to the resolution of the First Division of this Court dated December 9, 1974, the resolution of the Second
Division dated March 3, 1975 and the two resolutions of the Second Division both dated December 3, 1975, It is asserted by Paulino that Atty. Antiniw asked for and received the sum of P200.00 in consideration of his
executing the document "Compraventa Definitiva" which would show that Paulino bought the property. This
charge, Atty. Antiniw simply denied. It is settled jurisprudence that affirmative testimony is given greater weight than hold a meeting with the heirs of Pedro Raymundo in his house with the intention of inducing them to sue the
negative testimony (Bayasen vs. CA, L-25785, Feb. 26, 1981; Vda. de Ramos vs. CA, et al., L40804, Jan. 31, 1978). Valencias. Atty. Jovellanos even tried to settle the differences between the parties in a meeting held in his house.
When an individual's integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not enough that he deny the charges against him; he He appeared in Civil Case No. V-2170 as an involuntary witness to attest to the holding of the conference.
must meet the issue and overcome the evidence for the relator and show proofs that he still maintains the highest
Besides, the camaraderie among lawyers is not proof of conspiracy, but a sign of brotherhood among them. One of
degree of morality and integrity which at all time is expected of him. (De los Reyes vs. Aznar, Adm. Case No. 1334,
the fourfold duties of a lawyer is his duty to the Bar. A lawyer should treat the opposing counsel, and his brethren in
Nov. 28, 1989).
the law profession, with courtesy, dignity and civility. They may "do as adversaries do in law: strive mightily but (they)
Although Paulino was a common farmer who finished only Grade IV, his testimony, even if not corroborated by eat and drink as friends." This friendship does not connote conspiracy.
another witness, deserves credence and can be relied upon. His declaration dwelt on a subject which was so
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered declaring: 1. Dionisio Antiniw DISBARRED from the practice of law, and his
delicate and confidential that it would be difficult to believe the he fabricated his evidence.
name is ordered stricken off from the roll of attorneys; 2. Arsenio Fer. Cabanting SUSPENDED from the practice of law
There is a clear preponderant evidence that Atty. Antiniw committed falsification of a deed of sale, and its for six months from finality of this judgment; and 3. Administrative Case No. 1391 against Attorney Eduardo
subsequent introduction in court prejudices his prime duty in the administration of justice as an officer of the court. Jovellanos and additional charges therein, and Administrative Case No. 1543 DISMISSED.
A lawyer owes entire devotion to the interest of his client (Santos vs. Dichoso, 84 SCRA 622), but not at the expense SO ORDERED.
of truth. (Cosmos Foundry Shopworkers Union vs. La Bu, 63 SCRA 313). The first duty of a lawyer is not to his client but
to the administration of justice. (Lubiano vs. Gordalla, 115 SCRA 459) To that end, his client's success is wholly
subordinate. His conduct ought to and must always be scrupulously observant of law and ethics. While a lawyer G.R. No. 70332-43 November 13, 1986
must advocate his client's cause in utmost earnestness and with the maximum skill he can marshal, he is not at
GENEROSO TRIESTE, SR., petitioner,
liberty to resort to illegal means for his client's interest. It is the duty of an attorney to employ, for the purpose of
vs.
maintaining the causes confided to him, such means as are consistent with truth and honor. (Pangan vs. Ramos, 93
SANDIGANBAYAN (SECOND DIVISION), respondent.
SCRA 87).
Arturo M. de Castro for petitioner.
Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. By far, the most important of them is mindfulness that
a lawyer is an officer of the court. (In re: Ivan T. Publico, 102 SCRA 722). This Court may suspend or disbar a lawyer The Solicitor General for respondent.
whose acts show his unfitness to continue as a member of the Bar. (Halili vs. CIR, 136 SCRA 112). Disbarment,
therefore, is not meant as a punishment depriving him of a source of livelihood but is rather intended to protect the
administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this function should be competent, honorable and ALAMPAY, J.:
reliable in order that courts and the public may rightly repose confidence in them. (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293).
The present case relates to an appeal by way of a Petition for Review of the decision promulgated on November 6,
Atty. Antiniw failed to live up to the high standards of the law profession.
1984, by the Sandiganbayan convicting the herein petitioner, Generoso Trieste, Sr., of twelve (12) separate
The other charges of malpractice against Atty. Antiniw and Atty. Jovellanos should be dismissed for lack of violations of Section 3 paragraph (h) of Republic Act 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices
evidence. - Act, which petitioner were accused of in Criminal Cases Nos. 6856-6867 of said Court. Petitioner's motion for
reconsideration and/or new trial was denied by the respondent Sandiganbayan under its Resolution of March 11,
During the proceedings in Administrative Case No. 1543, Lydia Bernal testified in full on direct examination, but she
1985.
never submitted herself for cross-examination. Several subpoenas for cross-examination were unheeded. She
eventually requested the withdrawal of her complaint. The twelve (12) separate Informations filed by the Tanodbayan against the herein petitioner for violation of Section
3 (h) of the Anti-Graft Law are all similarly worded as the information presented in Criminal Case No. 6856 which is
Procedural due process demands that respondent lawyer should be given an opportunity to cross-examine the
hereunder quoted:
witnesses against him.1âwphi1 He enjoys the legal presumption that he is innocent of the charges against him until
the contrary is proved. (Santos vs. Dichoso, 84 SCRA 622). The case must be established by clear, convincing and That on or about the month of July, 1980 and some time subsequent thereto, in the municipality
satisfactory proof. (Camus vs. Diaz, Adm. Case No. 1616, February 9, 1989), Since Atty. Antiniw was not accorded of Numancia, Aklan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the
this procedural due process, it is but proper that the direct testimony of Lydia Bernal be stricken out. abovenamed accused, being then the Municipal Mayor and member of the Committee on
Award of the Municipality of Numancia, Aklan and as such, had administrative control of the
In view also of the affidavit of desistance executed by the complainant, Administrative Case No. 1543 should be
funds of the municipality and whose approval is required in the disbursements of municipal
dismissed. Although the filing of an affidavit of desistance by complainant for lack of interest does not ipso
funds, did then and there wilfully and unlawfully have financial or pecuniary interest in a
factoresult in the termination of a case for suspension or disbarment of an erring lawyer (Munar vs. Flores, 122 SCRA
business, contract or transaction in connection with which said accused intervened or took part
448), We are constrained in the case at bar, to dismiss the same because there was no evidence to substantiate
in his official capacity and in which he is prohibited by law from having any interest, to wit the
the charges.
purchases of construction materials by the Municipality of Numancia, Aklan from Trigen Agro-
The additional charge against Atty. Antiniw in Administrative Case No. 1391 is predicated on the information Industrial Development Corporation, of which the accused is the president, incorporator,
furnished by Lydia Bernal. It was not based on the personal knowledge of Constancia L. Valencia: hence, hearsay. director and major stockholder paid under Municipal Voucher No. 211-90-10-174 in the amount
"Any evidence, whether oral or documentary, is hearsay if its probative value is not based on the personal of P558.80 by then and there awarding the supply and delivery of said materials to Trigen Agro-
knowledge of the witness but on the knowledge of some other person not on the witness stand." (Regalado, Industrial Development Corporation and approving payment thereof to said corporation in
Remedial Law Compendium, 6th ed., vol. 2, 1989, p. 486). Being hearsay, the evidence presented is inadmissible. violation of the Anti-Graft and corrupt Practices Act.
The additional charge filed by Constancia L. Valencia against Atty. Jovellanos in Administrative Case No. 1391 was except only as to the dates of the commission of the offense, voucher numbers, and amounts involved.
not proved at all. Complainant failed to prove her additional charges.
Criminal Cases Nos. 6856, 6857, 6858, 6859, 6860. 6861, and 6862 were allegedly committed in July, 1980; Criminal
III Cases Nos. 6863 and 6864, in August, 1980; and Criminal Cases Nos. C-865, 6866 and 6867 in October, 1980. The
separate vouchers involved in the twelve (12) cases are said to be the following:
There is no evidence on record that the three lawyers involved in these administrative cases conspired in executing
the falsified "Compraventa Definitiva" and rigged the Civil Case No. V-2170. Crim. Case #6856, Vchr #211-90-10-174 at P558.80
Atty. Jovellanos is a distant kin of the Raymundos and Valencias. In fact, he and the Valencias are neighbors and Crim. Case #6857, Vchr #211-80-10-187 at 943.60
only two meters separate their houses. It would not be believable that Atty. Jovellanos, a practicing lawyer, would
Crim. Case #6858, Vchr #211-80-10-189 at 144.00
Crim. Case #6859, Vchr #211-80-10-190 at 071.30 Concurrence of both elements is necessary as the absence of one will not warrant conviction.
(Rollo, pp. 338-339).
Crim. Case #6860, Vchr #211-80-10-191 at 270.00
The earlier view taken by the Solicitor General's Office was that petitioner's evidence of divestment of interest in
Crim. Case #6861, Vchr #211-80-10-232 at 1,820.00
Trigen 'Corporation, which is said to have been effected on February 25, 1980, before the petitioner assumed the
Crim. Case #6862, Vchr #211-80-10-239 at 1,085.80 Mayorship, should have been presented at the earliest opportunity before the Tanodbayan and because this was
not done by him the resolution of the Tanodbayan finding a prima facie case against petitioner should be
Crim. Case #6863, Vchr #211-80-10-407 at 150.00
sustained. Furthermore, petitioner was faulted because the transfer of his interest in the corporate stock of Trigen
Crim. Case #6864, Vchr #211-80-12-494 at 500.00 Corporation should have been recorded in the Securities and Exchange Commission but no evidence of this sort,
was presented. The consolidated comment also played up the advertisement of Trigen Corporation in the program
Crim. Case #6865, Vchr #211-81-04-61 at 840.00
of the Rotary Club of Kalibo, Aklan, showing the printed name of petitioner as the President-Manager of the said
Crim. Case #6866, Vchr #211-81-04-62 at 787.00 corporation. (Consolidated Comment; Rollo, pp. 340-341)
Crim. Case #6867, Vchr #211-81-04-63 at 560.00 Petitioner filed a Reply controverting the allegations and arguments recited in the aforestated Consolidated
Comment of the Solicitor General.
Total----
P7,730.50 After considering the pleadings filed and deliberating on the issues raised in the petition and supplemental petition
for review on certiorari of the decision of the Sandiganbayan, as well as the consolidated comment and the reply
(Consolidated Comment, pg. 4; Rollo, 325)
thereto filed by petitioner's counsel, the Court in its resolution of January 16, 1986, gave due course to the petition
After trial, the Sandiganbayan rendered the challenged decision dated November 6, 1984, convicting the and required the parties to file their respective briefs.
petitioner in all the twelve (12) criminal cases, (Rollo, pp. 324-325) and in each case he was sentenced,"...to suffer
Petitioner's exhaustive and well-reasoned out Brief which was filed with the Court on April 14, 1986, raised the
the indeterminate penalty of imprisonment ranging from THREE (3) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as the minimum, to SIX
following legal questions.
(6) YEARS and ONE (1) DAY as the maximum, to further suffer perpetual disqualification from the public office, and
to pay the cost of the action." (pp. 37-40, Decision; Rollo, 322). xxx xxx xxx
After the petition for review was filed in this case and pending the submission by respondent of its comment to the From the foregoing recital of facts, the following legal questions arise:
petition, herein petitioner presented to this Court on June 7, 1985, an urgent petition to lift the order of the
1. Does the mere signing by a Municipal Mayor of municipal vouchers and other supporting
Sandiganbayan dated September 12, 1983, suspending him from Office as the elected Municipal Mayor of
papers covering purchases of materials previously ordered by the Municipal Treasurer without
Numancia, Aklan. His term was to expire in 1986. No objection to the petition for the lifting of the suspension order
the knowledge and consent of the former, subsequently delivered by the supplier, and,
was interposed by the Solicitor General. Accordingly, and pursuant to the resolution of this Court dated October 1,
thereafter paid by the same Municipal Treasurer also without the knowledge and consent of the
1985, petitioner's preventive suspension was lifted and his reinstatement as Municipal Mayor of Numancia, Aklan
Municipal Mayor, constitute a violation of the provisions of Section 3 (h) of Rep. Act No. 3019
was ordered to take effect immediately.
otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act?
A supplemental petition, dated October 10, 1985, was later filed by petitioner's new counsel in collaboration with
2. Does the mere signing of the mere documents above constitute the kind of intervention of
the original counsel on record of petitioner. In this supplemental pleading, it was vigorously stressed that the
taking part in (his) official capacity within the context of the above-mentioned law?
petitioner did not, in any way, intervene in making the awards and payment of the purchases in question as he
signed the voucher only after all the purchases had already been made, delivered and paid for by the Municipal 3. Was damage or prejudice, as an element of the offense under Section 3 (h) of the said law,
Treasurer. It was further pointed out that there was no bidding at all as erroneously adverted to in the twelve caused to the Government or the Municipality of Numancia as a result of the contracts in
informations filed against herein petitioner because the transactions involved were emergency direct purchases by question and as a corollary thereto, was undue advantage and gained by the transacting
personal canvass. corporation?
Upon leave of the Court given, the former Solicitor General filed a consolidated comment dated November 4, 1984, 4. Was there divestment on the part of the herein petitioner of his shares in Trigen Agro-Industrial
to the original petition filed in this case dated April 30, 1985 as well as on the supplemental petition dated October Development Corporation long before the questioned transactions? (Appellant's Brief, page 15)
10, 1985. He argued the dismissal of the petition on the ground that the same raise factual issues which are,
It was then discus and argued by the petitioner that the prosecution failed to establish the presence of all the
therefore, non-reviewable (Consolidated Comment, pg. 20; Rollo, 341). The submission made by the Office of the
elements of the offense, and more particularly to adduce proof that petitioner has, directly or indirectly, a financial
Solicitor General in the Consolidated Comment dated November 4, 1986, are hereunder quoted:
or pecuniary interest in the imputed business contracts or transactions.
xxx xxx xxx
Discussion of petitioner's arguments in this regard will not however, be recited anymore as this was obviated when a
The impugned decision convicted petitioner for violation of Section 3 (h), paragraph (h) of the new Solicitor General, after seeking and obtaining several extensions of time to file its Brief in this case at bar, filed
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which reads as follows: on October 7, 1986, a "Manifestation For Acquittal" (in lieu of the People's Brief). Rollo, 293).
SEC. 3. Corrupt Practices of Public Officers. - In addition to acts or omissions of public officers The new Solicitor General's Office after adopting the statement of facts recited in the consolidated comment of the
already penalized by existing laws, the following shall constitute corrupt practices of any public former Solicitor General's Office moved for the acquittal of the petitioner, upon acknowledging and concluding
officer and are hereby declared to be unlawful: that:
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
(h) Directly or indirectly having financial or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or Petitioner has divested his interest with Trigen
transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in
Petitioner sought to establish that before he assumed office as mayor on March 3, 1980, he had
which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.
already sold his shares with Trigen to his sister Mrs. Rosene Trieste-Tuason. The sale was made by
The elements essential in the commission of the crime are: corresponding indorsements to her stock certificate which was duly recorded in the stock and
transfer book of the corporation.
a) The public officer has financial or pecuniary interest in a business, contract or transaction;
b) In connection with which he intervenes in his official capacity.
Respondent Sandiganbayan however doubts the sale because the same was not reported to Additional facts which respondent Court failed to consider and which could have altered the
the SEC. SEC records, as the prosecution evidence show, do not reflect the sale and petitioner outcome of the case in the following uncontroverted testimony of Josue Maravilla:
still appears as the firm's President.
Q. When these municipal vouchers were prepared by the municipal
The prosecution's evidence to establish non-divestment of petitioner's interest with Trigen is treasurer, as you said, and then presented to Mayor Trieste for his signature,
weak. Anyway, Trigen has not updated its reports to the SEC since 1976. It have not even were the purchases in question already paid?
submitted its financial annual report ever since. Absence of the sales report in the SEC does not
A. They had already been paid for, sir.
mean that the sale did not take place. Reporting the sale is not a mandatory requirement.
Q. Previously, prior to the signature of Mayor Trieste?
Sales of stocks need not be reported to SEC
A. Yes, sir.
In any event, the law only requires submission of annual financial reports, not sales or disposal of
stocks (Section 141, Corporation Code of the Philippines). A.J. ESCAREAL:
Upholding the evidence of petitioner's divestment of his interest with Trigen would necessarily Q. Under what authority were they paid?
allow him to act freely in his official capacity in the municipality's dealings or transactions with
A. Under official receipt issued by Trigen.
Trigen. That in itself is sufficient to acquit him of the crimes charged. (Rollo, pp. 299-300).
Q. Who authorized the payment?
In the matter of the alleged intervention of petitioner, the Office of the Solicitor General itself subscribes to and on its
own volition place on record the following observations: A. The municipal treasurer who paid the materials.
Prosecution failed to prove charges; evidence discloses absence of bidding and award ATTY. CONSULTA:
The prosecution's lone witness, Treasurer Aniceto Vega, testified that there never was a public Q. You said they had already been paid for. Do you know of any receipts
bidding conducted because all the transactions were made by direct purchases from Trigen. issued by Trigen to indicate that at the time these municipal vouchers were
signed by Mayor Trieste, the materials had already been delivered and paid
Q. In other words, in all these transactions there never really was any public
by the municipality to Trigen?
bidding?
xxx xxx xxx
A. Yes, Sir. There was no public bidding.
A. Yes, sir
Q. And these purchases were made by direct purchases from the
establishment of Trigen? Q. Now, what exhibits particularly do you know were issued
by Trigen to indicate that payments were made prior to the signing of the
A. Yes, Sir. (pp. 36-37, Tsn., Oct. 26, 1983)
municipal vouchers by Mayor Trieste?
In the absence of a public bidding and as emphatically declared by the prosecution's sole
A. Exhibits A, G, B, F, C, D, Exhibit I and Exhibit H.
witness Vega that all the transactions were on direct purchases from Trigen, how can one ever
imagine that petitioner has awarded the supply and delivery of construction materials to Trigen xxx xxx xxx
as specifically charged in the twelve (12) informations? The charges are of course baseless and
Q. Now, Mr. Maravilla, aside from these prosecution's exhibits which are
even contradict the evidence of the prosecution itself.
Trigen receipts showing payments long before the municipal vouchers were
Even the respondent Court finally found that petitioner did not intervene during the bidding and prepared, what can you say about the other municipal vouchers in this
award, which of course is a false assumption because of Vega's testimony that there was no case in reference to payments made by Trigen to the municipality?
public bidding at all. Respondent Court said:
ESCAREAL:
. . . . In short, accused's intervention may not be present during the bidding and award, but his
Payment made by Trigen?
liability may also come in when he took part in said transactions such as signing the vouchers
under certifications 1, 2 and 3 thereof, to make it appear that the transactions were regular and ATTY. CONSULTA:
proper. (Resolution dated March 11, 1985 denying petitioner's motion for reconsideration/new
I am sorry, Your Honor, made to Trigen by the municipality?
trial, page 7).
A. Official receipts issued by Trigen also indicate that when municipal
No evidence to prove petitioner approved payment
vouchers marked Exhibits E, B, C, D, F, G, H, I were prepared, they had
Now, did petitioner intervene by approving payments to Trigen as also charged in the already been delivered and the amounts indicated therein were already
information? Can there be intervention after payment. prepared by the municipal treasurer.
Vega testified that petitioner signed the twelve (12) municipal vouchers (Exhibits A to L) for the Q. Did you say already made by the municipal treasurer-the amounts were
purchase and payment of construction materials. It was sometime after delivery of the already paid by the municipal treasurer?
construction materials that he (Vega) signed and paid the twelve (12) -municipal vouchers
A. Already paid.
(pages 5 to 7), decision of respondent Sandiganbayan dated November 2, 1984). The
prosecution has not presented evidence to show as to when petitioner signed the twelve (12) Q. Who disbursed the funds evidenced by the Trigen official receipts?
municipal vouchers. But it can safely be assumed as a matter of procedure that petitioner had A. The municipal treasurer, then Mr. Vega.
signed the voucher after Treasurer Vega signed and paid them., (Rello, pp. 301-303)
Q. Now, do you know why Mr. Vega asked that those municipal vouchers
xxx xxx xxx be nevertheless signed in spite of the fact that he knew that the amounts
Testimonial and documentary evidence confirms that petitioner signed vouchers after payment had already been disbursed and paid by him to Trigen?
A. He said that the municipal vouchers for record purposes is necessary to complaint docketed as Civil Case No. 0033 against Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. and Juan Ponce Enrile, among others,
be signed by the mayor. (Tsn., Mar. 5, 1984, pp. 19-49). for reconveyance, reversion and accounting, restitution and damages.
Inasmuch as Treasurer Vega signed and paid the vouchers after the materials were delivered, After the denial of his motion to dismiss, respondent Enrile filed his answer with compulsory counterclaim and cross-
petitioner's signature on the vouchers after payment is not, we submit the kind of intervention claim with damages.
contemplated under Section 3(h) of the Anti-Graft Law.
The Republic filed its reply to the answer and motion to dismiss the counterclaim. The motion was opposed by
xxx xxx xxx respondent Enrile.
What is contemplated in Section 3(h) of the anti-graft law is the actual intervention in the On January 30, 1989, respondent Sandiganbayan issued a resolution, to wit:
transaction in which one has financial or pecuniary interest in order that liability may attach.
The resolution of the Motion to Dismiss the Counterclaim against the Plaintiff government is deferred until
(Opinion No. 306, Series 1961 and Opinion No. 94, Series 1972 of the Secretary of Justice). The
after trial, the grounds relied upon not appearing to be indubitable.
official need not dispose his shares in the corporation as long as he does not do anything for the
firm in its contract with the office. For the law aims to prevent the don-tenant use of influence, On the matter of the additional parties (Solicitor General Chavez, Ex-PCGG Chairman Diaz, former
authority and power (Deliberation on Senate Bill 293, May 6, 1959, Congressional Record, Vol. Commissioners Doromal, Rodrigo, Romero and Bautista), the propriety of impleading them either under
11, page 603). Sec. 14, Rule 6 or even under Sec. 12 as third-party defendant requires leave of Court to determine the
propriety thereof. No such leave has been sought. Consideration thereof cannot be entertained at this
There is absolutely no evidence that petitioner had, in his capacity as Mayor, used his influence,
time nor may therefore, the Motion to Dismiss the same be considered. (Rollo, p. 329; Annex "H", Petition)
power, and authority in having the transactions given to Trigen. He didn't ask anyone-neither
Treasurer Vega nor Secretary Maravilla for that matter, to get the construction materials from Respondent Enrile then requested leave from the Sandiganbayan to implead the petitioner and the PCGG officials
Trigen. as party defendants for lodging this alleged "harassment suit" against him.
Trigen did not gain any undue advantage in the transaction The motion was granted in a resolution dated June 8, 1989, to wit:
Petitioner should not be faulted for Trigen's transaction with the municipality, which by the way, In respect to defendant Juan Ponce Enrile's Manifestation and Motion dated February 23, 1989, praying
has been dealing with it even before petitioner had assumed the mayorship on March 3, 1980. for leave to implead additional parties to his counterclaim, the Court, finding reason in the aforesaid
Personal canvasses conducted found that Trigen's offer was the lowest, most reasonable, and Manifestation and Motion, grants leave to implead the defendants named in the counterclaim and
advantageous to the municipality. . . . (Rollo, pp. 307-308; Emphasis supplied). admits defendant Juan Ponce Enrile's answer with counterclaim.
It is also an acknowledged fact that there was no complaint for non-delivery, underdelivery or overpricing This is without prejudice to the defenses which said defendants may put forth individually or in common, in
regarding any of the transactions. their personal capacities or otherwise. (Rollo, p. 27)
Considering the correct facts now brought to the attention of this Court by the Solicitor General and in view of the In a later resolution dated November 2, 1989, respondent Sandiganbayan denied a motion to reconsider the June
reassessment made by that Office of the issues and the evidence and the law involved, the Court takes a similar 8, 1989 resolution. The dispositive portion of the resolution states:
view that the affirmance of the decision appealed from cannot be rightfully sustained. The conscientious study and
WHEREFORE, the Motions for Reconsideration of the Solicitor General and former PCGG officials Ramon
thorough analysis made by the Office of the Solicitor General in this case truly reflects its consciousness of its role as
Diaz, Quintin Doromal, Orlando Romero, Ramon Rodrigo and Mary Concepcion Bautista are denied, but,
the People's Advocate in the administration of justice to the end that the innocent be equally defended and set
considering these motions as in the nature of motions to dismiss counterclaim/answers, resolution of these
free just as it has the task of having the guilty punished. This Court will do no less and, therefore, accepts the
motions is held in abeyance pending trial on the merits. (Rollo, p. 31)
submitted recommendation that the decision and resolution in question of the respondent Sandiganbayan be
reversed and that as a matter of justice, the herein petitioner be entitled to a judgment of acquittal. Thereafter, all the PCGG officials filed their answer to the counterclaims invoking their immunity from suits as
provided in Section 4 of Executive Order No. 1. Instead of filing an answer, the petitioner comes to this Court
WHEREFORE, the decision rendered by the Sandiganbayan, dated November 2, 1984, in Criminal Cases Nos. 6856 to
assailing the resolutions as rendered with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction.
6867, finding the herein petitioner, Generoso Trieste, Sr. guilty of the violations of Section 3 paragraph (h) of Republic
Act 3019, as amended, is hereby set aside and reversing the appealed judgment, a new judgment is now rendered The lone issue in this petition is the propriety of impleading the petitioner as additional party defendant in the
ACQUITTING Generoso Trieste, Sr., of said offenses charged against him with costs de oficio. counterclaim filed by respondent Enrile in Civil Case No. 0033.
SO ORDERED. It may be noted that the private respondent did not limit himself to general averments of malice, recklessness, and
bad faith but filed specific charges that then PCGG Chairman Jovito Salonga had already cleared the respondent
and yet, knowing the allegations to be false, the petitioner still filed the complaint. This can be gleaned from
G.R. No. 91391 January 24, 1991 excerpts found in respondent Enrile's Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim and Cross-Claim:
FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, in his capacity as Solicitor General, petitioner xxx xxx xxx
vs.
Defendant-in-counterclaim Francisco Chavez was the Solicitor General who assisted the PCGG in filing
THE HON. SANDIGANBAYAN (First Division) and JUAN PONCE ENRILE, respondents.
and maintaining the instant Complaint against Defendant. As the incumbent Solicitor General, he
Ponce Enrile, Cayetano Reyes & Manalastas for private respondent. continues to assist the PCGG in prosecuting this case.
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.: He is sued in his personal and official capacities.
The petitioner challenges the resolutions dated June 8, 1989 and November 2, 1989 of the Sandiganbayan issued in On or about October 1986, the PCGG, speaking through the then Chairman, now Senate President, Hon.
Civil Case No. 0033 which granted the motion of private respondent Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the defendants in Jovito R. Salonga, found and declared that "not one of the documents left by then President and Mrs.
the civil case, to implead the petitioner as additional party defendant in Enrile's counterclaim in the same civil case Ferdinand E. Marcos including the 2,300-page evidence turned over to the PCGG by the US State
and denied the petitioner's motion for reconsideration. Department implicates Enrile." Chairman Salonga stressed that in view of the PCGG's findings, he refused
to yield to the "pressure" exerted on him to prosecute Defendant.
On July 31, 1987, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Presidential Commission on Good Government
(PCGG) with the assistance of Solicitor General Francisco Chavez filed with the respondent Sandiganbayan a xxx xxx xxx
Notwithstanding the findings of the PCGG that there was absolutely no evidence linking Defendant to the In the case of Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Peña (159 SCRA 556 [1988]) then Chief Justice
illegal activities of former President and Mrs. Ferdinand E. Marcos, the PCGG, this time composed of Claudio Teehankee, added a clarification of the immunity accorded PCGG officials under Section 4(a) of Executive
Chairman Ramon Diaz, the Commissioners Quintin Doromal, Ramon Rodrigo, Orlando Romero and Mary Order No. 1 as follows:
Concepcion Bautista, filed the Complaint against Defendant, among others, on or about 22 July 1987.
With respect to the qualifications expressed by Mr. Justice Feliciano in his separate opinion, I just wish to
Defendant has reasons to believe, and so alleges that Chairman Diaz, and Commissioners Doromal, point out two things: First, the main opinion does not claim absolute immunity for the members of the
Rodrigo, Romero and Bautista ordered, authorized, allowed or tolerated the filing of the utterly baseless Commission. The cited section of Executive Order No. 1 provides the Commission's members immunity
complaint against Defendant. from suit thus: "No civil action shall lie against the Commission or any member thereof for anything done or
omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by this order." No absolute immunity like that sought by
Solicitor General Francisco Chavez assisted or cooperated in, or induced or instigated, the filing of this
Mr. Marcos in his Constitution for himself and his subordinates is herein involved. It is understood that the
harassment suit against Defendant.
immunity granted the members of the Commission by virtue of the unimaginable magnitude of its task to
In so ordering, authorizing, allowing and tolerating the institution of the action against Defendant, all the recover the plundered wealth and the State's exercise of police power was immunity from liability for
aforenamed officers, with malice and in evident bad faith, and with grave abuse of power and in excess damages in the official discharge of the task granted the members of the Commission much in the same
of their duty and authority, unjustly and unlawfully obstructed, defeated, violated, impeded or impaired manner that judges are immune from suit in the official discharge of the functions of their office . . . " (at
the constitutional rights and liberties of Defendant . . . . (Rollo, pp. 260-262) pp. 581-582)
On the other hand, the petitioner submits that no counter-claim can be filed against him in his capacity as Solicitor Justice Florentino P. Feliciano stated in the same case:
General since he is only acting as counsel for the Republic. He cites the case of Borja v. Borja, 101 Phil. 911 [1957]
It may be further submitted, with equal respect, that Section 4 (a) of Executive Order No. 1 was intended
wherein we ruled:
merely to restate the general principle of the law of public officers that the PCGG or any member thereof
. . . The appearance of a lawyer as counsel for a party and his participation in a case as such counsel may not be held civilly liable for acts done in the performance of official duty, provided that such
does not make him a party to the action. The fact that he represents the interests of his client or that he member had acted in good faith and within the scene of his lawful authority. It may also be assumed that
acts in their behalf will not hold him liable for or make him entitled to any award that the Court may the Sandiganbayanwould have jurisdiction to determine whether the PCGG or any particular official
adjudicate to the parties, other than his professional fees. The principle that a counterclaim cannot be thereof may be held liable in damages to a private person injured by acts of such manner. It would seem
filed against persons who are acting in representation of another — such as trustees — in their individual constitutionally offensive to suppose that a member or staff member of the PCGG could not be required
capacities (Chambers v. Cameron, 2 Fed. Rules Service, p. 155; 29 F. Supp. 742) could be applied with to testify before the Sandiganbayan or that such members were exempted from complying with orders of
more force and effect in the case of a counsel whose participation in the action is merely confined to the this Court. (at pp. 586- 587)
preparation of the defense of his client. Appellant, however, asserted that he filed the counterclaim
Immunity from suit cannot institutionalize irresponsibility and non-accountability nor grant a privileged status not
against said lawyer not in his individual capacity but as counsel for the heirs of Quintin de Borja. But as we
claimed by any other official of the Republic. (id., at page 586)
have already stated that the existence of a lawyer-client relationship does not make the former a party to
the action, even this allegation of appellant will not alter the result We have arrived at (at pp. 924-925) Where the petitioner exceeds his authority as Solicitor General acts in bad faith, or, as contended by the private
respondent, "maliciously conspir(es) with the PCGG commissioners in persecuting respondent Enrile by filing against
Thus, the petitioner argues that since he is simply the lawyer in the case, exercising his duty under the law to assist
him an evidently baseless suit in derogation of the latter's constitutional rights and liberties" (Rollo, p. 417), there can
the Government in the filing and prosecution of all cases pursuant to Section 1, Executive Order No. 14, he cannot
be no question that a complaint for damages may be filed against him. High position in government does not
be sued in a counterclaim in the same case.
confer a license to persecute or recklessly injure another. The actions governed by Articles 19, 20, 21, and 32 of the
Presiding Justice Francis Garchitorena correctly observed that there is no general immunity arising solely from Civil Code on Human Relations may be taken against public officers or private citizens alike. The issue is not the right
occupying a public office. of respondent Enrile to file an action for damages. He has the right. The issue is whether or not that action must be
filed as a compulsory counterclaim in the case filed against him.
The general rule is that public officials can be held personally accountable for acts claimed to have been
performed in connection with official duties where they have acted ultra vires or where there is a showing of bad Under the circumstances of this case, we rule that the charges pressed by respondent Enrile for damages under
faith. We ruled in one case: Article 32 of the Civil Code arising from the filing of an alleged harassment suit with malice and evident bad faith do
not constitute a compulsory counterclaim. To vindicate his rights, Senator Enrile has to file a separate and distinct
A number of cases decided by the Court where the municipal mayor alone was held liable for back
civil action for damages against the Solicitor General.
salaries of, or damages to dismissed municipal employees, to the exclusion of the municipality, are not
applicable in this instance. In Salcedo v. Court of Appeals (81 SCRA 408 [1978]) for instance, the municipal In the case of Tiu Po v. Bautista, (103 SCRA 388 [1981]), we ruled that damages claimed to have been suffered as a
mayor was held liable for the back salaries of the Chief of Police he had dismissed, not only because the consequence of an action filed against the petitioner must be pleaded in the same action as a compulsory
dismissal was arbitrary but also because the mayor refused to reinstate him in defiance of an order of the counterclaim. We were referring, however, to a case filed by the private respondent against the petitioners or
Commissioner of Civil Service to reinstate. parties in the litigation. In the present case, the counterclaim was filed against the lawyer, not against the party
plaintiff itself.
In Nemenzo v. Sabillano (25 SCRA 1 [1968]), the municipal mayor was held personally liable for dismissing
a police corporal who possessed the necessary civil service eligibility, the dismissal being done without To allow a counterclaim against a lawyer who files a complaint for his clients, who is merely their representative in
justifiable cause and without any administrative investigation. court and not a plaintiff or complainant in the case would lead to mischievous consequences.
In Rama v. Court of Appeals (G.R. Nos. L-44484, L-44842, L-44591, L-44894, March 16 1987), the governor, A lawyer owes his client entire devotion to his genuine interest, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his
vice-governor, members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, provincial auditor, provincial treasurer and rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability. (See Agpalo, Legal Ethics [1980] p. 147 citing Javier v.
provincial engineer were ordered to pay jointly and severally in their individual and personal capacity Cornejo, 63 Phil. 293 [1936]; In re Tionko, 43 Phil. 191 [1922]; In re: Atty. C. T. Oliva, 103 Phil. 312 [1958]; Lualhati v.
damages to some 200 employees of the province of Cebu who were eased out from their positions Albert, 57 Phil. 86 [1932]; Toguib v. Tomol, Jr., G.R. Adm. Case No. 554, Jan. 3, 1969; People v. Macellones, 49 SCRA
because of their party affiliations. (Laganapan v. Asedillo, 154 SCRA 377 [1987]) 529 [1973]; Tan Kui v. Court of Appeals, 54 SCRA 199 [1973]). A lawyer cannot properly attend to his duties towards
his client if, in the same case, he is kept busy defending himself.
Moreover, the petitioner's argument that the immunity proviso under Section 4(a) of Executive Order No. 1 also
extends to him is not well-taken. A mere invocation of the immunity clause does not ipso facto result in the charges The problem is particularly perplexing for the Solicitor General.1âwphi1 As counsel of the Republic, the Solicitor
being automatically dropped. General has to appear in controversial and politically charged cases. It is not unusual for high officials of the
Government to unwittingly use shortcuts in the zealous desire to expedite executive programs or reforms. The
Solicitor General cannot look at these cases with indifferent neutrality. His perception of national interest and
obedience to instructions from above may compel him to take a stance which to a respondent may appear too June 1956, the petitioner filed the necessary complaint in the Court of First Instance of Batangas (civil No. 542,
personal and biased. It is likewise unreasonable to require Government Prosecutors to defend themselves against Annex I). On 9 July 1956 the municipal mayor wrote to the petitioner agreeing to the terms and conditions set forth
counterclaims in the very same cases they are prosecuting. in his (the petitioner's) letter of 28 June 1956 (Annex H). On 16 July 1956 the defendant filed its answer to the
complaint (Annex J). On 24 July 1956 the petitioner wrote a letter to the municipal treasurer requesting
As earlier stated, we do not suggest that a lawyer enjoys a special immunity from damage suits. However, when he
reimbursement of the sum of P40 paid by him to the Court as docket fee and payment of the sum of P500 as initial
acts in the name of a client, he should not be sued on a counterclaim in the very same case he has filed only as
attorney's fee. Attached to the letter were the pertinent supporting papers (Annex K). The municipal treasurer
counsel and not as a party. Any claim for alleged damages or other causes of action should be filed in an entirely
forwarded the petitioner's claim letter and enclosures to the Auditor General through channels for pre-audit. On 24
separate and distinct civil action.
June 1957 the Auditor General disallowed in audit the petitioner's claim for initial attorney's fees in the sum of P500,
WHEREFORE, the present petition is GRANTED. The questioned resolutions of the Sandiganbayan are SET ASIDE based upon an opinion rendered on 10 May 1957 by the Secretary of Justice who held that the Provincial Fiscal was
insofar as they allow the counterclaim filed against the petitioner. not disqualified to handle and prosecute in court the case of the municipality of Bauan and that its municipal
council had no authority to engage the services of a special counsel (Annex L), but offered no objection to the
SO ORDERED.
refund to the petitioner of the sum of P40 paid by him to the Court as docket fee (Annex M). On 15 August 1957 the
petitioner received notice of the decision of the Auditor General and on 11 September 1957 he filed with the
Auditor General a notice of appeal from his decision under section 4, Rule 45, of the Rules of Court Annex N). On 13
G.R. No. L-12817 April 29, 1960
September 1957 the petitioner filed this petition for review in this Court.
JULIO D. ENRIQUEZ, SR., representing the law firm of ENRIQUEZ and ENRIQUEZ, petitioner,
The Revised Administrative Code provides:
vs.
HON. PEDRO M. GIMENEZ in his capacity as AUDITOR GENERAL OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent. SEC. 2241. Submission of questions to provincial fiscal. — When the council is desirous of securing a legal
opinion upon any question relative to its own powers or the constitution or attributes of the municipal
Julio D. Enriquez, Sr. for petitioner.
government, it shall frame such question in writing and submit the same to the provincial fiscal for
Assistant Solicitor General Florencio Villamor and Solicitor Jorge R. Coquia for respondent.
decision.
PADILLA, J.:
SEC. 1682. Duty of fiscal as legal adviser of province and provincial subdivisions. — The provincial fiscal
This is a petition filed under the provisions of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court and section 2 (c) of Commonwealth Act shall be the legal adviser of the provincial government and its officers, including district health officers,
No. 327 for a review of a decision of the Auditor General dated 24 June 1957. and of the mayor and council of the various municipalities and municipal districts of the province. As such
he shall, when so requested, submit his opinion in writing upon any legal question submitted to him by any
On 18 June 1955 Republic Act No. 1383 creating the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority as a public
such officer or body pertinent to the duties thereof.
corporation and vesting in it the ownership, jurisdiction, supervision and control over all territory embraced by the
Metropolitan Water District as well as all areas served by existing government-owned waterworks and sewerage SEC. 1683. Duty of fiscal to represent provinces and provincial subdivisions in litigation. — The provincial
and drainage systems within the boundaries of cities, municipalities, and municipal districts in the Philippines, and fiscal shall represent the province and any municipality or municipal district thereof in any court, except in
those served by the Waterworks and Wells and Drills Section of the Bureau of Public Works, was passed. On 19 cases whereof original jurisdiction is vested in the Supreme Court or in cases where the municipality or
September 1955 the President of the Philippines promulgated Executive Order No. 127 providing, among others, for municipal district in question is a party adverse to the provincial government or to some other municipality
the transfer to the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority of all the records, properties, machinery, or municipal district in the same province. When the interests of a provincial government and of any
equipment, appropriations, assets, choses in actions, liabilities, obligations, notes, bonds and all indebtedness of all political division thereof are opposed, the provincial fiscal shall act on behalf of the province.
government-owned waterworks and sewerage systems in the provinces, cities, municipalities and municipal districts
When the provincial fiscal is disqualified to serve any municipality or other political subdivision of a
(51 Off. Gaz. 4415-4417). On 31 March 1956 the municipal council of Bauan, Batangas, adopted and passed
province, a special attorney may be employed by its council.
Resolution No. 152 stating "that it is the desire of this municipality in this present administration not to submit our local
Waterworks to the provisions of the said Republic Act No. 1383." (Annex A.) On 20 April 1956 the municipal mayor Under the foregoing provisions of law, the Provincial Fiscal is the legal adviser of the mayor and counsel of the
transmitted a copy of Resolution No. 152 to the Provincial Fiscal through the Provincial Board requesting him to various municipalities of a province and it is his duty to represent the municipality in any court except when he is
render an opinion on the matter treated therein and to inform the municipal council whether he would handle and disqualified by law. When he is disqualified to represent the municipality, the municipal council may engage the
prosecute its case in court should the council decide to question and test judicially the legality of Republic Act No. services of a special attorney. The Provincial Fiscal is disqualified to represent in court the municipality if and when
1383 and to prevent the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority from exercising its authority over the original jurisdiction of the case involving the municipality is vested in the Supreme Court; when the municipality is a
waterworks system of the municipality, (Annex B). On 2 May 1956 the provincial fiscal rendered an opinion holding party adverse to the provincial government or to some other municipality in the same province;1 and when in the
that Republic Act No. 1383 is valid and constitutional and declined to represent the municipality of Bauan in an case involving the municipality, he, or his wife, or child, is pecuniarily involved as heir, legatee, creditor or
action to be brought against the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority to test the validity and otherwise.2 The fact that the Provincial Fiscal in the case at bar was of the opinion that Republic Act No. 1383 was
constitutionality of the Act creating it (Annex C). On 26 May 1956 the municipal council adopted and passed valid and constitutional, and, therefore, would not be in a position to prosecute the case of the municipality with
Resolution No. 201 authorizing the municipal mayor to take steps to commence an action or proceedings in court earnestness and vigor, could not justify the act of the municipal council in engaging the services of a special
to challenge the constitutionality of Republic Act No. 1383 and to engage the services of a special counsel, and counsel. Bias or prejudice and animosity or hostility on the part of a fiscal not based on any of the conditions
appropriating the sum of P2,000 to defray the expenses of litigation and attorney's fees (Annex D). On 2 June 1956 enumerated in the law and the Rules of Court do not constitute a legal and valid excuse for inhibition or
the municipal mayor wrote a letter to the petitioner engaging his services as counsel for the municipality in its disqualification.3 And unlike a practising lawyer who has the right to decline employment,4 a fiscal cannot refuse
contemplated action against the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority (Annex F.) On 27 June 1956 the the performance of his functions on grounds not provided for by law without violating his oath of office, where he
Provincial Board of Batangas adopted and passed Resolution No. 1829 approving Resolution No. 201 of the swore, among others, "that he will well and faithfully discharge to the best of his ability the duties of the office or
municipal council of Bauan (Annex E). On 28 June 1956 the petitioner wrote to the municipal mayor accepting his position upon which he is about to enter. . . ."5 Instead of engaging the services of a special attorney, the municipal
offer in behalf of the municipality under the following terms and conditions: that his professional services shall council should have requested the Secretary of Justice to appoint an acting provincial fiscal in place of the
commence from the filing of the complaint up to and including the appeal, if any, to the appellate courts; that his provincial fiscal who had declined to handle and prosecute its case in court, pursuant to section 1679 of the
professional fee shall be P1,500 and payable as follows: P500 upon the filing of the complaint, P500 upon the Revised Administrative Code. The petitioner claims that the municipal council could not do this because the
termination of the hearing of the case in the Court of First Instance, and P500 after judgment shall have become Secretary of Justice, who has executive supervision over the Government Corporate Counsel, who represented the
final or, should the judgment be appealed, after the appeal shall have been submitted for judgment to the National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority in the case filed against it by the municipality of Bauan (civil No. 542,
appellate court; and that the municipality shall defray all reasonable and necessary expenses for the prosecution of Annex J) and direct supervision and control over the Provincial Fiscal, would be placed in an awkward and absurd
the case in the trial and appellate courts including court and sheriff fees, transportation and subsistence of counsel position of having control of both sides of the controversy. The petitioner's contention is untenable. Section 83 of the
and witnesses and cost of transcripts of stenographic notes and other documents (Annex G). On the same date, 28 Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Executive Order No. 94, series of 1947 and further amended by
Executive Order No. 392, series of 1950, 46 Off. Gaz., 5913, 5917, provides that the Secretary of Justice shall have of his complaint with the NLRC. The complainant added that after reexamining his case, he believed the
executive supervision over the Government Corporate Counsel and supervision and control over Provincial Fiscals. respondent to be without fault and a truly good person." 2
In Mondano vs. Silvosa, 97 Phil., 143; 51 Off. Gaz., 2884, 2888, this Court distinguished supervision from control as
The Report of the Solicitor-General did not take into account respondent's practice of his profession notwithstanding
follows:
his being a police official, as "this is not embraced in Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court which
. . . In administrative law supervision means overseeing or the power or authority of an officer to see that provides the grounds for the suspension or removal of an attorney. The respondent's appearance at the labor
subordinate officers perform their duties. If the latter fail or neglect to fulfill them the former may take such proceeding notwithstanding that he was an incumbent police officer of the City of Manila may appropriately be
action or step as prescribed by law to make them perform their duties. Control, on the other hand, means referred to the National Police Commission and the Civil Service Commission." 3 As a matter of fact, separate
the power of an officer to alter or modify or nullify or set aside what a subordinate officer had done in the complaints on this ground have been filed and are under investigation by the Office of the Mayor of Manila and
performance of his duties and to substitute the judgment of the former for that of the latter. . . . the National Police Commission." As for the charges that respondent conspired with complainant's counsel to
mislead complainant to admitting having' received his separation pay and for giving illegal protection to aliens, it is
The fact that the Secretary of Justice had, on several occasions, upheld the validity and constitutionality of Republic
understandable why the Report of the Solicitor-General recommended that they be dismissed for lack of evidence.
Act No. 1383 does not exempt the municipal council of Bauan from requesting the Secretary of Justice to detail a
provincial fiscal to prosecute its case. The conclusion arrived at by the Solicitor-General that the complaint cannot prosper is in accordance with the
settled law. As far back as in re Tionko, 4 decided in 1922, the authoritative doctrine was set forth by Justice Malcolm
The services of the petitioner having been engaged by the municipal council and mayor without authority of law,
in this wise: "The serious consequences of disbarment or suspension should follow only where there is a clear
the Auditor General was correct in disallowing in audit the petitioner's claim for payment of attorney's fees. The
preponderance of evidence against the respondent. The presumption is that the attorney is innocent of the
decision under review is affirmed, without pronouncement as to costs.
charges preferred and has performed his duty as an officer of the court in accordance with his oath." 5 The Tionko
doctrine has been subsequently adhered to. 6
A.M. No. 1418 August 31, 1976 This resolution does not in any wise take into consideration whatever violations there might have been of the Civil
Service Law in view of respondent practicing his profession while holding his position of Captain in the Metro Manila
JOSE MISAMIN, complainant,
police force. That is a matter to be decided in the administrative proceeding as noted in the recommendation of
vs.
the Solicitor-General. Nonetheless, while the charges have to be dismissed, still it would not be inappropriate for
ATTORNEY MIGUEL A. SAN JUAN, respondent.
respondent member of the bar to avoid all appearances of impropriety. Certainly, the fact that the suspicion could
RESOLUTION be 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
FERNANDO, J.:
the office held not only to frustrate the beneficent statutory scheme that labor be justly compensated but also to
It certainly fails to reflect credit on a captain in the Metro Manila Police Force and a member of the bar, be at the beck and call of what the complainant called alien interest, is a matter that should not pass unnoticed.
respondent Miguel A. San Juan, to be charged with being the legal representative of certain establishments Respondent, in his future actuations as a member of the bar. should refrain from laying himself open to such doubts
allegedly owned by Filipinos of Chinese descent and, what is worse, with coercing an employee, complainant Jose and misgivings as to his fitness not only for the position occupied by him but also for membership in the bar. He is not
Misamin, to agree to drop the charges filed by him against his employer Tan Hua, owner of New Cesar's Bakery, for worthy of membership in an honorable profession who does not even take care that his honor remains unsullied
the violation of the Minimum Wage Law. There was a denial on the part of respondent. The matter was referred to
WHEREFORE, this administrative complaint against respondent Miguel A. San Juan is dismissed for not having been
the Office of the Solicitor-General for investigation, report and recommendation. Thereafter, it would seem there
duly proved. Let a copy of this resolution be spread on his record.
was a change of heart on the part of complainant. That could very well be the explanation for the non-
appearance of the lawyer employed by him at the scheduled 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
A.C. No. 7430 February 15, 2012
expected. For the law is rather exacting in its requirement that there be competent and adequate proof to make
out a case for malpractice. Necessarily, the recommendation was one of the complaints being dismissed, This is MARTIN LAHM III and JAMES P. CONCEPCION, Complainants,
one of those instances then where this Court is left with hardly any choice. Respondent cannot be found guilty of vs.
malpractice. LABOR ARBITER JOVENCIO Ll. MAYOR, JR., Respondent.
Respondent, as noted in the Report of the Solicitor-General, "admits having appeared as counsel for the New RESOLUTION
Cesar's Bakery in the proceeding before the NLRC while he held office as captain in the Manila Metropolitan Police.
REYES, J.:
However, he contends that the law did not prohibit him from such isolated exercise of his profession. He contends
that his appearance as counsel, while holding a government position, is not among the grounds provided by the Before us is a verified complaint1 filed by Martin Lahm III and James P. Concepcion (complainants) praying for the
Rules of Court for the suspension or removal of attorneys. The respondent also denies having conspired with the disbarment of Labor Arbiter Jovencio Ll. Mayor, Jr. (respondent) for alleged gross misconduct and violation of
complainant Misamin's attorney in the NLRC proceeding in order to trick the complainant into signing an admission lawyer’s oath.
that he had been paid his separation pay. Likewise, the respondent denies giving illegal protection to members of
On June 27, 2007, the respondent filed his Comment2 to the complaint.
the Chinese community in Sta. Cruz, Manila." 1
In a Resolution3 dated July 18, 2007, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
Then came a detailed account in such Report of the proceedings: "Pursuant to the resolution of this Honorable
investigation, report and recommendation.
Court of March 21, 1975, the Solicitor General's Office set the case for investigation on July 2 and 3, 1975. The
counsel for the complainant failed to appear, and the investigation was reset to August 15, 1975. At the latter date, The antecedent facts, as summarized in the Report and Recommendation4 dated September 19, 2008 of
the same counsel for complainant was absent. In both instances, the said counsel did not file written motion for Commissioner Romualdo A. Din, Jr. of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, are as follows:
postponement but merely sent the complainant to explain the reason for his absence. When the case was again
On September 5, 2006 a certain David Edward Toze filed a complaint for illegal dismissal before the Labor
called for hearing on October 16, 1975, counsel for complainant failed once more to appear. The complainant who
Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission against the members of the Board of Trustees of the
was present explained that his lawyer was busy "preparing an affidavit in the Court of First Instance of Manila." When
International School, Manila. The same was docketed as NLRC-NCR Case No. 00-07381-06 and raffled to the sala of
asked if he was willing to proceed with the hearing' in the absence of his counsel, the complainant declared,
the respondent. Impleaded as among the party-respondents are the complainants in the instant case.
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 respondent San Juan took active part in the unjust dismissal On September 7, 2006, David Edward Toze filed a Verified Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order
and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the Respondents. The said Motion was set for hearing on September 12, 2006
at 10:00 in the morning. A day after, on September 8, 2006, the counsel for the complainants herein entered its Section 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. – A member of the bar may be
appearance and asked for additional time to oppose and make a comment to the Verified Motion for the Issuance removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross
of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the Respondents of David Edward Toze. misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a wilful
Thereafter, the respondent issued an Order dated September 14, 2006 that directs the parties in the said case to
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilful appearing as an attorney for a party to
maintain the status quo ante. The complainants herein sought the reconsideration of the Order dated September
a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
14, 200[6] x x x.
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. (emphasis supplied)
xxxx
A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or deficiency in his moral character,
On account of the Order dated September 14, 2006, David Edward Toze was immediately reinstated and assumed honesty, probity or good demeanor.9 Gross misconduct is any inexcusable, shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct
his former position as superintendent of the International School Manila. on the part of a person concerned with the administration of justice; i.e., conduct prejudicial to the rights of the
parties or to the right determination of the cause. The motive behind this conduct is generally a premeditated,
The pending incidents with the above-mentioned illegal dismissal case were not resolved, however, the scheduled
obstinate or intentional purpose.10
hearing for the issuance of a preliminary injunction on September 20, 2006 and September 27, 2006 was postponed.
Intrinsically, the instant petition wants this Court to impose disciplinary sanction against the respondent as a member
On January 19, 2007, the co-respondents of the complainants herein in the said illegal dismissal case filed a motion
of the bar. However, the grounds asserted by the complainants in support of the administrative charges against the
for an early resolution of their motion to dismiss the said case, but the respondent instead issued an Order dated
respondent are intrinsically connected with the discharge of the respondent’s quasi-judicial functions.
February 6, 2007 requiring the parties to appear in his Office on February 27, 2007 at 10:00 in the morning in order to
thresh out David Edward Toze’ claim of moral and exemplary damages. Nonetheless, it cannot be discounted that the respondent, as a labor arbiter, is a public officer entrusted to resolve
labor controversies. It is well settled that the Court may suspend or disbar a lawyer for any conduct on his part
xxxx
showing his unfitness for the confidence and trust which characterize the attorney and client relations, and the
The respondent on the other maintains that the Order dated September 14, 2006 was issued by him on account of practice of law before the courts, or showing such a lack of personal honesty or of good moral character as to
[the] Verified Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the render him unworthy of public confidence.11
Respondents that was filed by David Edward Toze, and of the Entry of Appearance with Motion for Additional Time
Thus, the fact that the charges against the respondent were based on his acts committed in the discharge of his
to File Comment that was thereafter filed by the counsel for the herein complainants in the illegal dismissal case
functions as a labor arbiter would not hinder this Court from imposing disciplinary sanctions against him.
pending before the respondent.
The Code of Professional Responsibility does not cease to apply to a lawyer simply because he has joined the
The respondent maintains that in order to prevent irreparable damage on the person of David Edward Toze, and on
government service. In fact, by the express provision of Canon 6 thereof, the rules governing the conduct of lawyers
account of the urgency of [the] Verified Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or
"shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks." Thus, where a lawyer’s
Preliminary Injunction Against the Respondents of David Edward Toze, and that the counsel for respondents in the
misconduct as a government official is of such nature as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral
illegal dismissal case have asked for a relatively long period of fifteen days for a resetting, he (respondent) found
delinquency, then he may be disciplined as a member of the bar on such grounds.12
merit in issuing the Order dated September 14, 2006 that requires the parties to maintain the status quo ante.
In Atty. Vitriolo v. Atty. Dasig,13 we stressed that:
xxx
Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for
The respondent argues that [the] instant case should be dismissed for being premature since the aforementioned
misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official. However, if said misconduct as a government
illegal dismissal case is still pending before the Labor Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission,
official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by this Court as a member of
that the instant case is a subterfuge in order to compel the respondent to inhibit himself in resolving the said illegal
the Bar.
dismissal case because the complainants did not assail the Order dated September 14, 2006 before the Court of
Appeals under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.5 In this case, the record shows that the respondent, on various occasions, during her tenure as OIC, Legal Services,
CHED, attempted to extort from Betty C. Mangohon, Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G. Eje, and Jacqueline N. Ng
Based on the foregoing, the Investigating Commissioner concluded that: (1) the grounds cited by the respondent to
sums of money as consideration for her favorable action on their pending applications or requests before her office.
justify his issuance of the status quo ante order lacks factual basis and is speculative; (2) the respondent does not
The evidence remains unrefuted, given the respondent’s failure, despite the opportunities afforded her by this Court
have the authority to issue a temporary restraining order and/or a preliminary injunction; and (3) the inordinate
and the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline to comment on the charges. We find that respondent’s misconduct as a
delay in the resolution of the motion for reconsideration directed against the September 14, 2006 Order showed an
lawyer of the CHED is of such a character as to affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as a lawyer, she
orchestrated effort to keep the status quo ante until the expiration of David Edward Toze’s employment contract.
ought to have known that it was patently unethical and illegal for her to demand sums of money as consideration
Accordingly, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that: for the approval of applications and requests awaiting action by her office.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that the respondent be SUSPENDED for a period of six (6) months with a xxx
warning that a repetition of the same or similar incident will be dealt with more severe penalty.6
A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the Code of
On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVIII-2008-6447 which adopted and Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct of private
approved the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner. The said resolution further pointed out that the practitioners alone, but of all lawyers including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 6 of said Code.
Board of Governors had previously recommended the respondent’s suspension from the practice of law for three Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they should be
years in Administrative Case (A.C.) No. 7314 entitled "Mary Ann T. Flores v. Atty. Jovencio Ll. Mayor, Jr.". more sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their conduct is subject to the ever-constant
scrutiny of the public.
The respondent sought to reconsider the foregoing disposition,8 but it was denied by the IBP Board of Governors in its
Resolution No. XIX-2011-476 dated June 26, 2011. For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the
trust and confidence of the citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all
The case is now before us for confirmation. We agree with the IBP Board of Governors that the respondent should
times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a
be sanctioned.
keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that a lawyer may be removed or suspended from the practice brethren in private practice.14 (emphasis supplied and citations omitted)
of law, inter alia, for gross misconduct and violation of the lawyer’s oath. Thus:
In Tadlip v. Atty. Borres, Jr.,15 we ruled that an administrative case against a lawyer for acts committed in his
capacity as provincial adjudicator of the Department of Agrarian Reform – Regional Arbitration Board may be
likened to administrative cases against judges considering that he is part of the quasi-judicial system of our Section 4. Reception of Evidence; Delegation. - The reception of evidence for the application of a writ of injunction
government. may be delegated by the Commission to any of its Labor Arbiters who shall conduct such hearings in such places as
he may determine to be accessible to the parties and their witnesses, and shall thereafter submit his report and
This Court made a similar pronouncement in Buehs v. Bacatan16 where the respondent-lawyer was suspended from
recommendation to the Commission within fifteen (15) days from such delegation. (emphasis supplied)
the practice of law for acts he committed in his capacity as an accredited Voluntary Arbitrator of the National
Conciliation and Mediation Board. The foregoing rule is clear and leaves no room for interpretation. However, the respondent, in violation of the said
rule, vehemently insist that he has the authority to issue writs of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining
Here, the respondent, being part of the quasi-judicial system of our government, performs official functions that are
order. On this point, the Investigating Commissioner aptly ruled that:
akin to those of judges. Accordingly, the present controversy may be approximated to administrative cases of
judges whose decisions, including the manner of rendering the same, were made subject of administrative cases. The respondent should, in the first place, not entertained Edward Toze’s Verified Motion for the Issuance of a
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the Respondents. He should have denied it
As a matter of public policy, not every error or mistake of a judge in the performance of his official duties renders
outright on the basis of Section 1, Rule X of the 2005 Revised Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations
him liable. In the absence of fraud, dishonesty or corruption, the acts of a judge in his official capacity do not
Commission.
always constitute misconduct although the same acts may be erroneous. True, 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 xxxx
injustice.17
The respondent, being a Labor Arbiter of the Arbitration Branch of the National Labor Relations Commission, should
While a judge may not always be held liable for ignorance of the law for every erroneous order that he renders, it is have been familiar with Sections 1 and 4 of the 2005 Revised Rules of procedure of the National Labor Relations
also axiomatic that when the legal principle involved is sufficiently basic, lack of conversance with it constitutes Commission. The first, states that it is the Commission of the [NLRC] that may grant a preliminary injunction or
gross ignorance of the law. Indeed, even though a judge may not always be subjected to disciplinary action for restraining order. While the second, states [that] Labor Arbiters [may] conduct hearings on the application of
every erroneous order or decision he renders, that relative immunity is not a license to be negligent or abusive and preliminary injunction or restraining order only in a delegated capacity.20
arbitrary in performing his adjudicatory prerogatives.18
What made matters worse is the unnecessary delay on the part of the respondent in resolving the motion for
When the law is sufficiently basic, a judge owes it to his office to know and to simply apply it. Anything less would be reconsideration of the September 14, 2006 Order. The unfounded insistence of the respondent on his supposed
constitutive of gross ignorance of the law.19 authority to issue writs of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining order, taken together with the delay in
the resolution of the said motion for reconsideration, would clearly show that the respondent deliberately intended
In the case at bench, we find the respondent guilty of gross ignorance of the law.
to cause prejudice to the complainants.
Acting on the motion for the issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction, the
On this score, the Investigating Commissioner keenly observed that:
respondent issued the September 14, 2006 Order requiring the parties to maintain the status quo ante until the said
motion had been resolved. It should be stressed, however, that at the time the said motion was filed, the 2005 Rules The Commission is very much disturbed with the effect of the Order dated September 14, 2006 and the delay in the
of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) is already in effect. resolution of the pending incidents in the illegal dismissal case before the respondent.
Admittedly, under the 1990 Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, the labor arbiter has, in proper cases, the authority to Conspicuously, Section 3 (Term of Contract) of the Employment Contract between David Edward Toze and
issue writs of preliminary injunction and/or restraining orders. Section 1, Rule XI of the 1990 Rules of Procedure of the International School Manila provides that David Edward Toze will render work as a superintendent for the school
NLRC provides that: years August 2005-July 2006 and August 2006-July 2007.
Section 1. Injunction in Ordinary Labor Disputes. – A preliminary injunction or restraining order may be granted by the The Order dated September 14, 2006 in effect reinstates David Edward Toze as superintendent of International
Commission through its Divisions pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (e) of Article 218 of the Labor Code, as School of Manila until the resolution of the former’s Verified Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining
amended, when it is established on the basis of the sworn allegations in the petition that the acts complained of Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the Respondents.
involving or arising from any labor dispute before the Commission, which, if not restrained or performed forthwith,
Since the Employment Contract between David Edward Toze and International School Manila is about to expire or
may cause grave or irreparable damage to any party or render ineffectual any decision in favor of such party.
end on August 2007, prudence dictates that the respondent expediently resolved [sic] the merits of David Edward
If necessary, the Commission may require the petitioner to post a bond and writ of preliminary injunction or Toze’s Verified Motion for the Issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order and/or Preliminary Injunction Against the
restraining order shall become effective only upon the approval of the bond which shall answer for any damage Respondents because any delay in the resolution thereof would result to undue benefit in favor of David Edward
that may be suffered by the party enjoined, if it is finally determined that the petitioner is not entitled thereto. Toze and unwarranted prejudice to International School Manila.
The foregoing ancillary power may be exercised by the Labor Arbiters only as an incident to the cases pending xxxx
before them in order to preserve the rights of the parties during the pendency of the case, but excluding labor
At the time the respondent inhibited himself from resolving the illegal dismissal case before him, there are barely four
disputes involving strike or lockout. (emphasis supplied)
(4) months left with the Employment Contract between David Edward Toze and International School Manila.
Nevertheless, under the 2005 Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, the labor arbiters no longer has the authority to issue
From the foregoing, there is an inordinate delay in the resolution of the reconsideration of the Order dated
writs of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining orders. Under Section 1, Rule X of the 2005 Rules of
September 14, 2006 that does not escape the attention of this Commission. There appears an orchestrated effort to
Procedure of the NLRC, only the NLRC, through its Divisions, may issue writs of preliminary injunction and temporary
delay the resolution of the reconsideration of the Order dated September 14, 2006 and keep status quo ante until
restraining orders. Thus:
expiration of David Edward Toze’s Employment Contract with International School Manila come August 2007,
Section 1. Injunction in Ordinary Labor Disputes. - A preliminary injunction or restraining order may be granted by the thereby rendering the illegal dismissal case moot and academic.
Commission through its Divisions pursuant to the provisions of paragraph (e) of Article 218 of the Labor Code, as
xxxx
amended, when it is established on the basis of the sworn allegations in the petition that the acts complained of
involving or arising from any labor dispute before the Commission, which, if not restrained or performed forthwith, Furthermore, the procrastination exhibited by the respondent in the resolution of [the] assailed Order x x x should not
may cause grave or irreparable damage to any party or render ineffectual any decision in favor of such party. be countenanced, specially, under the circumstance that is attendant with the term of the Employment Contract
(emphasis supplied) between David Edward Toze and International School Manila. The respondent’s lackadaisical attitude in sitting over
the pending incident before him for more than five (5) months only to thereafter inhibit himself therefrom, shows the
The role of the labor arbiters, with regard to the issuance of writs of preliminary injunctions and/or writ of preliminary
respondent’s disregard to settled rules and jurisprudence.1âwphi1 Failure to decide a case or resolve a motion
injunction, at present, is limited to reception of evidence as may be delegated by the NLRC. Thus, Section 4, Rule X
within the reglementary period constitutes gross inefficiency and warrants the imposition of administrative sanction
of the 2005 Rules of Procedure of the NLRC provides that:
against the erring magistrate x x x. The respondent, being a Labor Arbiter, is akin to judges, and enjoined to decide
a case with dispatch. Any delay, no matter how short, in the disposition of cases undermine the people’s faith and A.C. No. 3701 March 28, 1995
confidence in the judiciary x x x. 21
PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK, complainant,
Indubitably, the respondent failed to live up to his duties as a lawyer in consonance with the strictures of the vs.
lawyer’s oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility, thereby occasioning sanction from this Court. ATTY. TELESFORO S. CEDO, respondent.
In stubbornly insisting that he has the authority to issue writs of preliminary injunction and/or temporary restraining RESOLUTION
order contrary to the clear import of the 2005 Rules of Procedure of the NLRC, the respondent violated Canon 1 of
BIDIN, J.:
the Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates lawyers to "obey the laws of the land and promote respect
for law and legal processes". In a verified letter-complaint dated August 15, 1991, complainant Philippine National Bank charged respondent
Atty. Telesforo S. Cedo, former Asst. Vice-President of the Asset Management Group of complainant bank with
All told, we find the respondent to have committed gross ignorance of the law, his acts as a labor arbiter in the
violation of Canon 6, Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, thus:
case below being inexcusable thus unquestionably resulting into prejudice to the rights of the parties therein.
A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in
Having established the foregoing, we now proceed to determine the appropriate penalty to be imposed.
connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.
Under Rule 14022 of the Rules of Court, as amended by A.M. No. 01-8-10-SC, gross ignorance of the law is a serious
by appearing as counsel for individuals who had transactions with complainant bank in which respondent during his
charge,23 punishable by a fine of more than ₱20,000.00, but not exceeding ₱40,000.00, suspension from office
employment with aforesaid bank, had intervened.
without salary and other benefits for more than three but not exceeding six months, or dismissal from the service.24
Complainant averred that while respondent was still in its employ, he participated in arranging the sale of steel
In Tadlip v. Atty. Borres, Jr., the respondent-lawyer and provincial adjudicator, found guilty of gross ignorance of the
sheets (denominated as Lots 54-M and 55-M) in favor of Milagros Ong Siy for P200,000. He even "noted" the gate
law, was suspended from the practice of law for six months. Additionally, in parallel cases,25 a judge found guilty of
passes issued by his subordinate, Mr. Emmanuel Elefan, in favor of Mrs. Ong Siy authorizing the pull-out of the steel
gross ignorance of the law was meted the penalty of suspension for six months.
sheets from the DMC Man Division Compound. When a civil action arose out of this transaction between Mrs. Ong
Here, the IBP Board of Governors recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six Siy and complainant bank before the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 146, respondent who had since left the
months with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar incident would be dealt with more severe penalty. We employ of complainant bank, appeared as one of the counsels of Mrs. Ong Siy.
adopt the foregoing recommendation.
Similarly, when the same transaction became the subject of an administrative case filed by complainant bank
This Court notes that the IBP Board of Governors had previously recommended the respondent’s suspension from against his former subordinate Emmanuel Elefan, for grave misconduct and dishonesty, respondent appeared as
the practice of law for three years in A.C. No. 7314, entitled "Mary Ann T. Flores v. Atty. Jovencio Ll. Mayor, Jr.". This counsel for Elefan only to be later disqualified by the Civil Service Commission.
case, however, is still pending.
Moreover, while respondent was still the Asst. Vice President of complainant’s Asset Management Group, he
It cannot be gainsaid that since public office is a public trust, the ethical conduct demanded upon lawyers in the intervened in the handling of the loan account of the spouses Ponciano and Eufemia Almeda with complainant
government service is more exacting than the standards for those in private practice. Lawyers in the government bank by writing demand letters to the couple. When a civil action ensued between complainant bank and the
service are subject to constant public scrutiny under norms of public accountability. They also bear the heavy Almeda spouses as a result of this loan account, the latter were represented by the law firm "Cedo, Ferrer, Maynigo
burden of having to put aside their private interest in favor of the interest of the public; their private activities should & Associates" of which respondent is one of the Senior Partners.
not interfere with the discharge of their official functions.26
In his Comment on the complaint, respondent admitted that he appeared as counsel for Mrs. Ong Siy but only with
At this point, the respondent should be reminded of our exhortation in Republic of the Philippines v. Judge respect to the execution pending appeal of the RTC decision. He alleged that he did not participate in the litigation
Caguioa,27 thus: of the case before the trial court. With respect to the case of the Almeda spouses, respondent alleged that he
never appeared as counsel for them. He contended that while the law firm "Cedo Ferrer, Maynigo & Associates" is
Ignorance of the law is the mainspring of injustice. Judges are called upon to exhibit more than just a cursory
designated as counsel of record, the case is actually handled only by Atty. Pedro Ferrer. Respondent averred that
acquaintance with statutes and procedural rules. Basic rules should be at the palm of their hands. Their inexcusable
he did not enter into a general partnership with Atty. Pedro Ferrer nor with the other lawyers named therein. They
failure to observe basic laws and rules will render them administratively liable.1âwphi1 Where the law involved is
are only using the aforesaid name to designate a law firm maintained by lawyers, who although not partners,
simple and elementary, lack of conversance with it constitutes gross ignorance of the law. "Verily, for transgressing
maintain one office as well as one clerical and supporting staff. Each one of them handles their own cases
the elementary jurisdictional limits of his court, respondent should be administratively liable for gross ignorance of
independently and individually receives the revenues therefrom which are not shared among them.
the law."
In the resolution of this Court dated January 27, 1992, this case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
"When the inefficiency springs from a failure to consider so basic and elemental a rule, a law or a principle in the
(IBP), for investigation, report and recommendation.
discharge of his functions, a judge is either too incompetent and undeserving of the position and title he holds or he
is too vicious that the oversight or omission was deliberately done in bad faith and in grave abuse of judicial During the investigation conducted by the IBP, it was discovered that respondent was previously fined by this Court
authority."28 (citations omitted) in the amount of P1,000.00 in connection with G.R. No. 94456 entitled "Milagros Ong Siy vs. Hon. Salvador Tensuan, et
al." for forum shopping, where respondent appeared as counsel for petitioner Milagros Ong Siy "through the law firm
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Jovencio Ll. Mayor, Jr. guilty of gross ignorance of the law in violation of his
of Cedo Ferrer Maynigo and Associates."
lawyer’s oath and of the Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the
practice of law for a period of six (6) months, with a WARNING that commission of the same or similar offense in the The IBP further found that the charges herein against respondent were fully substantiated. Respondent's averment
future will result in the imposition of a more severe penalty. that the law firm handling the case of the Almeda spouses is not a partnership deserves scant consideration in the
light of the attestation of complainant's counsel, Atty. Pedro Singson, that in one of the hearings of the Almeda
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the IBP, as well as the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Court
spouses' case, respondent attended the same with his partner Atty. Ferrer, and although he did not enter his
Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance and likewise be entered in the
appearance, he was practically dictating to Atty. Ferrer what to say and argue before the court. Furthermore,
record of the respondent as attorney.
during the hearing of the application for a writ of injunction in the same case, respondent impliedly admitted being
SO ORDERED. the partner of Atty. Ferrer, when it was made of record that respondent was working in the same office as Atty.
Ferrer.
Moreover, the IBP noted that assuming the alleged set-up of the firm is true, it is in itself a violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (Rule 15.02) since the client’s secrets and confidential records and information are
exposed to the other lawyers and staff members at all times.
From the foregoing, the IBP found a deliberate intent on the part of respondent to devise ways and means to A.C. No. 5738 February 19, 2008
attract as clients former borrowers of complainant bank since he was in the best position to see the legal
WILFREDO M. CATU, complainant,
weaknesses of his former employer, a convincing factor for the said clients to seek his professional service. In sum,
vs.
the IBP saw a deliberate sacrifice by respondent of his ethics in consideration of the money he expected to earn.
ATTY. VICENTE G. RELLOSA, respondent.
The IBP thus recommended the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for 3 years.
RESOLUTION
The records show that after the Board of Governors of the IBP had, on October 4, 1994, submitted to this Court its
CORONA, J.:
Report and recommendation in this case, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated October 25, 1994 of
the recommendation contained in the said Report with the IBP Board of Governors. On December 12, 1994, Complainant Wilfredo M. Catu is a co-owner of a lot1 and the building erected thereon located at 959 San Andres
respondent also filed another "Motion to Set Hearing" before this Court, the aforesaid Motion for Reconsideration. In Street, Malate, Manila. His mother and brother, Regina Catu and Antonio Catu, contested the possession of
resolving this case, the Court took into consideration the aforesaid pleadings. Elizabeth C. Diaz-Catu2 and Antonio Pastor3 of one of the units in the building. The latter ignored demands for them
to vacate the premises. Thus, a complaint was initiated against them in the Lupong Tagapamayapa of Barangay
In addition to the findings of the IBP, this Court finds this occasion appropriate to emphasize the paramount
723, Zone 79 of the 5th District of Manila4 where the parties reside.
importance of avoiding the representation of conflicting interests. In the similar case of Pasay Law and Conscience
Union, Inc. vs. Paz, (95 SCRA 24 [1980]) where a former Legal Officer and Legal Prosecutor of PARGO who Respondent, as punong barangay of Barangay 723, summoned the parties to conciliation meetings.5 When the
participated in the investigation of the Anti-Graft case against Mayor Pablo Cuneta later on acted as counsel for parties failed to arrive at an amicable settlement, respondent issued a certification for the filing of the appropriate
the said Mayor in the same anti-graft case, this Court, citing Nombrado vs. Hernandez (26 SCRA 13 119681) ruled: action in court.
The Solicitor General is of the opinion, and we find no reason to disagree with him, that even if Thereafter, Regina and Antonio filed a complaint for ejectment against Elizabeth and Pastor in the Metropolitan Trial
respondent did not use against his client any information or evidence acquired by him as Court of Manila, Branch 11. Respondent entered his appearance as counsel for the defendants in that case.
counsel it cannot be denied that he did become privy to information regarding the ownership Because of this, complainant filed the instant administrative complaint,6 claiming that respondent committed an
of the parcel of land which was later litigated in the forcible entry case, for it was the dispute act of impropriety as a lawyer and as a public officer when he stood as counsel for the defendants despite the fact
over the land that triggered the mauling incident which gave rise to the criminal action for that he presided over the conciliation proceedings between the litigants as punong barangay.
physical injuries. This Court's remarks inHilado vs. David, 84 Phil. 571, are apropos:
In his defense, respondent claimed that one of his duties as punong barangay was to hear complaints referred to
"Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a the barangay's Lupong Tagapamayapa. As such, he heard the complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth
complicated affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well-known and Pastor. As head of the Lupon, he performed his task with utmost objectivity, without bias or partiality towards
facts. In the complexity of what is said in the course of dealings between an attorney and client, any of the parties. The parties, however, were not able to amicably settle their dispute and Regina and Antonio
inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the revelation, in advance of the trial, of other filed the ejectment case. It was then that Elizabeth sought his legal assistance. He acceded to her request. He
matters that might only further prejudice the complainant's cause." handled her case for free because she was financially distressed and he wanted to prevent the commission of a
patent injustice against her.
Whatever may be said as to whether or not respondent utilized against his former client
information given to him in a professional capacity, the mere fact of their previous relationship The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
should have precluded him from appearing as counsel for the other side in the forcible entry recommendation. As there was no factual issue to thresh out, the IBP's Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) required
case. In the case of Hilado vs. David, supra, this Tribunal further said: the parties to submit their respective position papers. After evaluating the contentions of the parties, the IBP-CBD
found sufficient ground to discipline respondent.7
Hence the necessity of setting the existence of the bare relationship of attorney and client as
the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern rule is designed not alone to According to the IBP-CBD, respondent admitted that, as punong barangay, he presided over the conciliation
prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent conduct, but as well to protect the honest proceedings and heard the complaint of Regina and Antonio against Elizabeth and Pastor. Subsequently, however,
lawyer from unfounded suspicion of unprofessional practice. . . . It is founded on principles of he represented Elizabeth and Pastor in the ejectment case filed against them by Regina and Antonio. In the course
public policy, of good taste. As has been said in another case, the question is not necessarily thereof, he prepared and signed pleadings including the answer with counterclaim, pre-trial brief, position paper
one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper and notice of appeal. By so doing, respondent violated Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorney, like Caesar's wife, not
Rule 6.03 - A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in
only to keep inviolate the client's confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery
connection with any matter in which he intervened while in said service.
and double dealing. Only thus can litigants. be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their
attorneys which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. Furthermore, as an elective official, respondent contravened the prohibition under Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713:8
The foregoing disquisition on conflicting interest applies with equal force and effect to respondent in the case at SEC. 7. Prohibited Acts and Transactions. - In addition to acts and omissions of public officials and
bar. Having been an executive of complainant bank, respondent now seeks to litigate as counsel for the opposite employees now prescribed in the Constitution and existing laws, the following shall constitute prohibited
side, a case against his former employer involving a transaction which he formerly handled while still an employee acts and transactions of any public official ands employee and are hereby declared to be unlawful:
of complainant, in violation of Canon 6 of the Canons of Professional Ethics on adverse influence and conflicting
xxx xxx xxx
interests, to wit:
(b) Outside employment and other activities related thereto. - Public officials and employees during their
It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express conflicting consent of all
incumbency shall not:
concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this canon, a lawyer
represents conflicting interest when, in behalf on one client, it is his duty to contend for that xxx xxx xxx
which duty to another client requires him to oppose.
(2) Engage in the private practice of profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law,
ACCORDINGLY, this Court resolves to SUSPEND respondent ATTY. TELESFORO S. CEDO from the practice of law for provided that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions; xxx
THREE (3) YEARS, effective immediately. (emphasis supplied)
Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in Metro Manila. According to the IBP-CBD, respondent's violation of this prohibition constituted a breach of Canon 1 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility:
SO ORDERED.
CANON 1. A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND,PROMOTE RESPECT On the other hand, members of the sangguniang panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang
FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. (emphasis supplied) bayanmay practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools except during session hours. In
other words, they may practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools outside their
For these infractions, the IBP-CBD recommended the respondent's suspension from the practice of law for one
session hours. Unlike governors, city mayors and municipal mayors, members of the sangguniang
month with a stern warning that the commission of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely.9 This was
panlalawigan, sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan are required to hold regular sessions only at least
adopted and approved by the IBP Board of Governors.10
once a week.14Since the law itself grants them the authority to practice their professions, engage in any occupation
We modify the foregoing findings regarding the transgression of respondent as well as the recommendation on the or teach in schools outside session hours, there is no longer any need for them to secure prior permission or
imposable penalty. authorization from any other person or office for any of these purposes.
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Applies Only to Former Government Lawyers While, as already discussed, certain local elective officials (like governors, mayors, provincial board members and
councilors) are expressly subjected to a total or partial proscription to practice their profession or engage in any
Respondent cannot be found liable for violation of Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. As worded,
occupation, no such interdiction is made on the punong barangay and the members of the sangguniang
that Rule applies only to a lawyer who has left government service and in connection "with any matter in which he
barangay. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius.15 Since they are excluded from any prohibition, the presumption is
intervened while in said service." In PCGG v. Sandiganbayan,11 we ruled that Rule 6.03 prohibits former government
that they are allowed to practice their profession. And this stands to reason because they are not mandated to
lawyers from accepting "engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which [they] had
serve full time. In fact, the sangguniang barangay is supposed to hold regular sessions only twice a month.16
intervened while in said service."
Accordingly, as punong barangay, respondent was not forbidden to practice his profession. However, he should
Respondent was an incumbent punong barangay at the time he committed the act complained of. Therefore, he
have procured prior permission or authorization from the head of his Department, as required by civil service
was not covered by that provision.
regulations.
Section 90 of RA 7160, Not Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, Governs The Practice of Profession of Elective Local
A Lawyer In Government Service Who Is Not Prohibited To Practice Law Must Secure Prior Authority From The Head
Government Officials
Of His Department
Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713 prohibits public officials and employees, during their incumbency, from engaging in the
A civil service officer or employee whose responsibilities do not require his time to be fully at the disposal of the
private practice of their profession "unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided that such practice will not
government can engage in the private practice of law only with the written permission of the head of the
conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions." This is the general law which applies to all public officials and
department concerned.17 Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules provides:
employees.
Sec. 12. No officer or employee shall engage directly in any private business, vocation, or profession or be
For elective local government officials, Section 90 of RA 716012 governs:
connected with any commercial, credit, agricultural, or industrial undertaking without a written permission
SEC. 90. Practice of Profession. - (a) All governors, city and municipal mayors are prohibited from from the head of the Department: Provided, That this prohibition will be absolute in the case of those
practicing their profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions as officers and employees whose duties and responsibilities require that their entire time be at the disposal of
local chief executives. the Government; Provided, further, That if an employee is granted permission to engage in outside
activities, time so devoted outside of office hours should be fixed by the agency to the end that it will not
(b) Sanggunian members may practice their professions, engage in any occupation, or teach in schools
impair in any way the efficiency of the officer or employee: And provided, finally, that no permission is
except during session hours: Provided, That sanggunian members who are members of the Bar shall not:
necessary in the case of investments, made by an officer or employee, which do not involve real or
(1) Appear as counsel before any court in any civil case wherein a local government unit or any apparent conflict between his private interests and public duties, or in any way influence him in the
office, agency, or instrumentality of the government is the adverse party; discharge of his duties, and he shall not take part in the management of the enterprise or become an
officer of the board of directors. (emphasis supplied)
(2) Appear as counsel in any criminal case wherein an officer or employee of the national or
local government is accused of an offense committed in relation to his office; As punong barangay, respondent should have therefore obtained the prior written permission of the Secretary of
Interior and Local Government before he entered his appearance as counsel for Elizabeth and Pastor. This he failed
(3) Collect any fee for their appearance in administrative proceedings involving the local
to do.
government unit of which he is an official; and
The failure of respondent to comply with Section 12, Rule XVIII of the Revised Civil Service Rules constitutes a
(4) Use property and personnel of the Government except when the sanggunian member
violation of his oath as a lawyer: to obey the laws. Lawyers are servants of the law, vires legis, men of the law. Their
concerned is defending the interest of the Government.
paramount duty to society is to obey the law and promote respect for it. To underscore the primacy and
(c) Doctors of medicine may practice their profession even during official hours of work only on occasions importance of this duty, it is enshrined as the first canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
of emergency: Provided, That the officials concerned do not derive monetary compensation therefrom.
In acting as counsel for a party without first securing the required written permission, respondent not only engaged
This is a special provision that applies specifically to the practice of profession by elective local officials. As a special in the unauthorized practice of law but also violated civil service rules which is a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code of
law with a definite scope (that is, the practice of profession by elective local officials), it constitutes an exception to Professional Responsibility:
Section 7(b)(2) of RA 6713, the general law on engaging in the private practice of profession by public officials and
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. (emphasis
employees. Lex specialibus derogat generalibus.13
supplied)
Under RA 7160, elective local officials of provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays are the following: the
For not living up to his oath as well as for not complying with the exacting ethical standards of the legal profession,
governor, the vice governor and members of the sangguniang panlalawigan for provinces; the city mayor, the city
respondent failed to comply with Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
vice mayor and the members of the sangguniang panlungsod for cities; the municipal mayor, the municipal vice
mayor and the members of the sangguniang bayan for municipalities and the punong barangay, the members of CANON 7. A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND THE DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
the sangguniang barangay and the members of the sangguniang kabataan for barangays. PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. (emphasis supplied)
Of these elective local officials, governors, city mayors and municipal mayors are prohibited from practicing their Indeed, a lawyer who disobeys the law disrespects it. In so doing, he disregards legal ethics and disgraces the
profession or engaging in any occupation other than the exercise of their functions as local chief executives. This is dignity of the legal profession.
because they are required to render full time service. They should therefore devote all their time and attention to
the performance of their official duties.
Public confidence in the law and in lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a Leasing and Finance Corporation, Asia Brewery, Inc., Basic Holdings Corp., Foremost Farms, Inc., Fortune Tobacco
member of the bar.18 Every lawyer should act and comport himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in Corporation, Grandspan Development Corp., Himmel Industries, Iris Holdings and Development Corp., Jewel
the integrity of the legal profession.19 Holdings, Inc., Manufacturing Services and Trade Corp., Maranaw Hotels and Resort Corp., Northern Tobacco
Redrying Plant, Progressive Farms, Inc., Shareholdings, Inc., Sipalay Trading Corp., Virgo Holdings & Development
A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as an attorney for violation of the lawyer's
Corp., (collectively referred to herein as respondents Tan, et al.), then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R.
oath20 and/or for breach of the ethics of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Marcos, Panfilo O. Domingo, Cesar Zalamea, Don Ferry and Gregorio Licaros. The case was docketed as Civil Case
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa is hereby found GUILTY of professional misconduct for violating his No. 0005 of the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan.6 In connection therewith, the PCGG issued several writs of
oath as a lawyer and Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is sequestration on properties allegedly acquired by the above-named persons by taking advantage of their close
therefore SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of six months effective from his receipt of this resolution. relationship and influence with former President Marcos.
He is sternly WARNED that any repetition of similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
Respondents Tan, et al. repaired to this Court and filed petitions for certiorari, prohibition and injunction to nullify,
Respondent is strongly advised to look up and take to heart the meaning of the word delicadeza. among others, the writs of sequestration issued by the PCGG.7 After the filing of the parties’ comments, this Court
referred the cases to the Sandiganbayan for proper disposition. These cases were docketed as Civil Case Nos.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant and entered into the records of respondent
0096-0099. In all these cases, respondents Tan, et al. were represented by their counsel, former Solicitor General
Atty. Vicente G. Rellosa. The Office of the Court Administrator shall furnish copies to all the courts of the land for their
Estelito P. Mendoza, who has then resumed his private practice of law.
information and guidance.
On February 5, 1991, the PCGG filed motions to disqualify respondent Mendoza as counsel for respondents Tan, et
SO ORDERED.
al. with the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 00058 and 0096-0099.9 The motions alleged that
respondent Mendoza, as then Solicitor General10 and counsel to Central Bank, "actively intervened" in the
liquidation of GENBANK, which was subsequently acquired by respondents Tan, et al. and became Allied Banking
G.R. Nos. 151809-12. April 12, 2005
Corporation. Respondent Mendoza allegedly "intervened" in the acquisition of GENBANK by respondents Tan, et al.
PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), Petitioners, when, in his capacity as then Solicitor General, he advised the Central Bank’s officials on the procedureto bring
vs. about GENBANK’s liquidation and appeared as counsel for the Central Bank in connection with its petition for
SANDIGANBAYAN (Fifth Division), LUCIO C. TAN, CARMEN KHAO TAN, FLORENCIO T. SANTOS, NATIVIDAD P. SANTOS, assistance in the liquidation of GENBANK which he filed with the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of
DOMINGO CHUA, TAN HUI NEE, MARIANO TAN ENG LIAN, ESTATE OF BENITO TAN KEE HIONG (represented by Manila and was docketed as Special Proceeding No. 107812. The motions to disqualify invoked Rule 6.03 of the
TARCIANA C. TAN), FLORENCIO N. SANTOS, JR., HARRY C. TAN, TAN ENG CHAN, CHUNG POE KEE, MARIANO KHOO, Code of Professional Responsibility. Rule 6.03 prohibits former government lawyers from accepting "engagement or
MANUEL KHOO, MIGUEL KHOO, JAIME KHOO, ELIZABETH KHOO, CELSO RANOLA, WILLIAM T. WONG, ERNESTO B. LIM, employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service."
BENJAMIN T. ALBACITA, WILLY CO, ALLIED BANKING CORP., ALLIED LEASING AND FINANCE CORPORATION, ASIA
On April 22, 1991 the Second Division of the Sandiganbayan issued a resolution denying PCGG’s motion to
BREWERY, INC., BASIC HOLDINGS CORP., FOREMOST FARMS, INC., FORTUNE TOBACCO CORP., GRANDSPAN
disqualify respondent Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005.11 It found that the PCGG failed to prove the existence of an
DEVELOPMENT CORP., HIMMEL INDUSTRIES, IRIS HOLDINGS AND DEVELOPMENT CORP., JEWEL HOLDINGS, INC.,
inconsistency between respondent Mendoza’s former function as Solicitor General and his present employment as
MANUFACTURING SERVICES AND TRADE CORP., MARANAW HOTELS AND RESORT CORP., NORTHERN TOBACCO
counsel of the Lucio Tan group. It noted that respondent Mendoza did not take a position adverse to that taken on
REDRYING PLANT, PROGRESSIVE FARMS, INC., SHAREHOLDINGS, INC., SIPALAY TRADING CORP., VIRGO HOLDINGS &
behalf of the Central Bank during his term as Solicitor General.12 It further ruled that respondent Mendoza’s
DEVELOPMENT CORP., and ATTY. ESTELITO P. MENDOZA, Respondents.
appearance as counsel for respondents Tan, et al. was beyond the one-year prohibited period under Section 7(b)
DECISION of Republic Act No. 6713 since he ceased to be Solicitor General in the year 1986. The said section prohibits a
PUNO, J.: former public official or employee from practicing his profession in connection with any matter before the office he
used to be with within one year from his resignation, retirement or separation from public office.13 The PCGG did not
This case is prima impressiones and it is weighted with significance for it concerns on one hand, the efforts of the Bar seek any reconsideration of the ruling.14
to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in government service and on the other, its effect on the right of government to
It appears that Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 were transferred from the Sandiganbayan’s Second Division to the Fifth
recruit competent counsel to defend its interests.
Division.15 In its resolution dated July 11, 2001, the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan denied the other PCGG’s
In 1976, General Bank and Trust Company (GENBANK) encountered financial difficulties. GENBANK had extended motion to disqualify respondent Mendoza.16 It adopted the resolution of its Second Division dated April 22, 1991, and
considerable financial support to Filcapital Development Corporation causing it to incur daily overdrawings on its observed that the arguments were the same in substance as the motion to disqualify filed in Civil Case No. 0005. The
current account with the Central Bank.1 It was later found by the Central Bank that GENBANK had approved various PCGG sought reconsideration of the ruling but its motion was denied in its resolution dated December 5, 2001.17
loans to directors, officers, stockholders and related interests totaling ₱172.3 million, of which 59% was classified as
doubtful and ₱0.505 million as uncollectible.2 As a bailout, the Central Bank extended emergency loans to Hence, the recourse to this Court by the PCGG assailing the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001
of the Fifth Division of the Sandiganbayan via a petition for certiorari and prohibition under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules
GENBANK which reached a total of ₱310 million.3 Despite the mega loans, GENBANK failed to recover from its
of Civil Procedure.18 The PCGG alleged that the Fifth Division acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to
financial woes. On March 25, 1977, the Central Bank issued a resolution declaring GENBANK insolvent and unable
lack or excess of jurisdiction in issuing the assailed resolutions contending that: 1) Rule 6.03 of the Code of
to resume business with safety to its depositors, creditors and the general public, and ordering its
Professional Responsibility prohibits a former government lawyer from accepting employment in connection with
liquidation.4 A public bidding of GENBANK’s assets was held from March 26 to 28, 1977, wherein the Lucio Tan group
any matter in which he intervened; 2) the prohibition in the Rule is not time-bound; 3) that Central Bank could not
submitted the winning bid.5 Subsequently, former Solicitor General Estelito P. Mendoza filed a petitionwith the then
waive the objection to respondent Mendoza’s appearance on behalf of the PCGG; and 4) the resolution in Civil
Court of First Instance praying for the assistance and supervision of the court in GENBANK’s liquidation as mandated
Case No. 0005 was interlocutory, thus res judicata does not apply.19
by Section 29 of Republic Act No. 265.
The petition at bar raises procedural and substantive issues of law. In view, however, of the import and impact of
In February 1986, the EDSA I revolution toppled the Marcos government. One of the first acts of President Corazon
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility to the legal profession and the government, we shall cut our way
C. Aquino was to establish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) to recover the alleged ill-
and forthwith resolve the substantive issue.
gotten wealth of former President Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies. Pursuant to this mandate, the PCGG,
on July 17, 1987, filed with the Sandiganbayan a complaint for "reversion, reconveyance, restitution, accounting I
and damages" against respondents Lucio Tan, Carmen Khao Tan, Florencio T. Santos, Natividad P. Santos, Domingo
Substantive Issue
Chua, Tan Hui Nee, Mariano Tan Eng Lian, Estate of Benito Tan Kee Hiong, Florencio N. Santos, Jr., Harry C. Tan, Tan
Eng Chan, Chung Poe Kee, Mariano Khoo, Manuel Khoo, Miguel Khoo, Jaime Khoo, Elizabeth Khoo, Celso Ranola,
William T. Wong, Ernesto B. Lim, Benjamin T. Albacita, Willy Co, Allied Banking Corporation (Allied Bank), Allied
The key issue is whether Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility applies to respondent Mendoza. Again, In 1917, the Philippine Bar found that the oath and duties of a lawyer were insufficient to attain the full measure of
the prohibition states: "A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in public respect to which the legal profession was entitled. In that year, the Philippine Bar Association adopted as its
connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in the said service." own, Canons 1 to 32 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics.24
I.A. The history of Rule 6.03 As early as 1924, some ABA members have questioned the form and function of the canons. Among their concerns
was the "revolving door" or "the process by which lawyers and others temporarily enter government service from
A proper resolution of this case necessitates that we trace the historical lineage of Rule 6.03 of the Code of
private life and then leave it for large fees in private practice, where they can exploit information, contacts, and
Professional Responsibility.
influence garnered in government service."25 These concerns were classified as adverse-interest
In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ethical standards for lawyers were pervasive in England and other conflicts" and "congruent-interest conflicts." "Adverse-interest conflicts" exist where the matter in which the former
parts of Europe. The early statements of standards did not resemble modern codes of conduct. They were not government lawyer represents a client in private practice is substantially related to a matter that the lawyer dealt
detailed or collected in one source but surprisingly were comprehensive for their time. The principal thrust of the with while employed by the government and the interests of the current and former are adverse.26 On the other
standards was directed towards the litigation conduct of lawyers. It underscored the central duty of truth and hand, "congruent-interest representation conflicts" are unique to government lawyers and apply primarily to former
fairness in litigation as superior to any obligation to the client. The formulations of the litigation duties were at times government lawyers.27 For several years, the ABA attempted to correct and update the canons through new
intricate, including specific pleading standards, an obligation to inform the court of falsehoods and a duty to canons, individual amendments and interpretative opinions. In 1928, the ABA amended one canon and added
explore settlement alternatives. Most of the lawyer's other basic duties -- competency, diligence, loyalty, thirteen new canons.28 To deal with problems peculiar to former government lawyers, Canon 36 was minted which
confidentiality, reasonable fees and service to the poor -- originated in the litigation context, but ultimately had disqualified them both for "adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent-interest representation conflicts."29 The
broader application to all aspects of a lawyer's practice. rationale for disqualification is rooted in a concern that the government lawyer’s largely discretionary actions would
be influenced by the temptation to take action on behalf of the government client that later could be to the
The forms of lawyer regulation in colonial and early post-revolutionary America did not differ markedly from those in
advantage of parties who might later become private practice clients.30 Canon 36 provides, viz.:
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 such regulation. The 36. Retirement from judicial position or public employment
standards set in England varied over time, but the variation in early America was far greater. The American
A lawyer should not accept employment as an advocate in any matter upon the merits of which he has previously
regulation fluctuated within a single colony and differed from colony to colony. Many regulations had the effect of
acted in a judicial capacity.
setting some standards of conduct, but the regulation was sporadic, leaving gaps in the substantive standards. Only
three of the traditional core duties can be fairly characterized as pervasive in the formal, positive law of the colonial A lawyer, having once held public office or having been in the public employ should not, after his retirement,
and post-revolutionary period: the duties of litigation fairness, competency and reasonable fees.20 accept employment in connection with any matter he has investigated or passed upon while in such office or
employ.
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 Over the next thirty years, the ABA continued to amend many of the canons and added Canons 46 and 47 in 1933
influential New York "Field Code," introduced a new set of uniform standards of conduct for lawyers. This concise and 1937, respectively.31
statement of eight statutory duties became law in several states in the second half of the nineteenth century. At the
In 1946, the Philippine Bar Association again adopted as its own Canons 33 to 47 of the ABA Canons of Professional
same time, legal educators, such as David Hoffman and George Sharswood, and many other lawyers were working
Ethics.32
to flesh out the broad outline of a lawyer's duties. These reformers wrote about legal 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 By the middle of the twentieth century, there was growing consensus that the ABA Canons needed more
statutes, other than the Field Code, governed lawyer behavior. A few forms of colonial regulations – e.g., the "do no meaningful revision. In 1964, the ABA President-elect Lewis Powell asked for the creation of a committee to study
falsehood" oath and the deceit prohibitions -- persisted in some states. Procedural law continued to directly, or the "adequacy and effectiveness" of the ABA Canons. The committee recommended that the canons needed
indirectly, limit an attorney's litigation behavior. The developing law of agency recognized basic duties of substantial revision, in part because the ABA Canons failed to distinguish between "the inspirational and the
competence, loyalty and safeguarding of client property. Evidence law started to recognize with less equivocation proscriptive" and were thus unsuccessful in enforcement. The legal profession in the United States likewise observed
the attorney-client privilege and its underlying theory of confidentiality. Thus, all of the core duties, with the likely that Canon 36 of the ABA Canons of Professional Ethics resulted in unnecessary disqualification of lawyers for
exception of service to the poor, had some basis in formal law. Yet, as in the colonial and early post-revolutionary negligible participation in matters during their employment with the government.
periods, these standards were isolated and did not provide a comprehensive statement of a lawyer's duties. The
The unfairness of Canon 36 compelled ABA to replace it in the 1969 ABA Model Code of Professional
reformers, by contrast, were more comprehensive in their discussion of a lawyer's duties, and they actually ushered
Responsibility.33 The basic ethical principles in the Code of Professional Responsibility were supplemented by
a new era in American legal ethics.21
Disciplinary Rules that defined minimum rules of conduct to which the lawyer must adhere.34 In the case of Canon
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a new form of ethical standards began to guide lawyers in their practice 9, DR 9-101(b)35 became the applicable supplementary norm. The drafting committee reformulated the canons into
— the bar association code of legal ethics. The bar codes were detailed ethical standards formulated by lawyers the Model Code of Professional Responsibility, and, in August of 1969, the ABA House of Delegates approved
for lawyers. They combined the two primary sources of ethical guidance from the nineteenth century. Like the the Model Code.36
academic discourses, the bar association codes gave detail to the statutory statements of duty and the oaths of
Despite these amendments, legal practitioners remained unsatisfied with the results and indefinite standards set
office. Unlike the academic lectures, however, the bar association codes retained some of the official imprimatur of
forth by DR 9-101(b) and the Model Code of Professional Responsibility as a whole. Thus, in August 1983, the ABA
the statutes and oaths. Over time, the bar association codes became extremely popular that states adopted them
adopted new Model Rules of Professional Responsibility. The Model Rules used the "restatement format," where the
as binding rules of law. Critical to the development of the new codes was the re-emergence of bar associations
conduct standards were set-out in rules, with comments following each rule. The new format was intended to give
themselves. Local bar associations formed sporadically during the colonial period, but they disbanded by the early
better guidance and clarity for enforcement "because the only enforceable standards were the black letter Rules."
nineteenth century. In the late nineteenth century, bar associations began to form again, picking up where their
The Model Rules eliminated the broad canons altogether and reduced the emphasis on narrative discussion, by
colonial predecessors had left off. Many of the new bar associations, most notably the Alabama State Bar
placing comments after the rules and limiting comment discussion to the content of the black letter rules. The
Association and the American Bar Association, assumed on the task of drafting substantive standards of conduct for
Model Rules made a number of substantive improvements particularly with regard to conflicts of interests.37 In
their members.22
particular, the ABA did away with Canon 9, citing the hopeless dependence of the concept of impropriety on the
In 1887, Alabama became the first state with a comprehensive bar association code of ethics. The 1887 Alabama subjective views of anxious clients as well as the norm’s indefinite nature.38
Code of Ethics was the model for several states’ codes, and it was the foundation for the American Bar
In cadence with these changes, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) adopted a proposed Code of Professional
Association's (ABA) 1908 Canons of Ethics.23
Responsibility in 1980 which it submitted to this Court for approval. The Code was drafted to reflect the local
customs, traditions, and practices of the bar and to conform with new realities. On 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.:
E. To authorize Management to furnish the Solicitor General with a copy of the subject memorandum of the
Rule 6.03 – A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank dated March 29, 1977, together with copies of:
with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service.
1. Memorandum of the Deputy Governor, Supervision and Examination Sector, to the Monetary Board, dated
Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility retained the general structure of paragraph 2, Canon 36 of the March 25, 1977, containing a report on the current situation of Genbank;
Canons of Professional Ethics but replaced the expansive phrase "investigated and passed upon" with the
2. Aide Memoire on the Antecedent Facts Re: General Bank and Trust Co., dated March 23, 1977;
word "intervened." It is, therefore, properly applicable to both "adverse-interest conflicts" and "congruent-interest
conflicts." 3. Memorandum of the Director, Department of Commercial and Savings Bank, to the Monetary Board, dated
March 24, 1977, submitting, pursuant to Section 29 of R.A. No. 265, as amended by P.D. No. 1007, a repot on the
The case at bar does not involve the "adverse interest" aspect of Rule 6.03. Respondent Mendoza, it is conceded,
state of insolvency of Genbank, together with its attachments; and
has no adverse interest problem when he acted as Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 and later as counsel of
respondents Tan, et al. in Civil Case No. 0005 and Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 before the Sandiganbayan. 4. Such other documents as may be necessary or needed by the Solicitor General for his use in then CFI-praying the
Nonetheless, there remains the issue of whether there exists a "congruent-interest conflict"sufficient to disqualify assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Genbank.
respondent Mendoza from representing respondents Tan, et al.
Beyond doubt, therefore, the "matter" or the act of respondent Mendoza as Solicitor General involved in the case
I.B. The "congruent interest" aspect of Rule 6.03 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 with the CFI of Manila." In fine, the Court should resolve whether his act of advising the Central Bank
The key to unlock Rule 6.03 lies in comprehending first, the meaning of "matter" referred to in the rule and, second,
on the legal procedure to liquidate GENBANK is included within the concept of "matter" under Rule 6.03. The
the metes and bounds of the "intervention" made by the former government lawyer on the "matter." The American
procedure of liquidation is given in black and white in Republic Act No. 265, section 29, viz:
Bar Association in its Formal Opinion 342, defined "matter" as any discrete, isolatable act as well as identifiable
transaction or conduct involving a particular situation and specific party, and not merely an act of drafting, The provision reads in part:
enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of
SEC. 29. Proceedings upon insolvency. – Whenever, upon examination by the head of the appropriate supervising
law.
or examining department or his examiners or agents into the condition of any bank or non-bank financial
Firstly, it is critical that we pinpoint the "matter" which was the subject of intervention by respondent Mendoza while intermediary performing quasi-banking functions, it shall be disclosed that the condition of the same is one of
he was the Solicitor General. The PCGG relates the following acts of respondent Mendoza as constituting insolvency, or that its continuance in business would involve probable loss to its depositors or creditors, it shall be the
the "matter" where he intervened as a Solicitor General, viz:40 duty of the department head concerned forthwith, in writing, to inform the Monetary Board of the facts, and the
Board may, upon finding the statements of the department head to be true, forbid the institution to do business in
The PCGG’s Case for Atty. Mendoza’s Disqualification
the Philippines and shall designate an official of the Central Bank or a person of recognized competence in
The PCGG imputes grave abuse of discretion on the part of the Sandiganbayan (Fifth Division) in issuing the assailed banking or finance, as receiver to immediately take charge of its assets and liabilities, as expeditiously as possible
Resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 denying the motion to disqualify Atty. Mendoza as counsel collect and gather all the assets and administer the same for the benefit of its creditors, exercising all the powers
for respondents Tan, et al. The PCGG insists that Atty. Mendoza, as then Solicitor General, actively intervened in the necessary for these purposes including, but not limited to, bringing suits and foreclosing mortgages in the name of
closure of GENBANK by advising the Central Bank on how to proceed with the said bank’s liquidation and even the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions.
filing the petition for its liquidation with the CFI of Manila.
...
As proof thereof, the PCGG cites the Memorandum dated March 29, 1977 prepared by certain key officials of the
If the Monetary Board shall determine and confirm within the said period that the bank or non-bank financial
Central Bank, namely, then Senior Deputy Governor Amado R. Brinas, then Deputy Governor Jaime C. Laya, then
intermediary performing quasi-banking functions is insolvent or cannot resume business with safety to its depositors,
Deputy Governor and General Counsel Gabriel C. Singson, then Special Assistant to the Governor Carlota P.
creditors and the general public, it shall, if the public interest requires, order its liquidation, indicate the manner of its
Valenzuela, then Asistant to the Governor Arnulfo B. Aurellano and then Director of Department of Commercial and
liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. The Central Bank shall, by the Solicitor General, file a petition in the
Savings Bank Antonio T. Castro, Jr., where they averred that on March 28, 1977, they had a conference with the
Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which have been taken and praying the assistance of the court in
Solicitor General (Atty. Mendoza), who advised them on how to proceed with the liquidation of GENBANK. The
the liquidation of such institution. The court shall have jurisdiction in the same proceedings to adjudicate disputed
pertinent portion of the said memorandum states:
claims against the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions and enforce
Immediately after said meeting, we had a conference with the Solicitor General and he advised that the following individual liabilities of the stockholders and do all that is necessary to preserve the assets of such institution and to
procedure should be taken: implement the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. The Monetary Board shall designate an official of
the Central Bank, or a person of recognized competence in banking or finance, as liquidator who shall take over
1. Management should submit a memorandum to the Monetary Board reporting that studies and evaluation had
the functions of the receiver previously appointed by the Monetary Board under this Section. The liquidator shall,
been made since the last examination of the bank as of August 31, 1976 and it is believed that the bank can not be
with all convenient speed, convert the assets of the banking institution or non-bank financial intermediary
reorganized or placed in a condition so that it may be permitted to resume business with safety to its depositors and
performing quasi-banking functions to money or sell, assign or otherwise dispose of the same to creditors and other
creditors and the general public.
parties for the purpose of paying the debts of such institution and he may, in the name of the bank or non-bank
2. If the said report is confirmed by the Monetary Board, it shall order the liquidation of the bank and indicate the financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions, institute such actions as may be necessary in the
manner of its liquidation and approve a liquidation plan. appropriate court to collect and recover accounts and assets of such institution.
3. The Central Bank shall inform the principal stockholders of Genbank of the foregoing decision to liquidate the The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the actions of the Monetary Board under this Section and
bank and the liquidation plan approved by the Monetary Board. the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act shall be final and executory, and can be set aside by the court only
if there is convincing proof that the action is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith. No restraining order or
4. The Solicitor General shall then file a petition in the Court of First Instance reciting the proceedings which had
injunction shall be issued by the court enjoining the Central Bank from implementing its actions under this Section
been taken and praying the assistance of the Court in the liquidation of Genbank.
and the second paragraph of Section 34 of this Act, unless there is convincing proof that the action of the
The PCGG further cites the Minutes No. 13 dated March 29, 1977 of the Monetary Board where it was shown that Monetary Board is plainly arbitrary and made in bad faith and the petitioner or plaintiff files with the clerk or judge of
Atty. Mendoza was furnished copies of pertinent documents relating to GENBANK in order to aid him in filing with the court in which the action is pending a bond executed in favor of the Central Bank, in an amount to be fixed by
the court the petition for assistance in the bank’s liquidation. The pertinent portion of the said minutes reads: the court. The restraining order or injunction shall be refused or, if granted, shall be dissolved upon filing by the
Central Bank of a bond, which shall be in the form of cash or Central Bank cashier(s) check, in an amount twice the
The Board decided as follows:
amount of the bond of the petitioner or plaintiff conditioned that it will pay the damages which the petitioner or 1969 Code restricted its latitude, hence, in DR 9-101(b), the prohibition extended only to a matter in which the
plaintiff may suffer by the refusal or the dissolution of the injunction. The provisions of Rule 58 of the New Rules of lawyer, while in the government service, had "substantial responsibility." The 1983 Model Rules further constricted
Court insofar as they are applicable and not inconsistent with the provisions of this Section shall govern the issuance the reach of the rule. MR 1.11(a) provides that "a lawyer shall not represent a private client in connection with a
and dissolution of the restraining order or injunction contemplated in this Section. matter in which the lawyer participated personally and substantially as a public officer or employee."
Insolvency, under this Act, shall be understood to mean the inability of a bank or non-bank financial intermediary It is, however, alleged that the intervention of respondent Mendoza in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is significant and
performing quasi-banking functions to pay its liabilities as they fall due in the usual and ordinary course of business. substantial. We disagree. For one, the petition in the special proceedings is an initiatory pleading, hence, it has to
Provided, however, That this shall not include the inability to pay of an otherwise non-insolvent bank or non-bank be signed by respondent Mendoza as the then sitting Solicitor General. For another, the record is arid as to
financial intermediary performing quasi-banking functions caused by extraordinary demands induced by financial the actual participation of respondent Mendoza in the subsequent proceedings. Indeed, the case was in
panic commonly evidenced by a run on the bank or non-bank financial intermediary performing quasi-banking slumberville for a long number of years. None of the parties pushed for its early termination. Moreover, we note that
functions in the banking or financial community. the petition filed merely seeks the assistance of the court in the liquidation of GENBANK. The principal role of the
court in this type of proceedings is to assist the Central Bank in determining claims of creditors against the
The appointment of a conservator under Section 28-A of this Act or the appointment of a receiver under this
GENBANK. The role of the court is not strictly as a court of justice but as an agent to assist the Central Bank in
Section shall be vested exclusively with the Monetary Board, the provision of any law, general or special, to the
determining the claims of creditors. In such a proceeding, the participation of the Office of the Solicitor General is
contrary notwithstanding. (As amended by PD Nos. 72, 1007, 1771 & 1827, Jan. 16, 1981)
not that of the usual court litigator protecting the interest of government.
We hold that this advice given by respondent Mendoza on the procedure to liquidate GENBANK is not the
II
"matter"contemplated by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. ABA Formal Opinion No. 342 is clear
as daylight in stressing that the "drafting, enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or Balancing Policy Considerations
laws, or briefing abstract principles of law" are acts which do not fall within the scope of the term "matter" and
To be sure, Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility represents a commendable effort on the part of the
cannot disqualify.
IBP to upgrade the ethics of lawyers in the government service. As aforestressed, it is a take-off from similar efforts
Secondly, it can even be conceded for the sake of argument that the above act of respondent Mendoza falls especially by the ABA which have not been without difficulties. To date, the legal profession in the United States is
within the definition of matter per ABA Formal Opinion No. 342. Be that as it may, the said act of respondent still fine tuning its DR 9-101(b) rule.
Mendoza which is the "matter" involved in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is entirely different from the "matter" involved in Civil
In fathoming the depth and breadth of Rule 6.03 of our Code of Professional Responsibility, the Court took account
Case No. 0096. Again, the plain facts speak for themselves. It is given that respondent Mendoza had nothing to do
of various policy considerations to assure that its interpretation and application to the case at bar will achieve its
with the decision of the Central Bank to liquidate GENBANK. It is also given that he did not participate in the sale of
end without necessarily prejudicing other values of equal importance. Thus, the rule was not interpreted to cause
GENBANK to Allied Bank. The "matter" where he got himself involved was in informing Central Bank on
a chilling effect on government recruitment of able legal talent. At present, it is already difficult for government to
the procedure provided by law to liquidate GENBANK thru the courts and in filing the necessary petition in Sp. Proc.
match compensation offered by the private sector and it is unlikely that government will be able to reverse that
No. 107812 in the then Court of First Instance. The subject "matter" of Sp. Proc. No. 107812, therefore, is not the same
situation. The observation is not inaccurate that the only card that the government may play to recruit lawyers is
nor is related to but is different from the subject "matter" in Civil Case No. 0096. Civil Case No. 0096 involves
have them defer present income in return for the experience and contacts that can later be exchanged for higher
the sequestration of the stocks owned by respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank on the alleged ground that they are
income in private practice.45 Rightly, Judge Kaufman warned that the sacrifice of entering government service
ill-gotten. The case does not involve the liquidation of GENBANK. Nor does it involve the sale of GENBANK to Allied
would be too great for most men to endure should ethical rules prevent them from engaging in the practice of a
Bank. Whether the shares of stock of the reorganized Allied Bank are ill-gotten is far removed from the issue of the
technical specialty which they devoted years in acquiring and cause the firm with which they become associated
dissolution and liquidation of GENBANK. GENBANK was liquidated by the Central Bank due, among others, to the
to be disqualified.46 Indeed, "to make government service more difficult to exit can only make it less appealing to
alleged banking malpractices of its owners and officers. In other words, the legality of the liquidation of GENBANK is
enter."47
not an issue in the sequestration cases. Indeed, the jurisdiction of the PCGG does not include the dissolution and
liquidation of banks. It goes without saying that Code 6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility cannot apply to In interpreting Rule 6.03, the Court also cast a harsh eye on its use as a litigation tactic to harass opposing counsel as
respondent Mendoza because his alleged intervention while a Solicitor General in Sp. Proc. No. 107812 is an well as deprive his client of competent legal representation. The danger that the rule will be misused to bludgeon
intervention on a matter different from the matter involved in Civil Case No. 0096. an opposing counsel is not a mere guesswork. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has noted "the
tactical use of motions to disqualify counsel in order to delay proceedings, deprive the opposing party of counsel of
Thirdly, we now slide to the metes and bounds of the "intervention" contemplated by Rule 6.03. "Intervene" means,
its choice, and harass and embarrass the opponent," and observed that the tactic was "so prevalent in large civil
viz.:
cases in recent years as to prompt frequent judicial and academic commentary."48 Even the United States Supreme
1: to enter or appear as an irrelevant or extraneous feature or circumstance . . . 2: to occur, fall, or come in Court found no quarrel with the Court of Appeals’ description of disqualification motions as "a dangerous
between points of time or events . . . 3: to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification: INTERPOSE . . . game."49 In the case at bar, the new attempt to disqualify respondent Mendoza is difficult to divine. The
4: to occur or lie between two things (Paris, where the same city lay on both sides of an intervening river . . .)41 disqualification of respondent Mendoza has long been a dead issue. It was resuscitated after the lapse of many
years and only after PCGG has lost many legal incidents in the hands of respondent Mendoza. For a fact, the
On the other hand, "intervention" is defined as:
recycled motion for disqualification in the case at bar was filed more than four years after the filing of the petitions
1: the act or fact of intervening: INTERPOSITION; 2: interference that may affect the interests of others.42 for certiorari, prohibition and injunction with the Supreme Court which were subsequently remanded to
the Sandiganbayan and docketed as Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099.50 At the very least, the circumstances under which
There are, therefore, two possible interpretations of the word "intervene." Under the first interpretation, "intervene"
the motion to disqualify in the case at bar were refiled put petitioner’s motive as highly suspect.
includes participation in a proceeding even if the intervention is irrelevant or has no effect or little influence.43 Under
the second interpretation, "intervene" only includes an act of a person who has the power to influence the subject Similarly, the Court in interpreting Rule 6.03 was not unconcerned with the prejudice to the client which will be
proceedings.44 We hold that this second meaning is more appropriate to give to the word "intervention" under Rule caused by its misapplication. It cannot be doubted that granting a disqualification motion causes the client to lose
6.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility in light of its history. The evils sought to be remedied by the Rule do not only the law firm of choice, but probably an individual lawyer in whom the client has confidence.51 The client
not exist where the government lawyer does an act which can be considered as innocuous such as "x x x drafting, with a disqualified lawyer must start again often without the benefit of the work done by the latter.52 The effects of
enforcing or interpreting government or agency procedures, regulations or laws, or briefing abstract principles of this prejudice to the right to choose an effective counsel cannot be overstated for it can result in denial of due
law." process.
In fine, the intervention cannot be insubstantial and insignificant. Originally, Canon 36 provided that a former The Court has to consider also the possible adverse effect of a truncated reading of the rule on the official
government lawyer "should not, after his retirement, accept employment in connection with any matter which he independence of lawyers in the government service. According to Prof. Morgan: "An individual who has the security
has investigated or passed upon while in such office or employ." As aforediscussed, the broad sweep of the phrase of knowing he or she can find private employment upon leaving the government is free to work vigorously,
"which he has investigated or passed upon" resulted in unjust disqualification of former government lawyers. The challenge official positions when he or she believes them to be in error, and resist illegal demands by superiors. An
employee who lacks this assurance of private employment does not enjoy such freedom."53 He adds: "Any system The question of fairness
that affects the right to take a new job affects the ability to quit the old job and any limit on the ability to quit inhibits
Mr. Justices Panganiban and Carpio are of the view, among others, that the congruent interest prong of Rule 6.03
official independence."54 The case at bar involves the position of Solicitor General, the office once occupied by
of the Code of Professional Responsibility should be subject to a prescriptive period. Mr. Justice Tinga opines that
respondent Mendoza. It cannot be overly stressed that the position of Solicitor General should be endowed with a
the rule cannot apply retroactively to respondent Mendoza. Obviously, and rightly so, they are disquieted by the
great degree of independence. It is this independence that allows the Solicitor General to recommend acquittal of
fact that (1) when respondent Mendoza was the Solicitor General, Rule 6.03 has not yet adopted by the IBP and
the innocent; it is this independence that gives him the right to refuse to defend officials who violate the trust of their
approved by this Court, and (2) the bid to disqualify respondent Mendoza was made after the lapse of time whose
office. Any undue dimunition of the independence of the Solicitor General will have a corrosive effect on the rule of
length cannot, by any standard, qualify as reasonable. At bottom, the point they make relates to the unfairness of
law.
the rule if applied without any prescriptive period and retroactively, at that. Their concern is legitimate and deserves
No less significant a consideration is the deprivation of the former government lawyer of the freedom to exercise his to be initially addressed by the IBP and our Committee on Revision of the Rules of Court.
profession. Given the current state of our law, the disqualification of a former government lawyer may extend to all
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition assailing the resolutions dated July 11, 2001 and December 5, 2001 of the Fifth
members of his law firm.55 Former government lawyers stand in danger of becoming the lepers of the legal
Division of the Sandiganbayan in Civil Case Nos. 0096-0099 is denied.
profession.
No cost.
It is, however, proffered that the mischief sought to be remedied by Rule 6.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility is the possible appearance of impropriety and loss of public confidence in government. But as well SO ORDERED.
observed, the accuracy of gauging public perceptions is a highly speculative exercise at best56 which can lead to
untoward results.57 No less than Judge Kaufman doubts that the lessening of restrictions as to former government
attorneys will have any detrimental effect on that free flow of information between the government-client and its Adm. Case No. 4749 January 20, 2000
attorneys which the canons seek to protect.58 Notably, the appearance of impropriety theory has been rejected in
SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant,
the 1983 ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct59 and some courts have abandoned per sedisqualification based
vs.
on Canons 4 and 9 when an actual conflict of interest exists, and demand an evaluation of the interests of the
ATTY. FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS, respondent.
defendant, government, the witnesses in the case, and the public.60
MENDOZA, J.:
It is also submitted that the Court should apply Rule 6.03 in all its strictness for it correctly disfavors lawyers
who "switch sides." It is claimed that "switching sides" carries the danger that former government employee This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar membership dues filed against respondent Atty.
may compromise confidential official information in the process. But this concern does not cast a shadow in the Francisco R. Llamas.
case at bar. As afore-discussed, the act of respondent Mendoza in informing the Central Bank on the procedure
In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997, complainant Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of
how to liquidate GENBANK is a different matter from the subject matter of Civil Case No. 0005 which is about the
the bar, alleged that:
sequestration of the shares of respondents Tan, et al., in Allied Bank. Consequently, the danger that confidential
official information might be divulged is nil, if not inexistent. To be sure, there are no inconsistent "sides" to be On my oath as an attorney, I wish to bring to your attention and appropriate sanction the matter of Atty. Francisco
bothered about in the case at bar. For there is no question that in lawyering for respondents Tan, et al., respondent R. Llamas who, for a number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP O.R. Nos. and data (date &
Mendoza is not working against the interest of Central Bank. On the contrary, he is indirectly defending the validity place of issuance) in his pleadings. If at all, he only indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" but he has been using this for at least
of the action of Central Bank in liquidating GENBANK and selling it later to Allied Bank. Their interests coincide three years already, as shown by the following attached sample pleadings in various courts in 1995, 1996 and 1997:
instead of colliding. It is for this reason that Central Bank offered no objection to the lawyering of respondent (originals available).
Mendoza in Civil Case No. 0005 in defense of respondents Tan, et al. There is no switching of sides for no two sides Annex A — "Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" dated December 1, 1995 in Civil Case No. Q-95-25253,
are involved. RTC, Br. 224, QC.
It is also urged that the Court should consider that Rule 6.03 is intended to avoid conflict of loyalties, i.e., that a Annex B — "Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion" dated November 13, 1996 in Sp. Proc. No. 95-030, RTC
government employee might be subject to a conflict of loyalties while still in government service.61 The example Br. 259 (not 257), Parañaque, MM.
given by the 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 Annex C — "An Urgent and Respectful Plea for extension of Time to File Required Comment and
Association of the Bar Committee in 1960: "The greatest public risks arising from post employment conduct may well Opposition" dated January 17, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP (not Civil Case) No. 42286, CA 6th Div.
occur during the period of employment through the dampening of aggressive administration of government This matter is being brought in the context of Rule 138, Section 1 which qualifies that only a duly admitted member
policies."63 Prof. Morgan, however, considers this concern as "probably excessive."64 He opines "x x x it is hard to of the bar "who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law". There is also Rule 139-A, Section 10
imagine that a private firm would feel secure hiding someone who had just been disloyal to his or her last client – which provides that "default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in
the government. Interviews with lawyers consistently confirm that law firms want the ‘best’ government lawyers – the the Integrated Bar, and default in such payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of the
ones who were hardest to beat – not the least qualified or least vigorous advocates."65 But again, this particular delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys."
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 Among others, I seek clarification (e.g. a certification) and appropriate action on the bar standing of Atty.
continues defending both the interests of Central Bank and respondents Tan, et al. in the above cases. Francisco R. Llamas both with the Bar Confidant and with the IBP, especially its Rizal Chapter of which Atty. Llamas
purports to be a member.
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 Please note that while Atty. Llamas indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" sometimes, he does not indicate any PTR for payment
for his warning, viz: "Much of what appears to be an employee’s influence may actually be the power or authority of professional tax.
of his or her position, power that evaporates quickly upon departure from government x x x."67 More, he contends Under the Rules, particularly Rule 138, Sections 27 and 28, suspension of an attorney may be done not only by the
that the concern can be demeaning to those sitting in government. To quote him further: "x x x The idea that, Supreme Court but also by the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court (thus, we are also copy furnishing some of
present officials make significant decisions based on friendship rather than on the merit says more about the present these courts).
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 Finally, it is relevant to note the track record of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, as shown by:
order to avoid even the appearance of favoritism."68 1. his dismissal as Pasay City Judge per Supreme Court Admin. Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision on
III October 28, 1981 (in SCRA).
2. his conviction for estafa per Decision dated June 30, 1994 in Crim. Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati, The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows:
MM (see attached copy of the Order dated February 14, 1995 denying the motion for reconsideration of
On the first issue, Complainant has shown "respondent's non-indication of the proper IBP O.R. and PTR
the conviction which is purportedly on appeal in the Court of Appeals).
numbers in his pleadings (Annexes "A", "B" and "C" of the letter complaint, more particularly his use of "IBP
Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated December 1, 1995, November 13, 1996, and January Rizal 259060 for at least three years."
17, 1997 referred to by complainant, bearing, at the end thereof, what appears to be respondent's signature above
The records also show a "Certification dated March 24, 1997 from IBP Rizal Chapter President Ida R.
his name, address and the receipt number "IBP Rizal 259060."1 Also attached was a copy of the order,2 dated
Makahinud Javier that respondent's last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991."
February 14, 1995, issued by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makati, denying
respondent's motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal Case No. 11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 While these allegations are neither denied nor categorically admitted by respondent, he has invoked and
of the Revised Penal Code. cited that "being a Senior Citizen since 1992, he is legally exempt under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7432
which took effect in 1992 in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an example.
On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification3 dated March 18, 1997, by the then president of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R. Macalinao-Javier, that respondent's "last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991. xxx xxx xxx
Since then he has not paid or remitted any amount to cover his membership fees up to the present."
The above cited provision of law is not applicable in the present case. In fact, respondent admitted that
On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the complaint within ten days from receipt of notice, after he is still in the practice of law when he alleged that the "undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it
which the case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation. In his comment- clear per his Income tax Return up to the present time that he had only a limited practice of law." (par. 4
memorandum4 dated June 3, 1998, respondent alleged:5 of Respondent's Memorandum).
3. That with respect to the complainant's absurd claim that for using in 1995, 1996 and 1997 the same O.R. Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his yearly dues to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP, respondent is automatically no longer a member in good standing.
On the second issue, complainant claims that respondent has misled the court about his standing in the
Precisely, as cited under the context of Rule 138, only an admitted member of the bar who is in good IBP by using the same IBP O.R. number in his pleadings of at least six years and therefore liable for his
standing is entitled to practice law. actions. Respondent in his memorandum did not discuss this issue.
The complainant's basis in claiming that the undersigned was no longer in good standing, were as above First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has engaged in law practice without having paid his IBP dues.
cited, the October 28, 1981 Supreme Court decision of dismissal and the February 14, 1995 conviction for He likewise admits that, as appearing in the pleadings submitted by complainant to this Court, he indicated "IBP-
Violation of Article 316 RPC, concealment of encumbrances. Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in court, at least for the years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus misrepresenting that
such was his IBP chapter membership and receipt number for the years in which those pleadings were filed. He
As above pointed out also, the Supreme Court dismissal decision was set aside and reversed and
claims, however, that he is only engaged in a "limited" practice and that he believes in good faith that he is exempt
respondent was even promoted from City Judge of Pasay City to Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Br.
from the payment of taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, §4 as a senior citizen since 1992.
150.
Rule 139-A provides:
Also as pointed out, the February 14, 1995 decision in Crim. Case No. 11787 was appealed to the Court of
Appeals and is still pending. Sec. 9. Membership dues. — Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such annual dues as the Board
of Governors shall determine with the approval of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum equivalent to ten
Complainant need not even file this complaint if indeed the decision of dismissal as a Judge was never
percent (10%) of the collections from each Chapter shall be set aside as a Welfare Fund for disabled
set aside and reversed, and also had the decision of conviction for a light felony, been affirmed by the
members of the Chapter and the compulsory heirs of deceased members thereof.
Court of Appeals. Undersigned himself would surrender his right or privilege to practice law.
Sec. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues. — Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the
4. That complainant capitalizes on the fact that respondent had been delinquent in his dues.
payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar, and
Undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income Tax Return, up to the present, that he default in such payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of the delinquent
had only a limited practice of law. In fact, in his Income Tax Return, his principal occupation is a farmer of member from the Roll of Attorneys.
which he is. His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple farm is located at Calauan, Laguna.
In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage in the practice of law only by paying his dues, and it
Moreover, and more than anything else, respondent being a Senior Citizen since 1992, is legally exempt does not matter that his practice is "limited." While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, §4 grants senior citizens "exemption
under Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432 which took effect in 1992, in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an from the payment of individual income taxes: provided, that their annual taxable income does not exceed the
example. Being thus exempt, he honestly believe in view of his detachment from a total practice of law, poverty level as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for that year," the
but only in a limited practice, the subsequent payment by him of dues with the Integrated Bar is covered exemption does not include payment of membership or association dues.
by such exemption. In fact, he never exercised his rights as an IBP member to vote and be voted upon.
Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings and thereby misrepresenting to the public and the courts
Nonetheless, if despite such honest belief of being covered by the exemption and if only to show that he that he had paid his IBP dues to the Rizal Chapter, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional
never in any manner wilfully and deliberately failed and refused compliance with such dues, he is willing Responsibility which provides:
at any time to fulfill and pay all past dues even with interests, charges and surcharges and penalties. He is
Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
ready to tender such fulfillment or payment, not for allegedly saving his skin as again irrelevantly and
frustratingly insinuated for vindictive purposes by the complainant, but as an honest act of accepting CANON 7 — A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
reality if indeed it is reality for him to pay such dues despite his candor and honest belief in all food faith, PROFESSION, AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
to the contrary.
CANON 10 — A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT.
On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a resolution6 adopting and approving the report and
Rule 10.01 — A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any court; nor shall he
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner which found respondent guilty, and recommended his
mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
suspension from the practice of law for three months and until he pays his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a
reconsideration of the decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a resolution,7 dated April 22, 1999. Hence, pursuant Respondent's failure to pay his IBP dues and his misrepresentation in the pleadings he filed in court indeed merit the
to Rule 139-B, §12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case is here for final action on the decision of the IBP ordering most severe penalty. However, in view of respondent's advanced age, his express willingness to pay his dues and
respondent's suspension for three months. plea for a more temperate application of the law,8 we believe the penalty of one year suspension from the
practice of law or until he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later, is appropriate.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until marriage and introduced me to his family, friends and relatives as his wife, for a bad motive that
he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later. Let a copy of this decision be attached to Atty. Llamas' personal record is he wanted me to withdraw my complaint against him with the Supreme Court.
in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Attached to Complainant's Petition for Disbarment, as Annex "F," is an undated and unsigned letter addressed to
and to all courts in the land.1âwphi1.nêt
Complainant, allegedly written by Respondent after he had already taken his Oath stating, among others, that
SO ORDERED. while he was grateful for Complainant's help, he "could not force myself to be yours," did not love her anymore and
considered her only a friend. Their marriage contract was actually void for failure to comply with the requisites of
Article 76 of the Civil Code, among them the minimum cohabitation for five (5) years before the celebration of the
A.C. No. 2505 February 21, 1992 marriage, an affidavit to that effect by the solemnizing officer, and that the parties must be at least twenty-one (21)
years of age, which they were not as they were both only twenty years old at the time. He advised Complainant
EVANGELINE LEDA, complainant,
not to do anything more so as not to put her family name "in shame." As for him, he had "attain(ed) my goal as a
vs.
full-pledge (sic) professional and there is nothing you can do for it to take away from me even (sic) you go to any
ATTY. TREBONIAN TABANG, respondent.
court."According to Complainant, although the letter was unsigned, Respondent's initials appear on the upper left-
PER CURIAM: hand corner of the airmail envelope (Exh. "8-A-1").
Complainant, Evangeline Leda, squarely puts in issue respondent Atty. Trebonian Tabang's good moral character, in Respondent denied emphatically that he had sent such a letter contending that it is Complainant who has been
two Complaints she had filed against him, one docketed as Bar Matter No. 78 instituted on 6 January 1982, and the indulging in fantasy and fabrications.
present Administrative Case No. 2505, which is a Petition for Disbarment, filed on 14 February 1983.
In his Comment in the present case, Respondent avers that he and Complainant had covenanted not to disclose
It appears that on 3 October 1976, Respondent and Complainant contracted marriage at Tigbauan, Iloilo. The the marriage not because he wanted to finish his studies and take the Bar first but for the reason that said marriage
marriage, solemnized by Judge Jose T. Tavarro of Tigbauan, was performed under Article 76 of the Civil was void from the beginning in the absence of the requisites of Article 76 of the Civil Code that the contracting
Code1 as one of exceptional character (Annex "A", Petition). parties shall have lived together as husband and wife for at least five (5) years before the date of the marriage and
that said parties shall state the same in an affidavit before any person authorized by law to administer oaths. He
The parties agreed to keep the fact of marriage a secret until after Respondent had finished his law studies (began
could not have abandoned Complainant because they had never lived together as husband and wife. When he
in l977), and had taken the Bar examinations (in 1981), allegedly to ensure a stable future for
applied for the 1981 Bar examinations, he honestly believed that in the eyes of the law, he was single.
them. Complainantadmits, though, that they had not lived together as husband and wife (Letter-Complaint, 6
January 1982). On 7 May 1984, the Court referred the Complaint to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and
recommendation. On 5 March 1990, the Solicitor General submitted his Report, with the recommendation that
Respondent finished his law studies in 1981 and thereafter applied to take the Bar. In his application, he declared
Respondent be exonerated from the charges against him since Complainant failed to attend the hearings and to
that he was "single." He then passed the examinations but Complainant blocked him from taking his Oath by
substantiate her charges but that he be reprimanded for making inconsistent and conflicting statements in the
instituting Bar Matter No. 78, claiming that Respondent had acted fraudulently in filling out his application and, thus,
various pleadings he had filed before this Court.
was unworthy to take the lawyer's Oath for lack of good moral character. Complainant also alleged that after
Respondent's law studies, he became aloof and "abandoned" her (Petition, par. 5). On 26 March 1990, the Court referred the Solicitor General's Report to the Bar Confidant for evaluation, report and
recommendation. In an undated Report, the latter recommended the indefinite suspension of Respondent until the
The Court deferred Respondent's Oath-taking and required him to answer the Complaint.
status of his marriage is settled.
Respondent filed his "Explanation," dated 26 May 1982 which was received on 7 June 1982. Said "Explanation"
Upon the facts on Record even without testimonial evidence from Complainant, we find Respondent's lack of good
carries Complainant's conformity (Records, p. 6). Therein, he admitted that he was "legally married" to Complainant
moral character sufficiently established.
on 3 October 1976 but that the marriage "was not as yet made and declared public" so that he could proceed with
his law studies and until after he could take the Bar examinations "in order to keep stable our future." He also Firstly, his declaration in his application for Admission to the 1981 Bar Examinations that he was "single" was a gross
admitted having indicated that he was "single" in his application to take the Bar "for reason that to my honest belief, misrepresentation of a material fact made in utter bad faith, for which he should be made answerable. Rule
I have still to declare my status as single since my marriage with the complainant was not as yet made and 7.01, Canon 7, Chapter II of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides: "A lawyer shall be answerable
declared public." He further averred that he and Complainant had reconciled as shown by her conformity to the for knowingly making a false statement or suppression of a material fact in connection with his application for
"Explanation," for which reason he prayed that the Complaint be dismissed. admission to the bar." That false statement, if it had been known, would have disqualified him outrightfrom taking
the Bar Examinations as it indubitably exhibits lack of good moral character.
Respondent also filed a Motion to Dismiss, dated 2 June 1982. Attached to it was Complainant's Affidavit of
Desistance, which stated that Bar Matter No. 78 arose out of a misunderstanding and communication gap and that Respondent's protestations that he had acted in good faith in declaring his status as "single" not only because of his
she was refraining from pursuing her Complaint against Respondent. pact with Complainant to keep the marriage under wraps but also because that marriage to the Complainant was
void from the beginning, are mere afterthoughts absolutely wanting of merit. Respondent can not assume that his
Acting on the aforesaid Motion and Comment, the Court dismissed Bar Matter No. 78 and allowed Respondent to
marriage to Complainant is void. The presumption is that all the requisites and conditions of a marriage of an
take his Oath in a Resolution dated 20 August 1982.
exceptional character under Article 76 of the Civil Code have been met and that the Judge's official duty in
On 14 February 1983, however, Complainant filed this Administrative Case, this time praying for Respondent's connection therewith has been regularly performed.
disbarment based on the following grounds:
Secondly, Respondent's conduct in adopting conflicting positions in the various pleadings submitted in Bar Matter
a. For having made use of his legal knowledge to contract an invalid marriage with me No. 78 and in the case at bar is duplicitous and deplorable.
assuming that our marriage is not valid, and making a mockery of our marriage institution.
The records show that in Bar Matter No. 78, Respondent had submitted an "Explanation," in paragraph 1, page 1 of
b. For having misrepresented himself as single when in truth he is already married in his which he admits having been "legally married" to Complainant. Yet, during the hearings before the Solicitor
application to take the bar exam. General, he denied under oath that he had submitted any such pleading (t.s.n., p. 21) contending instead that it is
only the second page where his signature appears that he meant to admit and not the averments on the first page
c. For being not of good moral character contrary to the certification he submitted to the
which were merely of Complainant's own making (ibid., pp. 59-60). However, in his Comment in this Administrative
Supreme Court;
Case, he admits and makes reference to such "Explanation" (pars. 3[f]) and [g]; 4[b]).
d. For (sic) guilty of deception for the reason that he deceived me into signing of the affidavit
ofdesistance and the conformity to his explanation and later on the comment to his motion to
dismiss, when in truth and in fact he is not sincere, for he only befriended me to resume our
Again, while in said "Explanation" he admitted having been "legally married" to Complainant (par. 1), in this case, news item in full:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
however, he denies the legality of the marriage and, instead, harps on its being void ab initio. He even denies his
signature in the marriage contract. "Leakage in some subjects in the recent bar examinations were denounced by some of the law graduates who
took part in the tests, to the Star Reporter this morning.
In Bar Matter No. 78, Respondent also averred that the fact of marriage was not to be made public so as to allow
him to finish his studies and take the Bar. In this case, however, he contends that the reason it was kept a secret was
"These examinees claim to have seen mimeograph copies of the questions in one subject, days before the tests
because it was "not in order from the beginning."
were given, in the Philippine Normal School.
Thirdly, Respondent denies that he had sent the unsigned letter (Annex "F," Petition) to Complainant. However, its
very tenor coincides with the reasons that he advances in his Comment why the marriage is void from the "Only students of one private university in Sampaloc had those mimeographed questions on said subject fully one
beginning, that is, for failure to comply with the requisites of Article 76 of the Civil Code. week before the tests.
Fourthly, the factual scenario gathered from the records shows that Respondent had reconciled with Complainant
"The students who made the denunciation to the Star Reporter claim that the tests actually given were similar in
and admitted the marriage to put a quick finish to Bar Matter No. 78 to enable him to take the lawyer's Oath, which
every respect to those they had seen students of this private university holding proudly around the city.
otherwise he would have been unable to do. But after he had done so and had become a "full-pledge (sic)
lawyer," he again refused to honor his marriage to Complainant.
"The students who claim to have seen the tests which leaked are demanding that the Supreme Court institute an
Respondent's lack of good moral character is only too evident. He has resorted to conflicting submissions before immediate probe into the matter, to find out the source of the leakage, and annul the test papers of the students of
this Court to suit himself. He has also engaged in devious tactics with Complainant in order to serve his purpose. Inso the particular university possessed of those tests before the examinations.
doing, he has violated Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer owes
candor, fairness and good faith to the court" as well as Rule 1001 thereof which states that "a lawyer should do no "The discovery of the alleged leakage in the tests of the bar examinations came close on the heels of the
falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any revelations in the Philippine Collegian, official organ of the student body of the University of the Philippines, on
artifice." Courts are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and recent government tests wherein the questions had come into the possession of nearly all the graduates of some
pleading before them (Chavez v. Viola, Adm. Case No. 2152, 19 April 1991, 196 SCRA 10). Respondent, through his private technical schools."cralaw virtua1aw library
actuations, has been lacking in the candor required of him not only as a member of the Bar but also as an officer of
the Court. To the publication, evidently, the attention of the Supreme Court must have been called, and Mr. Justice Padilla,
who had previously been designated Chairman of the Committee of Bar Examiners for this year, by authority of the
It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent
Court, instructed Mr. Jose de la Cruz as Commissioner with the assistance of Mr. E. Soriano, Clerk of Court to cite Mr.
toadmission to the practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of
Parazo for questioning and investigation. In this connection, and for purposes of showing the interest of the Supreme
law(People v. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As so aptly put by Mr.
Court in the news item and its implications, it may here be stated that this Court is and for many years has been, in
Justice GeorgeA. Malcolm: "As good character is an essential qualification for admission of an attorney to
charge of the Bar Examinations held every year, including that of this year, held in August, 1948. Section 13, Article
practice, when the attorney's character is bad in such respects as to show that he is unsafe and unfit to be
VIII of the Constitution of the Philippines authorizes this Court to promulgate rules concerning admission to the
entrusted with the powers ofan attorney, the courts retain the power to discipline him (Piatt v. Abordo, 58 Phil. 350
practice of law, and pursuant to that authority, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court was promulgated, under which rule,
[1933]).
this Court conducts the Bar Examinations yearly, appoints a Committee of Bar Examiners to be presided by one of
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Trebonian C. Tabang grossly unfit and unworthy to continue to be entrusted with the Justices, to serve for one year, acts on the report of the committee and finally, admits to the Bar and to the
the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of practice of law, the candidates and examinees who have passed the examinations.
law until further Orders, the suspension to take effect immediately.
The investigation of Mr. Parazo was conducted on September 18, 1948, on which occasion he testified under oath
Copies of this Decision shall be entered in his personal record as an attorney and served on the Integrated Bar of
and, answering questions directed to him by Messrs. Cruz and Soriano admitted that he was the author of the news
the Philippines and the Court Administrator who shall circulate the same to all Courts in the country for their
item; that he wrote up the story and had it published, in good faith and in a spirit of public service; and that he
information and guidance.
knew the persons who gave him the information which formed the basis of his publication but that he declined to
SO ORDERED. reveal their names because the information was given to him in confidence and his informants did not wish to have
their identities revealed. The investigators informed Parazo that this was a serious matter involving the confidence of
the public in the regularity and cleanliness of the Bar Examinations and also in the Supreme Court which conducted
[G.R. No. 120348. December 3, 1948.] said examinations, and repeatedly appealed to his civic spirit and sense of public service, pleading with and urging
him to reveal the names of his informants so that the Supreme Court may be in a position to start and conduct the
In re Investigation of ANGEL J. PARAZO for alleged leakage of questions in some subjects in the 1948 Bar necessary investigation in order to verify their charge and complaint and take action against the party or parties
Examinations. responsible for the alleged irregularity and anomaly, if found true, but Parazo consistently refused to make the
revelation.
Felixberto M. Serrano for Respondent.
In the meantime, the writer of this opinion who was appointed to the Supreme Court as associate Justice in the
Enrique M. Fernando and Francisco A. Rodrigo, Abelardo Subido, and Arturo A. Alafriz (for the Philippine Lawyers’ latter part of August, 1948, was designated to succeed Mr. Justice Padilla as Chairman of the Committee of Bar
Association) as amici curiæ. Examiners when the said Justice was appointed Secretary of Justice. The writer of this opinion was furnished a copy
of the transcript of the investigation conducted on September 18, 1948, and he made a report thereof to the Court
DECISION in banc, resulting in the issuance of the resolution of this Court dated October 7, 1948, which reads as
MONTEMAYOR, J.: follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

The present case had its origin in a story or news item prepared and written by the defendant, Angel J. Parazo, a "In relation with the news item that appeared in the front page of the Star Reporter, issue of September 14, 1948,
duly accredited reporter of the Star Reporter, a local daily of general circulation, that appeared on the front page regarding alleged leakage in some bar examination questions, which examinations were held in August 1948, Mr.
of the issue of September 14, 1948. The story was preceded by the headline in large letters — "CLAIM ’LEAK’ IN LAST Jose de la Cruz, as Commissioner, and Mr. E. Soriano, as Clerk of Court, were authorized by Mr. Justice Sabino
BAR TESTS," followed by another in slightly smaller letters — "Applicants In Uproar, Want Anomaly Probed; One School Padilla then chairman of the committee of bar examiners to conduct an investigation thereof, particularly to
Favored," under the name — "By Angel J. Parazo of the Star Reporter Staff." For purposes of reference we quote the receive the testimony of Mr. Angel J. Parazo, the reporter responsible for and author of said news item. An
investigation was conducted on September 18, 1948; stenographic notes were taken of the testimony of Mr. Parazo,
and Mr. Justice Marceliano R. Montemayor, the new chairman of the committee of bar examiners, has submitted When the bill as amended was recommended for approval on second reading, Senator Sotto, the author of the
the transcript of said notes for the consideration of this Court. original bill proposed an amendment by eliminating the clause added by the committee — "unless the court finds
that such revelation is demanded by the public interest," claiming that said clause would kill the purpose of the bill.
"From the record of said investigation, it is clear that Mr. Parazo has deliberately and consistently declined and This amendment of Senator Sotto was discussed. Various Senators objected to the elimination of the clause already
refused to reveal the identity of the persons supposed to have given him the data and information on which his referred to on the ground that without such exception and by giving complete immunity to editors, reporters, etc.,
news item was based, despite the repeated appeals made to his civic spirit, and for his cooperation, in order to many abuses may be committed. Senator Cuenco, Committee chairman, in advocating the disapproval of the
enable this Court to conduct a thorough investigation of the alleged bar examination anomaly, Resolved, to Sotto amendment, and in defending the exception embodied in the amendment introduced by the Committee,
authorize Mr. Justice Montemayor to cite Mr. Parazo before him, explain to him that the interests of the State consisting in the clause: "unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the public interest," said that the
demand and so this Court requires that he reveal the source or sources of his information and of his news item, and Committee could not accept the Sotto amendment because there may be cases, perhaps few, in which the
to warn him that his refusal to make the revelation demanded will be regarded as contempt of court and penalized interest of the public or the interest of the state requires that the names of the informants be published or known. He
accordingly. Mr. Justice Montemayor will advise the Court of the result."cralaw virtua1aw library gave as one example a case of a newspaperman publishing information referring to a theft of the plans of forts or
fortifications. He argued that if the immunity accorded a newspaperman should be absolute, as sought by the
Acting upon this resolution, the writer of this opinion cited Mr. Parazo to appear before him on October 13, 1948. He Sotto amendment, the author of the theft might go scott-free. When the Sotto amendment was put to a vote, it was
appeared on the date set and it was clearly explained to him that the interest of the State demands and this court disapproved. Finally, Senator Sotto proposed another amendment by changing the phrase "public interest" at the
requires that he reveal the source or sources of his information and of his news item; that this was a very serious end of section 1 as amended by the Committee be changed to and substituted by the phrase "interest of the
matter involving the confidence of the people in general and the law practitioners and bar examinees in particular, state," claiming that the phrase public interest was too elastic. Without much discussion this last amendment was
in the regularity and cleanliness of the bar examinations; that it also involves the good name and reputation of the approved, and this phrase is now found in the Act as finally approved.
bar examiners who were appointed by this Court to prepare the bar examinations questions and later pass upon
and correct the examination papers; and last but not least, it also involves and is bound to affect the confidence of In view of the contention now advanced, that the phrase "interest of the state" is confined to cases involving the
the whole country in the very Supreme Court which is conducting the bar examinations. It was further explained to "security of the state" or "public safety," one might wonder or speculate on why the last amendment proposed by
him that the Supreme Court is keenly interested in investigating the alleged anomaly and leakage of the Senator Sotto, changing the phrase "public interest" to "interest of the state," was approved without much
examination questions and is determined to punish the party or parties responsible therefor but that without his help, discussion. But we notice from the records of the deliberations on and discussion of the bill in the Senate that the
specially the identities of the persons who furnished him the information and who could give the court the necessary phrase "public interest" was used interchangeably by some Senators with the phrase "interest of the state." For
data and evidence, the Court could not even begin the investigation because there would be no basis from which instance, although the bill, as amended by the Committee presided by Senator Cuenco, used the words "public
to start, not even a clue from which to formulate a theory. Lastly, Parazo was told that under the law he could be interest," when Senator Cuenco sponsored the bill before the Senate he used in his speech or remarks the phrase
punished if he refused to make the revelation, punishment which may even involve imprisonment. "interest of the state" (interes del Estado). Again, although the bill, as sponsored by the Cuenco Committee and
discussed by the Senate, used the words "public interest," Senator Sebastian referred to the exception by using the
Because of the seriousness of the matter, Parazo was advised to think it over and consider the consequences, and if phrase "interest of the state." This understanding of at least two of the Senators, who took part in the discussion,
he need time within which to do this and so that he might even consult the editor and publisher of his paper, the about the similarity or interchangeability of the two phrases "public interest" and "interest of the state," may account
Star Reporter, he could be given an extension of time, and at his request, the investigation was postponed to for the readiness or lack of objection on the part of the Senate, after it had rejected the first Sotto amendment, to
October 15, 1948. On that date he appeared, accompanied by his counsel, Atty. Felixberto M. Serrano. The writer accept the second Sotto amendment, changing the phrase "public interest" to "interest of the state."cralaw
of this opinion in the presence of his counsel, several newspapermen, Clerk of Court Soriano, Deputy Clerk of Court virtua1aw library
Cruz, and Mr. Chanliongco made a formal demand on Mr. Parazo to reveal the identities of his informants, under
In referring to a case wherein the security of the state or public safety was involved, such as the theft of the plans of
oath, but he declined and refused to make the revelation. At the request of his counsel, that before this Court take
fortifications, Senator Cuenco was obviously giving it only as an example of what he meant by "interest of the state;"
action upon his refusal to reveal, he be accorded a hearing, with the consent of the Court first obtained, a public
it was not meant to be the only case or example. We do not propose to define or fix the limits or scope of the
hearing was held on the same day, October 15, 1948 in the course of which, Attorney Serrano extensively and ably
phrase "interest of the state;" but we can say that the phrase "interest of the state" can not be confined and limited
argued the case of his client, invoking the benefits of Republic Act No. 53, the first section of which reads as follows:
to the "security of the state" or to "public safety" alone. These synonymous phrases, — "security of the state" and
"public safety," — are not uncommon terms and we can well presume that the legislators were familiar with them.
"SECTION 1. The publisher, editor or duly accredited reporter of any newspaper, magazine or periodical of general
The phrase "public safety," is used in Article III, section 1(5) of the Constitution of the Philippines, where it says that
circulation cannot be compelled to reveal the source of any news-report or information appearing in said
"the privacy of communications and correspondence shall be inviolable except upon lawful order of the court or
publication which was related in confidence to such publisher, editor or reporter, unless the court or a House or
when public safety and order require otherwise;" and Article VII, section 10(2) of the same Constitution provides that
committee of Congress finds that such revelation is demanded by the interest of the state."cralaw virtua1aw library
the President may suspend the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus, in case of invasion, insurrection, etc., when
the public safety requires it.
This Court has given this case prolonged, careful and mature consideration, involving as it does interesting and
important points of law as well as questions of national importance. Counsel contends that the phrase "interest of
The phrase "national security" is used at the beginning of Book II of the Revised Penal Code, thus: Title I, — Crimes
the state" found at the end of section 1 of Republic Act No. 53 means and refers only to the security of the state,
against National Security and the law of Nations, Chapter I, — Crimes against National Security. Then, more
that is to say — that only when national security or public safety is involved, may this Court compel the defendant to
recently, the phrase "national security" was used in section 2, and the phrase "public security" was equally used in
reveal the source or sources of his news report or information. We confess that it was not easy to decide this legal
section 19, of Commonwealth Act No. 682 creating the People’s Court, promulgated on September 25, 1945. If, as
question on which the conviction or acquittal of Parazo hinges. As a matter of fact, the vote of the Justices is not
contended, the Philippine Congress, particularly the Philippine Senate, had meant to limit the exception to the
unanimous.
immunity of newspapermen only to cases where the "security of the state," i.e., "national security" is involved, it
could easily and readily have used such phrase or any one of similar phrases like "public safety," "national security,"
In an effort to determine the intent of the Legislature that passed Republic Act No. 53, particularly the Senate where
or "public security" of which it must have been familiar. Since it did not do so, there is valid reason to believe that
it originated, we examined the record of the proceedings in said legislative body when this Act, then Senate Bill No.
that was not in the mind and intent of the legislators, and that, in using the phrase "interest of the state," it extended
6 was being discussed. We gathered from the said record that the original bill prepared by Senator Sotto provided
the scope and the limits of the exception when a newspaperman or reporter may be compelled to reveal the
that the immunity to be accorded a publisher, editor, or reporter of any newspaper was absolute and that under no
sources of his information.
circumstance could he be compelled to reveal the source of his information or news report. The committee,
however, under the chairmanship of Senator Cuenco inserted an amendment or change, by adding to the end of
The phrase "interest of the state" is quite broad and extensive. It is of course more general and broader than
section 1 of the clause "unless the court finds that such revelation is demanded by the public interest."cralaw
"security of the state." Although not as broad and comprehensive as "public interest" which may include most
virtua1aw library
anything though of minor importance, but affecting the public, such as for instance, the establishment and confidence of the people in this High Tribunal, which public confidence, the members of this Court like to think and
maintenance of barrio roads, electric light and ice plants, parks, markets, etc., the phrase "interest of the state" believe, it still enjoys, might be affected and shaken. All these considerations of vital importance, in our opinion, can
even under a conservative interpretation, may and does include cases and matters of national importance in and will sufficiently cause the present case to fall and be included within the meaning of the phrase "interest of the
which the whole state and nation, not only a branch or instrumentality thereof such as a province, city or town, or a state," involving as it does, not only the interests of students and graduates of the law schools and colleges, and of
part of the public, is interested or would be affected, such as the principal functions of Government like the entire legal profession of this country as well as the good name and reputation of the members of the
administration of justice, public school system, and such matters like social justice, scientific research, practice of Commitee of Bar Examiners, including the employees of the Supreme Court having charge of and connection with
law or of medicine, impeachment of high Government officials, treaties with other nations, integrity of the three said examinations, but also the highest Tribunal of the land itself which represents one of the three coordinate and
coordinate branches of the Government, their relations to each other, and the discharge of their functions, etc. independent branches or departments of the Philippine Government.

We are satisfied that the present case easily comes under the phrase "interest of the state." Under constitutional In support of if not in addition to the power granted by section 1 of Republic Act No. 53 to this Court, we have the
provision, Article VIII, section 13, Constitution of the Philippines, the Supreme Court takes charge of the admission of inherent power of courts in general, specially of the Supreme Court as representative of the Judicial Department, to
members to the Philippine Bar By its Rules of Court, it has prescribed the qualifications of the candidates to the Bar adopt proper and adequate measures to preserve their integrity, and render possible and facilitate the exercise of
Examinations, and it has equally prescribed the subjects of the said Bar Examinations. Every year, the Supreme Court their functions, including, as in the present case, the investigation of charges of error, abuse or misconduct of their
appoints the Bar examiners who prepare the questions, then correct the examination papers submitted by the officials and subordinates, including lawyers, who are officers of the Court. (Province of Tarlac v. Gale, 26 Phil., 350;
examinees, and later make their report to the Supreme Court. Only those Bar Examination candidates who are 21 C.J.S. 41, 138.) As we have previously stated, the revelation demanded of the respondent, of the identity of his
found to have obtained a passing grade are admitted to the Bar and licensed to practice law. There are now informants, is essential and necessary to the investigation of the charge contained in the publication already
thousands of members of the Philippine Bar, scattered all over the Philippines, practising law or occupying important mentioned.
Government posts requiring membership in the Bar as a prerequisite, and every year, quite a number, sometimes
several hundreds, are added to the legal fold. The Supreme Court and the Philippine Bar have always tried to It will be noticed from Parazo’s news item as quoted in the first part of this decision, that, his informants, law
maintain a high standard for the legal profession, both in academic preparation and legal training, as well as in graduates and bar examinees, were denouncing the supposed anomaly — consisting of the alleged leakage of
honesty and fair dealing. The Court and the licensed lawyers themselves are vitally interested in keeping this high the Bar Examination questions — to the Supreme Court for due investigation. If those persons really meant and
standard; and one of the ways of achieving this end is to admit to the practice of this noble profession only those intended to make a bona fide and effective denunciation, with expectation of results, the right place to air their
persons who are known to be honest, possess good moral character, and show proficiency in and knowledge of grievance was the Supreme Court itself, not a newspaper; and if they truly wanted an investigation, they should
the law by the standard set by this Court by passing the Bar Examinations honestly and in the regular and usual have come forward and furnished or stood ready to furnish the facts on which to base and from which to start an
manner. It is of public knowledge that perhaps by general inclination or the conditions obtaining in this country, or investigation, instead of concealing themselves behind the curtain of press immunity.
the great demand for the services of licensed lawyers, law as compared to other professions, is the most popular in
these islands. The predominantly greater number of members of the Bar, schools and colleges of law as compared Examining the news item in question, it is therein claimed and assured that Bar Examination questions in at least one
to those of other learned professions, attest to this fact. And one important thing to bear in mind is that the subject had been obtained and used by bar examinees coming from a certain university, one week before the
Judiciary, from the Supreme Court down to the Justice of the Peace Courts, provincial fiscalships and other examinations were actually held. Parazo in his statements and answers during the investigation said that
prosecuting attorneys, and the legal departments of the Government, draw exclusively from the Bar to fill their examination questions in several subjects were involved in the anomaly. But no copy or copies of said examination
positions. Consequently, any charge or insinuation of anomaly in the conduct of Bar Examinations, of necessity is questions were furnished us. No one is willing to testify that he actually saw said alleged copies of examination
imbued with wide and general interest and national importance. questions; that they were actually and carefully compared with the legitimate examination questions given out on
the day of the examination and found to be identical; no one is ready and willing to reveal the identity of the
If it is true that Bar Examination questions, for some reason or another, find their way out and get into the hands of persons or bar examinees said to have been seen with the said Bar Examination questions, although they as well as
Bar examinees before the examinations are actually given, and as a result thereof some examinees succeed in the university where they came from, was known; and even the law subjects to which the questions pertained are
illegally and improperly obtaining passing grades and are later admitted to the Bar and to the practice of law, not disclosed; and, lastly, we are not allowed to know even the identity of respondent Parazo’s informants who
when otherwise they should not be, then the present members of the legal profession would have reason to resent claim to have seen all these things.
and be alarmed; and if this is continued it would not be long before the legal profession will have fallen into
disrepute. The public would naturally lose confidence in the lawyers, specially in the new ones, because a person In this connection it may be stated that in the last Bar Examinations held in August, 1948, approximately nine
contemplating to go to court to seek redress or to defend himself before it would not know whether a particular hundred candidates took them, each candidate writing his answers in a book for each subject. There were eight
lawyer to whom he is entrusting his case has legally passed the Bar Examinations because of sufficient and subjects, each subject belonging to and corresponding to each one of the eight bar examiners. There were
adequate preparation and training, and that he is honest, or whether he was one of those who had succeeded in therefore eight sets of bar examination questions, and multiplying these eight sets of questions by nine hundred
getting hold of Bar Examination questions in advance, passed the Bar Examinations illegally, and then started his candidates, gives a total of seven thousand two hundred (7,200) examination papers involved, in the hands of
legal career with this act of dishonesty. Particularly, the Bar examinees who, by intense study and conscientious eight different examiners. The examination books or papers bear no names or identifications of their writers or
preparation, have honestly passed the Bar Examinations and are admitted to practice law, would be affected by owners and said ownership and identification will not be known until the books or papers are all corrected and
this anomaly, because they would ever be under a cloud of suspicion, since from the point of view of the public, graded. Without definite assurance based on reliable witnesses under oath that the alleged anomaly had actually
they might be among those who had made use of Bar Examination questions obtained before hand. And, been committed, - evidence on the identity of the persons in possession of the alleged copies of questions
incidentally, the morale of the hundreds of students and graduates of the different law schools, studying law and prematurely released or illegally obtained and made use of, the law subjects or subjects involved, the university
later preparing for the Bar Examinations, would be affected, even disastrously, for in them may be born the idea from which said persons come, this Court does not feel capable of or warranted in taking any step, such as blindly
that there is no need of much law study and preparation inasmuch as it is possible and not difficult to obtain copies and desperately revising each and every one of the 7,200 examination books with the fond but forlorn hope of
of questions before the examinations and pass them and be admitted to the Bar. finding any similarity or identity in the answers of any group of examinees and basing thereon any definite finding or
conclusion. Apart from the enormity of the task and its hopelessness, this Court may not and cannot base its findings
The cloud of suspicion would, equally, hang over the Bar examiners themselves, eight eminent lawyers who in a spirit and conclusions, especially in any serious and delicate matter as is the present, on that kind of evidence. Under
of public service and civic spirit, have consented to serve on the Committee of Examiners at the request and these circumstances, this Court, for lack of basis, data and information, is unable to conduct, nay, even start, an
designation of this Court. They would be suspected, — one or two or more of them — that through negligence, or investigation; and, unless and until the respondent herein reveals the identities of his informants, and those
connivance, or downright corruption, they have made possible the release if they have not themselves actually informants and or others with facts and reliable evidence, aid and cooperate with the Court in its endeavor to
released, before examination day, the questions they had prepared. The employees of the Supreme Court in further examine and probe into the charges contained in the news item, said charges are considered and held to
charge of the Bar Examinations, specially those who copy or mimeograph the original copies furnished by the Bar be without basis, proof or foundation.
examiners, would all be under suspicion. And, lastly, and more important still, the Supreme Court itself which has the
overall supervision and control over the examinations, would share the suspicion, as a result of which the When the Supreme Court decided to demand of the respondent herein that he reveal the names of his informants,
it was not impelled or motivated by mere idle curiosity. It truly wanted information on which to start an investigation Respondent Nicolas El. Sabandal passed the 1978 Bar Examinations but because of pending administrative
because it is vitally interested in keeping the Bar Examinations clean and above board and specially, not only to complaints filed against him, he was not allowed to take the lawyers oath. He then filed a Petition to be admitted to
protect the members of the Bar and those aspiring for membership therein and the public dealing with the the Philippine Bar and to be allowed to sign the Rollo of Attorneys. The complainants, namely, Eufrosina Y. Tan,
members thereof and the Bar Examiners who cooperate with and act as agents of this Court in preparing the Benjamin Cabigon, Cornelio Agnis and Diomedes D. Agnis, opposed the Petition on several grounds.
examination questions and correcting the examination papers, but also, as already stated, to keep the confidence
In a Resolution of this Court en banc promulgated on 29 November 1983, respondent's petition was denied, the
of the people in this High Tribunal as regards the discharge of its function relative to the admission to the practice of
Court finding, inter alia, that:
law. These, it can only do by investigating any Bar Examination anomaly, fixing responsibility and punishing those
found guilty, even annulling examinations already held, or else declaring the charges as not proven, if, as a result of ... the evidence supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. While respondent's
the investigation, it is found that there is insufficiency or lack of evidence. In demanding from the respondent that infraction may be mitigated in that he appeared for his in-laws in CAR Cases Nos. 347 and 326
he reveal the sources of his information, this Court did not intend to punish those informants or hold them liable. It where they were parties, it is clear from the proceedings in CAR Case No. 347 that he clarified
merely wanted their help and cooperation. In this Court’s endeavor to probe thoroughly the anomaly, or irregularity his position only after the opposing counsel had objected to his appearance. Besides, he
allegedly committed, it was its intention not only to adopt the necessary measures to punish the guilty parties, if the specifically manifested "Atty. Nicolas Sabandal, appearing for the defendants, Your Honor"
charges are found to be true, but also even to annul the examinations themselves, in justice to the innocent parties (Exhibit "A-l"). He called himself "attorney" knowing full well that he was not yet admitted to the
who had taken but did not pass the examinations. We say this because in every examination, whether conducted Bar. Oppositors evidence sufficiently shows that respondent had held himself out as an
by the Government or by a private institution, certain standards are unconsciously adopted on which to base the "attorney" in the agrarian, civil and criminal cases mentioned by said oppositors. Respondent
passing grade. For instance, if, as a result of the correction of many or all of the examination papers, it is found that cannot shift the blame on the stenographer, for he could have easily asked for rectification. ...
only very few have passed it, the examiner might reasonably think that the questions he gave were unduly difficult Oppositors had also presented evidence of proceedings wherein witnesses testified as to
or hard to understand, or too long, as a result of which he may be more liberal and be more lenient and make respondent's being their lawyer and their compensating him for his services (Exhibits "D-8" and
allowances. On the other hand, if too many obtain a passing grade, the examiner may think that the examination "D-9"). It may be that in the Court of a municipality, even non-lawyers may appear (Sec. 34, Rule
questions were too easy and constitute an inadequate measure of the legal knowledge and training required to be 138, Rules of Court). If respondent had so manifested, no one could have challenged him. What
a lawyer, and so he may raise his standard and become more strict in his correction of the papers and his he did, however, was to hold himself out as a lawyer, and even to write the Station Commander
appreciation of the answers. So, in a case where examinees, especially if many, succeed in getting hold of of Roxas, complaining of harassment to "our clients." when he could not but have known that he
questions long before examination day, and study and prepare the answers to those questions, it may result that could not yet engage in the practice of law. His argument that the term "client" is "dependent
when the examiner finds that many of the examinees have easily and correctly answered the questions, he may or person under the protection of another and not a person who engages in the profession" is
think that said questions were too easy, raise the standard by being strict in his correction of the papers, thereby puerile. (126 SCRA 60, at 67 & 68)
giving a grade below passing to a number of examinees who otherwise would have validly passed the
A Motion for Reconsideration of the aforesaid Resolution was filed by respondent on 23 January 1984, which was
examinations.
opposed by Complainants, who stated that the "span of time was so short to determine with sufficient definiteness
whether or not respondent has reformed;" that "the testimonials are self-serving obviously prepared by respondent
In conclusion, we find that the interest of the state in the present case demands that the respondent Angel J.
himself and had them signed by the signatories who could not refuse him." In its Resolution of 8 May 1984 the Court
Parazo reveal the source or sources of his information which formed the basis of his news item or story in the
denied reconsideration.
September 14, 1948 issue of the Star Reporter, quoted at the beginning of this decision, and that, in refusing to make
the revelation which this Court required of him, he committed contempt of Court. The respondent repeatedly On 23 May 1985 respondent filed an Ex-parte Motion for Reconsideration reiterating his prayer to be allowed to take
stated during the investigation that he knew the names and identities of the persons who furnished him the the lawyer's oath, which was again opposed by Complainants, and which was denied by the Court on 16 July 1985,
information. In other words, he omitted and still refuses to do an act commanded by this Court which is yet in his with the Court stating that no other Motions of this kind would be entertained.
power to perform. (Rule 64, section 7, Rules of Court.) Ordinarily, in such cases, he can and should be imprisoned
Undaunted, on 2 December 1985, respondent filed another Motion for Reconsideration and Appeal for Mercy and
indefinitely until he complied with the demand. However, considering that cases like the present are not common
Forgiveness, which the Court simply NOTED in its Resolution of 7 January 1986.
or frequent, in this jurisdiction, and that there is no reason and immediate necessity for imposing a heavy penalty, as
may be done in other cases where it is advisable or necessary to mete out severe penalties to meet a situation of In a letter dated 4 December 1986 respondent's children echoed his appeal to the Court to allow him to take the
an alarming number of cases of a certain offense or a crime wave, and, considering further the youthful age of the lawyer's oath, which the Court noted without action on 7 July 1987.
respondent, the majority of the members of this Court have decided to order, as it hereby orders, his immediate
On 28 June 1988, respondent filed a second Petition to be allowed to take the lawyer's oath. Complainants were
arrest and confinement in jail for a period of one (1) month, unless, before the expiration of that period he makes to
required to comment but they have not done so to date.
this Court the revelation demanded of him. So ordered.
In a letter dated 23 November 1988 addressed to the Chief Justice and Associate Justices of this Court, respondent
asks for forgiveness, understanding and benevolence and promises that, if given a chance to be a member of the
B.M. No. 44 February 10, 1989 Philippine Bar, he would always be faithful to the lawyer's oath and conduct himself in an upright manner.
EUFROSINA YAP TAN, complainant, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent. Whether or not respondent shall be admitted to the Philippine Bar rests to a great extent in the sound discretion of
the Court. An applicant must satisfy the Court that he is a person of good moral character, fit and proper to
B.M. No. 59 February 10, 1989
practice law.
BENJAMIN CABIGON, complainant, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.
In several cases wherein reinstatements to the legal profession were allowed, the following criteria were considered:
SBC No. 624 February 10, 1989 the person appreciates the insignificance of his dereliction and he has assured the Court that he now possesses the
requisite probity and integrity necessary to guarantee that he is worthy to be restored to the practice of law (Magat
CORNELIO AGNIS and DIOMEDES D. AGNIS, complainants, vs. NICOLAS EL. SABANDAL, respondent.
vs. Santiago, L-43301-45665, April 1, 1980, 97 SCRA 1); the time that has elapsed between disbarment and the
Alberto Concha for Eufrosina Yap Tan. application for reinstatement, his good conduct and honorable dealing subsequent to his disbarment, his active
involvement in civic, educational, and religious organizations (In Re: Juan T. Publico, 102 SCRA 721 [1981]); the
Nelbert Poculan for respondent.
favorable indorsement of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, as well as the local government officials and citizens
RESOLUTION of his community (In Re: Quinciano D. Vailoces, Adm. Case No. 439, September 30, 1982, 117 SCRA 1); the pleas of
his mother and wife for the sake and the future of his family (Andres vs. Cabrera, SBC-585, February 29, 1984, 127
MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
SCRA 802).
The foregoing criteria may be made applicable to respondent's case. After the lapse of ten (10) years from the time 3125-C, replacing the former real estate mortgage dated August 5, 1975, but this time the sum
respondent took and passed the 1978 Bar Examination, he has shown contrition and willingness to reform. He has indicated in said new contract of mortgage is P 10,000.00, purportedly with interest at 19% per
also submitted several testimonials, including one from the IBP Zamboanga del Norte, attesting to his good moral annum. In this new Real Estate Mortgage, a special power of attorney in favor of respondent
character and civic consciousness. was inserted, authorizing him to sell the mortgaged property at public auction in the event
complainants fail to pay their obligation on or before May 30, 1976. Without explaining the
ACCORDINGLY, respondent Nicolas El. Sabandal is hereby allowed to take the lawyer's oath, with the Court binding
provisions of the new contract to complainants, respondent insisted that complainants sign the
him to his assurance that he shall strictly abide by and adhere to the language, meaning and spirit of the Lawyer's
same, again upon the assurance that the document was a mere formality. Unsuspecting of the
Oath and the highest standards of the legal profession.
motive of respondent, complainants signed the document. Complainants Narciso Melendres
SO ORDERED. again brought the same document to a Notary Public for notarization. After the document was
notarized, he brought the same to respondent without getting a copy of it.
Complainants, relying on the assurance of the respondent that the second Real Estate
A. M. No. 2104 August 24, 1989
Mortgage was but a formality, neither bothered to ask from respondent the status of their lot nor
NARCISO MELENDREZ and ERLINDA DALMAN, complainants, tried to pay their obligation. For their failure to pay the obligation, the respondent on October
vs. 12, 1976, applied for the extrajudicial foreclosure of the second real estate mortgage (Exhibit 16,
ATTY. REYNERIO I. DECENA, respondent. Respondent's Position Paper). All the requirements of Act No. 3135, as amended, re extrajudicial
sale of mortgage were ostensibly complied with by respondent. Hence, finally, title was
PER CURIAM:
transferred to him, and on June 20, 1979, respondent sold the involved property to Trinidad
In a sworn complaint1 dated 25 September 1979, the spouses Erlinda Dalman and Narciso Melendrez charged Ylanan for P12,000.00.
Reynerio I. Decena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with malpractice and breach of trust. The complainant spouses
When informed of the above by one Salud Australlado on the first week of March 1979 (see
alleged, among others, that respondent had, by means of fraud and deceit, taken advantage of their precarious
Sworn Statement of complainant Narciso Melendres, p. 6, Folder No. 2 of case), and not having
financial situation and his knowledge of the law to their prejudice, succeeded in divesting them of their only
known the legal implications of the provisions of the second Real Estate Mortgage which they
residential lot in Pagadian City; that respondent, who was their counsel in an estafa case against one Reynaldo
had executed, complainants could not believe that title to their lot had already been
Pineda, had compromised that case without their authority.
transferred to respondent and that respondent had already sold the same to a third person.
In his answer dated 18 March 1980, respondent denied all the charges levelled against him and prayed for the
Upon learning of the sale in March, 1979, complainants tried to raise the amount of P10,000.00
dismissal of the complaint.
and went to respondent's house on May 30, 1979 to pay their obligation, hoping that they could
By resolution dated 14 April 1980, the administrative complaint was referred to the Office of the Solicitor General for redeem their property, although three years had already lapsed from the date of the
investigation, report and recommendation. mortgage.
Accordingly, the Solicitor General forthwith deputized the City Fiscal of Pagadian City, Jorge T. Almonte, to conduct Respondent did not accept the proffered P10,000.00, but instead gave complainants a sheet of
the necessary investigation, with instructions to submit thereafter this report and recommendation thereon. Fiscal paper (Annex B, Complainants' Position Paper), which indicated that the total indebtedness
Almonte held several hearings on the administrative case until 15 July 1982, when he requested the Solicitor General had soared to P20,400.00. The computation was made in respondent's own handwriting.
to release him from the duty of investigating the case. Complainants went home with shattered hopes and with grief in their hearts. Hence, the instant
competent for disbarment against respondent filed on October 5, 1979.
On 10 September 1982, the Solicitor General granted Fiscal Almonte's request and in his stead appointed the
Provincial Fiscal of Zamboanga del Sur, Pedro S. Jamero, who resumed hearings on 15 June 1983. Respondent DENIES all the allegations of complainants. He maintains that what appears on the
two documents allegedly executed by complainants, i.e., that they obtained a loan of
Respondent filed with this Court on 9 June 1987, a motion seeking to inhibit Fiscal Jamero from hearing the case
P5,000.00 on August 5, 1975 and another P10,000.00 on May 7,1976, is allegedly the truth, and
followed by an urgent motion for indefinite postponement of the investigation. Both motions were denied by the
claims that he in truth delivered the alleged amount of P5,000.00 to complainants and not
Court in a Resolution dated 21 September 1987 with instructions to the Solicitor General to complete the
P4,000.00. With respect to the second loan, respondent claims that he delivered to
investigation of the administrative case and to render his report and recommendation thereon within thirty (30) days
complainants P8,000.00, plus the P2,000.00 loan previously extended [to] complainants [by] one
from notice.
Regino Villanueva, which loan had been indorsed to respondent for collection, thus making a
On 19 July 1988, the Solicitor General submitted his Report and Recommendation 2 dated 21 June 1988. In as total of P10,000.00, as appearing on said document. Respondent denies that he exacted
Report, after setting out the facts and proceedings held in the present case, the Solicitor General presented the usurious interest of 10% a month or P500.00 from complainants. He asserts that the fact that
following: complainants were able to secure a loan from the Insular Bank of Asia and America (IBAA) only
FINDINGS proves the truth of his allegation that the title of the property, at the time complainants
obtained a loan from IBAA on April 1976, was clear of any encumbrance, since complainants
Complainants allege that on August 5, 1975, they obtained from respondent a loan of P had already paid the original loan of P5,000.00 obtained from respondent; that complainants
4,000.00. This loan was secured by a real estate mortgage (Annex C, Complainants' Complaint, knew fully well all the conditions of said mortgage; and that his acquisition of the property in
p. 16, records).lâwphî1.ñèt In the said Real Estate Mortgage document, however, it was made question was in accordance with their contract and the law on the matter. Thus, he denies that
to appear that the amount borrowed by complainants was P5,000.00. Confronted by this he has violated any right of the complainants.
discrepancy, respondent assured complainants that said document was a mere formality, and
upon such assurance, complainants signed the same. The document was brought by After weighing the evidence of both complainants and respondent, we find against
complainant Narciso Melendres to a Notary Public for notarization. After the same was respondent.
notarized, he gave the document to respondent. Despite the assurance, respondent exacted While complainants are correct in their claim that they actually obtained an actual cash of
from complainants P500.00 a month as payment for what is beyond dispute usurious interest on P4,000.00, they are only partly correct in the claim that out of the P10,000.00 appearing in the
the P5,000.00 loan. Complainants religiously paid the obviously usurious interest for three months: second Real Estate Mortgage, P6,000.00 was applied to interest considering that not all the
September, October and November, 1975. Then they stopped paying due to financial reverses. P6,000.00 but only P4,000.00 was applied to interest, computed as follows: the first loan of
In view of their failure to pay said amounts as interest, respondent prepared a new document P5,000.00 was supposedly due on August 31, 1975. Complainants paid 10% monthly interest or
on May 7, 1976, a Real Estate Mortgage (Annex D, Complaint, p. 18, records) over the same lot P500.00 on September 30, 1975, October 31, 1975 and November 30, 1975. Consequently,
beginning December 31, 1975 up to May 31, 1976 (the date of the execution of the second handwriting on a sheet of paper (Annex C, Complainants' Position Paper, Folder No.
Real Estate Mortgage) a total of six (6) months lapsed. Six (6) months at P500.00 equals P 2).lâwphî1.ñèt
3,000.00, which amount plus the P2,000.00 complainants' loan to one Engr. Villanueva (indorsed
In view of all the foregoing, the observation made by the Hearing Officer is worth quoting:
to respondent for collection) totals P5,000.00. Adding this amount to the previous P5,000.00
indicated loan secured by the first mortgage results in P10,000.00, the amount appearing in the In the humble opinion of the undersigned the pivotal question with respect to this particular
second Real Estate Mortgage. Section 7, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court provides: charge is whose version is to be believed. Is it the version of the complainants or the version of
the respondent.
SEC. 7. Evidence of written agreements. — When the terms of an agreement have been
reduced to writing, it is to be considered as complaining all such terms, and, therefore, there In resolving this issue the possible motive on the part of the complainants in filing the present
can be, as between the parties and their successors in interest, no evidence of the terms of the complaint against the respondent must be carefully examined and considered. At the
agreement other than the contents of the writing, except in the following cases: beginning there was a harmonious relationship between the complainants and the respondent
so much so that respondent was even engaged as counsel of the complainants and it is but
(a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing, or its failure to express the true intent and
human nature that when respondent extended a loan to the complainants the latter would be
agreement of the parties, or the validity of the agreement is put in issue by the pleadings;
grateful to the former. However, in the case at bar, complainants filed a complaint against the
(b) Where there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing. The term "agreement" includes wills. respondent in spite of the great disparity between the status of the complainants and the
respondent. Admittedly, respondent is in a better position financially, socially and intellectually.
There is no dispute that the two documents denominated Real Estate Mortgages covering the
To the mind of the undersigned, complainants were only compelled to file the above entitled
supposed original loan of P5,000.00 and the inflated P10,000.00, respectively, were voluntarily
complaint against the respondent because they felt that they are so aggrieved of what the
signed by the complainants. The general rule is that when the parties have reduced their
respondent has done to them. It is for this reason therefore that the undersigned is inclined to
agreement to writing, it is presumed that they have made the writing the only repository and
believe the version of the complainants rather than of the respondent. In addition thereto, the
memorial of the truth, and whatever is not found in the writing must be understood to have
respondent as a lawyer could really see to it that the transaction between the complainants
been waived and abandoned.
and himself on papers appear legal and in order. Besides, there is ample evidence in the
However, the rule is not absolute as it admits of some exceptions, as aforequoted. One of the records of its case that respondent is actually engaged in lending money at least in a limited
exceptions, that is, failure to express the true intent and agreement of the parties, applies in this way and that the interest at the rate of ten per cent a month is but common among money
case. From the facts obtaining in the case, it is clear that the complainants were induced to lenders during the time of the transactions in question'
sign the Real Estate Mortgage documents by the false and fraudulent representations of
Going now into the second charge, complainants alleged that respondent, who was their
respondent that each of the successive documents was a are formality.
counsel (private prosecutor) in Criminal Case No. 734, for estafa, against accused Reynaldo
While it may be true that complainants are not at all illiterate, respondent, being a lawyer, Pineda, compromised the case with the accused without their consent and received the
should have at least explained to complainants the legal implications of the provisions of the amount of P500.00 as advance payment for the amicable settlement, without however, giving
real estate mortgage, particularly the provision appointing him as the complainants' attorney-in- to the complainants the Id amount nor informing them of said settlement and payment.
fact in the event of default in payments on the part of complainants. While it may be
Again, respondent denies the allegation and claims that the amicable settlement was with the
conceded that it is presumed that in practice the notary public apprises complainants of the
consent of complainant wife Erlinda Dalman Melendre[z].
legal implications of the contract, it is of common knowledge that most notaries public do not
go through the desired practice. Respondent at least could have informed the complainants by We are inclined to believe the version of the complainants.
sending a demand letter to them to pay their obligation as otherwise he would proceed to sell
It is admitted that complainants were not interested in putting the accused Reynaldo Pineda to
the lot at public auction as per their contract. This respondent failed to do, despite the fact that
jail but rather in merely recovering their money of P2,000.00. At this stage, relationship between
he knew fully wen that complainants were trying their best to raise money to be able to pay
complainants and respondent was not yet strained, and respondent, as counsel of the
their obligation to him, as shown by the loan obtained by complainants from the IBAA on April 8,
complainants in this case, knew that complainants were merely interested in said recovery.
1976. In this connection, it may be stated that complainants, per advice of respondent himself,
Knowing this, respondent on his own volition talked to accused and tried to settle the case
returned the proceeds of the IBAA loan to the bank immediately on April 30, 1976, considering
amicably for P2,000.00. He accepted the amount of P500.00 as advance payment, being then
that the net proceeds of the loan from said bank was only P4,300.00 and not enough to pay the
the only amount carried by the accused Pineda. A receipt was signed by both respondent and
indicated loan from respondent of P5,000.00, which per computation of respondent would
accused Pineda (Annex M, p. 34, record). However, respondent did not inform complainants
already have earned interest of P2,500.00 for five (5) months (December 1975 to April, 1976).
about this advance payment, perhaps because he was still waiting for the completion of the
Respondent claims that complainants had paid him the original loan of P5,000.00, and that this payment of P2,000.00 before turning over the whole amount to complainants.
was the reason why complainants were able to mortgage the lot to the bank free from any
At any rate, complainants saw accused Pineda give the abovementioned P500.00 to
encumbrance. This claim is incorrect. The reason why the title (T-2684) was free from any
respondent, but they were ashamed then to ask directly of respondent what the money was all
encumbrance was simply because of the fact that the first Real Estate Mortgage for the
about.
indicated loan of P5,000.00 (the actual amount was only P 4,000.00) had not been annotated
at the back of the title (see Annex B, p. 14, rec.). On June 27, 1979, barely a month after May 30, 1979, when the complainants had already lost
their trust and respect and/or confidence in respondent upon knowing what happened to their
Respondent also denies that complainants offered to him the amount of Pl0,000. 00 as payment
lot and, more so, upon respondent's refusal to accept the Pl0,000.00 offered by complainants to
of the loan, alleging that if the offer were true, he could have readily accepted the same since
redeem the same, Narciso Melendre[z] saw the accused Pineda on his way home and
he sold the lot for almost the same amount, for only P12,000.00, a difference of a few thousand
confronted him on the P500.00 that had been given to respondent. Accused then showed
pesos. Respondent's denial is spacious.
complainant Melendres the receipt (Annex M, Id.) showing that the P500.00 was an advance
Indeed, complainants made the offer, but respondent refused the same for the simple reason payment for the supposed settlement/dismissal of the case filed by complainants against him.
that the offer was made on May 30,1979, three (3) years after the execution of the mortgage on
Sensing or feeling that respondent was fooling them, complainants then filed a motion before
May 31, 1976. With its lapse of time, respondent demanded obviously the payment of the
the court which was trying the criminal case and relieved respondent as their counsel.
accumulated substantial interest for three years, as shown by his own computation in as own
The Investigating Fiscal, who heard the case and saw the demeanor of the witnesses in Respondent questions now the evidentiary value of the complainants' position paper, not having passed through
testifying, had this to say: any cross-examination and argues that the non-submission of the complainants and their witnesses to cross-
examination constitutes a denial of his right to due process.
With respect to the second charge, the fact that respondent received P500.00 from Reynaldo
Pineda is duly established. Both the complainants and the respondent agreed that the said We do not think respondent's right to confront the complainants and their witnesses against him has been violated,
amount was given to the respondent in connection with a criminal case wherein the Respondent in fact cross-examined complainant Narciso Melendrez and some of the witnesses which complainants
complainants were the private offended parties: that Reynaldo Pineda is the accused and that had presented earlier. As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the record of the proceedings shows that
the respondent is the private prosecutor of the said case. The pivotal issue in this particular respondent had all the opportunity to cross-examine the other witnesses of the complainants (those whose
charge is whether the respondent received the amount of P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda as an affidavits were attached to complainants' position paper) had he wanted to, but had forfeited such opportunity by
advance payment of an amicable settlement entered into by the complainants and the asking for numerous continuances which indicated a clear attempt on his part to delay the investigation
accused or the respondent received said amount from the accused without the knowledge proceedings. Respondent had in fact requested a total of twenty three (23) resettings during the investigation
and consent of the complainants. If it is true as alleged by the respondent that he only received proceedings: he had eight (8) under Fiscal Almonte and fifteen (15) under Fiscal Jamero. There were also instances
it for and in behalf of the complainants as advance payment of an amicable settlement why is where respondent asked for postponement and at the same time reset the hearing to a specific date of his choice
it that the same was questioned by the complainants? Why is it that it was not the complainants on which neither he nor as counsel would appear. That attitude of respondent eventually led the hearing officer to
who signed the receipt for the said amount? How come that as soon as complainants knew declare his (respondent's) right to cross-examine the complainants and their witnesses as having been waived in his
that the said amount was given to the respondent, the former filed a motion in court to relieve order of 17 December 1986. Respondent can not now claim that he had been deprived below of the opportunity
respondent as their counsel on the ground that they have lost faith and confidence on him? If it to confront the complainants and their witnesses.
is really true that complainants have knowledge and have consented to this amicable
After carefully going through the record of the proceedings as well as the evidence presented by both parties, we
settlement they should be grateful to the efforts of their private prosecutor yet the fact is that
agree with the findings and conclusions of the Solicitor General.
they resented the same and went to the extent of disqualifying the respondent as their private
prosecutor. Reynaldo Pineda himself executed an affidavit belying the claim of the The following acts of respondent:
respondent.'
1. making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate mortgage that the amount loaned to
Clearly, the complained acts as described and levelled against respondent Decena are complainants was P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00;
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals for which he may be suspended. The
2. exacting grossly unreasonable and usurious interest;
moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred may consist of misconduct in either his
professional or non- professional attitude (Royong v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859). The complained acts 3. making it appear in the second real estate mortgage of 7 May 1976 that the loan extended
of respondent imply something immoral in themselves, regardless of the fact whether they are to complainants had escalated to P10,000.00;
punishable by law. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition by statute, fixes the moral
4. failing to inform complainants of the import of the real mortgage documents and inducing
turpitude (Bartos vs. U.S. Dist. Court for District of Nebraska C.C.C. Neb] 19 F [2d] 722).
them to sign those documents with assurances that they were merely for purposes of "formality";
A parting comment.
5. failing to demand or refraining from demanding payment from complainants before
All the above is not to say that complainants themselves are faultless. effecting extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgaged property; and
Complainants should likewise be blamed for trusting the respondent too much. They did not 6. failing to inform or refraining from informing complainants that the real estate mortgage had
bother to keep a copy of the documents they executed and considering that they admitted already been foreclosed and that complainants had a right to redeem the foreclosed property
they did not understand the contents of the documents, they did not bother to have them within a certain period of time.
explained by another lawyer or by any knowledgeable person in their locality. Likewise, for a
constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar. We agree with the Solicitor
period of three years, they did not bother to ask for respondent the status of their lot and/or their
General that the acts of respondent "imply something immoral in themselves regardless of whether they are
obligation to him. Their complacency or apathy amounting almost to negligence contributed
punishable by law" and that these acts constitute moral turpitude, being "contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or
to the expedient loss of their property thru the legal manuevers employed by respondent.
good morals." The standard required from members of the Bar is not, of course, satisfied by conduct which merely
Hence, respondent's liability merits mitigation. (Emphasis supplied)
avoids collision with our criminal law. Even so, respondent's conduct, in fact, may be penalizable under at least one
and made the following recommendation: penal statute — the anti-usury law.
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that Atty. Reynerio I. Decena be suspended from The second charge against respondent relates to acts done in his professional capacity, that is, done at a time
the practice of law for a period of five (5) years. 3 when he was counsel for the complainants in a criminal case for estafa against accused Reynaldo Pineda. There
are two (2) aspects to this charge: the first is that respondent Decena effected a compromise agreement
The Office of the Solicitor General, through Fiscals Almonte and Jamero, held several hearings during the
concerning the civil liability of accused Reynaldo Pineda without the consent and approval of the complainants;
investigation of the present administrative case: City Fiscal Jorge T. Almonte was able to hold six (6) actual hearings
the second is that, having received the amount of P500.00 as an advance payment on this "settlement," he failed to
out of twenty-five (25) resettings 4 While only five (5) actual hearings, out of forty (40) resettings 5 were held under
inform complainants of that advance payment and moreover, did not turn over the P500.00 to the complainants.
Provincial Fiscal Pedro S. Jamero. In those hearings, the complainants presented a number of witnesses who, after
The facts show that respondent "settled" the estafa case amicably for P2,000.00 without the knowledge and
their direct testimony, were cross-examined by the counsel for respondent; complainant Narciso Melendrez also
consent of complainants. Respondent informed complainants of the amicable "settlement" and of the P500.00
testified and was accordingly cross-examined. Considering the long delay incurred in the investigation of the
advance payment only after petitioner Narciso Melendrez had confronted him about these matters. And
administrative case and having been pressed by the Solicitor General immediately to complete the investigation,
respondent never did turn over to complainants the P500.00. Respondent is presumed to be aware of the rule that
Fiscal Jamero posed a change of procedure, from trial type proceedings to requiring the parties to submit their
lawyers cannot "without special authority, compromise their clients' litigation or receive anything in discharge of a
respective position papers. The complainants immediately filed their position paper which consisted of their
client's claim, but the full amount in cash.6 Respondent's failure to turn over to complainants the amount given by
separate sworn statements, (that of Narciso Melendrez was in a question and answer form), their documentary
accused Pineda as partial "settlement" of the estafa case underscores his lack of honesty and candor in dealing
exhibits and an affidavit of one Jeorge G. Santos. Respondent also filed his counter-affidavit and affidavits of his
with his clients.
witnesses, with several annexes in support thereof In the healing of 28 October 1987, which had been set for the
cross examination of the complainants and their witnesses by respondent, the complainants refused to submit Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or disbarred for misconduct committed in his personal or non-
themselves to cross-examination on the ground that the order of the hearing officer dated 17 December 1986 professional capacity. Where however, misconduct outside his professional dealings becomes so patent and so
declaring respondent's right of cross examination as having been waived, had become final and executory. gross as to demonstrate moral unfitness to remain in the legal profession, the Court must suspend or strike out the
lawyer's name from the Rollo of Attorneys. 7 The nature of the office of an attorney at law requires that he shall be a that he could not give her the said amount because he used it for his political campaign as he was then running for
person of good moral character. This qualification is not only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of the position of Provincial Board Member of the 2nd District of Pampanga.
law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of
Complainant maintains that inspite of their sexual relationship and the fact that respondent kept part of the money
members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a lawyer, although not related to the discharge of professional
intended for her daughter, he still failed in his promise to give her a job. Furthermore, he did not file the case against
duties as a member of the Bar, which puts his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit to continue in the
Aquino and referred her instead to Atty. Federico S. Tolentino, Jr. ("Atty. Tolentino").
practice of law. 8
Sometime in 2002, assisted by Atty. Tolentino, complainant filed a criminal case for child abuse as well as a civil case
In the instant case, the exploitative deception exercised by respondent attorney upon the complainants in his
against Aquino. While the criminal case was dismissed, the civil case was decided on 30 August 2004 by virtue of a
private transactions with them, and the exacting of unconscionable rates of interest, considered together with the
compromise agreement.7 It was only when said cases were filed that she finally understood the import of the
acts of professional misconduct committed by respondent attorney, compel this Court to the conviction that he has
Affidavit.
lost that good moral character which is indispensable for continued membership in the Bar.
Complainant avers that respondent failed to protect her interest when he personally prepared the Affidavit and
WHEREFORE, respondent Reynerio I. Decena is hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be stricken from the Rollo of
caused her to sign the same, which obviously worked to her disadvantage. In making false promises that all her
Attorneys. Let a copy of this Resolution be FURNISHED each to the Bar Confidant and spread on the personal
problems would be solved, aggravated by his assurance that his marriage had already been annulled, respondent
records of respondent attorney, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
allegedly deceived her into yielding to his sexual desires. Taking advantage of the trust and confidence she had in
him as her counsel and paramour, her weak emotional state, and dire financial need at that time, respondent was
able to appropriate for himself money that rightfully belonged to her daughter. She argues that respondent's
A.C. No. 6313 September 7, 2006
aforementioned acts constitute a violation of his oath as a lawyer as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility
CATHERINE JOIE P. VITUG, complainant, ("Code"), particularly Rule 1.01, Rule 1.02, Rule 16.01, Rule 16.02, and Canon 7.8 Hence, she filed the instant
vs. complaint9 dated 2 February 2004.
ATTY. DIOSDADO M. RONGCAL, respondent.
Expectedly, respondent presents a different version. According to him, complainant needed a lawyer who would
DECISION file the aforementioned action for support. Complainant's former high school classmate Reinilda Bansil Morales, who
was also his fellow barangay official, referred her to him. He admits sending a demand letter to her former lover,
TINGA, J.:
Aquino, to ask support for the child.10 Subsequently, he and Aquino communicated through an emissary. He
The allegations raised in this complaint for disbarment are more sordid, if not tawdry, from the usual. As such, close learned that because of Aquino's infidelity, his relationship with his wife was strained so that in order to settle things
scrutiny of these claims is called for. Disbarment and suspension of a lawyer, being the most severe forms of the spouses were willing to give complainant a lump sum provided she would execute an affidavit to the effect that
disciplinary sanction, should be imposed with great caution and only in those cases where the misconduct of the Aquino is not the father of her daughter.
lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar is established by clear, convincing and satisfactory
Respondent relayed this proposal to complainant who asked for his advice. He then advised her to study the
proof.1
proposal thoroughly and with a practical mindset. He also explained to her the pros and cons of pursuing the case.
Under consideration is the administrative complaint for disbarment filed by Catherine Joie P. Vitug (complainant) After several days, she requested that he negotiate for an out-of-court settlement of no less than P500,000.00. When
against Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal (respondent). A classic case of "he said, she said," the parties' conflicting Aquino rejected the amount, negotiations ensued until the amount was lowered to P200,000.00. Aquino allegedly
versions of the facts as culled from the records are hereinafter presented. offered to issue four postdated checks in equal amounts within four months. Complainant disagreed. Aquino then
proposed to rediscount the checks at an interest of 4% a month or a total of P12,000.00. The resulting amount
Complainant narrates that she and respondent met sometime in December 2000 when she was looking for a lawyer
was P188,000.00.
to assist her in suing Arnulfo Aquino ("Aquino"), the biological father of her minor daughter, for support. Her former
classmate who was then a Barangay Secretary referred her to respondent. After several meetings with Complainant finally agreed to this arrangement and voluntarily signed the Affidavit that respondent prepared, the
complainant, respondent sent a demand letter2 in her behalf to Aquino wherein he asked for the continuance of same Affidavit adverted to by complainant. He denies forcing her to sign the document and strongly refutes her
the monthly child support Aquino used to give, plus no less than P300,000.00 for the surgical operation their allegation that she did not know what the Affidavit was for and that she signed it without even reading it, as he
daughter would need for her congenital heart ailment. gave her the draft before the actual payment was made. He notes that complainant is a college graduate and a
former bank employee who speaks and understands English. He likewise vehemently denies pocketing P58,000.00 of
At around this point, by complainant's own admission, she and respondent started having a sexual relationship. She
the settlement proceeds. When complainant allegedly signed the Affidavit, the emissary handed to her the sum
narrates that this twist in the events began after respondent started calling on her shortly after he had sent the
of P150,000.00 in cash and she allegedly told respondent that he could keep the remaining P38,000.00,
demand letter in her behalf. Respondent allegedly started courting her, giving her financial aid. Soon he had
not P58,000.00 as alleged in the complaint. Although she did not say why, he assumed that it was for his attorney's
progressed to making sexual advances towards complainant, to the accompaniment of sweet inducements such
fees.
as the promise of a job, financial security for her daughter, and his services as counsel for the prospective claim for
support against Aquino. Complainant acknowledges that she succumbed to these advances, assured by As regards their illicit relationship, respondent admits of his sexual liaison with complainant. He, however, denies
respondent's claim that the lawyer was free to marry her, as his own marriage had already been annulled. luring her with sweet words and empty promises. According to him, it was more of a "chemistry of (sic) two
consensual (sic) adults,"11 complainant then being in her thirties. He denies that he tricked her into believing that his
On 9 February 2001, respondent allegedly convinced complainant to sign an Affidavit of Disclaimer3 ("Affidavit")
marriage was already annulled. Strangely, respondent devotes considerable effort to demonstrate that
categorically stating that even as Aquino was denoted as the father in the birth certificate4 of her daughter, he
complainant very well knew he was married when they commenced what was to him, an extra-marital liaison. He
was, in truth, not the real father. She was not allowed to read the contents of the Affidavit, she claims. Respondent
points out that, first, they had met through his colleague, Ms. Morales, a friend and former high school classmate of
supposedly assured her that the document meant nothing, necessary as it was the only way that Aquino would
hers. Second, they had allegedly first met at his residence where she was actually introduced to his wife.
agree to give her daughter medical and educational support. Respondent purportedly assured complainant that
Subsequently, complainant called his residence several times and actually spoke to his wife, a circumstance so
despite the Affidavit, she could still pursue a case against Aquino in the future because the Affidavit is not a public
disturbing to respondent that he had to beg complainant not to call him there. Third, he was the Punong Barangay
document. Because she completely trusted him at this point, she signed the document "without even taking a
from 1994 to 2002, and was elected President of the Association of Barangay Council ("ABC") and as such was
glance at it."5
an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Guagua, Pampanga. He ran for the position of Provincial Board
On 14 February 2001, respondent allegedly advised complainant that Aquino gave him P150,000.00 cash Member in 2001. Thus, he was known in his locality and it was impossible for complainant not to have known of his
and P58,000.00 in two (2) postdated checks to answer for the medical expenses of her daughter. Instead of turning marital status especially that she lived no more than three (3) kilometers away from his house and even actively
them over to her, respondent handed her his personal check6 in the amount of P150,000.00 and promised to give helped him in his campaign.
her the balance of P58,000.00 soon thereafter. However, sometime in April or May 2001, respondent informed her
Respondent further alleges that while the demand for support from Aquino was being worked out, complainant In a Resolution19 dated 27 April 2006, the IBP denied the Motion on the ground that it has no more jurisdiction over
moved to a rented house in Olongapo City because a suitor had promised her a job in the Subic Naval Base. But the case as the matter had already been endorsed to the Supreme Court.
months passed and the promised job never came so that she had to return to Lubao, Pampanga. As the money
While we find respondent liable, we adjudicate the matter differently from what the IBP has recommended.
she received from Aquino was about to be exhausted, she allegedly started to pester respondent for financial
assistance and urged him to file the Petition for Support against Aquino. While respondent acceded to her pleas, he On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant, albeit
also advised her "to look for the right man"12 and to stop depending on him for financial assistance. He also brief and discreet, and which act is not "so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to
informed her that he could not assist her in filing the case, as he was the one who prepared and notarized the be reprehensible to a high degree"20 in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.
Affidavit. He, however, referred her to Atty. Tolentino.
One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. Said
In August 2002, respondent finally ended his relationship with complainant, but still he agreed to give her monthly requirement persists as a continuing condition for the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss
financial assistance of P6,000.00 for six (6) months. Since then, they have ceased to meet and have communicated thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.21 As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of
only through an emissary or by cellphone. In 2003, complainant begged him to continue the assistance until June good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with
when her alleged fiancé from the United States would have arrived. Respondent agreed. In July 2003, she again the highest moral standards of the community.22 The Court has held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act
asked for financial assistance for the last time, which he turned down. Since then he had stopped communicating complained of must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral.23 A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and
to her. false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.24 It is a
willful, flagrant, or shameless act that shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable
Sometime in January 2004, complainant allegedly went to see a friend of respondent. She told him that she was in
members of the community.25
need of P5,000.00 for a sari-sari store she was putting up and she wanted him to relay the message to respondent.
According to this friend, complainant showed him a prepared complaint against respondent that she would file While it is has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two unmarried adults is
with the Supreme Court should the latter not accede to her request. Sensing that he was being blackmailed, not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior,26 it is not so with respect to betrayals of the
respondent ignored her demand. True enough, he alleges, she filed the instant complaint. marital vow of fidelity.27 Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law, sexual
relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity
On 21 July 2004, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") for investigation, report and
of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.28
recommendation.13 After the parties submitted their respective position papers and supporting documents, the
Investigating Commissioner rendered his Report and Recommendation14 dated 2 September 2005. After presenting By his own admission, respondent is obviously guilty of immorality in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code which states
the parties' conflicting factual versions, the Investigating Commissioner gave credence to that of complainant and that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The next question to consider is
concluded that respondent clearly violated the Code, reporting in this wise, to wit: whether this act is aggravated by his alleged deceitful conduct in luring complainant who was then in low spirits
and in dire financial need in order to satisfy his carnal desires. While the IBP concluded the question in the
Respondent, through the above mentioned acts, clearly showed that he is wanting in good moral
affirmative, we find otherwise.
character, putting in doubt his professional reputation as a member of the BAR and renders him unfit and
unworthy of the privileges which the law confers to him. From a lawyer, are (sic) expected those qualities Complainant's allegations that she succumbed to respondent's sexual advances due to his promises of financial
of truth-speaking, high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty and the strictest observance of security and because of her need for legal assistance in filing a case against her former lover, are insufficient to
fiduciary responsibility all of which throughout the passage of time have been compendiously described conclude that complainant deceived her into having sexual relations with her. Surely, an educated woman like
as MORAL CHARACTER. herself who was of sufficient age and discretion, being at that time in her thirties, would not be easily fooled into
sexual congress by promises of a job and of free legal assistance, especially when there is no showing that she is
Respondent, unfortunately took advantage and (sic) every opportunity to entice complainant to his
suffering from any mental or physical disability as to justify such recklessness and/or helplessness on her
lascivious hungerness (sic). On several occasions[,] respondent kept on calling complainant and dropped
part.29Respondent's numerous visits and regular calls to complainant do not necessarily prove that he took
by her house and gave P2,000.00 as aid while waiting allegedly for the reply of (sic) their demand letter
advantage of her. At best, it proves that he courted her despite being a married man, precisely the fact on which
for support. It signals the numerous visits and regular calls all because of [l]ewd design. He took
the finding of immorality is rooted. Moreover, the circumstance that he gave her P2,000.00 as aid does not induce
advantage of her seeming financial woes and emotional dependency.
belief that he fueled her financial dependence as she never denied pleading with, if not badgering, him for
xxxx financial support.
Without doubt, a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the impositions (sic) Neither does complainant's allegation that respondent lied to her about his marital status inspire belief. We find
of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment. x x x15 credence in respondent's assertion that it was impossible for her not to have known of his subsisting marriage. She
herself admitted that they were introduced by her friend and former classmate, Ms. Morales who was a fellow
It was then recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months and that he
barangay official of respondent. She admitted that she knew his residence phone number and that she had called
be ordered to return to complainant the amount of P58,000.00 within two months. The IBP Board of Governors
him there. She also knew that respondent is an active barangay official who even ran as Provincial Board Member
adopted and approved the said Report and Recommendation in a Resolution16 dated 17 December 2005, finding
in 2001. Curiously, she never refuted respondent's allegations that she had met and talked to his wife on several
the same to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and "considering
occasions, that she lived near his residence, that she helped him in his campaign, or that she knew a lot of his
Respondent's obviously taking advantage of the lawyer-client relationship and the financial and emotional problem
friends, so as not to have known of his marital status. Considering that she previously had an affair with Aquino, who
of his client and attempting to mislead the Commission,"17 respondent was meted out the penalty of suspension for
was also a married man, it would be unnatural for her to have just plunged into a sexual relationship with
one (1) year with a stern warning that a repetition of similar acts will merit severe sanctions. He was likewise ordered
respondent whom she had known for only a short time without verifying his background, if it were true that she
to return P58,000.00 to complainant.
preferred "to change [her] life for the better,"30 as alleged in her complaint. We believe that her aforementioned
Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Set Case for Clarificatory Questioning18 ("Motion") allegations of deceit were not established by clear preponderant evidence required in disbarment cases.31 We are
dated 9 March 2006 with the IBP and a Motion to Reopen/Remand Case for Clarificatory Questioning dated 22 left with the most logical conclusion that she freely and wittingly entered into an illicit and immoral relationship with
March 2006 with the Supreme Court. He reiterates his own version of the facts, giving a more detailed account of respondent sans any misrepresentation or deceit on his part.
the events that transpired between him and complainant. Altogether, he portrays complainant as a shrewd and
Next, complainant charged respondent of taking advantage of his legal skills and moral control over her to force
manipulative woman who depends on men for financial support and who would stop at nothing to get what she
her to sign the clearly disadvantageous Affidavit without letting her read it and without explaining to her its
wants. Arguing that the IBP based its Resolution solely on complainant's bare allegations that she failed to prove by
repercussions. While acting as her counsel, she alleged that he likewise acted as counsel for Aquino.
clear and convincing evidence, he posits the case should be re-opened for clarificatory questioning in order to
determine who between them is telling the truth. We find complainant's assertions dubious. She was clearly in need of financial support from Aquino especially that
her daughter was suffering from a heart ailment. We cannot fathom how she could abandon all cares to
respondent who she had met for only a couple of months and thereby risk the welfare of her child by signing requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men and
without even reading a document she knew was related to the support case she intended to file. The Affidavit women in whom courts and clients may repose confidence.37 As such, it involves no private interest and affords no
consists of four short sentences contained in a single page. It is unlikely she was not able to read it before she signed redress for private grievance.38 The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the lawyer's
it. alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens
may have in the proper administration of justice.39
Likewise obscure is her assertion that respondent did not fully explain to her the contents of the Affidavit and the
consequences of signing it. She alleged that respondent even urged her "to use her head as Arnulfo Aquino will not Respondent's misconduct is of considerable gravity. There is a string of cases where the Court meted out the
give the money for Alexandra's medical and educational support if she will not sign the said Affidavit of extreme penalty of disbarment on the ground of gross immorality where the respondent contracted a bigamous
Disclaimer."32 If her own allegation is to be believed, it shows that she was aware of the on-going negotiation with marriage,40 abandoned his family to cohabit with his paramour,41 cohabited with a married woman,42 lured an
Aquino for the settlement of her claim for which the latter demanded the execution of the Affidavit. It also goes to innocent woman into marriage,43 or was found to be a womanizer.44 The instant case can be easily differentiated
show that she was pondering on whether to sign the same. Furthermore, she does not deny being a college from the foregoing cases. We, therefore, heed the stern injunction on decreeing disbarment where any lesser
graduate or that she knows and understands English. The Affidavit is written in short and simple sentences that are penalty, such as temporary suspension, would accomplish the end desired.45 In Zaguirre v. Castillo,46 respondent
understandable even to a layman. The inevitable conclusion is that she signed the Affidavit voluntarily and without was found to have sired a child with another woman who knew he was married. He therein sought understanding
any coercion whatsoever on the part of respondent. from the Court pointing out the polygamous nature of men and that the illicit relationship was a product of mutual
lust and desire. Appalled at his reprehensible and amoral attitude, the Court suspended him indefinitely. However,
The question remains as to whether his act of preparing and notarizing the Affidavit, a document disadvantageous
in Fr. Sinnott v. Judge Barte,47 where respondent judge consorted with a woman not his wife, but there was no
to his client, is a violation of the Code. We rule in the negative.
conclusive evidence that he sired a child with her, he was fined P10,000.00 for his conduct unbecoming a
It was not unlawful for respondent to assist his client in entering into a settlement with Aquino after explaining all magistrate despite his retirement during the pendency of the case.
available options to her. The law encourages the amicable settlement not only of pending cases but also of
We note that from the very beginning of this case, herein respondent had expressed remorse over his indiscretion
disputes which might otherwise be filed in court.33 Moreover, there is no showing that he knew for sure that Aquino is
and had in fact ended the brief illicit relationship years ago. We take these as signs that his is not a character of
the father of complainant's daughter as paternity remains to be proven. As complainant voluntarily and intelligently
such severe depravity and thus should be taken as mitigating circumstances in his favor.48 Considering further that
agreed to a settlement with Aquino, she cannot later blame her counsel when she experiences a change of heart.
this is his first offense, we believe that a fine of P15,000.00 would suffice. This, of course, is without prejudice to the
Besides, the record is bereft of evidence as to whether respondent also acted as Aquino's counsel in the settlement
outcome of the aspect of this case involving the alleged misappropriation of funds of the client.
of the case. Again, we only have complainant's bare allegations that cannot be considered evidence.34 Suspicion,
no matter how strong, is not enough. In the absence of contrary evidence, what will prevail is the presumption that WHEREFORE, premises considered, we find Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal GUILTY of immorality and impose on him a
the respondent has regularly performed his duty in accordance with his oath.35 FINE of P15,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with
more severely.
Complainant further charged respondent of misappropriating part of the money given by Aquino to her daughter.
Instead of turning over the whole amount, he allegedly issued to her his personal check in the amount The charge of misappropriation of funds of the client is REMANDED to the IBP for further investigation, report and
of P150,000.00 and pocketed the remaining P58,000.00 in violation of his fiduciary obligation to her as her counsel. recommendation within ninety (90) days from receipt of this Decision.
The IBP did not make any categorical finding on this matter but simply ordered respondent to return the amount Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as an attorney and as a member of the
of P58,000.00 to complainant. We feel a discussion is in order. Bar, and furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation
to all courts in the country.
We note that there is no clear evidence as to how much Aquino actually gave in settlement of complainant's claim
for support. The parties are in agreement that complainant received the amount of P150,000.00. However, SO ORDERED.
complainant insists that she should have received more as there were two postdated checks amounting
to P58,000.00 that respondent never turned over to her. Respondent essentially agrees that the amount is in fact
more than P150,000.00 – but only P38,000.00 more – and complainant said he could have it and he assumed it was G.R. No. L-27072 January 9, 1970
for his attorney's fees.
SURIGAO MINERAL RESERVATION BOARD, ET AL., petitioners,
We scrutinized the records and found not a single evidence to prove that there existed two postdated checks vs.
issued by Aquino in the amount of P58,000.00. On the other hand, respondent admits that there is actually an HON. GAUDENCIO CLORIBEL ETC., ET AL., respondents, In Re: Contempt Proceedings Against Attorneys Vicente L.
amount of P38,000.00 but presented no evidence of an agreement for attorney's fees to justify his presumption that Santiago, Jose Beltran Sotto, Graciano C. Regala and Associates, Erlito R. Uy, Juanito M. Caling; and Morton F.
he can keep the same. Curiously, there is on record a photocopy of a check issued by respondent in favor of Meads.
complainant for P150,000.00. It was only in his Motion for Reconsideration where respondent belatedly proffers an
RESOLUTION
explanation. He avers that he cannot recall what the check was for but he supposes that complainant requested
for it as she did not want to travel all the way to Olongapo City with a huge sum of money.
We find the circumstances rather suspicious but evidence is wanting to sustain a finding in favor of either party in
this respect. We cannot and should not rule on mere conjectures. The IBP relied only on the written assertions of the SANCHEZ, J.:
parties, apparently finding no need to subject the veracity of the assertions through the question and answer
After the July 31, 1968 decision of this Court adverse to respondent MacArthur International Minerals Co., the
modality. With the inconclusive state of the evidence, a more in-depth investigation is called for to ascertain in
Solicitor General brought to our attention statements of record purportedly made by Vicente L. Santiago, Erlito R.
whose favor the substantial evidence level tilts. Hence, we are constrained to remand the case to the IBP for further
Uy, Graciano Regala, and Jose Beltran Sotto, members of the Bar, with the suggestion that disciplinary action be
reception of evidence solely on this aspect.
taken against them. On November 21, 1968, this Court issued a show-cause order.
We also are unable to grant complainant's prayer for respondent to be made liable for the cost of her child's DNA
The following statements, so the Solicitor General avers, are set forth in the memoranda personally signed by Atty.
test absent proof that he misappropriated funds exclusively earmarked for the purpose.
Jose Beltran Sotto:
Neither shall we entertain complainant's claim for moral damages and attorney's fees. Suffice it to state that an
a. They (petitioners, including the Executive Secretary) have made these false, ridiculous and
administrative case against a lawyer is sui generis, one that is distinct from a civil or a criminal action.36 It is an
wild statements in a desperate attempt to prejudice the courts against MacArthur International.
investigation by the Court into the fitness of a lawyer to remain in the legal profession and be allowed the privileges
Such efforts could be accurately called "scattershot desperation" (Memorandum for
as such. Its primary objective is to protect the Court and the public from the misconduct of its officers with the end
in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by
Respondents dated March 27, 1968, pp. 13-14, three lines from the bottom of page 13 and first (h) the fact that respondent believes that the Honorable Supreme Court knows better and has
line page 14). greater understanding than the said decision manifests.
b. Such a proposition is corrupt on its face and it lays bare the immoral and arrogant attitude of (i) the public losses (sic) one hundred and fifty to two hundred million dollars by said decision —
the petitioners. (Respondents' Supplemental Memorandum and Reply to Petitioner's without an effort by the Honorable Supreme Court to learn all the facts through presentation
Memorandum Brief, dated April 13, 1968, p. 16, last two lines on bottom of the page). through the trial court, which is elementary.
c. The herein petitioners ... opportunistically change their claims and stories not only from case On November 21, 1968, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, again for himself and Attys. Erlito R. Uy and Graciano Regala and
to case but from pleading to pleading in the same case. (Respondents' Supplemental Associates, in writing pointed out to this Court that the statements specified by the Solicitor General were either
Memorandum, Ibid., p.17, sixth, seventh and eighth lines from bottom of the page). quoted out of context, could be defended, or were comments legitimate and justifiable. Concern he expressed for
the fullest defense of the interests of his clients. It was stressed that if MacArthur's attorney could not plead such
MacArthur's third motion for reconsideration signed by Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, on his behalf and purportedly for
thoughts, his client would be deprived of due process of law. However, counsel sought to change the words "Chief
Attys. Erlito R. Uy, Graciano Regala and Associates, and Jose B. Sotto, the Solicitor General points out, contain the
Justice" to "Supreme Court" appearing on line 7, paragraph 2 of the motion to inhibit. Atty. Santiago also voluntarily
following statements:
deleted paragraph 6 of the said motion, which in full reads:
d. ... ; and [the Supreme Court] has overlooked the applicable law due to the misrepresentation
6. Unfortunately for our people, it seems that many of our judicial authorities believe that they
and obfuscation of the petitioners' counsel. (Last sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for
are the chosen messengers of God in all matters that come before them, and that no matter
Reconsideration dated Sept. 10, 1968).
what the circumstances are, their judgment is truly ordained by the Almighty unto eternity.
e. ... Never has any civilized, democratic tribunal ruled that such a gimmick (referring to the Some seem to be constitutionally incapable of considering that any emanation from their mind
"right to reject any and all bids") can be used by vulturous executives to cover up and excuse or pen could be the product of unjudicial prejudice or unjudicial sympathy or favoritism for a
losses to the public, a government agency or just plain fraud ... and it is thus difficult, in the light party or an issue. Witness the recent absurdity of Judge Alikpala daring to proceed to judge a
of our upbringing and schooling, even under many of the incumbent justices, that the motion to hold himself in contempt of court — seemingly totally oblivious or uncomprehending
Honorable Supreme Court intends to create a decision that in effect does precisely that in a of the violation of moral principle involved — and also of Judge Geraldez who refuses to inhibit
most absolute manner. (Second sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. himself in judging a criminal case against an accused who is also his correspondent in two other
10, 1968). cases. What is the explanation for such mentality? Is it outright dishonesty? Lack of intelligence?
Serious deficiency in moral comprehension? Or is it that many of our government officials are
The motion to inhibit filed on September 21, 1968 — after judgment herein was rendered — and signed by Vicente L.
just amoral?
Santiago for himself and allegedly for Attys. Erlito R. Uy, and Graciano Regala and Associates, asked Mr. Chief
Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro to inhibit themselves from considering, judging and And, in addition, he attempted to explain further subparagraphs (f) and (h) of paragraph 7 thereof.
resolving the case or any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion charges "[t]hat the
It was on December 2, 1968 that Atty. Vicente L. Santiago filed his compliance with this Court's resolution of
brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is a vice-president of the favored party who is the chief
November 21, 1968. He there stated that the motion to inhibit and third motion for reconsideration were of his
beneficiary of the false, erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968" and the ex parte preliminary
exclusive making and that he alone should be held responsible therefor. He further elaborated on his explanations
injunction rendered in the above-entitled case, the latter in effect prejudging and predetermining this case even
made on November 21, 1968.
before the joining of an issue. As to the Chief Justice, the motion states "[t]hat the son of the Honorable Chief Justice
Roberto Concepcion was given a significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a short On December 5, 1968, he supplemented his explanations by saying that he already deleted paragraph 6 of the
time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered in this case." The appointment referred to was as secretary of Motion to Inhibit heretofore quoted from his rough draft but that it was still included through inadvertence.
the newly-created Board of Investments. The motion presents a lengthy discourse on judicial ethics, and makes a
On March 1, 1969, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, as counsel for MacArthur, registered an amended motion to inhibit.
number of side comments projecting what is claimed to be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It
While it repeats the prayer that Mr. Chief Justice Concepcion and Mr. Justice Castro inhibit themselves, it left but
enumerates "incidents" which, according to the motion, brought about respondent MacArthur's belief that
three paragraphs of the original motion to inhibit, taking out the dissertation on judicial ethics and most of the
"unjudicial prejudice" had been caused it and that there was "unjudicial favoritism" in favor of "petitioners, their
comments attacking the decision of this Court of July 31, 1968.
appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited by the said decision." The "incidents" cited are as
follows: On the part of Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto, it must be stated that as early as October 7, 1968, he insisted in withdrawing
his appearance in this case as one of the lawyers of MacArthur. His ground was that he did not agree with the filing
(a) said decision is in violation of the law, which law has not been declared unconstitutional.
of the motion to inhibit the two justices. According to him, "[t]he present steps (sic) now being taken is against
(b) said decision ignores totally the applicable law in the above-entitled case. counsel's upbringing and judicial conscience."
(c) said decision deprives respondent of due process of law and the right to adduce evidence In Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto's return of November 29, 1968, he took pains to say that the questioned statements he
as is the procedure in all previous cases of this nature. made were also taken out of context and were necessary for the defense of his client MacArthur. He made the
admission, though, that those statements lifted out of context would indeed be sufficient basis for a finding that
(d) due course was given to the unfounded certiorari in the first place when the appeal from a
Section 20(f), Rule 138, had been violated.
denial of a motion to dismiss was and is neither new nor novel nor capable of leading to a
wholesome development of the law but — only served to delay respondent for the benefit of On January 8, 1969, additional arguments were filed by Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto. He there averred that the Supreme
the favored party. Court had no original jurisdiction over the charge against him because it is one of civil contempt against a party
and the charge is originally cognizable by the Court of First Instance under Sections 4 and 10, Rule 71 of the Rules of
(e) the preliminary injunction issued herein did not maintain the status quo but destroyed it, and
Court. He also stressed that said charge was not signed by an "offended party or witness", as required by law; and
the conclusion cannot be avoided that it was destroyed for a reason, not for no reason at all.
that the Solicitor General and his assistants could not stand in the stead of an "offended Party or witness."
(f) there are misstatements and misrepresentations in the said decision which the Honorable
We now come to Atty. Graciano C. Regala. In his explanation of December 2, 1968, as further clarified by a
Supreme Court has refused to correct.
supplemental motion of December 27, 1968, he manifested that the use of or reference to his law firm in this case
(g) the two main issues in the said decision were decided otherwise in previous decisions, and was neither authorized nor consented to by him or any of his associates; that on July 14, 1967, one Morton F. Meads,
the main issue "right to reject any or all bids" is being treated on a double standard basis by the in MacArthur's behalf, offered to retain his services, which was accepted; that Meads inquired from him whether he
Honorable Supreme Court. could appear in this case; that he advised Meads that this case was outside his professional competence and
referred Meads to another lawyer who later on likewise turned down the offer; that in view of the rejection, Meads
and he agreed to terminate their previous retainer agreement; that he had not participated in any manner in the On August 15, 1969, Morton Meads answered. Meads' version is as follows: On July 14, 1969, he went to Atty.
preparation or authorship of any pleading or any other document in connection with this case. Santiago's office with the fourth motion for reconsideration which he himself prepared. Santiago started to read the
motion and in fact began to make some changes in Pencil in the first or second paragraph when Meads told him
On February 4, 1969, Atty. Erlito R. Uy explained his side of the case. In brief, he denied participation in any of the
that MacArthur wanted a new lawyer, not Santiago, to file the same. Meads asked Santiago if he could
court papers subject of our November 21, 1968 order; claimed that he was on six months' leave of absence from
recommend one. They then went to Caling whose office was on the same floor. Santiago introduced Meads to
July 1, 1968 to December 31, 1968 as one of the attorneys for MacArthur but that he gave his permission to have his
Caling at the same time handing the fourth motion to Caling. While Caling was reading the document, Santiago
name included as counsel in all of MacArthur's pleadings in this case (L-27072), even while he was on leave of
left. After reading the motion, Caling gave his go-signal. He signed the same after his name was typed therein. The
absence.
motion was then filed. According to Meads, from the time he entered the office of Santiago to the time the motion
Hearing on this contempt incident was had on March 3, 1969. was filed, the period that elapsed was approximately one hour and a half. Santiago was with Caling for about three
minutes and Meads was with Caling for about fifteen minutes.
A second contempt proceeding arose when, on July 14, 1969, respondent MacArthur, through new counsel, Atty.
Juanito M. Caling who entered a special appearance for the purpose, lodged a fourth motion for reconsideration In defending himself from the contempt charge, Meads asserts that the quotation from the Rules of Court set forth in
without express leave of court. Said motion reiterated previous grounds raised, and contained the following the fourth motion for reconsideration has not been taken out of context because said quotation is precisely
paragraphs: accurate; that the "xs" indicate that it is not a complete quotation and that it is a common practice in court
pleadings to submit partial quotations. Meads further contends that the announced plan to bring the case to the
4. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto
World Court is not a threat. In fact, his answer also included a notice of appeal to the World Court.
Concepcion when in fact he was outside the borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the
time of the Oral Argument of the above-entitled case — which condition is prohibited by the On August 27, 1969, this Court heard Attys. Vicente L. Santiago and Juanito Caling and Morton Meads in oral
New Rules of Court — Section 1, Rule 51, and we quote: "Justices; who may take part. — ... . only argument with respect to the second contempt incident. We shall now discuss the first and second contempt
those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its incidents seriatim.
consideration and adjudication ..." This requirement is especially significant in the present
1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third motion for reconsideration, we, indeed, find
instance because the member who penned the decision was the very member who was
language that is not to be expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as "vulturous executives". He
absent for approximately four months or more. This provision also applies to the Honorable
speaks of this Court as a "civilized, democratic tribunal", but by innuendo would suggest that it is not.
Justices Claudio Teehankee and Antonio Barredo.
In his motion to inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of July 31, 1968 as "false, erroneous and illegal" in
xxx xxx xxx
a presumptuous manner. He there charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this case prejudiced
6. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals Company abandons its quest for and predetermined the case even before the joining of an issue. He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of
justice in the Judiciary of the Philippine Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and this Court for being interested in the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, because his brother is
corruption of Philippine Government officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required by the the vice president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto
Nickel Law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel deposits, to the World Court on Concepcion, whose son was appointed secretary of the newly-created Board of Investments, "a significant
grounds of deprivation of justice and confiscation of property and /or to the United States appointment in the Philippine Government by the President, a short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was
Government, either its executive or judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation of rendered." In this backdrop, he proceeds to state that "it would seem that the principles thus established [the moral
respondent's proprietary vested rights by the Philippine Government without either and ethical guidelines for inhibition of any judicial authority by the Honorable Supreme Court should first apply to
compensation or due process of law — and invoking the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring itself." He puts forth the claim that lesser and further removed conditions have been known to create favoritism, only
the cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price to conclude that there is no reason for a belief that the conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and
premium, amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or compensation Justice Castro "would be less likely to engender favoritism or prejudice for or against a particular cause or party."
is made. Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro are insensible to delicadeza, which could make
their actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice and Justice Castro not only were not
This elicited another resolution from this Court on July 18, 1969, requiring Atty. Juanito M. Caling "to show cause
free from the appearance of impropriety but did arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their judgment.
within five (5) days from receipt of notice hereof why he should not be dealt with for contempt of court."
He points out that courts must be above suspicion at all times like Caesar's wife, warns that loss of confidence for
On July 30, 1969, Atty. Juanita M. Caling filed his return. He there alleged that the said fourth motion for the Tribunal or a member thereof should not be allowed to happen in our country, "although the process has
reconsideration was already finalized when Atty. Vicente L. Santiago came to his office and requested him to already begun."
accommodate MacArthur by signing the motion; that he turned down said request twice on the ground that he did
It is true that Santiago voluntarily deleted paragraph 6 which contained language that is as disrespectful. But we
not know anything about the case, much less the truth of the allegations stated in the motion; that "the allegations
cannot erase the fact that it has been made. He explained that, he deleted this paragraph in his rough draft, which
in said motion were subsequently explained to the undersigned counsel together with the background of the case
paragraph was included in the motion filed in this Court only because of mere inadvertence. This explanation does
involved by Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and by one Morton F. Meads"; that upon assurance that there was nothing
not make much of a distinguishing difference; it erects no shield. Not only because it was belatedly made but also
wrong with the motion he was persuaded in good faith to sign the same; that he was misled in so signing and the
because his signature appeared on the motion to inhibit which included paragraph 6. And this paragraph 6
true facts of the allegations were not revealed to him especially the oral argument allegedly made in the case.
describes with derision "many of our judicial authorities" who "believe that they are the chosen messengers of God in
Because of the foregoing explanation by Atty. Caling, this Court, on August 4, 1969, resolved "to require Atty. all matters that come before them, and that no matter what the circumstances are, their judgment is truly ordained
Vicente L. Santiago and Morton Meads to file in writing their answer to the said return [of Atty. Caling] and at the by the Almighty unto eternity." It depicts them as seemingly "incapable of considering that any emanation from
same time to show cause why they, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and Morton Meads, should not be dealt with for their mind or pen could be the product of unjudicial prejudice or unjudicial sympathy or favoritism for a party or an
contempt of court, on or before August 16, 1969; and ... to direct that the three, Atty. Juanita M. Caling, Atty. issue." After citing acts of two judges of first instance, he paused to ask: "What is the explanation for such mentality?
Vicente L. Santiago, and Morton Meads, personally appear Before this Court on Thursday, August 27, 1969, at 9:30 Is it outright dishonesty? Lack of intelligence? Serious deficiency in moral comprehension? Or is it that many of our
a.m., on which date the contempt proceedings against all of them will be heard by this Court." government officials are just amoral?"
On August 13, 1969, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago gave his explanation. He disavowed the truth of Atty. Caling's Paragraph 7 also of the motion to inhibit repeated mention of "unjudicial prejudice" against respondent MacArthur
statement that he (Santiago) convinced Caling to sign the motion. The truth, according to Santiago, is that one day and spoke of "unjudicial favoritism" for petitioners, their appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited
Morton Meads went to his office and asked him if he knew of a lawyer nearby who could help him file another by the decision. Paragraph 8 is a lecture on judicial ethics. Paragraph 9 is a warning to this Court about loss of
motion for reconsideration, and he (Santiago) mentioned Atty. Caling; he there upon accompanied Meads to confidence, and paragraph 10 makes a sweeping statement that "any other justices who have received favors or
Caling, told Caling of Meads' desire and left Meads with Caling. Santiago insists that he never prepared the motion benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners or members of any board-petitioner, or their agents or
and that he never even read it. principals, including the President", should also inhibit themselves.
What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis in fact and in law. The slur made is not any manner justify the inclusion of offensive language in the pleadings. It has been said that "[a] lawyer's language
limited to the Chief Justice and Mr. Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For, inhibition is should be dignified in keeping with the dignity of the legal profession."9 It is Sotto's duty as a member of the Bar "[t]o
also asked of, we repeat, "any other justices who have received favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or
the petitioners or any members of any board-petitioner or their agents or principals, including the president." The witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is
absurdity of this posture is at once apparent. For one thing, the justices of this Court are appointed by the President charged." 10
and in that sense may be considered to have each received a favor from the President. Should these justices inhibit
Not far from the case of Atty. Sotto is People vs. Young, 83 Phil. 702, 708, where counsel for the accused convicted
themselves every time a case involving the Administration crops up? Such a thought may not certainly be
of murder made use of the following raw language in his brief : "The accused since birth was a poor man and a son
entertained. The consequence thereof would be to paralyze the machinery of this Court. We would in fact, be
of a poor farmer, that since his boyhood he has never owned a thousand pesos in his own name. Now, here comes
wreaking havoc on the tripartite system of government operating in this country. Counsel is presumed to know this.
a chance for him. A cold fifty thousand bucks in exchange of a man's life. A simple job. Perhaps a question of
But why the unfounded charge? There is the not-too-well concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's attorney
seconds' work and that would transform him into a new man. Once in a small nipa shack, now in a palatial
to downgrade this Court.
mansion! This poor ignorant man blinded by the promise of wealth, protection and stability was given to do the
The mischief that stems from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is easy to discern. Such disrespect detracts much forbidden deed." We there held that "[s]uch a plea is a disgrace to the bar and an affront to the court."
from the dignity of a court of justice. Decidedly not an expression of faith, counsel's words are intended to create
It will not avail Sotto any to say that the Solicitor General or his assistants may not be considered offended parties in
an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief. We are thus called upon to repeat what we have said in Rheem of the
this case. This Court may motu proprio start proceedings of this nature. There should be no doubt about the power
Philippines vs. Ferrer (1967), 20 SCRA 441, 444, as follows: "By now, a lawyer's duties to the Court have become
of this Court to punish him for contempt under the circumstances. For, inherent in courts is the power "[t]o control, in
common place. Really, there could hardly be any valid excuse for lapses in the observance thereof. Section 20(b),
furtherance of justice, the conduct of its ministerial officers, and of all other persons in any manner connected with
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, in categorical terms, spells out one such duty: 'To observe and maintain the respect
a case before it, in every manner appertaining thereto." 11
due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.' As explicit is the first canon of legal ethics which pronounces that
'[i]t is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary We, accordingly, hold that Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto has misbehaved, under Section 3 (a), Rule 71 of the Rules of
incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance.' That same canon, as a Court, as an officer of the court in the performance of his official duties; and that he too has committed, under
corollary, makes it peculiarly incumbent upon lawyers to support the courts against 'unjust criticism and clamor.' Section 3 (d) of the same rule, improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice. He is, therefore,
And more. The attorney's oath solemnly binds him to a conduct that should be 'with all good fidelity ... to the courts.' guilty of contempt.
Worth remembering is that the duty of an attorney to the courts can only be maintained by rendering no service
3. Not much need be said of the case of Atty. Graciano C. Regala. It was improper for Atty. Santiago to have
involving any disrespect to the judicial office which he is bound to uphold.' "
included the name of the firm of Atty. Regala without the latter's knowledge and consent. Correctly did Regala
A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of insist — and this is confirmed by the other lawyers of respondents — that he had not participated in any way in the
justice."1 His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes fidelity, "not to promote pleadings of the above-entitled case. Regala did not even know that his name was included as co-counsel in this
distrust in the administration of justice."2 Faith in the courts a lawyer should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the case. He is exonerated.
judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of government and to the attainment of the liberties of the
4. Last to be considered with respect to the first contempt incident is the case of Atty. Erlito R. Uy. Borne out by the
people."3 Thus has it been said of a lawyer that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help
record is the fact that Atty. Uy was not also involved in the preparation of any of the pleadings subject of the
build and not destroy unnecessarily that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper
contempt citation. He should be held exempt from contempt.
administration of justice."4
5. We now turn our attention to the second contempt incident. The fourth motion for reconsideration is, indeed, an
It ill behooves Santiago to justify his language with the statement that it was necessary for the defense of his client. A
act of contumacy.
client's cause does not permit an attorney to cross the line between liberty and license. Lawyers must always keep
in perspective the thought that "[s]ince lawyers are administrators of justice, oath-bound servants of society, their First. It was filed without express leave of court. No explanation has been made why this has been done.
first duty is not to their clients, as many suppose, but to the administration of justice; to this, their clients' success is
Second. It lifted Section 1. Rule 51, Rules of Court, out of context. Said Section 1 was quoted as follows: "Justices;
wholly subordinate; and their conduct ought to and must be scrupulously observant of law and ethics."5As rightly
who may take part. — ... only those members present when any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part
observed by Mr. Justice Malcolm in his well-known treatise, a judge from the very nature of his position, lacks the
in its consideration and adjudication ..." However, the provision in its entire thought should be read thus —
power to defend himself and it is the attorney, and no other, who can better or more appropriately support the
judiciary and the incumbent of the judicial position.6 From this, Mr. Justice Malcolm continued to say: "It will of SECTION 1. Justices; who may take part. — All matters submitted to the court for its
course be a trying ordeal for attorneys under certain conditions to maintain respectful obedience to the court. It consideration and adjudication will be deemed to be submitted for consideration and
may happen that counsel possesses greater knowledge of the law than the justice of the peace or judge who adjudication by any and all of the Justices who are members of the division of the court at the
presides over the court. It may also happen that since no court claims infallibility, judges may grossly err in their time when such matters are taken up for consideration and adjudication, whether such Justices
decisions. Nevertheless, discipline and self-restraint on the part of the bar even under adverse conditions are were or were not present at the date of submission; however, only those members present when
necessary for the orderly administration of any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its consideration and adjudication, if
justice."7 the parties or either of them, express a desire to that effect in writing filed with the clerk at the
date of
The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not unfamiliar to lawyers. And yet, this Court finds in the
submission. 12
language of Atty. Santiago a style that undermines and degrades the administration of justice. The stricture in
Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules — against improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice8— Atty. Caling, who was admitted to the Bar in 1966, did not attempt to explain this point.
is thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is guilty of contempt of court.
Meads, however, for his part tried to reason out why such a distorted quotation came about — the portion left out
2. We next take the case of Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto. We analyze the statements pointed out to us by the Solicitor was anyway marked by "XS" which is a common practice among lawyers. Canon 22 of the Canons of Legal Ethics
General hereinbefore quoted. Sotto accuses petitioners of having made "false, ridiculous and wild statements in a reminds the lawyer to characterize his conduct with candor and fairness, and specifically states that "it is not candid
desperate attempt to prejudice the courts against MacArthur." He brands such efforts as "scattershot desperation". nor fair for the lawyer knowingly to misquote." While Morton Meads is admittedly not a lawyer, it does not take a
He describes a proposition of petitioners as "corrupt on its face", laying bare "the immoral and arrogant attitude of lawyer to see the deliberate deception that is being foisted upon this Court. There was a qualification to the rule
the petitioners." He charges petitioners with opportunistically changing their claims and stories not only from case to quoted and that qualification was intentionally omitted.
case but from pleading to pleading in the same case. Such language is not arguably protected; it is the surfacing
Third. The motion contained an express threat to take the case to the World Court and/or the United States
of a feeling of contempt towards a litigant; it offends the court before which it is made. It is no excuse to say that
government. It must be remembered that respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision
these statements were taken out of context. We have analyzed the lines surrounding said statements. They do not in
of this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were injected. More specifically, the motion
announced that MacArthur "will inevitably ... raise the graft and corruption of [the] Philippine government officials in Let a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Honorable, the Secretary of Justice, for whatever action he may
the bidding of May 12, 1965 ... to the World Court" and would invoke "the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the deem proper to take in the premises against Morton F. Meads who is an alien.
cutting off of all aid and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium, amounting to
Let another copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Honorable, the Solicitor General, for such action as he may
more than fifty million dollars annually ... ."
deem proper in relation to the disbarment or suspension of Attys. Vicente L. Santiago, Jose Beltran Sotto and Juanito
This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the mind of this Court to decide the case in its favor. A notice of appeal M. Caling.
to the World Court has even been embodied in Meads' return. There is a gross inconsistency between the appeal
The Clerk of this Court is hereby directed to append a copy of this decision to the personal records of Attorneys
and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal from a decision presupposes that a party has already
Vicente L. Santiago, Jose Beltran Sotto and Juanito M. Caling. So ordered.
abandoned any move to reconsider that decision. And yet, it would appear that the appeal to the World Court is
being dangled as a threat to effect a change of the decision of this Court. Such act has no aboveboard
explanation.
G.R. No. L-27654 February 18, 1970
6. Atty. Caling has not shown to the satisfaction of this Court that he should be exempted from the contempt
IN THE MATTER OF PROCEEDINGS FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST ATTY. VICENTE RAUL ALMACEN In L-27654,
charge against him. He knows that he is an officer of this Court. He admits that he has read the fourth motion for
ANTONIO H. CALERO, vs. VIRGINIA Y. YAPTINCHAY.
reconsideration before he signed it. While he has been dragged in only at the last minute, still it was plainly his duty
to have taken care that his name should not be attached to pleadings contemptuous in character. RESOLUTION
7. As for Morton F. Meads, he had admitted having prepared the fourth motion for reconsideration. He cannot beg CASTRO, J.:
off from the contempt charge against him even though he is not a lawyer. He is guilty of contempt.
Before us is Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen's "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," filed on September 25,
8. We go back to Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. His insistence that he had nothing to do with the fourth motion for 1967, in protest against what he therein asserts is "a great injustice committed against his client by this Supreme
reconsideration and that he had not even read the same is too transparent to survive fair appraisal. It goes against Court." He indicts this Court, in his own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for
the grain of circumstances. Caling represents before us that it was Santiago who convinced him to sign the motion, justice, who ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the
who with Meads explained to him the allegations thereof and the background of the case. Caling says that if not Constitution with impunity." His client's he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by this Court's "unjust judgment,"
for his friendship with Santiago, he would not have signed the motion. On the other hand, Meads states that has become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar of hypocrisy." In the same breath that he alludes to the
Santiago began to read the fourth motion for reconsideration and even started to make changes thereon in pencil. classic symbol of justice, he ridicules the members of this Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present
We must not forget, too, that according to Meads himself, he spent, on July 14, 1969, quite some time with Santiago members of the Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to argue the cause of his
before they proceeded to Caling. It is highly improbable that Santiago did not read the fourth motion for client "in the people's forum," so that "the people may know of the silent injustice's committed by this Court," and
reconsideration during all that time. that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and injustices that were committed must never be repeated." He ends his petition
with a prayer that
Furthermore, Santiago is a lawyer of record for respondent MacArthur in this case. He has not resigned from his
position as such lawyer. He has control of the proceedings. Whatever steps his client takes should be within his ... a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the undersigned
knowledge and responsibility. Indeed, Canon 16 of the Canons of Legal Ethics should have reminded him that "[a] attorney and counsellor-at-law IN TRUST with reservation that at any time in the future and in the
lawyer should use his best efforts to restrain and to prevent his clients from doing those things which the lawyer event we regain our faith and confidence, we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of
himself ought not to do, particularly with reference to their conduct towards courts, judicial officers, jurors, witnesses the noblest profession.
and suitors. If a client persists in such wrongdoing the lawyer should terminate their relation."
He reiterated and disclosed to the press the contents of the aforementioned petition. Thus, on September 26, 1967,
The dignity of the Court, experience teaches, can never be protected where infraction of ethics meets with the Manila Times published statements attributed to him, as follows:
complacency rather than punishment. The people should not be given cause to break faith with the belief that a
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did it to expose the
judge is the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve its dignity, a court of justice should not yield to the assaults
tribunal's "unconstitutional and obnoxious" practice of arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals
of disrespect. Punctilio of honor, we prefer to think, is a standard of behavior so desirable in a lawyer pleading a
without any reason.
cause before a court of justice.
Because of the tribunal's "short-cut justice," Almacen deplored, his client was condemned to
9. One last word. It would seem apropos to say again that, if only for one reason, this Court had really no alternative
pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case.
but to decide the main case against respondent MacArthur. As we held in our decision of July 31, 1968, MacArthur
did not even adhere to the terms and conditions of the invitation to bid. For, this invitation to bid explicitly warned xxx xxx xxx
that "bids not accompanied by bid bonds will be rejected. And We repeat, "[a]dmittedly, the bid of the Company
There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition, "where our Supreme
[MacArthur] had been submitted without the requisite bond." 13 It would not require the adroit mind of a lawyer to
Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who ignore without reason
say that a bid unaccompanied by a bond., contrary to the instructions to bidders, is not entitled to any
their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.
consideration.
xxx xxx xxx
It should be emphasized, too, that because the decision herein was by a unanimous Court, even if the Chief Justice
and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro had not taken part in the decision on the merits of this case, the result would have He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns his living, the
been the same: MacArthur's cause would just the same have failed. present members of the Supreme Court "will become responsive to all cases brought to its
attention without discrimination, and will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious
For the reasons given, this Court hereby finds:
"lack of merit" or "denied resolutions. (Emphasis supplied)
1. On the first contempt charge, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago and Atty. Jose Beltran Sotto guilty of contempt of court,
Atty. Almacen's statement that
and fines Atty. Santiago in the sum of P1,000, and Atty. Sotto, P100; and holds Attys. Graciano C. Regala and
Associates and Atty. Erlito R. Uy not guilty of contempt of court; and ... our own Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas of [sic] justice,
who ignore their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution
2. On the second contempt charge, Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, Morton F. Meads and Atty. Juanita M. Caling guilty
with impunity
of contempt of court, and fines Atty. Vicente L. Santiago, an additional P1,000, Morton F. Meads, P1,000, and Atty.
Juanito M. Caling, P200.
was quoted by columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in the issue of the Manila Chronicle of September 28, 1967. In contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory remarks hereinbefore reproduced, against this Court as well as
connection therewith, Pacis commented that Atty. Almacen had "accused the high tribunal of offenses so serious its individual members, a behavior that is as unprecedented as it is unprofessional.
that the Court must clear itself," and that "his charge is one of the constitutional bases for impeachment."
Nonetheless we decided by resolution dated September 28, 1967 to withhold action on his petition until he shall
The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Virginia Y. Yaptinchay vs. Antonio H. Calero,1 in have actually surrendered his certificate. Patiently, we waited for him to make good his proffer. No word came from
which Atty. Almacen was counsel for the defendant. The trial court, after due hearing, rendered judgment against him. So he was reminded to turn over his certificate, which he had earlier vociferously offered to surrender, so that
his client. On June 15, 1966 Atty. Almacen received a copy of the decision. Twenty days later, or on July 5, 1966, he this Court could act on his petition. To said reminder he manifested "that he has no pending petition in connection
moved for its reconsideration. He served on the adverse counsel a copy of the motion, but did not notify the latter with Case G.R. No. L-27654, Calero vs. Yaptinchay, said case is now final and executory;" that this Court's September
of the time and place of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, 1966, the plaintiff moved for execution of 28, 1967 resolution did not require him to do either a positive or negative act; and that since his offer was not
the judgment. For "lack of proof of service," the trial court denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on the accepted, he "chose to pursue the negative act."
adverse party a copy of his first motion for reconsideration, Atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion
In the exercise of its inherent power to discipline a member of the bar for contumely and gross misconduct, this
for reconsideration to which he attached the required registry return card. This second motion for reconsideration,
Court on November 17, 1967 resolved to require Atty. Almacen to show cause "why no disciplinary action should be
however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August 30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen
taken against him." Denying the charges contained in the November 17 resolution, he asked for permission "to give
himself, who, earlier, that is, on August 22, 1966, had already perfected the appeal. Because the plaintiff interposed
reasons and cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against him ... in an open and public hearing." This
no objection to the record on appeal and appeal bond, the trial court elevated the case to the Court of Appeals.
Court resolved (on December 7) "to require Atty. Almacen to state, within five days from notice hereof, his reasons
But the Court of Appeals, on the authority of this Court's decision in Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu for such request, otherwise, oral argument shall be deemed waived and incident submitted for decision." To this
Construction & Co., L-16636, June 24, 1965, dismissed the appeal, in the following words: resolution he manifested that since this Court is "the complainant, prosecutor and Judge," he preferred to be heard
and to answer questions "in person and in an open and public hearing" so that this Court could observe his sincerity
Upon consideration of the motion dated March 27, 1967, filed by plaintiff-appellee praying that
and candor. He also asked for leave to file a written explanation "in the event this Court has no time to hear him in
the appeal be dismissed, and of the opposition thereto filed by defendant-appellant; the Court
person." To give him the ampliest latitude for his defense, he was allowed to file a written explanation and thereafter
RESOLVED TO DISMISS, as it hereby dismisses, the appeal, for the reason that the motion for
was heard in oral argument.
reconsideration dated July 5, 1966 (pp. 90-113, printed record on appeal) does not contain a
notice of time and place of hearing thereof and is, therefore, a useless piece of paper (Manila His written answer, as undignified and cynical as it is unchastened, offers -no apology. Far from being contrite Atty.
Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L-16636, June 24, 1965), which did Almacen unremittingly repeats his jeremiad of lamentations, this time embellishing it with abundant sarcasm and
not interrupt the running of the period to appeal, and, consequently, the appeal was perfected innuendo. Thus:
out of time.
At the start, let me quote passages from the Holy Bible, Chapter 7, St. Matthew: —
Atty. Almacen moved to reconsider this resolution, urging that Manila Surety & Fidelity Co. is not decisive. At the
"Do not judge, that you may not be judged. For with what judgment you
same time he filed a pleading entitled "Latest decision of the Supreme Court in Support of Motion for
judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure you measure, it shall be
Reconsideration," citing Republic of the Philippines vs. Gregorio A. Venturanza, L-20417, decided by this Court on
measured to you. But why dost thou see the speck in thy brother's eye, and
May 30, 1966, as the applicable case. Again, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration, thus:
yet dost not consider the beam in thy own eye? Or how can thou say to thy
Before this Court for resolution are the motion dated May 9, 1967 and the supplement thereto of brother, "Let me cast out the speck from thy eye"; and behold, there is a
the same date filed by defendant- appellant, praying for reconsideration of the resolution of beam in thy own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thy own
May 8, 1967, dismissing the appeal. eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck from thy brother's
eyes."
Appellant contends that there are some important distinctions between this case and that
of Manila Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L- 16636, June 24, "Therefore all that you wish men to do to you, even to do you also to them:
1965, relied upon by this Court in its resolution of May 8, 1967. Appellant further states that in the for this is the Law and the Prophets."
latest case, Republic vs. Venturanza, L-20417, May 30, 1966, decided by the Supreme Court
xxx xxx xxx
concerning the question raised by appellant's motion, the ruling is contrary to the doctrine laid
down in the Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. case. Your respondent has no intention of disavowing the statements mentioned in his petition. On the
contrary, he refirms the truth of what he stated, compatible with his lawyer's oath that he will do
There is no substantial distinction between this case and that of Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.
no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court. But he vigorously DENY under oath that
In the case of Republic vs. Venturanza, the resolution denying the motion to dismiss the appeal, the underscored statements contained in the CHARGE are insolent, contemptuous, grossly
based on grounds similar to those raised herein was issued on November 26, 1962, which was disrespectful and derogatory to the individual members of the Court; that they tend to bring the
much earlier than the date of promulgation of the decision in the Manila Surety Case, which entire Court, without justification, into disrepute; and constitute conduct unbecoming of a
was June 24, 1965. Further, the resolution in the Venturanza case was interlocutory and the member of the noble profession of law.
Supreme Court issued it "without prejudice to appellee's restoring the point in the brief." In the
xxx xxx xxx
main decision in said case (Rep. vs. Venturanza the Supreme Court passed upon the issue sub
silencio presumably because of its prior decisions contrary to the resolution of November 26, Respondent stands four-square that his statement is borne by TRUTH and has been asserted with
1962, one of which is that in the Manila Surety and Fidelity case. Therefore Republic vs. NO MALICE BEFORE AND AFTER THOUGHT but mainly motivated with the highest interest of
Venturanza is no authority on the matter in issue. justice that in the particular case of our client, the members have shown callousness to our
various pleas for JUSTICE, our pleadings will bear us on this matter, ...
Atty. Almacen then appealed to this Court by certiorari. We refused to take the case, and by minute resolution
denied the appeal. Denied shortly thereafter was his motion for reconsideration as well as his petition for leave to xxx xxx xxx
file a second motion for reconsideration and for extension of time. Entry of judgment was made on September 8,
To all these beggings, supplications, words of humility, appeals for charity, generosity, fairness,
1967. Hence, the second motion for reconsideration filed by him after the Said date was ordered expunged from
understanding, sympathy and above all in the highest interest of JUSTICE, — what did we get
the records.
from this COURT? One word, DENIED, with all its hardiness and insensibility. That was the
It was at this juncture that Atty. Almacen gave vent to his disappointment by filing his "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's unfeeling of the Court towards our pleas and prayers, in simple word, it is plain callousness
Certificate of Title," already adverted to — a pleading that is interspersed from beginning to end with the insolent towards our particular case.
xxx xxx xxx He chafes at the minute resolution denial of his petition for review. We are quite aware of the criticisms2 expressed
against this Court's practice of rejecting petitions by minute resolutions. We have been asked to do away with it, to
Now that your respondent has the guts to tell the members of the Court that notwithstanding
state the facts and the law, and to spell out the reasons for denial. We have given this suggestion very careful
the violation of the Constitution, you remained unpunished, this Court in the reverse order of
thought. For we know the abject frustration of a lawyer who tediously collates the facts and for many weary hours
natural things, is now in the attempt to inflict punishment on your respondent for acts he said in
meticulously marshalls his arguments, only to have his efforts rebuffed with a terse unadorned denial. Truth to tell,
good faith.
however, most petitions rejected by this Court are utterly frivolous and ought never to have been lodged at all.3 The
Did His Honors care to listen to our pleadings and supplications for JUSTICE, CHARITY, rest do exhibit a first-impression cogency, but fail to, withstand critical scrutiny. By and large, this Court has been
GENEROSITY and FAIRNESS? Did His Honors attempt to justify their stubborn denial with any generous in giving due course to petitions for certiorari.
semblance of reason, NEVER. Now that your respondent is given the opportunity to face you, he
Be this as it may, were we to accept every case or write a full opinion for every petition we reject, we would be
reiterates the same statement with emphasis, DID YOU? Sir. Is this. the way of life in the
unable to carry out effectively the burden placed upon us by the Constitution. The proper role of the Supreme
Philippines today, that even our own President, said: — "the story is current, though nebulous ,is
Court, as Mr. Chief Justice Vinson of the U.S. Supreme Court has defined it, is to decide "only those cases which
to its truth, it is still being circulated that justice in the Philippines today is not what it is used to be
present questions whose resolutions will have immediate importance beyond the particular facts and parties
before the war. There are those who have told me frankly and brutally that justice is a
involved." Pertinent here is the observation of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Maryland vs. Baltimore Radio Show, 94 L. ed
commodity, a marketable commodity in the Philippines."
562, 566:
xxx xxx xxx
A variety of considerations underlie denials of the writ, and as to the same petition different
We condemn the SIN, not the SINNER. We detest the ACTS, not the ACTOR. We attack the reasons may read different justices to the same result ... .
decision of this Court, not the members. ... We were provoked. We were compelled by force of
Since there are these conflicting, and, to the uninformed, even confusing reasons for denying
necessity. We were angry but we waited for the finality of the decision. We waited until this
petitions for certiorari, it has been suggested from time to time that the Court indicate its reasons
Court has performed its duties. We never interfered nor obstruct in the performance of their
for denial. Practical considerations preclude. In order that the Court may be enabled to
duties. But in the end, after seeing that the Constitution has placed finality on your judgment
discharge its indispensable duties, Congress has placed the control of the Court's business, in
against our client and sensing that you have not performed your duties with "circumspection,
effect, within the Court's discretion. During the last three terms the Court disposed of 260, 217,
carefulness, confidence and wisdom", your Respondent rise to claim his God given right to
224 cases, respectively, on their merits. For the same three terms the Court denied, respectively,
speak the truth and his Constitutional right of free speech.
1,260, 1,105,1,189 petitions calling for discretionary review. If the Court is to do its work it would
xxx xxx xxx not be feasible to give reasons, however brief, for refusing to take these cases. The tune that
would be required is prohibitive. Apart from the fact that as already indicated different reasons
The INJUSTICES which we have attributed to this Court and the further violations we sought to be
not infrequently move different members of the Court in concluding that a particular case at a
prevented is impliedly shared by our President. ... .
particular time makes review undesirable.
xxx xxx xxx
Six years ago, in Novino, et al., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 1,21098, May 31, 1963 (60 O.G. 8099), this Court, through
What has been abhored and condemned, are the very things that were applied to us. Recalling Madam Roland's the then Chief Justice Cesar Bengzon, articulated its considered view on this matter. There, the petitioners counsel
famous apostrophe during the French revolution, "O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name", we may dare urged that a "lack of merit" resolution violates Section 12 of Article VIII of the Constitution. Said Chief Justice
say, "O JUSTICE, what technicalities are committed in thy name' or more appropriately, 'O JUSTICE, what injustices Bengzon:
are committed in thy name."
In connection with identical short resolutions, the same question has been raised before; and
xxx xxx xxx we held that these "resolutions" are not "decisions" within the above constitutional requirement.
They merely hold that the petition for review should not be entertained in view of the provisions
We must admit that this Court is not free from commission of any abuses, but who would correct
of Rule 46 of the Rules of Court; and even ordinary lawyers have all this time so understood it. It
such abuses considering that yours is a court of last resort. A strong public opinion must be
should be remembered that a petition to review the decision of the Court of Appeals is not a
generated so as to curtail these abuses.
matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and so there is no need to fully explain the
xxx xxx xxx court's denial. For one thing, the facts and the law are already mentioned in the Court of
Appeals' opinion.
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolize in paintings that can be found in all courts and
government offices. We have added only two more symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. By the way, this mode of disposal has — as intended — helped the Court in alleviating its heavy
Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, docket; it was patterned after the practice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wherein petitions for
fairness, understanding sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspite of our review are often merely ordered "dismissed".
beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeal has been DENIED, not
We underscore the fact that cases taken to this Court on petitions for certiorari from the Court of Appeals have had
one word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above
the benefit of appellate review. Hence, the need for compelling reasons to buttress such petitions if this Court is to
statement. We only describe the. impersonal state of things and nothing more.
be moved into accepting them. For it is axiomatic that the supervisory jurisdiction vested upon this Court over the
xxx xxx xxx Court of Appeals is not intended to give every losing party another hearing. This axiom is implied in sec. 4 of Rule 45
of the Rules of Court which recites:
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of this Court and for
which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has Review of Court of Appeals' decision discretionary.—A review is not a matter of right but of
been lost today may be regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sound judicial discretion, and will be granted only when there are special and important
sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self-sacrifice. If we have to reasons therefor. The following, while neither controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion,
choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the members of the Court indicate the character of reasons which will be considered:
but disregard our Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the
(a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance, not theretofore
members of this Court, there is no choice, we must uphold the latter.
determined by the Supreme Court, nor has decided it in a way probably not in accord with law
But overlooking, for the nonce, the vituperative chaff which he claims is not intended as a studied disrespect to this or with the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court;
Court, let us examine the grain of his grievances.
(b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed from the accepted and usual course of An attorney does not surrender, in assuming the important place accorded to him in the
judicial proceedings, or so far sanctioned such departure by the lower court, as to call for the administration of justice, his right as a citizen to criticize the decisions of the courts in a fair and
exercise of the power of supervision. respectful manner, and the independence of the bar, as well as of the judiciary, has always
been encouraged by the courts. (In re Ades, 6 F Supp. 487) .
Recalling Atty. Almacen's petition for review, we found, upon a thoroughgoing examination of the pleadings. and
records, that the Court of Appeals had fully and correctly considered the dismissal of his appeal in the light of the Criticism of the courts has, indeed, been an important part of the traditional work of the bar. In the prosecution of
law and applicable decisions of this Court. Far from straying away from the "accepted and usual course of judicial appeals, he points out the errors of lower courts. In written for law journals he dissects with detachment the doctrinal
proceedings," it traced the procedural lines etched by this Court in a number of decisions. There was, therefore, no pronouncements of courts and fearlessly lays bare for -all to see that flaws and inconsistence" of the doctrines (Hill v.
need for this Court to exercise its supervisory power. Lyman, 126 NYS 2d 286). As aptly stated by Chief Justice Sharswood in Ex Parte Steinman, 40 Am. Rep. 641:
As a law practitioner who was admitted to the Bar as far back as 1941, Atty. Almacen knew — or ought to have No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expansion or publication of
known — that for a motion for reconsideration to stay the running of the period of appeal, the movant must not only opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges than members of the bar. They
serve a copy of the motion upon the adverse party (which he did), but also notify the adverse party of the time and have the best opportunities for observing and forming a correct judgment. They are in constant
place of hearing (which admittedly he did not). This rule was unequivocally articulated in Manila Surety & Fidelity vs. attendance on the courts. ... To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under
Batu Construction & Co., supra: liability to be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood, by the
judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a position too
The written notice referred to evidently is prescribed for motions in general by Rule 15, Sections 4
monstrous to be
and 5 (formerly Rule 26), which provides that such notice shall state the time, and place of
entertained. ... .
hearing and shall be served upon all the Parties concerned at least three days in advance. And
according to Section 6 of the same Rule no motion shall be acted upon by the court without Hence, as a citizen and as Officer of the court a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to
proof of such notice. Indeed it has been held that in such a case the motion is nothing but a consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right. Nor is he "professionally answerable for a
useless piece of paper (Philippine National Bank v. Damasco, I,18638, Feb. 28, 1963; citing scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges, which would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen."
Manakil v. Revilla, 42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop of Lipa v. Municipality of Unisan, 41 Phil. (Case of Austin, 28 Am. Dee. 657, 665).
866; and Director of Lands vs. Sanz, 45 Phil. 117). The reason is obvious: Unless the movant sets
Above all others, the members of the bar have the beat Opportunity to become conversant
the time and place of hearing the Court would have no way to determine whether that party
with the character and efficiency of our judges. No class is less likely to abuse the privilege, as
agrees to or objects to the motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his objection, since the
no other class has as great an interest in the preservation of an able and upright bench. (State
Rules themselves do not fix any period within which he may file his reply or opposition.
Board of Examiners in Law v. Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216)
If Atty. Almacen failed to move the appellate court to review the lower court's judgment, he has only himself to
To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the foibles of courts and judges is to seal the lips of those in the best
blame. His own negligence caused the forfeiture of the remedy of appeal, which, incidentally, is not a matter of
position to give advice and who might consider it their duty to speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule," so far as the
right. To shift away from himself the consequences of his carelessness, he looked for a "whipping boy." But he made
bar is concerned, "the merits of a sitting judge may be rehearsed, but as to his demerits there must be profound
sure that he assumed the posture of a martyr, and, in offering to surrender his professional certificate, he took the
silence." (State v. Circuit Court, 72 N.W. 196)
liberty of vilifying this Court and inflicting his exacerbating rancor on the members thereof. It would thus appear that
there is no justification for his scurrilous and scandalous outbursts. But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not spill over the walls of
decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism, on the One hand, and abuse and slander of
Nonetheless we gave this unprecedented act of Atty. Almacen the most circumspect consideration. We know that
courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of
it is natural for a lawyer to express his dissatisfaction each time he loses what he sanguinely believes to be a
respect to courts. It is Such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
meritorious case. That is why lawyers are given 'wide latitude to differ with, and voice their disapproval of, not only
the courts' rulings but, also the manner in which they are handed down. For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations and duties which are not mere flux and ferment. His
investiture into the legal profession places upon his shoulders no burden more basic, more exacting and more
Moreover, every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the actuations of public officers. This right is not
imperative than that of respectful behavior toward the courts. He vows solemnly to conduct himself "with all good
diminished by the fact that the criticism is aimed at a judicial authority,4 or that it is articulated by a lawyer.5 Such
fidelity ... to the courts; 14 and the Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain the respect due to
right is especially recognized where the criticism concerns a concluded litigation,6 because then the court's
courts of justice and judicial officers." 15 The first canon of legal ethics enjoins him "to maintain towards the courts a
actuations are thrown open to public consumption.7 "Our decisions and all our official actions," said the Supreme
respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its
Court of Nebraska,8 "are public property, and the press and the people have the undoubted right to comment on
supreme importance."
them, criticize and censure them as they see fit. Judicial officers, like other public servants, must answer for their
official actions before the chancery of public opinion." As Mr. Justice Field puts it:
The likely danger of confusing the fury of human reaction to an attack on one's integrity, competence and honesty, ... the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they do not by express declaration take
with "imminent danger to the administration of justice," is the reason why courts have been loath to inflict upon themselves, when they are admitted to the Bar, is not merely to be obedient to the
punishment on those who assail their actuations.9 This danger lurks especially in such a case as this where those who Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times the respect due to courts of justice and
Sit as members of an entire Court are themselves collectively the aggrieved parties. judicial officers. This obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous
demeanor in open court, but includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and
Courts thus treat with forbearance and restraint a lawyer who vigorously assails their actuations. 10 For courageous
offensive conduct toward judges personally for their judicial acts. (Bradley, v. Fisher, 20 Law. 4d.
and fearless advocates are the strands that weave durability into the tapestry of justice. Hence, as citizen and
647, 652)
officer of the court, every lawyer is expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to expose
the shortcomings and indiscretions of courts and judges. 11 The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the orderly administration of justice.
Hence, in the — assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers — even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to
Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. 12 They should and expect critical evaluation of their performance. 13 For like
rein up their tempers.
the executive and the legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted in the soil of democratic society, nourished by the
periodic appraisal of the citizens whom it is expected to serve. The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more learned lawyer than the judge,
and it may tax his patience and temper to submit to rulings which he regards as incorrect, but
Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a citizen, to criticize in
discipline and self-respect are as necessary to the orderly administration of justice as they are to
properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of courts and judges. The reason is that
the effectiveness of an army. The decisions of the judge must be obeyed, because he is the
tribunal appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times be the foremost in rendering Unless the record in In re Petersen v. Petersen is cleared up so that my name is protected from
respectful submission. (In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481) the libel, lies, and perjury committed in the cases involved, I shall be compelled to resort to such
drastic action as the law allows and the case warrants.
We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment That is his privilege.
And he may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of it. That is his misfortune. Some Further, he said: "However let me assure you I do not intend to allow such dastardly work to go unchallenged," and
such frame of mind, however, should not be allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack said that he was engaged in dealing with men and not irresponsible political manikins or appearances of men.
a court's decision in words calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the Ordering the attorney's disbarment, the Supreme Court of Illinois declared:
temples of right. (Per Justice Sanchez in Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer, L-22979. June 26,
... Judges are not exempt from just criticism, and whenever there is proper ground for serious
1967)
complaint against a judge, it is the right and duty of a lawyer to submit his grievances to the
In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a proper authorities, but the public interest and the administration of the law demand that the
mere citizen at another. Thus, statements made by an attorney in private conversations or communications 16 or in courts should have the confidence and respect of the people. Unjust criticism, insulting
the course of a political, campaign, 17 if couched in insulting language as to bring into scorn and disrepute the language, and offensive conduct toward the judges personally by attorneys, who are officers of
administration of justice, may subject the attorney to disciplinary action. the court, which tend to bring the courts and the law into disrepute and to destroy public
confidence in their integrity, cannot be permitted. The letter written to the judge was plainly an
Of fundamental pertinence at this juncture is an examination of relevant parallel precedents.
attempt to intimidate and influence him in the discharge of judicial functions, and the bringing
1. Admitting that a "judge as a public official is neither sacrosanct nor immune to public criticism of his conduct in of the unauthorized suit, together with the write-up in the Sunday papers, was intended and
office," the Supreme Court of Florida in State v. Calhoon, 102 So. 2d 604, 608, nevertheless declared that "any calculated to bring the court into disrepute with the public.
conduct of a lawyer which brings into scorn and disrepute the administration of justice demands condemnation
5. In a public speech, a Rhode Island lawyer accused the courts of the state of being influenced by corruption and
and the application of appropriate penalties," adding that:
greed, saying that the seats of the Supreme Court were bartered. It does not appear that the attorney had
It would be contrary to, every democratic theory to hold that a judge or a court is beyond criticized any of the opinions or decisions of the Court. The lawyer was charged with unprofessional conduct, and
bona fide comments and criticisms which do not exceed the bounds of decency and truth or was ordered suspended for a period of two years. The Court said:
which are not aimed at. the destruction of public confidence in the judicial system as such.
A calumny of that character, if believed, would tend to weaken the authority of the court
However, when the likely impairment of the administration of justice the direct product of false
against whose members it was made, bring its judgments into contempt, undermine its
and scandalous accusations then the rule is otherwise.
influence as an unbiased arbiter of the people's right, and interfere with the administration of
2. In In Re Glenn, 130 N.W. 2d 672, an attorney was suspended for putting out and circulating a leaflet entitled justice. ...
"JUSTICE??? IN OTUMWA," which accused a municipal judge of having committed judicial error, of being so
Because a man is a member of the bar the court will not, under the guise of disciplinary
prejudiced as to deny his clients a fair trial on appeal and of being subject to the control of a group of city officials.
proceedings, deprive him of any part of that freedom of speech which he possesses as a
As a prefatory statement he wrote: "They say that Justice is BLIND, but it took Municipal Judge Willard to prove that it
citizen. The acts and decisions of the courts of this state, in cases that have reached final
is also DEAF and DUMB!" The court did not hesitate to find that the leaflet went much further than the accused, as a
determination, are not exempt from fair and honest comment and criticism. It is only when an
lawyer, had a right to do.
attorney transcends the limits of legitimate criticism that he will be held responsible for an abuse
The entire publication evidences a desire on the part Of the accused to belittle and besmirch of his liberty of speech. We well understand that an independent bar, as well as independent
the court and to bring it into disrepute with the general public. court, is always a vigilant defender of civil rights. In Re Troy, 111 Atl. 723. 725.
3. In In Re Humphrey, 163 Pac. 60, the Supreme Court of California affirmed the two-year suspension of an attorney 6. In In Re Rockmore, 111 NYS 879, an attorney was suspended for six months for submitting to an appellate court an
who published a circular assailing a judge who at that time was a candidate for re-election to a judicial office. The affidavit reflecting upon the judicial integrity of the court from which the appeal was taken. Such action, the Court
circular which referred to two decisions of the judge concluded with a statement that the judge "used his judicial said, constitutes unprofessional conduct justifying suspension from practice, notwithstanding that he fully retracted
office to enable -said bank to keep that money." Said the court: and withdrew the statements, and asserted that the affidavit was the result of an impulse caused by what he
considered grave injustice. The Court said:
We are aware that there is a line of authorities which place no limit to the criticism members of
the bar may make regarding the capacity, impartiality, or integrity of the courts, even though it We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a growing habit in the profession of criticising
extends to the deliberate publication by the attorney capable of correct reasoning of baseless the motives and integrity of judicial officers in the discharge of their duties, and thereby
insinuations against the intelligence and integrity of the highest courts. See State Board, etc. v. reflecting on the administration of justice and creating the impression that judicial action is
Hart. 116 N.W. 212, 17 LRA (N.S.) 585, 15 Ann Cas 197 and note: Ex parte Steinman 95 Pac. 220, influenced by corrupt or improper motives. Every attorney of this court, as well as every other
40 Am. Rep. 637. In the first case mentioned it was observed, for instance: citizen, has the right and it is his duty, to submit charges to the authorities in whom is vested the
power to remove judicial officers for any conduct or act of a judicial officer that tends to show
"It may be (although we do not so decide) that a libelous publication by an
a violation of his duties, or would justify an inference that he is false to his trust, or has improperly
attorney, directed against a judicial officer, could be so vile and of such a
administered the duties devolved upon him; and such charges to the tribunal, if based upon
nature as to justify the disbarment of its author."
reasonable inferences, will be encouraged, and the person making them
Yet the false charges made by an attorney in that case were of graver character than those protected. ... While we recognize the inherent right of an attorney in a case decided against
made by the respondent here. But, in our view, the better rule is that which requires of those him, or the right of the Public generally, to criticise the decisions of the courts, or the reasons
who are permitted to enjoy the privilege of practicing law the strictest observance at all times announced for them, the habit of criticising the motives of judicial officers in the performance of
of the principles of truth, honesty and fairness, especially in their criticism of the courts, to the their official duties, when the proceeding is not against the officers whose acts or motives are
end that the public confidence in the due administration of justice be upheld, and the dignity criticised, tends to subvert the confidence of the community in the courts of justice and in the
and usefulness of the courts be maintained. In re Collins, 81 Pac. 220. administration of justice; and when such charges are made by officers of the courts, who are
bound by their duty to protect the administration of justice, the attorney making such charges is
4. In People ex rel Chicago Bar Asso. v. Metzen, 123 N.E. 734, an attorney, representing a woman who had been
guilty of professional misconduct.
granted a divorce, attacked the judge who set aside the decree on bill of review. He wrote the judge a
threatening letter and gave the press the story of a proposed libel suit against the judge and others. The letter 7. In In Re Mitchell, 71 So. 467, a lawyer published this statement:
began:
I accepted the decision in this case, however, with patience, barring possible temporary The question remains whether the accused was guilty of professional misconduct in sending to
observations more or less vituperative and finally concluded, that, as my clients were foreigners, the Chief Justice the letter addressed to him. This was done, as we have found, for the very
it might have been expecting too much to look for a decision in their favor against a widow purpose of insulting him and the other justices of this court; and the insult was so directed to the
residing here. Chief Justice personally because of acts done by him and his associates in their official
capacity. Such a communication, so made, could never subserve any good purpose. Its only
The Supreme Court of Alabama declared that:
effect in any case would be to gratify the spite of an angry attorney and humiliate the officers
... the expressions above set out, not only transcend the bounds of propriety and privileged so assailed. It would not and could not ever enlighten the public in regard to their judicial
criticism, but are an unwarranted attack, direct, or by insinuation and innuendo, upon the capacity or integrity. Nor was it an exercise by the accused of any constitutional right, or of any
motives and integrity of this court, and make out a prima facie case of improper conduct upon privilege which any reputable attorney, uninfluenced by passion, could ever have any
the part of a lawyer who holds a license from this court and who is under oath to demean occasion or desire to assert. No judicial officer, with due regard to his position, can resent such
himself with all good fidelity to the court as well as to his client. an insult otherwise than by methods sanctioned by law; and for any words, oral or written,
however abusive, vile, or indecent, addressed secretly to the judge alone, he can have no
The charges, however, were dismissed after the attorney apologized to the Court.
redress in any action triable by a jury. "The sending of a libelous communication or libelous
8. In State ex rel. Dabney v. Breckenridge, 258 Pac. 747, an attorney published in a newspaper an article in which matter to the person defamed does not constitute an actionable publication." 18 Am. & Eng.
he impugned the motives of the court and its members to try a case, charging the court of having arbitrarily and for Enc. Law (2d Ed.) p. 1017. In these respects the sending by the accused of this letter to the Chief
a sinister purpose undertaken to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. The Court suspended the respondent for 30 Justice was wholly different from his other acts charged in the accusation, and, as we have
days, saying that: said, wholly different principles are applicable thereto.
The privileges which the law gives to members of the bar is one most subversive of the public The conduct of the accused was in every way discreditable; but so far as he exercised the
good, if the conduct of such members does not measure up to the requirements of the law rights of a citizen, guaranteed by the Constitution and sanctioned by considerations of public
itself, as well as to the ethics of the profession. ... policy, to which reference has been made, he was immune, as we hold, from the penalty here
sought to be enforced. To that extent his rights as a citizen were paramount to the obligation
The right of free speech and free discussion as to judicial determination is of prime importance
which he had assumed as an officer of this court. When, however he proceeded and thus
under our system and ideals of government. No right thinking man would concede for a
assailed the Chief Justice personally, he exercised no right which the court can recognize, but,
moment that the best interest to private citizens, as well as to public officials, whether he labors
on the contrary, willfully violated his obligation to maintain the respect due to courts and judicial
in a judicial capacity or otherwise, would be served by denying this right of free speech to any
officers. "This obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor
individual. But such right does not have as its corollary that members of the bar who are sworn
in open court, but it includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and offensive
to act honestly and honorably both with their client and with the courts where justice is
conduct toward the judges personally for their official acts." Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. (U.S.) 355,
administered, if administered at all, could ever properly serve their client or the public good by
20 L. Ed. 646. And there appears to be no distinction, as regards the principle involved, between
designedly misstating facts or carelessly asserting the law. Truth and honesty of purpose by
the indignity of an assault by an attorney upon a judge, induced by his official act, and a
members of the bar in such discussion is necessary. The health of a municipality is none the less
personal insult for like cause by written or spoken words addressed to the judge in his chambers
impaired by a polluted water supply than is the health of the thought of a community toward
or at his home or elsewhere. Either act constitutes misconduct wholly different from criticism of
the judiciary by the filthy wanton, and malignant misuse of members of the bar of the
judicial acts addressed or spoken to others. The distinction made is, we think entirely logical and
confidence the public, through its duly established courts, has reposed in them to deal with the
well sustained by authority. It was recognized in Ex parte McLeod supra. While the court in that
affairs of the private individual, the protection of whose rights he lends his strength and money
case, as has been shown, fully sustained the right of a citizen to criticise rulings of the court in
to maintain the judiciary. For such conduct on the part of the members of the bar the law itself
actions which are ended, it held that one might be summarily punished for assaulting a judicial
demands retribution — not the court.
officer, in that case a commissioner of the court, for his rulings in a cause wholly concluded. "Is it
9. In Bar Ass'n of San Francisco v. Philbrook, 170 Pac. 440, the filing of an affidavit by an attorney in a pending action in the power of any person," said the court, "by insulting or assaulting the judge because of
using in respect to the several judges the terms criminal corrupt, and wicked conspiracies,," "criminal confederates," official acts, if only the assailant restrains his passion until the judge leaves the building, to
"colossal and confident insolence," "criminal prosecution," "calculated brutality," "a corrupt deadfall," and similar compel the judge to forfeit either his own self-respect to the regard of the people by tame
phrases, was considered conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar, and the name of the erring lawyer was submission to the indignity, or else set in his own person the evil example of punishing the insult
ordered stricken from the roll of attorneys. by taking the law in his own hands? ... No high-minded, manly man would hold judicial office
under such conditions."
10. In State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W. 215, the erring attorney claimed that greater latitude should be
allowed in case of criticism of cases finally adjudicated than in those pending. This lawyer wrote a personal letter to That a communication such as this, addressed to the Judge personally, constitutes professional
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Minnesota impugning both the intelligence and the integrity of the said delinquency for which a professional punishment may be imposed, has been directly decided.
Chief Justice and his associates in the decisions of certain appeals in which he had been attorney for the defeated "An attorney who, after being defeated in a case, wrote a personal letter to the trial justice,
litigants. The letters were published in a newspaper. One of the letters contained this paragraph: complaining of his conduct and reflecting upon his integrity as a justice, is guilty of misconduct
and will be disciplined by the court." Matter of Manheim 133 App. Div. 136, 99 N.Y. Supp. 87 The
You assigned it (the property involved) to one who has no better right to it than the burglar to
same is held in Re Griffin (City Ct.) 1 N.Y. 7 and in Re Wilkes (City Ct.) 3 N.Y. In the latter case it
his plunder. It seems like robbing a widow to reward a fraud, with the court acting as a fence, or
appeared that the accused attorney had addressed a sealed letter to a justice of the City
umpire, watchful and vigilant that the widow got no undue
Court of New York, in which it was stated, in reference to his decision: "It is not law; neither is it
advantage. ... The point is this: Is a proper motive for the decisions discoverable, short of
common sense. The result is I have been robbed of 80." And it was decided that, while such
assigning to the court emasculated intelligence, or a constipation of morals and faithlessness to
conduct was not a contempt under the state, the matter should be "called to the attention of
duty? If the state bar association, or a committee chosen from its rank, or the faculty of the
the Supreme Court, which has power to discipline the attorney." "If," says the court, "counsel
University Law School, aided by the researches of its hundreds of bright, active students, or if any
learned in the law are permitted by writings leveled at the heads of judges, to charge them with
member of the court, or any other person, can formulate a statement of a correct motive for
ignorance, with unjust rulings, and with robbery, either as principals or accessories, it will not be
the decision, which shall not require fumigation before it is stated, and quarantine after it is
long before the general public may feel that they may redress their fancied grievances in like
made, it will gratify every right-minded citizen of the state to read it.
manner, and thus the lot of a judge will be anything but a happy one, and the administration of
The Supreme Court of Minnesota, in ordering the suspension of the attorney for six months, delivered its opinion as justice will fall into bad repute."
follows:
The recent case of Johnson v. State (Ala.) 44 South. 671, was in this respect much the same as having abused its power and mocked and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's
the case at bar. The accused, an attorney at law, wrote and mailed a letter to the circuit judge, client ... .
which the latter received by due course of mail, at his home, while not holding court, and which
2. In In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, counsel, a senator and the author of the Press Freedom Law, reaching to, the
referred in insulting terms to the conduct of the judge in a cause wherein the accused had
imprisonment for contempt of one Angel Parazo, who, invoking said law, refused to divulge the source of a news
been one of the attorneys. For this it was held that the attorney was rightly disbarred in having
item carried in his paper, caused to be published in i local newspaper a statement expressing his regret "that our
"willfully failed to maintain respect due to him [the judge] as a judicial officer, and thereby
High Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but it is once more putting in evidence the
breached his oath as an attorney." As recognizing the same principle, and in support of its
incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members," and his belief that "In the wake of so many
application to the facts of this case, we cite the following: Ex parte Bradley, 7 Wall (U.S.) 364, 19
blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last years, ... the only remedy to put an end to go much
L. Ed. 214; Beene v. State, 22 Ark. 149; Commonwealth v. Dandridge, 2 Va. Cas. 408; People v.
evil, is to change the members of the Supreme Court," which tribunal he denounced as "a constant peril to liberty
Green, 7 Colo 237, 244, 3 Pac. 65, 374, 49 Am. Rep. 351; Smith's Appeal, 179 Pa. 14, 36 Atl. 134;
and democracy" and "a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of justice of those memorable times of Cayetano
Scouten's Appeal, 186 Pa. 270, Atl. 481.
Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who were the honor and glory of the Philippine
Our conclusion is that the charges against the accused have been so far sustained as to make Judiciary." He there also announced that one of the first measures he would introduce in then forthcoming session
it our duty to impose such a penalty as may be sufficient lesson to him and a suitable warning to of Congress would have for its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. Finding him in contempt,
others. ... despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the guarantee of free speech, this Court declared:
11. In Cobb v. United States, 172 F. 641, the court affirmed a lawyer's suspension for 18 months for publishing a letter But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused to be published in the press, the
in a newspaper in which he accused a judge of being under the sinister influence of a gang that had paralyzed respondent does not merely criticize or comment on the decision of the Parazo case, which
him for two years. was then and still is pending consideration by this Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not
only intends to intimidate the members of this Court with the presentation of a bill in the next
12. In In Re Graves, 221 Pac. 411, the court held that an attorney's unjustifiable attack against the official acts and
Congress, of which he is one of the members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and reducing the
decisions of a judge constitutes "moral turpitude." There, the attorney was disbarred for criticising not only the judge,
number of Justices from eleven, so as to change the members of this Court which decided the
but his decisions in general claiming that the judge was dishonest in reaching his decisions and unfair in his general
Parazo case, who according to his statement, are incompetent and narrow minded, in order to
conduct of a case.
influence the final decision of said case by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct the
13. In In Re Doss, 12 N.E. 2d 659, an attorney published newspaper articles after the trial of cases, criticising the court administration of justice. But the respondent also attacks the honesty and integrity of this Court
in intemperate language. The invariable effect of this sort of propaganda, said the court, is to breed disrespect for for the apparent purpose of bringing the Justices of this Court into disrepute and degrading the
courts and bring the legal profession into disrepute with the public, for which reason the lawyer was disbarred. administration. of justice ... .
14. In State v. Grimes, 354 Pac. 2d 108, an attorney, dissatisfied with the loss of a case, prepared over a period of To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing deliberately so
years vicious attacks on jurists. The Oklahoma Supreme Court declared that his acts involved such gross moral many blunders and injustices, that is to say, that it has been deciding in favor of Que party
turpitude as to make him unfit as a member of the bar. His disbarment was ordered, even though he expressed an knowing that the law and justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in
intention to resign from the bar. whose favor the decision was rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would
tend necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the
The teaching derived from the above disquisition and impressive affluence of judicial pronouncements is
members of this Court, and consequently to lower ,or degrade the administration of justice by
indubitable: Post-litigation utterances or publications, made by lawyers, critical of the courts and their judicial
this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to
actuations, whether amounting to a crime or not, which transcend the permissible bounds of fair comment and
which the Filipino people may repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their
legitimate criticism and thereby tend to bring them into disrepute or to subvert public confidence in their integrity
rights when these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty
and in the orderly administration of justice, constitute grave professional misconduct which may be visited with
and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect justice
disbarment or other lesser appropriate disciplinary sanctions by the Supreme Court in the exercise of the
therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands, and disorder and perhaps
prerogatives inherent in it as the duly constituted guardian of the morals and ethics of the legal fraternity.
chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar and an officer of the courts, Atty. Vicente
Of course, rarely have we wielded our disciplinary powers in the face of unwarranted outbursts of counsel such as Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which
those catalogued in the above-cited jurisprudence. Cases of comparable nature have generally been disposed of he owes fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote
under the power of courts to punish for contempt which, although resting on different bases and calculated to distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the stability of other
attain a different end, nevertheless illustrates that universal abhorrence of such condemnable practices. institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting on a very shaky foundation.
A perusal of the more representative of these instances may afford enlightenment. Significantly, too, the Court therein hastened to emphasize that
1. In Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724, where counsel branded the denial of his motion for reconsideration as ... an attorney as an officer of the court is under special obligation to be respectful in his
"absolutely erroneous and constituting an outrage to the rigths of the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of conduct and communication to the courts; he may be removed from office or stricken from the
the popular will expressed at the polls," this Court, although conceding that roll of attorneys as being guilty of flagrant misconduct (17 L.R.A. [N.S.], 586, 594.)
It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of his client, should 3. In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer: In re Proceedings against Alfonso Ponce Enrile, et al., supra, where counsel
do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable, but it is not, and never will be so for charged this Court with having "repeatedly fallen" into ,the pitfall of blindly adhering to its previous "erroneous"
him to exercise said right by resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and pronouncements, "in disregard of the law on jurisdiction" of the Court of Industrial Relations, our condemnation of
respect which the dignity of the courts requires. The reason for this is that respect for the courts counsel's misconduct was unequivocal. Articulating the sentiments of the Court, Mr. Justice Sanchez stressed:
guarantees the stability of their institution. Without such guaranty, said institution would be
As we look back at the language (heretofore quoted) employed in the motion for
resting on a very shaky foundation,
reconsideration, implications there are which inescapably arrest attention. It speaks of one
found counsel guilty of contempt inasmuch as, in its opinion, the statements made disclosed pitfall into which this Court has repeatedly fallen whenever the jurisdiction of the Court of
Industrial Relations comes into question. That pitfall is the tendency of this Court to rely on its own
... an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional contempt of its
pronouncements in disregard of the law on jurisdiction. It makes a sweeping charge that the
dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded in utter
decisions of this Court, blindly adhere to earlier rulings without as much as making any reference
disregard of the laws, the rights to the parties, and 'of the untoward consequences, or with
to and analysis of the pertinent statute governing the jurisdiction of the industrial court. The plain
import of all these is that this Court is so patently inept that in determining the jurisdiction of the The power to discipline attorneys, who are officers of the court, is an inherent and incidental
industrial court, it has committed error and continuously repeated that error to the point of power in courts of record, and one which is essential to an orderly discharge of judicial
perpetuation. It pictures this Court as one which refuses to hew to the line drawn by the law on functions. To deny its existence is equivalent to a declaration that the conduct of attorneys
jurisdictional boundaries. Implicit in the quoted statements is that the pronouncements of this towards courts and clients is not subject to restraint. Such a view is without support in any
Court on the jurisdiction of the industrial court are not entitled to respect. Those statements respectable authority, and cannot be tolerated. Any court having the right to admit attorneys
detract much from the dignity of and respect due this Court. They bring into question the to practice and in this state that power is vested in this court-has the inherent right, in the
capability of the members — and some former members of this Court to render justice. The exercise of a sound judicial discretion to exclude them from practice. 23
second paragraph quoted yields a tone of sarcasm which counsel labelled as "so called" the
This, because the admission of a lawyer to the practice of law is a representation to all that he is worthy of their
"rule against splitting of jurisdiction."
confidence and respect. So much so that —
Similar thoughts and sentiments have been expressed in other cases 18 which, in the interest of brevity, need not
... whenever it is made to appear to the court that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust
now be reviewed in detail.
and confidence of the public and of the courts, it becomes, not only the right, but the duty, of
Of course, a common denominator underlies the aforecited cases — all of them involved contumacious statements the court which made him one of its officers, and gave him the privilege of ministering within its
made in pleadings filed pending litigation. So that, in line with the doctrinal rule that the protective mantle of bar, to withdraw the privilege. Therefore it is almost universally held that both the admission and
contempt may ordinarily be invoked only against scurrilous remarks or malicious innuendoes while a court mulls over disbarment of attorneys are judicial acts, and that one is admitted to the bar and exercises his
a pending case and not after the conclusion thereof, 19 Atty. Almacen would now seek to sidestep the thrust of a functions as an attorney, not as a matter of right, but as a privilege conditioned on his own
contempt charge by his studied emphasis that the remarks for which he is now called upon to account were made behavior and the exercise of a just and sound judicial discretion. 24
only after this Court had written finis to his appeal. This is of no moment.
Indeed, in this jurisdiction, that power to remove or suspend has risen above being a mere inherent or incidental
The rule that bars contempt after a judicial proceeding has terminated, has lost much of its vitality. For sometime, power. It has been elevated to an express mandate by the Rules of Court. 25
this was the prevailing view in this jurisdiction. The first stir for a modification thereof, however, came when, in People
Our authority and duty in the premises being unmistakable, we now proceed to make an assessment of whether or
vs. Alarcon, 20 the then Chief Justice Manuel V. Moran dissented with the holding of the majority, speaking thru
not the utterances and actuations of Atty. Almacen here in question are properly the object of disciplinary
Justice Jose P. Laurel, which upheld the rule above-adverted to. A complete disengagement from the settled rule
sanctions.
was later to be made in In re Brillantes, 21 a contempt proceeding, where the editor of the Manila Guardian was
adjudged in contempt for publishing an editorial which asserted that the 1944 Bar Examinations were conducted in The proffered surrender of his lawyer's certificate is, of course, purely potestative on Atty. Almacen's part.
a farcical manner after the question of the validity of the said examinations had been resolved and the case Unorthodox though it may seem, no statute, no law stands in its way. Beyond making the mere offer, however, he
closed. Virtually, this was an adoption of the view expressed by Chief Justice Moran in his dissent in Alarcon to the went farther. In haughty and coarse language, he actually availed of the said move as a vehicle for his vicious
effect that them may still be contempt by publication even after a case has been terminated. Said Chief Justice tirade against this Court. The integrated entirety of his petition bristles with vile insults all calculated to drive home his
Moran in Alarcon: contempt for and disrespect to the Court and its members. Picturing his client as "a sacrificial victim at the altar of
hypocrisy," he categorically denounces the justice administered by this Court to be not only blind "but also deaf
A publication which tends to impede, obstruct, embarrass or influence the courts in
and dumb." With unmitigated acerbity, he virtually makes this Court and its members with verbal talons, imputing to
administering justice in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes criminal contempt which is
the Court the perpetration of "silent injustices" and "short-cut justice" while at the same time branding its members as
'summarily punishable by courts. A publication which tends to degrade the courts and to
"calloused to pleas of justice." And, true to his announced threat to argue the cause of his client "in the people's
destroy public confidence in them or that which tends to bring them in any way into disrepute,
forum," he caused the publication in the papers of an account of his actuations, in a calculated effort ;to startle the
constitutes likewise criminal contempt, and is equally punishable by courts. What is sought, in
public, stir up public indignation and disrespect toward the Court. Called upon to make an explanation, he
the first kind of contempt, to be shielded against the influence of newspaper comments, is the
expressed no regret, offered no apology. Instead, with characteristic arrogance, he rehashed and reiterated his
all-important duty of the courts to administer justice in the decision of a pending case. In the
vituperative attacks and, alluding to the Scriptures, virtually tarred and feathered the Court and its members as
second kind of contempt, the punitive hand of justice is extended to vindicate the courts from
inveterate hypocrites incapable of administering justice and unworthy to impose disciplinary sanctions upon him.
any act or conduct calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy public confidence in
them. In the first there is no contempt where there is no action pending, as there is no decision The virulence so blatantly evident in Atty. Almacen's petition, answer and oral argumentation speaks for itself. The
which might in any way be influenced by the newspaper publication. In the second, the vicious language used and the scurrilous innuendoes they carried far transcend the permissible bounds of
contempt exists, with or without a pending case, as what is sought to be protected is the court legitimate criticism. They could never serve any purpose but to gratify the spite of an irate attorney, attract public
itself and its dignity. Courts would lose their utility if public confidence in them is destroyed. attention to himself and, more important of all, bring ;this Court and its members into disrepute and destroy public
confidence in them to the detriment of the orderly administration of justice. Odium of this character and texture
Accordingly, no comfort is afforded Atty. Almacen by the circumstance that his statements and actuations now
presents no redeeming feature, and completely negates any pretense of passionate commitment to the truth. It is
under consideration were made only after the judgment in his client's appeal had attained finality. He could as
not a whit less than a classic example of gross misconduct, gross violation of the lawyer's oath and gross
much be liable for contempt therefor as if it had been perpetrated during the pendency of the said appeal.
transgression of the Canons of Legal Ethics. As such, it cannot be allowed to go unrebuked. The way for the exertion
More than this, however, consideration of whether or not he could be held liable for contempt for such post of our disciplinary powers is thus laid clear, and the need therefor is unavoidable.
litigation utterances and actuations, is here immaterial. By the tenor of our Resolution of November 17, 1967, we
We must once more stress our explicit disclaimer of immunity from criticism. Like any other Government entity in a
have confronted the situation here presented solely in so far as it concerns Atty. Almacen's professional identity, his
viable democracy, the Court is not, and should not be, above criticism. But a critique of the Court must be
sworn duty as a lawyer and his fitness as an officer of this Court, in the exercise of the disciplinary power the morals
intelligent and discriminating, fitting to its high function as the court of last resort. And more than this, valid and
inherent in our authority and duty to safeguard and ethics of the legal profession and to preserve its ranks from the
healthy criticism is by no means synonymous to obloquy, and requires detachment and disinterestedness, real
intrusions of unprincipled and unworthy disciples of the noblest of callings. In this inquiry, the pendency or non-
qualities approached only through constant striving to attain them. Any criticism of the Court must, possess the
pendency of a case in court is altogether of no consequence. The sole objective of this proceeding is to preserve
quality of judiciousness and must be informed -by perspective and infused by philosophy. 26
the purity of the legal profession, by removing or suspending a member whose misconduct has proved himself unfit
to continue to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney. It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in ;the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen
would have appear, the members of the Court are the "complainants, prosecutors and judges" all rolled up into
Undoubtedly, this is well within our authority to do. By constitutional mandate, 22 our is the solemn duty, amongst
one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding
others, to determine the rules for admission to the practice of law. Inherent in this prerogative is the corresponding
at hand but also of our role therein.
authority to discipline and exclude from the practice of law those who have proved themselves unworthy of
continued membership in the Bar. Thus —
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui generis. Neither purely civil [A.C. No. 2339. February 24, 1984.]
nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not — and does not involve — a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an
investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers. 27 Not being intended to. inflict punishment, it is in no sense JOSE M. CASTILLO, Complainant, v. ATTY. SABINO PADILLA, JR., Respondent.
a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein It may be initiated by the Jose M. Castillo for complainant.
Court motu proprio. 28 Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or Anselmo M. Carlos for Respondent.
not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary
powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court RESOLUTION
with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of
justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to PLANA, J.:
be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. 29 In such posture, there can Atty. Jose M. Castillo, complainant, seeks the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for the use of
thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor. insulting language in the course of judicial proceedings.chanrobles.com : virtual law library
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any tirade against the Court as
As the material facts are not in dispute, we have deemed the case submitted for resolution on the basis of the
a body is necessarily and inextricably as much so against the individual members thereof. But in the exercise of its
pleadings of the parties.
disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members.
Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act not as such individuals but.
Complainant was the counsel for the defendants (and at the same time, one of the defendants) in Criminal Case
only as a duly constituted court. Their distinct individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. 30So that, in a very
No. 13331 for forcible entry before the Metropolitan Trial Court of Caloocan. Respondent was counsel for the
real sense, if there be any complainant in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members
plaintiff. At the hearing of the case on November 19, 1981, while complainant was formally offering his evidence, he
thereof — as well as the people themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives, would be placed
heard respondent say "bobo." When complainant turned toward respondent, he saw the latter looking at him
at grave hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the retention in the Bar of men unfit to
(complainant) menacingly. Embarrassed and humiliated in the presence of many people, complainant was unable
discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal fraternity.
to proceed with his offer of evidence. The court proceedings had to be suspended.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident of the power to admit
persons to said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot While admitting the utterance, respondent denied having directed the same at the complainant, claiming that
abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it. 31 So that even if it be what he said was "Ay, que bobo", referring to "the manner complainant was trying to inject wholly irrelevant and
conceded that the members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not and cannot highly offensive matters into the record" while in the process of making an offer of evid