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Republic of the Philippines
 examination represented him as an A.A.

graduate
SUPREME COURT
 (1940-1941) of such college. Now, asserting he had
Manila obtained his A.A. title from the Arellano University in
April, 1949, he says he was erroneously certified, due
EN BANC to confusion, as a graduate of Quisumbing College, in
his school records.
A.C. No. 244 March 29, 1963
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the
IN THE MATTER OF THE PETITION FOR foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and approved
DISBARMENT OF TELESFORO A. DIAO, 
 by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the
vs.
 parties adducing other evidence to prove their case not
SEVERINO G. MARTINEZ, petitioner. covered by this stipulation of facts. 1äwphï1.ñët

BENGZON, C.J.: This explanation is not acceptable, for the reason that
the "error" or "confusion" was obviously of his own
making. Had his application disclosed his having
After successfully passing the corresponding
obtained A.A. from Arellano University, it would also
examinations held in 1953, Telesforo A. Diao was
have disclosed that he got it in April, 1949, thereby
admitted to the Bar.
showing that he began his law studies (2nd semester
of 1948-1949) six months before obtaining his
About two years later, Severino Martinez charged him Associate in Arts degree. And then he would not have
with having falsely represented in his application for been permitted to take the bar tests, because our
such Bar examination, that he had the requisite Rules provide, and the applicant for the Bar
academic qualifications. The matter was in due course examination must affirm under oath, "That previous to
referred to the Solicitor General who caused the the study of law, he had successfully and satisfactorily
charge to be investigated; and later he submitted a completed the required pre-legal education(A.A.) as
report recommending that Diao's name be erased from prescribed by the Department of Private
the roll of attorneys, because contrary to the Education," (emphasis on "previous").
allegations in his petition for examination in this Court,
he (Diao) had not completed, before taking up law
Plainly, therefore, Telesforo A. Diao was not qualified to
subjects, the required pre-legal education prescribed
take the bar examinations; but due to his false
by the Department of Private Education, specially, in
representations, he was allowed to take it, luckily
the following particulars:
passed it, and was thereafter admitted to the Bar. Such
admission having been obtained under false pretenses
(a) Diao did not complete his high school training; and must be, and is hereby revoked. The fact that he
hurdled the Bar examinations is immaterial. Passing
(b) Diao never attended Quisumbing College, and such examinations is not the only qualification to
never obtained his A.A. diploma therefrom — which become an attorney-at-law; taking the prescribed
contradicts the credentials he had submitted in support courses of legal study in the regular manner is equally
of his application for examination, and of his allegation essential..
therein of successful completion of the "required pre-
legal education". The Clerk is, therefore, ordered to strike from the roll of
attorneys, the name of Telesforo A. Diao. And the latter
Answering this official report and complaint, Telesforo is required to return his lawyer's diploma within thirty
A. Diao, practically admits the first charge: but he days. So ordered.
claims that although he had left high school in his third
year, he entered the service of the U.S. Army, passed Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion,
the General Classification Test given therein, which Reyes, J.B.L., Barrera, Paredes, Dizon, Regala and
(according to him) is equivalent to a high school Makalintal, JJ., concur.
diploma, and upon his return to civilian life, the
educational authorities considered his army service as
the equivalent of 3rd and 4th year high school.

We have serious doubts, about the validity of this


claim, what with respondent's failure to exhibit any
certification to that effect (the equivalence) by the
proper school officials. However, it is unnecessary to
dwell on this, since the second charge is clearly
meritorious. Diao never obtained his A.A. from
Quisumbing College; and yet his application for
Republic of the Philippines
 On October 8, 1987 pursuant to the writ of execution
SUPREME COURT
 issued in Civil Case No. 6046 for ejectment,
Manila
complainant and Peregrina were served a notice to
vacate the rented premises within four (4) days from
EN BANC
receipt of notice.

A.M. Case No. 3195. December 18, 1989 Desperate and at a loss on what to do, they consulted
a certain Sheriff Pagalunan, on the matter. Pagalunan,
MA. LIBERTAD SJ CANTILLER, complainant, 
 in turn, introduced them to herein respondent. After
vs.
 such introduction, the parties "impliedly agreed" that
ATTY. HUMBERTO V. POTENCIANO, respondent. respondent would handle their case. Forthwith, a
petition entitled "Annulment of Judgment, Annulment of
Eduardo Cabreros, Jr. for complainant. Sale and Damages with prayer for Preliminary
Injunction and/or Status Quo Order, etc." was prepared
RESOLUTION by respondent to forestall the execution of the order to
vacate in Civil Case No. 6046.

PER CURIAM In the afternoon of October 9,1987, the complainant


was made to sign by respondent what she described
Public interest requires that an attorney exert his best as a "[h]astily prepared, poorly conceived, and
efforts and ability in the prosecution or defense of his haphazardly composed 3 petition for annulment of
client's cause. A lawyer who performs that duty with judgment. Complainant alleges that respondent
diligence and candor not only protects the interests of promised her that the necessary restraining order
his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does would be secured if only because the judge who would
honor to the bar and helps maintain the respect of the hear the matter was his "katsukaran" (close friend).
community to the legal profession. This is so because
the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it the Thereupon, the petition was filed with the Regional
correlative duties not only to the client but also to the Trial Court, Branch 153, Pasig, Metro Manila and
court, to the bar or to the public. That circumstance docketed as Civil Case No. 55118. Respondent
explains the public concern for the maintenance of an demanded from the complainant one thousand pesos
untarnished standard of conduct by every attorney (P l,000.00) as attorney's fee which the latter paid that
towards his client. 1 same afternoon.

Subject of this administrative complaint is Humberto V. However, when the case was raffled and assigned to
Potenciano, a practicing lawyer and a member of the Branch 153, the presiding judge asked respondent to
Philippine Bar under Roll No. 21862. He is charged withdraw as counsel in the case on the ground of their
with deceit, fraud, and misrepresentation, and also with friendship.
gross misconduct, malpractice and of acts unbecoming
of an officer of the court. On October 11, 1987, respondent went to the house of
complainant and asked her to be ready with two
The essential facts are as follows: 2 thousand pesos (P 2,000.00) to be given to another
judge who will issue the restraining order in the
Complainant herein is the sister of Peregrina Cantiller, ejectment case (Civil Case No. 6046). Complainant
defendant in an action for "ejectment" docketed as Civil and her sister were only able to raise the amount of
Case No. 6046 before the Metropolitan Trial Court of one thousand pesos which they immediately gave to
Manila, Branch 57, San Juan, Metro Manila. respondent.

Another action, likewise involving Peregrina but this Later respondent informed the complainant and her
time as plaintiff, was then pending before the Regional sister that he could not locate the judge who would
Trial Court, Branch 168, Pasig, Metro Manila docketed issue the restraining order. The parties, then, instead
as Civil Case No. 54117 for "reconveyance with went to the Max's Restaurant where respondent
damages." Both actions involve the apartment unit ordered some food - including two plastic bags of food
being rented by complainant and her sister. allegedly to be given to the judge who would issue the
restraining order. At this juncture, respondent asked for
When the two cases were concluded, Peregrina came the remaining balance of the two thousand pesos (P
out the losing party. Civil Case No. 54117 for 2,000.00) which he earlier demanded. Complainant
reconveyance was ordered dismissed by the Regional gave her last money-a ten dollar ($ 10.00) bill.
Trial Court on June 8, 1987 while Civil Case No. 6046
for ejectment was decided by the Metropolitan Trial Sometime after the filing of Civil Case No. 55118,
Court against her. respondent informed complainant and Peregrina that
there was a need to file another case with the Regional
Trial Court to enable them to retain possession of the complainant respondent should have carefully
apartment. For this purpose, respondent told prepared the pleadings if only to establish the justness
complainant to prepare the amount of Ten Thousand of his representation. The little time involved is no
Pesos (P 10,000.00) allegedly to be deposited with the excuse. Complainant reposed full faith in him. His first
Treasurer's Office of Pasig as purchase price of the duty was to file the best pleading within his capability.
apartment and another one thousand pesos (P Apparently respondent was more interested in getting
1,000.00) to cover the expenses of the suit. the most out of the complainant who was in a hopeless
Respondent stressed to the complainant the need and situation. He bragged about his closeness to the judge
urgency of filing the new complaint. concerned in one case and talked about the need to
"buy" the restraining order in the other. Worse still he
Complainant and Peregrina raised the said amounts got P 10,000.00 as alleged deposit in court which he
through the kindness of some friends and relatives. On never deposited. Instead he pocketed the same. The
October 26,1987, the money was handed over to the pattern to milk the complainant dry is obvious.
respondent.
When a lawyer takes a client's cause, he thereby
On the same date, a complaint for "Specific covenants that he will exert all effort for its prosecution
Performance, Annulment of Simulated or Spurious until its final conclusion. The failure to exercise due
Sale with Damages," later docketed as Civil Case No. diligence or the abandonment of a client's cause
55210, was filed by respondent with the Regional Trial makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust which the
Court, Branch 165, Pasig, Metro Manila. client had reposed on him. The acts of respondent in
this case violate the most elementary principles of
At the hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil professional ethics . 7
Case No. 55118 on October 30, 1987, respondent,
contrary to his promise that he would secure a The Court finds that respondent failed to exercise due
restraining order, withdrew his appearance as counsel diligence in protecting his client's interests.
for complainant. Complainant was not able to get Respondent had knowledge beforehand that he would
another lawyer as replacement. Thus, no restraining be asked by the presiding judge in Civil Case No.
order or preliminary injunction was obtained. As a 55118 to withdraw his appearance as counsel by
consequence, the order to vacate in Civil Case No. reason of their friendship. Despite such prior
6046 was eventually enforced and executed. knowledge, respondent took no steps to find a
replacement nor did he inform complainant of this fact.
Sometime thereafter, it came to complainant's
knowledge that there was really no need to make a Even assuming that respondent had no previous
deposit of ten thousand pesos (P l0,000.00) relative to knowledge that he would be asked to withdraw, the
Civil Case No. 55210. After further inquiry, she found record is quite clear that four (4) days prior to the
out that in fact there was no such deposit made. Thus, hearing of the preliminary injunction in Civil Case No.
on December 23,1987, complainant sent a demand 55118 respondent already filed a motion therein
letter to respondent asking for the return of the total withdrawing as complainant's counsel interposing as
amount of eleven thousand pesos (P 11,000.00) which reason therefor his frequent attacks of pain due to
the former earlier gave to the latter. However, this letter hemorrhoids. Despite this void, respondent failed to
was never answered and the money was never find a replacement. He did not even ask complainant to
returned. Hence, complainant lodged this hire another lawyer in his stead. 8
administrative complaint against herein respondent.
His actuation is definitely inconsistent with his duty to
Meanwhile, on December 29,1987, the Regional Trial protect with utmost dedication the interest of his client
Court, Branch 153, dismissed Civil Case No. 55118 for and of the fidelity, trust and confidence which he owes
failure to state a cause of action.4 On January his client. 9 More so in this case, where by reason of
20,1988, Civil Case No. 5521 0 was likewise dismissed his gross negligence complainant thereby suffered by
for being identical with Civil Case No. 55118. 5 losing all her cases.

Respondent in his answer contends that the filing of The filing of Civil Case No. 55210 on October 26,
Civil Cases Nos. 55118 and 55210 was done in good 1987, the same day that he had already filed a motion
faith and that the allegations of complainant relative to to withdraw as counsel for complainant in Civil Case
the administrative charge against him are all lies, No. 55118, reveals his lack of good faith as an
product of one's imagination and only intended to advocate. He also failed to appear for the complainant
harrass him. 6 in said case. It was all a show to get more money from
her. This adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
This Court agrees that the petitions in Civil Cases Nos. law. When confronted with this evident irregularity, he
55118 and 55210 appear to be poorly prepared and lamely stated that while he did not physically appear
written. having represented himself capable of picking for complainant he nevertheless prepared and drafted
up the cudgels for the apparently lost cause of the pleadings.
His services were engaged by complainant hoping that
the property subject of the ejectment proceeding would
be returned to her. In fact, it was respondent who
persuaded complainant that the filing of these two
cases simultaneously were the means by which this
objective can be achieved. His duty was not only to
prepare the pleadings but to represent complainant
until the termination of the cases. This he failed to do.

His representation that there was an immediate need


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

The allegation of respondent that the ten thousand


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

Lawyers are indispensable part of the whole system of


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

Lawyers should be fair, honest, respectable, above


suspicion and beyond reproach in dealing with their
clients. The profession is not synonymous with an
ordinary business proposition. It is a matter of public
interest.

WHEREFORE, after considering the entirety of the


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

Finally, respondent is hereby ordered to return to


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

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
 (Prudential Bank vs. Judge Jose P. Castro and Atty.
SUPREME COURT
 Benjamin M. Grecia [Adm. Case No. 2756], 155 SCRA
Manila 604).

EN BANC Three years later, on December 18, 1990, the Court,


heeding his pleas for compassions and his promise to
mend his ways, reinstated him in the profession. Only
eight (8) months later, on August 20, 1991, he was
A.C. No. 3694 June 17, 1993 back before the court facing another charge of
dishonesty and unethical practice. Apparently, the
earlier disciplinary action that the Court took against
ALBERTO FERNANDEZ, ISABELO ONGTENGCO,
him did not effectively reform him.
ACHILLES BARTOLOME, AND ST. LUKES
MEDICAL CENTER, complainants, 

vs.
 The complaint of St. Luke's against Attorney Grecia
ATTORNEY BENJAMIN M. GRECIA, respondent. was referred by the Court to Deputy Court of
Administrator Juanito A. Bernad for investigation,
report and recommendation. The following are Judge
Norberto Gonzales for Fernandez.
Bernad's findings:
Bu Castro for Ongtengco & Bartolome.
The late Fe Linda Aves was seven (7) months
pregnant when she was admitted as a patient at St.
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Peña & Nolasco for St. Luke's Hospital on December 20, 1990. She
Luke's Hospital. complained of dizziness, hypertension, and abdominal
pains with vaginal bleeding. Dr. Fernandez, head of the
Joaquin P. Yuseco for respondent Benjamin Grecia.
 OB-GYNE Department of St. Luke's, Dr. Ongtengco,
Jr., a cardiologist, and Dr. Bartolome, a urologist,
examined Mrs. Aves and diagnosed her problem as
PER CURIAM: mild pre-eclampsia (p. 63, Rollo). Five (5) days later,
on Christmas day, December 25, 1990, Mrs. Aves was
This disbarment complaint against Attorney Benjamin discharged from the hospital, to celebrate Christmas
M. Grecia was filed on August 20, 1991 by Doctors with her family.
Alberto Fernandez, Isabelo Ongtengco and Achilles
Bartolome and the St. Luke's Medical Center (hereafter However, she was rushed back to the hospital the next
"St. Luke's" for brevity) where they are accredited day, December 26, 1990. On December 27, 1990, she
medical practitioners. The respondent is charged with died together with her unborn child.
dishonesty and grave misconduct in connection with
the theft of some pages from a medical chart which Blaming the doctors of St. Luke's for his wife's demise,
was material evidence in a damage suit filed by his Attorney Damaso B. Aves, along with his three (3)
clients against the aforenamed doctors and St. Luke's. minor children, brought an action for damages against
the hospital and the attending physicians of his wife.
Disciplinary proceedings like this one are in a class by Their counsel, respondent Attorney Benjamin Grecia,
themselves. As we observed in In Re Almacen, 31 filed a complaint entitled: "Attorney Damaso B. Aves, et
SCRA 562,600, they are neither purely civil nor purely al. vs. St. Luke's Medical Center, Drs. Alberto
criminal. "Public interests is the primary objective, and Fernandez, Isabelo Ongtengco, Jr. and Achilles
the real question for determination is whether or not Bartolome" in the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela,
the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the Bulacan, where it was docketed as Civil Case No.
privileges as such." The purpose is "to protect the court 3548-V and assigned to Branch 172, presided over by
and the public from the misconduct of officers of the Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong.
court" (In Re Montagne & Dominguez, 3 Phil. 577,
588), or to remove from the profession a person whose On July 4, 1991, the medical records of Fe Linda Aves
misconduct has proved him unfit to be entrusted with were produced in court by St. Luke's, as requested by
the duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of Attorney Grecia. The records were entrusted to the
an attorney (Ledesma vs. Climaco, 57 SCRA 473; Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Avelina Robles.
Atienza vs. Evangelista, 80 SCRA 338).
On July 16, 1991, between 8:30-9:00 o' clock in the
Disbarment is nothing new to respondent Grecia. On morning, upon arriving in court for another hearing of
November 12, 1987, he was disbarred for his immoral the case, Attorney Grecia borrowed from Mrs. Robles
complicity or "unholy alliance" with a judge in Quezon the folder containing the medical records of Mrs. Aves.
City to rip off banks and Chinese business firms which
had the misfortune to be sued in the latter's court
While leafing through the folder, Grecia surreptitiously premises, he was able to talk with a house maid. He
tore off two (2) pages of the medical records. The pretended to be a cousin of "SID" and asked for the
respondent's act was notified by Mrs. Robles and latter. The housemaid informed him that "SID" was
Maria Arnet Sandico, a clerk. They saw Grecia crumple sent home to his province by Grecia.
the papers and place them inside the right pocket of
his coat. He immediately returned the folder to Mrs. He talked with Grecia himself but the latter denied that
Roblesa (who was momentarily rendered speechless he had a driver named "SID."
by his audacious act) and left the office.
PO3 Alabastro also talked wit one of Grecia's
Mrs. Robles examined the medical chart and found neighbors across the street. The neighbor confirmed
pages "72" and "73" missing. She ordered Sandico to that Grecia's driver was a fellow named "SID".
follow the respondent. Sandico saw Grecia near the
canteen at the end of the building, calling a man The incident caused enormous emotional strain to the
(presumably his driver) who was leaning against a personnel of Judge Capulong's court, so much so that
parked car (presumably Grecia's car). When the man the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Avelina Robles, was
approached, Grecia gave him the crumpled papers hospitalized. Because of the incident, Judge Capulong
which he took from his coatpocket. Sandico returned to inhibited herself from conducting the trial of Civil Case
the office and reported what she had seen to Mrs. No. 3548-V.
Robles. The latter in turn reported it to Judge
Capulong. The three of

On August 20, 1991, St. Luke's failed this disbarment
them — Judge Capulong, Mrs. Robles and Ms.
case against Grecia.
Sandico — went downstairs. Ms. Sandico pointed to
Judge Capulong the man to whom Grecia had given
the papers which he had filched from medical folder of At the investigation of the case by Judge Bernad,
Linda Aves. Judge Capulong told Sandico to bring the Attorney Damaso Aves, the surviving spouse of the
man to her chamber. On the way back to chamber, late Fe Linda Aves and plaintiff in Civil case No. 3548-
Judge Capulong saw the plaintiff, Attorney Damaso V, testified that it was Attorney Bu Castro, counsel of
Aves, and St. Luke's counsel, Attorney Melanie the defendants in said Civil Case No. 3548-V, who
Limson. She requested them to come to her office. lifted two pages from the medical folder which lay
among some papers on top of the table of Acting
Branch Clerk of Court Robles. When he allegedly went
In the presence of Attorneys Aves and Limson, Mrs.
outside the courthouse to wait for Attorney Grecia to
Robles, Ms. Sandico, and a visitor, Judge Capulong
arrive, he noticed Attorney Castro come out of the
confronted the man and ordered him to give her the
building and walk toward a man in the parking lot to
papers which Grecia had passed on to him. The man
whom he handed a piece of paper. Afterward, Attorney
at first denied that he had the papers in his possession.
Castro reentered the courthouse.
However, when Sandico declared that she saw Grecia
hand over the papers to him, the man sheepishly took
them from his pants pocket and gave them to Judge Respondent Grecia denied any knowledge of the theft
Capulong. When the crumpled pages "72" and "73" of of the exhibits in the Aves case. He alleged that the
the medical folder were shown to Sandico, she person who was caught in possession of the detached
identified them as the same papers that she saw pages of the medical record was actually "planted" by
Grecia hand over to the man. his adversaries to discredit him and destroy his
reputation.
After the confrontation, Sandicio and Robles went back
to their office. Mrs. Robles collapsed in a dead faint He denied that he had a driver. He alleged that his car
and was rushed to the Fatima Hospital where she later was out of order on July 16, 1991, so he was fetched
regained consciousness. by the driver of Attorney Aves in the latter's "Maxima"
car. He arrived in the courthouse at exactly 9:15 in the
morning and went straight to the courtroom on the
In the ensuing excitement and confusion of recovering
second floor of the building. He did not leave the place
the stolen exhibits, no one thought of ascertaining the
until his case was called at 9:40. Since it was allegedly
identity of the man from whom they were recovered.
a very warm day, he wore a dark blue barong tagalog,
Judge Capulong belatedly realized this, so she
not a business suit. He branded the testimony of Ms.
directed the Valenzuela Police to find out who he was.
Sandico as an absolute falsehood. He alleged that he
She also ordered Sandico to submit a formal report of
would not have done the act imputed to him, because
the theft of the exhibits to the police.
the medical chart was the very foundation of the civil
case which he filed against St. Luke's and its doctors.
A police investigator, PO3 Arnold Alabastro, tried to He wondered why the man, alleged to be his driver, to
ascertain the name of Grecia's driver who was known whom he supposedly gave the detached pages of the
only as "SID." He located Grecia's house in Quezon medical chart, was neither held nor arrested. His
City. Although he was not allowed to enter the identity was not even established.
He likewise branded the testimony of Police Grecia was punctilious when testifying on the hour of
Investigator Alabastro as a fabrication for he had never his arrival in court (9:15 A.M.) on July 16, 1991, and he
seen him before. even remembered that on that day he wore a dark blue
barong tagalog (an apparel that has no pockets), his
He underscored the fact that none of the lawyers in the memory was not sharp when he was cross-examined
courthouse, nor any of the court personnel, accosted regarding more recent events. For instance, he insisted
him about the purloined pages of the medical record that Judge Bernad was absent on August 4, 1992, but
and he alleged that the unidentified man remained in the truth is that a hearing was held on that date as
the courtroom even after the confrontation in the shown by the transcript.
Judge's chamber.
When he was confronted with exhibits "A" and "B,"
In evaluating the testimonies of the witnesses, Judge Grecia tried to make an issue of the absence of a court
Bernad found the court employee, Maria Arnie order to deposit Linda Aves' medical chart in court. He
Sandico, and Acting branch Clerk of Court Avelina forgot that it was he who asked that the chart be left
Robles entirely credible and "without any noticeable with the clerk of court.
guile nor attempt at fabrication, remaining constant
even under pressure of cross examination" (p. 11, His allegation that he would be the last person to
Judge Bernad's Report). remove pages 72 and 73 of the medical chart for the
entries therein are favorable to his client's cause is
That the Acting Branch Clerk of Court, Mrs. Robles, specious. As a matter of fact, the entries show that
who is not even a lawyer, and her lowly clerk, Ms. after Mrs. Aves was readmitted to the hospital on
Sandico, did not promptly raise a hue and cry on December 26, 1990, the doctors were able to stabilize
seeing Grecia tear off two pages of the medical record, her blood pressure with a normal reading of 120/80.
was understandable for they hesitated to confront a
man of his stature. Nevertheless, they had the On the basis of the evidence presented before Judge
presence of mind to immediately report the matter to Bernad, the Court is convinced that the charge against
their Judge who forthwith took appropriate steps to Attorney Benjamin M. Grecia is true. By stealing two
recover the exhibits. Robles, Sandico and PO3 pages from Linda Aves' medical chart and passing
Alabastro had absolutely no motive to testify falsely them on to his driver, he violated Rule 1.01, canon 1 of
against the respondent. the Rules of Professional Responsibility as well as
canon 7 thereof which provide that:
While Judge Capulong took the blame for failing to
ascertain the identity of Attorney Grecia's "driver," her Canon 1. . . .
swift action in summoning and confronting him led to
the recovery of the stolen pages of the medical chart. Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral and deceitful conduct.
Unfortunately, the inquiry made by Police Investigation
Arnold Alabastro into identity of the man was fruitless Canon 7. A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity
for he was never seen again. and dignity of the legal profession and support the
activities of the Integrated Bar.
Attorney Aves' allegation that it was St. Luke's counsel,
Attorney Castro, not Grecia, who stole the pages from A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is "like the court
the medical folder and slipped them to an unidentified itself, an instrument or agency to advance the ends of
man, is an incredible fabrication. Not only is it directly justice" (People ex rel Karlin vs. Culkin, 60 A.L.R. 851,
contradicted by Mrs. Robles and Ms. Sandico, but, 855). An incorrigible practitioner of "dirty tricks," like
significantly, Attorney Aves failed to mention it during Grecia would be ill-suited to discharge the role of "an
the confrontation with the man inside Judge instrument to advance the ends of justice."
Capulong's chamber where he (Attorney Aves) was
present. The importance of integrity and good moral character
as part of a lawyer's equipment in the practice of his
His other allegation that he saw the man inside the profession has been stressed by this Court repeatedly.
courtroom afterwards, is not credible for he would have
called the attention of Judge Capulong who, he knew, . . . The bar should maintain a high standard of legal
had been looking for the man to ascertain his identity. proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing.
Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal
In view of his obvious bias for his counsel, Aves' profession by faithfully performing his duties to society,
testimony was properly disregarded by the investigator, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end,
Judge Bernad. Likewise wanting in truth and candor nothing should be done by any member of the legal
was Grecia's testimony. Judge Bernad noted that while fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the
confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and
integrity of the profession. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., A.C.
No. 3248, September 18, 1992, pp. 13-14.)

. . . . The nature of the office of an attorney at law


requires that he shall be a person of good moral
character. This qualification is not only a condition
precedent to admission to the practice of law; its
continued possession is also essential for remaining in
the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of
members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a
lawyer, although not related to the discharge of
professional duties as a member of the bar, which puts
his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit
to continue in the practice of law. (Melendrez vs.
Decena, 176 SCRA 662, 676.)

. . . public policy demands that legal work in


representation of parties litigant should be entrusted
only to those possessing tested qualifications and who
are sworn to observe the rules and the ethics of the
profession, a s well as being subject for judicial
disciplinary control for the protection of court, clients
and the public. (Phil. Association of Free Labor Unions
[PAFLU] vs. Binalbagan Isabela Sugar Company, 42
SCRA 302, 305.)

By descending to the level of a common thief,


respondent Grecia has demeaned and disgraced the
legal profession. He has demonstrated his moral
unfitness to continue as a member of the honorable
fraternity of lawyers. He has forfeited his membership
in the BAR.

Generally, a lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for


any misconduct, whether in his professional or private
capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court, or an
unfit or unsafe person to enjoy the privileges and to
manage the business of others in the capacity of an
attorney, or for conduct which tends to bring reproach
on the legal profession or to injure it in the favorable
opinion of the public. (Marcelo vs. Javier, Sr., A.C. No.
3248, September 18, 1992, p. 15.)

WHEREFORE, the Court finds Attorney Benjamin


Grecia guilty of grave misconduct, dishonesty, and
grossly unethical behavior as a lawyer. Considering
that this is his second offense against the canons of
the profession, the Court resolved to impose upon him
once more the supreme penalty of DISBARMENT. His
license to practice law in the Philippines is hereby
CANCELLED and the Bar Confidant is ordered to
strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
 perhaps, for this gesture, Ms. Espita agreed to live with
SUPREME COURT
 Atty. Narag, her sense of right[e]ousness and morals
Manila completely corrupted by a member of the Bar.

EN BANC It is now a common knowledge in the community that


Atty. Dominador M. Narag has abandoned us, his
family, to live with a 22-year-old woman, who was his
former student in the tertiary level[.] 3
A.C. No. 3405 June 29, 1998
This Court, in a Resolution dated December 18, 1989,
JULIETA B. NARAG, complainant, 
 referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
vs.
 Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG, respondent. recommendation. 4


 On June 26, 1990, the office of then Chief Justice


Marcelo B. Fernan received from complainant another
letter seeking the dismissal of the administrative
complaint. She alleged therein that (1) she fabricated
PER CURIAM:
the allegations in her complaint to humiliate and spite
her husband; (2) all the love letters between the
Good moral character is a continuing qualification respondent and Gina Espita were forgeries; and (3)
required of every member of the bar. Thus, when a she was suffering from "emotional confusion arising
lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral from extreme jealousy." The truth, she stated, was that
integrity, the Supreme Court may withdraw his or her her husband had remained a faithful and responsible
privilege to practice law. family man. She further asserted that he had neither
entered into an amorous relationship with one Gina
On November 13, 1989, Mrs. Julieta B. Narag filed an Espita nor abandoned his family. 5 Supporting her
administrative complaint 1 for disbarment against her letter were an Affidavit of Desistance 6and a Motion
husband, Atty. Dominador M. Narag, whom she to Dismiss, 7 attached as Annexes A and B, which
accused of having violated Canons 1 and 6, Rule she filed before the IBP commission on bar
1.01 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers. 2 discipline. 8 In a Decision dared October 8, 1991,
the IBP Board of Governors 9 dismissed the
The complainant narrated: complaint of Mrs. Narag for failure to prosecute. 10

The St. Louis College of Tuguegarao engaged the The case took an unexpected turn when, on November
services of Atty. Dominador M. Narag in the early 25, 1991, this Court 11 received another letter 12from
seventies as a full-time college instructor in the College the complainant, with her seven

of Arts and Sciences and as a professor in the children 13 as co-signatories, again appealing for
Graduate School. In 1984, Ms. Gina Espita, 17 years the disbarment of her husband. She explained that
old and a first year college student, enrolled in subjects she had earlier dropped the case against him
handled by Atty. Narag. Exerting his influence as her because of his continuous threats against her. 14
teacher, and as a prominent member of the legal
profession and then member of the Sangguniang In his Comment on the complainant's letter of
Bayan of Tuguegarao, Atty. Narag courted Ms. Espita, November 11, 1991, filed in compliance with this
gradually lessening her resistance until the student Court's Resolution issued on July 6,
acceded to his wishes. 1992, 15 respondent prayed that the decision of the
Board of Governors be affirmed. Denying that he
They then maintained an illicit relationship known in had threatened, harassed or intimidated his wife,
various circles in the community, but which they he alleged that she had voluntarily executed her
managed to from me. It therefore came as a terrible Affidavit of Desistance 16 and Motion to
embar[r]assment to me, with unspeakable grief and Dismiss, 17 even appearing before the investigating
pain when my husband abandoned us, his family, to officer, Commissioner Racela, to testify under oath
l i ve with Ms. Espita, in utterly scan d a l o u s "that she prepared the Motion to Dismiss and
circumstances. Affidavit of Desistance on her own free will and
affirmed the contents thereof."
It appears that Atty. Narag used his power and
influence as a member of the Sangguniang In addition, he professed his love for his wife and his
Panlalawigan of Cagayan to cause the employment of children and denied abandoning his family to live with
Ms. Espita at the Department of Trade and Industry his paramour. However, he described his wife as a
Central Office at Makati, Metro Manila. Out of gratitude person emotionally disturbed, viz:
What is pitiable here is the fact that Complainant is an For thirty-eight years, your Respondent suffered in
incurably jealous and possessive woman, and every silence and bore the pain of his misfortune with dignity
time the streak of jealousy rears its head, she fires off and with almost infinite patience, if only to preserve
letters or complaints against her husband in every their family and their marriage. But this is not to be.
conceivable forum, all without basis, and purely on The Complainant never mellowed and never became
impulse, just to satisfy the consuming demands of her gentl[e], loving, and understanding. In fact, she
"loving" jealousy. Then, as is her nature, a few hours became more fierce and predatory.
afterwards, when her jealousy cools off, she repents
and feels sorry for her acts against the Respondent. Hence, at this point in time, the light at the tunnel for
Thus, when she wrote the Letter of November 11, Your Respondent does not seem in sight. The
1991, she was then in the grips of one of her bouts of darkness continues to shroud the marital and familial
jealousy. 18 landscape.

On August 24, 1992, this Court issued another Your Respondent has to undergo a catharsis, a
Resolution referring the Comment of respondent to the liberation from enslavement. Paraphrasing Dorfman in
IBP. 19 In the hearing before IBP Commissioner "Death and the Maiden", can the torturer and the
Plaridel C. Jose, respondent alleged the tortured co-exist and live together?
following: 20
Hence, faced with an absolutely uncomprehending and
2. Your Respondent comes from very poor parents who uncompromising mind whose only obsession now is to
have left him not even a square meter of land, but gave destroy, destroy, and destroy, Your Respondent, with
him the best legacy in life: a purposeful and meaningful perpetual regret and with great sorrow, filed a Petition
education. Complainant comes from what she claims for Annulment of Marriage, Spl. Proc. No. 566, RTC,
to be very rich parents who value material possession Branch III, Tuguegarao, Cagayan. . . .
more than education and the higher and nobler
aspirations in life. Complainant abhors the poor. 5. Complainant is a violent husband-beater, vitriolic
and unbending. But your Respondent never revealed
3. Your Respondent has a loving upbringing, nurtured these destructive qualities to other people. He
in the gentle ways of love, forgiveness, humility, and preserved the good name and dignity of his wife. This
concern for the poor. Complainant was reared and is in compliance with the marital vow to love, honor or
raised in an entirely different environment. Her value obey your spouse, for better or for worse, in sickness
system is the very opposite. and in health . . . Even in this case, Your Respondent
never revealed anything derogatory to his wife. It is
4. Your Respondent loves his family very dearly, and only now that he is constrained to reveal all these
has done all he could in thirty-eight (38) years of things to defend himself.
marriage to protect and preserve his family. He gave
his family sustenance, a comfortable home, love, On the other hand, for no reason at all, except a
education, companionship, and most of all, a good and jealous rage, Complainant tells everyone, everywhere,
respected name. He was always gentle and that her husband is worthless, good-for-nothing, evil
compassionate to his wife and children. Even in the and immoral. She goes to colleges and universities,
most trying times, he remained calm and never inflicted professional organizations, religious societies, and all
violence on them. His children are all now full-fledged other sectors of the community to tell them how evil,
professionals, mature, and gainfully employed. . . . bad and immoral her husband is. She tells them not to
hire him as professor, as Counsel, or any other
xxx xxx xxx capacity because her husband is evil, bad, and
immoral. Is this love? Since when did love become an
Your Respondent subscribes to the sanctity of instrument to destroy a man's dearest possession in
marriage as a social institution. life — his good name, reputation and dignity?

On the other hand, consumed by insane and Because of Complainant's virulent disinformation
unbearable jealousy, Complainant has been campaign against her husband, employing every
systematically and unceasingly destroying the very unethical and immoral means to attain his ends, Your
foundations of their marriage and their family. Their Respondent has been irreparably and irreversibly
marriage has become a torture chamber in which Your disgraced, shamed, and humiliated. Your Respondent
Respondent has been incessantly BEATEN, is not a scandalous man. It is he who has been
BATTERED, BRUTALIZED, TORTURED, ABUSED, mercilessly scandalized and crucified by the
and HUMILIATED, physically, mentally, and Complainant. 21
emotionally, by the Complainant, in public and at
home. Their marriage has become a nightmare. To prove the alleged propensity of his wife to file false
charges, respondent presented as evidence the
following list of the complaints she had filed against Narag out of the conjugal home. After that, Atty. Narag
him and Gina Espita: tried to return to the conjugal home many times with
the help of mutual friends to save the marriage and the
3.1 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty . . . family from collapse. He tried several times to reconcile
with Mrs. Narag. In fact, in one of the hearings of the
3.2 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty, DILG, disbarment case, he offered to return home and to
Adm. Case No. P-5-90. . . . reconcile with Mrs. Narag. But Mrs. Narag refused all
these efforts of respondent Narag. . . .
3.3 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial
Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S No. 89-114. . . . IV. Complainant Julieta B. Narag is an unbearably
jealous, violent, vindictive, scandalous, virulent and
merciless wife since the beginning of the marriage,
3.4 Complaint for Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and
who incessantly beat, battered, brutalized, tortured,
concubinage. OMBUDSMAN Case No. 1-92-0083. . . .
abuse[d], scandalized, and humiliated respondent Atty.
Narag, physically, mentally, emotionally, and
3.5 Complaint for Civil Support. RTC, Tuguegarao, psychologically, . . .
Civil Case No. 4061. DISMISSED.
V. Complainant Julieta Narag's claim in her counter-
3.6 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial manifestation dated March 28, 1996, to the effect that
Prosecutor's Office of Cagayan. I.S. No. 92-109. the affidavit of Dominador B. Narag, Jr., dated
DISMISSED. (. . .). Complainant filed Motion for February 27, 1996 was obtained through force and
Reconsideration. DENIED. (. . .). intimidation, is not true. Dominador, Jr., executed his
affidavit freely, voluntarily, and absolutely without force
3.7 Complaint for Disbarment (. . .) with S[upreme] or intimidation, as shown by the transcript of
C[ourt]. Withdrawn (. . .). DISMISSED by IBP Board of stenographic notes of the testimonies of Respondent
Governors (. . .). Re-instituted (. . .). Atty. Narag and Tuguegarao MTC Judge Dominador
Garcia during the trial of Criminal Case No. 12439,
3.8 Complaint for Disbarment, again (. . .). Adm. Case People vs. Dominador M. Narag, et. al., before the
No. 3405. Pending. Tuguegarao MTC on May 3, 1996. . . .

3.9 Complaint for Concubinage, again (. . .). Third xxx xxx xxx
MCTC, Tumauini, Isabela. Pending. . . . 22
VI. Respondent Atty. Narag is now an old man — a
In his desperate effort to exculpate himself, he averred: senior citizen of 63 years — sickly, abandoned,
disgraced, weakened and debilitated by progressively
I. That all the alleged love letters and envelopes (. . .), degenerative gout and arthritis, and hardly able to earn
picture (. . .) are inadmissible in evidence as his own keep. His very physical, medical,
enunciated by the Supreme Court in "Cecilia Zulueta psychological, and economic conditions render him
vs. Court of Appeals, et.al.", G.R. No. 107383, unfit and unable to do the things attributed to him by
February 20, 1996. (. . .). the complainant. Please see the attached medical
certificates, . . ., among many other similar certificates
xxx xxx xxx touching on the same ailments. Respondent is also
suffering from hypertension. 23
II. That respondent is totally innocent of the charges:
He never courted Gina Espita in the Saint Louis On July 18, 1997, the investigating officer submitted
College of Tuguegarao. He never caused the his report, 24 recommending the indefinite suspension
employment of said woman in the DTI. He never had of Atty. Narag from the practice of law. The material
or is having any illicit relationship with her anywhere, at portions of said report read as follows:
any time. He never lived with her as husband and wife
anywhere at any time, be it in Centro Tumauini or any Culled from the voluminous documentary and
of its barangays, or in any other place. He never begot testimonial evidence submitted by the contending
a child or children with her. Finally, respondent submits parties, two (2) issues are relevant for the disposition
that all the other allegations of Mrs. Narag are false of the case, namely:
and fabricated, . . .
a) Whether there was indeed a commission of alleged
xxx xxx xxx abandonment of respondent's own family and [whether
he was] living with his paramour, Gina Espita;
III. Respondent never abandoned his family[.] Mrs.
Narag and her two sons forcibly drove respondent
b) Whether the denial under oath that his illegitimate Thus, good moral character is not only a condition
children with Gina Espita (Aurelle Dominic and Kyle p r e c e d e n t 2 8 t o t h e p r a c t i c e o f l a w, b u t
Dominador) as appearing on paragraph 1(g) of a continuingqualification for all members of the
respondent's Comment vis-a-vis his handwritten love bar. Hence, when a lawyer is found guilty of gross
letters, the due execution and contents of which, immoral conduct, he may be suspended or
although he objected to their admissibility for being disbarred. 29
allegedly forgeries, were never denied by him on the
witness stand much less presented and offered proof Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct
to support otherwise. which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show
indifference to the opinion of good and respectable
Except for the testimonies of respondent's witnesses members of the community. 30 Furthermore, such
whose testimonies tend to depict the complaining wife, conduct must not only be immoral,
Mrs. Narag, as an incurably jealous wife and but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt
possessive woman suffering everytime with streaks of as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as
jealousy, respondent did not present himself on the to be reprehensible to a high degree 31 or
witness stand to testify and be cross-examined on his committed under such scandalous or revolting
sworn comment; much less did he present his alleged circumstances as to shock the common sense of
paramour, Gina Espita, to disprove the adulterous decency. 32
relationship between him and their having begotten
their illegitimate children, namely: Aurelle Dominic N. We explained in Barrientos vs. Daarol 33 that, "as
Espita and Kyle Dominador N. Espita. Worse, officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact
respondent's denial that he is the father of the two is a be of good moral character but must also be seen
ground for disciplinary sanction (Morcayda v. Naz, 125 to be of good moral character and leading lives in
SCRA 467). accordance with the highest moral standards of
the community. More specifically, a member of the
Viewed from all the evidence presented, we find the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to
respondent subject to disciplinary action as a member refrain from adulterous relationships or the
of the legal profession. 25 keeping of mistresses but must also so behave
himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by
In its Resolution 26 issued on August 23, 1997, the creating the belief that he is flouting those moral
IBP adopted and approved the investigating standards."
commissioner's recommendation for the indefinite
suspension of the respondent. 27 Subsequently the Respondent Narag is accused of gross immorality for
complaint sought the disbarment of her husband in abandoning his family in order to live with Gina Espita.
a Manifestation/Comment she filed on October 20, The burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and
1997. The IBP granted this stiffer penalty and, in its the Court will exercise its disciplinary power only if she
Resolution dated November 30, 1997, denied establishes her case by clear, convincing and
respondent's Motion for Reconsideration. satisfactory evidence. 34

After a careful scrutiny of the records of the Presented by complainant as witnesses, aside from
proceedings and the evidence presented by the herself. 35 were: Charlie Espita, 36 Magdalena
parties, we find that the conduct of respondent Bautista, 37 Bienvenido Eugenio, 38 Alice
warrants the imposition of the penalty of disbarment. Carag, 39 Dr. Jervis B. Narag, 40 Dominador Narag,
Jr., 41 and Nieves F. Reyes. 42
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Charlie Espita, brother of the alleged paramour Gina
Rule 1.01 — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, Espita, corroborated complainant's charge against
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. respondent in these categorical statements he gave to
the investigating officer:
CANON 7 — A lawyer shall at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and Q Mr. Witness, do you know Atty. Narag?
support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
A Yes, Your Honor, he is the live-in partner of my sister,
Rule 7.03 — A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that Gina Espita.
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a Q If Atty. Narag is here, can you point [to] him?
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession. A Yes, sir.
(Witness pointed to the respondent, Atty. Dominador had sent to his sister, and (2) that Atty. Narag tried to
Narag) dissuade him from appearing at the disbarment
proceedings. 45
Q Why do you know Atty. Narag?
Witness Bienvenido Eugenio strengthened the
ATTY. NARAG: testimony of Charlie Espita in this wise:

Already answered. He said I am the live-in partner. Q Mr. Witness, do you know the respondent in this
case?
CONTINUATION OF THE DIRECT
A I know him very well, sir.
A Because he is the live-in partner of my sister and that
they are now living together as husband and wife and Q Could you please tell us why do you know him?
that they already have two children, Aurelle Dominic
and Kyle Dominador. A Because he was always going to the house of my
son-in-law by the name of Charlie Espita.
xxx xxx xxx
xxx xxx xxx
During cross-examination conducted by the
respondent himself, Charlie Espita repeated his Q Mr. Eugenio, do you know the residence of Atty.
account that his sister Gina was living with the Dominador M. Narag?
respondent, with whom she had two children:
A At that time, he [was] residing in the house of
Q Mr. Espita, you claim that Atty. Narag is now living Reynaldo Angubong, sir.
with your sister as husband and wife. You claim that?
Q And this is located where?
A Yes, sir.
A Centro Tamauini, Isabela, sir.
Q Why do you say that?
Q And you specifically, categorically state under oath
A Because at present you are living together as that this is the residence of Atty. Narag?
husband and wife and you have already two children
and I know that is really an immoral act which you A Yes, sir.
cannot just allow me to follow since my moral values
don't allow me that my sister is living with a married xxx xxx xxx
man like you.
Q And under oath this is where Atty. Narag and Gina
Q How do you know that Atty. Narag is living with your Espita are allegedly living as husband and wife, is it
sister? Did you see them in the house? not?

A Yes, si[r]. A Yes, sir. 46

xxx xxx xxx Witness Nieves Reyes, a neighbor and friend of the
estranged couple, testified that she learned from the
Q You said also that Atty. Narag and your sister have Narag children — Randy, Bong and Rowena — that
two children, Aurelle Dominic and Kyle Dominador, is it their father left his family, that she and her husband
not? prodded the complainant to accept the respondent
back, that the Narag couple again separated when the
A Yes, sir. respondent "went back to his woman," and that Atty.
Narag had maltreated his wife. 47
Q How do you know that they are the children of Atty.
Narag? On the strength of the testimony of her witnesses, the
complainant was able to establish that respondent
A Because you are staying together in that house and abandoned his family and lived with another woman.
you have left your family. 44 Absent any evidence showing that these witnesses
had an ill motive to testify falsely against the
In addition, Charlie Espita admitted (1) that it was he respondent, their testimonies are deemed worthy of
who handed to Mrs. Narag the love letters respondent belief.
Further, the complainant presented as evidence the We remind respondent that parents have not only
love letters that respondent had sent to Gina. In these rights but also duties — e.g., to support, educate and
letters, respondent clearly manifested his love for Gina instruct their children according to right precepts and
and her two children, whom he acknowledged as his good example; and to give them love, companionship
own. In addition, complainant, also submitted as and understanding, as well as moral and spiritual
evidence the cards that she herself had received from guidance. 52 As a husband, he is also obliged to live
him. Guided by the rule that handwriting may be with his wife; to observe mutual love, respect and
proved through a comparison of one set of writings fidelity; and to render help and support. 53
with those admitted or treated by the respondent as
genuine, we affirm that the two sets of evidence were Respondent himself admitted that his work required
written by one and the same person. 48 Besides, him to be often away from home. But the evidence
respondent did not present any evidence to prove shows that he was away not only because of his work;
that the love letters were not really written by him; instead, he abandoned his family to live with her
he merely denied that he wrote them. paramour, who bore him two children. It would appear,
then, that he was hardly in a position to be a good
While the burden of proof is upon the complainant, husband or a good father. His children, who grew up
respondent has the duty not only to himself but also to mostly under the care of their mother, must have
the court to show that he is morally fit to remain a scarcely felt the warmth of their father's love.
member of the bar. Mere denial does not suffice. Thus,
when his moral character is assailed, such that his Respondent's son, Jervis B. Narag, showed his
right to continue practicing his cherished profession is resentment towards his father's moral frailties in his
imperiled, he must meet the charges squarely and testimony:
present evidence, to the satisfaction of the
investigating body and this Court, that he is morally fit Q My question is this, is there any sin so grievous that
to have his name in the Roll of Attorneys. 49This he it cannot be forgiven, is there a fault that is so serious
failed to do. that it is incapable of forgiveness?

Respondent adamantly denies abandoning his family A That depends upon the sin or fault, sir, but if the sin
to live with Gina Espita. At the same time, he depicts or fault is with the emotional part of myself, I suppose I
his wife as a "violent husband-beater, vitriolic and cannot forgive a person although am a God-fearing
unbending," and as an "insanely and pathologically person, but I h[av]e to give the person a lesson in order
jealous woman," whose only obsession was to for him or her to at least realize his mistakes, sir.
"destroy, destroy and destroy" him as shown by her
filing of a series of allegedly unfounded charges
xxx xxx xxx
against him (and Gina Espita). To prove his allegation,
he presented ninety-eight (98) pieces of documentary
evidence 50 and ten (10) witnesses. 51 COMR. JOSE:

We note, however, that the testimonies of the I think it sounds like this. Assuming for the sake of
witnesses of respondent did not establish the fact that argument that your father is the worst, hardened
he maintained that moral integrity required by the criminal on earth, would you send him to jail and have
profession that would render him fit to continue him disbarred? That is the question.
practicing law. Neither did their testimonies destroy the
fact, as proven by the complainant, that he had CONTINUATION.
abandoned his family and lived with Gina Espita, with
whom he had two children. Some of them testified on A With the reputation that he had removed from us, I
matters which they had no actual knowledge of, but suppose he has to be given a lesson. At this point in
merely relied on information from either respondent time, I might just forgive him if he will have to
himself or other people, while others were presented to experience all the pains that we have also suffered for
impeach the good character of his wife. quite sometime.

Respondent may have provided well for his family — Q Dr. Narag, your father gave you life, his blood runs in
they enjoyed a comfortable life and his children your veins, his flesh is your flesh, his bones are your
finished their education. He may have also established bones and you now disown him because he is the
himself as a successful lawyer and a seasoned worst man on earth, is that what you are saying.
politician. But these accomplishments are not sufficient
to show his moral fitness to continue being a member A Sort of, sir.
of the noble profession of law.
Q You are now telling that as far [as] you are my wife knew for a fact that my father has an illicit
concerned because your father has sinned, you have relationship with Gina Espita, whom he bore two
no more father, am I correct? children by the name of Aurelle Dominic and Kyle
Dominador, which I could prove and I stand firm to this,
A Long before, sir, I did not feel much from my father Your Honor. 55
even when I was still a kid because my father is not
always staying with us at home. So, how can you say Although respondent piously claims adherence to the
that? Yes, he gave me life, why not? But for sure, sir, sanctity of marriage, his acts prove otherwise. A
you did not give me love. 54 husband is not merely a man who has contracted
marriage. Rather, he is a partner who has solemnly
Another son, Dominador Narag, Jr., narrated before sworn to love and respect his wife and remain faithful
the investigating officer the trauma he went through: to her until death.

Q In connection with that affidavit, Mr. Witness, which We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova 56:
contains the fact that your father is maintaining a "The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a
paramour, could you please tell this Honorable member of the bar to continue as such includes
Commission the effect on you? conduct that outrages the generally accepted
moral standards of the community, conduct for
A This has a very strong effect on me and this includes instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable
my brothers and sisters, especially my married life, sir. social institution of marriage."
And it also affected my children so much, that I and my
wife ha[ve] parted ways. It hurts to say that I and my In Toledo vs. Toledo, 57 the respondent was
wife parted ways. This is one reason that affected us. disbarred from the practice of law, when he
abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with
Q Will you please tell us specifically why you and your another woman who had borne him a child.
wife parted ways?
Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan, 58 the respondent
A Because my wife wa[s] ashamed of what happened was disbarred after the complainant proved that he
to my family and that she could not face the people, had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous
our community, especially because my wife belongs to relationship with a married woman. This Court
a well-known family in our community. declared that respondent failed to maintain the
highest degree of morality expected and required
of a member of the bar.
Q How about the effect on your brothers and sisters?
Please tell us what are those.
In the present case, the complainant was able to
establish, by clear and convincing evidence, that
A Well, sir, this has also affected the health of my elder
respondent had breached the high and exacting moral
sister because she knows so well that my mother
standards set for members of the law profession. As
suffered so much and she kept on thinking about my
held in Maligsa vs. Cabanting, 59 "a lawyer may be
mother.
disbarred for any misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him
xxx xxx xxx to be wanting in moral character, in honesty,
probity and good demeanor or unworthy to
Q Why did your wife leave you? continue as an officer of the court."

A The truth is because of the things that had happened WHEREFORE, Dominador M. Narag is hereby
in our family, Your Honor. DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN
from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this
Q In your wife's family? Decision be in the personal record of Respondent
Narag; and furnished to all courts of the land, the
A In our family, sir. Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of
the Bar Confidant.
Q And what do you mean by that?

A What meant by that is my father had an illicit


relationship and that my father went to the extent of SO ORDERED.

scolding my wife and calling my wife a "puta" in


provincial government, which my mother-in-law hated
him so much for this, which really affected us. And then
THIRD DIVISION respondent upon his representation that he is
authorized to receive the money and to oversee the
[A.C. No. 5082. February 17, 2004] distribution to complainants of their respective shares.
However, complainants did not receive their
shares from respondent despite repeated
demands. Thus, they engaged the services of Atty.
MILAGROS N. ALDOVINO, VIRGILIO NICODEMUS, Francisco I. Chavez who, on December 17, 1998, sent
ANGELA N. DELA CRUZ, JULITA N. a letter to respondent demanding that the amount of
SOCO, MAGDALENA N. TALENS and P1,001,332.26 entrusted to him by the Branch Clerk of
TEODORO S. NICODEMUS, complainants, Court be turned over to complainants.
v s . A T T Y. P E D R O C . P U J A L T E ,
JR., respondent. On December 21, 1998, respondent wired Atty.
Chavez that he will deliver to complainants their
DECISION respective shares tomorrow morning.
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.: What respondent delivered to herein
complainants was only P751,332.26, instead
of P1,001,332.26 because he deducted P250,000.00
This is a complaint for disbarment and/or therefrom. He claimed that this amount is his attorneys
disciplinary action[1] against Atty. Pedro C. Pujalte, Jr. fees per his agreement with Milagros Aldovino,
filed by Milagros Nicodemus-Aldovino, Virgilio complainants representative. On February 23,
Nicodemus, Angela Nicodemus-dela Cruz, Julita 1999, Atty. Chavez again wired respondent demanding
Nicodemus-Soco, Magdalena Nicodemus-Talens and that he return to complainants the amount of
Teodoro S. Nicodemus for violation of Canon 16 of the P236,000.00. As explained by Atty. Chavez in his
Code of Professional Responsibility. telegram, respondent could retain only P14,000.00 (not
Complainants alleged in their complaint that they P250,000.00), which amount is in addition to the
are brothers and sisters and heirs of Arcadia P86,000.00 initially paid to him by complainants as his
Nicodemus. Sometime in March, 1995, they hired the attorneys fees. According to complainants, the sum of
services of respondent Atty. Pujalte, Jr. as their counsel P100,000.00 (P86,000.00 plus P14,000.00) is more
in Civil Case No. 95-46 filed with the Regional Trial than the amount of attorneys fees agreed upon by the
Court, Branch 56, Lucena City. The suit was for parties. Still, respondent failed to return to
specific performance with damages to compel their complainants the amount of P236,000.00, which is the
sister, Loreto Nicodemus Pulumbarit, to deliver to them balance after deducting P14,000.00 from P250,000.00.
their shares in the estate of their deceased mother. In his comment dated September 3, 1999,
On November 9, 1998 the trial court rendered its respondent admitted that he received from the Branch
Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: Clerk of Court P1,335,109.68 representing
complainants shares. Thereafter, he waited for
WHEREFORE, FROM THE FOREGOING, the court finds complainants Virgilio and Teodoro Nicodemus and
for the defendant Loreto Pulumbarit and accordingly orders Engr. Isidro Aureada at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan
the dismissal of the case with costs against plaintiffs and of Quezon where he had a hearing, but they did not
come.
orders the Branch Clerk of Court of this branch, upon
finality of this decision to withdraw from Savings Account To disprove deceit on his part, he attached to his
No. 435-527745-9 at the Philippine National Bank and to comment his letter dated December 2, 1998 to Engr.
deliver the proceeds to all the heirs of Arcadia Nicodemus Isidro Aureada[3] informing the latter that he waited for
upon proper receipt. Both counsels are directed to oversee those complainants in order to give them the money.
the distribution and for them to jointly file their
manifestation on the matter.[2] Respondent claimed that there is a verbal
agreement between him and Milagros Aldovino,
Accordingly, on December 1, 1998, Branch Clerk representative of complainants, that they will pay him
of Court Angelo A. Serdon withdrew from the Philippine P250,000.00 as his attorneys fees. Consequently, he
National Bank the sum of P1,335,109.68 under deducted and retained this amount from the money
Savings Account No. 435-527745-9. delivered to him by the Branch Clerk of Court. At any
rate, he wrote complainants on December 23, 1998
In the presence of defendant Mrs. Loreto N. regarding this matter.[4]
Pulumbarit and respondent counsel, Branch Clerk of
Court Serdon divided the withdrawn amount into eight In her Report dated March 10, 2003,[5] IBP
shares of P166,888.71 each. He gave the defendant Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala made the
two shares. Then he handed the remaining amount of following findings and recommendation:
P1,001,332.26, corresponding to six shares, to
xxx. In the case at bar, after respondent got hold of the entire Respondent should have complied with the
settlement amount, he did not immediately turn over the said above provisions. When complainants demanded that
amount to the complainants who had to look and search for the sum of P1,001,332.26 be delivered to them, he
him. It was only when respondent was threatened with a should have heeded promptly. Had they not hired a
legal action (Estafa, docketed as Grim. Case No. 99-1017, lawyer and charged him with estafa, he would not have
turned over the money to them. While it may be true
RTC Br. 58, Lucena City) that he decided to return the
that he has a lien over the funds, he should have
balance of the settlement amount but after deducting notified complainants about it in due time.
P250,000.00 which he claims to be his attorneys fees.
Complainants alleged that they have already paid respondent Respondent has no right to retain or appropriate
the amount of P86,000.00 which was more than double the u n i l a t e r a l l y a s l a w y e r s l i e n ,[6] t h e s u m o f
agreed upon professional fees. Complainants even agreed to P250,000.00. As found by IBP Commissioner Maala,
pay an additional P14.000.00 to complete the amount of there was no agreement between him and
P100,000.00 but there was no agreement to the effect that complainants that he could retain P250,000.00 as
respondent will be paid P250,000.00. Respondent attorneys fees. In fact, he did not adduce any proof of
such agreement. His mere allegation or claim is not
unilaterally appropriated the amount of P250,000.00 without
proof.[7] Obviously, his failure to return the money to
the conformity of complainants. The lawyer is allowed to complainants upon demand gave rise to the
apply so much of the funds as may be necessary to satisfy presumption that he misappropriated it in violation of
his lawful fees and disbursement subject to the condition that the trust reposed on him.[8] His act of holding on to
he shall promptly notify his client (Rule 16.03, CPR). The their money without their acquiescence is conduct
lawyer cannot unilaterally appropriate for himself the indicative of lack of, integrity and propriety.[9] He was
money of his client for payment of his attorneys fees which clinging to something not his and to which he had no
the client owes to the former (Cabigao vs. Rodrigo, 57 Phil right.[10]
20; Capulong vs. Alino, 22 SCRA 491).
This Court has been exacting in its demand for
PREMISES CONSIDERED, we find respondent to have integrity and good moral character of members of the
Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold the
violated Canon 16 and 16.03 of the Code of Professional
integrity and dignity of the legal profession[11]and
Responsibility and recommends that he be suspended for the refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the
period of one (1) year from the practice of his profession as trust and confidence reposed by the public in the
a lawyer and as a member of the Bar. fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession.
[12] Membership in the legal profession is a privilege.
On June 21, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors, [13] And whenever it is made to appear that an attorney
Pasig City, passed Resolution No. XV-2003-347 is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the
adopting and approving the Report of IBP public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of
Commissioner Maala. this Court, which made him one of its officers and gave
him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to
We sustain the Resolution of the IBP Board of
withdraw the privilege.[14] Respondent, by his conduct,
Governors finding that respondent violated Canon 16,
blemished not only his integrity as a member of the
Code of Professional Responsibility and suspending
Bar, but also that of the legal profession.
him from the practice of law for one (1) year.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Pedro C.
Canon 16 and its Rule 16.03 provide: Pujalte, Jr. is hereby declared guilty of violation of
CANON 16 - A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT
period of one (1) year effective immediately. He is
MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION. ordered to return the sum of P236,000.00 to
complainants within five (5) days from notice.
x x x x x x x x x
SO ORDERED.
Rule 16.03 - A lawyer shall deliver the funds and property of
his client when due or upon demand. However, he shall have
a lien over the funds and may apply so much thereof as may
be necessary to satisfy his lawful fees and disbursements,
giving notice promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also
have a lien to the same extent on all judgments and
executions he has secured for his client as provided for in the
Rules of Court.
Republic of the Philippines
 General to complete the investigation of the
SUPREME COURT
 administrative case and to render his report and
Manila recommendation thereon within thirty (30) days from
notice.
EN BANC
On 19 July 1988, the Solicitor General submitted his
A. M. No. 2104 August 24, 1989 Report and Recommendation 2 dated 21 June 1988. In
as Report, after setting out the facts and proceedings
NARCISO MELENDREZ and ERLINDA held in the present case, the Solicitor General
DALMAN, complainants, 
 presented the following:
vs.

ATTY. REYNERIO I. DECENA, respondent. FINDINGS


 Complainants allege that on August 5, 1975, they


obtained from respondent a loan of P 4,000.00. This
loan was secured by a real estate mortgage (Annex C,
PER CURIAM: Complainants' Complaint, p. 16,
records).lâwphî1.ñèt In the said Real Estate Mortgage
In a sworn complaint1 dated 25 September 1979, the document, however, it was made to appear that the
spouses Erlinda Dalman and Narciso Melendrez amount borrowed by complainants was P5,000.00.
charged Reynerio I. Decena, a member of the Confronted by this discrepancy, respondent assured
Philippine Bar, with malpractice and breach of trust. complainants that said document was a mere formality,
The complainant spouses alleged, among others, that and upon such assurance, complainants signed the
respondent had, by means of fraud and deceit, taken same. The document was brought by complainant
advantage of their precarious financial situation and his Narciso Melendres to a Notary Public for notarization.
knowledge of the law to their prejudice, succeeded in After the same was notarized, he gave the document
divesting them of their only residential lot in Pagadian to respondent. Despite the assurance, respondent
City; that respondent, who was their counsel in an exacted from complainants P500.00 a month as
estafa case against one Reynaldo Pineda, had payment for what is beyond dispute usurious interest
compromised that case without their authority. on the P5,000.00 loan. Complainants religiously paid
the obviously usurious interest for three months:
In his answer dated 18 March 1980, respondent denied September, October and November, 1975. Then they
all the charges levelled against him and prayed for the stopped paying due to financial reverses. In view of
dismissal of the complaint. their failure to pay said amounts as interest,
respondent prepared a new document on May 7, 1976,
By resolution dated 14 April 1980, the administrative a Real Estate Mortgage (Annex D, Complaint, p. 18,
complaint was referred to the Office of the Solicitor records) over the same lot 3125-C, replacing the
General for investigation, report and recommendation. former real estate mortgage dated August 5, 1975, but
this time the sum indicated in said new contract of
mortgage is P 10,000.00, purportedly with interest at
Accordingly, the Solicitor General forthwith deputized 19% per annum. In this new Real Estate Mortgage, a
the City Fiscal of Pagadian City, Jorge T. Almonte, to special power of attorney in favor of respondent was
conduct the necessary investigation, with instructions inserted, authorizing him to sell the mortgaged property
to submit thereafter this report and recommendation at public auction in the event complainants fail to pay
thereon. Fiscal Almonte held several hearings on the their obligation on or before May 30, 1976. Without
administrative case until 15 July 1982, when he explaining the provisions of the new contract to
requested the Solicitor General to release him from the complainants, respondent insisted that complainants
duty of investigating the case. sign the same, again upon the assurance that the
document was a mere formality. Unsuspecting of the
On 10 September 1982, the Solicitor General granted motive of respondent, complainants signed the
Fiscal Almonte's request and in his stead appointed the document. Complainants Narciso Melendres again
Provincial Fiscal of Zamboanga del Sur, Pedro S. brought the same document to a Notary Public for
Jamero, who resumed hearings on 15 June 1983. notarization. After the document was notarized, he
brought the same to respondent without getting a copy
Respondent filed with this Court on 9 June 1987, a of it.
motion seeking to inhibit Fiscal Jamero from hearing
the case followed by an urgent motion for indefinite Complainants, relying on the assurance of the
postponement of the investigation. Both motions were respondent that the second Real Estate Mortgage was
denied by the Court in a Resolution dated 21 but a formality, neither bothered to ask from
September 1987 with instructions to the Solicitor respondent the status of their lot nor tried to pay their
obligation. For their failure to pay the obligation, the complainants knew fully well all the conditions of said
respondent on October 12, 1976, applied for the mortgage; and that his acquisition of the property in
extrajudicial foreclosure of the second real estate question was in accordance with their contract and the
mortgage (Exhibit 16, Respondent's Position Paper). law on the matter. Thus, he denies that he has violated
All the requirements of Act No. 3135, as amended, re any right of the complainants.
extrajudicial sale of mortgage were ostensibly complied
with by respondent. Hence, finally, title was transferred After weighing the evidence of both complainants and
to him, and on June 20, 1979, respondent sold the respondent, we find against respondent.
involved property to Trinidad Ylanan for P12,000.00.
While complainants are correct in their claim that they
When informed of the above by one Salud Australlado actually obtained an actual cash of P4,000.00, they are
on the first week of March 1979 (see Sworn Statement only partly correct in the claim that out of the
of complainant Narciso Melendres, p. 6, Folder No. 2 P10,000.00 appearing in the second Real Estate
of case), and not having known the legal implications Mortgage, P6,000.00 was applied to interest
of the provisions of the second Real Estate Mortgage considering that not all the P6,000.00 but only
which they had executed, complainants could not P4,000.00 was applied to interest, computed as
believe that title to their lot had already been follows: the first loan of P5,000.00 was supposedly due
transferred to respondent and that respondent had on August 31, 1975. Complainants paid 10% monthly
already sold the same to a third person. interest or P500.00 on September 30, 1975, October
31, 1975 and November 30, 1975. Consequently,
Upon learning of the sale in March, 1979, complainants beginning December 31, 1975 up to May 31, 1976 (the
tried to raise the amount of P10,000.00 and went to date of the execution of the second Real Estate
respondent's house on May 30, 1979 to pay their Mortgage) a total of six (6) months lapsed. Six (6)
obligation, hoping that they could redeem their months at P500.00 equals P 3,000.00, which amount
property, although three years had already lapsed from plus the P2,000.00 complainants' loan to one Engr.
the date of the mortgage. Villanueva (indorsed to respondent for collection) totals
P5,000.00. Adding this amount to the previous
Respondent did not accept the proffered P10,000.00, P5,000.00 indicated loan secured by the first mortgage
but instead gave complainants a sheet of paper (Annex results in P10,000.00, the amount appearing in the
B, Complainants' Position Paper), which indicated that second Real Estate Mortgage. Section 7, Rule 130 of
the total indebtedness had soared to P20,400.00. The the Rules of Court provides:
computation was made in respondent's own
handwriting. Complainants went home with shattered SEC. 7. Evidence of written agreements. — When the
hopes and with grief in their hearts. Hence, the instant terms of an agreement have been reduced to writing, it
competent for disbarment against respondent filed on is to be considered as complaining all such terms, and,
October 5, 1979. therefore, there can be, as between the parties and
their successors in interest, no evidence of the terms of
Respondent DENIES all the allegations of the agreement other than the contents of the writing,
complainants. He maintains that what appears on the except in the following cases:
two documents allegedly executed by complainants,
i.e., that they obtained a loan of P5,000.00 on August (a) Where a mistake or imperfection of the writing, or
5, 1975 and another P10,000.00 on May 7,1976, is its failure to express the true intent and agreement of
allegedly the truth, and claims that he in truth delivered the parties, or the validity of the agreement is put in
the alleged amount of P5,000.00 to complainants and issue by the pleadings;
not P4,000.00. With respect to the second loan,
respondent claims that he delivered to complainants (b) Where there is an intrinsic ambiguity in the writing.
P8,000.00, plus the P2,000.00 loan previously The term "agreement" includes wills.
extended [to] complainants [by] one Regino Villanueva,
which loan had been indorsed to respondent for There is no dispute that the two documents
collection, thus making a total of P10,000.00, as denominated Real Estate Mortgages covering the
appearing on said document. Respondent denies that supposed original loan of P5,000.00 and the inflated
he exacted usurious interest of 10% a month or P10,000.00, respectively, were voluntarily signed by
P500.00 from complainants. He asserts that the fact the complainants. The general rule is that when the
that complainants were able to secure a loan from the parties have reduced their agreement to writing, it is
Insular Bank of Asia and America (IBAA) only proves presumed that they have made the writing the only
the truth of his allegation that the title of the property, at repository and memorial of the truth, and whatever is
the time complainants obtained a loan from IBAA on not found in the writing must be understood to have
April 1976, was clear of any encumbrance, since been waived and abandoned.
complainants had already paid the original loan of
P5,000.00 obtained from respondent; that
However, the rule is not absolute as it admits of some Indeed, complainants made the offer, but respondent
exceptions, as aforequoted. One of the exceptions, refused the same for the simple reason that the offer
that is, failure to express the true intent and agreement was made on May 30,1979, three (3) years after the
of the parties, applies in this case. From the facts execution of the mortgage on May 31, 1976. With its
obtaining in the case, it is clear that the complainants lapse of time, respondent demanded obviously the
were induced to sign the Real Estate Mortgage payment of the accumulated substantial interest for
documents by the false and fraudulent representations three years, as shown by his own computation in as
of respondent that each of the successive documents own handwriting on a sheet of paper (Annex C,
was a are formality. Complainants' Position Paper, Folder No.
2).lâwphî1.ñèt
While it may be true that complainants are not at all
illiterate, respondent, being a lawyer, should have at In view of all the foregoing, the observation made by
least explained to complainants the legal implications the Hearing Officer is worth quoting:
of the provisions of the real estate mortgage,
particularly the provision appointing him as the In the humble opinion of the undersigned the pivotal
complainants' attorney-in-fact in the event of default in question with respect to this particular charge is whose
payments on the part of complainants. While it may be version is to be believed. Is it the version of the
conceded that it is presumed that in practice the notary complainants or the version of the respondent.
public apprises complainants of the legal implications
of the contract, it is of common knowledge that most In resolving this issue the possible motive on the part
notaries public do not go through the desired practice. of the complainants in filing the present complaint
Respondent at least could have informed the against the respondent must be carefully examined
complainants by sending a demand letter to them to and considered. At the beginning there was a
pay their obligation as otherwise he would proceed to harmonious relationship between the complainants and
sell the lot at public auction as per their contract. This the respondent so much so that respondent was even
respondent failed to do, despite the fact that he knew engaged as counsel of the complainants and it is but
fully wen that complainants were trying their best to human nature that when respondent extended a loan
raise money to be able to pay their obligation to him, to the complainants the latter would be grateful to the
as shown by the loan obtained by complainants from former. However, in the case at bar, complainants filed
the IBAA on April 8, 1976. In this connection, it may be a complaint against the respondent in spite of the great
stated that complainants, per advice of respondent disparity between the status of the complainants and
himself, returned the proceeds of the IBAA loan to the the respondent. Admittedly, respondent is in a better
bank immediately on April 30, 1976, considering that position financially, socially and intellectually. To the
the net proceeds of the loan from said bank was only mind of the undersigned, complainants were only
P4,300.00 and not enough to pay the indicated loan compelled to file the above entitled complaint against
from respondent of P5,000.00, which per computation the respondent because they felt that they are so
of respondent would already have earned interest of aggrieved of what the respondent has done to them. It
P2,500.00 for five (5) months (December 1975 to April, is for this reason therefore that the undersigned is
1976). inclined to believe the version of the complainants
rather than of the respondent. In addition thereto, the
Respondent claims that complainants had paid him the respondent as a lawyer could really see to it that the
original loan of P5,000.00, and that this was the reason transaction between the complainants and himself on
why complainants were able to mortgage the lot to the papers appear legal and in order. Besides, there is
bank free from any encumbrance. This claim is ample evidence in the records of its case that
incorrect. The reason why the title (T-2684) was free respondent is actually engaged in lending money at
from any encumbrance was simply because of the fact least in a limited way and that the interest at the rate of
that the first Real Estate Mortgage for the indicated ten per cent a month is but common among money
loan of P5,000.00 (the actual amount was only P lenders during the time of the transactions in question'
4,000.00) had not been annotated at the back of the
title (see Annex B, p. 14, rec.). Going now into the second charge, complainants
alleged that respondent, who was their counsel (private
Respondent also denies that complainants offered to prosecutor) in Criminal Case No. 734, for estafa,
him the amount of Pl0,000. 00 as payment of the loan, against accused Reynaldo Pineda, compromised the
alleging that if the offer were true, he could have case with the accused without their consent and
readily accepted the same since he sold the lot for received the amount of P500.00 as advance payment
almost the same amount, for only P12,000.00, a for the amicable settlement, without however, giving to
difference of a few thousand pesos. Respondent's the complainants the Id amount nor informing them of
denial is spacious. said settlement and payment.
Again, respondent denies the allegation and claims parties: that Reynaldo Pineda is the accused and that
that the amicable settlement was with the consent of the respondent is the private prosecutor of the said
complainant wife Erlinda Dalman Melendre[z]. case. The pivotal issue in this particular charge is
whether the respondent received the amount of
We are inclined to believe the version of the P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda as an advance
complainants. payment of an amicable settlement entered into by the
complainants and the accused or the respondent
It is admitted that complainants were not interested in received said amount from the accused without the
putting the accused Reynaldo Pineda to jail but rather knowledge and consent of the complainants. If it is true
in merely recovering their money of P2,000.00. At this as alleged by the respondent that he only received it
stage, relationship between complainants and for and in behalf of the complainants as advance
respondent was not yet strained, and respondent, as payment of an amicable settlement why is it that the
counsel of the complainants in this case, knew that same was questioned by the complainants? Why is it
complainants were merely interested in said recovery. that it was not the complainants who signed the receipt
Knowing this, respondent on his own volition talked to for the said amount? How come that as soon as
accused and tried to settle the case amicably for complainants knew that the said amount was given to
P2,000.00. He accepted the amount of P500.00 as the respondent, the former filed a motion in court to
advance payment, being then the only amount carried relieve respondent as their counsel on the ground that
by the accused Pineda. A receipt was signed by both they have lost faith and confidence on him? If it is
respondent and accused Pineda (Annex M, p. 34, really true that complainants have knowledge and have
record). However, respondent did not inform consented to this amicable settlement they should be
complainants about this advance payment, perhaps grateful to the efforts of their private prosecutor yet the
because he was still waiting for the completion of the fact is that they resented the same and went to the
payment of P2,000.00 before turning over the whole extent of disqualifying the respondent as their private
amount to complainants. prosecutor. Reynaldo Pineda himself executed an
affidavit belying the claim of the respondent.'
At any rate, complainants saw accused Pineda give
the abovementioned P500.00 to respondent, but they Clearly, the complained acts as described and levelled
were ashamed then to ask directly of respondent what against respondent Decena are contrary to justice,
the money was all about. honesty, modesty, or good morals for which he may be
suspended. The moral turpitude for which an attorney
may be disbarred may consist of misconduct in either
On June 27, 1979, barely a month after May 30, 1979,
his professional or non- professional attitude (Royong
when the complainants had already lost their trust and
v. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859). The complained acts of
respect and/or confidence in respondent upon knowing
respondent imply something immoral in themselves,
what happened to their lot and, more so, upon
regardless of the fact whether they are punishable by
respondent's refusal to accept the Pl0,000.00 offered
law. The doing of the act itself, and not its prohibition
by complainants to redeem the same, Narciso
by statute, fixes the moral turpitude (Bartos vs. U.S.
Melendre[z] saw the accused Pineda on his way home
Dist. Court for District of Nebraska C.C.C. Neb] 19 F
and confronted him on the P500.00 that had been
[2d] 722).
given to respondent. Accused then showed
complainant Melendres the receipt (Annex M, Id.)
showing that the P500.00 was an advance payment for A parting comment.
the supposed settlement/dismissal of the case filed by
complainants against him. All the above is not to say that complainants
themselves are faultless.
Sensing or feeling that respondent was fooling them,
complainants then filed a motion before the court which Complainants should likewise be blamed for trusting
was trying the criminal case and relieved respondent the respondent too much. They did not bother to keep
as their counsel. a copy of the documents they executed and
considering that they admitted they did not understand
The Investigating Fiscal, who heard the case and saw the contents of the documents, they did not bother to
the demeanor of the witnesses in testifying, had this to have them explained by another lawyer or by any
say: knowledgeable person in their locality. Likewise, for a
period of three years, they did not bother to ask for
respondent the status of their lot and/or their obligation
With respect to the second charge, the fact that
to him. Their complacency or apathy amounting almost
respondent received P500.00 from Reynaldo Pineda is
to negligence contributed to the expedient loss of their
duly established. Both the complainants and the
property thru the legal manuevers employed by
respondent agreed that the said amount was given to
respondent. Hence, respondent's liability merits
the respondent in connection with a criminal case
mitigation. (Emphasis supplied)
wherein the complainants were the private offended
and made the following recommendation: proceedings: he had eight (8) under Fiscal Almonte
and fifteen (15) under Fiscal Jamero. There were also
WHEREFORE, it is respectfully recommended that instances where respondent asked for postponement
Atty. Reynerio I. Decena be suspended from the and at the same time reset the hearing to a specific
practice of law for a period of five (5) years. 3 date of his choice on which neither he nor as counsel
would appear. That attitude of respondent eventually
The Office of the Solicitor General, through Fiscals led the hearing officer to declare his (respondent's)
Almonte and Jamero, held several hearings during the right to cross-examine the complainants and their
investigation of the present administrative case: City witnesses as having been waived in his order of 17
Fiscal Jorge T. Almonte was able to hold six (6) actual December 1986. Respondent can not now claim that
hearings out of twenty-five (25) resettings 4 While only he had been deprived below of the opportunity to
five (5) actual hearings, out of forty (40) confront the complainants and their witnesses.
resettings 5 were held under Provincial Fiscal Pedro S.
Jamero. In those hearings, the complainants presented After carefully going through the record of the
a number of witnesses who, after their direct testimony, proceedings as well as the evidence presented by both
were cross-examined by the counsel for respondent; parties, we agree with the findings and conclusions of
complainant Narciso Melendrez also testified and was the Solicitor General.
accordingly cross-examined. Considering the long
delay incurred in the investigation of the administrative The following acts of respondent:
case and having been pressed by the Solicitor General
immediately to complete the investigation, Fiscal 1. making it appear on the 5 August 1975 real estate
Jamero posed a change of procedure, from trial type mortgage that the amount loaned to complainants was
proceedings to requiring the parties to submit their P5,000.00 instead of P4,000.00;
respective position papers. The complainants
immediately filed their position paper which consisted 2. exacting grossly unreasonable and usurious
of their separate sworn statements, (that of Narciso interest;
Melendrez was in a question and answer form), their
documentary exhibits and an affidavit of one Jeorge G.
3. making it appear in the second real estate mortgage
Santos. Respondent also filed his counter-affidavit and
of 7 May 1976 that the loan extended to complainants
affidavits of his witnesses, with several annexes in
had escalated to P10,000.00;
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 4. failing to inform complainants of the import of the
complainants refused to submit themselves to cross- real mortgage documents and inducing them to sign
examination on the ground that the order of the hearing those documents with assurances that they were
officer dated 17 December 1986 declaring merely for purposes of "formality";
respondent's right of cross examination as having been
waived, had become final and executory. Respondent 5. failing to demand or refraining from demanding
questions now the evidentiary value of the payment from complainants before effecting
complainants' position paper, not having passed extrajudicial foreclosure of the mortgaged property;
through any cross-examination and argues that the and
non-submission of the complainants and their
witnesses to cross-examination constitutes a denial of 6. failing to inform or refraining from informing
his right to due process. complainants that the real estate mortgage had already
been foreclosed and that complainants had a right to
We do not think respondent's right to confront the redeem the foreclosed property within a certain period
complainants and their witnesses against him has of time.
been violated, Respondent in fact cross-examined
complainant Narciso Melendrez and some of the constitute deception and dishonesty and conduct
witnesses which complainants had presented earlier. unbecoming a member of the Bar. We agree with the
As pointed out by the Solicitor General, the record of Solicitor General that the acts of respondent "imply
the proceedings shows that respondent had all the something immoral in themselves regardless of
opportunity to cross-examine the other witnesses of whether they are punishable by law" and that these
the complainants (those whose affidavits were acts constitute moral turpitude, being "contrary to
attached to complainants' position paper) had he justice, honesty, modesty or good morals." The
wanted to, but had forfeited such opportunity by asking standard required from members of the Bar is not, of
for numerous continuances which indicated a clear course, satisfied by conduct which merely avoids
attempt on his part to delay the investigation collision with our criminal law. Even so, respondent's
proceedings. Respondent had in fact requested a total conduct, in fact, may be penalizable under at least one
of twenty three (23) resettings during the investigation penal statute — the anti-usury law.
The second charge against respondent relates to acts WHEREFORE, respondent Reynerio I. Decena is
done in his professional capacity, that is, done at a hereby DISBARRED and his name shall be stricken
time when he was counsel for the complainants in a from the Rollo of Attorneys. Let a copy of this
criminal case for estafa against accused Reynaldo Resolution be FURNISHED each to the Bar Confidant
Pineda. There are two (2) aspects to this charge: the and spread on the personal records of respondent
first is that respondent Decena effected a compromise attorney, and to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

agreement concerning the civil liability of accused


Reynaldo Pineda without the consent and approval of
the complainants; the second is that, having received
the amount of P500.00 as an advance payment on this
"settlement," he failed to inform complainants of that
advance payment and moreover, did not turn over the
P500.00 to the complainants. The facts show that
respondent "settled" the estafa case amicably for
P2,000.00 without the knowledge and consent of
complainants. Respondent informed complainants of
the amicable "settlement" and of the P500.00 advance
payment only after petitioner Narciso Melendrez had
confronted him about these matters. And respondent
never did turn over to complainants the P500.00.
Respondent is presumed to be aware of the rule that
lawyers cannot "without special authority, compromise
their clients' litigation or receive anything in discharge
of a client's claim, but the full amount in cash.
6 Respondent's failure to turn over to complainants the

amount given by accused Pineda as partial


"settlement" of the estafa case underscores his lack of
honesty and candor in dealing with his clients.

Generally, a lawyer should not be suspended or


disbarred for misconduct committed in his personal or
non-professional capacity. Where however, misconduct
outside his professional dealings becomes so patent
and so 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 person of good moral
character. This qualification is not only a condition
precedent to admission to the practice of law; its
continued possession is also essential for remaining in
the practice of law, in the exercise of privileges of
members of the Bar. Gross misconduct on the part of a
lawyer, although not related to the discharge of
professional duties as a member of the Bar, which puts
his moral character in serious doubt, renders him unfit
to continue in the practice of law. 8

In the instant case, the exploitative deception


exercised by respondent attorney upon the
complainants in his private transactions with them, and
the exacting of unconscionable rates of interest,
considered together with the acts of professional
misconduct committed by respondent attorney, compel
this Court to the conviction that he has lost that good
moral character which is indispensable for continued
membership in the Bar.
Republic of the Philippines
 Recommendation, material portions of which read as
SUPREME COURT
 follows:
Manila
Respondent Atty. Francisco Ricafort stands charged
EN BANC with having misappropriated the sum of P30,000.00
intended for his clients as well as having deceived his
clients into giving him the sum of P2,000.00
purportedly to be deposited as a bond in the case he
A.C. No. 4349 December 22, 1997 was handling.

LOURDES R. BUSIÑOS, complainant, 
 Complainant Lourdes R. Businos is one of the heirs of


vs.
 Pedro Rodrigo who are the defendants in Civil Case
ATTY. FRANCISCO RICAFORT, respondent. No. 1584, apparently a case involving the properties of
the late Pedro Rodrigo, father of herein complainant.
Respondent was the counsel of record for the
RESOLUTION
defendants in the said case. On July 10, 1994,
complainant, representing her co-heirs, executed a
special power of attorney, appointing and constituting
PER CURIAM: respondent and/or Pedro Rodrigo, Jr. to be her true
and lawful attorney-in-fact with the following powers:
In a sworn complaint for disbarment dated 31 October
1994 but received by us on 21 November 1994, 1. To attend to and represent me, testify, or otherwise
complainant Lourdes R. Busiños charged respondent enter into compromise during the pre-trial stage or
Atty. Francisco Ricafort, a practicing lawyer in Oas, other proceedings in Civil Case No. 1584, entitled
Albay with having committed the crime of estafa under "Heirs of Rosario Rodrigo-Reantaso, vs. Heirs of Pedro
Article 315(1) (b) of the Revised Penal Code by Rodrigo Sr., et. al." now pending before the Regional
misappropriating the sum of P32,000.00. Of this Trial Court, Branch 12, Ligao, Albay;
amount, P30,000.00 was entrusted to respondent for
deposit in the bank account of complainant's husband,
2. To demand, collect and receipt for any and all sums
while P2,000.00 represented the amount respondent
of money that may now be deposited in said court by
demanded from complainant supposedly for a bond in
the defendant Oas Standard High School or hereafter
Civil Case No. 5814, when no such bond was required.
be deposited by said defendant, due and owing to me
or said Heirs of Pedro Rodrigo, Sr., representing the
In the resolution of 18 January 1995, we required rentals of said defendant for the lease of the property
respondent to comment on the complaint. Despite his involved in said case; and
receipt of a copy of the resolution, respondent did not
comply, compelling us in the resolution of 17 July 1995
3. To sign, authenticate, issue and deliver any and all
to require him to show cause why he should not be
deeds, instruments, papers and other records
disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such
necessary and pertinent to the above stated
failure.
transactions.
Again respondent failed to comply. Hence in the
On August 10, 1994, the Regional Trial Court of Ligao,
resolution of 25 September 1996, we ordered him once
Albay, Br. 12 issued an order, directing the Clerk of
more to file his comment within ten (10) days from
Court "to release any and all deposits of rentals made
notice, and within the same period, to pay a fine of
in connection with this case (Civil Case No. 1584) to
P1,000.00 or suffer imprisonment of ten (10) days
the defendants Heirs of Pedro Rodrigo through
should he fail to so pay. In a Compliance and Motion
Lourdes Rodrigo Businos who were receiving the
dated 24 October 1996, respondent transmitted the
rentals from Oas Standard High School prior to the
fine of P1,000.00 by way of postal money order, but
institution of this case."
asked for five (5) days from date to file his comment.
As respondent still failed to so file, we then declared, in
the resolution of 2 December 1996, that respondent In a letter dated August 10, 1994, the Clerk of Court of
was deemed to have waived his right to file his RTC, Ligao informed herein complainant that
comment, and referred the complaint to the Office of respondent had already received the rental deposit of
the Bar Confidant for reception of complainant's P25,000.00 on even date (see Annex "C" to the
evidence and submission of a report and complaint). Respondent also received from Oas
recommendation thereon. Standard High School on August 17, 1994 the sum of
P5,000.00 as payment for rental of school site for the
month of July 1994 (See Annex "D" to the complaint).
On 16 October 1997, the Bar Confidant, Atty. Erlinda
The said sum was entrusted to respondent with an
C . Ve r z o s a , s u b m i t t e d h e r R e p o r t a n d
obligation on his part to deposit the same in the
account of complainant's husband at PNB, Ligao Standard High School, the P2,000.00 he got from
Branch. Instead, however, of depositing the money, complainant and attorney's fees, which he undertook to
respondent converted the money to his own personal foot as a way of settlement. (TSN, p. 19).
use, and despite several demands, he failed to return
the same to complainant. She was thus constrained to Although complainant failed to submit the original or
file a criminal case for estafa and an administrative certified true copies of the documents in support of her
case for disbarment against him. Thus, on November complaint against respondent, respondent's repeated
21, 1994, complainant filed the instant administrative failure to comply with several resolutions of the Court
case against respondent. requiring him to comment on the complaint lends
credence to the allegations of the complainant. It
Complainant further accuses respondent for manifests his tacit admission thereto. We have no
demanding and receiving P2,000.00 from her which he other alternative, therefore, but to accept the said
said will be used for the bond in Civil Case No. 1584, documents at their [sic] face value.
but said amount was never used as intended since no
bond was required in the said case. Thus, respondent There is no doubt that respondent is guilty of having
merely pocketed the said amount. used the money of his clients without their consent. As
the evidentiary value of the documents should be given
xxx xxx xxx more weight than the oral testimony of complainant, we
place the amount illegally used by respondent at
Complainant, upon questioning by the undersigned, P30,000.00 and not P35,000.00 as claimed by
testified that: She authorized respondent to withdraw complainant. Respondent's illegal use of his client's
the money amounting P35,000.00 representing the money is made more manifest [by] his letters to
rental fee paid of Oas Standard High School from the complainant, all promising the latter to make good his
Clerk of Court, with the instruction to deposit the same promise to pay the money he withdrew from the Clerk
in her savings account at the PNB. After she was of Court and Oas Standard High School (See Annex
informed by the court that respondent had already "E" to the complaint).
withdrawn the money, she expected in vain to receive
the money a week later in Tarlac as respondent failed It bears emphasis that a lawyer, under his oath,
to effect the deposit of the said sum in her account. pledges himself not to delay any man for money or
She demanded from him to give her the money, but he malice and is bound to conduct himself with all good
informed her that he had already spent the same. He fidelity to his clients. He is obligated to report promptly
promised, though, to pay her the said amount. (pp. 7-8, the money of his clients that has come into his
TSN, Reception of Evidence, April 18, 1997). She possession. He should not commingle it with his
clarified that respondent withdrew only the sum of private property or use it for his personal purposes
P30,000.00 from the Clerk of Court, while the without his client's [sic] consent. He should maintain a
P5,000.00 was withdrawn by respondent from Oas reputation for honesty and fidelity to private trust
Standard High School (TSN, p. 8). Despite several (Daroy vs. Legaspi, 65 SCRA 304).
demands, both from her and her lawyer, respondent
failed to make good his promise to give her the money Money collected by a lawyer in pursuance of a
he withdrew from the Clerk of Court and Oas Standard judgment in favor of his clients is held in trust and must
High School (TSN, pp. 11-13). She was then be immediately turned over to them (Aya vs. Bigornia,
constrained to file a criminal case for estafa and an 57 Phil. 8).
administrative case against respondent sometime in
November of 1994 to recover the money in question Respondent, by converting the money of his clients to
(TSN, pp. 14-16). On their third hearing of the estafa his own personal use without their consent, and by
case sometime in 1995, respondent came with the deceiving the complainant into giving him the amount
money and paid complainant inside the courtroom of P2,000.00 purportedly to be used as a bond which
(TSN, pp. 15, 19-20). Because of this development, was not required is, undoubtedly, guilty of deceit,
she did not anymore pursue the estafa case against malpractice and gross misconduct. By so doing, he
respondent (TSN, p. 17). She has no intention, betrays the confidence reposed in him by his clients.
however, of withdrawing the instant complaint (TSN, p. Not only has he degraded himself but as an unfaithful
18). lawyer he has besmirched the fair name of an
honorable profession.
She further testified that respondent demanded from
her the sum of P2,000.00 for the bond required in the His belated payment of the amount he illegally used
civil case. (TSN, p. 18). Respondent did not give her a and fraudulently obtained do not relieve him from any
receipt for the said amount. (TSN, p. 19). Respondent liability if only to impress upon him that the relation
gave back the P2,000.00 to complainant. He paid between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in
complainant a total of P60,000.00 representing the its nature and of a very delicate, exacting and
money he withdrew from the Clerk of Court and Oas confidential character, requiring high degree of fidelity
and good faith. In view of that special relationship, executions he has secured for his client as provided for
lawyers are bound to promptly account for money or in the Rules of Court.
property received by them on behalf of their clients and
failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct Respondent's transgressions manifested dishonesty
(Daroy vs. Legaspi, supra). and amounted to grave misconduct and grossly
unethical behavior which caused dishonor, not merely
Moreover, his repeated failure to comply with the to respondent, but to the noble profession to which he
resolutions of the Court, requiring him to comment on belongs, for it cannot be denied that the respect of
the complaint indicate the high degree of litigants for the profession is inexorably diminished
irresponsibility of respondent. whenever a member of the Bar betrays their trust and
confidence.
PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is respectfully
recommended that respondent Atty. Francisco Ricafort This Court has been nothing short of exacting in its
be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period demand for integrity and good moral character from
of ONE (1) YEAR. members of the Bar. In Marcelo v. Javier (A.C. No.
3248, 18 September 1992, 214 SCRA 1, 12-13),
While the findings are in order, the penalty reiterated in Fernandez v. Grecia, (A.C. No. 3694, 17
recommended is not commensurate to respondent's June 1993, 223 SCRA 425, 434), this Court declared:
infractions.
A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and
Plainly, respondent breached Section 25 of Rule 138 of dignity of the legal profession. The trust and
the Rules of Court, Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 and Rules confidence necessarily reposed by clients require in
16.01, 16.02 and 16.03 of Canon 16 of the Code of the attorney a high standard and appreciation of his
Professional Responsibility, which read: duty to his client, his profession, the courts and the
public. The bar should maintain a high standard of
Sec. 25. Unlawful retention of client's funds; contempt. legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing.
— When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands Generally speaking, a lawyer can do honor to the legal
money of his client after it has been demanded he may profession by faithfully performing his duties to society,
be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end,
who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but nothing should be done by any member of the legal
proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a fraternity which might tend to lessen in any degree the
criminal prosecution. confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty and
integrity of the profession.
CANON 1 — A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE
CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND Here, respondent chose to forget that by swearing the
AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL lawyer's oath, he became a guardian of truth and the
PROCESS. rule of law, and an indispensable instrument in the fair
an impartial administration of justice — a vital function
of democracy a failure of which is disastrous to society.
Rule 1.01. — A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Any departure from the path which a lawyer must
follow as demanded by the virtues of his profession
CANON 16 — A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST
shall not be tolerated by this Court as the disciplining
ALL MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT
authority. This is specially so, as here, where
THAT MAY COME INTO HIS POSSESSION.
respondent even deliberately defied the lawful orders
of the Court for him to file his comment on the
Rule 16.01. — A lawyer shall account for all money or complaint, thereby transgressing Canon 11 of the Code
property collected or received for or from the client. of Professional Responsibility which requires a lawyer
to observe and maintain the respect due the courts.
Rule 16.02. — A lawyer shall keep the funds of each
client separate and apart from his own and those of WHEREFORE, for dishonesty, grave misconduct,
others kept by him. grossly unethical behavior in palpable disregard of
Section 25 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Rule 1.01
Rule 16.03. — A lawyer shall deliver the funds and of Canon 1 and Rules 16.01, 16.02 and 16.03 of
property of his client when due or upon demand. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,
However, he shall have a lien over the funds and may aggravated by a violation of Canon 11 thereof, and
apply so much thereof as may be necessary to satisfy consistent with the urgent need to maintain the
his unlawful fees and disbursements, giving notice esteemed traditions and high standards of the legal
promptly thereafter to his client. He shall also have a profession and to preserve undiminished public faith in
lien to the same extent on all judgments and the members of the Philippine Bar, the Court Resolves
t o D I S B A R r e s p o n d e n t AT T Y. F R A N C I S C O
RICAFORT from the practice of law. His name is
hereby stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

This resolution shall take effect immediately and copies


thereof furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, to be
appended to respondent's personal record; the
National Office and the Albay Chapter of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines; the Philippine Judges
Association; and all courts of the land for their
information and guidance.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
 befitting his representation as a seasoned law


SUPREME COURT
 practitioner and, aside from charging enormous
Manila amount of professional fees and questionable
expenses, said counsel's contracted services reached
FIRST DIVISION as far only in preparing and filing uncalled for motions
to dismiss x x x" as well as a Compromise Agreement,
8 both of which he sent to Marcelo for his signature.
A.C. No. 10628 July 1, 2015
Affronted, Maximino filed the instant complaint
charging Orlando with violation of Rule 7.03 of Canon
MAXIMINO NOBLE III, Complainant, 

7, the entire Canon 8 of the Code of Professional
vs.

Responsibility (CPR), Bar Matter (BM) Nos. 8509 and
ATTY. ORLANDO O. AILES, Respondent.
192210, and prayed for the disbarment of respondent
as well as the award of damages.
RESOLUTION
In his defense,11 Orlando denied the charges against
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: him and claimed that his late submission of the third
MCLE compliance is not a ground for disbarment and
This instant administrative case arose from a verified that the Notice to Terminate Services of Counsel and
Complaint1 for disbarment dated April 16, 2012 filed by Compromise Agreement were all made upon the
complainant Maximino Noble III (Maximino) against request of Marcelo when the latter was declared in
respondent Atty. Orlando O. Ailes (Orlando) before the default in the aforementioned civil case. Moreover, he
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). insisted that the allegedly offensive language in his text
messages sent to Marcelo was used in a "brother-to-
The Facts brother communication" and were uttered in good faith.
12

Maximino alleged that on August 18, 2010, Orlando, a


lawyer, filed a Complaint2 for damages against his own Meanwhile, the criminal case for grave threats and
brother, Marcelo 0. Ailes, Jr. (Marcelo), whom estafa filed by Marcelo against Orlando was
Maximino represented, together with other defendants, downgraded to unjust vexation13 and, on June 19,
therein. In the said complaint, Orlando stated the 2012, after voluntarily entering a plea of guilty, Orlando
following data: "IBP-774058-12/07 /09-QC x x x MCLE was convicted of the crime of unjust vexation,
Compliance No. II-00086893 /Issued on March 10, consisting in his act of vexing or annoying Marcelo by
2008."4 Maximino claimed that at the time of the filing "texting insulting, threatening and persuading words to
of the said complaint. Orlando’s IBP O.R. number drop his lawyer over a case x x x. "14
should have already reflected payment of his IBP
annual dues for the year 2010, not 2009, and that he IBP Report and Recommendation
should have finished his third Mandatory Continuing
Legal Education (MCLE) Compliance, not just the In a Report and Recommendation15 dated April 30,
second. 2013, the IBP Commissioner recommended the
dismissal of the case against Orlando, finding that a
Sometime in December 2011, Maximino learned from transgression of the MCLE compliance requirement is
Marcelo that the latter had filed a separate case for not a ground for disbarment as in fact, failure to
grave threats and estafa5 against Orlando .. When disclose the required information would merely cause
Maximino was furnished a copy · of the complaint, he the dismissal of the case and the expunction of the
discovered that, through text messages, Orlando had pleadings from the records. Neither did the IBP
been maligning him and dissuading Marcelo from Commissioner find any violation of the CPR so gross
retaining his services as counsel, claiming that he was or grave as to warrant any administrative liability on the
incompetent and that he charged exorbitant fees, part of Orlando, considering that the communication
saying, among others: " x x x Better dismiss [your] hi- between Orlando and Marcelo, who are brothers, was
track lawyer who will impoverish [you] with his done privately and not directly addressed to Maximino
unconscionable [professional] fee. Max Noble, as nor intended to be published and known by third
shown in court records, never appeared even once, persons.
that's why you lost in the pre-trial stage. x x x get rid of
[Noble] as [your] lawyer. He is out to squeeze a lot of In a Resolution16 dated May 11, 2013, the IBP Board of
money from [you]. x x x daig mo nga mismong Governors adopted and approved the IBP
abogado mong polpol."6 Records show that Orlando Commissioner's Report and Recommendation and
even prepared a Notice to Terminate Services of dismissed the case against Orlando, warning him to be
CounseI7 in the complaint for damages, which stated more circumspect in his dealings. Maximino moved for
that Maximina "x x x has never done anything to reconsideration17 which was however denied in a
protect the interests of the defendants in a manner not
Resolution18dated May 3, 2014 with modification "stupidity," and "satan" in a letter addressed to another
deleting the warning. colleague as defamatory and injurious which effectively
maligned his integrity. Similarly, the hurling of insulting
Aggrieved, Maximino filed the present petition for language to describe the opposing counsel is
review on certiorari.19 considered conduct unbecoming of the legal
profession.25 In this case, the IBP found the text
The Issue Before the Court messages that Orlando sent to his brother Marcelo as
casual communications considering that they were
conveyed privately. To the Court's mind, however, the
The issue for the Court's resolution is whether or not
tenor of the messages cannot be treated lightly. The
the IBP correctly dismissed the complaint against
text messages were clearly intended to malign and
Orlando.
annoy Maximino, as evident from the use of the word
''polpol" (stupid). Likewise, Orlando's insistence that
The Court's Ruling Marcelo immediately terminate the services of
Maximino indicates Orlando's offensive conduct
The petition is partly meritorious. against his colleague, in violation of the above-quoted
rules. Moreover, Orlando's voluntary plea of guilty to
The practice of law is a privilege bestowed on lawyers the crime of unjust vexation in the criminal case filed
who meet high standards of legal proficiency and against him by Marcelo was, for all intents and
morality.20 It is a special privilege burdened with purposes, an admission that he spoke ill, insulted, and
conditions before the legal profession, the courts, their disrespected Maximino - a departure from the judicial
clients and the society such that a lawyer has the duty decorum which exposes the lawyer to administrative
to comport himself in a manner as to uphold integrity liability.
and promote the public's faith in the profession.
21 Consequently, a lawyer must at all times, whether in
On this score, it must be emphasized that membership
public or private life, act in a manner beyond reproach in the bar is a privilege burdened with conditions such
especially when dealing with fellow lawyers.22 that a lawyer's words and actions directly affect the
public's opinion of the legal profession. Lawyers are
In this relation, Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 as well as Canon expected to observe such conduct of nobility and
8 of the CPR provides: uprightness which should remain with them, whether in
their public or private lives, and may be disciplined in
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that the event their conduct falls short of the standards
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor imposed upon them.26 Thus, in this case, it is
shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a inconsequential that the statements were merely
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal relayed to Orlando's brother in private. As a member of
profession. the bar, Orlando should have been more circumspect
in his words, being fully aware that they pertain to
Canon 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, another lawyer to whom fairness as well as candor is
fairness and candor toward his professional owed. It was highly improper for Orlando to interfere
colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against and insult Maximino to his client.
opposing counsel.
Indulging in offensive personalities in the course of
Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional judicial proceedings, as in this case, constitutes
dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or unprofessional conduct which subjects a lawyer to
otherwise improper. disciplinary action.27 While a lawyer is entitled to
present his case with vigor and courage, such
enthusiasm does not justify the use of offensive and
Rule 8.02 - A lawyer shall not, directly or indirectly,
abusive language.28 The Court has consistently
encroach upon the professional employment of another
reminded the members of the bar to abstain from all
lawyer; however, it is the right of any lawyer, without
offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial
fear or favor, to give proper advice and assistance to
to the honor and reputation of a party. Considering the
those seeking relief against unfaithful or neglectful
circumstances, it is glaringly clear how Orlando
counsel.
transgressed the CPR when he maligned Maximino to
his client.29
Though a lawyer's language may be forceful and
emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful,
With regard to Orlando's alleged violation of BM No.
befitting the dignity of the legal profession.1âwphi1 The
1922, the Court agrees with the IBP that his failure to
use of intemperate language and unkind ascriptions
disclose the required information for MCLE compliance
has no place in the dignity of the judicial forum.23 In
in the complaint for damages he had filed against his
Buatis Jr. v. People,24 the Court treated a lawyer's use
brother Marcelo is not a ground for disbarment. At
of the words "lousy," "inutile," "carabao English,"
most, his violation shall only be cause for the dismissal
of the complaint as well as the expunction thereof from
the records.30

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty.


Orlando O. Ailes GUILTY of violating Rule 7.03 of
Canon 7 as well as the entire Canon 8 of the Code of
P r o f e s s i o n a l R e s p o n s i b i l i t y. H e i s h e r e b y
ADMONISHED to be more circumspect in dealing with
his professional colleagues and STERNLY WARNED
that a commission of the same or similar acts in the
future shall be dealt with more severely.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
 document is presumed to be genuine and authentic


SUPREME COURT
 until proven otherwise.
Manila
5. The Court had warned Atty. Ferrer in his first
SECOND DIVISION disbarment case against repeating his unethical act;
yet he faces a disbarment charge for sexual
A.C. No. 5768 March 26, 2010 harassment of an office secretary of the IBP Chapter in
Camarines Norte; a related criminal case for acts of
ATTY. BONIFACIO T. BARANDON, lasciviousness; and criminal cases for libel and grave
JR., Complainant, 
 threats that Atty. Barandon filed against him. In
vs.
 October 2000, Atty. Ferrer asked Atty. Barandon to
ATTY. EDWIN Z. FERRER, SR., Respondent. falsify the daily time record of his son who worked with
the Commission on Settlement of Land Problems,
Department of Justice. When Atty. Barandon declined,
DECISION
Atty. Ferrer repeatedly harassed him with inflammatory
language.
ABAD, J.:
Atty. Ferrer raised the following defenses in his answer
This administrative case concerns a lawyer who is with motion to dismiss:
claimed to have hurled invectives upon another lawyer
and filed a baseless suit against him.
1. Instead of having the alleged forged document
submitted for examination, Atty. Barandon filed charges
The Facts and the Case of libel and grave threats against him. These charges
came about because Atty. Ferrer’s clients filed a case
On January 11, 2001 complainant Atty. Bonifacio T. for falsification of public document against Atty.
Barandon, Jr. filed a complaint-affidavit1 with the Barandon.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar
Discipline (IBP-CBD) seeking the disbarment, 2. The offended party in the falsification case, Imelda
suspension from the practice of law, or imposition of Palatolon, vouchsafed that her thumbmark in the
appropriate disciplinary action against respondent Atty. waiver document had been falsified.
Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. for the following offenses:
3. At the time Atty. Ferrer allegedly uttered the
1. On November 22, 2000 Atty. Ferrer, as plaintiff’s threatening remarks against Atty. Barandon, the MTC
counsel in Civil Case 7040, filed a reply with opposition Daet was already in session. It was improbable that the
to motion to dismiss that contained abusive, offensive, court did not take steps to stop, admonish, or cite Atty.
and improper language which insinuated that Atty. Ferrer in direct contempt for his behavior.
Barandon presented a falsified document in court.
4. Atty. Barandon presented no evidence in support of
2. Atty. Ferrer filed a fabricated charge against Atty. his allegations that Atty. Ferrer was drunk on
Barandon in Civil Case 7040 for alleged falsification of December 19, 2000 and that he degraded the law
public document when the document allegedly falsified profession. The latter had received various citations
was a notarized document executed on February 23, that speak well of his character.
1994, at a date when Atty. Barandon was not yet a
lawyer nor was assigned in Camarines Norte. The
5. The cases of libel and grave threats that Atty.
latter was not even a signatory to the document.
Barandon filed against Atty. Ferrer were still pending.
Their mere filing did not make the latter guilty of the
3. On December 19, 2000, at the courtroom of charges. Atty. Barandon was forum shopping when he
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) Daet before the start of filed this disbarment case since it referred to the same
hearing, Atty. Ferrer, evidently drunk, threatened Atty. libel and grave threats subject of the criminal cases.
Barandon saying, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung
patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na
In his reply affidavit,2 Atty. Barandon brought up a sixth
palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang
ground for disbarment. He alleged that on December
abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi
29, 2000 at about 1:30 p.m., while Atty. Ferrer was on
na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito."
board his son’s taxi, it figured in a collision with a
tricycle, resulting in serious injuries to the tricycle’s
4. Atty. Ferrer made his accusation of falsification of passengers.3 But neither Atty. Ferrer nor any of his co-
public document without bothering to check the copy passengers helped the victims and, during the police
with the Office of the Clerk of Court and, with gross investigation, he denied knowing the taxi driver and
ignorance of the law, failed to consider that a notarized blamed the tricycle driver for being drunk. Atty. Ferrer
also prevented an eyewitness from reporting the The issues presented in this case are:
accident to the authorities.4
1. Whether or not the IBP Board of Governors and the
Atty. Barandon claimed that the falsification case IBP Investigating Commissioner erred in finding
against him had already been dismissed. He belittled respondent Atty. Ferrer guilty of the charges against
the citations Atty. Ferrer allegedly received. On the him; and
contrary, in its Resolution 00-1,5 the IBP-Camarines
Norte Chapter opposed his application to serve as 2. If in the affirmative, whether or not the penalty
judge of the MTC of Mercedes, Camarines Sur, on the imposed on him is justified.
ground that he did not have "the qualifications,
integrity, intelligence, industry and character of a trial The Court’s Ruling
judge" and that he was facing a criminal charge for
acts of lasciviousness and a disbarment case filed by
We have examined the records of this case and find no
an employee of the same IBP chapter.
reason to disagree with the findings and
recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors and
On October 10, 2001 Investigating Commissioner the Investigating Commissioner.
Milagros V. San Juan of the IBP-CBD submitted to this
Court a Report, recommending the suspension for two
The practice of law is a privilege given to lawyers who
years of Atty. Ferrer. The Investigating Commissioner
meet the high standards of legal proficiency and
found enough evidence on record to prove Atty.
morality. Any violation of these standards exposes the
Ferrer’s violation of Canons 8.01 and 7.03 of the Code
lawyer to administrative liability.14
of Professional Responsibility. He attributed to Atty.
Barandon, as counsel in Civil Case 7040, the
falsification of the plaintiff’s affidavit despite the Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
absence of evidence that the document had in fact commands all lawyers to conduct themselves with
been falsified and that Atty. Barandon was a party to it. courtesy, fairness and candor towards their fellow
The Investigating Commissioner also found that Atty. lawyers and avoid harassing tactics against opposing
Ferrer uttered the threatening remarks imputed to him counsel. Specifically, in Rule 8.01, the Code provides:
in the presence of other counsels, court personnel, and
litigants before the start of hearing. Rule 8.01. – A lawyer shall not, in his professional
dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or
On June 29, 2002 the IBP Board of Governors passed otherwise improper.
Resolution XV-2002-225,6 adopting and approving the
Investigating Commissioner’s recommendation but Atty. Ferrer’s actions do not measure up to this Canon.
reduced the penalty of suspension to only one year. The evidence shows that he imputed to Atty. Barandon
the falsification of the Salaysay Affidavit of the plaintiff
Atty. Ferrer filed a motion for reconsideration but the in Civil Case 7040. He made this imputation with pure
Board denied it in its Resolution7 of October 19, 2002 malice for he had no evidence that the affidavit had
on the ground that it had already endorsed the matter been falsified and that Atty. Barandon authored the
to the Supreme Court. On February 5, 2003, however, same.
the Court referred back the case to the IBP for
resolution of Atty. Ferrer’s motion for reconsideration. Moreover, Atty. Ferrer could have aired his charge of
8 On May 22, 2008 the IBP Board of Governors falsification in a proper forum and without using
adopted and approved the Report and offensive and abusive language against a fellow
Recommendation9 of the Investigating Commissioner lawyer. To quote portions of what he said in his reply
that denied Atty. Ferrer’s motion for reconsideration.10 with motion to dismiss:

On February 17, 2009, Atty. Ferrer filed a Comment on 1. That the answer is fraught with grave and culpable
Board of Governors’ IBP Notice of Resolution No. m i s r e p r e s e n t a t i o n a n d " FA L S I F I C AT I O N " o f
XVIII-2008.11 On August 12, 2009 the Court resolved to documents, committed to mislead this Honorable
treat Atty. Ferrer’s comment as a petition for review Court, but with concomitant grave responsibility of
under Rule 139 of the Revised Rules of Court. Atty. counsel for Defendants, for distortion and serious
Barandon filed his comment, 12 reiterating his misrepresentation to the court, for presenting a grossly
arguments before the IBP. Further, he presented "FALSIFIED" document, in violation of his oath of office
certified copies of orders issued by courts in as a government employee and as member of the Bar,
Camarines Norte that warned Atty. Ferrer against for the reason, that, Plaintiff, IMELDA PALATOLON,
appearing in court drunk.13 has never executed the "SALAYSAY AFFIDAVIT",
wherein her fingerprint has been falsified, in view
The Issues Presented whereof, hereby DENY the same including the
affirmative defenses, there being no knowledge or
information to form a belief as to the truth of the same, the requirements of due process are satisfactorily
from pars. (1) to par. (15) which are all lies and mere complied with. 19 Here, the IBP Investigating
fabrications, sufficient ground for "DISBARMENT" of Commissioner gave Atty. Ferrer all the opportunities to
the one responsible for said falsification and file countless pleadings and refute all the allegations of
distortions."15 Atty. Barandon.

The Court has constantly reminded lawyers to use All lawyers should take heed that they are licensed
dignified language in their pleadings despite the officers of the courts who are mandated to maintain the
adversarial nature of our legal system.16 dignity of the legal profession, hence they must
conduct themselves honorably and fairly.20 Atty.
Atty. Ferrer had likewise violated Canon 7 of the Code Ferrer’s display of improper attitude, arrogance,
of Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers to misbehavior, and misconduct in the performance of his
uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal profession duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before
at all times. Rule 7.03 of the Code provides: the public and the court, was a patent transgression of
the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold.
Rule 7.03. – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that
adversely reflect on his fitness to practice law, nor shall ACCORDINGLY, the Court AFFIRMS the May 22,
he, whether in public or private life behave in 2008 Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors in CBD
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal Case 01-809 and ORDERS the suspension of Atty.
profession. Edwin Z. Ferrer, Sr. from the practice of law for one
year effective upon his receipt of this Decision.
Several disinterested persons confirmed Atty. Ferrer’s
drunken invectives at Atty. Barandon shortly before the Let a copy of this Decision be entered in Atty. Ferrer’s
start of a court hearing. Atty. Ferrer did not present personal record as an attorney with the Office of the
convincing evidence to support his denial of this Bar Confidant and a copy of the same be served to the
particular charge. He merely presented a certification IBP and to the Office of the Court Administrator for
from the police that its blotter for the day did not report circulation to all the courts in the land.
the threat he supposedly made. Atty. Barandon
presented, however, the police blotter on a subsequent
date that recorded his complaint against Atty. Ferrer.
SO ORDERED.
Atty. Ferrer said, "Laban kung laban, patayan kung
patayan, kasama ang lahat ng pamilya. Wala na
palang magaling na abogado sa Camarines Norte, ang
abogado na rito ay mga taga-Camarines Sur, umuwi
na kayo sa Camarines Sur, hindi kayo taga-rito."
Evidently, he uttered these with intent to annoy,
humiliate, incriminate, and discredit Atty. Barandon in
the presence of lawyers, court personnel, and litigants
waiting for the start of hearing in court. These language
is unbecoming a member of the legal profession. The
Court cannot countenance it.

Though a lawyer’s language may be forceful and


emphatic, it should always be dignified and respectful,
befitting the dignity of the legal profession. The use of
intemperate language and unkind ascriptions has no
place in the dignity of judicial forum.17 Atty. Ferrer
ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior
can only bring down the legal profession in the public
estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever
moral righteousness Atty. Ferrer had was negated by
the way he chose to express his indignation.1avvphi1

Contrary to Atty. Ferrer’s allegation, the Court finds that


he has been accorded due process. The essence of
due process is to be found in the reasonable
opportunity to be heard and submit any evidence one
may have in support of one’s defense.18 So long as the
parties are given the opportunity to explain their side,
Adoption. Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign
Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call
Marivic.chanrobles virtual law library

THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL


Ermita, Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 1
!
Tel. 521-7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767
EN BANC
It is the submission of petitioner that the
advertisements above reproduced are
Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993
champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law
MAURICIO C. ULEP, Petitioner, vs. THE profession, and destructive of the confidence of
LEGAL CLINIC, INC., Respondent. the community in the integrity of the members
of the bar and that, as a member of the legal
R E SO L U T I O N profession, he is ashamed and offended by the
said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought in
REGALADO, J.: his petition as hereinbefore
quoted.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the virtual law library
respondent to cease and desist from issuing
advertisements similar to or of the same tenor In its answer to the petition, respondent admits
as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition) the fact of publication of said advertisement at
and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in
from making advertisements pertaining to the the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal
exercise of the law profession other than those support services" through paralegals with the
allowed by law."chanrobles virtual law library use of modern computers and electronic
machines. Respondent further argues that
The advertisements complained of by herein assuming that the services advertised are legal
petitioner are as follows: services, the act of advertising these services
should be allowed supposedly 

Annex A in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van
O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, 2reportedly
SECRET MARRIAGE?
 decided by the United States Supreme Court on
P560.00 for a valid marriage.
 June 7,
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE.
 1977.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
ANNULMENT. VISA.chanrobles virtual law library virtual law library

THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, Considering the critical implications on the legal
5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am- 6:00 pm 7-Flr. profession of the issues raised herein, we
Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla. required the (1) Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association
Annex B (PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association
(PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle
GUAM DIVORCE. (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of
the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion
DON PARKINSONchanrobles virtual law library International de Abogadas (FIDA) to submit
their respective position papers on the
an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on c o n t r o v e r s y a n d , t h e r e a f t e r, t h e i r
Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic memoranda. 3The said bar associations readily
beginning Monday to Friday during office responded and extended their valuable services
hours.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles and cooperation of which this Court takes note
virtual law library with appreciation and
gratitude.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
G u a m d i vo r c e . A n n u l m e n t o f M a r r i a g e . virtual law library
Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-
quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration
of Absence. Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees.
The main issues posed for resolution before the Court to perpetually restrain respondent from
Court are whether or not the services offered by undertaking highly unethical activities in the
respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised field of law practice as aforedescribed. 4
by it constitutes practice of law and, in either
case, whether the same can properly be the xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library
subject of the advertisements herein
c o m p l a i n e d A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc."
of.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual gives the impression that respondent
law library corporation is being operated by lawyers and
that it renders legal
Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of services.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
the merits of this case, we deem it proper and virtual law library
enlightening to present hereunder excerpts
from the respective position papers adopted by While the respondent repeatedly denies that it
the aforementioned bar associations and the offers legal services to the public, the
memoranda submitted by them on the issues advertisements in question give the impression
involved in this bar matter. that respondent is offering legal services. The
Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as
1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines: earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is)
the effect that the advertisements have on the
xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library r e a d i n g
public.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which virtual law library
respondent endeavored to distinguish the two
terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a- The impression created by the advertisements
vis "legal services", common sense would in question can be traced, first of all, to the very
readily dictate that the same are essentially name being used by respondent - "The Legal
without substantial distinction. For who could Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully
deny that document search, evidence gathering, submitted connotes the rendering of legal
assistance to layman in need of basic services for legal problems, just like a medical
institutional services from government or non- clinic connotes medical services for medical
government agencies like birth, marriage, problems. More importantly, the term "Legal
property, or business registration, obtaining Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical
documents like clearance, passports, local or clinic connotes
foreign visas, constitutes practice of law? doctors.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library
xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library
Furthermore, the respondent's name, as
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does published in the advertisements subject of the
not wish to make issue with respondent's present case, appears with (the) scale(s) of
foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP justice, which all the more reinforces the
has made its position manifest, to wit, that it impression that it is being operated by
strongly opposes the view espoused by members of the bar and that it offers legal
respondent (to the effect that today it is alright services. In addition, the advertisements in
to advertise one's legal question appear with a picture and name of a
services).chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles person being represented as a lawyer from
virtual law library Guam, and this practically removes whatever
doubt may still remain as to the nature of the
The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain service or services being
terms its opposition to respondent's act of offered.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly virtual law library
advertising the same through newspaper
publications.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobl It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent
es virtual law library is merely offering "legal support services" as
claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services
The IBP would therefore invoke the as any lawyer actively engaged in law practice
administrative supervision of this Honorable
does. And it becomes unnecessary to make a Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading,
distinction between "legal services" and "legal but encourages, or serves to induce, violation of
support services," as the respondent would Philippine law. At the very least, this can be
have it. The advertisements in question leave considered "the dark side" of legal practice,
no room for doubt in the minds of the reading where certain defects in Philippine laws are
public that legal services are being offered by exploited for the sake of profit. At worst, this is
lawyers, whether true or outright malpractice.
not.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
law library Rule 1.02. - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet
activities aimed at defiance of the law or at
B. The advertisements in question are meant to lessening confidence in the legal system.
induce the performance of acts contrary to law,
morals, public order and public In addition, it may also be relevant to point out
policy.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles that advertisements such as that shown in
virtual law library Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a
cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words "Just
It may be conceded that, as the respondent Married" on its bumper and seems to address
claims, the advertisements in question are only those planning a "secret marriage," if not
meant to inform the general public of the suggesting a "secret marriage," makes light of
services being offered by it. Said the "special contract of permanent union," the
advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam inviolable social institution," which is how the
divorce, and any law student ought to know Family Code describes marriage, obviously to
that under the Family Code, there is only one emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse,
instance when a foreign divorce is recognized, this particular advertisement appears to
and that is: encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy,
which is suggestive of immoral publication of
A r t i c l e applications for a marriage
26. . . .chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles license.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library virtual law library

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be
a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is reviewed, it can readily be concluded that the
thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien above impressions one may gather from the
spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the advertisements in question are accurate. The
Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion example
under Philippine Law. alone confirms what the advertisements
suggest. Here it can be seen that criminal acts
It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family are being encouraged or committed 

Code (defines) a marriage as follows: (a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las
Vegas) with impunity simply because the
Article 1. Marriage is special contract of jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend
permanent unionbetween a man and woman to the place where the crime is
entered into accordance with law for the committed.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
establishment of conjugal and family life. It is virtual law library
the foundation of the family and an inviolable
social institution whose nature, consequences, Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the
and incidents are governed by law and not "legal support services" respondent offers do
subject to stipulation, except that marriage not constitute legal services as commonly
settlements may fix the property relation during understood, the advertisements in question give
the marriage within the limits provided by this the impression that respondent corporation is
Code. being operated by lawyers and that it offers
legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the
By simply reading the questioned only logical consequence is that, in the eyes of
advertisements, it is obvious that the message an ordinary newspaper reader, members of the
being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the bar themselves are encouraging or inducing the
legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in performance of acts which are contrary to law,
accordance with our law, by simply going to
morals, good customs and the public good, There might be nothing objectionable if
thereby destroying and demeaning the integrity respondent is allowed to perform all of its
of the Bar. services, but only if such services are made
available exclusively to members of the Bench
xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library and Bar. Respondent would then be offering
technical assistance, not legal services.
It is respectfully submitted that respondent Alternatively, the more difficult task of carefully
should be enjoined from causing the publication distinguishing between which service may be
of the advertisements in question, or any other offered to the public in general and which
advertisements similar thereto. It is also should be made available exclusively to
submitted that respondent should be prohibited members of the Bar may be undertaken. This,
from further performing or offering some of the however, may require further proceedings
services it presently offers, or, at the very least, because of the factual considerations
from offering such services to the public in involved.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
general.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual law library
virtual law library
It must be emphasized, however, that some of
The IBP is aware of the fact that providing respondent's services ought to be prohibited
computerized legal research, electronic data outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or
gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized induce celebration abroad of marriages which
legal forms, investigators for gathering of are bigamous or otherwise illegal and void
evidence, and like services will greatly benefit under Philippine law. While respondent may not
the legal profession and should not be stifled be prohibited from simply disseminating
but instead encouraged. However, when the information regarding such matters, it must be
conduct of such business by non-members of required to include, in the information given, a
the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice
there can be no choice but to prohibit such law, that certain course of action may be illegal
business.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or
virtual law library capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a
lawyer should be consulted before deciding on
Admittedly, many of the services involved in the which course of action to take, and that it
case at bar can be better performed by cannot recommend any particular lawyer
specialists in other fields, such as computer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions
experts, who by reason of their having devoted for illegal practice of
time and effort exclusively to such field cannot law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
fulfill the exacting requirements for admission law library
to the Bar. To prohibit them from "encroaching"
upon the legal profession will deny the If respondent is allowed to advertise,
profession of the great benefits and advantages advertising should be directed exclusively at
of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a members of the Bar, with a clear and
computer will be doing better than a lawyer unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized
using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in to practice law or perform legal
skill.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles services.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library virtual law library

Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be The benefits of being assisted by paralegals
careful not to allow or tolerate the illegal cannot be ignored. But nobody should be
practice of law in any form, not only for the allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for
protection of members of the Bar but also, and profit, without such term being clearly defined
more importantly, for the protection of the by rule or regulation, and without any adequate
public. Technological development in the and effective means of regulating his activities.
p r o f e s s i o n m ay b e e n c o u ra g e d w i t h o u t Also, law practice in a corporate form may
tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of prove to be advantageous to the legal
i l l e g a l profession, but before allowance of such
practice.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles practice may be considered, the corporation's
virtual law library Article of Incorporation and By-laws must
conform to each and every provision of the the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although
Code of Professional Responsibility and the respondent uses its business name, the persons
Rules of Court. 5 and the lawyers who act for it are subject to
court discipline. The practice of law is not a
2. Philippine Bar Association: profession open to all who wish to engage in it
nor can it be assigned to another (See 5 Am.
xxx xxx Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to
xxx.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual persons who have qualified themselves under
law library the law. It follows that not only respondent but
also all the persons who are acting for
Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in respondent are the persons engaged in
the practice of law but engaged in giving legal unethical law practice. 6
support services to lawyers and laymen,
through experienced paralegals, with the use of 3. Philippine Lawyers' Association:chanrobles
modern computers and electronic virtual law library
machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is
absurd. Unquestionably, respondent's acts of The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in
holding out itself to the public under the trade answer to the issues stated herein, are wit:
name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting
employment for its enumerated services fall 1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of
within the realm of a practice which thus yields law;
itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme
Court. For respondent to say that it is merely 2. Such practice is unauthorized;
engaged in paralegal work is to stretch
credulity. Respondent's own commercial 3. The advertisements complained of are not
advertisement which announces a certain Atty. only unethical, but also misleading and patently
Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of law immoral; and
belies its pretense. From all indications,
respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering 4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power
and rendering legal services through its reserve to supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its
of lawyers. It has been held that the practice of corporate officers for its unauthorized practice
law is not limited to the conduct of cases in of law and for its unethical, misleading and
c o u r t , b u t i n c l u d e s d ra w i n g o f d e e d s , immoral advertising.
incorporation, rendering opinions, and advising
clients as to their legal right and then take them xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library
to an attorney and ask the latter to look after
their case in court See Martin, Legal and Judicial Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the
Ethics, 1984 ed., p. practice of law. It claims that it merely renders
39).chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual "legal support services" to answers, litigants
law library and the general public as enunciated in the
Primary Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of
It is apt to recall that only natural persons can Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of
engage in the practice of law, and such Respondent's Comment). But its advertised
limitation cannot be evaded by services, as enumerated above, clearly and
a corporation employing competent lawyers to convincingly show that it is indeed engaged in
practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or law practice, albeit outside of
device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, court.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
Inc." holds out itself to the public and solicits virtual law library
employment of its legal services. It is an odious
vehicle for deception, especially so when the As advertised, it offers the general public its
public cannot ventilate any grievance advisory services on Persons and Family
for malpractice against the business conduit. Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign
Precisely, the limitation of practice of law to divorces, annulment of marriages, secret
persons who have been duly admitted as marriages, absence and adoption; Immigration
members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Laws, particularly on visa related problems,
Rules of Court) is to subject the members to immigration problems; the Investments Law of
the Philippines and such other related
laws.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles be brought about by advertising of legal
virtual law library services. While it appears that lawyers are
prohibited under the present Code of
Its advertised services unmistakably require the Professional Responsibility from advertising, it
application of the aforesaid law, the legal appears in the instant case that legal services
principles and procedures related thereto, the are being advertised not by lawyers but by an
legal advices based thereon and which activities entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures
c a l l f o r l e g a l t ra i n i n g , k n o w l e d g e a n d should be taken to protect the general public
experience.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanroble from falling prey to those who advertise legal
s virtual law library services without being qualified to offer such
services. 8
Applying the test laid down by the Court in the
aforecited Agrava Case, the activities of A perusal of the questioned advertisements of
respondent fall squarely and are embraced in Respondent, however, seems to give the
what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the impression that information regarding validity of
practice of law." 7 marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage,
immigration, visa extensions, declaration of
4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:chanrobles absence, adoption and foreign investment,
virtual law library which are in essence, legal matters , will be
given to them if they avail of its services. The
In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Respondent's name - The Legal Clinic, Inc. -
Court, paramount consideration should be given does not help matters. It gives the impression
to the protection of the general public from the again that Respondent will or can cure the legal
danger of being exploited by unqualified problems brought to them. Assuming that
persons or entities who may be engaged in the Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by
practice of paralegals, it also gives the misleading
law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual impression that there are lawyers involved in
law library The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in
any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are
At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to involved in The Legal Clinic,
take a rigorous four-year course of study on top Inc.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
of a four-year bachelor of arts or sciences law library
course and then to take and pass the bar
examinations. Only then, is a lawyer qualified to Respondent's allegations are further belied by
p r a c t i c e the very admissions of its President and
law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave
law library an insight on the structure and main purpose of
Respondent corporation in the aforementioned
While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in "Starweek" article." 9
many jurisdiction as an aid to the administration
of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, 5. Women Lawyer's Association of the
courses of study and/or standards which would Philippines:chanrobles virtual law library
qualify these paralegals to deal with the general
public as such. While it may now be the Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly
opportune time to establish these courses of advertisements to solicit cases for the purpose
study and/or standards, the fact remains that at of gain which, as provided for under the above
present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of
the meantime, this Honorable Court may decide Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this
to make measures to protect the general public country.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
from being exploited by those who may be virtual law library
dealing with the general public in the guise of
being "paralegals" without being qualified to do Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in
so.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual that it is an advertisement to solicit cases, but it
law library is illegal in that in bold letters it announces that
the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the
In the same manner, the general public should celebration of a secret marriage which is not
also be protected from the dangers which may
only illegal but immoral in this country. While it 1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the
is advertised that one has to go to said agency p r a c t i c e o f l a w, s u c h a s m a n a g e m e n t
and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is certainly consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether
fooling the public for valid marriages in the run by lawyers or not, perform the services
Philippines are solemnized only by officers rendered by Respondent does not necessarily
authorized to do so under the law. And to lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not
employ an agency for said purpose of unlawfully practicing law. In the same vein,
contracting marriage is not however, the fact that the business of
necessary.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles respondent (assuming it can be engaged in
virtual law library independently of the practice of law) involves
knowledge of the law does not necessarily make
No amount of reasoning that in the USA, respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law.
Canada and other countries the trend is towards
allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills . . . . Of necessity, no one . . . . acting as a
to enable people to obtain from qualified consultant can render effective service unless
practitioners legal services for their particular he is familiar with such statutes and
needs can justify the use of advertisements regulations. He must be careful not to suggest a
such as are the subject matter of the petition, course of conduct which the law forbids. It
for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by seems . . . .clear that (the consultant's)
whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The knowledge of the law, and his use of that
law has yet to be amended so that such act knowledge as a factor in determining what
could become measures he shall recommend, do not
justifiable.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not only
virtual law library presumed that all men know the law, but it is a
f a c t t h a t m o s t m e n h ave c o n s i d e ra b l e
We submit further that these advertisements acquaintance with broad features of the law . . .
that seem to project that secret marriages and . Our knowledge of the law - accurate or
divorce are possible in this country for a fee, inaccurate - moulds our conduct not only when
when in fact it is not so, are highly we are acting for ourselves, but when we are
reprehensible.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrob serving others. Bankers, liquor dealers and
les virtual law library laymen generally possess rather precise
knowledge of the laws touching their particular
It would encourage people to consult this clinic business or profession. A good example is the
about how they could go about having a secret architect, who must be familiar with zoning,
marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever building and fire prevention codes, factory and
be attempted, and seek advice on divorce, tenement house statutes, and who draws plans
where in this country there is none, except and specification in harmony with the law. This
under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the is not practicing
Philippines. It is also against good morals and is law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
deceitful because it falsely represents to the law library
public to be able to do that which by our laws
cannot be done (and) by our Code of Morals But suppose the architect, asked by his client to
should not be omit a fire tower, replies that it is required by
done.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles the statute. Or the industrial relations expert
virtual law library cites, in support of some measure that he
recommends, a decision of the National Labor
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my
Supreme Court held that solicitation for clients opinion, they are not, provided no separate fee
by an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is is charged for the legal advice or information,
unprofessional, and offenses of this character and the legal question is subordinate and
justify permanent elimination from the Bar. 10 incidental to a major non-legal
problem.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados: virtual law library

xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library


It is largely a matter of degree and of building the architect may plan. The incidental
custom.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles legal advice or information defendant may give,
virtual law library does not transform his activities into the
practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a
If it were usual for one intending to erect a minor feature of his work, he performed
building on his land to engage a lawyer to services which are customarily reserved to
advise him and the architect in respect to the members of the bar, he would be practicing
building code and the like, then an architect law. For instance, if as part of a welfare
who performed this function would probably be program, he drew employees'
considered to be trespassing on territory wills.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
reserved for licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the virtual law library
industrial relations field had been pre-empted
by lawyers, or custom placed a lawyer always at Another branch of defendant's work is the
the elbow of the lay personnel man. But this is representations of the employer in the
not the case. The most important body of the adjustment of grievances and in collective
industrial relations experts are the officers and bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is
business agents of the labor unions and few of not per se the practice of law. Anyone may use
them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate an agent for negotiations and may select an
employers, it has been the practice for some agent particularly skilled in the subject under
years to delegate special responsibility in discussion, and the person appointed is free to
employee matters to a management group accept the employment whether or not he is a
chosen for their practical knowledge and skill in member of the bar. Here, however, there may
such matter, and without regard to legal be an exception where the business turns on a
thinking or lack of it. More recently, consultants question of law. Most real estate sales are
like the defendants have the same service that negotiated by brokers who are not lawyers. But
the larger employers get from their own if the value of the land depends on a disputed
s p e c i a l i z e d right-of-way and the principal role of the
staff.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of
virtual law library the dispute and persuade the opposite party to
the same opinion, then it may be that only a
The handling of industrial relations is growing lawyer can accept the assignment. Or if a
into a recognized profession for which controversy between an employer and his men
appropriate courses are offered by our leading grows from differing interpretations of a
universities. The court should be very cautious contract, or of a statute, it is quite likely that
about declaring [that] a widespread, well- defendant should not handle it. But I need not
established method of conducting business is reach a definite conclusion here, since the
unlawful, or that the considerable class of men situation is not presented by the
who customarily perform a certain function proofs.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
have no right to do so, or that the technical virtual law library
education given by our schools cannot be used
by the graduates in their business. Defendant also appears to represent the
employer before administrative agencies of the
In determining whether a man is practicing law, federal government, especially before trial
we should consider his work for any particular examiners of the National Labor Relations
client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine Board. An agency of the federal government,
defendant being engaged primarily to advise as acting by virtue of an authority granted by the
to the law defining his client's obligations to his Congress, may regulate the representation of
employees, to guide his client's obligations to parties before such agency. The State of New
his employees, to guide his client along the path Jersey is without power to interfere with such
charted by law. This, of course, would be the determination or to forbid representation before
practice of the law. But such is not the fact in the agency by one whom the agency admits.
the case before me. Defendant's primarily The rules of the National Labor Relations Board
efforts are along economic and psychological give to a party the right to appear in person, or
lines. The law only provides the frame within by counsel, or by other representative. Rules
which he must work, just as the zoning code and Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S.
limits the kind of building the limits the kind of 203.31. 'Counsel' here means a licensed
attorney, and ther representative' one not a may be involved is actually the practice of law.
lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant If a non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic,
may lawfully do whatever the Labor Board renders such services then it is engaged in the
allows, even arguing questions purely legal. unauthorized practice of
(Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited in law.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual
Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism [1974], at law library
pp. 154-156.).
1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give
1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a information on divorce, absence, annulment of
person engaged in a lawful calling (which may marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B"
involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in Petition). Purely giving informational materials
the practice of law provided that:chanrobles may not constitute of law. The business is
virtual law library similar to that of a bookstore where the
customer buys materials on the subject and
(a) The legal question is subordinate and determines on the subject and determines by
incidental to a major non-legal himself what courses of action to
problem;.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles take.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library virtual law library

(b) The services performed are not customarily It is not entirely improbable, however, that
reserved to members of the aside from purely giving information, the Legal
bar; .chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the
virtual law library particular problem of the client, and give legal
advice. Such would constitute unauthorized
(c) No separate fee is charged for the legal practice of law.
advice or
information.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanroble It cannot be claimed that the publication of a
s virtual law library legal text which publication of a legal text which
purports to say what the law is amount to legal
All these must be considered in relation to the practice. And the mere fact that the principles
work for any particular client as a or rules stated in the text may be accepted by a
whole.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles particular reader as a solution to his problem
virtual law library does not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged
that the conjoining of these two, that is, the
1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and text and the forms, with advice as to how the
n o n - l a w y e r, t h e C o d e o f P r o f e s s i o n a l forms should be filled out, constitutes the
Responsibility succintly states the rule of unlawful practice of law. But that is the situation
conduct:chanrobles virtual law library with many approved and accepted texts.
Dacey's book is sold to the public at
Rule 15.08 - A lawyer who is engaged in large. There is no personal contact or
another profession or occupation concurrently relationship with a particular individual. Nor
with the practice of law shall make clear to his does there exist that relation of confidence and
client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in trust so necessary to the status of attorney and
a n o t h e r client. THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL
capacity.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles PRACTICE - THE REPRESENTATION AND
virtual law library ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR PERSON IN A
PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most the book
1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic assumes to offer general advice on common
appears to render wedding services (See Annex problems, and does not purport to give personal
"A" Petition). Services on routine, advice on a specific problem peculiar to a
straightforward marriages, like securing a designated or readily identified person. Similarly
marriage license, and making arrangements the defendant's publication does not purport to
with a priest or a judge, may not constitute give personal advice on a specific problem
practice of law. However, if the problem is as peculiar to a designated or readily identified
complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal person in a particular situation - in their
Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby publication and sale of the kits, such publication
Concepcion-Richard Gomez case, then what
and sale did not constitutes the unlawful 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically
practice of law . . . . There being no legal objectionable. The second paragraph thereof
impediment under the statute to the sale of the (which is not necessarily related to the first
kit, there was no proper basis for the injunction paragraph) fails to state the limitation that only
against defendant maintaining an office for the "paralegal services?" or "legal support services",
purpose of selling to persons seeking a divorce, and not legal services, are
separation, annulment or separation agreement available." 11chanrobles virtual law library
any printed material or writings relating to
matrimonial law or the prohibition in the A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the
memorandum of modification of the judgment phrase "practice of law" becomes exigent for
against defendant having an interest in any the proper determination of the issues raised by
publishing house publishing his manuscript on the petition at bar. On this score, we note that
divorce and against his having any personal the clause "practice of law" has long been the
contact with any prospective purchaser. The subject of judicial construction and
record does fully support, however, the finding interpretation. The courts have laid down
that for the change of $75 or $100 for the kit, general principles and doctrines explaining the
the defendant gave legal advice in the course of meaning and scope of the term, some of which
personal contacts concerning particular we now take into
problems which might arise in the preparation account.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
and presentation of the purchaser's asserted virtual law library
matrimonial cause of action or pursuit of other
legal remedies and assistance in the preparation Practice of law means any activity, in or out of
of necessary documents (The injunction court, which requires the application of law,
therefore sought to) enjoin conduct constituting legal procedures, knowledge, training and
the practice of law, particularly with reference experience. To engage in the practice of law is
to the giving of advice and counsel by the to perform those acts which are characteristic of
defendant relating to specific problems of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to
particular individuals in connection with a give advice or render any kind of service that
divorce, separation, annulment of separation involves legal knowledge or skill. 12chanrobles
agreement sought and should be affirmed. virtual law library
(State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited
in Statsky, supra at p. 101.). The practice of law is not limited to the conduct
of cases in court. It includes legal advice and
1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its counsel, and the preparation of legal
services are "strictly non-diagnostic, non- instruments and contract by which legal rights
advisory. "It is not controverted, however, that are secured, although such matter may or may
if the services "involve giving legal advice or not be pending in a court. 13chanrobles virtual
counselling," such would constitute practice of law library
law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that
FIDA submits that a factual inquiry may be In the practice of his profession, a licensed
necessary for the judicious disposition of this attorney at law generally engages in three
case. principal types of professional activity: legal
advice and instructions to clients to inform them
xxx xxx xxxchanrobles virtual law library of their rights and obligations, preparation for
clients of documents requiring knowledge of
2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable legal principles not possessed by ordinary
in that it can give the impression (or perpetuate layman, and appearance for clients before
the wrong notion) that there is a secret public tribunals which possess power and
marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities authority to determine rights of life, liberty, and
and other requisites of marriages (See Articles property according to law, in order to assist in
2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage proper interpretation and enforcement of
can be law. 14chanrobles virtual law library
secret.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library When a person participates in the a trial and
advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the
practice of law. 15One who confers with clients,
advises them as to their legal rights and then outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in
takes the business to an attorney and asks the the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v.
latter to look after the case in court, is also C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. 2d 895, 340 Mo.
practicing law. 16Giving advice for compensation 852).
regarding the legal status and rights of another
and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers
a practice of law. 17One who renders an opinion Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173,
as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and 176-177),stated:
receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing
law. 18chanrobles virtual law library The practice of law is not limited to the conduct
of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
In the recent case of Cayetano vs. preparation of pleadings and other papers
Monsod, 19after citing the doctrines in several incident to actions and special proceedings, the
cases, we laid down the test to determine management of such actions and proceedings
whether certain acts constitute "practice of on behalf of clients before judges and courts,
law," thus: and in addition, conveying. In general, all
advice to clients, and all action taken for them
Black defines "practice of law" as:chanrobles in matters connected with the law incorporation
virtual law library services, assessment and condemnation
services contemplating an appearance before a
The rendition of services requiring the judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage,
knowledge and the application of legal enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy
principles and technique to serve the interest of and insolvency proceedings, and conducting
another with his consent. It is not limited to proceedings in attachment, and in matters or
appearing in court, or advising and assisting in estate and guardianship have been held to
the conduct of litigation, but embraces the constitute law practice, as do the preparation
preparation of pleadings, and other papers and drafting of legal instruments, where the
incident to actions and special proceedings, work done involves the determination by the
c o nve ya n c i n g , t h e p r e p a ra t i o n o f l e g a l trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts
instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all a n d c o n d i t i o n s . ( 5 A m . J r. p . 2 6 2 ,
legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to 263).chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
clients and all actions taken for them in matters virtual law library
connected with the law.
Practice of law under modern conditions
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct consists in no small part of work performed
of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust outside of any court and having no immediate
Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. relation to proceedings in court. It embraces
650). A person is also considered to be in the conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a
practice of law when he: large variety of subjects and the preparation
and execution of legal instruments covering an
. . . . for valuable consideration engages in the extensive field of business and trust relations
business of advising person, firms, associations and other affairs. Although these transactions
or corporations as to their right under the law, may have no direct connection with court
or appears in a representative capacity as an proceedings, they are always subject to become
advocate in proceedings, pending or involved in litigation. They require in many
prospective, before any court, commissioner, aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide
referee, board, body, committee, or commission experience with men and affairs, and great
constituted by law or authorized to settle capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex
controversies and there, in such representative situations. These customary functions of an
capacity, performs any act or acts for the attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate
purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of relation to the administration of justice by the
their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns
one who, in a representative capacity, engages the question set forth in the order, can be
in the business of advising clients as to their drawn between that part of the work of the
rights under the law, or while so engaged lawyer which involves appearance in court and
performs any act or acts either in court or that part which involves advice and drafting of
instruments in his office. It is of importance to software for the efficient management of law
the welfare of the public that these manifold offices, corporate legal departments, courts and
customary functions be performed by persons other entities engaged in dispensing or
possessed of adequate learning and skill, of administering legal services. 20 chanrobles
sound moral character, and acting at all times virtual law library
under the heavy trust obligations to clients
which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran, While some of the services being offered by
Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 r e s p o n d e n t c o r p o ra t i o n m e r e l y i n v o l v e
ed.], pp. 665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the
Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode installation of computer systems and programs
Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. for the efficient management of law offices, or
[R.I.] 197 A. 139, 144). the computerization of research aids and
materials, these will not suffice to justify an
The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide exception to the general
range of activities in and out of court. Applying rule.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, virtual law library
we agree with the perceptive findings and
observations of the aforestated bar associations What is palpably clear is that respondent
that the activities of respondent, as advertised, corporation gives out legal information to
constitute "practice of law."chanrobles virtual laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such
law library function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is
m o r e a p p a r e n t t h a n r e a l . I n p r ov i d i n g
The contention of respondent that it merely information, for example, about foreign laws on
offers legal support services can neither be marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the
seriously considered nor sustained. Said credulity of this Court that all the respondent
proposition is belied by respondent's own corporation will simply do is look for the law,
description of the services it has been offering, furnish a copy thereof to the client, and stop
to wit: there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its
attorneys and so called paralegals, it will
Legal support services basically consists of necessarily have to explain to the client the
giving ready information by trained paralegals intricacies of the law and advise him or her on
to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non- the proper course of action to be taken as may
diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive be provided for by said law. That is what its
use of computers and modern information advertisements represent and for the which
technology in the gathering, processing, services it will consequently charge and be paid.
storage, transmission and reproduction of That activity falls squarely within the
information and communication, such as jurisprudential definition of "practice of law."
computerized legal research; encoding and Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact
reproduction of documents and pleadings that respondent corporation does not represent
prepared by laymen or lawyers; document clients in court since law practice, as the weight
search; evidence gathering; locating parties or of authority holds, is not limited merely giving
witnesses to a case; fact finding investigations; l e g a l a d v i c e , c o n t ra c t d ra f t i n g a n d s o
and assistance to laymen in need of basic forth.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
institutional services from government or non- virtual law library
government agencies, like birth, marriage,
property, or business registrations; educational The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened
or employment records or certifications, by an article published in the January 13, 1991
obtaining documentation like clearances, issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of
passports, local or foreign visas; giving the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal
information about laws of other countries that Problems," where an insight into the structure,
they may find useful, like foreign divorce, main purpose and operations of respondent
marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of corporation was given by its own "proprietor,"
preparatory to emigration to the foreign Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:
country, and other matters that do not involve
representation of clients in court; designing and This is the kind of business that is transacted
installing computer systems, programs, or everyday at The Legal Clinic, with offices on the
seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U. N. trained to deal with the problem. Now, if there
Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's were other heirs contesting your rich relatives
problem, and even if it is as complicated as the will, then you would need a litigator, who knows
Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty. how to arrange the problem for presentation in
Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like court, and gather evidence to support the
doctors are "specialists" in various fields can case. 21chanrobles virtual law library
take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has
specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico- That fact that the corporation employs
legal problems, labor, litigation, and family law. paralegals to carry out its services is not
These specialist are backed up by a battery of controlling. What is important is that it is
paralegals, counsellors and engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the
attorneys.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles nature of the services it renders which thereby
virtual law library brings it within the ambit of the statutory
prohibitions against the advertisements which it
Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. has caused to be published and are now
Inspired by the trend in the medical field toward assailed in this
specialization, it caters to clients who cannot proceeding.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanroble
afford the services of the big law s virtual law library
firms.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed
out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported facts
The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. sufficiently establish that the main purpose of
"when they come, we start by analyzing the respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of
problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask sorts for various legal problems wherein a client
you how you contracted what's bothering you, may avail of legal services from simple
they take your temperature, they observe you documentation to complex litigation and
for the symptoms and so on. That's how we corporate undertakings. Most of these services
operate, too. And once the problem has been are undoubtedly beyond the domain of
categorized, then it's referred to one of our paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of
specialists.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary chanroble lawyers engaged in the practice of
s virtual law library law. 22chanrobles virtual law library

There are cases which do not, in medical terms, It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the
require surgery or follow-up treatment. These services being offered by private respondent
The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of which constitute practice of law cannot be
minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of performed by paralegals. Only a person duly
sale or an affidavit of loss can be taken care of admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter
by our staff or, if this were a hospital the admitted as such in accordance with the
residents or the interns. We can take care of provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in
these matters on a while you wait basis. Again, good and regular standing, is entitled to
kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi practice law. 23chanrobles virtual law library
kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common
c o l d o r d i a r r h e a , " e x p l a i n s A t t y. Public policy requires that the practice of law be
Nogales.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles limited to those individuals found duly qualified
virtual law library in education and character. The permissive right
conferred on the lawyers is an individual and
Those cases which requires more extensive limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails
"treatment" are dealt with accordingly. "If you to maintain proper standards of moral and
had a rich relative who died and named you her professional conduct. The purpose is to protect
sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of the public, the court, the client and the bar
pesos of property, we would refer you to a from the incompetence or dishonesty of those
specialist in taxation. There would be real estate unlicensed to practice law and not subject to
taxes and arrears which would need to be put in the disciplinary control of the
order, and your relative is even taxed by the court. 24chanrobles virtual law library
state for the right to transfer her property, and
only a specialist in taxation would be properly
The same rule is observed in the american Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the
jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would wish American Paralegal Association. 29chanrobles
to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines virtual law library
there also stress that the practice of law is
limited to those who meet the requirements for, In the Philippines, we still have a restricted
and have been admitted to, the bar, and various concept and limited acceptance of what may be
statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25The considered as paralegal service. As pointed out
practice of law is not a lawful business except by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to
for members of the bar who have complied with practice law are or have been allowed limited
all the conditions required by statute and the representation in behalf of another or to render
rules of court. Only those persons are allowed legal services, but such allowable services are
to practice law who, by reason of attainments limited in scope and extent by the law, rules or
previously acquired through education and regulations granting permission
study, have been recognized by the courts as therefor. 30chanrobles virtual law library
possessing profound knowledge of legal science
entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, Accordingly, we have adopted the American
or defend the rights claims, or liabilities of their judicial policy that, in the absence of
clients, with respect to the construction, constitutional or statutory authority, a person
i n t e r p r e t a t i o n , o p e ra t i o n a n d e f f e c t o f who has not been admitted as an attorney
law. 26The justification for excluding from the cannot practice law for the proper
practice of law those not admitted to the bar is administration of justice cannot be hindered by
found, not in the protection of the bar from the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized
competition, but in the protection of the public and unskilled person into the practice of
from being advised and represented in legal law. 31That policy should continue to be one of
matters by incompetent and unreliable persons encouraging persons who are unsure of their
over whom the judicial department can exercise legal rights and remedies to seek legal
little control. 27chanrobles virtual law library assistance only from persons licensed to
practice law in the state. 32chanrobles virtual
We have to necessarily and definitely reject law library
respondent's position that the concept in the
United States of paralegals as an occupation Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned
separate from the law profession be adopted in advertisements, the Code of Professional
this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making
respondent cannot but be aware that this known his legal services shall use only true,
should first be a matter for judicial rules or honest, fair, dignified and objective information
legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption or statement of facts. 33He is not supposed to
as it has use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent,
done.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-
virtual law library laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding
his qualifications or legal services. 34Nor shall
Paralegals in the United States are trained h e p ay o r g i ve s o m e t h i n g o f va l u e t o
professionals. As admitted by respondent, there representatives of the mass media in
are schools and universities there which offer anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to
studies and degrees in paralegal education, attract legal business. 35Prior to the adoption of
while there are none in the Philippines. 28As the the code of Professional Responsibility, the
concept of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned
evolved in the United States, standards and that lawyers should not resort to indirect
guidelines also evolved to protect the general advertisements for professional employment,
public. One of the major standards or guidelines such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper
was developed by the American Bar Association comments, or procuring his photograph to be
which set up Guidelines for the Approval of published in connection with causes in which
Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). the lawyer has been or is engaged or
Legislation has even been proposed to certify concerning the manner of their conduct, the
legal assistants. There are also associations of magnitude of the interest involved, the
paralegals in the United States with their own importance of the lawyer's position, and all
code of professional ethics, such as the National
other like self-laudation. 36
chanrobles virtual That publicity is a normal by-product of
law library effective service which is right and proper. A
good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial
The standards of the legal profession condemn stimulus to generate it and to magnify his
the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A success. He easily sees the difference between
lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of a normal by-product of able service and the
his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in unwholesome result of
a manner similar to a merchant advertising his propaganda. 40chanrobles virtual law library
goods. 37The prescription against advertising of
legal services or solicitation of legal business Of course, not all types of advertising or
rests on the fundamental postulate that the that solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the
the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the profession enumerate exceptions to the rule
case of The Director of Religious Affairs. vs. against advertising or solicitation and define the
Estanislao R. Bayot 38 an advertisement, similar extent to which they may be undertaken. The
to those of respondent which are involved in the exceptions are of two broad categories, namely,
present proceeding, 39was held to constitute those which are expressly allowed and those
improper advertising or which are necessarily implied from the
solicitation.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles restrictions. 41chanrobles virtual law library
virtual law library
The first of such exceptions is the publication in
The pertinent part of the decision therein reads: reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with
the standards of conduct imposed by the
It is undeniable that the advertisement in canons, of brief biographical and informative
question was a flagrant violation by the data. "Such data must not be misleading and
respondent of the ethics of his profession, it may include only a statement of the lawyer's
being a brazen solicitation of business from the name and the names of his professional
public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly associates; addresses, telephone numbers,
provides among other things that "the practice cable addresses; branches of law practiced;
of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, date and place of birth and admission to the
either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, bar; schools attended with dates of graduation,
constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical degrees and other educational distinction;
for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor;
as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a legal authorships; legal teaching positions;
profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades membership and offices in bar associations and
himself and his profession who stoops to and committees thereof, in legal and scientific
adopts the practices of mercantilism by societies and legal fraternities; the fact of
advertising his services or offering them to the listings in other reputable law lists; the names
public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the and addresses of references; and, with their
temple of justice with mercenary activities as written consent, the names of clients regularly
the money-changers of old defiled the temple of represented." 42chanrobles virtual law library
Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective
advertisement possible, even for a young The law list must be a reputable law list
lawyer, . . . . is the establishment of a well- published primarily for that purpose; it cannot
merited reputation for professional capacity and be a mere supplemental feature of a paper,
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must magazine, trade journal or periodical which is
be the outcome of character and published principally for other purposes. For
conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish
his brief biographical and informative data in a
We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society
that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to
a well-merited reputation for professional be published in a law list the conduct,
capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be management or contents of which are
earned as the outcome of character and calculated or likely to deceive or injure the
conduct. Good and efficient service to a client public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or
as well as to the community has a way of standing of the profession. 43chanrobles virtual
publicizing itself and catching public attention. law library
The use of an ordinary simple professional card It bears mention that in a survey conducted by
is also permitted. The card may contain only a the American Bar Association after the decision
statement of his name, the name of the law in Bates, on the attitude of the public about
firm which he is connected with, address, lawyers after viewing television commercials, it
telephone number and special branch of law was found that public opinion dropped
p ra c t i c e d . T h e p u b l i c a t i o n o f a s i m p l e s i g n i f i c a n t l y 47 w i t h r e s p e c t t o t h e s e
announcement of the opening of a law firm or of characteristics of lawyers:
changes in the partnership, associates, firm
name or office address, being for the Trustworthy from 71% to 14%

convenience of the profession, is not Professional from 71% to 14%

objectionable. He may likewise have his name Honest from 65% to 14%

listed in a telephone directory but not under a Dignified from 45% to 14%
designation of special branch of
law. 44chanrobles virtual law library Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the
present situation of our legal and judicial
Verily, taking into consideration the nature and systems, to allow the publication of
contents of the advertisements for which advertisements of the kind used by respondent
respondent is being taken to task, which even would only serve to aggravate what is already a
includes a quotation of the fees charged by said deteriorating public opinion of the legal
respondent corporation for services rendered, profession whose integrity has consistently been
we find and so hold that the same definitely do under attack lately by media and the
not and conclusively cannot fall under any of community in general. At this point in time, it is
the above-mentioned of utmost importance in the face of such
exceptions.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to
virtual law library adopt and maintain that level of professional
conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly
Bar of Arizona, 45 which is repeatedly invoked accorded to the legal
and constitutes the justification relied upon by profession.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
respondent, is obviously not applicable to the virtual law library
case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the
disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the
allows a lawyer, as an exception to the part of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary action,
prohibition against advertisements by lawyers, to advertise his services except in allowable
to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial i n s t a n c e s 4 8 o r t o a i d a l ay m a n i n t h e
consultation or the availability upon request of a unauthorized practice of law. 49Considering that
written schedule of fees or an estimate of the Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime
fee to be charged for the specific services. No incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor
such exception is provided for, expressly or of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the
impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a
Professional Ethics or the present Code of warning that a repetition of the same or similar
Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the acts which are involved in this proceeding will
disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a be dealt with more
proviso that the exceptions stated therein are severely.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
"not applicable in any state unless and until it is virtual law library
implemented by such authority in that
state." 46This goes to show that an exception to While we deem it necessary that the question
the general rule, such as that being invoked by as to the legality or illegality of the purpose/s
herein respondent, can be made only if and for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created
when the canons expressly provide for such an should be passed upon and determined, we are
exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as constrained to refrain from lapsing into an
in the case at obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not
bar.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles virtual within the adjudicative parameters of the
law library present proceeding which is merely
administrative in nature. It is, of course,
imperative that this matter be promptly
determined, albeit in a different proceeding and
forum, since, under the present state of our law
and jurisprudence, a corporation cannot be
organized for or engage in the practice of law in
this country. This interdiction, just like the rule
against unethical advertising, cannot be
subverted by employing some so-called
paralegals supposedly rendering the alleged
s u p p o r t
services.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanrobles
virtual law library

The remedy for the apparent breach of this


prohibition by respondent is the concern and
province of the Solicitor General who can
institute the corresponding quo
warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of
the factual background and basis for the grant
of respondent's corporate charter, in light of the
putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the
instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor
General for such action as may be necessary
under the
circumstances.chanroblesvirtualawlibrarychanro
bles virtual law library

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN


and ENJOIN herein respondent, The Legal Clinic,
Inc., from issuing or causing the publication or
dissemination of any advertisement in any form
which is of the same or similar tenor and
purpose as Annexes "A" and "B" of this petition,
and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any
activity, operation or transaction proscribed by
law or the Code of Professional Ethics as
indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of
the Solicitor General for appropriate action in
accordance herewith.

Narvasa, C.J., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin,


Griño-Aquino, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon,
Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur
Republic of the Philippines
 In his Comment filed on June 21, 1983, respondent
SUPREME COURT
 denied the accusations and stated that he has the right
Baguio city to retain the said amount of P42,999.00 and to apply
the same to professional fees due him under the
FIRST DIVISION subsequent agreement first with complainant Teodoro
Rivera and later with Mrs. Dely Dimson Rivera as
A.C. No. 2519 August 29, 2000 embodied in the Deed of Assignment (Annex "8")2 or
under the previous agreement of P20% of
P206,000.00.
TEODORO R RIVERA, ANTONIO D. AQUINO and
FELIXBERTO D. AQUINO, complainants, 

vs.
 Complainants, in their Reply,3 vehemently denied the
ATTY. SERGIO ANGELES, respondent. assignment of their rights to respondent.

RESOLUTION Thereafter, this case was referred to the Solicitor


General for investigation, report and recommendation
in our Resolution dated November 21, 1983. The
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:
Office of the Solicitor General considered this case
submitted for resolution on April 30, 1985 by declaring
On March 25, 1983, complainants filed a Complaint for respondent's right to present evidence as considered
Disbarment against Atty. Sergio Angeles on the waived due to the latter's failure to appear on the
grounds of Deceit and Malpractice. The Affidavit- scheduled hearings. However, the records from said
Complaint1 reads as follows: Office do not show any resolution.

"1. The undersigned are plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. In October 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
Q-12841 and Q-13128 of the Court of First Instance of issued an Order requiring the parties to manifest
Rizal, Branch V at Quezon City; whether or not they are still interested in prosecuting
this case, or whether supervening events have
2. Atty. Sergio Angeles is their counsel of record in the transpired which render this case moot and academic
said cases and his office is located at Suite 335, URC or otherwise. The copy of said Order sent to the
Building, 2123 España, Manila; complainants was received by their counsel on
October 30, 1998 while the copy to the respondent was
3. That after receiving favorable decision from the CFI returned unclaimed.
on May 21, 1973 and sustained by the Court of
Appeals and the Supreme Court an alias writ of Investigating Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo
execution was issued in said cases; submitted his report on April 29, 1999 finding
respondent Atty. Sergio Angeles guilty of violating the
4. That in the first week of January 1983 we obtained Code of Professional Responsibility specifically Rule
from the CFI a sheriff's return, dated November 10, 1.01, Canon 16 and Rule 16.01 thereof and
1982, stating that no leviable property can be found in recommends his indefinite suspension from the
the premises of the defendants; practice of law.

5. That on or before January 13, 1983, we learned that The Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
Mr. Rodolfo M. Silva, one of the defendants in said Philippines on June 19, 1999, issued a resolution, the
cases had already given Atty. Angeles a partial decretal portion of which reads:
settlement of the judgment in the amount of
P42,999.00 (as evidenced by xerox copies of Partial "RESOLUTION NO. XIII-99-151
Settlement of Judgment dated September 21, 1982
and Receipt of Payment dated September 22, 1982, Adm. Case No. 2519
hereto attached as Annexes "A" and "B", respectively),
without our knowledge.
Teodoro R Rivera, et al. vs.
6. That Atty. Sergio Angeles never informed the
Atty. Sergio Angeles
undersigned of the amount of P42,999.00 he received
from Mr. Silva nor remitted to them even a part of that
amount; RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in
7. That a demand letter was sent to Atty. Sergio
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Angeles which was received by him on February 17,
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A"; and, finding the
1983, but as of this date the undersigned have not yet
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
received any reply. (See Exhibit "C" and "D" attached)."
record and the applicable laws and rules, with an
amendment that Atty. Sergio Angeles is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR for his
having been found guilty of practicing deceit in dealing
with his client."

The Court finds merit in the recommendation of the


Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Respondent's act of
deceit and malpractice indubitably demonstrated his
failure to live up to his sworn duties as a lawyer. The
Supreme Court repeatedly stressed the importance of
integrity and good moral character as part of a lawyer's
equipment in the practice of his profession.4 For it
cannot be denied that the respect of litigants for the
profession is inexorably diminished whenever a
member of the Bar betrays their trust and confidence.
5 1âwphi1

The Court is not oblivious of the right of a lawyer to be


paid for the legal services he has extended to his client
but such right should not be exercised whimsically by
appropriating to himself the money intended for his
clients. There should never be an instance where the
victor in litigation loses everything he won to the fees of
his own lawyer.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Sergio Angeles, is


SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1)
YEAR for having been found guilty of practicing deceit
in dealing with his client.

This Resolution shall take effect immediately and


copies thereof furnished the Office of the Bar
Confidant, Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
appended to respondent's personal record.

SO ORDERED.1âwphi1.nêt

₱450,000.00 as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute


Sale of Real Property dated December 5, 1991 and
notarized by respondent Atty. Crispulo Ducusin.
Complainant, however, averred that he never sold the
property, signed any document nor received any
money therefor, and he also denied having appeared
before respondent Ducusin who was the notary public
for the Deed of Absolute Sale. Complainant discovered
that respondent Villalon claimed that complainant’s
father allegedly gave the subject property to him
(respondent Villalon) as evidenced by a document of
" 
 sale purportedly signed by complainant.
SECOND DIVISION
In his Comment,4 respondent Villalon denied that
A.C. No. 3910 August 14, 2000 allegations of the complainant and in turn, he alleged
that the property was given voluntarily by Jose Ducat,
JOSE S. DUCAT, JR., complainant, 
 Sr. to him out of close intimacy and for past legal
vs.
 services rendered. Thereafter, respondent Villalon, with
ATTYS. ARSENIO C. VILLALON, JR. and CRISPULO the knowledge and consent of Jose Ducat, Sr., allowed
DUCUSIN, respondents. the subject property to be used by Andres Canares to
start a piggery business without any monetary
DECISION consideration. A Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land was
then signed by Jose Ducat, Sr. to evidence that he has
conveyed the subject property to respondent Villalon
DE LEON, JR., J.:
with the name of respondent Canares included therein
as protection because of the improvements to be
Before us is a verified letter-complaint1 for disbarment introduced in the subject property. Upon presenting the
against Attys. Arsenio C. Villalon, Jr.; Andres Canares, title covering the subject property, it was discovered
Jr. and Crispulo Ducusin for deceit and gross that the property was registered in the name of Jose
misconduct in violation of the lawyer ’s oath. Ducat, Jr. and not Jose Ducat, Sr., but the latter told
Investigation proceeded only against respondent respondents Villalon and Canares not to worry
Villalon because it was discovered that Andres because the land was actually owned by him and that
Canares was not a lawyer while Atty. Crispulo Ducusin he merely placed the name of his son, Jose Ducat, Jr.
passed away on February 3, 1996.2 Jose Ducat, Sr. then suggested that the subject
property be transferred directly from Jose Ducat, Jr. to
In the letter-complaint,3 complainant alleged that on respondent Canares; hence, he (Ducat, Sr.) got the
October 29, 1991, respondent Villalon, as counsel for title and guaranteed that he would return the document
the family of complainant, spoke to the father of already signed and notarized, which he did the
complainant and asked that he be given the title over a following day. According to respondent Canares, the
property owned by complainant located in Pinugay, trouble began when Jose Ducat, Sr. came to his office
Antipolo, Rizal and covered by TCT No. M-3023, demanding to know why he was not allowed to cut the
Emancipation Patent No. 410414, because he trees inside the subject property by the caretaker of
allegedly had to verify the proper measurements of the respondent Canares.
subject property. Sometime in November, 1991,
however, complainant and his family were surprised On January 21, 1993, Jose Ducat, Jr. wrote5 to this
when several people entered the subject property and, Court and averred that he neither signed the Deed of
when confronted by the companions of complainant, Sale covering the subject property nor did he appear
the latter were told that they were workers of Canares before the notary public Crispulo Ducusin, who
and were there to construct a piggery. Complainant notarized the same. He averred that respondents
complained to the barangay authorities in Pinugay and Villalon and Ducusin should be disbarred from the
narrated the incident but respondent Canares did not practice of law and respondent Villalon be imprisoned
appear before it and continued with the construction of for forging his signature and selling the subject
the piggery in the presence of armed men who were property without his consent.
watching over the construction. Complainant then went
to respondent Villalon to complain about the people of
In his Rejoinder6 , respondent Villalon denied the
respondent Canares but nothing was done.
allegations of complainant and maintained that he is a
member of good standing of the Integrated Bar and
Complainant then filed a case for ejectment against that he has always preserved the high standards of the
respondent Canares. In his Reply however, the latter legal profession. Respondent Villalon expressed his
answered that the subject property was already sold by willingness to have the Deed of Sale examined by the
complainant to respondent Canares in the amount of
National Bureau of Investigation and reiterated that the Accordingly, it is unbelievable that he would consider
subject property was orally given to him by Jose Ducat, himself the owner of the subject property on the basis
Sr. and it was only in October, 1991 that the of the verbal or oral "giving" of the property by Jose
conveyance was reduced in writing. He added that the Ducat, Sr. no matter how many times the latter may
complainant knew that his father, Jose Ducat, Sr., was have said that.
the person who signed the said document for and in
his behalf and that this was done with his consent and THIRD, the Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land (Exh. "1"
knowledge. for the respondent and Exh. "A-2" for the complainant)
allegedly executed by Jose Ducat, Sr. in favor of
This Court referred7 the case to the Integrated Bar of respondent Atty. Arsenio Villalon and/or Andres
the Philippines for investigation, report and Canares, Jr. covering the subject parcel of land which
recommendation. respondent prepared allegedly upon instruction of Jose
Ducat, Sr. is of dubious character. As earlier adverted
On May 17, 1997, the IBP Board of Governors passed to, Jose Ducat, Sr. is not the owner of said property.
a resolution adopting and approving the report and Moreover, said Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land is a
recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner falsified document as admitted by the respondent
who found respondent Atty. Villalon guilty, and himself when he said that the signature over the
recommended his suspension from the practice of law typewritten name Maria Cabrido (wife of Jose Ducat,
for two (2) years and likewise directed respondent Atty. Sr.) was affixed by Jose Ducat, Sr. Being a lawyer,
Villalon to deliver to the complainant his TCT No. respondent knew or ought to know that the act of Jose
M-3023 within ten (10) days from receipt of notice, Ducat, Sr. in affixing his wife’s signature is tantamount
otherwise, this will result in his disbarment. to a forgery. Accordingly, he should have treated the
said Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land has (sic) a mere
The findings of IBP Investigating Commissioner Victor scrap of worthless paper instead of relying on the
C. Fernandez are as follows: same to substantiate his claim that the subject property
was given to him by Jose Ducat, Sr. Again, of note is
the fact that Jose Ducat, Sr. has vigorously denied
Complainant and his witness, Jose Ducat, Sr., testified
having executed said document which denial is not too
in a straightforward, spontaneous and candid manner.
difficult to believe in the light of the circumstances
The sincerity and demeanor they displayed while
already mentioned.
testifying before the Commission inspire belief as to
the truth of what they are saying. More importantly,
respondent failed to impute any ill-motive on the part of FOURTH, the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property
the complainant and his witness which can impel them (Exh. "2" for the respondent and Exh. "A-3" for the
to institute the instant complaint and testify falsely complainant) allegedly executed by Jose Ducat, Jr. in
against him. To be sure, the testimony of the favor of Andres Canares, Jr. over the subject property
complainant and his witness deserves the (which respondent claims he prepared upon instruction
Commission’s full faith and credence. of Jose Ducat, Sr.) is likewise of questionable
character. Complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. has vigorously
denied having executed said document. He claims that
Respondent’s evidence, on the other hand, leaves
he has never sold said property to Andres Canares, Jr.
much to be desired. His defense (that he considered
whom he does not know; that he has never appeared
himself the owner of the subject property which was
before Atty. Crispulo Ducusin to subscribe to the
allegedly given to him by Jose Ducat, Sr.) rings hollow
document; and that he has never received the amount
in the face of a welter of contravening and
of P450,000.00 representing the consideration of said
incontrovertible facts.
transaction. More importantly, the infirmity of the said
Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property was supplied
FIRST, the registered owner of the subject property is by the respondent no less when he admitted that there
complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. Accordingly, respondent was no payment of P450,000.00 and that the same
(being a lawyer) knew or ought to know that Jose was placed in the document only to make it appear that
Ducat, Sr. could not possibly give to him the said the conveyance was for a consideration. Accordingly,
property unless the former is duly authorized by the and being a lawyer, respondent knew or ought to know
complainant through a Special Power of Attorney. No the irregularity of his act and that he should have
such authorization has been given. Moreover, Jose treated the document as another scrap of worthless
Ducat, Sr. has vigorously denied having given the paper instead of utilizing the same to substantiate his
subject property to the respondent. This denial is not defense.8
too difficult to believe considering the fact that he (Jose
Ducat, Sr.) is not the owner of said property.
After a careful consideration of the record of the instant
case, it appears that the findings of facts and
SECOND, being a lawyer, respondent knew or ought to observations of the Investigating Commissioner,
know that conveyance of a real property, whether Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which were all
gratuitously or for a consideration, must be in writing.
adopted by its Board of Governors, are well-taken, the herein complained of which constitute gross
same being supported by the evidence adduced. misconduct were duly proven.

The ethics of the legal profession rightly enjoin lawyers Public confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded
to act with the highest standards of truthfulness, fair by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a
play and nobility in the course of his practice of law. A member of the Bar.1âwphi1 Thus, every lawyer should
lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any act and comport himself in such a manner that would
misconduct, whether in his professional or private promote public confidence in the integrity of the legal
capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral profession. Members of the Bar are expected to always
character, in honesty, in probity and good demeanor, live up to the standards of the legal profession as
thus rendering unworthy to continue as an officer of the embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility
court. 9 Canon 7 of the Code of Professional inasmuch as the relationship between an attorney and
Responsibility mandates that "a lawyer shall at all his client is highly fiduciary in nature and demands
times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal utmost fidelity and good faith.12
profession." The trust and confidence necessarily
reposed by clients require in the lawyer a high We find, however, the IBP’s recommended penalty of
standard and appreciation of his duty to them. To this two (2) years suspension to be imposed upon
end, nothing should be done by any member of the respondent Atty. Villalon too severe in the light of the
legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any facts obtaining in the case at bar. In Cesar V. Roces
degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, vs. Atty. Jose G. Aportadera,13 this Court suspended
honesty, and integrity of the profession.10 therein respondent Atty. Aportadera for a period of two
(2) years from the practice of law for two main reasons:
It has been established that the subject parcel of land,
with an area of five (5) hectares located in Barrio (i)....His dubious involvement in the preparation and
Pinugay, Antipolo, Rizal, is owned by and registered in notarization of the falsified sale of his client’s property
the name of complainant herein, Jose Ducat, Jr. merits the penalty of suspension imposed on him by
Respondent Villalon insists nonetheless that the the IBP Board of Governors; and
property was orally given to him by complainant’s
father, Jose Ducat, Sr., allegedly with the complete (ii)....The NBI investigation reveals that: (1) respondent
knowledge of the fact that the subject property misrepresented himself to Gregorio Licuanan as being
belonged to his son, Jose Ducat, Jr. It is basic law, duly authorized by Isabel Roces to sell her property;
however, that conveyance or transfer of any titled real (2) it was respondent who prepared the various deeds
property must be in writing, signed by the registered of sale over Isabel’s subdivision lots; (3) Isabel was
owner or at least by his attorney-in-fact by virtue of a already confined at a hospital in Metro Manila on
proper special power of attorney and duly notarized. January 4, 1980, the deed’s date of execution; (4)
Respondent Villalon, as a lawyer, is presumed to know, respondent knew that Isabel was hospitalized in Metro
or ought to know, this process. Worse, when the Manila when he subscribed the deed; (5) he knew that
transfer was first reduced in writing in October, 1991 Isabel died in Metro Manila soon after her confinement;
per Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land,11 purportedly in and (6) he did not give the seller a copy of the
favor of "Atty. Arsenio C. Villalon and/or Andres questioned deed of sale.14
Canares, Jr.," respondent Villalon knew that it was
Jose Ducat, Sr. who signed the said document of sale
Unlike the circumstances prevailing in the said case
without any Special Power of Attorney from the
of Aportadera, the record does not show that
registered owner thereof, Jose Ducat, Jr.; and that
respondent Villalon had any direct participation in the
Jose Ducat, Sr. also signed it for his wife, Maria
notarization by respondent notary public Crispulo
Cabrido, under the word "Conforme". As regards the
Ducusin of the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property
subsequent Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property
dated December 5, 1991,15 which was supposedly
dated December 5, 1991, covering the same property,
signed by complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. who, however,
this time purportedly in favor of Andres Canares, Jr.
strongly denied having signed the same. The earlier
only, respondent Villalon admitted that there was in fact
Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land dated "this ___day of
no payment of ₱450,000.00 and that the said amount
October 1991," allegedly signed by Jose S. Ducat, Sr.,
was placed in that document only to make it appear
as vendor, covering the same property, in favor of
that the conveyance was for a consideration.
respondent "Arsenio S. Villalon and/or Andres
Canares, Jr." was not notarized. The record also shows
All these taken together, coupled with complainant that Jose Ducat, Sr. and complainant Jose Ducat, Jr.
Jose Ducat, Jr.’s strong and credible denial that he are father and son and that they live in the same house
allegedly sold the subject property to respondent at 912 Leo Street, Sampaloc, Manila. It is not also
Villalon and/or Andres Canares, Jr. and that he disputed that respondent Villalon has been the lawyer
allegedly appeared before respondent notary public for a number of years of the family of Jose Ducat, Sr.
Ducusin, convince us that respondent Villalon’s acts
WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. ARSENIO C.
VILLALON, JR. is hereby found guilty of gross
misconduct, and he is SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR with a warning
that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt
with more severely. Respondent Villalon is further
directed to deliver to the registered owner, complainant
Jose Ducat Jr., the latter’s TCT No. M-3023 covering
the subject property within a period of sixty (60) days
from receipt of this Decision, at his sole expense; and
that failure on his part to do so will result in his
disbarment.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty.


Villalon’s personal record in the Office of the Bar
Confidant and copies thereof be furnished the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

SO ORDERED.
Republic of the Philippines
 Complainant later found, in the master's bedroom, a
SUPREME COURT
 folded social card bearing the words "I Love You" on its
Manila face, which card when unfolded contained a
handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his
EN BANC wedding to Irene, reading:

A.C. No. 7136 August 1, 2007 My everdearest Irene,

JOSELANO GUEVARRA, complainant, 
 By the time you open this, you'll be moments away
vs.
 from walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for you
ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, respondent. that you may find meaning in what you're about to do.

DECISION Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me


to find fleeting happiness but experience eternal pain?
PER CURIAM: Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again?
Or is it because there's a bigger plan for the two of us?
Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4,
2002 a Complaint for Disbarment 1 before the I hope that you have experienced true happiness with
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on me. I have done everything humanly possible to love
Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my
Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for "grossly immoral own vow to YOU!
conduct and unmitigated violation of the lawyer's
oath." I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from
the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time we spent
In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account: together, up to the final moments of your single life. But
more importantly, I will love you until the life in me is
gone and until we are together again.
He first met respondent in January 2000 when his
(complainant's) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene)
introduced respondent to him as her friend who was Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have
married to Marianne (sometimes spelled "Mary Ann") enough memories of us to last me a lifetime. Always
Tantoco with whom he had three children. remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in
my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS
After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000,
complainant noticed that from January to March 2001, . . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!
Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone
calls, as well as messages some of which read "I love BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL
you," "I miss you," or "Meet you at Megamall." ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE!

Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS.
home very late at night or early in the morning of the AS LONG AS I'M LIVING MY TWEETIE YOU'LL BE!"2
following day, and sometimes did not go home from
work. When he asked about her whereabouts, she Eternally yours,

replied that she slept at her parents' house in NOLI
Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work.
Complainant soon saw respondent's car and that of
In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street, New
respondent together on two occasions. On the second Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in
occasion, he confronted them following which Irene April 2001, Irene was already residing. He also learned
abandoned the conjugal house. still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about
January 18, 2002 together with respondent during a
On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to concert, she was pregnant.
Irene's birthday celebration at which he saw her and
respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out In his ANSWER,3 respondent admitted having sent the
of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he left the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted letter
venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went was handwritten.
to the conjugal house and hauled off all her personal
belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading:
household appliances.
14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING xxxx
THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they
attended social functions together. For instance, in or 5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his
about the third week of September 2001, the couple aversion to the institution of marriage by calling the
attended the launch of the "Wine All You Can" institution of marriage a mere piece of paper
promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of because his reference [in his above-quoted
SM Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance handwritten letter to Irene] to the marriage between
was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard issue Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely
of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and with respect to the formality of the marriage contract.
Irene were photographed together; their picture was 7 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
captioned: "Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala." A
photocopy of the report is attached as Annex C. Respondent admitted 8 paragraph 18 of the
4 (Italics and emphasis in the original;
COMPLAINT reading:
CAPITALIZATION of the phrase "flaunting their
adulterous relationship" supplied),
18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the
Constitution and obey the laws. The Constitution
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated: regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and
is the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec. 2).9
4. Respondent specifically denies having ever
flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:
alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of
the matter being that their relationship was low profile
19. Respondent's grossly immoral conduct runs afoul
and known only to the immediate members of their
of the Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer,
respective families, and that Respondent, as far as
has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively
the general public was concerned, was still known to
his illicit love for the complainant's wife, he mocked
be legally married to Mary Anne Tantoco.5 (Emphasis
the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family,
and underscoring supplied)
broke up the complainant's marriage, commits adultery
with his wife, and degrades the legal profession.
On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading: 10 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),

15. Respondent's adulterous conduct with the respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
complainant's wife and his apparent abandoning or
neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross
7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in
moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep his
paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the reason being
membership in the bar. He flaunted his aversion to the
that under the circumstances the acts of Respondent
institution of marriage, calling it a "piece of paper."
with respect to his purely personal and low
Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to
profile special relationship with Irene is neither
complainant's bride on the very day of her wedding,
under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount
vowing to continue his love for her "until we are
to grossly immoral conduct as would be a ground for
together again," as now they are.6 (Underscoring
disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the
supplied),
Rules of Court.11(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:
To respondent's ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,
12 alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene
5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the
paragraph 15 of the Complaint regarding girl's father. Complainant attached to the Reply, as
his adulterousrelationship and that his acts Annex "A," a copy of a Certificate of Live
demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby making him Birth 13 bearing Irene's signature and naming
unfit to keep his membership in the bar, the reason respondent as the father of her daughter Samantha
being that Respondent's relationship with Irene Irene Louise Moje who was born on February 14, 2002
was not under scandalous circumstances and that at St. Luke's Hospital.
as far as his relationship with his own family:
Complainant's REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH
5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and MOTION TO DISMISS14 dated January 10, 2003 from
peaceful relationship with [his wife] Mary Anne as in respondent in which he denied having "personal
fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to
Anne is aware of Respondent's special friendship with the complainant's Reply."15 Respondent moved to
Irene. dismiss the complaint due to the pendency of a civil
case filed by complainant for the annulment of his
marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for adultery Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting
against respondent and Irene which was pending aside the Recommendation of the Investigating
before the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office. Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of
merit, gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-
During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, word Resolution shows.
complainant's Complaint-Affidavit and Reply to Answer
were adopted as his testimony on direct examination. Respondent contends, in his Comment23 on the
16 Respondent's counsel did not cross-examine present petition of complainant, that there is no
complainant.17 evidence against him.24 The contention fails. As the
IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed:
After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating
Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page While it may be true that the love letter dated October
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION18 dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. "C") and the news item published in
26, 2004, found the charge against respondent the Manila Standard (Exh. "D"), even taken together do
sufficiently proven. not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying on an
adulterous relationship with complainant's wife, there
The Commissioner thus recommended 19 that are other pieces of evidence on record which support
respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of the accusation of complainant against respondent.
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility reading: It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17
October 2002, respondent through counsel made
Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, the following statements to wit: "Respondent
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Underscoring specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous
supplied), relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of
the Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that] their
and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading: relationship was low profile and known only to
immediate members of their respective families . . . ,
and Respondent specifically denies the allegations in
Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage
paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being that
in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to
under the circumstances the acts of the respondents
practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private
with respect to his purely personal and low profile
life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of
relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous
the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied)
circumstances nor tantamount to grossly immoral
conduct . . ."
The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and
set aside the Recommendation of the Investigating
These statements of respondent in his Answer are
Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for
an admission that there is indeed a "special"
lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28, 2006
relationship between him and complainant's wife,
briefly reading:
Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of
Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex
RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06 "H-1") sufficiently prove that there was indeed an
illicit relationship between respondent and Irene
CBD Case No. 02-936
 which resulted in the birth of the child "Samantha". In
Joselano C. Guevarra vs.
 the Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala
 be noted that complainant's wife Irene supplied the
a.k.a. Noli Eala information that respondent was the father of the
child. Given the fact that the respondent admitted his
RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby special relationship with Irene there is no reason to
ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the Recommendation of believe that Irene would lie or make any
the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the
the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of child. It should be underscored that respondent has
merit.20 (Italics and emphasis in the original) not categorically denied that he is the father of
Samantha Louise Irene Moje.25 (Emphasis and
Hence, the present petition21 of complainant before this underscoring supplied)
Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule 13922 of
the Rules of Court. Indeed, from respondent's Answer, he does not deny
carrying on an adulterous relationship with Irene,
The petition is impressed with merit. "adultery" being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised
Penal Code as that "committed by any married woman
who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her
husband and by the man who has carnal knowledge of Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class
her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be of their own. They are distinct from and they may
subsequently declared void."26 (Italics supplied) What proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
respondent denies is havingflaunted such relationship,
he maintaining that it was "low profile and known only . . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal
to the immediate members of their respective case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary; in
families." an administrative case for disbarment or suspension,
"clearly preponderant evidence" is all that is
In other words, respondent's denial is a negative required.33 (Emphasis supplied)
pregnant,
Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not
a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial lie because his relationship with Irene was not, under
facts in the pleading responded to which are not Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court,
squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the reading:
averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a
negative pregnant is a form of negative expression SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by
which carries with it in affirmation or at least an Supreme Court, grounds therefor. ─ A member of the
implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
is alleged with qualifying or modifying language and office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
are literally denied, it has been held that the qualifying for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself before admission to practice, or for a willful
is admitted.27 (Citations omitted; emphasis and disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a
underscoring supplied) case without authority so to do. The practice of
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
A negative pregnant too is respondent's denial of personally or through paid agents or brokers,
having "personal knowledge" of Irene's daughter constitutes malpractice.
Samantha Louise Irene Moje's Certificate of Live Birth.
In said certificate, Irene named respondent – a The disbarment or suspension of a member of the
"lawyer," 38 years old – as the child's father. And the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other
phrase "NOT MARRIED" is entered on the desired disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he
information on "DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE." A has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for
comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such
certificate28 with her signature on the Marriage action includes any of the acts hereinabove
Certificate29 shows that they were affixed by one and enumerated.
the same person. Notatu dignum is that, as the
Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent never The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court
denied being the father of the child. or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of
the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis
Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Luke's and underscoring supplied),
M e d i c a l C e n t e r, i n h i s J a n u a r y 2 9 , 2 0 0 3
Affidavit30 which he identified at the witness stand, under scandalous circumstances.34
declared that Irene gave the information in the
Certificate of Live Birth that the child's father is "Jose
The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the
Emmanuel Masacaet Eala," who was 38 years old and
grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase
a lawyer.31
"grossly immoral conduct," not "under scandalous
circumstances." Sexual intercourse under scandalous
Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised
respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven by Penal Code reading:
more than clearly preponderant evidence – that
evidence adduced by one party which is more
ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep
conclusive and credible than that of the other party
a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have
and, therefore, has greater weight than the other32 –
sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances,
which is the quantum of evidence needed in an
with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit with
administrative case against a lawyer.
her in any other place, shall be punished by prision
correccional in its minimum and medium periods.
x x x x, I _________, having been permitted to continue in the
practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear
an element of the crime of concubinage when a that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic
married man has sexual intercourse with a woman of the Philippines; I will support its
elsewhere. Constitution andobey the laws as well as the legal
orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will
"Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any
characterized as 'grossly immoral conduct' depends on groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor
the surrounding circumstances."35 The case at bar consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or
involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according
married woman who is not his wife. It is immaterial to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all
whether the affair was carried out good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients;
discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation
this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:36 without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion.
So help me God. (Underscoring supplied)
On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny
that he had an extra-marital affair with complainant, Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article
albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not "so XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading:
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree" Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution,
in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree. is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by
the State.
xxxx
In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order
While it has been held in disbarment cases that the No. 209), which echoes this constitutional provision,
mere fact of sexual relations between obligates the husband and the wife "to live together,
two unmarriedadults is not sufficient to warrant observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render
administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not mutual help and support."40
so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of
fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01
are punishable under penal law, sexual relations of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
outside marriage is considered disgraceful and which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in "unlawful,
immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct," and Rule
sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a
by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. lawyer from engaging in any "conduct that adversely
37 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied) reflects on his fitness to practice law."

And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:38 Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency
of the investigation of the case before the IBP
The Court need not delve into the question of whether Commissioner, filed a Manifestation41 on March 22,
or not the respondent did contract a bigamous 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainant's petition
marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this for nullity of his (complainant's) marriage to Irene had
administrative case substantiate the findings of the been granted by Branch 106 of the Quezon City
Investigating Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for
of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has adultery complainant filed against respondent and
been carrying on an illicit affair with Irene "based on the same set of facts alleged in the
a married woman, a grossly immoral conduct instant case," which was pending review before the
and indicative of an extremely low regard for the Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of
fundamental ethics of his profession. This complainant, had been, on motion of complainant,
detestable behavior renders him regrettably unfit withdrawn.
and undeserving of the treasured honor and
privileges which his license confers upon him. The Secretary of Justice's Resolution of January 16,
39 (Underscoring supplied) 2004 granting complainant's Motion to Withdraw
Petition for Review reads:
Respondent in fact also violated the lawyer's oath he
took before admission to practice law which goes: Considering that the instant motion was filed before the
final resolution of the petition for review, we are
inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of
Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000, which
provides that "notwithstanding the perfection of the happenstance that it was in that said address that Eala
appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the same at any and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that
time before it is finally resolved, in which case the both had formed smacks too much of a coincidence.
appealed resolution shall stand as though no For one, the said address appears to be a residential
appeal has been taken."42 (Emphasis supplied by house, for that was where Moje stayed all throughout
complainant) after her separation from complainant. It was both
respondent's love nest, to put short; their illicit affair
That the marriage between complainant and Irene was that was carried out there bore fruit a few months later
subsequently declared void ab initio is immaterial. The when Moje gave birth to a girl at the nearby hospital of
acts complained of took place before the marriage was St. Luke's Medical Center. What finally militates
declared null and void.43 As a lawyer, respondent against the respondents is the indubitable fact that in
should be aware that a man and a woman deporting the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the
themselves as husband and wife are presumed, unless information that Eala was the father. This speaks all
proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful too eloquently of the unlawful and damning nature
contract of marriage.44 In carrying on an extra-marital of the adulterous acts of the respondents.
affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her Complainant's supposed illegal procurement of the
marriage with complainant was null and void, and birth certificate is most certainly beside the point for
despite respondent himself being married, he showed both respondents Eala and Moje have not
disrespect for an institution held sacred by the law. And denied, in any categorical manner, that Eala is the
he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer. father of the child Samantha Irene Louise Moje.
45(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

As for complainant's withdrawal of his petition for


review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly omitted to It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense
state that before complainant filed his December 23, which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus leaves
2003 Motion to Withdraw his Petition for Review, the the DOJ no choice but to grant complainant's motion to
DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution withdraw his petition for review. But even if respondent
on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal by and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if
the Quezon City Prosecutor's Office of complainant's the Information for adultery were filed in court, the
complaint for adultery. In reversing the City same would not have been a bar to the present
Prosecutor's Resolution, DOJ Secretary Simeon administrative complaint.
Datumanong held:
Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,46 viz:
Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by
complainant would, in the fair estimation of the x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the
Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of criminal charge is not a bar to these [administrative]
the offense of adultery on the part of both respondents. proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not
Indeed, early on, respondent Moje conceded to satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to
complainant that she was going out on dates with escape the penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover,
respondent Eala, and this she did when complainant this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an
confronted her about Eala's frequent phone calls and entirely different capacity from that which courts
text messages to her. Complainant also personally assume in trying criminal case47 (Italics in the original),
witnessed Moje and Eala having a rendezvous on two
occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc.
he knew Moje to be married to complainant[.] In fact, v. Atty. Naldoza,48 held:
he (Eala) himself was married to another woman.
Moreover, Moje's eventual abandonment of their Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class
conjugal home, after complainant had once more of their own. They are distinct from and they
confronted her about Eala, only served to confirm the may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
illicit relationship involving both respondents. This
becomes all the more apparent by Moje's subsequent
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution
relocation in No. 71-B, 11thStreet, New Manila, Quezon
No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006 by the
City, which was a few blocks away from the church
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
where she had exchange marital vows with
Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.
complainant.
Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala,
It was in this place that the two lovers apparently
is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation
cohabited. Especially since Eala's vehicle and that of
of his oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule
Moje's were always seen there. Moje herself admits
1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of
that she came to live in the said address whereas Eala
Professional Responsibility.
asserts that that was where he held office. The
Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately
executory, be made part of the records of respondent
in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of
the Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
circulated to all courts.

This Decision takes effect immediately.

SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines
 Governor & Vice-President for Central Luzon


SUPREME COURT

Manila Atty. Mario Jalandoni

EN BANC Governor & Vice-President for Metro Manila

A.M. No. 491 October 6, 1989 Atty. Jose Aguilar Grapilon

IN THE MATTER OF THE INQUIRY INTO THE 1989 Governor & Vice-President for Southern Luzon
ELECTIONS OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE
PHILIPPINES. Atty. Teodoro Almine


 Governor & Vice-President for Bicolandia

Atty. Porfirio Siyangco


PER CURIAM:
Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Visayas
In the election of the national officers of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines (hereafter "IBP") held on June 3,
Atty. Ricardo Teruel
1989 at the Philippine International Convention Center
(or PICC), the following were elected by the House of
Delegates (composed of 120 chapter presidents or Governor & Vice-President for Western Visayas
their alternates) and proclaimed as officers:
Atty. Gladys Tiongco
NAME
Governor & Vice-President for Eastern Mindanao
POSITION
Atty. Simeon Datumanong
Atty. Violeta Drilon
Governor & Vice-President for Western Mindanao
President
The newly-elected officers were set to take the their
Atty. Bella Tiro oath of office on July 4,1989, before the Supreme
Court en banc. However,disturbed by the widespread
reports received by some members of the Court from
Executive Vice-President
lawyers who had witnessed or participated in the
proceedings and the adverse comments published in
Atty. Salvador Lao the columns of some newspapers about the intensive
electioneering and overspending by the candidates, led
Chairman, House of Delegates by the main protagonists for the office of president of
the association, namely, Attorneys Nereo Paculdo,
Atty. Renato F. Ronquillo Ramon Nisce, and Violeta C. Drilon, the alleged use of
government planes, and the officious intervention of
Secretary, House of Delegates certain public officials to influence the voting, all of
which were done in violation of the IBP By-Laws which
Atty. Teodoro Quicoy prohibit such activities. The Supreme Court en banc,
exercising its power of supervision over the Integrated
Bar, resolved to suspend the oath-taking of the IBP
Treasurer, House of Delegates
officers-elect and to inquire into the veracity of the
reports.
Atty. Oscar Badelles
It should be stated at the outset that the election
Sergeant at Arms, House of Delegates process itself (i.e. the voting and the canvassing of
votes on June 3, 1989) which was conducted by the
Atty. Justiniano Cortes "IBP Comelec," headed by Justice Reynato Puno of
the Court of Appeals, was unanimously adjudged by
Governor & Vice-President for Northern Luzon the participants and observers to be above board. For
Justice Puno took it upon himself to device safeguards
Atty. Ciriaco Atienza to prevent tampering with, and marking of, the ballots.
What the Court viewed with considerable concern was Mr. Locsin in his column and editorial substantially re-
the reported electioneering and extravagance that echoed Mauricio's reports with some embellishments.
characterized the campaign conducted by the three
candidates for president of the IBP. II. THE COURT'S DECISION TO INVESTIGATE.

I. MEDIA ACCOUNT OF THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN. Responding to the critical reports, the Court, in its en
banc resolution dated June 15, 1989, directed the
Emil Jurado, in his column "IBP Group Questions outgoing and incoming members of the IBP Board of
Drilon Election" (Manila Standard, Sunday, June 17, Governors, the principal officers and Chairman of the
1989), Luis Mauricio, in two successive columns: "The House of Delegates to appear before it on Tuesday,
Invertebrated Bar" (Malaya, June 10, 1989) and "The June 20, 1989, at 2:00 o'clock p.m., and there to inform
Disintegrating Bar" (Malaya, June 20, 1989), and the Court on the veracity of the aforementioned reports
Teodoro Locsin Jr. in an article, entitled "Pam- and to recommend, for the consideration of the Court,
Pam" (The Philippines Free Press, July 8,1989), and appropriate approaches to the problem of confirming
the editorial, entitled 'Wrong Forum" of the Daily Globe and strengthening adherence to the fundamental
(June 8, 1989), were unanimously critical of the "vote- principles of the IBP.
buying and pressure tactics" allegedly employed in the
campaign by the three principal candidates: Attys. In that resolution the Court "call[ed] to mind that a
Violeta C. Drilon, Nereo Paculdo and Ramon Nisce basic postulate of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
who reportedly "poured heart, soul, money and (IBP), heavily stressed at the time of its organization
influence to win over the 120 IBP delegates." and commencement of existence, is that the IBP shall
be non-political in character and that there shall be no
Mr. Jurado mentioned the resentment of Atty. Drilon's lobbying nor campaigning in the choice of members of
rivals who felt at a disadvantage because Atty. Drilon the Board of Governors and of the House of Delegates,
allegedly used PNB helicopters to visit far-flung IBP and of the IBP officers, national, or regional, or chapter.
chapters on the pretext of distributing Bigay Puso The fundamental assumption was that officers,
donations, and she had the added advantage of having delegates and governors would be chosen on the basis
regional directors and labor arbiters of the Department of professional merit and willingness and ability to
of Labor and Employment (who had been granted serve."
leaves of absence by her husband, the Labor
Secretary) campaigning for her. Jurado's informants The resolution went on to say that the "Court is deeply
alleged that there was rampant vote-buying by some disturbed to note that in connection with the election of
members of the U.P. Sigma Rho Fraternity (Secretary members of the Board of Governors and of the House
Drilon's fraternity), as well as by some lawyers of of Delegates, there is a widespread belief, based on
ACCRA (Angara, Concepcion, Cruz, Regala and Abello reports carried by media and transmitted as well by
Law Office) where Mrs. Drilon is employed, and that word of mouth, that there was extensive and intensive
government positions were promised to others by the campaigning by candidates for IBP positions as well as
office of the Labor Secretary. expenditure of considerable sums of money by
candidates, including vote-buying, direct or indirect."
Mr. Mauricio in his column wrote about the same
matters and, in addition, mentioned "talk of personnel The venerable retired Supreme Court Justice and IBP
of the Department of Labor, especially conciliators and President Emeritus, Jose B.L. Reyes, attended the
employers, notably Chinese Filipinos, giving aid and dialogue, upon invitation of the Court, to give counsel
comfort to her (Atty. Drilon's) candidacy," the billeting of and advice. The meeting between the Court en banc
out-of-town delegates in plush hotels where they were on the one hand, and the outgoing and in coming IBP
reportedly "wined and dined continuously, womened officers on the other, was an informal one. Thereafter,
and subjected to endless haggling over the price of the Court resolved to conduct a formal inquiry to
their votes x x x" which allegedly "ranged from Pl5,000 determine whether the prohibited acts and activities
to P20,000, and, on the day of the election, some enumerated in the IBP By-Laws were committed
twelve to twenty votes which were believed crucial, before and during the 1989 elections of IBP's national
appreciated to P50,000." officers.

In his second column, Mr. Mauricio mentioned "how a The Court en banc formed a committee and
top official of the judiciary allegedly involved himself in designated Senior Associate Justice Andres R.
IBP politics on election day by closeting himself with Narvasa, as Chairman, and Associate Justices
campaigners as they plotted their election strategy in a Teodoro R. Padilla, Emilio A. Gancayco, Abraham F.
room of the PICC (the Philippine International Sarmiento, and Carolina C. Griño-Aquino, as
Convention Center where the convention/election were members, to conduct the inquiry. The Clerk of Court,
held) during a recess x x x." Atty. Daniel Martinez, acted as the committee's
Recording Secretary.
A total of forty-nine (49) witnesses appeared and Government or any political subdivision or
testified in response to subpoenas issued by the Court instrumentality thereof. "'
to shed light on the conduct of the elections. The
managers of three five-star hotels the Philippine Plaza, Section 14 of the same By-Laws enumerates the
the Hyatt, and the Holiday Inn where the three prohibited acts relative to IBP elections:
protagonists (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) allegedly set
up their respective headquarters and where they SEC. 14. Prohibited acts and practices relative to
billeted their supporters were summoned. The officer of elections. — The following acts and practices relative
the Philippine National Bank and the Air Transport to election are prohibited, whether committed by a
Office were called to enlighten the Court on the charge candidate for any elective office in the Integrated Bar
that an IBP presidential candidate and the members of or by any other member, directly or indirectly, in any
her slate used PNB planes to ferry them to distant form or manner, by himself or through another person:
places in their campaign to win the votes of delegates.
The Philippine Airlines officials were called to testify on
(a) Distribution, except on election day, of election
the charge that some candidates gave free air fares to
campaign material;
delegates to the convention. Officials of the Labor
Department were also called to enable the Court to
ascertain the truth of the reports that labor officials (b) Distribution, on election day, of election campaign
openly campaigned or worked for the election of Atty. material other than a statement of the biodata of a
Drilon. candidate on not more than one page of a legal-size
sheet of paper; or causing distribution of such
statement to be done by persons other than those
The newspaper columnists, Messrs. Luis Mauricio,
authorized by the officer presiding at the elections;
Jesus Bigornia and Emil Jurado were subpoenaed to
determine the nature of their sources of information
relative to the IBP elections. Their stories were based, (c) Campaigning for or against any candidate, while
they said, on letters, phone calls and personal holding an elective, judicial, quasi-judicial or
interviews with persons who claimed to have prosecutory office in the Government or any political
knowledge of the facts, but whom they, invoking the subdivision, agency or instrumentality thereof;
Press Freedom Law, refused to identify.
(d) Formation of tickets, single slates, or combinations
The Committee has since submitted its Report after of candidates, as well as the advertisement thereof;
receiving, and analyzing and assessing evidence given
by such persons as were perceived to have direct and (e) For the purpose of inducing or influencing a
personal knowledge of the relevant facts; and the member to withhold his vote, or to vote for or against a
Court, after deliberating thereon, has Resolved to candidate, (1) payment of the dues or other
accept and adopt the same. indebtedness of any member; (2) giving of food, drink,
entertainment, transportation or any article of value, or
III. PROHIBITED ACTS AND PRACTICES UNDER IBP any similar consideration to any person; or (3) making
BY-LAWS. a promise or causing an expenditure to be made,
offered or promised to any person."
Article I, Section 4 of the IBP By-Laws emphasizes the
"strictly non-political" character of the Integrated Bar of Section 12(d) of the By-Laws prescribes sanctions for
the Philippines, thus: violations of the above rules:

"SEC. 4. Non-political Bar. — The Integrated Bar is (d) Any violation of the rules governing elections or
strictly non-political, and every activity tending to impair commission of any of the prohibited acts and practices
this basic feature is strictly prohibited and shall be defined in Section 14 prohibited Acts and Practices
penalized accordingly. No lawyer holding an elective, relative to elections) of the by-laws of the Integrated
judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the Bar shall be a ground for the disqualification of a
Government or any political subdivision or candidate or his removal from office if elected, without
instrumentality thereof shall be eligible for election or prejudice to the imposition of sanctions upon any erring
appointment to any position in the Integrated Bar or member pursuant to the By-laws of the Integrated Bar.
any Chapter thereof. A Delegate, Governor, officer or
employee of the Integrated Bar, or an officer or At the formal investigation which was conducted by the
employee of any Chapter thereof shall be investigating committee, the following violations were
considered ipso facto resigned from his position as of established:
the moment he files his certificate of candidacy for any
elective public office or accepts appointment to any (1) Prohibited campaigning and solicitation of votes by
judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the the candidates for president, executive vice-president,
the officers of candidate the House of Delegates and Daniel C. Macaraeg, Confesor R. Sansano Dionisio E.
Board of Governors. Bala, Jr., Emesto A. Amores, Romeo V. Pefianco,
Augurio C. Pamintuan, Atlee T. Viray, Ceferino C.
The three candidates for IBP President Drilon, Nisce Cabanas, Jose S. Buban, Diosdado Z. Reloj, Jr., Cesar
and Paculdo began travelling around the country to C. Viola, Oscar C. Fernandez, Ricardo B. Teruel
solicit the votes of delegates as early as April 1989. Rodrigo R. Flores, Sixto Marella, Jr., Arsenio C.
Upon the invitation of IBP President, Leon Garcia, Jr. Villalon, Renato F. Ronquillo, Antonio G. Nalapo
(t.s.n., July 13,1989, p. 4), they attended the Bench Romualdo A. Din Jr., Jose P. Icaonapo Jr., and Manuel
and Bar dialogues held in Cotabato in April 1989 (t.s.n., S. Person.
June 29, 1989, p. 123), in Tagaytay City, Pampanga,
and in Baguio City (during the conference of chapter Atty. Nisce admitted that he reserved rooms at the
presidents of Northern Luzon (t.s.n., July 3,1989, p. Hyatt Hotel based on the commitments he had
113; t.s.n., July 10, p. 41; t.s.n., July 13, p. 47) where obtained (t.s.n., June 29, 1989, pp. 82-85).
they announced their candidacies and met the chapter Unfortunately, despite those formal commitments, he
presidents. obtained only 14 votes in the election (t.s.n., June 29, 1
989, p. 86). The reason, he said, is that. some of those
Atty. Nisce admitted that he went around the country who had committed their votes to him were
seeking the help of IBP chapter officers, soliciting their "manipulated, intimidated, pressured, or
votes, and securing their written endorsements. He remunerated" (t.s.n., June 29,1989, pp. 8695; Exhibit
personally hand-carried nomination forms and "M-4-Nisce," t.s.n., July 4, 1989, pp. 100-1 04).
requested the chapter presidents and delegates to fill
up and sign the forms to formalize their commitment to (2) Use of PNB plane in the campaign.
his nomination for IBP President. He started
campaigning and distributing the nomination forms in The records of the Philippine National Bank (Exhibit
March 1989 after the chapter elections which C-1-Crudo and Exhibit C-2-Crudo) show that Secretary
determined the membership of the House of Delegates Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. of the Department of
composed of the 120 chapter presidents (t.s.n., June Environment & Natural Resources (DENR) borrowed a
29, 1989, pp. 82-86). He obtained forty (40) plane from the Philippine National Bank for his Bicol
commitments. He submitted photocopies of his CORD (Cabinet Officers for Regional Development)
nomination forms which read: Assistant, Undersecretary Antonio Tria. The plane
manifest (Exh. C-2-Crudo) listed Atty. Violeta Drilon,
Arturo Tusi (Tiu), Assistant Secretary for Environment
and Natural Resources (DENR) Tony Tria, Atty. Gladys
"Nomination Form Tiongco, and Amy Wong. Except for Tony Tria, the rest
of the passengers were IBP candidates.

I Join in Nominating Atty. Drilon admitted that she "hitched" a ride on a PNB
plane. She said that she was informed by Atty. Tiu
RAMON M. NISCE about the availability of a PNB plane (t.s.n., July
3,1989, pp. 116-118).
as
Atty. Tiu, who ran for the position of IBP executive vice-
president in the Drilon ticket, testified that sometime in
National President of the
May 1989 he failed to obtain booking from the
Philippine Airlines for the projected trip of his group to
Integrated Bar of the Philippines Bicol. He went to the DENR allegedly to follow up
some papers for a client. While at the DENR, he
learned that Assistant Secretary Tria was going on an
______________ _______________ official business in Bicol for Secretary Fulgencio
Factoran and that he would be taking a PNB plane. As
Chapter Signature" Assistant Secretary Tria is his fraternity brother, he
asked if he, together with the Drilon group, could hitch
Among those who signed the nomination forms were: a ride on the plane to Bicol. His request was granted.
Onofre P. Tejada, Candido P. Balbin, Jr., Conizado V. Their purpose in going to Bicol was to assess their
Posadas, Quirico L. Quirico Ernesto S. Salun-at, Gloria chances in the IBP elections. The Drilon company
C. Agunos, Oscar B. Bernardo, Feliciano F. Wycoco, talked with the IBP chapter presidents in Daet, Naga,
Amor L. Ibarra, Jose M. Atienza, Jose N. Contreras, and Legaspi, and asked for their support (t.s.n., July
Romeo T. Mendoza, Leo C. Medialdea, Jr., Paulino G. 10, 1989, pp. 549).
Clarin, Julius Z. Neil, Roem J. Arbolado Democrito M.
Perez, Abelardo Fermin, Diosdado B. Villarin, Jr.,
Assistant Secretary Antonio S. Tria confirmed the use (worth about P10,000) from Iligan City to Manila and
of a PNB plane by Atty. Drilon and her group. He back. Badelles was a voting delegate. Nisce, however,
recalled that on May 23,1989, DENR Secretary failed to get a written commitment from him because
Factoran instructed him to go to Bicol to monitor Atty. Medialdea assured him (Nisce) "sigurado na 'yan,
certain regional development projects there and to h'wag mo nang papirmahin." Badelles won as
survey the effect of the typhoon that hit the region in sergeant-at-arms, not in Nisce's ticket, but in that of
the middle of May. On the same day, Atty. Tiu, a Drilon.
fraternity brother (meaning that Tiu belongs to the
Sigma Rho fraternity) went to the DENR office and Badelles admitted that Nisce sent him three airplane
requested the Secretary (Factoran) if he (Tiu) could be tickets, but he Badelles said that he did not use them,
allowed to hitch a ride on the plane. Assistant because if he did, he would be committed to Nisce,
Secretary Tria, together with the Drilon group which and he Badelles did not want to be committed (t.s.n.,
included Attorneys Drilon, Grapilon, Amy Wong, Gladys July 4,1989, pp. 77-79, 95-96).
Tiongco, and Tiu, took off at the Domestic Airport
bound for Naga, Daet and Legaspi. In Legaspi the Nisce also sent a plane ticket to Atty. Atilano, who was
Drilon group had lunch with Atty. Vicente Real, Jr., an his candidate, and another ticket to Mrs. Linda Lim of
IBP chapter president (t.s.n., July 10, 1989, pp. 54-69). Zamboanga. Records of the Philippine Airlines showed
that Atty. Nisce paid for the plane tickets of Vicente
(3) Formation of tickets and single slates. Real, Jr. (Exh. D-1-Calica), Romeo Fortes (Exh. D-1-
Calica), Cesar Batica (Exh. D-2-Calica), Jose Buban of
The three candidates, Paculdo, Nisce and Drilon, Leyte (Exh. D-2-Calica), Delsanto Resuello (Exh. D-3-
admitted having formed their own slates for the Calica), and Ceferino Cabanas (Exh. D-3-Calica).
election of IBP national officers on June 3, 1989.
In spite of his efforts and expense, only one of Nisce's
Atty. Paculdo's slate consisted of — himself for candidates won: Renato Ronquillo of Manila 4, as
President; Bella D. Tiro, for Executive Vice-President; Secretary of the House of Delegates (t.s.n. July 3, p.
and for Governors: Justiniano P. Cortez (Northern 161).
Luzon), Oscar C. Fernandez (Central Luzon), Mario
C.V. Jalandoni (Greater Manila), Petronilo A. de la (5) Giving free hotel accommodations, food, drinks,
Cruz (Southern Luzon), Teodorico C. Almine, Jr. entertainment to delegates.
(Bicolandia), Ricardo B. Teruel (Western Visayas),
Porfirio P. Siyangco (Eastern Visayas), Jesus S. (a) ATTY. NEREO PACULDO
Anonat (Western Mindanao), Guerrero A. Adaza, Jr.
(Eastern Mindanao) (Exhibit M-Nisce).
Atty. Paculdo alleged that he booked 24 regular rooms
and three suites at the Holiday Inn, which served as his
The Drilon ticket consisted of. Violeta C. Drilon for headquarters. The 24 rooms were to be occupied by
President, Arturo Tiu for Executive Vice President, his staff (mostly ladies) and the IBP delegates. The
Salvador Lao for Chairman of the House of Delegates, three suites were to be occupied by himself, the
and, for Governors: Basil Rupisan (Northern 'Luzon), officers of the Capitol Bar Association, and Atty. Mario
Acong Atienza (Central Luzon), Amy Wong (Metro Jalandoni. He paid P150,000 for the hotel bills of his
Manila), Jose Grapilon (Southern Tagalog), Teodoro delegates at the Holiday Inn, where a room cost P990
Almine (Bicolandia), Baldomero Estenzo (Eastern per day with breakfast.
Visayas), Joelito Barrera (Western Visayas), Gladys
Tiongco (Eastern Mindanao), Simeon Datumanong
Those listed as guests of Atty. Paculdo at the Holiday
(Western Mindanao) (Exhibit M-1-Nisce).
Inn were: Emesto C. Perez, Tolomeo Ligutan Judge
Alfonso Combong, Ricardo Caliwag, Antonio Bisnar,
Atty. Ramon N. Nisce's line-up listed himself and Benedicto Balajadia, Jesus Castro, Restituto
Confessor B. Sansano Benjamin B. Bernardino, Villanueva, Serapio Cribe Juanita Subia, Teodorico J.
Antonio L. Nalapo Renato F. Ronquillo, Gloria C. Almine, Rudy Gumban, Roem Arbolado, Ricardo
Agunos, Mario Valderrama, Candido P. Balbin Jr., Teruel, Shirley Moises, Ramon Roco, Alberto Trinidad,
Oscar C. Fernandez, Cesar G. Viola, Leo C. Teodoro Quicoy Manito Lucero, Fred Cledera Vicente
Medialdea, Jr., Vicente P. Tordilla, Jr., Jose S. Buban, Tordilla, Julian Ocampo, Francisco Felizmenio Marvel
Joel A. Llosa, Jesus T. Albacite and Oscar V. Badelles. Clavecilla, Amador Capiral, Eufronio Maristela, Porfirio
Siyangco, William Llanes, Jr., Marciano Neri, Guerrero
(4) Giving free transportation to out-of-town delegates Adaza, Diosdado Peralta, Luis C. Formilleza, Jr.,
and alternates. Democrito Perez, Bruno Flores, Dennis Rendon, Judge
Ceferino Chan, Mario Jalandoni, Kenneth Siruelo Bella
Atty. Nisce admitted having bought plane tickets for Tiro, Antonio Santos, Tiburcio Edano James Tan,
some delegates to the convention. He mentioned Cesilo A. Adaza, Francisco Roxas, Angelita Gacutan,
Oscar Badelles to whom he gave four round-trip tickets Jesse Pimentel, Judge Jaime Hamoy, Jesus Anonat,
Carlos Egay, Judge Carlito Eisma, Judge Jesus (d) Jay Castro
Carbon, Joven Zach, and Benjamin Padon.
10,000
Noel de Guzman, Holiday Inn's credit manager,
testified that Atty. Paculdo booked 52 (not 24) rooms, (e) Danny Deen
including the presidential suite, which was used as the
Secretariat. The group bookings were made by Atty. 20,000
Gloria Paculdo, the wife of Nereo Paculdo (t.s.n. June
28, 1989, pp. 63-68). The total sum of P227,114.89
(f) Angangco Tan (Angara Law Office)
was paid to Holiday Inn for the use of the rooms.
10,000
(b) ATTY. VIOLETA C. DRILON
(g) Alfonso Reyno
The delegates and supporters of Atty. Drilon were
billeted at the Philippine Plaza Hotel where her
campaign manager, Atty. Renato Callanta, booked 40 20,000
rooms, 5 of which were suites. According to Ms.
Villanueva, Philippine Plaza banquet and conventions (h) Cosme Rossel
manager, the contract that Atty. Callanta signed with
the Philippine Plaza was made in the name of the "IBP 15,300
c/o Atty. Callanta."

Mrs. Lourdes Juco, a sales manager of the Philippine


Plaza, recalled that it was Mr. Mariano Benedicto who (t.s.n. July 4, 1 989, pp. 3-4)
first came to book rooms for the IBP delegates. She
suggested that he obtain a group (or discounted) rate. Atty. Callanta explained that the above listed persons
He gave her the name of Atty. Callanta who would have been contributing money every time the IBP
make the arrangements with her. Mr. Benedicto turned embarks on a project. This time, they contributed so
out to be the Assistant Secretary of the Department of that their partners or associates could attend the legal
Labor and Employment (DOLE). aid seminar and the IBP convention too.

The total sum of P316,411.53 was paid by Atty. Atty. Drilon alleged that she did not know that Atty.
Callanta for the rooms, food, and beverages consumed Callanta had billeted her delegates at the Philippine
by the Drilon group, with an unpaid balance of Plaza. She allegedly did not also know in whose name
P302,197.30. Per Attorney Daniel Martinez's last the room she occupied was registered. But she did ask
telephone conversation with Ms. Villanueva, Atty. for a room where she could rest during the convention.
Callanta still has an outstanding account of She admitted, however, that she paid for her hotel
P232,782.65 at Philippine Plaza. room and meals to Atty. Callanta, through Atty.
Loanzon (t.s.n. July 3,1989).
Atty. Callanta admitted that he signed the contract for
40 rooms at the Philippine Plaza. He made a The following were listed as having occupied the
downpayment of P123,000. His "working sheet' rooms reserved by Atty. Callanta at the Philippine
showed that the following persons contributed for that Plaza: Violeta Drilon, Victoria A. Verciles, Victoria C.
down payment: Loanzon, Leopoldo A. Consulto Ador Lao, Victoria
Borra, Aimee Wong, Callanta, Pena, Tiu, Gallardo,
Acong Atienza, D. Bernardo, Amores, Silao Caingat,
Manuel Yuson, Simeon Datumanong, Manuel Pecson,
(a) Nilo Pena (Quasha Law Office) Sixto Marella, Joselito Barrera, Radon Macalalag,
Oscar Badelles, Antonio Acyatan, Ildefonso C. Puerto,
P 25,000 Nestor Atienza, Gil Batula Array Corot, Dimakuta Corot
Romeo Fortes Irving Petilla, Teodoro Palma, Gil
(b) Antonio Carpio Palma, Danilo Deen, Delsanto, Resuello, Araneta,
Vicente Real, Sylvio Casuncad Espina, Guerrero,
Julius Neri, Linda Lim, Ben Lim, C. Batica, Luis
20,000
Formilleza, Felix Macalag Mariano Benedicto, Atilano,
Araneta, Renato Callanta.
(c) Toto Ferrer (Carpio Law Office)
Atty. Nilo Pena admitted that the Quasha Law Office of
10,000 which he is a senior partner, gave P25,000 to Callanta
for rooms at the Philippine Plaza so that some (6) Campaigning by labor officials for Atty. Violeta
members of his law firm could campaign for the Drilon Drilon
group (t.s.n. July 5,1989, pp. 7678) during the legal aid
seminar and the IBP convention. Most of the members In violation of the prohibition against "campaigning for
of his law firm are fraternity brothers of Secretary or against a candidate while holding an elective,
Drilon (meaning, members of the Sigma Rho judicial, quasi-judicial, or prosecutory office in the
Fraternity). He admitted being sympathetic to the Government' (Sec. 14[c], Art. I, IBP By-Laws), Mariano
candidacy of Atty. Drilon and the members of her slate, E. Benedicto II, Assistant Secretary, Department of
two of whom Jose Grapilon and Simeon Datumanong Labor and Employment, testified that he took a leave of
— are Sigma Rhoans. They consider Atty. Drilon as a absence from his office to attend the IBP convention.
"sigma rho sister," her husband being a sigma rhoan. He stayed at the Philippine Plaza with the Drilon group
admittedly to give "some moral assistance" to Atty.
Atty. Antonio Carpio, also a Sigma Rhoan, reserved a Violeta Drilon. He did so because he is a member of
room for the members of his own firm who attended the Sigma Rho Fraternity. When asked about the
the legal aid seminar and the convention. He made the significance of Sigma Rho, Secretary Benedicto
reservation through Atty. Callanta to whom he paid explained: "More than the husband of Mrs. Drilon being
P20,000 (t.s.n. July 6,1989, pp. 30-34). my boss, the significance there is that the husband is
my brother in the Sigma Rho."
Atty. Carpio assisted Atty. Drilon in her campaign
during the convention, by soliciting the votes of He cheered up Mrs., Drilon when her spirits were low.
delegates he knew, like Atty. Albacite his former He talked to her immediate circle which included Art
teacher (but the latter was already committed to Tiu, Tony Carpio, Nilo Pena, Amy Wong, Atty. Grapilon,
Nisce), and Atty. Romy Fortes, a classmate of his in Victor Lazatin, and Boy Reyno. They assessed the
the U.P. College of Law (t. t.s.n. July 6, 1989, pp. 22, progress of the campaign, and measured the strengths
29, 39). and weaknesses of the other groups The group had
sessions as early as the later part of May.
(c) ATTY. RAMON NISCE.
Room 114, the suite listed in the name of Assistant
Atty. Nisce, through his brother-in-law, Ricardo Paras, Secretary Benedicto toted up a bill of P23,110 during
entered into a contract with the Hyatt Hotel for a total of the 2-day IBP convention/election. A total of 113 phone
29 rooms plus one (1) seventh-floor room. He made a calls (amounting to Pl,356) were recorded as
downpayment of P20,000 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 58) emanating from his room.
on April 20, 1989, and P37,632.45 on May 10, or a
total of P57,632.45. Opposite Room 114, was Room 112, also a suite,
listed in the names of Mrs. Drilon, Gladys Tiongco
Ms. Cecile Flores, Ms. Milagros Ocampo, and Mr. (candidate for Governor, Eastern Mindanao) and Amy
Ramon Jacinto, the sales department manager, credit Wong (candidate for Governor, Metro Manila). These
manager, and reservation manager, respectively of the two rooms served as the "action center' or "war room"
Hyatt, testified that Atty. Nisce's bill amounted to where campaign strategies were discussed before and
P216,127.74 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, pp. 57-58; Exhibits during the convention. It was in these rooms where the
E-Flores, F-Jacinto G-Ocampo). supporters of the Drilon group, like Attys. Carpio,
Callanta, Benedicto, the Quasha and the ACCRA
As earlier mentioned, Atty. Nisce admitted that he lawyers met to plot their moves.
reserved rooms for those who committed themselves
to his candidacy. (7) Paying the dues or other indebtedness of any
number (Sec. 14[e], IBP BY-Laws).
The hotel guests of Atty. Nisce were: Gloria Agunos
Dennis Habanel B. Batula, John E. Asuncion, Atty. Teresita C. Sison, IBP Treasurer, testified that she
Reynaldo Cortes, Lourdes Santos, Elmer Datuin, has heard of candidates paying the IBP dues of
Romualdo Din, Antonio Nalapo, Israel Damasco, lawyers who promised to vote for or support them, but
Candido Balbin, Serrano Balot, Ibarra, Joel Llosa, she has no way of ascertaining whether it was a
Eltanal, Ruperto, Asuncion, Q. Pilotin Reymundo P. candidate who paid the delinquent dues of another,
Guzman, Zoilo Aguinaldo, Clarin, R. Ronquillo, because the receipts are issued in the name of the
Dominador Carillo, Filomeno Balinas, Ernesto Sabulan, member for whom payment is made (t.s.n. June 28,
Yusop Pangadapun, A. Viray, Icampo, Abelardo 1989, pp. 24-28).
Fermin, C. Quiaoit, Augurio Pamintuan, Daniel
Macaraeg, Onofre Tejada. She has noticed, though, that there is an upsurge of
payments in March, April, May during any election
year. This year, the collections increased by P100,000
over that of last year (a non-election year from Pl, for governor for the Northern Luzon region (t.s.n. July
413,425 to Pl,524,875 (t.s.n. June 28, 1989, p. 25). 13,1989, pp. 43-54).

(8) Distribution of materials other than bio-data of not Atty. Nisce testified that a Manila Chapter 4 delegate,
more than one page of legal size sheet of paper (Sec. Marcial Magsino, who had earlier committed his vote to
14[a], IBP By-Laws). Nisce changed his mind when he was offered a
judgeship (This statement, however, is admittedly
On the convention floor on the day of the election, Atty. hearsay). When Nisce confronted Magsino about the
Paculdo caused to be distributed his bio-data and alleged offer, the latter denied that there was such an
copies of a leaflet entitled "My Quest," as wen as, the offer. Nisce's informant was Antonio G. Nalapo an IBP
lists of his slate. Attys. Drilon and Nisce similarly candidate who also withdrew.
distributed their tickets and bio-data.
Another Nisce candidate, Cesar Viola, withdrew from
The campaign materials of Atty. Paculdo cost from the race and refused to be nominated (t.s.n. June 29,
P15,000 to P20,000. They were printed by his own 1989, p. 104). Vicente P. Tordilla who was Nisce's
printing shop. candidate for Governor became Paculdo's candidate
instead (t.s.n. June 29, 1989, p. 104).
(9) Causing distribution of such statement to be done
by persons other than those authorized by the officer Nisce recalled that during the Bench and Bar Dialogue
presiding at the election (Sec. 14[b], IBP By-Laws). in Cotabato City, Court Administrator Tiro went around
saying, "I am not campaigning, but my wife is a
Atty. Paculdo employed uniformed girls to distribute his candidate." Nisce said that the presidents of several
campaign materials on the convention floor. Atty. IBP chapters informed him that labor officials were
Carpio noted that there were more campaign materials campaigning for Mrs. Drilon (t.s.n. June 29,1989, pp.
distributed at the convention site this year than in 109-110). He mentioned Ciony de la Cerna, who
previous years. The election was more heated and allegedly campaigned in La Union (t.s.n. June
expensive (t.s.n. July 6,1989, p. 39). 29,1989,p.111)

Atty. Benjamin Bernardino, the incumbent President of Atty. Joel A. Llosa, Nisce's supporter and candidate for
the IBP Rizal Chapter, and a candidate for chairman of governor of the Western Visayas, expressed his
the House of Delegates on Nisce's ticket, testified that disappointment over the IBP elections because some
campaign materials were distributed during the delegates flip-flopped from one camp to another. He
convention by girls and by lawyers. He saw members testified that when he arrived at the Manila Domestic
of the ACCRA law firm campaigning for Atty. Drilon Airport he was met by an assistant regional director of
(t.s.n. July 3,1989, pp. 142-145). the DOLE who offered to bring him to the Philippine
Plaza, but he declined the offer. During the legal aid
seminar, Atty. Drilon invited him to transfer to the
(10) Inducing or influencing a member to withhold his
Philippine Plaza where a room had been reserved for
vote, or to vote for or against a candidate (Sec. 14[e],
him. He declined the invitation (t.s.n. July 4,1989, pp.
IBP BY-Laws).
102-106).
Atty. Bernardino disclosed that his cousin, Atty. Romeo
Atty. Llosa said that while he was still in Dumaguete
Capulong, urged him to withdraw his candidacy for
City, he already knew that the three candidates had
chairman of the House of Delegates and to run as vice-
their headquarters in separate hotels: Paculdo, at the
chairman in Violy Drilon's slate, but he declined (t.s.n.
Holiday Inn; Drilon, at the Philippine Plaza; and Nisce,
July 3,1989, pp. 137, 149).
at the Hyatt. He knew about this because a week
before the elections, representatives of Atty. Drilon
Atty. Gloria Agunos personnel director of the Hyatt went to Dumaguete City to campaign. He mentioned
Terraces Hotel in Baguio and president of the Baguio- Atty. Rodil Montebon of the ACCRA Law Office,
Benguet IBP Chapter, recalled that in the third week of accompanied by Atty. Julve the Assistant Regional
May 1989, after the Tripartite meet of the Department Director of the Department of Labor in Dumaguete City.
of Labor & Employment at the Green Valley Country These two, he said, offered to give him two PAL tickets
Club in Baguio City, she met Atty. Drilon, together with and accommodations at the Philippine Plaza (t.s.n.
two labor officers of Region 1, Attys. Filomeno Balbin July 4,1989, pp. 101-104). But he declined the offer
and Atty. Mansala Atty. Drilon solicited her (Atty. because he was already committed to Atty. Nisce.
Agunos') vote and invited her to stay at the Philippine
Plaza where a room would be available for her. Atty.
Atty. Llosa also revealed that before he left for Manila
Paculdo also tried to enlist her support during the
on May 31, 1989, a businessman, Henry Dy,
chapter presidents' meeting to choose their nominee
approached him to convince him to vote for Atty.
Paculdo. But Llosa told Dy that he was already procurement of written commitments and the
committed to Nisce. distribution of nomination forms to be filled up by the
delegates; the reservation of rooms for delegates in
He did not receive any plane tickets from Atty. Nisce three big hotels, at the expense of the presidential
because he and his two companions (Atty. Eltanal and candidates; the use of a PNB plane by Drilon and
Atty. Ruperto) had earlier bought their own tickets for some members of her ticket to enable them to "assess
Manila (t.s.n. July 4, 1989, p. 101). their chances" among the chapter presidents in the
Bicol provinces; the printing and distribution of tickets
SUMMARY OF CAMPAIGN EXPENSES INCURRED and bio-data of the candidates which in the case of
Paculdo admittedly cost him some P15,000 to
P20,000; the employment of uniformed girls (by
BY THE CANDIDATES
Paculdo) and lawyers (by Drilon) to distribute their
campaign materials on the convention floor on the day
Atty. Paculdo admitted having spent some P250,000 of the election; the giving of assistance by the
during his three weeks of campaigning. Of this amount, Undersecretary of Labor to Mrs. Drilon and her group;
the Capitol Bar Association (of which he was the the use of labor arbiters to meet delegates at the
chapter president) contributed about P150,000. The airport and escort them to the Philippine Plaza Hotel;
Capitol Bar Association is a voluntary bar association the giving of pre-paid plane tickets and hotel
composed of Quezon City lawyers. accommodations to delegates (and some families who
accompanied them) in exchange for their support; the
He spent about P100,000 to defray the expenses of his pirating of some candidates by inducing them to "hop"
trips to the provinces (Bicol provinces, Pampanga, or "flipflop" from one ticket to another for some
Abra, Mountain Province and Bulacan) (t.s.n. June rumored consideration; all these practices made a
29,1989, pp. 9-14). political circus of the proceedings and tainted the
whole election process.
Atty. Nisce's hotel bills at the Hyatt amounted to
P216,127.74. This does not include the expenses for The candidates and many of the participants in that
his campaign which began several months before the election not only violated the By-Laws of the IBP but
June 3rd election, and his purchases of airplane tickets also the ethics of the legal profession which imposes
for some delegates. on all lawyers, as a corollary of their obligation to obey
and uphold the constitution and the laws, the duty to
The records of the Philippine Plaza Hotel, "promote respect for law and legal processes" and to
headquarters of Atty. Drilon's camp, showed that her abstain from 'activities aimed at defiance of the law or
campaign rang up over P600,000 in hotel bills. Atty. at lessening confidence in the legal system" (Rule
Callanta paid P316,411.53 for the rooms, food, and 1.02, Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility).
beverage consumed by Atty. Drilon's supporters, but Respect for law is gravely eroded when lawyers
still left an unpaid bill of P302,197.30 at convention's themselves, who are supposed to be millions of the
end. law, engage in unlawful practices and cavalierly brush
aside the very rules that the IBP formulated for their
FINDINGS. observance.

From all the foregoing, it is evident that the manner in The unseemly ardor with which the candidates pursued
which the principal candidates for the national positions the presidency of the association detracted from the
in the Integrated Bar conducted their campaign dignity of the legal profession. The spectacle of
preparatory to the elections on June 3, 1989, violated lawyers bribing or being bribed to vote one way or
Section 14 of the IBP By-Laws and made a travesty of another, certainly did not uphold the honor of the
the idea of a "strictly non-political" Integrated Bar profession nor elevate it in the public's esteem.
enshrined in Section 4 of the By-Laws.
The Court notes with grave concern what appear to be
The setting up of campaign headquarters by the three the evasions, denials and outright prevarications that
principal candidates (Drilon, Nisce and Paculdo) in tainted the statements of the witnesses, including tome
five-star hotels: The Philippine Plaza, the Holiday Inn of the candidates, during the initial hearing conducted
and The Hyatt the better for them to corral and by it before its fact-finding committee was created. The
entertain the delegates billeted therein; the island subsequent investigation conducted by this Committee
hopping to solicit the votes of the chapter presidents has revealed that those parties had been less than
who comprise the 120-member House of Delegates candid with the Court and seem to have conspired
that elects the national officers and regional governors; among themselves to deceive it or at least withhold
the formation of tickets, slates, or line-ups of vital information from it to conceal the irregularities
candidates for the other elective positions aligned with, committed during the campaign.
or supporting, either Drilon, Paculdo or Nisce; the
CONCLUSIONS. Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP
regions. One who has served as president may not run
It has been mentioned with no little insistence that the for election as Executive Vice-President in a
provision in the 1987 Constitution (See. 8, Art. VIII) succeeding election until after the rotation of the
providing for a Judicial and Bar Council composed of presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been
seven (7) members among whom is "a representative completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
of the Integrated Bar," tasked to participate in the
selection of nominees for appointment to vacant 5. Section 47 of Article VII is hereby amended to read
positions in the judiciary, may be the reason why the as follows:
position of IBP president has attracted so much
interest among the lawyers. The much coveted "power" Section 47. National Officers. — The Integrated Bar of
erroneously perceived to be inherent in that office the Philippines shall have a President and Executive
might have caused the corruption of the IBP elections. Vice-President to be chosen by the Board of
To impress upon the participants in that electoral Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as
exercise the seriousness of the misconduct which much as practicable, on a rotation basis. The
attended it and the stern disapproval with which it is governors shall be ex oficio Vice-President for their
viewed by this Court, and to restore the non-political respective regions. There shall also be a Secretary and
character of the IBP and reduce, if not entirely Treasurer of the Board of Governors to be appointed
eliminate, expensive electioneering for the top by the President with the consent of the Board.
positions in the organization which, as the recently
concluded elections revealed, spawned unethical 6. Section 33(b), Art. V, IBP By-Laws, is hereby
practices which seriously diminished the stature of the amended as follows:
IBP as an association of the practitioners of a noble
and honored profession, the Court hereby ORDERS:
(b) The President and Executive Vice President of the
IBP shall be the Chairman and Vice-Chairman,
1. The IBP elections held on June3,1989 should be as respectively, of the House of Delegates. The Secretary,
they are hereby annulled. Treasurer, and Sergeant-at-Arms shall be appointed by
the President with the consent of the House of
2. The provisions of the IBP By-Laws for the direct Delegates.'
election by the House of Delegates (approved by this
Court in its resolution of July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No. 7. Section 33(g) of Article V providing for the positions
287) of the following national officers: of Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary-Treasurer and
Sergeant-at- Arms of the House of Delegates is hereby
(a) the officers of the House of Delegates; repealed

(b) the IBP president; and 8. Section 37, Article VI is hereby amended to read as
follows:
(c) the executive vice-president,
Section 37. Composition of the Board. — The
be repealed, this Court being empowered to amend, Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall be governed by
modify or repeal the By-Laws of the IBP under Section a Board of Governors consisting of nine (9) Governors
77, Art. XI of said By-Laws. from the nine (9) regions as delineated in Section 3 of
the Integration Rule, on the representation basis of one
3. The former system of having the IBP President and (1) Governor for each region to be elected by the
Executive Vice-President elected by the Board of members of the House of Delegates from that region
Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [91 only. The position of Governor should be rotated
IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided in among the different Chapters in the region.
Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be
restored. The right of automatic succession by the 9. Section 39, Article V is hereby amended as follows:
Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the
expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished Section 39. Nomination and election of the Governors
by this Court's resolution dated July 9,1985 in Bar at least one (1) month before the national convention
Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored. the delegates from each region shall elect the governor
for their region, the choice of which shall as much as
4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the possible be rotated among the chapters in the region.
Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed
to the office of president. The incoming board of 10. Section33(a), Article V hereby is amended by
governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President addingthe following provision as part of the first
from among themselves. The position of Executive paragraph:
No convention of the House of Delegates nor of the
general membership shall be held prior to any election
in an election year.

11. Section 39, (a), (b), (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7)
of Article VI should be as they are hereby deleted.

All other provisions of the By-Laws including its


amendment by the Resolution en banc of this Court of
July 9, 1985 (Bar Matter No. 287) that are inconsistent
herewith are hereby repealed or modified.

12. Special elections for the Board of Governors shall


be held in the nine (9) IBP regions within three (3)
months, after the promulgation of the Court's resolution
in this case. Within thirty (30) days thereafter, the
Board of Governors shall meet at the IBP Central
Office in Manila to elect from among themselves the
IBP national president and executive vice-president. In
these special elections, the candidates in the election
of the national officers held on June 3,1989,
particularly identified in Sub-Head 3 of this Resolution
entitled "Formation of Tickets and Single Slates," as
well as those identified in this Resolution as connected
with any of the irregularities attendant upon that
election, are ineligible and may not present themselves
as candidate for any position.

13. Pending such special elections, a caretaker board


shall be appointed by the Court to administer the
affairs of the IBP. The Court makes clear that the
dispositions here made are without prejudice to its
adoption in due time of such further and other
measures as are warranted in the premises.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
 

 
ATTYS. ROGELIO A. VINLUAN, 

IN THE MATTER OF THE BREWING A.M. No. ABELARDO C. ESTRADA, BONIFACIO 

09-5-2-SC

T. BARANDON, JR., EVERGISTO S.

CONTROVERSIES IN THE ELECTION

ESCALON and RAYMUND JORGE A. 

IN THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE 

MERCADO,

PHILIPPINES,

Respondents.

Promulgated:

x--------------------------------------------------x

December 14, 2010

ATTYS. MARCIAL M. MAGSINO, A.C. No. 8292

MANUEL M. MARAMBA and 

NASSER MAROHOMSALIC,

Complainants,

Present:

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
CORONA, C.J.,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

CARPIO,
 

CARPIO MORALES,

R E S O L U T I O N

VELASCO, JR.,*

CORONA, C.J.:

NACHURA,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

This resolves the above matter involving the


leadership controversy at the Integrated Bar of the
- v e r s u s - BRION,**

Philippines (IBP) and the administrative case that was


filed against some of the high-ranking officers of the
PERALTA,

IBP on account thereof.

BERSAMIN,

DEL CASTILLO,

I. Antecedents

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

The Court in an En Banc Resolution dated June 2,


2009 created a Special (Investigating) Committee[1] to
PEREZ,

look into the brewing controversies in the IBP


elections, specifically in the elections of Vice-President
MENDOZA and

for the Greater Manila Region and Executive Vice-


President of the IBP itself xxx and any other election
SERENO, JJ.

controversy involving other chapters of the IBP, if any, against him by Attys. Marcial Magsino, Manuel
that includes as well the election of the Governors for Maramba and Nasser Marohomsalic?

Western Mindanao and Western Visayas.

Consequently, the Special Committee called the IBP


officers involved to a preliminary conference on June Meanwhile, a Supplemental Complaint dated June 11,
10, 2009. With respect thereto, Atty. Rogelio A. Vinluan 2009 was received from Attys. Magsino, Maramba and
then submitted a Preliminary Conference Brief on the Marohomsalic regarding the earlier complaint that they
same day. During the conference it was determined filed last May 21, 2009 against Atty. Vinluan.

that the investigation would focus on the following


issues or controversies:
 

 
As such, then IBP President Feliciano M. Bautista and
then Executive Vice President (EVP) Vinluan agreed to
1. What is the correct interpretation of Section 31, submit their respective position papers on the above
Article V of the IBP By-Laws which provides:
issues and controversies. Also, Atty. Vinluan was
required to file his answer to the administrative
 
complaint against him.

SEC. 31. Membership. The membership (of  

Delegates) shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents


and, in the case of Chapters entitled to more than one A Position Paper dated June 15, 2009 was then
Delegate each, the Vice-Presidents of the Chapters received from Atty. Vinluan. Attys. Elpidio G. Soriano,
and such additional Delegates as the Chapters are III and Erwin M. Fortunato also filed their Position
entitled to. Unless the Vice-President is already a Papers both dated June 15, 2009. It appears that an
Delegate, he shall be an alternate Delegate. Additional earlier Position Paper also dated June 15, 2009 was
Delegates and alternates shall in proper cases be submitted by Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto.

elected by the Board of Officers of the Chapter.


Members of the Board of Governors who are not  

Delegates shall be members ex officio of the House,


without the right to vote.
For their part, Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Magsino
filed their Position Paper dated June 16, 2009.
 
Incidentally, in a Manifestation likewise dated June 16,
2009 Attys. Bautista, Maramba and Marcial M.
2. Who was validly elected Governor for the Greater Magsino submitted the same paper but already
Manila Region?
bearing the signature of Atty. Bautista.

3. Who was validly elected Governor for Western Atty. Nasser A. Marohomsalic submitted his Position
Visayas Region?
Paper dated June 17, 2009. The Special Committee, in
the course of its investigation, further received a letter
 
dated June 22, 2009 from Atty. Alex L. Macalawi,
President of the IBP Lanao del Sur Chapter.

4. Who was validly elected Governor for Western


Mindanao Region?
 

 
As to the administrative case filed against him, Atty.
Vinluan, as respondent, filed his Comment dated June
5. Who was validly elected IBP Executive Vice 15, 2009. In turn, Attys. Magsino, Maramba and
President for the next term?
Marohomsalic, as complainants, submitted their Reply
dated June 23, 2009.

6. What is the liability, if any, of respondent Atty.


Rogelio A. Vinluan under the administrative complaint The Special Committee then submitted a Report and
for grave professional misconduct, violation of Recommendation dated July 9, 2009 the dispositive
attorneys oath, and acts inimical to the IBP filed portion of which read as follows:

 
President shall preside, there being a quorum to
transact business, but he may not vote except to
A. That to avoid further controversy regarding its break a tie.

proper interpretation and implementation, Sec. 31,


Article V, of the By-Laws should be amended as  

follows (suggested amendments are in bold print):

D. That Sec. 43, Article VI of the By-Laws, on the


 
procedure for approving a resolution by the Board of
Governors without a meeting, should be amended by
SEC. 31. Membership. The membership of the House adding the following exception thereto so that the
of Delegates shall consist of all the Chapter Presidents procedure may not be abused in connection with any
and in the case of Chapters entitled to mo(r)e than election in the IBP:

on(e) Delegate each, the Vice President of the


Chapters and such additional Delegates as the  

Chapters are entitled to. Unless the Vice President is


already (a) delegate, he shall be an alternate This provision shall not apply when the Board shall
Delegate. Additional Delegates and their respective hold an election or hear and decide an election
alternates shall be elected from, and by, the Board protest.

of Officers of the Chapter. If the Delegate chosen is


incapacitated, or disqualified, or resigns, or  

refuses to serve, and there are enough members of


the Board to be elected as Delegates, then the E. That the provision for the strict implementation of
Board of Officers shall elect the additional the rotation rule among the Chapters in the Regions
delegates and alternates from the general for the election of the Governor for the regions, (as
membership of the Chapter, and his corresponding ordered by this Honorable Court in Bar Matter No.
alternate shall take his place.
586, May 14, 1991) should be incorporated in Sec. 39,
Article VI of the By-Laws, as follows:

B. That to avoid any ambiguity as to how the President


shall preside and vote in meetings of the House of Sec. 39. Nomination and election of the
Delegates, paragraph (g), Sec. 33, Article V of the By- Governors. At least one (1) month before the national
Laws should be amended as follows:
convention the delegates from each region shall elect
the Governor for their region, who shall be chosen by
 
rotation which is mandatory and shall be strictly
implemented among the Chapters in the region.
(g) In all meetings and deliberations of the House, When a Chapter waives its turn in the rotation
whether in annual or special convention, the President order, its place shall redound to the next Chapter in
shall preside, or the Executive Vice President, if the the line. Nevertheless, the former may reclaim its
President is absent or incapacitated, but neither of right to the Governorship at any time before the
them shall vote except to break a tie.
rotation is completed; otherwise, it will have to
wait for its turn in the next round, in the same
 
place that it had in the round completed.

C. Similarly, Sec. 42, Article VI of the By-Laws, on  

meetings of the Board of Governors, should be


amended to read as follows:
F. That in view of the fact that the IBP no longer elects
its President, because the Executive Vice President
 
automatically succeeds the President at the end of his
term, Sec. 47, Article VII of the By-Laws should be
Sec. 42. Meetings. The Board shall meet regularly amended by deleting the provision for the election of
once a month, on such date and such time and place the President. Moreover, for the strict implementation
as it shall designate. Special meetings may be called of the rotation rule, the Committee recommends that
by the President, and shall be called by him upon the there should be a sanction for its violation, thus:

written request of five (5) members of the Board. The


President shall not vote except to break a tie in the  

voting. When for any reason, the President cannot


preside on account of his absence, incapacity, or Sec. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the
refusal to call a meeting, the Executive Vice Philippines shall have a President, an Executive Vice
President, and nine (9) regional Governors. The Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio Barandon, Jr., Evergisto
Executive Vice President shall be elected on a Escalon, and Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the
strict rotation basis by the Board of Governors peaceful and orderly flow of business in the IBP,
from among themselves, by the vote of at least five caused chaos in the National Office, bitter
(5) Governors. The Governors shall be ex officio Vice disagreements, and ill-feelings, and almost
President for their respective regions. There shall also disintegrated the Integrated Bar, constituted grave
be a Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of professional misconduct which should be
Governors.
appropriately sanctioned to discourage its repetition in
the future.

The violation of the rotation rule in any election


II. Findings of the Special Committee

shall be penalized by annulment of the election and


disqualification of the offender from election or  

appointment to any office in the IBP.

In its Report and Recommendation dated July 9, 2009,


 
the Special Committee disclosed when it was
discussing the Board of Officers of each chapter that:

G. That Atty. Manuel M. Maramba should be declared


the duly elected Governor of the Greater Manila  

Region for the 2009-2011 term.

The government of a Chapter is vested in its Board of


 
Officers composed of nine (9) officers, namely: the
President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, and
H. That Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter five (5) Directors who shall be elected by the members
should be declared the duly elected Governor of the of the Chapter at the biennial meeting on the last
Western Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term.
Saturday of February, and shall hold office for a term
of two (2) years from the first day of April following
 
their election and until their successors shall have
been duly chosen and qualified. For the 2009-2011
I. That a special election should be held in the Western term, the election of Chapter officers was held on
Mindanao Region, within fifteen (15) days from notice, February 28, 2009.

to elect the Governor of that region for the 2009-2011


term. In accordance with the rotation rule, only the six  

(6) Chapters in the region that have not yet been


elected to the Board of Governors, namely: In 1983 up to 1995, the Quezon City Chapter elected
Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte, the usual nine (9) officers to its Board of Officers and
Za(m)boanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis they were all delegates to the House of Delegates.
Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City, shall Beginning with the 1997-1999 term, when it added a
participate in the election.
Public Relations Officer (P.R.O.) and Auditor to its
Board of Officers, the number of delegates allotted to
 
the Chapter was also increased to eleven (11) like the
membership in its Board of Officers, pursuant to a
J. That, thereafter, a special election should also be reapportionment of delegates by the Board of
held by the Board of Governors to elect the Executive Governors under Sec. 30, Art. V of the By-Laws.

Vice President for the 2009-2011 term with strict


observance of the rotation rule. Inasmuch as for the  

past nine (9) terms, i.e., since the 1991-1993 term, the
nominees of the Western Visayas and Eastern Up to the 2007-2009 term, all the officers of the QC
Mindanao Regions have not yet been elected Chapter were also the Chapters delegates to the
Executive Vice President of the IBP, the special House of Delegates. Atty. Victoria Loanzon who has
election shall choose only between the nominees of been an officer of the Chapter in various capacities
these two (2) regions who shall become the Executive since 2003, like her fellow officers in the Board,
Vice President for the 2009-2011 term, in accordance automatically became a delegate since 2003 up to this
with the strict rotation rule.
time.

 
 

K. That the high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. For the 2009-2011 term, the Board of Officers of the
Rogelio A. Vinluan and his group of Governors, IBP-QC Chapter that assumed office on April 1, 2009,
is composed of six (6) officers and (5) directors, that starting in 1993-1995, the principle on rotation
namely:
shall be strictly implemented so that all prior
elections for Governor in the region shall be reckoned
 
with or considered in determining who should be
Governor to be selected from the different chapters to
President - - - - - - - - - - Tranquil Salvador III
represent the region in the Board of Governors.
Hence, the governorship of the region shall rotate
Vice President - - - - - - Jonas Cabochan
among the chapters in the region.

Secretary - - - - - - - - - - Christian Fernandez


The Governors-elect shall, by a vote of at least five (5),
choose an Executive Vice-President, x x x either from
Treasurer - - - - - - - - - - Victoria Loanzon
among themselves or from other members of the
Integrated Bar. The Executive Vice-President shall
Auditor - - - - - - - - - - - Ginger Anne Castillo

automatically become President for the next


P.R.O. - - - - - - - - - - - - Ernesto Tabujara III
succeeding term. The Presidency shall rotate
among the nine (9) Regions.[3]

Director - - - - - - - - - - - Annalou Nachura

Director - - - - - - - - - - - Melody Sampaga

Director - - - - - - - - - - - Francois Rivera

According to the Committee, the rotation of the


Director - - - - - - - - - - - Joseph Cerezo
position of Governor of a region among the Chapters
was ordered by the Supreme Court in its Resolution
Director - - - - - - - - - - - Marita Iris Laqui
dated May 14, 1991 in Bar Matter No. 586
(Clarification Re: Bar Matter No. 491, Atty. Romulo T.
 
Capulong petitioner). With respect thereto, it was
revealed that:

It is important to be an officer of ones Chapter and a


delegate to the House of Delegates, because a  

delegate gets to elect the Governor for the Region


(which must rotate among the Chapters in the region). Pursuant to the principle of rotation, the governorship
The Governor of the Region becomes a member of the of a region shall rotate once in as many terms as the
Board of Governors, and gets to elect, or be elected, number of chapters there are in the region, to give
as the next IBP Executive Vice President who every chapter a chance to represent the region in the
automatically becomes President for the next Board of Governors. Thus, in a region composed of 5
succeeding term (which must also rotate among the chapters, each chapter is entitled to the governorship
Regions).[2]
once in every 5 terms, or once every ten (10) years,
since a term is two (2) years.

The record of the National IBP Secretariat shows that


The Special Committee then pointed out that with during the past five (5) terms, from 1999 up to 2009,
respect to the IBP Board of Governors this consists of the GMR (Greater Manila Region) governorship was
nine (9) Governors from the nine (9) Regions. One (1) occupied by the five (5) chapters of the region as
Governor for each Region shall be elected by the follows:

members of the House of Delegates from that region


only. The Governors, the President and the Executive  

Vice-President shall hold office for a term of two (2)


years from July 1 immediately following their election, 1999-2001 ----- Jose P. Icaonapo ------------ Manila III

up to June 30 of their second year in office and until


their successors shall have been duly chosen and 2001-2003 ----- Santos V. Catubay, Jr. ---- QuezonCity

qualified. It was further added by the Committee that:

2003-2005 ----- Rosario Setias-Reyes ------ Manila II

2005-2007 ----- Alicia A. Risos-Vidal ------ Manila I

At least one (1) month before the national convention,


the delegates from each Region shall elect the 2007-2009 ----- Marcial M. Magsino ------- Manila IV

Governor for their region. The IBP By-Laws provide


 
Raul R. Angangco (Makati) -------------- Southern
Luzon - 1995-1997

In the next round, which starts with the 2009-2011


term, the same order of rotation should be followed by Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran) ----------- Eastern
the five (5) chapters, i.e., Manila III shall begin the Visayas 1997-1999

round, to be followed by Quezon City for 2011-2013


term, Manila for the 2013-2015 term, Manila I for the Arthur D. Lim (Zambasulta) ------------- Western
2015-2017 term, and Manila IV for the 2017-2019 Mindanao-1999-2001

term.

Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga-Apayao)-Northern


 
Luzon 2001-2003

In the Western Visayas Region which is composed of Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) Bicolandia
ten (10) chapters, each chapter is entitled to represent -------- 2003-2005

the governorship of the region once every ten (10)


terms. The first chapter to occupy the governorship, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (Camarines Sur) Bicolandia
must wait for the nine (9) other chapters to serve their ----2005-Aug 2006

respective terms, before it may have its turn again as


Governor of the region.
Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay) ---------- Bicolandia ---
Aug. 2006-2007

Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan) ------ Central


The same rule applies to the Western Mindanao Luzon ---- 2007-2009

Region which is composed of twelve (12) chapters.

Only the governors of the Western Visayas and


On April 25, 2009, the election of Governors for the Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn
nine (9) IBP regions proceeded as scheduled, presided as Executive Vice President cumnext IBP President,
over by their respective outgoing Governor.[4]
while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2)
terms already.

Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas


It was then cited by the Special Committee that Sec. Region, or the governor of the Eastern Mindanao
47, Art. VII of the By-Laws, as amended by Bar Matter Region should be elected as Executive Vice-President
491, Oct. 6, 1989, provides that the Executive Vice for the 2009-2011 term. The one who is not chosen for
President shall be chosen by the Board of Governors this term, shall have his turn in the next (2011-2013)
from among the nine (9) regional governors. The term. Afterwards, another rotation shall commence
Executive Vice President shall automatically become with Greater Manila in the lead, followed by Southern
President for the next succeeding term. The Luzon, Eastern Visayas, Western Mindanao, Northern
Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions. Luzon, Bicolandia, Central Luzon, and either Western
Further, the Committee averred that:
Visayas or Eastern Mindanao at the end of the round.
[5]

The list of national presidents furnished the Special


Committee by the IBP National Secretariat, shows that The Committee then disclosed that the controversies
the governors of the following regions were President involved herein and should be resolved are the
of the IBP during the past nine (9) terms (1991-2009):
following: (I) the dispute concerning additional
delegates of the QC Chapter to the House of
 
Delegates; (II) the election of the Governor for the
Greater Manila Region (GMR); (III) the election of
Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan) --- Central Luzon Governor for the Western Visayas Region; (IV) the
--- 1991-1993
election of Governor for the Western Mindanao
Region; (V) the resolution of the election protests; (VI)
Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) ------ Manila the election of the IBP Executive Vice President for the
------------ 1993-1995
2009-2011 term; and, (VII) the administrative
complaint against EVP Rogelio Vinluan.

 
introduced its own interpretation of the
aforementioned provision of the By-Laws and elected
In addressing the above controversies, the Committee non-officers of the Chapter as delegates to the House
arrived at the following findings and conclusions:
of Delegates in lieu of herself and Atty. Laqui.

I. The silence of Sec. 31, Art. V of the IBP By-Laws  

on who may be elected as additional delegates and


alternates by the remaining members of the Board We find the Vinluan Groups interpretation of Sec. 31,
of Officers of the Chapter when the Chapter is Art. V, of the By-Laws in Resolution No. XVIII-2009
entitled to more than two (2) delegates to the House of (Special 23 April 2009) to be in error and devoid of
Delegates, is the root cause of the conflicting rational and historical bases.

resolutions of the Bautista and Vinluan factions on the


proper interpretation of the aforementioned provision  

of the By-Laws.

II. Attys. Victoria Loanzon and Marite Laqui were


 
properly recognized as delegates of the QC
Chapter by the Presiding Officer, GMR Governor
According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 dated April Marcial Magsino, during the election on April 25, 2009
17, 2009 of the Bautista Group, the additional of the Governor for the Greater Manila Region, in
delegate/s shall be elected by the Board of Officers of accordance with the guideline in Resolution No.
the Chapter only from among the remaining duly XVIII-2009.

elected officers and members of the Board, in


consideration of their mandate from the general  

membership.

The argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil


 
Salvador, that Attys. Loanzon and Laqui were not
delegates because they were not elected by the QC-
According to the Resolution No. XVIII-2009 Board of Officers, is not well taken.

(Special-23 April 2009) of the Vinluan Group, the


election of the additional delegate/s for the Chapters  

entitled to more than two (2) delegates shall be elected


by the Board of Officers of the Chapter from among Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws provides that:

the general membership who are in good standing to


include the remaining duly elected officers and
members of the Board.

Additional Delegates and alternates shall in proper


 
cases be elected by the Board of Officers of the
Chapter.

The Committee finds the qualification introduced by


Resolution No. XVIII-2009  that the additional  

delegate/s and alternates must be elected from


among the remaining officers of the Chapter to be The QC Chapter is not a proper case for the election
consistent with the precedent set by Section 31 itself of additional delegates by the Board of Officers
in appointing members of the Board of because the Chapter is entitled to the same number of
Officers, namely, (a) the president of the Chapter as delegates (11) to the House, as the number of officers
the delegate, and the vice president as the alternate, in its Board of Officers. Its officers are ipso facto the
or second, delegate to the House of Delegates, when Chapters delegates to the House. There is no need for
the Chapter is entitled to two (2) delegates. There is a the Board of Officers to conduct an election.

manifest intention in Sec. 31, Art. V of the By-Laws to


reserve membership in the House of Delegates (which  

is the deliberative body of the IBP) for the elected


officers of the Chapter since they have already A proper case for the election of additional delegates
received the mandate of the general membership of and alternates by the Board of Officers occurs when
the Chapter.
the number of additional delegates and alternates for
the Chapter is less than the members of the Board of
 
Officers, for, then, the Board of Officers must select,
and elect, who among themselves should be the
For the past four (4) terms (2003-2011), Atty. Loanzon additional delegate/s and alternates of the Chapter to
has been an officer and delegate of the QC Chapter to the House of Delegates. That has never been the case
the House of Delegates, until the Vinluan Group of the QC Chapter.

 
IV. Atty. Erwin Fortunato of the Romblon Chapter
was duly elected as Governor for the Western
III. Atty. Manuel Maramba (Manila III Chapter) was Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term, not only
validly elected as GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 because he obtained the highest number of votes
term, not only because he outvoted his rival, Atty. among the three (3) candidates for the position, but
Elpidio Soriano (Quezon City Chapter), but also also because under the rotation rule, it is now the turn
because under the principle of rotation of the of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western
governorship (Bar Matter No. 586, May 14, 1991) Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors.

since the five (5) chapters of the Greater Manila


Region have all represented the region in the Board of  

Governors during the past five (5) terms, in the


following order:
The contention of the protestants, Attys. Cornelio
Aldon (Antique Chapter) and Benjamin Ortega (Negros
 
Occidental Chapter) that the rotation rule in Sections
37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws is not mandatory but
1999-2001 -------- Manila III -------- Jose P. Icaonapo
only directory, betrays their ignorance of the resolution
of the Supreme Court in Bar Matter No. 586 dated
2001-2003 -------- Quezon City ----- Santos V. May 16, 1991, ruling that the principle on rotation shall
Catubay, Jr.
be strictly implemented so that all prior elections for
governor in the region shall be reckoned with or
2003-2005 -------- Manila II ---------- Rosario Setias- considered in determining who should be the governor
Reyes
to be selected from the different chapters to represent
the region in the Board of Governors.

2005-2007 -------- Manila I ----------- Alicia A. Risos-


Vidal
 

2007-2009 -------- Manila IV --------- Marcial M. V. Neither Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic nor Atty.
Magsino
Benjamin Lanto is qualified to be elected Governor
of Western Mindanao Region. Sec. 39, Art. VI of the
 
IBP By-Laws provides that: Starting in 1993-1995, the
principle of rotation in the position of governor among
it is now the turn of the representative of the Manila III the different chapters to represent the region in the
Chapter to sit again in the Board of Governors for the Board of Governors shall be strictly implemented.

next round which begins in the 2009-2011 term. The


Manila III representative, Atty. Manuel M. Maramba,  

has every right to the position not only because he


won the election with 13 votes in his favor against 12 Under Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-Laws, the Governor of
for Atty. Soriano, but also because his election follows a region shall be elected by the members of the House
the rotation rule decreed by the Supreme Court.
of Delegates from that region only. Since the delegate
of a Chapter to the House of Delegates is the
 
President of the Chapter, not the Board of Officers, the
nominee of the Chapter President, not the nominee of
On the other hand, the election of Atty. Soriano (QC the Board of Officers, is the valid nominee for
Chapter) in the special election that was presided over Governor of the Region.

by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a nullity on three


(3) grounds: First, because Atty. Soriano already lost  

the election on April 25, 2009. Second, the special


election conducted by the Vinluan Group on May 4, However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao
2(00)8 was illegal because it was not called nor
del Sur Chapter that should represent the Western
presided over by the regional Governor. Third, Atty.
Soriano is disqualified to run for GMR Governor for the Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors for the
2009-2011 term because his election as such would 2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National
violate the rotation rule which the Supreme Court Secretariat shows that, starting in 1993-1995 when the
requires to be strictly implemented. Under the rotation strict implementation of the rotation rule began, the
rule, the GMR governorship for the 2009-2011 term 12-chapter Western Mindanao Region has been
belongs to the Manila III Chapter, not to the QC represented in the Board of Governors by only six (6)
Chapter, whose turn will come two (2) years later, in Chapters, as follows:

2011-2013 yet.

1993-1995 ----- Lanao del Sur ------ Dimnatang T. As previously stated, there were two (2) simultaneous
Saro
elections for the Executive Vice President for the
2009-2011 term one was called and presided over by
1995-1997 ----- Cotabato ------------ George C. EVP Vinluan in the Board Room of the IBP National
Jabido
Office, while the other election for the same position
was presided over by outgoing IBP Pres. Bautista in
1997-1999 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Arthur D. Lim
another room of the same building, at the same time,
9:00 A.M., on the same date, May 9, 2009.

1999-2001 ----- ZAMBASULTA -- Paulino R. Ersando

2001-2003 ----- North Cotabato --- Little Sarah A.


Agdeppa
Those present at the meeting of the Vinluan Group
were:

2003-2005 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez,


Jr.
 

2005-2007 ----- SOCSARGEN ----- Rogelio C. Garcia


1. Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano

2007-2009 ----- Sultan Kudarat ---- Carlos L. Valdez, 2. Atty. Benjamin B. Lanto

Jr.

3. Atty. Amador Tolentino, Jr., Governor-elect for


 
Southern Luzon

Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation, the Lanao del 4. Atty. Jose V. Cabrera, Governor-elect for Bicolandia

Sur Chapter must wait for the six (6) other Chapters in
the region (Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del 5. Atty. Erwin Fortunato, Governor-elect for Western
Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Visayas

Occidental, and Maguindanao-Cotabato City) to have


their turn in the Board of Governors before Lanao del 6. Atty. Roland B. Inting, Governor-elect for Eastern
Sur may again represent the Western Mindanao Visayas

Region in the Board of Governors.

Since both Attys. Soriano and Lanto were not validly


Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and elected as Governors respectively of the Greater
B(e)njamin Lanto belong to the Lanao del Sur Chapter, Manila Region and the Western Mindanao Region,
both of them are disqualified to be elected as they were disqualified to sit in the incoming Board of
Governor of the Western Mindanao Region for the Governors and participate in the election of the
2009-2011 term. With respect to Atty. Benjamin Lanto, succeeding Executive Vice President. The remaining
his nomination by the Board of Officers was not only four (4) Governors-elect Governors Tolentino, Cabrera,
invalid, but also lost credibility after three (3), out of the Fortunato, and Inting, did not constitute a quorum of
thirteen (13) signatories to his nomination, resigned the Board of Governors to conduct a valid election of
from the Board of Officers, and six (6) others signed the IBP Executive Vice President. The election of Atty.
authorizations in favor of Atty. Macalawi authorizing Elpidio G. Soriano as Executive Vice President by the
him to nominate and elect the Governor for the Vinluan Group was invalid. Aside from lack of a
Western Mindanao Region. That left only four (4) votes quorum to conduct the elections, EVP Vinluan wrongly
in favor of his nomination for Governor of the Western presided over the election. Thus, Atty. Soriano was not
Mindanao Region.
duly elected as Governor of the Greater Manila
Region, hence, he is disqualified to sit in the Board of
 
Governors.

VI. The elections for the IBP Executive Vice  

President separately held on May 9, 2009 by the


Bautista and Vinluan Groups were null and void for Neither did the meeting of the Bautista Group fare any
lack of quorum. The presence of five (5) Governors- better, for those present were:

elect is needed to constitute a quorum of the 9-


member Board of Governors-elect who shall elect the  

Executive Vice President.

1.    Atty. Milagros Fernan-Cayosa, Governor-elect for


 
Northern

Luzon
By-Laws which provides that it is the President
who shall call a special meeting, and it is also the
2. Atty. Ferdinand Y. Miclat, Governor-elect for Central President who shall preside over the meeting, not
Luzon
Atty. Vinluan (Sec. 50, Art. VII, By-Laws).

3. Atty. Manuel M. Maramba, Governor-elect for  

Greater Manila

The proper recourse for the Vinluan Group, in view of


4. Atty. Roan Libarios, Governor-elect for Eastern President Bautistas refusal to call a special meeting as
Mindanao
requested by them, is found in Section 43, Art. VI of
the By-Laws which provides that-

5. Atty. Nasser Marohomsalic

The Board may take action, without a meeting, by


Atty. Marohomsalics election as Governor for Western resolution signed by at least five Governors provided
Mindanao was invalid for violating the rotation rule. that every member of the Board shall have been
The four (4) remaining governors-elect (Attys. Cayosa, previously apprised of the contents of the resolution.

Miclat, Maramba and Libarios) like those in the Vinluan


Group, did not constitute a quorum to conduct the
election of the IBP Executive Vice President for the
current term. The election of Governor Roan Libarios But the Vinluan Group ignored that procedure. They
as Executive Vice President by this group was held a special meeting on April 23, 2009, where they
therefore null and void.
adopted Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April
2009) striking out as ultra vires the earlier Resolution
 
No. XVIII-2009 passed in the regular monthly meeting
of the Board of Governors on April 17, 2009. That
Besides that flaw in his election, since the Eastern meeting was illegal, hence, the resolution adopted
Visayas Region, represented by Governor Jose Aguila therein was null and void.

Grapilon of Biliran, had succeeded to the presidency


in 1997-1999, its next turn will come after the eight (8)  

other regions shall have also served in the presidency.


That will be after sixteen years, or, in 2015-2017 yet.
2. The second special meeting held by the Vinluan
Group on April 30, 2009 wherein they approved
 
Resolution XVIII-2009 (Special-A-30 April 2009)
resolving the election protests in the GMR, Western
VII. The administrative complaint against EVP Visayas and Western Mindanao governors elections,
Rogelio A. Vinluan and his Group of Governors with complete disregard for the protestees right to due
(Abelardo Estrada of Northern Luzon, Bonifacio process, was likewise illegal, hence, the Groups
Barandon of Bicolandia, Evergisto Escalon of resolution of the election protests was likewise null
Eastern Visayas, and Raymund Mercado of and void, and the new election of the GMR Governor
Western Visayas) is meritorious, for their conduct which they set on May 4, 2009 was invalid.

was fractious and high-handed, causing disunity and


acrimonious disagreements in the IBP.
 

 
3. The Board Resolution which was adopted and
faxed to the Governors-elect on May 8, 2009, by the
1. The request of the EVP Vinluans Group for a special Vinluan Group, setting the election of the IBP
meeting of the Board of Governors on April 23, 2009 Executive Vice President on May 9, 2009, at 9:00
two (2) days before the scheduled election of the A.M.; declaring Pres. Bautista unfit to preside over the
regional Governors on April 25, 2009 when IBP Pres. election and designating EVP Vinluan to preside over
Bautista was in Zamboanga on IBP business, and the the election in lieu of Pres. Bautista, was uncalled and
other Governors had just returned to their respective unwarranted, and caused disunity and disorder in the
regions to prepare for the April 25 election of the IBP. It was in effect a coup to unseat Pres. Bautista
regional governors, was unreasonable.
before the end of his term, and prematurely install EVP
Vinluan as president.

The special meeting on April 23, 2009 which he


himself presided over, violated Sec. 42, Art. VI of the The actuations of Atty. Vinluans Group in defying the
lawful authority of IBP President Bautista, due to Atty.
Vinluans overweening desire to propel his fraternity In addressing the said controversy, and as already
brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to the next discussed, the Committee concluded that the Vinluan
presidency of the IBP, smacked of politicking, which is Groups interpretation of Sec. 31, Art. V, of the By-
strongly condemned and strictly prohibited by the IBP Laws in Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special-23 April
By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule.[6]
2009) to be in error and devoid of rational and
historical bases. It was then pointed out that (t)he
 
argument of the QC-Chapter President Tranquil
Salvador, (as well as by Atty. Soriano), that Attys.
Again, it must be noted that while the pending Loanzon and Laqui were not delegates because they
administrative case against Atty. Vinluan and his co- were not elected by the QC-Board of Officers, is not
respondents has not yet been resolved, Atty. Vinluan well taken. Likewise, the Committee considered the
was not allowed to assume his position as President situation then involving the Quezon City Chapter as
of the IBP for 2009-2011. Instead, the Supreme Court not a proper case for the election of additional
designated retired Supreme Court Associate Justice delegates by the Board of Officers because the
Santiago Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP.
Chapter is entitled to the same number of delegates
(11) to the House (of Delegates), as the number of
 
officers in its Board of Officers. Its officers are ipso
facto the Chapters delegates to the House. There is no
III. Rulings of the Court
need for the Board of Officers to conduct an election.

The Court completely agrees with the  

recommendations of the Special Committee with


respect to, among others, the following:
Thus, and as rightly determined by the Committee to
which the Court subscribes to, the election of Atty.
 
Soriano (QC Chapter) in the special election that was
presided over by EVP Vinluan on May 4, 2009, was a
1. Declaring Atty. Manuel M. Maramba (Manila III nullity on three (3) grounds: First, because Atty.
Chapter) as the duly elected Governor of the Greater Soriano already lost the election on April 25, 2009.
Manila Region for the 2009-2011 term[7]; and,
Second, the special election conducted by the Vinluan
Group on May 4, 2(009) was illegal because it was not
2. Declaring Atty. Erwin M. Fortunato (Romblon called nor presided by the regional Governor (Atty.
Chapter) as the duly elected Governor of the Western Magsino). Third, Atty. Soriano is disqualified to run for
Visayas Region for the 2009-2011 term[8]. 
GMR Governor for the 2009-2011 term because his
election as such would violate the rotation rule which
 
the Supreme Court requires to be strictly
implemented. This being so, since he was not a duly
As far as the Court is concerned, there is no dispute elected Governor of the Greater Manila Region, then
that the election of Atty. Maramba was in order. During Atty. Soriano cannot be voted as well as IBP Executive
the election held last April 25, 2009 which was duly Vice President for 2009-2011.

presided over by then outgoing Greater Manila Region


Governor Marcial Magsino, it was Atty. Maramba who  

garnered the highest number of votes among the


delegates compared to Atty. Soriano, 13 votes to 12 With respect to the case of Atty. Fortunato, his
votes. However, instead of accepting the said defeat election as Governor for the Western Visayas Region
graciously, Atty. Soriano then filed an election protest was upheld since he obtained the highest number of
on April 27, 2009 claiming that the said election was votes among the three (3) candidates for the position
void because there were non-delegates, particularly and also because under the rotation rule, it is now the
Attys. Loanzon and Laqui of the Quezon City Chapter, turn of the Romblon Chapter to represent the Western
who were allowed to vote. Consequently, Atty. Soriano Visayas Region in the IBP Board of Governors. On
got a favorable ruling from the group of Atty. Vinluan, account thereof, the Court is convinced that the
as EVP, and former Governors Estrada (Northern contentions of protestees Attys. Cornelio Aldon
Luzon), Barandon, Jr. (Bicolandia), Escalon (Eastern (Antique Chapter) and Benjamin Ortega (Negros
Visayas) and Mercado (Western Visayas) per Occidental Chapter) cannot prosper. After all, the
Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April 2009). Court already upheld per its Resolution in Bar Matter
This then resulted in the anomalous election of Atty. No. 586 dated May 16, 1991 that the rotation rule
Soriano as Governor of the Greater Manila Region last under Sections 37 and 39 of the IBP By-Laws shall be
May 4, 2009.
strictly implemented so that all prior elections for
governor in the region shall be reckoned with or
 
considered in determining who should be the governor
to be selected from the different chapters to represent
the region in the Board of Governors. More so, when
the concerned chapter invoked its right thereto as in The attempt of Atty. Vinluan and his group of
the case of Atty. Fortunato who came from the Governors to nullify the election of Atty. Marohomsalic
Romblon Chapter which was next in the rotation.
through Resolution No. XVIII-2009 (Special A-30 April
2009) was clearly irregular and unjustified. Based on
 
the April 25, 2009 election results, Atty. Marohomsalic
won over his rival Atty. Lanto, 6 votes to 5 votes.
To the Court, the election of Atty. Fortunato as Consequently, he was duly proclaimed as the elected
Governor last April 25, 2009 is well-settled. He did not Governor of the Western Mindanao Region. On April
only come from the chapter which is entitled to be 27, 2009, Atty. Lanto filed an election protest,
elected for the said position, but also got the highest questioning the validity of Atty. Marohomsalics
number of votes among the candidates that included nomination by Atty. Macalawi, President of the IBP
protestees Attys. Aldon and Ortega. As the election Lanao del Sur Chapter, and claiming that his (Lantos)
was presided over by then outgoing Governor nomination by the Board of Officers of the Lanao del
Raymund Mercado, the Court finds no cogent reason Sur Chapter was the valid nomination. 

as well to reverse the findings of the Committee


insofar as upholding the election of Atty. Fortunato is  

concerned. Suffice it to say, the Committee was


correct in not finding any anomaly with respect Immediately, on April 30, 2009, the group of Atty.
thereto.
Vinluan issued Resolution No. XVIII-2009 proclaiming
Atty. Lanto as the duly elected Governor without
 
affording Atty. Marohomsalic his right to due
process. More importantly, instead of calling for
On the nullification of the election of Atty. Nasser another election like what it did for the Greater Manila
Marohomsalic as Governor for the Western Mindanao Region, the group of Atty. Vinluan proceeded to
Region, the Court does not agree with the instantly declare Atty. Lanto as having been duly
recommendation of the Committee to hold a special elected on the ground that the nomination of the
election in the said region[9]. Instead, the Court rules protestee, Nasser Marohomsalic, was contrary to the
to uphold the election of Atty. Marohomsalic last April will of the Lanao del Sur Chapter expressed through
25, 2009 which was presided over by then outgoing Board Resolution No. 00(2)-2009 of the Board of
Governor Carlos Valdez, Jr. 
Officers (of the Lanao del Sur Chapter).[11]

 
 

It must be pointed out that Atty. Marohomsalic was As borne out by the records, Atty. Marohomsalic was
duly nominated by Atty. Alex Macalawi, President of duly nominated by Atty. Alex Macalawi, President of
the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official delegate of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, and the official delegate of
the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the the said chapter to the House of Delegates for the
Western Mindanao Region during the elections held Western Mindanao Region during the elections. On the
last April 25, 2009. On the other hand, Atty. Benjamin other hand, Atty. Lanto was supposedly nominated by
Lanto was supposedly nominated by the Board of the Board of Officers of the same Chapter in a
Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter, except Atty. resolution dated February 28, 2009, which was not
Macalawi, in Resolution No. 002-2009 dated February signed and approved by Atty. Macalawi. However, and
28, 2009. However, it appears that, as discovered by as already pointed out by the Committee, the
the Committee, three (3) signatories of the resolution withdrawal of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution
apparently resigned as members of the Board of No. 002, left only four (4) votes in support of Lantos
Officers since they are prosecutors who are ineligible nomination a puny minority of the 14-member Board
for election or appointment to any position in the of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter.[12]

Integrated Bar or any Chapter thereof, while (s)ix (6)


other signatories of the resolution allegedly recalled  

their signatures and they, instead, signed an


authorization authorizing the Chapter President, Atty. Thus, the Committee, citing Sec. 37, Art. VI of the By-
Macalawi, to select and vote for the Regional Laws, clearly repudiated and overturned Resolution
Governor for Western Mindanao. Thus, (t)he No. XVIII-2009 (Special A- 30 April 2009) of Atty.
withdrawal of nine (9) signatures from the Resolution Vinluan and his group of Governors. In its Report, it
No. 002, left only four (4) votes in support of Lantos declared that the nominee of the Chapter President,
nomination a puny minority of the 14-member Board not the nominee of the Board of Officers, is the valid
of Officers of the Lanao del Sur Chapter. [10]
nominee for Governor of the Region,[13] thereby
sustaining the position of Atty. Marohomsalic and, in
 
effect, the validity of his nomination by Atty. Macalawi.

Despite the said findings, Atty. Marohomsalic was them are disqualified to be elected as Governor of the
stripped of his electoral mandate and victory when the Western Mindanao Region for the 2009-2011 term.

Committee, invoking the strict application of the


rotation rule, proceeded to altogether nullify the result  

of the elections duly conducted on April 25,


2009.According to the Committee, neither Lanto nor  

Marohomsalic is qualified to be elected governor


because it was not the turn of Lanao del Sur chapter The ruling of the Committee insofar as it nullified the
to represent the Western Mindanao Region in the election of Atty. Marohomsalic as Governor of the
Board of Governors for the 2009-2011 term. As Western Mindanao Region cannot be sustained for not
declared in the Report -- 
being in full accord with facts and the rules. While the
Committee may have correctly pointed out that under
 
the rotation rule it was not yet the turn of IBP Lanao
del Sur Chapter to represent the region in the Board of
However, under the rotation rule, it is not the Lanao Governors for the 2009-2011 term, it does not
del Sur Chapter that should represent the Western necessarily follow that the result of the elections
Mindanao Region in the Board of Governors for the should be altogether nullified on that ground.
2009-2011 term. The record of the IBP National Evidently, and as determined by the Committee itself,
Secretariat shows that, starting in 1993-1995 when the there are instances when the rotation rule was not
strict implementation of the rotation rule began, the 12 followed insofar as the elections in 1999 and 2007
chapter Western Mindanao Region has been were concerned with respect to the Western Mindanao
represented in the Board of Governors only six (6) Region.

Chapters, as follows:

In the regular election of April 25, 2009, there is no


1993-1995---Lanao del Sur-----Dimnatang T. Saro
dispute that the voting delegates of IBP Western
Mindanao Region voted into office Atty. Marohomsalic
1995-1997---Cotatabato---------George C. Jabido
of Lanao del Sur Chapter as Governor for the
2009-2011 term. During the said election, his only rival
1997-1999---ZAMBASULTAArthur D. Lim
was Atty. Benjamin Lanto who also belongs to the
same Lanao del Sur Chapter. A third candidate, Atty.
1999-2001---ZAMBASULTA---Paulino R. Ersando
Escobar from the Sarangani Chapter, was nominated
but he declined the nomination. 

2001-2003---North Cotabato---- Little Sarah A.


Agdeppa
 

2003-2005---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.


While the Committee points out that six (6) chapters in
the region, including Sarangani, are entitled to
2005-2007---SOCSARGEN-----Rogelio C. Garcia
precedence over the Lanao del Sur chapter in the
order of rotation, the fact remains that not one of
2007-2009---Sultan Kudarat-----Carlos L. Valdez, Jr.
them nominated or fielded a candidate from their
respective ranks during the April 25, 2009
 
election. Neither did any one of them challenge the
nominations of the Lanao del Sur Chapter based
Therefore, pursuant to the strict rotation rule, the on the order of rotation.

Lanao del Sur Chapter must wait for the six (6) other
Chapters in the region (Zamboanga Sibugay,
Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Lanao del
Norte, Misamis Occidental, and Maguindanao- By not fielding a candidate for Governor and by
Cotabato City) to have their turn in the Board of declining the nomination raised in favor of its Chapter
Governors before Lanao del Sur may again represent President (Atty. Escobar), the IBP Sarangani Chapter is
the Western Mindanao Region in the Board of deemed to have waived its turn in the rotation order.
Governors.
The same can be said of the remaining chapters. They
too are deemed to have waived their turn in the
 
rotation as they opted not to field or nominate a
candidate from among their respective members.
Since both Attys. Nasser Marohomsalic and Benjamin Neither did they invoke the rotation rule to challenge
Lanto belong to the Lanao del Sur Chapter, both of the nominations from the Lanao del Sur Chapter. On
the contrary, they fully expressed their concurrence to
the cited nominations, which may be interpreted as a Region which was next in the rotation invoked the said
waiver of their right to take their turn to represent the rule.

region in the Board of Governors for the 2009-2011


term.

 
Now, in its Report, the Committee nullified the
elections for the IBP EVP separately and
It need not be stressed that, as cited by the simultaneously conducted by President Bautista and
Committee itself, there were instances when the EVP Vinluan on May 9, 2009 and called for a special
Governor of the Western Mindanao Region came from election[14] for the same. In the case of the election
the same chapter such as ZAMBASULTA (1997-1999 conducted by EVP Vinluan, the results were nullified
& 1999-2001) and Sultan Kudarat (2003-2005 & for lack of authority to preside over the election and
2007-2009). Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic could not be for lack quorum, citing the disqualification of Attys.
faulted if the other chapters opted not to field or Soriano and Lanto to sit in the incoming Board of
nominate their own candidates. Having been validly Governors. The finding deserves to be sustained. 

nominated and duly proclaimed as the duly elected


Governor of Western Mindanao, Atty. Marohomsalic  

therefore deserves to assume his position during the


remainder of the term.
In the same Report, the Committee also nullified the
result of the election for the incoming EVP conducted
by President Bautista.While recognizing President
Bautistas authority to conduct the election, the
It would have been a different story if another Chapter Committee nonetheless nullified the election results for
in the order of rotation fielded its own candidate or lack of quorum, citing the ineligibility of Atty.
invoked the rotation rule to challenge Atty. Marohomsalic to sit in the incoming Board of
Marohomsalics nomination. But the record is bereft of Governors, thereby leaving only four (out of nine)
any showing that his nomination and subsequent Governors-elect in attendance which did not
election was challenged on that basis. If there was any constitute a quorum.

challenge at all, it merely referred to his nomination by


Atty. Macalawi which the Committee itself has found  

to be in order. Thus, no compelling reason exists to


disregard the electoral mandate and nullify the will of With the election of Atty. Marohomsalic as Governor of
the voting delegates as expressed through the ballot. 
Western Mindanao being deemed valid, then the
defect of lack of quorum that supposedly tainted the
 
election proceedings for EVP separately conducted by
IBP President Bautista may have been cured, five (5)
The rotation rule is not absolute but subject to Governors being sufficient to constitute a quorum. 

waiver as when the chapters in the order of rotation


opted not to field or nominate their own candidates for Be that as it may, the recommendation of the
Governor during the election regularly done for that Committee to hold a special election for the EVP for
purpose. If a validly nominated candidate obtains the the remaining 2009-2011 term deserves to be
highest number of votes in the election conducted, his upheld to heal the divisions in the IBP and promote
electoral mandate deserves to be respected unless unity by enabling all the nine (9) Governors-elect to
obtained through fraud as established by evidence. elect the EVP in a unified meeting called for that
Such is not the case here.
purpose. This will enable matters to start on a clean
and correct slate, free from the politicking and the
Suffice it to say, the rotation rule should be applied in under handed tactics that have characterized the IBP
harmony with, and not in derogation of, the sovereign elections for so long. 

will of the electorate as expressed through the


ballot. Thus, Atty. Marohomsalic cannot be divested  

and deprived of his electoral mandate and victory. The


order of rotation is not a rigid and inflexible rule as to In the conduct of the unified election of the incoming
bar its relaxation in exceptional and compelling EVP, the following findings and recommendations of
circumstances. 
the Committee shall be adopted: 

 
 

If only to stress, compared to the case of Atty. THE ROTATION OF THE 

Fortunato whose Romblon Chapter invoked the


rotation rule, no chapter in the Western Mindanao PRESIDENCY AMONG THE REGIONS-

 
 

Sec. 47, Art. VII of the By-Laws, as amended by Bar Accordingly, a special election shall be held by the
Matter 491, Oct. 6, 1989, provides that the Executive present nine-man IBP Board of Governors to elect the
Vice President shall be chosen by the Board of EVP for the remainder of the term of 2009-2011, which
Governors from among the nine (9) regional governors. shall be presided over and conducted by IBP Officer-
The Executive Vice President shall automatically in-Charge Justice Santiago Kapunan (Ret.) within
become President for the next succeeding term. The seven (7) days from notice.

Presidency shall rotate among the nine Regions.

Further, in its report, the Committee declared that the


The list of national presidents furnished the Special high-handed and divisive tactics of Atty. Rogelio A.
Committee by the IBP National Secretariat, shows that Vinluan and his group ofGovernors, Abelardo Estrada,
the governors of the following regions were President Bonifacio Barandon Jr., Evergisto Escalon, and
of the IBP during the past nine (9) terms (1991-2009):
Raymund Mercado, which disrupted the peaceful and
orderly flow of business in the IBP, caused chaos in
 
the National Office, bitter disagreements, and ill-
feelings, and almost disintegrated the Integrated
Numeriano Tanopo, Jr. (Pangasinan)Central Bar, constituted grave professional misconduct
Luzon1991-1993
which should be appropriately sanctioned to
discourage its repetition in the future. [15]

Mervin G. Encanto (Quezon City) Greater Manila


1993-1995
 

Raul R. Anchangco (Makati)Southern Luzon1995-1997


The Committee, however, fell short of determining and
recommending the appropriate penalty for the grave
Jose Aguila Grapilon (Biliran) Eastewrn Visayas professional misconduct found to have been
1997-1999
committed by Atty. Vinluan and his group of
Governors. Still, with the above firm and unequivocal
Arthur D. Lim ( Zambasulta)Western findings and declarations of the Committee against
Mindanao1999-2001
Atty. Vinluan and his group that included Attys.
Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado as
Teofilo S. Pilando, Jr. (Kalinga Apayao)Northern unprofessional members of the IBP Board of
Luzon2001-2003
Governors (2007-2009 term) they certainly do not
deserve to hold such esteemed positions.

Jose Anselmo L. Cadiz (Camarines


Sur)Bicolandia2005-Aug. 2006
 

Jose Vicente B. Salazar (Albay)Bicolandia Aug. It has long been held that, as provided for in Rule 1.01,
2006-2007
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility[16] that (a) lawyer shall not engage in
Feliciano M. Bautista (Pangasinan)Central unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Luzon2007-2009
Added to this, Rule 7.03, Canon 7 requires that (a)
lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely
 
reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he
whether in public or private life, behave in a
Only the Governors of the Western Visayas and scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
Eastern Mindanao regions have not yet had their turn profession. In the case at bar, such canons find
as Executive Vice President cum next IBP President, application.

while Central Luzon and Bicolandia have had two (2)


terms already.
 

 
In addition, it was clear to the Committee, and the
Court agrees, that (t)he actuations of Atty. Vinluans
Therefore, either the governor of the Western Visayas Group in defying the lawful authority of IBP President
Region, or the governor of the Eastern Mindanao Bautista, due to Atty. Vinluans overweening desire to
Region should be elected as Executive Vice President propel his fraternity brother, Atty. Elpidio G. Soriano, to
for the 2009-2011 term. 
the next presidency of the IBP, smacked of politicking,
which is strongly condemned and strictly prohibited by
 

the IBP By-Laws and the Bar Integration Rule. Indeed,


said actuations of Atty. Vinluan and his group of
former IBP Governors Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon Also, Atty. Vinluan and his group should no longer be
and Mercado were grossly inimical to the interest of allowed to run as national officers to prevent such
the IBP and were violative of their solemn oath as similar irregularity from happening again. Thus, in
lawyers. After all, what they did served only to benefit subsequent elections of the IBP, they are disqualified
the apparently selfish goals of defeated candidate to run as candidates.

Atty. Elpidio Soriano to be elected as IBP EVP and be


the next IBP President for the 2011-2013 term by hook  

or by crook.

On the recommendation of the Committee to amend


 
Sections 31[19], 33, par. (g) [20], 39[21], 42[22], and
43[23], Article VI and Section 47[24], Article VII of the
Bearing the above in mind, what Attys. Vinluan, IBP By-Laws, the Court finds the same in order. As
Estrada, Barandon, Jr., Escalon and Mercado such, and in order to immediately effect reforms in the
conspired to do was truly high-handed and divisive IBP, particularly in the holding of its elections for
that must not pass unsanctioned. Otherwise, future national officers, the subject amendments are hereby
leaders of the IBP, Governors at that, might be adopted and approved.

similarly inclined to do what they did, much to the


prejudice of the IBP and its membership. Surely, this  

should be addressed without much delay so as to nip-


in-the-bud such gross misconduct and WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court
unprofessionalism. They all deserve to suffer the same resolves that:

fate for betraying as well the trust bestowed on them


for the high positions that they previously held. 
 

 
1. The elections of Attys. Manuel M. Maramba, Erwin
M. Fortunato and Nasser A. Marohomsalic as
The Resolution of the Court in the case of Re: 1989 Governors for the Greater Manila Region, Western
Elections of the Integrated Bar of the Visayas Region and Western Mindanao Region,
Philippines[17] already declared that unethical respectively, for the term 2009-2011 are UPHELD;

practices of lawyers during IBP elections cannot but


result in the stature of the IBP as an association of the  

practitioners of a noble and honored profession being


diminished. As held therein, (r)espect for law is gravely 2. A special election to elect the IBP Executive Vice
eroded when lawyers themselves, who are supposed President for the 2009-2011 term is hereby ORDERED
to be minions of the law, engage in unlawful practices to be held under the supervision of this Court within
and cavalierly brush aside the very rules that the IBP seven (7) days from receipt of this Resolution with
formulated for their observance. [18] Indeed, the said Attys. Maramba, Fortunato and Marohomsalic being
strong and vigorous declaration of this Court on the allowed to represent and vote as duly-elected
1989 IBP Election scandal is relevant here. 
Governors of their respective regions;

 
 

While Atty. Vinluan and his group deserve to be 3. Attys. Rogelio Vinluan, Abelardo Estrada, Bonifacio
stripped of their positions in the IBP, this can no longer Barandon, Jr., Evergisto Escalon and Raymund
be done as their terms as Governors already expired, Mercado are all found GUILTY of grave professional
specially on the part of Attys. Estrada, Barandon, Jr., misconduct arising from their actuations in connection
Escalon and Mercado. However, in the case of Atty. with the controversies in the elections in the IBP last
Vinluan, as former EVP of the IBP he would have April 25, 2009 and May 9, 2009 and are hereby
automatically succeeded to the presidency for the disqualified to run as national officers of the IBP in any
term 2009-2011 but now should not be allowed to. subsequent election. While their elections as
After all, and considering the findings of the Governors for the term 2007-2009 can no longer be
Committee, he has clearly manifested his annulled as this has already expired, Atty. Vinluan is
unworthiness to hold the said post. On account declared unfit to hold the position of IBP Executive
thereof, Atty. Vinluan is thus declared unfit to assume Vice President for the 2007-2009 term and therefore
the position of IBP President. To the Court, if Atty. barred from succeeding as IBP President for the
Vinluan cannot be fit to become a Governor and EVP 2009-2011 term;

of the IBP then he is not entitled to succeed as its


President for the 2009-2011 term. 
 

4. The proposed amendments to Sections 31, 33, par.


(g), 39, 42, and 43, Article VI and Section 47, Article VII
of the IBP By-Laws as contained in the Report and
Recommendation of the Special Committee dated
July 9, 2009 are hereby approved and adopted; and 

5. The designation of retired SC Justice Santiago


Kapunan as Officer-in-Charge of the IBP shall
continue, unless earlier revoked by the Court, but not
to extend beyond June 30, 2011.

SO ORDERED.

and EVP of the IBP by the IBP Board. The resolution of


these cases will determine the national presidency of
the IBP for the term 2005-2007.

A.C. No. 6697

The Office of the Bar Confidant, which this Court


tasked to make an investigation, report and
recommendation on subject case,1  summarized the
antecedents thereof as follows:


 In a Complaint dated 11 April 2005, complainant Zoilo


EN BANC
Antonio Velez moved for the suspension and/or
disbarment of respondent Atty. Leonard de Vera based
A.C. No. 6697             July 25, 2006
on the following grounds:

ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ, complainant, 
 1) respondent's alleged misrepresentation in


vs.
 concealing the suspension order rendered against him
ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA, respondent.
by the State Bar of California; and

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x
2) respondent's alleged violation of the so-called
"rotation rule" enunciated in Administrative Matter No.
Bar Matter No. 1227             July 25, 2006
491 dated 06 October 1989 (in the Matter: 1989 IBP
Elections).

RE: OATH-TAKING OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE


VERA, INCOMING PRESIDENT OF THE Complainant averred that the respondent, in
appropriating for his own benefit funds due his client,
INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.

was found to have performed an act constituting


moral turpitude by the Hearing Referee Bill Dozier,
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

Hearing Department – San Francisco, State Bar of


California in Administrative Case No. 86-0-18429.
A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC             July 25, 2006
Complainant alleged that the respondent was then
forced to resign or surrender his license to practice
IN THE MATTER OF THE REMOVAL OF ATTY. law in the said state in order to evade the
LEONARD S. DE VERA FROM THE IBP BOARD OF recommended three (3) year suspension. Complainant
GOVERNORS AS EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT asserted that the respondent lacks the moral
AND GOVERNOR.
competence necessary to lead the country's most
noble profession.

IN THE MATTER OF THE LETTER-COMPLAINT OF


ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA DATED MAY 18, 2005 Complainant, likewise, contended that the respondent
TO FORTHWITH DENY/DISAPPROVE THE IBP violated the so-called "rotation rule" provided for in
RESOLUTION UNJUSTLY, ILLEGALLY, Administrative Matter No. 491 when he transferred to
ARBITRARILY, AND ABRUPTLY REMOVING HIM IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter. He claimed that the
FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE IBP respondent failed to meet the requirements outlined in
the IBP By-Laws pertaining to transfer of Chapter
FOR ABSOLUTE LACK OF BASIS AND FOR
Membership. He surmised that the respondent's
FLAGRANT DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS.
transfer was intended only for the purpose of
becoming the next IBP National President.
D E C I S I O N
Complainant prayed that the respondent be enjoined
from assuming office as IBP National President.

Per Curiam:

Meanwhile, in his Comment dated 2 May 2005,


Before Us are three consolidated cases revolving respondent stated that the issues raised in above-
around Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) mentioned Complaint were the very issues raised in an
Governor and Executive Vice-President (EVP) Atty. earlier administrative case filed by the same
Leonard de Vera. The first pertains to a disbarment complainant against him. In fact, according to him, the
case questioning Atty. de Vera's moral fitness to said issues were already extensively discussed and
remain as a member of the Philippine Bar, the second categorically ruled upon by this Court in its Decision
refers to Atty. de Vera's letter-request to schedule his dated 11 December 2005 in Administrative Case No.
oath taking as IBP National President, and the third 6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard De
case concerns the validity of his removal as Governor Ve r a ) . R e s p o n d e n t p r a y e d t h a t t h e i n s t a n t
administrative complaint be dismissed following the withdraw the afore-mentioned Petition. Attached to his
principle of res judicata.
letter was a copy of the IBP Board's 14 January 2005
Resolution.5

On 15 June 2005, both parties appeared before the


Office of the Bar Confidant for presentation of On 15 April 2005, Bar Matter No. 1227, pertaining to
evidence in support of their respective allegations.
Atty. de Vera's request for oathtaking as National
President, was filed. The same was subsequently
Subsequently, in a Memorandum dated 20 June 2005, consolidated with A.C. No. 6697, the disbarment case
complainant maintained that there is substantial filed against Atty. de Vera.6

evidence showing respondent's moral baseness,


vileness and depravity, which could be used as a basis On 22 April 2005, a plenary session was held at the
for his disbarment. Complainant stressed that the 10th National IBP Convention at the CAP-Camp John
respondent never denied that he used his client's Hay Convention Center, Baguio City. It was at this
money. Complainant argued that the respondent failed forum where Atty. de Vera allegedly made some
to present evidence that the Supreme Court of untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in
California accepted the latter's resignation and even if connection with the IBP Board's Resolution to
such was accepted, complainant posited that this withdraw the Petition questioning the legality of
should not absolve the respondent from liability.
Republic Act No. 9227.7

Moreover, complainant added that the principle of res On 10 May 2005, this Court issued a Temporary
judicata  would not apply in the case at bar. He Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining Atty. de Vera from
asserted that the first administrative case filed against assuming office as IBP National President.8

the respondent was one for his disqualification. x x x.

On 12 May 2005, IBP Gov. Romulo A. Rivera wrote


Bar Matter No. 1227
 IBP National President Cadiz a letter wherein he
A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC
prayed for the removal of Atty. de Vera as member of
the IBP Board for having committed acts which were
As earlier adverted to, Bar Matter No. 1227 refers to inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP.9

Atty. de Vera's letter-request to this Court to schedule


his oath taking as IBP National President. A.M. No. On 13 May 2005, in the 20th Regular Meeting of the
05-5-15-SC, on the other hand, is a letter-report dated Board held at the Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, the IBP
19 May 2005 of IBP National President Jose Anselmo Board, by 2/3 vote, resolved to remove Atty. de Vera
I. Cadiz (IBP President Cadiz) furnishing this Court as member of the IBP Board of Governors and as IBP
with the IBP's Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, Executive Vice President.10  Quoted hereunder is the
removing Atty. De Vera as member of the IBP Board dispositive portion of said Resolution:

and as IBP EVP, for committing acts inimical to the IBP


Board and the IBP in general.2
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS
HEREBY RESOLVED, that Governor Leonard S. de
The controversy in Bar Matter No. 1227 and A.M. No. Vera is REMOVED as a member of the IBP Board of
05-5-15-SC arose from the regular meeting of the IBP Governors and Executive Vice President for
Board of Governors held on 14 January 2005. In said committing acts inimical to the IBP Board of
meeting, by 2/3 vote (6 voting in favor and 2 against), Governors and the IBP, to wit:

the IBP Board approved the withdrawal of the Petition


filed before this Court docketed as "Integrated Bar of 1. For making untruthful statements, innuendos and
the Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. blatant lies in public about the Supreme Court and
Senate of the Philippines, et al. – Petition for Certiorari members of the IBP Board of Governors, during the
and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Plenary Session of the IBP 10th National Convention
Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary of Lawyers, held at CAP-Camp John Hay Convention
Injunction, SC-R165108." The Petition was intended to Center on 22 April 2005, making it appear that the
question the legality and/or constitutionality of decision of the IBP Board of Governors to withdraw
Republic Act No. 9227, authorizing the increase in the the PETITION docketed as "Integrated Bar of the
salaries of judges and justices, and to increase filing Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. The
fees.3
Senate of the Philippines, et al., Petition for Certiorari
and Prohibition With Prayer for the Issuance of A
The two IBP Governors who opposed the said Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary
Resolution approving the withdrawal of the above- Injunction, S.C.-R. 165108", was due to influence and
described Petition were herein respondent Governor pressure from the Supreme Court of the Philippines;

and EVP de Vera and Governor Carlos L. Valdez.4

2. For making said untruthful statements, innuendos


On 19 January 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed and blatant lies that brought the IBP Board of
this Court of the decision taken by the IBP Board to
Governors and the IBP as a whole in public contempt 1 . T h e d e n i a l o f t h e  r i g h t t o a n s w e r  t h e
and disrepute;
charges formally or in writing. The complaint against
me was in writing.

3. For violating Canon 11 of the Code of Professional


Responsibility for Lawyers which mandates that "A 2. The denial of the right to answer the charges within
lawyer shall observe and maintain the respect due to a  reasonable period of time  after receipt of the
the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on complaint.

similar conduct by others", by making untruthful


statements, innuendos and blatant lies during the 3. The denial of the right to a fair hearing.

Plenary Session of the IBP 10th National Convention


of Lawyers in Baguio City;

4. The denial of the right to confront the accuser and


the witnesses against me. I challenged Gov. Rivera to
4. For instigating and provoking some IBP chapters to
testify under oath so I could question him. He refused.
embarrass and humiliate the IBP Board of Governors
I offered to testify under oath so I could be
in order to coerce and compel the latter to pursue the
questioned. My request was denied.

aforesaid PETITION;

5. For falsely accusing the IBP National President, 5. The denial of my right to present witnesses on my
Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, during the Plenary Session of behalf.

the 10th National Convention in Baguio City of


withholding from him a copy of Supreme Court 6. The denial of my  right to an impartial judge.
Resolution, dated 25 January 2005, granting the Governor Rivera was my accuser, prosecutor, and
withdrawal of the  PETITION, thereby creating the judge all at the same time.

wrong impression that the IBP National President


deliberately prevented him from taking the appropriate 7. Gov. Rivera's prejudgment of my case becomes
remedies with respect thereto, thus compromising the even more evident because when his motion to expel
reputation and integrity of the IBP National President me was lost in a 5-3 votes (due to his inhibition to
and the IBP as a whole.11
vote), Gov. Rivera asked for  another round of
voting  so he can vote to support his own complaint
On 18 May 2005, Atty. de Vera aired his sentiments to a n d m o t i o n t o e x p e l m e . 1 3  ( E m p h a s i s a n d
this Court by writing the then Hon. Chief Justice underscoring in original.)

Hilario G. Davide, Jr. a letter captioned as "Urgent Plea


to Correct a Glaring Injustice of the IBP Board of On 27 May 2005, the IBP Board responded to the 18
Governors; Vehement Protest to the Board Resolution May 2005 letter of Atty. de Vera.14  In their Reply, the
Abruptly Removing Atty. Leonard de Vera from the IBP Board explained to this Court that their decision to
Board of Governors in Patent Violation of Due remove Atty. de Vera was based on valid grounds and
Process; Petition to Deny/Disapprove the Completely was intended to protect itself from a recalcitrant
U n j u s t i fi e d a n d H i g h l y A r b i t r a r y R e s o l u t i o n member. Among the grounds cited and elucidated by
Precipitately Ousting Atty. de Vera from the Board of the IBP Board were the following:

Governors in Less Than Twenty Four (24) Hours from


Notice and Judgment Without Formal Investigation."12
(i) Atty. de Vera engaged himself in a negative media
campaign and solicited resolutions from IBP Chapters
In the said letter, Atty. de Vera strongly and to condemn the IBP Board of Governors for its
categorically denied having committed acts inimical to decision to withdraw the  Petition, all with the end in
the IBP and its Board. He alleged that on the basis of view of compelling or coercing the IBP Board of
an unverified letter-complaint filed by IBP Governor Governors to reconsider the decision to withdraw the
Rivera, the IBP Board voted to expel him posthaste, Petition.

without just cause and in complete disregard of even


the minimum standards of due process. Pertinent (ii) Atty. de Vera embarrassed, humiliated and
portions of his letter read:
maligned the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP
National President in public or during the Plenary
It is evident that the Board of Governors has Session at the 10th National Convention of Lawyers.

committed a grave and serious injustice against me


especially when, as the incumbent Executive Vice (iii) Rather than pacify the already agitated 'solicited'
President of the IBP, I am scheduled to assume my speakers (at the plenary session), Atty. de Vera
position as National President of the IBP on July 1, "fanned the fire", so to speak, and went to the extent
2005. x x x
of making untruthful statements, innuendos and
blatant lies about the Supreme Court and some
I was denied the very basic rights of due process members of the IBP Board of Governors. He
re c o g n i z e d b y t h e S u p re m e C o u r t e v e n i n deliberately and intentionally did so to provoke the
administrative cases:
members of the IBP Board of Governors to engage
him in an acrimonious public debate and expose the IBP Board, then his removal as EVP was likewise
IBP Board of Governors to public ridicule.
executed without due notice and without the least
compliance with the minimum standards of due
(iv) Atty. de Vera uttered untruthful statements, process of law.

innuendos and blatant lies, e.g., that some of the


members of the IBP Board of Governors voted in favor Atty. de Vera strongly averred that, contrary to the
of the withdrawal of the petition (without mentioning utterly false and malicious charges filed against him,
names) because "nakakahiya kasi sa Supreme Court, the speakers at the Plenary Session of the Baguio
nakakaawa kasi ang Supreme Court, kasi may mga Convention, although undeniably impassioned and
kaibigan tayo sa Court." He made it appear that the articulate, were respectful in their language and
IBP Board of Governors approved the resolution, exhortations, not once undermining the stature of the
withdrawing the petition, due to "influence" or IBP in general and the IBP Board of Governors in
"pressure" from the Supreme Court.15
particular. He posited that speaking in disagreement
with the Resolution of the Board during the
The IBP Board explained that Atty. de Vera's actuation Convention's Plenary Session is not a valid cause to
during the Plenary Session was "the last straw that remove or expel a duly-elected member of the IBP
broke the camel's back." He committed acts inimical Board of Governors; and the decision to remove him
to the interest of the IBP Board and the IBP; hence, only shows that the right to freedom of speech or the
the IBP Board decided to remove him.
right to dissent is not recognized by the incumbent
IBP Board.

On 3 June 2005, Atty. de Vera furnished the Court with


copies of resolutions and a position paper coming Anent the charges that he accused the National
from various IBP Chapters all condemning his President of withholding a copy of this Court's
expulsion from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP.16
Resolution granting the withdrawal of the Petition
questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227, Atty.
On 15 June 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed Chief de Vera avowed that he made no such remarks. As
Justice Davide that in a special meeting of the IBP regards the election of a new IBP EVP, Atty. de Vera
Board held at the EDSA Shangri-la Plaza on 13 June contended that the said election was illegal as it was
2005, the IBP Board took note of the vacancy in the contrary to the provisions of the IBP By-Laws
position of the IBP EVP brought about by Atty. de concerning national officers, to wit:

Vera's removal. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura


Angelica Y. Santiago was formally elected and Section. 49. Term of office.  - The President and the
declared as IBP EVP.17
Executive Vice President shall hold office for a term of
two years from July 1 following their election until 30
On 17 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested against the June of their second year in office and until their
election of Atty. Santiago.18  On 20 June 2005, Atty. successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified.

Santiago voluntarily relinquished the EVP position


through a letter addressed to the IBP Board.19  Thus, In the event the President is absent or unable to act,
on 25 June 2005, during its last regular meeting, the his functions and duties shall be performed by the
IBP Board elected a new EVP in the person of IBP Executive Vice President, and in the event of death,
Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar to replace Atty. resignation, or removal of the President, the Executive
Santiago.
Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the
unexpired portion of the term. In the event of death,
On 28 June 2005, IBP National President Cadiz, resignation, removal or disability of both the President
through a letter addressed to Chief Justice Davide, and the Executive Vice President, the Board of
reported to this Court Atty. Salazar's election.20  IBP Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold
National President Cadiz also requested, among other office for the unexpired portion of the term or during
things, that Atty. Salazar's election be approved and the period of disability.

that he be allowed to assume as National President in


the event that Atty. de Vera is disbarred or suspended Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other
from the practice of law or should his removal from the officers and employees appointed by the President
2003-2005 Board of Governors and as EVP is with the consent of the Board shall hold office at the
approved by this Court.21 Also on 28 June 2005, Atty. pleasure of the Board or for such term as the Board
de Vera protested the election of Atty. Salazar.22
may fix.24

In his Extended Comment23 dated 25 July 2005, Atty. To bolster his position, Atty. de Vera stressed that
de Vera maintained that there was absolutely no when both the President and the EVP die, resign, are
factual or legal basis to sustain the motion to remove removed, or are disabled, the IBP By-Laws only
him from the IBP Board because he violated no law. provides for the election of an Acting President and
He argued that if the basis for his removal as EVP was that no mention for an election for EVP was made.
based on the same grounds as his removal from the
Thus, when such election for EVP occurs, such is The Court's Ruling

contrary to the express provision of the IBP By-Laws.

AC No. 6697

Atty. de Vera also argued that even if he were validly


removed as IBP EVP, his replacement should come In his Memorandum 26  dated 20 June 2005,
from Eastern Mindanao and not from any other region, complainant tendered the following issues for the
due to the Rotation Rule embodied in par. 2, Section consideration of the Court:

47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.

I.

In response to Atty. de Vera's averments, the


2003-2005 IBP Board, through its counsel, submitted WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ATTORNEY
a Reply dated 27 January 2006 and clarified as LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic) COMMITED
follows:
MALPRACTICE WHICH AMOUNTED TO MORAL
T[U]RPITUDE IN THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA
(i) The IBP Board of Governors is vested with sufficient AND IN THE PHILIPPINES, IN THE COURSE OF HIS
power and authority to protect itself from an PRACTICE OF LAW.

intractable member by virtue of Article VI, Section 44


of the IBP By-Laws;
II.

(ii) Atty. de Vera was removed as a member of the IBP WHETHER OR NOT THE OATH OF OFFICE AS
Board and as IBP EVP not because of his LAWYER IS ATTACHED TO THE PERSON OF
disagreement with the IBP Board's position but ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA (sic) WHEREVER
because of the various acts that he committed which HE MAY GO AND NOT NECESSARILY BOUND BY
the IBP Board determined to be inimical to the IBP THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE
Board and the IBP as a whole;
PHILIPPINES.

(iii) Atty. de Vera cannot exculpate himself from liability III.

by invoking his constitutional right to Free Speech


because, as a member of the Bar, it is his sworn duty WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL
to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts EVIDENCE TO PROVE THE MORAL T[U]RPITUDE, AS
and to judicial officers and to insist on similar conduct BASIS FOR DISBARMENT OF RESPONDENT IN AN
by others;
ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING.

(iv) The IBP Board, in effecting the removal of Atty. de IV.

Vera, observed the fundamental principles of due


process. As the records would bear, Atty. de Vera was WHETHER OR NOT RES JUDICATA APPLIES IN THIS
duly notified of the Regular Meeting of the IBP Board CASE, DUE TO ADMIN. CASE NO. [6052]27

held on 13 May 2004; was furnished a copy of


Governor Rivera's Letter-Complaint the day before the The disposition of the first three related issues hinges
said meeting; was furnished a copy of the said on the resolution of the fourth issue. Consequently, we
Meeting's Agenda; and was allowed to personally will start with the last issue.

defend himself and his accuser, Gov. Rivera;

A.C. No. 6052 is not a bar to the filing of the


(v) Atty. de Vera was validly removed because the present administrative case.

required number of votes under Section 44 of the IBP


By-Laws to remove Atty. de Vera as a member of the In disposing of the question of  res judicata, the Bar
IBP Board and as IBP EVP was duly complied with;
Confidant opined:

(vi) Atty. de Vera's replacement as IBP EVP need not To reiterate, the instant case for suspension and/or
come from Eastern Mindanao Region because: (a) the disbarment against respondent Leonard De Vera is
rotation rule under Article VII, Section 47, par. 2 of the grounded on the following:

IBP By-Laws had already been complied with when


Atty. de Vera, who hails from Eastern Mindanao, was 1) respondent's alleged misrepresentation in
elected IBP EVP; and (b) the rotation rule need not be concealing the suspension order rendered against him
enforced if the same will not be practicable, possible, by the State Bar in California; and

feasible, doable or viable; and, finally, that –

2) respondent's alleged violation of the so-called


(vii) Atty. Salazar was validly elected as IBP EVP and, "rotation rule" enunciated in Administrative Matter No.
thus, should now be allowed to take his oath as IBP 491 dated 06 October 1989 (In the Matter: 1989 IBP
National President.25
Elections).

It appears that the complainant already raised the said Attorneys of the Supreme Court can register with the
issues in an earlier administrative case against the particular IBP Chapter of his preference or choice,
respondent. Verily, these issues were already argued thus:

upon by the parties in their respective pleadings, and


discussed and ruled upon by this Court in its Decision xxx

dated 11 December 2003 in Administrative Matter No.


6052 (In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard de It is clearly stated in the aforequoted section of the By-
Vera).
Laws that it is not automatic that a lawyer will become
a member of the chapter where his place of residence
As such, with respect to the first issue, this Court held or work is located. He has the discretion to choose the
that:
particular chapter where he wishes to gain
membership. Only when he does not register his
"As for the administrative complaint filed against him preference that he will become a member of the
by one of his clients when he was practicing law in Chapter of the place where he resides or maintains
California, which in turn compelled him to surrender office. The only proscription in registering one's
his California license to practice law, he maintains that preference is that a lawyer cannot be a member of
it cannot serve as basis for determining his moral more than one chapter at the same time.

qualification (or lack of it) to run for the position he is


aspiring for. He explains that there is as yet no final The same is provided in Section 29-2 of the IBP By-
judgment finding him guilty of the administrative Laws. In fact, under this Section, transfer of IBP
charge, as the records relied upon by the petitioners membership is allowed as long as the lawyer complies
are mere preliminary findings of a hearing referee with the conditions set forth therein, thus:

which are recommendatory findings of an IBP


Commissioner on Bar Discipline which are subject to xxx

the review of and the final decision of the Supreme


Court. He also stresses that the complainant in the The only condition required under the foregoing rule is
California administrative case has retracted the that the transfer must be made not less than three
accusation that he misappropriated the complainant's months prior to the election of officers in the chapter
money, but unfortunately the retraction was not to which the lawyer wishes to transfer.

considered by the investigating officer. xxx"

In the case at bar, respondent De Vera requested the


"On the administrative complaint that was filed against transfer of his IBP membership to Agusan del Sur on 1
respondent De Vera while he was still practicing law in August 2001. One month thereafter, IBP National
California, he explained that no final judgment was Secretary Jaime M. Vibar wrote a letter addressed to
rendered by the California Supreme Court finding him Atty. Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr., Secretary of IBP PPLM
guilty of the charge. He surrendered his license to Chapter and Atty. Lyndon J. Romero, Secretary of IBP
protest the discrimination he suffered at the hands of Agusan del Sur Chapter, informing them of respondent
the investigator and he found it impractical to pursue de Vera's transfer and advising them to make the
the case to the end. We find these explanations necessary notation in their respective records. This
satisfactory in the absence of contrary proof. It is a letter is a substantial compliance with the certification
basic rule on evidence that he who alleges a fact has mentioned in Section 29-2 as aforequoted. Note that
the burden to prove the same. In this case, the de Vera's transfer was made effective sometime
petitioners have not shown how the administrative between 1 August 2001 and 3 September 2001. On 27
complaint affects respondent De Vera's moral fitness February 2003, the elections of the IBP Chapter
to run for governor.
Officers were simultaneously held all over the
Philippines, as mandated by Section 29.a of the IBP
On the other hand, as regards the second issue:
By-Laws which provides that elections of Chapter
Officers and Directors shall be held on the last
"Petitioners contend that respondent de Vera is Saturday of February of every other year. Between 3
disqualified for the post because he is not really from September 2001 and 27 February 2003, seventeen
Eastern Mindanao. His place of residence is in months had elapsed. This makes respondent de
Parañaque and he was originally a member of the Vera's transfer valid as it was done more than three
PPLM IBP Chapter. He only changed his IBP Chapter months ahead of the chapter elections held on 27
membership to pave the way for his ultimate goal of February 2003.

attaining the highest IBP post, which is the national


presidency. Petitioners aver that in changing his IBP In the case of Romulo G. Dinsay vs. Atty. Leopoldo D.
membership, respondent De Vera violated the Cioco  (Administrative Case No. 2995, 27 November
domicile rule.
1996), this Court declared that:

The contention has no merit. Under the last paragraph


of Section 19, Article II, a lawyer included in the Roll of
"The doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or same matter in the former action in a court of
quasi-judicial proceedings and not to the exercise of competent jurisdiction, and should not be permitted to
the [Court's] administrative powers."
litigate it again.

In the said case, respondent Clerk of Court Cioco was This principle frees the parties from undergoing all
dismissed from service for grave misconduct highly over again the rigors of unnecessary suits and
prejudicial to the service for surreptitiously substituting repetitious trials. At the same time, it prevents the
the bid price in a Certificate of Sale from clogging of court dockets. Equally important, res
P3,263,182.67 to only P730,000.00. Thereafter a judicata stabilizes rights and promotes the rule of law."

complaint for disbarment was filed against the


respondent on the basis of the same incident. In the instant administrative case, it is clear that the
Respondent, interposing  res judicata, argued that he issues raised by the complainant had already been
may no longer be charged on the basis of the same resolved by this Court in an earlier administrative case.
incident. This Court held that while the respondent is The complainant's contention that the principle of res
in effect being indicted twice for the same judicata would not apply in the case at bar as the first
misconduct, this does not amount to double jeopardy administrative case was one for disqualification while
as both proceedings are admittedly administrative in the instant administrative complaint is one for
nature. This Court qualified that, in the first case, the suspension and/or disbarment should be given least
respondent was proceeded against as an erring court credence. It is worthy to note that while the instant
personnel under the Court's supervisory power over administrative complaint is denominated as one for
courts while, in the second case, he was disciplined suspension and/or disbarment, it prayed neither the
as a lawyer under the Court's plenary authority over suspension nor the disbarment of the respondent but
membersof the legal profession.
instead merely sought to enjoin the respondent from
assuming office as IBP National President.28

In subsequent decisions of this Court, however, it


appears that res judicata still applies in administrative Contrary to the findings of the Bar Confidant, Adm.
cases. Thus, in the case of  Atty. Eduardo C. De Vera Case No. 6052 entitled, "In Re: Petition to Disqualify
vs. Judge William Layague (Administrastive Matter No. Atty. Leonard de Vera, on Legal and Moral Grounds,
RTJ-93-986), this Court ruled that:
From Being Elected IBP Governor for Eastern
Mindanao in the May 31 IBP Election" and
"While double jeopardy does not lie in administrative promulgated on 11 December 2003 does not
cases, it would be contrary to equity and substantial constitute a bar to the filing of Adm. Case No. 6697.
justice to penalize respondent judge a second time for Although the parties in the present administrative case
an act which he had already answered for.";
and in Adm. Case No. 6052 are identical, their
capacities in these cases and the issues presented
Likewise, in the recent case of Executive Judge Henry therein are not the same, thereby barring the
B. Basilia vs. Judge Amado L. Becamon, Lolita Delos application of res judicata.

Reyes and Eddie Delos Reyes  (Administrative Matter


No. MTJ-02-1404, 14 December 2004), this Court held In order that the principle of res judicata may be made
that:
to apply, four essential conditions must concur,
namely: (1) the judgment sought to bar the new action
"Applying the principle of res judicata or bar by prior must be final; (2) the decision must have been
judgment, the present administrative case becomes rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the
dismissible.
subject matter and the parties; (3) the disposition of
the case must be a judgment or order on the merits,
xxx
and (4) there must be between the first and second
action identity of parties, identity of subject matter,
Under the said doctrine, a matter that has been and identity of causes of action.29  In the absence of
adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction must any one of these elements, Atty. de Vera cannot
be deemed to have been finally and conclusively argue res judicata in his favor.

settled if it arises in any subsequent litigation between


the same parties and for the same cause. It provides It is noteworthy that the two administrative cases
that
involve different subject matters and causes of action.
In Adm. Case No. 6052, the subject matter was the
[a] final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of qualification of Atty. de Vera to run as a candidate for
competent jurisdiction is conclusive as to the rights of the position of IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In
the parties and their privies; and constitutes an the present administrative complaint, the subject
absolute bar to subsequent actions involving the same matter is his privilege to practice law. In the first
claim, demand, or cause of action. Res judicata is administrative case, complainants' cause of action
based on the ground that the party to be affected, or was Atty. de Vera's alleged violation or circumvention
some other with whom he is in privity, has litigated the of the IBP By-laws. In the present administrative case,
the primary cause of action is Atty. de Vera's alleged And this is precisely what complainant has chosen to
violation of lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional do in the instant case. As his petition is sufficient in
Responsibility.
form and substance, we have given it due course
pursuant to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. And,
Finally, the two administrative cases do not seek the considering that this case is not barred by the prior
same relief. In the first case, the complainants sought judgment in Adm. Case No. 6052, the only issue left
to prevent Atty. de Vera from assuming his post as IBP for consideration is whether or not Atty. de Vera can
Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present case, be suspended or disbarred under the facts of the case
as clarified by complainant in his Memorandum, what and the evidence submitted by complainant.

is being principally sought is Atty. de Vera's


suspension or disbarment.
The recommendation of the hearing officer of the
State Bar of California, standing alone, is not proof
The distinctions between the two cases are far from of malpractice.

trivial. The previous case was resolved on the basis of


the parties' rights and obligations under the IBP By- In the case of the  Suspension From The Practice of
laws. We held therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be Law In The Territory of Guam of Atty. Leon G.
disqualified from running as Regional Governor as Maquera,31we were confronted with the question of
there is nothing in the present IBP By-laws that whether or not a member of the Philippine Bar, who is
sanctions the disqualification of candidates for IBP concomitantly an attorney in a foreign jurisdiction and
governors. Consequently, we stressed that the petition who was suspended from the practice of law in said
had no firm ground to stand on. Likewise, we held that foreign jurisdiction, can be sanctioned as member of
the complainants therein were not the proper parties the Philippine Bar for the same infraction committed in
to bring the suit as the IBP By-laws prescribes that the foreign jurisdiction.

only nominees - which the complainants were not -


can file with the IBP President a written protest against We take the issue in Atty. Maquera one notch higher in
the candidate. The Court's statement, therefore, that the case of Atty. de Vera who was admitted to the
Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground that practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction (State Bar of
he was not morally fit was mere  obiter dictum. California, U.S.A.) and against whom charges were
Precisely, the IBP By-laws do not allow for pre- filed in connection with his practice in said jurisdiction.
election disqualification proceedings; hence, Atty. de However, unlike the case of Atty. Maquera, no final
Vera cannot be disqualified on the basis of the judgment for suspension or disbarment was meted
administrative findings of a hearing officer of the State against Atty. de Vera despite a recommendation of
Bar of California suspending him from the practice of suspension of three years as he surrendered his
law for three years. We held in that case that –
license to practice law before his case could be taken
up by the Supreme Court of California.

There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly


provides that one must be morally fit before he can run In  Maquera, we emphasized that the judgment of
for IBP governorship. For one, this is so because the suspension against a Filipino lawyer in a foreign
determination of moral fitness of a candidate lies in the jurisdiction does not automatically result in his
individual judgment of the members of the House of suspension or disbarment in the Philippines as the
Delegates. Indeed, based on each member's standard acts giving rise to his suspension are not grounds for
of morality, he is free to nominate and elect any disbarment and suspension in this jurisdiction.
member, so long as the latter possesses the basic Judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer may
requirements under the law. For another, basically the transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in the
disqualification of a candidate involving lack of moral Philippines only if the basis of the foreign court's
fitness should emanate from his disbarment or action includes any of the grounds for disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law by this Court, or suspension in this jurisdiction. We likewise held that
conviction by final judgment of an offense which the judgment of the foreign court merely
involves moral turpitude.30
constitutes  prima facie  evidence of unethical acts as
lawyer.

What this simply means is that absent a final judgment


by the Supreme Court in a proper case declaring The Maquera ruling is consistent with Rule 39, Section
otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold the position of 48, of the Rules of Court which provides:

IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any


person who begs to disagree will not be able to find a Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. -
receptive audience in the IBP through a petition for The effect of a judgment or final order of a tribunal of a
disqualification but must first file the necessary foreign country, having jurisdiction to render the
disbarment or suspension proceeding against the judgment or final order is as follows:

lawyer concerned.

x x x x

(b) In case of a judgment or final order against a The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court
person, the judgment or final order is presumptive or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie evidence of
evidence of a right as between the parties and their the ground for disbarment or suspension.33

successors in interest by a subsequent title.

Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to


In either case, the judgment or final order may be protect the court and the public from the misconduct
repelled by evidence of a want of jurisdiction, want of of officers of the court and to protect the
notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or clear mistake of administration of justice by requiring that those who
law or fact.
exercise this important function shall be competent,
honorable and reliable men in whom courts and clients
In  Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi may repose confidence.34The statutory enunciation of
Enterprises, Inc.,32  we explained that "[a] foreign the grounds for disbarment on suspension is not to be
judgment is presumed to be valid and binding in the taken as a limitation on the general power of courts to
country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, suspend or disbar a lawyer. The inherent power of the
on the basis of a presumption of regularity of court over its officers cannot be restricted.35

proceedings and the giving of due notice in the foreign


forum."
Malpractice ordinarily refers to any malfeasance or
dereliction of duty committed by a lawyer. Section 27
In herein case, considering that there is technically no gives a special and technical meaning to the term
foreign judgment to speak of, the recommendation by "Malpractice."36  That meaning is in consonance with
the hearing officer of the State Bar of California does the elementary notion that the practice of law is a
not constitute  prima facie  evidence of unethical profession, not a business.37

behavior by Atty. de Vera. Complainant must prove by


substantial evidence the facts upon which the Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that which
recommendation by the hearing officer was based. If violates the rules on ethical code of his profession or
he is successful in this, he must then prove that these which is unbecoming a member of that profession.38

acts are likewise unethical under Philippine law.

Now, the undisputed facts:

There is substantial evidence of malpractice on the


part of Atty. de Vera independent of the 1. An administrative case against Atty. de Vera was
recommendation of suspension by the hearing filed before the State Bar of California, docketed then
officer of the State Bar of California
as Adm. Case No. 86-0-18429. It arose from an
insurance case Atty. de Vera handled involving Julius
Section 27 of Rule 138 of our Rules of Court states:
Willis, III who figured in an automobile accident in
1986. Atty. de Vera was authorized by the elder Willis
SEC. 27.  Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by (father of Julius who was given authority by the son to
Supreme Court; grounds therefor. – A member of the control the case because the latter was then studying
bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as in San Diego California) for the release of the funds in
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, settlement of the case. Atty. de Vera received a check
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, in settlement of the case which he then deposited to
grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his his personal account;39

conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for


any violation of the oath which he is required to take 2. The Hearing referee in the said administrative case
before admission to practice, or for a wilful recommended that Atty. de Vera be suspended from
disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or the practice of law for three years;40 and

for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a


party to a case without authority so to do. The 3. Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar which
practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of resignation was accepted by the Supreme Court of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or California.41

brokers, constitutes malpractice.

Atty. de Vera vehemently insists that the foregoing


The disbarment or suspension of a member of the facts do not prove that he misappropriated his client's
Philippine Bar by a competent court or other funds as the latter's father (the elder Willis) gave him
disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he authority to use the same and that, unfortunately, the
has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for hearing officer did not consider this explanation
his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such notwithstanding the fact that the elder Willis testified
action includes any of the acts hereinabove under oath that he "expected de Vera might use the
enumerated.
money for a few days." 

By insisting that he was authorized by his client's


father and attorney-in-fact to use the funds, Atty. de
Vera has impliedly admitted the use of the Willis funds Consequently, a lawyer's failure to return upon
for his own personal use.
demand the funds or property held by him on behalf of
his client gives rise to the presumption that he has
In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainant's appropriated the same for his own use to the prejudice
allegation in the latter's memorandum that he (de Vera) of, and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his
received US$12,000.00 intended for his client and that client. It is a gross violation of general morality as well
he deposited said amount in his personal account and as of professional ethics; it impairs the public
not in a separate trust account and that, finally, he confidence in the legal profession and deserves
spent the amount for personal purposes.42
punishment.

At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to
before administrative and quasi-judicial bodies, a fact them are in gross violation of professional ethics and
may be deemed established if it is supported by are guilty of betrayal of public confidence in the legal
substantial evidence or that amount of relevant profession. Those who are guilty of such infraction
evidence which a reasonable mind might accept as may be disbarred or suspended indefinitely from the
adequate to justify a conclusion.43  It means such practice of law. (Emphases supplied.)

evidence which affords a substantial basis from which


the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.44
In herein case, as it is admitted by Atty. de Vera
himself that he used his client's money for personal
Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his use, he has unwittingly sealed his own fate since this
client's funds is highly unethical. Canon 16 of the admission constitutes more than substantial evidence
Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about of malpractice. Consequently, Atty. de Vera now has
this, thus:
the burden of rebutting the evidence which he himself
supplied.

CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL


MONEYS AND PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT In his defense, Atty. de Vera claims that he was duly
MAY COME TO HIS POSSESSION.
authorized by the elder Willis to use the funds
intended for the latter's son. Atty. de Vera also points
Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or out that he had restituted the full amount of US
property collected or received for or from the client.
$12,000.00 even before the filing of the administrative
case against him in the State Bar of California.46

Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each


client separate and apart from his own and those of Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we
others kept by him.
cannot find anywhere in the records of this case proof
that indeed Atty. de Vera was duly authorized to use
In Espiritu v. Ulep45 we held that –
the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty. Alovera47 we
declared that –

The relation between attorney and client is highly


fiduciary in nature. Being such, it requires utmost good When the integrity of a member of the bar is
faith, loyalty, fidelity and disinterestedness on the part challenged, it is not enough that he denies the charges
of the attorney. Its fiduciary nature is intended for the against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the
protection of the client.
evidence against him. He must show proof that he still
maintains that degree of morality and integrity which
The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates at all times is expected of him.

every lawyer to hold in trust all money and properties


of his client that may come into his possession. Atty. de Vera cannot rely on the statement made by
Accordingly, he shall account for all money or property the hearing officer that the elder Willis had indeed
collected or received for or from the client. Even more testified that he "expected de Vera might use the
specific is the Canon of Professional Ethics:
money for a few days." As Atty. de Vera had vigorously
objected to the admissibility of the document
The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for containing this statement, he is now estopped from
his personal benefit or gain he abuses or takes relying thereon. Besides, that the elder Willis
advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his "expected de Vera might use the money for a few
client.
days" was not so much an acknowledgment of
consent to the use by Atty. de Vera of his client's
Money of the client or collected for the client or other funds as it was an acceptance of the probability that
trust property coming into the possession of the Atty. de Vera might, indeed, use his client's funds,
l a w y e r s h o u l d b e re p o r t e d a n d a c c o u n t e d which by itself did not speak well of the character of
for promptly and should not under any circumstances Atty. de Vera or the way such character was
be commingled with his own or be used by him.
perceived.

In the instant case, the act of Atty. de Vera in holding As it was perfectly within Atty. de Vera's right to
on to his client's money without the latter's transfer his membership, it cannot be said that he is
acquiescence is conduct indicative of lack of integrity guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. And while one
and propriety. It is clear that Atty. de Vera, by may incessantly argue that a legal act may not
depositing the check in his own account and using the necessarily be ethical, in herein case, we do not see
same for his own benefit is guilty of deceit, anything wrong in transferring to an IBP chapter that --
malpractice, gross misconduct and unethical behavior. based on the rotation rule – will produce the next IBP
He caused dishonor, not only to himself but to the EVP who will automatically succeed to the National
noble profession to which he belongs. For, it cannot Presidency for the next term. Our Code of Professional
be denied that the respect of litigants to the profession Responsibility as well as the Lawyer's Oath do not
is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the prohibit nor punish lawyers from aspiring to be IBP
profession betrays their trust and confidence. National President and from doing perfectly legal acts
48  Respondent violated his oath to conduct himself in accomplishing such goal.

with all good fidelity to his client.

Bar Matter No. 1227



Nevertheless, we do not agree with complainant's plea Administrative Matter No. 05-5-15-SC

to disbar respondent from the practice of law. The


power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. To resolve Bar Matter No. 1227 and Administrative
49  Where any lesser penalty can accomplish the end
Matter No. 05-5- 15-SC, the following issues must be
desired, disbarment should not be decreed.
addressed:

In  Mortera v. Pagatpatan,50  we imposed upon Atty. I. Whether the IBP Board of Governors acted with
Pagatpatan two years suspension from his practice of grave abuse of discretion in removing Atty. de Vera as
law for depositing the funds meant for his client to his Governor and EVP of the IBP on 13 May 2005.

personal account without the latter's knowledge.


In Reyes v. Maglaya;51 Castillo v. Taguines;52 Espiritu v. i. Whether the IBP Board of Governors complied with
Atty. Cabredo IV,53  the respondents were meted one administrative due process in removing Atty. de Vera.

year suspension each for failing to remit to their clients


monies in the amounts of P1,500.00; P500.00, and ii. Whether the IBP removed Atty. De Vera for just and
P51,161.00, respectively, received by them for their valid cause.

clients without the latter's permission. In  Dumadag v.


Atty. Lumaya,54 we indefinitely suspended respondent II. Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as
for failure to remit to his client the amount of the EVP of the IBP on 25 June 2005, and can
measly sum of P4,344.00 representing the amount consequently assume the Presidency of the IBP for
received pursuant to a writ of execution. Considering the term 2005-2007.

the amount involved here – US$12,000.00, we believe


that the penalty of suspension for two (2) years is The IBP Board observed due process in its removal
appropriate.
of Atty. de Vera as IBP Governor

Transferring IBP membership to a chapter where We start the discussion with the veritable fact that the
the lawyer is not a resident of is not a ground for IBP Board is vested with the power to remove any of
his suspension or disbarment
its members pursuant to Section 44, Article VI of the
IBP By-Laws, which states:

Complainant insists that Atty. de Vera's transfer of


membership from the Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas Sec. 44. Removal of members.  – If the Board of
and Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter to the Agusan del Sur Governors should determine after proper inquiry that
IBP Chapter is a circumvention of the rotation rule as it any of its members, elective or otherwise, has for any
was made for the sole purpose of becoming IBP reason become unable to perform his duties, the
National President. Complainant stresses that Atty. de Board, by resolution of the Majority of the remaining
Vera is not a resident of Agusan del Sur nor does he members, may declare his position vacant, subject to
hold office therein.
the approval of the Supreme Court.

In Adm. Case No. 6052, we held that Atty. de Vera's Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise,
act of transferring to another IBP Chapter is not a may be removed for cause, including three
ground for his disqualification for the post of IBP consecutive absences from Board meetings
Governor as the same is allowed under Section 19 of
without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted
the IBP By-Laws with the qualification only that the
transfer be made not less than three months by two-thirds of the remaining members of the
immediately preceding any chapter election.
Board, subject to the approval of the Supreme
Court.

In case of any vacancy in the office of Governor for the essence of due process is simply the opportunity
whatever cause, the delegates from the region shall by to explain one's side.56  At the outset, it is here
majority vote, elect a successor from among the emphasized that the term "due process of law" as
members of the Chapter to which the resigned used in the Constitution has no fixed meaning for all
governor is a member to serve as governor for the purposes due "to the very nature of the doctrine
unexpired portion of the term. (Emphasis supplied)
which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice
rather than a specific rule of law, is not susceptible of
Under the aforementioned section, a member of the more than one general statement."57 The phrase is so
IBP Board may be removed for cause by resolution elusive of exact apprehension,58  because it depends
adopted by two-thirds (2/3) of the remaining members on circumstances and varies with the subject matter
of the Board, subject to the approval of this Court.
and the necessities of the situation.59

In the main, Atty. de Vera questions his removal from Due process of law in administrative cases is not
the Board of Governors on procedural and substantive identical with "judicial process" for a trial in court is
grounds. He argues that he was denied "very basic not always essential to due process. While a day in
rights of due process recognized by the Honorable court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is
Court even in administrative cases" like the right to otherwise in administrative proceedings since they
answer formally or in writing and within reasonable rest upon different principles. The due process clause
time, the right to present witnesses in his behalf, the guarantees no particular form of procedure and its
right to a fair hearing. Atty. de Vera protests the fact requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain
that he was not able to cross-examine the proceedings of administrative character, the right to a
complainant, IBP Gov. Romulo H. Rivera (Atty. Rivera) notice or hearing are not essential to due process of
and that Atty. Rivera voted as well for his expulsion law. The constitutional requirement of due process is
which made him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the met by a fair hearing before a regularly established
same time. Atty. de Vera emphasized the fact that Atty. administrative agency or tribunal. It is not essential
Rivera initially inhibited himself from voting on his own that hearings be had before the making of a
motion. However, when his inhibition resulted in the determination if thereafter, there is available trial and
defeat of his motion as the necessary 2/3 votes could tribunal before which all objections and defenses to
not be mustered, Atty. Rivera asked for another round the making of such determination may be raised and
of voting so he could vote to support his own motion.
considered. One adequate hearing is all that due
process requires. What is required for "hearing" may
differ as the functions of the administrative bodies
differ.60

The IBP Board counters that since its members were


present during the plenary session, and personally The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable
witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera's actuations, an aspect of due process.61  Nor is an actual hearing
evidentiary or formal hearing was no longer necessary. always essential62  especially under the factual milieu
Since they all witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera, it of this case where the members of the IBP Board --
was enough that he was given an opportunity to refute upon whose shoulders the determination of the cause
and answer all the charges imputed against him. They for removal of an IBP governor is placed subject to the
emphasized that Atty. de Vera was given a copy of the approval of the Supreme Court – all witnessed Atty. de
complaint and that he was present at the Board Vera's actuations in the IBP National Convention in
Meeting on 13 May 2005 wherein the letter-complaint question.

against him was part of the agenda. Therein, he was


given the opportunity to be heard and that, in fact, It is undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of
Atty. de Vera did argue his case.
the complaint against him and that he was present
when the matter was taken up. From the transcript of
We are in agreement with the IBP Board.
the stenographic notes of the 13 May 2005 meeting
wherein Atty. de Vera was removed, it is patent that
First, it needs stressing that the constitutional Atty. de Vera was given fair opportunity to defend
provision on due process safeguards life, liberty and himself against the accusations made by Atty. Rivera.

property.55 It cannot be said that the position of EVP of


the IBP is property within the constitutional sense Atty. de Vera, however, additionally questions the fact
especially since there is no right to security of tenure that Atty. Rivera, who authored the complaint against
over said position as, in fact, all that is required to him, also voted for his expulsion making him accuser,
remove any member of the board of governors for prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de Vera
cause is a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining likewise laments the fact that Atty. Rivera initially
members of the board.
inhibited himself from voting but when this resulted in
the defeat of his motion for lack of the necessary 2/3
Secondly, even if the right of due process could be vote, he agreed to another round of voting and that,
rightfully invoked, still, in administrative proceedings, this time, he voted in favor of his motion.

For the record, of the nine governors comprising the Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying
IBP Board, six voted for Atty. de Vera's expulsion degrees of intensity, if not animosity, are inherent in
(including Atty. Rivera) while 3 voted against it the internal life of an organization, but especially of the
(including Atty. de Vera).
IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they
agree.

Section 44 (second paragraph) of the IBP By-Laws


provides:
However, the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other
organization, is diluted if the conflicts are brought
Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may outside its governing body for then there would be the
be removed for cause, including three consecutive impression that the IBP, which speaks through the
absences from Board meetings without justifiable Board of Governors, does not and cannot speak for its
excuse, by resolution adopted by two-thirds of members in an authoritative fashion. It would
the  remaining  members of the Board, subject to the accordingly diminish the IBP's prestige and repute
approval of the Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.)
with the lawyers as well as with the general public.

Under the rules, a resolution for expulsion of an IBP As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts
Governor is done via a resolution adopted by 2/3 of must thus be adjusted within the governing board
the remaining members. The phrase "remaining itself so as to free it from the stresses that invariably
members" refers to the members exclusive of the arise when internal cleavages are made public.

complainant member and the respondent member.


The reason therefore is that such members are The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used
interested parties and are thus presumed to be unable as a mechanism for adjusting and resolving conflicts
to resolve said motion impartially. This being the case, and disagreements within the group after the
the votes of Attys. Rivera and de Vera should be members have been given an opportunity to be heard.
stricken-off which means that only the votes of the While it does not efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a
seven remaining members are to be counted. Of the decision on a contentious matter is reached by a
seven remaining members, five voted for expulsion majority vote, the dissenting minority is bound thereby
while two voted against it which still adds up to the so that the board can speak with one voice, for those
2/3 vote requirement for expulsion.
elected to the governing board are deemed to
implicitly contract that the will of the majority shall
The IBP Board removed Atty. de Vera as IBP govern in matters within the authority of the board.63

Governor for just and valid cause

The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in


All the concerned parties to this case agree that what removing Atty. de Vera as the latter's actuations during
constitutes cause for the removal of an IBP Governor the 10th National IBP Convention were detrimental to
has not been defined by Section 44 of the IBP By- the role of the IBP Board as the governing body of the
Laws albeit it includes three consecutive absences IBP. When the IBP Board is not seen by the bar and
from Board meetings without justifiable excuse. Thus, the public as a cohesive unit, it cannot effectively
the IBP Board argues that it is vested with sufficient perform its duty of helping the Supreme Court enforce
power and authority to protect itself from an the code of legal ethics and the standards of legal
intractable member whose removal was caused not by practice as well as improve the administration of
his disagreement with the IBP Board but due to justice.

various acts committed by him which the IBP Board


considered as inimical to the IBP Board in particular In view of the importance of retaining group
and the IBP in general.
cohesiveness and unity, the expulsion of a member of
the board who insists on bringing to the public his
Atty. de Vera, on the other hand, insists that speaking disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by the
in disagreement with the Resolution of the Board majority after due discussion, cannot be faulted. The
during the Convention's Plenary Session is not a valid effectiveness of the board as a governing body will be
cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of negated if its pronouncements are resisted in public
the IBP Board of Governors and the decision to by a board member.

remove him only shows that the right to freedom of


speech or the right to dissent is not recognized by the Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot
IBP Board.
accept the voice of the majority, he should resign
therefrom so that he could criticize in public the
After weighing the arguments of the parties and in majority opinion/decision to his heart's content;
keeping with the fundamental objective of the IBP to otherwise, he subjects himself to disciplinary action by
discharge its public responsibility more effectively, we the body.

hereby find that Atty. de Vera's removal from the IBP


Board was not capricious or arbitrary.

The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the not be persuaded to overturn and set aside the
Board of Governors ipso facto meant his removal Board's action or resolution.

as EVP as well

There is no question that the IBP Board has the


The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board authority to remove its members as provided in Article
of Governors ipso facto meant his removal as EVP as VI, Section 4467 of the IBP By-Laws. Issue arises only
well. Section 47, Article VII of the By-Laws of the IBP as to whether the IBP Board abused its authority and
provides:
discretion in resolving to remove Atty. de Vera from his
post as an IBP Governor and EVP. As has been
SEC. 47. National Officers.  – The Integrated Bar of previously established herein, Atty. de Vera's removal
the Philippines shall have a President and Executive from the IBP Board was in accordance with due
Vice President to be chosen by the Board of process and the IBP Board acted well within the
Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as authority and discretion granted to it by its By-Laws.
much as practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x
There being no grave abuse of discretion on the part
of the IBP Board, we find no reason to interfere in the
Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be a Board's resolution to remove Atty. de Vera.

member of IBP Board of Governors. Atty. de Vera's


removal from the Board of Governors, automatically The election of Atty. Salazar by the IBP Board as
disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To insist IBP EVP in replacement of Atty. De Vera was
otherwise would be contrary to Section 47 of the IBP conducted in accordance with the authority
By-Laws.
granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws

The Court will not interfere with the Resolution of In the same manner, we find no reason to disturb the
the IBP Board to remove Atty. de Vera since it was action taken by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of
rendered without grave abuse of discretion
Governors in holding a special election to fill-in the
vacant post resulting from the removal of Atty. de Vera
While it is true that the Supreme Court has been as EVP of the IBP since the same is a purely internal
granted an extensive power of supervision over the matter, done without grave abuse of discretion, and
IBP,64  it is axiomatic that such power should be implemented without violating the Rules and By-Laws
exercised prudently. The power of supervision of the of the IBP.

Supreme Court over the IBP should not preclude the


IBP from exercising its reasonable discretion With the removal of Atty. de Vera from the Board, by
especially in the administration of its internal affairs virtue of the IBP Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005,
governed by the provisions of its By-Laws. The IBP he was also removed from his post as EVP; thus, there
By-Laws were precisely drafted and promulgated so was a resultant vacancy in the position of IBP EVP.

as to define the powers and functions of the IBP and


its officers, establish its organizational structure, and Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly
govern relations and transactions among its officers grants to the Board the authority to fill vacancies,
and members. With these By-Laws in place, the however arising, in the IBP positions, subject to the
Supreme Court could be assured that the IBP shall be provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule,68  and
able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the Section 11 (Vacancies),69  Section 44 (Removal of
Court's interference.
members),70  Section 47 (National officers),71  Section
48 (other officers),72  and Section 49 (Terms of
It should be noted that the general charge of the Office)73  of the By-Laws. The IBP Board has specific
affairs and activities of the IBP has been vested in the and sufficient guidelines in its Rules and By-Laws on
Board of Governors. The members of the Board are how to fill-in the vacancies after the removal of Atty.
elective and representative of each of the nine regions de Vera. We have faith and confidence in the
of the IBP as delineated in its By-Laws.65  The Board intellectual, emotional and ethical competencies of the
acts as a collegiate body and decides in accordance remaining members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing
with the will of the majority. The foregoing rules serve with the situation within the bounds of the IBP Rules
to negate the possibility of the IBP Board acting on the and By-Laws.

basis of personal interest or malice of its individual


members. Hence, the actions and resolutions of the The election by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of
IBP Board deserve to be accorded the disputable Governors of a new EVP, who will assume the
presumption66  of validity, which shall continue, until Presidency for the term 2005-2007, was well within
and unless it is overcome by substantial evidence and the authority and prerogative granted to the Board by
actually declared invalid by the Supreme Court. In the the IBP By-Laws, particularly Article VII, Section 47,
absence of any allegation and substantial proof that which provides that "[t]he EVP shall automatically
the IBP Board has acted without or in excess of its become President for the next succeeding term." The
authority or with grave abuse of discretion, we shall phrase "for the next succeeding term" necessarily
implies that the EVP that should succeed Atty. Cadiz In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of
as IBP President for the next succeeding term (i.e., IBP EVP which is actually rotated among the nine
2005-2007) should come from the members of the Regional Governors. The rotation with respect to the
2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors. Hence, in A.M. Presidency is merely a result of the automatic
No. 05-7-19-SC, we restrained now IBP EVP Feliciano succession rule of the IBP EVP to the Presidency.
Bautista from assuming the position of Acting Thus, the rotation rule pertains in particular to the
President because we have yet to resolve the question position of IBP EVP, while the automatic succession
as to who shall succeed Atty. Cadiz from the rule pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with
2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors.
respect to the Presidency is but a consequence of the
automatic succession rule provided in Section 47 of
Accordingly, the elections of Governor Santiago on 13 the IBP By-Laws.

June 2005 as IBP EVP, and thereafter, Governor


Salazar on 25 June 2005, as the new IBP EVP, upon In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied
the relinquishment of Gov. Santiago of the position, with since upon the election of Atty. De Vera as IBP
were valid.
EVP, each of the nine IBP regions had already
produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was
Neither can this Court give credence to the argument completed. It is only unfortunate that the supervening
of Atty. De Vera that, assuming his removal as IBP event of Atty. de Vera's removal as IBP Governor and
Governor and EVP was valid, his replacement as IBP EVP rendered it impossible for him to assume the IBP
EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao Region Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the
pursuant to the rotation rule set forth in Article VII, rotation rule had been completed despite the non-
Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws.
assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP Presidency.

According to Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By- Moreover, the application of the rotation rule is not a
Laws, the EVP shall be chosen by the Board of license to disregard the spirit and purpose of the
Governors from among the nine Regional Governors, automatic succession rule, but should be applied in
as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. This is harmony with the latter. The automatic succession rule
based on our pronouncements in Bar Matter 491, affords the IBP leadership transition seamless and
wherein we ruled:
enables the new IBP National President to attend to
pressing and urgent matters without having to expend
"ORDER
valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership
consolidation period. The time that an IBP EVP
x x x x
spends assisting a sitting IBP President on matters
national in scope is in fact a valuable and
3. The former system of having the IBP President and indispensable preparation for the eventual succession.
Executive Vice-President elected by the Board of It should also be pointed out that this wisdom is
Governors (composed of the governors of the nine [9] further underscored by the fact that an IBP EVP is
IBP regions) from among themselves (as provided in elected from among the members of the IBP Board of
Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be Governors, who are serving in a national capacity, and
restored. The right of automatic succession by the not from the members at large. It is intrinsic in the IBP
Executive Vice-President to the presidency upon the By-Laws that one who is to assume the highest
expiration of their two-year term (which was abolished position in the IBP must have been exposed to the
by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in Bar demands and responsibilities of national leadership.

Matter No. 287) should be as it is hereby restored.

It would therefore be consistent with the purpose and


4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the spirit of the automatic succession rule for Governor
Executive Vice-President shall automatically succeed Salazar to assume the post of IBP President. By
to the office of president. The incoming board of electing the replacement EVP from among the
governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-President members of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors, the
from among themselves.  The position of Executive IBP benefits from the experience of the IBP EVP of
Vice-President shall be rotated among the nine (9) 2003-2005 – in this case, Governor Salazar – who
IBP regions.  One who has served as president may would have served in a national capacity prior to his
not run for election as Executive Vice-President in a assumption of the highest position.

succeeding election until after the rotation of the


presidency among the nine (9) regions shall have been It will also be inconsistent with the purpose and spirit
completed; whereupon, the rotation shall begin anew.
of the automatic succession rule if the EVP for the
term 2003-2005 will be elected exclusively by the
x x x x
members of the House of Delegates of the Eastern
Mindanao region. This Court notes that the removal of
(Emphasis Supplied)"
Atty. De Vera in 13 May 2005 was about a month
before the expiration of the term of office of the
2003-2005 Board of Gover nors. Hence, the the term 2005-2007 in accordance with the automatic
replacement Governor would not have been able to succession rule in Article VII, Section 47 of the IBP By-
serve in a national capacity for two years prior to Laws, upon receipt of this Resolution.

assuming the IBP Presidency.

SO ORDERED.

In any case, Section 47 of the IBP Rules uses the


phrase "as much as practicable" to clearly indicate
that the rotation rule is not a rigid and inflexible rule as
to bar exceptions in compelling and exceptional
circumstances.

It is in view of the foregoing that the argument


advanced by Atty. De Vera that the IBP national
presidency should be assumed by a nominee from
Eastern Mindanao region from where he comes, can
not hold water. It would go against the intent of the
IBP By-Laws for such a nominee would be bereft of
the wealth of experience and the perspective that only
one who is honed in service while serving in a national
post in the IBP would have.

We therefore rule that the IBP Board of Governors


acted in accordance with the IBP By-Laws, in electing
Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP and in ensuring a succession
in the leadership of the IBP. Had the Board of
Governors not done so, there would have been no one
qualified to assume the Presidency of the IBP on 1
July 2005, pursuant to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

WHEREFORE,  in view of the foregoing, we rule as


follows:

1)  SUSPEND  Atty. Leonard de Vera in A.C. No. 6697


from the practice of law for TWO (2) YEARS, effective
from the finality of this Resolution. Let a copy of this
Resolution be attached to the personal record of Atty.
Leonard de Vera and copies furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
Administrator for dissemination to all courts;

2)  DISMISS  the letter-complaint of Atty. Leonard de


Vera, dated 18 May 2005, in A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC,
praying for the disapproval of the Resolution, dated 13
May 2005, of the Board of Governors of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines removing him from his posts as
Governor and Executive Vice President of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the said Resolution
having been rendered without grave abuse of
discretion;

3) AFFIRM the election by the Board of Governors of


Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar as Executive Vice
President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
the remainder of the term 2003-2005, such having
been conducted in accordance with its By-Laws and
absent any showing of grave abuse of discretion; and

4)  DIRECT  Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar to


immediately take his oath of office and assume the
Presidency of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
SECOND DIVISION for six months shall warrant
suspension of membership in the
[A.C No. 4749. January 20, 2000] Integrated Bar, and default in such
payment for one year shall be a ground
SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. for the removal of the name of the
FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS, respondent. delinquent member from the Roll of
Attorneys."
DECISION
Among others, I seek clarification (e.g.
MENDOZA, J.: a certification) and appropriate action
on the bar standing of Atty. Francisco
This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment R. Llamas both with the Bar Confidant
of bar membership dues filed against respondent Atty. and with the IBP, especially its Rizal
Francisco R. Llamas. Chapter of which Atty. Llamas
purports to be a member. Jksm
In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997,
complainant Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of Please note that while Atty. Llamas
the bar, alleged that: indicates "IBP Rizal 259060"
sometimes, he does not indicate any
On my oath as an attorney, I wish to PTR for payment of professional tax.
bring to your attention and appropriate
sanction the matter of Atty. Francisco Under the Rules, particularly Rule
R. Llamas who, for a number of years 138, Sections 27 and 28, suspension of
now, has not indicated the proper PTR an attorney may be done not only by
and IBP O.R. Nos. and data (date & the Supreme Court but also by the
place of issuance) in his pleadings. If Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial
at all, he only indicates "IBP Rizal Court (thus, we are also copy
259060" but he has been using this for furnishing some of these courts).
at least three years already, as shown
by the following attached sample Finally, it is relevant to note the track
pleadings in various courts in 1995, record of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, as
1996 and 1997: (originals available) shown by:

Annex A.......- 1........his dismissal as Pasay City


Judge per Supreme Court Admin.
"Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" dated December Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision
1, 1995 in Civil Case No. Q-95-25253, RTC, Br. 224, QC on October 28, 1981 ( in SCRA )

2........his conviction for estafa per


Annex B.......- Decision dated June 30, 1994 in Crim.
Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati,
"Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion" dated November MM (see attached copy of the Order
13, 1996 in Sp. Proc. No. 95-030, RTC Br. 259 (not 257), dated February 14, 1995 denying the
Paraaque, MM motion for reconsideration of the
conviction which is purportedly on
Annex C.......- appeal in the Court of Appeals).

Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated


"An Urgent and Respectful Plea for extension of Time to December 1, 1995, November 13, 1996, and January 17,
File Required Comment and Opposition" dated January 17, 1997 referred to by complainant, bearing, at the end thereof,
1997 in CA-G.R. SP (not Civil Case) No. 42286, CA 6th what appears to be respondents signature above his name,
Div. address and the receipt number "IBP Rizal 259060."[1] Also
attached was a copy of the order,[2] dated February 14, 1995,
This matter is being brought in the issued by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial
context of Rule 138, Section 1 which Court, Branch 66, Makati, denying respondents motion for
qualifies that only a duly admitted reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal Case No.
member of the bar "who is in good and 11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal
regular standing, is entitled to practice Code.
law". There is also Rule 139-A,
Section 10 which provides that On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification[3] dated
"default in the payment of annual dues March 18, 1997, by the then president of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R. Macalinao-Javier, that only a limited practice of law. In fact,
respondents "last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991. in his Income Tax Return, his principal
Since then he has not paid or remitted any amount to cover occupation is a farmer of which he is.
his membership fees up to the present." His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple
farm is located at Calauan, Laguna.
On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the
complaint within ten days from receipt of notice, after which Moreover, and more than anything
the case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report and else, respondent being a Senior Citizen
recommendation. In his comment-memorandum,[4] dated since 1992, is legally exempt under
June 3, 1998, respondent alleged:[5] Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432 which took
effect in 1992, in the payment of taxes,
3. That with respect to the income taxes as an example. Being
complainants absurd claim that for thus exempt, he honestly believe in
using in 1995, 1996 and 1997 the same view of his detachment from a total
O.R. No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP, practice of law, but only in a limited
respondent is automatically no longer practice, the subsequent payment by
a member in good standing. him of dues with the Integrated Bar is
covered by such exemption. In fact, he
Precisely, as cited under the context of never exercised his rights as an IBP
Rule 138, only an admitted member of member to vote and be voted upon.
the bar who is in good standing is
entitled to practice law. Nonetheless, if despite such honest
belief of being covered by the
The complainants basis in claiming exemption and if only to show that he
that the undersigned was no longer in never in any manner wilfully and
good standing, were as above cited, the deliberately failed and refused
October 28, 1981 Supreme Court compliance with such dues, he is
decision of dismissal and the February willing at any time to fulfill and pay all
14, 1995 conviction for Violation of past dues even with interests, charges
Article 316 RPC, concealment of and surcharges and penalties. He is
encumbrances. Chief ready to tender such fulfillment or
payment, not for allegedly saving his
As above pointed out also, the skin as again irrelevantly and
Supreme Court dismissal decision was frustratingly insinuated for vindictive
set aside and reversed and respondent purposes by the complainant, but as an
was even promoted from City Judge of honest act of accepting reality if
Pasay City to Regional Trial Court indeed it is reality for him to pay such
Judge of Makati, Br. 150. dues despite his candor and honest
belief in all food faith, to the
Also as pointed out, the February 14, contrary. Esmsc
1995 decision in Crim. Case No.
11787 was appealed to the Court of On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a
Appeals and is still pending. resolution[6] adopting and approving the report and
recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner which
Complainant need not even file this found respondent guilty, and recommended his suspension
complaint if indeed the decision of from the practice of law for three months and until he pays
dismissal as a Judge was never set his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the
aside and reversed, and also had the decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a resolution,
decision of conviction for a light [7] dated April 22, 1999. Hence, pursuant to Rule 139-B,

felony, been affirmed by the Court of 12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case is here for final action
Appeals. Undersigned himself would on the decision of the IBP ordering respondents suspension
surrender his right or privilege to for three months.
practice law.
The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as
4. That complainant capitalizes on the follows:
fact that respondent had been
delinquent in his dues. On the first issue, Complainant has
shown "respondents non-indication of
Undersigned since 1992 have publicly the proper IBP O.R. and PTR numbers
made it clear per his Income Tax in his pleadings (Annexes "A", "B"
Return, up to the present, that he had and "C" of the letter complaint, more
particularly his use of "IBP Rizal Sec. 9. Membership dues. - Every
259060 for at least three years." member of the Integrated Bar shall pay
such annual dues as the Board of
The records also show a "Certification Governors shall determine with the
dated March 24, 1997 from IBP Rizal approval of the Supreme Court. A
Chapter President Ida R. Makahinud fixed sum equivalent to ten percent
Javier that respondents last payment of (10%) of the collections from each
his IBP dues was in 1991." Chapter shall be set aside as a Welfare
Fund for disabled members of the
While these allegations are neither Chapter and the compulsory heirs of
denied nor categorically admitted by deceased members thereof.
respondent, he has invoked and cited
that "being a Senior Citizen since Sec. 10. Effect of non-payment of dues.
1992, he is legally exempt under - Subject to the provisions of Section
Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7432 12 of this Rule, default in the payment
which took effect in 1992 in the of annual dues for six months shall
payment of taxes, income taxes as an warrant suspension of membership in
example." the Integrated Bar, and default in such
payment for one year shall be a ground
.... for the removal of the name of the
delinquent member from the Roll of
The above cited provision of law is not Attorneys.
applicable in the present case. In fact,
respondent admitted that he is still in In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage
the practice of law when he alleged in the practice of law only by paying his dues, and it does
that the "undersigned since 1992 have not matter that his practice is "limited." While it is true that
publicly made it clear per his Income R.A. No. 7432, 4 grants senior citizens "exemption from the
tax Return up to the present time that payment of individual income taxes: provided, that their
he had only a limited practice of annual taxable income does not exceed the poverty level as
law." (par. 4 of Respondents determined by the National Economic and Development
Memorandum). Authority (NEDA) for that year," the exemption does not
include payment of membership or association dues.
Therefore respondent is not exempt
from paying his yearly dues to the Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings
Integrated Bar of the and thereby misrepresenting to the public and the courts that
Philippines. Esmmis he had paid his IBP dues to the Rizal Chapter, respondent is
guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility
On the second issue, complainant which provides:
claims that respondent has misled the
court about his standing in the IBP by Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage
using the same IBP O.R. number in his in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
pleadings of at least six years and deceitful conduct.
therefore liable for his actions.
Respondent in his memorandum did CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT
not discuss this issue. ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE
INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE
First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has LEGAL PROFESSION, AND
engaged in law practice without having paid his IBP dues. SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF
He likewise admits that, as appearing in the pleadings THE INTEGRATED BAR. Esmso
submitted by complainant to this Court, he indicated "IBP-
Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in court, at least for CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES
the years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus misrepresenting that CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD
such was his IBP chapter membership and receipt number FAITH TO THE COURT.
for the years in which those pleadings were filed. He claims,
however, that he is only engaged in a "limited" practice and Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any
that he believes in good faith that he is exempt from the falsehood, nor consent to the doing of
payment of taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, any court; nor shall he mislead or
4 as a senior citizen since 1992. allow the court to be misled by any
artifice.
Rule 139-A provides:
Respondents failure to pay his IBP dues and his
misrepresentation in the pleadings he filed in court indeed
merit the most severe penalty. However, in view of
respondents advanced age, his express willingness to pay his
dues and 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 he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later. Let a
copy of this decision be attached to Atty. Llamas personal
record in the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be
furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and to all courts in the land.

SO ORDERED.
exemption from payment of dues is but an
implementation of the Court's directives for all
members of the IBP to help in defraying the cost of
integration of the bar. It maintained that there is no rule
allowing the exemption of payment of annual dues as
requested by respondent, that what is allowed is
voluntary termination and reinstatement of
membership. It asserted that what petitioner could
have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his
intention to stay abroad, so that his membership in the
IBP could have been terminated, thus, his obligation to
" 
 pay dues could have been stopped. It also alleged that
EN BANC the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of
discussing proposals for the creation of an inactive
B.M. No. 1370 May 9, 2005 status for its members, which if approved by the Board
of Governors and by this Court, will exempt inactive
LETTER OF ATTY. CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., IBP members from payment of the annual dues.
REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF
IBP DUES. In his reply4 dated 22 February 2005, petitioner
contends that what he is questioning is the IBP Board
DECISION of Governor's Policy of Non-Exemption in the payment
of annual membership dues of lawyers regardless of
whether or not they are engaged in active or inactive
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
practice. He asseverates that the Policy of Non-
Exemption in the payment of annual membership dues
This is a request for exemption from payment of the suffers from constitutional infirmities, such as equal
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dues filed by protection clause and the due process clause. He also
petitioner Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr. posits that compulsory payment of the IBP annual
membership dues would indubitably be oppressive to
In his letter,1 dated 22 September 2004, petitioner him considering that he has been in an inactive status
sought exemption from payment of IBP dues in the and is without income derived from his law practice. He
amount of P12,035.00 as alleged unpaid accountability adds that his removal from nonpayment of annual
for the years 1977-2005. He alleged that after being membership dues would constitute deprivation of
admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1961, he became part property right without due process of law. Lastly, he
of the Philippine Civil Service from July 1962 until claims that non-practice of law by a lawyer-member in
1986, then migrated to, and worked in, the USA in inactive status is neither injurious to active law
December 1986 until his retirement in the year 2003. practitioners, to fellow lawyers in inactive status, nor to
He maintained that he cannot be assessed IBP dues the community where the inactive lawyers-members
for the years that he was working in the Philippine Civil reside.
Service since the Civil Service law prohibits the
practice of one's profession while in government Plainly, the issue here is: whether or nor petitioner is
service, and neither can he be assessed for the years entitled to exemption from payment of his dues during
when he was working in the USA. the time that he was inactive in the practice of law that
is, when he was in the Civil Service from 1962-1986
On 05 October 2004, the letter was referred to the IBP and he was working abroad from 1986-2003?
for comment.2
We rule in the negative.
On 16 November 2004, the IBP submitted its
comment3 stating inter alia: that membership in the IBP An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which
is not based on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar
continues to be included in the Roll of Attorneys as association organized by individual lawyers
long as he continues to be a member of the IBP; that themselves, membership in which is voluntary.
one of the obligations of a member is the payment of Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which
annual dues as determined by the IBP Board of every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to
Governors and duly approved by the Supreme Court do his shares in carrying out the objectives of the Bar
as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule 139-A of the as well as obliged to bear his portion of its
Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of
the IBP members has been upheld as necessary to the State, an Integrated Bar is an official national body
defray the cost of an Integrated Bar Program; and that of which all lawyers are required to be members. They
the policy of the IBP Board of Governors of no are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the
governance of the Bar, including the requirement of impose an unconstitutional burden. The public interest
payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective promoted by the integration of the Bar far outweighs
discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to the slight inconvenience to a member resulting from his
a code of professional ethics or professional required payment of the annual dues.
responsibility, breach of which constitutes sufficient
reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper Thus, payment of dues is a necessary consequence of
cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or membership in the IBP, of which no one is exempt.
disbarment of the offending member.5 This means that the compulsory nature of payment of
dues subsists for as long as one's membership in the
The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official IBP remains regardless of the lack of practice of, or the
unification of the entire lawyer population. This requires type of practice, the member is engaged in.
membership and financial support of every attorney as
condition sine qua non to the practice of law and the There is nothing in the law or rules which allows
retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the exemption from payment of membership dues. At
Supreme Court.6 most, as correctly observed by the IBP, he could have
informed the Secretary of the Integrated Bar of his
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to intention to stay abroad before he left. In such case,
associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not to his membership in the IBP could have been terminated
attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or and his obligation to pay dues could have been
vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. discontinued.
The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the
payment of his annual dues. The Supreme Court, in As abovementioned, the IBP in its comment stated that
order to foster the State's legitimate interest in the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of
elevating the quality of professional legal services, may discussing the situation of members under inactive
require that the cost of improving the profession in this status and the nonpayment of their dues during such
fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of inactivity. In the meantime, petitioner is duty bound to
the regulatory program – the lawyers.7 comply with his obligation to pay membership dues to
the IBP.
Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that
prohibits the Court, under its constitutional power and Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the
duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to penalty of removal would amount to a deprivation of
the practice of law and in the integration of the property without due process and hence infringes on
Philippine Bar8 - which power required members of a one of his constitutional rights.
privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a
reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of This question has been settled in the case of In re Atty.
regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is Marcial Edillon,10 in this wise:
quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a
regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for
. . . Whether the practice of law is a property right, in
carrying out the noble objectives and purposes of
the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a
integration.
license to practice a profession, we do not here pause
to consider at length, as it [is] clear that under the
The rationale for prescribing dues has been explained police power of the State, and under the necessary
in the Integration of the Philippine Bar,9 thus: powers granted to the Court to perpetuate its
existence, the respondent's right to practice law before
For the court to prescribe dues to be paid by the the courts of this country should be and is a matter
members does not mean that the Court is attempting to subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to
levy a tax. impose the fee as a regulatory measure is
recognize[d], then a penalty designed to enforce its
A membership fee in the Bar association is an exaction payment, which penalty may be avoided altogether by
for regulation, while tax purpose of a tax is a revenue. payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary.
If the judiciary has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it
follows that as an incident to regulation, it may impose But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is
a membership fee for that purpose. It would not be not a property right but a mere privilege, and as such
possible to put on an integrated Bar program without must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court
means to defray the expenses. The doctrine of implied to exact compliance with the lawyer's public
powers necessarily carries with it the power to impose responsibilities.
such exaction.
As a final note, it must be borne in mind that
The only limitation upon the State's power to regulate membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with
the privilege of law is that the regulation does not
conditions, 11 one of which is the payment of
membership dues. Failure to abide by any of them
entails the loss of such privilege if the gravity thereof
warrants such drastic move.

WHEREFORE, petitioner's request for exemption from


payment of IBP dues is DENIED. He is ordered to pay
P12,035.00, the amount assessed by the IBP as
membership fees for the years 1977-2005, within a
non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of
this decision, with a warning that failure to do so will
merit his suspension from the practice of law.

SO ORDERED.
This is to further certify that Arty. Adaza filed an
Application for Exemption from the MCLE requirement
on (sic) January 2009 but was DENIED by the MCLE
Governing Board on (sic) its January 14, 2009
meeting.1

! In its Resolution dated 17 June 2013, the Court


referred this case to he MCLE Committee for
SECOND DIVISION evaluation, report and recommendation.

A.C. No. 9834, August 26, 2015 In a letter, dated 5 August 2013, Atty. Jesusa Jean D.
Reyes (Atty. Reyes), Assistant Executive Officer of the
SAMUEL B. ARNADO, Complainant, v. ATTY. MCLE Office, forwarded to the Court the  rollo  of the
HOMOBONO A. ADAZA, Respondent.
 case together with the MCLE Governing Board's
Evaluation, Report and Recommendation.2  In its
Evaluation, Report and Recommendation3  dated 14
DECISION August 2013,4  the MCLE Governing Board, through
retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Bernardo P.
CARPIO, J.: Pardo (Justice Pardo), MCLE 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
The Case
April 2007, respectively, on the ground of "expertise in
law" under Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850.
This is an administrative case against Atty. Homobono The MCLE Governing Board denied the request on 14
A. Adaza (respondent) for his failure to comply with the January 2009. In the same letter, the MCLE Governing
requirements of the Mandatory Continuing Legal Board noted that respondent neither applied for
Education (MCLE) under Bar Matter No. 850.
exemption nor complied with the Third Compliance
period from 15 April 2007 to 14 April 2010.

The Antecedent Facts

In its 9 December 2013 Resolution, the Court directed


In a letter, dated 15 March 2013, Atty. Samuel B. the Second Division  Clerk of Court to furnish
Arnado (complainant) called the attention of this Court respondent with complainant's letter of 15 March
to the practice of respondent of indicating "MCLE 2013. The Court likewise required respondent to file
application for exemption under process" in his his comment within ten days from notice.

pleadings filed in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, and


"MCLE Application for Exemption for In his Compliance and Comment5  dated 3 February
Reconsideration" in a pleading filed in 2012. 2014, respondent alleged that he did not receive a
Complainant informed the Court that he inquired from copy of the 5 August 2013 letter of Atty. Reyes. He
the MCLE Office about the status of respondent's stated that he was wondering why his application for
compliance and received the following Certification, exemption could not be granted. He further alleged
dated 2 January 2013, from Prof. Myrna S. Feliciano that he did not receive a formal denial of his
(Prof. Feliciano), MCLE's Executive application for exemption by the MCLE Governing
Director:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Board, and that the notice sent by Prof. Feliciano was
based on the letter of complainant who belonged to
This is to certify that per our records, ATTY. Romualdo and Arnado Law Office, the law office of his
HOMOBONO A. ADAZA with Roll Number 14118 of political opponents, the Romualdo family. Respondent
IBP MIS AMIS ORIENTAL Chapter did not comply with alleged that the Romualdo family controlled Camiguin
the requirements of Bar Matter [No.] 850 for the and had total control of the judges and prosecutors in
following compliance periods:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
the province. He further alleged that the law firm had
a. First Compliance Period (April 15, 2001 -April control of the lawyers in Camiguin except for himself.

14, 2004)

Respondent enumerated his achievements as a lawyer
b. Second Compliance Period (April 15, 2004 - and claimed that he had been practicing law for about
April 14, 2007)
 50 years. He stated:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

c. Third Compliance Period (April 15, 2007 -April x x x x

14, 2010)

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 Sixteenth, I have been engaged as lawyer for a
Justice of the Supreme Court but I refused the number of lawyers who have exemptions from the
intended appointment because I did not like some MCLE;

members of the Cory crowd to get me to the SC in an


effort to buy my silence;
x x x x6

Sixth, I almost single-handedly handled the case of Respondent further claimed that he had written five
CORAZON C. AQUINO in the canvassing of the results books: (1) Leaders From Marcos to Arroyo; (2)
of the 1986 snap elections, DISCUSSING Presidentiables and Emerging Upheavals; (3)
CONSTITUTIONAL and legal issues which finally Beginning, Hope and Change; (4) Ideas, Principles and
resulted to the EDSAI revolution;
Lost Opportunities; and (5) Corona Impeachment.
Thus, he asked for a reconsideration of the notice for
xxxx
him to undergo MCLE. He asked for an exemption
from MCLE compliance, or in the alternative, for him
Eighth; I was one of the two lead counsels of now to be allowed to practice law while complying with the
SENATOR MIRIAM DEFENSOR SANTIAGO in the MCLE requirements.

national canvassing before the National Canvassing


Board when she ran for President against then In its 2 June 2014 Resolution, the Court referred
GENERAL FIDEL RAMOS. The other counsel was respondent's Compliance and Comment to the Office
former Justice of the Supreme Court SERAFIN of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and
CUEVAS;
recommendation.

Ninth, I handled the 1987 and 1989 as well as the The Report and Recommendation of the OBC

2003 COUP CASES for leading generals like ABENINA


and COMMENDAOR and COLONELS like GREGORIO In its Report and Recommendation dated 25
HONASAN as well as the SIX OAKWOOD CAPTAINS, November 2014, the OBC reported that respondent
including now SENATOR ANTONIO TRILL ANES;
applied for exemption for the First and Second
Compliance Periods on the ground of expertise in law.
Tenth, I filed a case with the Supreme Court contesting The MCLE Governing Board denied the request on 14
the constitutionality and validity of the 2010 national January 2009. Prof. Feliciano informed respondent of
elections, still undecided up to this day;
the denial of his application in a letter dated 1 October
2012. The OBC reported that according to the MCLE
Eleventh, I filed together with another lawyer, a case in Governing Board, "in order to be exempted (from
the Supreme Court on the constitutionality and legality compliance) pursuant to expertise in lp.w under
of the Corona impeachment which the SC only Section 3, Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850, the applicant
decided after the Senate decided his case and former must submit sufficient, satisfactory and convincing
SC Chief Justice Corona conceding to the decision, proof to establish his expertise in a certain area of
thus the SC declaring the case moot and academic;
law." The OBC reported that respondent failed to meet
the requirements necessary for the exemption.

Twelfth, I have been implementing and interpreting the


Constitution and other laws as GOVERNOR OF The OBC reported that this Court requires practicing
M I S A M I S O R I E N TA L , C O M M I S S I O N O F members of the Bar to indicate in all their pleadings
IMMIGRATION and the senior member of the filed with the courts the counsel's MCLE Certificate of
Opposition in the regular Parliament in the Committee Compliance or Certificate of Exemption pursuant to
on Revision of Laws and Constitutional Amendments;
6ar Matter No. 1922. The OBC further reported that
the MCLE Office has no record that respondent filed a
Thirteenth, I was the leading Opposition member of motion for reconsideration; and thus, his
Parliament that drafted the Omnibus Election Law;
representation in a pleading that his "MCLE
Application for Exemption [is] for Reconsideration" in
Fourteenth, I was the leading member of the 2012 is baseless.

Opposition in Parliament that prepared and


orchestrated the debate in the complaint for The OBC further reported that under Rule 12 of Bar
impeachment against PRESIDENT FERDINAND Matter No. 850 and Section 12 of the MCLE
MARCOS;
Implementing Regulations, non-compliance with the
MCLE requirements shall result to the dismissal of the
Fifteenth, I have been practicing law for about fifty case and the striking out of the pleadings from the
years now with appearances before the Supreme records.7  The OBC also reported that under Section
Court when Justices were like Concepcion, Barrera 12(d) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations, a
and JBL REYES; in the Court of Appeals; and member of the Bar who failed to comply with the
numerous courts all over the country;
MCLE requirements is given 60 days from receipt of
notification to explain his deficiency or to show his
compliance with the requirements. Section 12(e) also 2009. According to the MCLE Governing Board,
provides that a member who fails to comply within the respondent's application for exemption covered the
given period shall pay a non-compliance fee of PI,000 First and Second Compliance Periods. Respondent
and shall be listed as a delinquent member of the did not apply for exemption for the Third Compliance
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) upon the Period. The MCLE Gover ning Board denied
recommendation of the MCLE Governing Board. The respondent's application for exemption on 14 January
OBC reported that the Notice of Non-Compliance was 2009 on the ground that the application did not meet
sent to respondent on 13 August 2013. The OBC also the requirements of expertise in law under Section 3,
reported that on 14 August 2013, the MCLE Governing Rule 7 of Bar Matter No. 850. However, the MCLE
Board recommended that cases be filed against Office failed to convey the denial of the application for
respondent in connection with the pleadings he filed exemption to respondent. The MCLE Office only
without the MCLE compliance/exemption number for informed respondent, through its letter dated 1
the immediately preceding compliance period and that October 2012 signed by Prof. Feliciano, when it
the pleadings he filed be expunged from the records.
received inquiries from complainant, Judge Sinfroso
Tabamo, and Camiguin Deputy Provincial Prosecutor
The OBC found that respondent had been remiss in Renato A. Abbu on the status of respondent's MCLE
his responsibilities as a lawyer. The OBC stated that compliance. Respondent filed a motion for
respondent's failure to comply with the MCLE reconsideration after one year, or on 23 October 2013,
requirements jeopardized the causes of his clients which the MCLE Governing Board denied with finality
because the pleadings he filed could be stricken off on 28 November 2013. The denial of the motion for
from the records and considered invalid.
reconsideration was sent to respondent in a
letter9  dated 29 November 2013, signed by Justice
The OBC recommended that respondent be declared Pardo.

a delinquent member of the Bar and guilty of non-


compliance with the MCLE requirements. The OBC Clearly, respondent had been remiss in his
further recommended respondent's suspension from responsibilities by failing to comply with Bar Matter
the practice of law for six months with a stern warning No. 850. His application for exemption for the First
that a repetition of the same or similar act in the future and Second Compliance Periods was filed after the
will be dealt with more severely. The OBC also compliance periods had ended. He did not follow-up
recommended that respondent be directed to comply the status of his application for exemption. He
with the requirements set forth by the MCLE furnished the Court with his letter dated 7 February
Governing Board.
201210 to the MCLE Office asking the office to act on
his application for exemption but alleged that his
The Issue
secretary failed to send it to the MCLE Office.11 He did
not comply with the Fourth Compliance Period.

The only issue here is whether respondent is


administratively liable for his failure to comply with the In its 1 October 2012 letter to respondent, the MCLE
MCLE requirements.
Office enjoined him to comply with the requirements
for the First to Third Compliance periods. It was
The Ruling of this Court
reiterated in the 29 November 2013 letter denying
respondent's motion for reconsideration of his
Bar Matter No. 850 requires members of the IBP to application for exemption. The OBC also reported that
undergo continuing legal education "to ensure that a Notice of Non-Compliance was sent to respondent
throughout their career, they keep abreast with law on 13 August 2013. Under Section 12(5) of the MCLE
and jurisprudence, maintain the ethics of the Implementing Regulations, respondent has 60 days
profession and enhance the standards of the practice from receipt of the notification to comply. However, in
of law."8  The First Compliance Period was from 15 his Compliance and Comment before this Court,
April 2001 to 14 April 2004; the Second Compliance respondent stated that because of his involvement in
Period was from 15 April 2004 to 14 April 2007; and public interest issues in the country, the earliest that
the Third Compliance Period was from 15 April 2007 he could comply with Bar Matter No. 850 would be on
to 14 April 2010. Complainant's letter covered 10-14 February 2014 and that he already registered
respondent's pleadings filed in 2009, 2010, 2011, and with the MCLE Program of the University of the
2012 which means respondent also failed to comply Philippines (UP) Diliman on those dates.

with the MCLE requirements for the Fourth


Compliance Period from 15 April 2010 to 14 April Section 12(5) of the MCLE Implementing Regulations
2013.
provides:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

The records of the MCLE Office showed that Section 12. Compliance Procedures

respondent failed to comply with the four compliance


periods. The records also showed that respondent x x x x

filed an application for exemption only on 5 January


(5) Any other act or omission analogous to any of the indicating when he intended to comply with his
foregoing or intended to circumvent or evade deficiencies br the Second, Third, and Fourth
compliance with the MCLE requirements.
Compliance Periods. Instead, he asked the Court to
allow him to continue practicing law while complying
A member failing to comply with the continuing legal with the MCLE requirements.

education requirement will receive a Non-Compliance


Notice stating his specific deficiency and will be given The MCLE Office is not without fault in this case. While
sixty (60) days from the receipt of the notification to it acted on respondent's application for exemption on
explain the deficiency or otherwise show compliance 14 January 2009, it took the office three years to
with the requirements. Such notice shall be written in inform respondent of the denial of his application. The
capital letters as follows:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
MCLE Office only informed respondent on 1 October
2012 and after it received inquiries regarding the
Y O U R FA I L U R E T O P R O V I D E A D E Q U AT E status of respondent's compliance. Hence, during the
JUSTIFICATION FOR NON-COMPLIANCE OR PROOF period when respondent indicated "MCLE application
OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE MCLE REQUIREMENT for exemption under process" in his pleadings, he was
WITHIN 60 DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS NOTICE not aware of the action of the MCLE Governing Board
SHALL BE A CAUSE FOR LISTING YOU AS A on his application for exemption. However, after he
DELINQUENT MEMBER AND SHALL NOT BE had been informed of the denial of his application for
PERMITTED TO PRACTICE LAW UNTIL SUCH TIME exemption, it still took respondent one year to file a
AS ADEQUATE PROOF OF COMPLIANCE IS motion for reconsideration. After the denial of his
RECEIVED BY THE MCLE COMMITTEE.
motion for reconsideration, respondent still took, and
is still aking, his time to satisfy the requirements of the
The Member may use the 60-day period to complete MCLE. In addition, when respondent indicated "MCLE
his compliance with the MCLE requirement. Credit Application for Exemption for Reconsideration" in a
units earned during this period may only be counted p l e a d i n g , h e h a d n o t fi l e d a n y m o t i o n f o r
toward compliance with the prior period requirement reconsideration before the MCLE Office.

unless units in excess of the requirement are earned in


which case the excess may be counted toward Respondent's failure to comply with the MCLE
meeting the current compliance period requirement.
requirements and disregard of the directives of the
MCLE Office warrant his declaration as a delinquent
A member who is in non-compliance at the end of the member of the IBP. While the MCLE Implementing
compliance period shall pay a non-compliance fee of Regulations state that the MCLE Committee should
PI,000.00 and shall be listed as a delinquent member recommend to the IBP Board of Governors the listing
of the IBP by the IBP Board of Governors upon the of a lawyer as a delinquent member, there is nothing
recommendation of the MCLE Committee, in which that prevents the Court from using its administrative
case Rule 13 9-A of the Rules of Court shall apply.
power and supervision to discipline erring lawyers and
from directing the IBP Board of Governors o declare
Even if respondent attended the 10-14 February 2014 such lawyers as delinquent members of the IBP.

MCLE Program of UP Diliman, it would only cover his


deficiencies for the First Compliance Period. He is still The OBC recommended respondent's suspension
delinquent for the Second, Third, and Fourth from the practice of aw for six months. We agree. In
Compliance Periods. The Court has not been addition, his listing as a delinquent member pf the IBP
furnished proof of compliance for the First Compliance is also akin to suspension because he shall not be
Period.
permitted to practice law until such time as he submits
proof of full compliance to the IBP Board of
The Court notes the lackadaisical attitude of Governors, and the IBP Board of Governors has
respondent towards Complying with the requirements notified the MCLE Committee of his reinstatement,
of Bar Matter No. 850. He assumed that his under Section 14 of the MCLE Implementing
application for exemption, filed after the compliance Regulations. Hence, we deem it proper to declare
periods, would be granted. He purportedly wrote the respondent as a delinquent member of the IBP and to
MCLE Office to follow-up the status of his application suspend him from the practice of law for six months or
but claimed that his secretary forgot to send the letter. until he has fully complied with the requirements of the
He now wants the Court to again reconsider the MCLE MCLE for the First, Second, Third, and Fourth
Office's denial of his application for exemption when Compliance Periods, whichever is later, and he has
his motion for reconsideration was already denied with fully paid the required non-compliance and
finality by the MCLE Governing Board on 28 reinstatement fees.

November 2013. He had the temerity to inform the


Court that the earliest that he could comply was on WHEREFORE, the Court resolves
10-14 February 2014, which was beyond the 60-day to:LawlibraryofCRAlaw

period required under Section 12(5) of the MCLE


Implementing Regulations, and without even
(1)  REMIND  the Mandatory Continuing Legal
Education Office to promptly act on matters that
require its immediate attention, such as but not limited
to applications for exemptions, and to communicate
its action to the interested parties within a reasonable
period;

(2)  DENY  the prayer of Atty. Homobono A. Adaza to


be exempted from MCLE compliance as the matter
had already been denied with finality by the MCLE
Governing Board on 28 November 2013;

(3)  DECLARE  Atty. Homobono A. Adaza as a


delinquent member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and  SUSPEND  him from the practice of
law for  SIX MONTHS, or until he has fully complied
with the MCLE 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.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Atty.


Homobono A. Adaza's personal record in the Office of
the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished to all
chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
to all courts in the land. Let copies be also furnished
the MCLE Office and the IBP Governing Board for
their appropriate actions.

SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

filed a Rejoinder to Opposition and Motion for


Contempt of Court.3

During the hearing of the motion for contempt of court


held on December 5, 1996, the following incident
transpired:

ATTY. BUGARING:
For the plaintiff, your Honor, we are ready.
ATTY. CORDERO:
Same appearance for the defendant, your Honor.
" 
 ATTY. BUGARING:
SECOND DIVISION Your Honor please, we are ready with respect to the
prosecution of our motion for contempt, your Honor.
G.R. No. 133090 January 19, 2001 May we know from the record if the Register of Deeds
is properly notified for today's hearing.
REXIE EFREN A. BUGARING AND ROYAL COURT:
BECHTEL BUILDERS, INC., petitioners, 
 Will you call on the Register of Deeds.
vs.
 INTERPRETER:
HON. DOLORES S. ESPAÑOL, in her capacity as Atty. Diosdado Concepcion, He is here, your Honor.
Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court Branch ATTY. BUGARING:
90, Imus, Cavite, respondent. We are ready, your Honor.
COURT:
DE LEON, JR., J.: There is a motion for contempt in connection with the
order of this Court which directed your office to register
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the lis pendens of the complaint in connection with this
Decision dated March 6, 1998 of the Court of case of Royal Becthel Builder, Inc. versus spouses
Appeals1affirming the decision of the Regional Trial Luis Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al.
Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus, Cavite, declaring ATTY. CONCEPCION:
petitioner Rexie Efren A. Bugaring guilty in direct Your Honor, I just received this morning at ten o'clock
contempt of court.1âwphi1.nêt [in the morning] the subpoena.
ATTY. BUGARING:
May we put in on record that as early as November 6,
The incident subject of the petition occurred during a
1996, the Office of the Register of Deeds was
hearing held on December 5, 1996 of Civil Case NO.
furnished with a copy of our motion, your Honor
1266-96 entitled "Royal Becthel2 Builders, Inc. vs.
please, and the record will bear it out. Until now they
Spouses Luis Alvaran and Beatriz Alvaran, et al.", for
did not file any answer, opposition or pleadings or
Annulment of Sale and Certificates of Title, Specific
pleadings with respect to this motion.
Performance and Damages with Prayer for Preliminary
ATTY. CONCEPCION:
Injunction and/or Temporary Restraining Order in the
Well I was not informed because I am not the Register
sala of respondent judge Dolores S. Español of the
of Deeds. I am only the Deputy Register of Deeds and
Regional Trial Court of Cavite, Branch 90, Imus,
I was not informed by the receiving clerk of our office
Cavite.
regarding this case. As a matter of fact I was surprised
when I received this morning the subpoena, your
Pursuant to a motion filed by the previous counsel of Honor.
Royal Bechtel Builders, Inc., the trial court issued an ATTY. BUGARING:
order on February 27, 1996 directing the Register of Your Honor please, may we put that on record that the
Deeds of the Province of Cavite to annotate at the manifestation of the respondent that he was not
back of certain certificates of title a notice of lis informed.
pendens. Before the Register of Deeds of the Province COURT:
of Cavite could comply with said order, the defendant That is recorded. This is a Court of record and
Spouses Alvaran on April 15, 1996, filed a motion to everything that you say here is recorded.
cancel lis pendens. On July 19, 1996, petitioner, the ATTY. BUGARING:
newly appointed counsel of Royal Bechtel Builders, Yes your Honor please, we know that but we want to
Inc., filed an opposition to the motion to cancel lis be specific because we will be [filing] a case against
pendens. On August 16, 1996, the motion to cancel lis this receiving clerk who did not [inform] him your Honor
pendens was granted by the court. Petitioner filed a please, with this manifestation of the Deputy of the
motion for reconsideration, which was opposed by the Register of Deeds that is irregularity in the
defendants. On November 5, 1996, petitioner filed an performance of the official duty of the clerk not to
Urgent Motion to Resolve, and on November 6, 1996, inform the parties concerned.
COURT: ATTY. CONCEPCION:
Counsel, the Court would like to find out who this fellow Can I appoint an outside lawyer not a Fiscal but a
who is taking the video recording at this proceedings. private counsel, your Honor.
There is no permission from this Court that such COURT:
proceedings should be taken. That is at your pleasure. The Court will consider that
ATTY. BUGARING: you should be amply represented.
Your Honor, my Assistant. I did not advise him to take a ATTY. CONCEPCION:
video he just accompanied me this morning. As a matter of fact I have a lawyer here, Atty. Barzaga
COURT: if he is willing….
Right, but the video recording is prepared process and ATTY. BARZAGA4:
you should secure the permission of this Court. Yes, your Honor, I will just review the records.
ATTY. BUGARING: ATTY. BUGARING:
Actually, I did not instruct him to take some video tape. Anyway your Honor please, I will not yet present my
COURT: witness but I will just mark our documentary exhibits
Why would he be bringing camera if you did not give which are part of the record of the case and thereafter
him the go signal that shots should be done. your Honor please….
ATTY. BUGARING: COURT:
This Court should not presume that, your Honor You wait for a minute counsel because there is a
please, we just came from an occasion last night and I preparation being done by newly appointed counsel of
am not yet come home, your Honor please. I could the respondent, Atty. Barzaga is considered as the
prove your Honor please, that the contents of that tape privately hired counsel of the register of deeds and the
is other matters your Honor please. I was just surprised respondent of this contempt proceedings. How much
why he took video tape your Honor please, that we ask time do you need to go over the record of this case so
the apology of this Court if that offend this Court your that we can call the other case in the meanwhile.
Honor please. ATTY. BARZAGA:
COURT: Second call, your Honor.
It is not offending because this is a public proceedings ----------------------------------------
but the necessary authority or permission should be ----------------------------------------
secured. -----------
ATTY. BUGARING: COURT:
In fact I instructed him to go out, your Honor. Are you ready Atty. Barzaga?
COURT: ATTY. BARZAGA:
After the court have noticed that he is taking a video Yes, your Honor. Well actually your Honor, after
tape. reviewing the record of the case your Honor, I noticed
ATTY. BUGARING: that the motion for contempt of Court was filed on
Yes, your Honor, in fact that is not my personal November 6, 1966 and in paragraph 6 thereof, your
problem your Honor please, that is personal to that guy Honor it is stated that, 'the record of the case shows up
your Honor please if this representation is being …. to the filing of this motion, the Register as well as the
COURT: Deputy Register Diosdado Concepcion of the Office of
That is very shallow, don't give that alibi. the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, did not
ATTY. BUGARING: comply with the Court Orders dated February 27, 1996,
At any rate, your Honor please, we are going to mark March 29, 1996, respectively.' However, your Honor,
our documentary evidence as part of our motion for Atty. Diosdado Concepcion has shown to me a letter
contempt, your Honor please. coming from Atty. Efren A. Bugaring dated September
COURT: 18, 1996 addressed to the Register regarding this
What has the Register of Deeds got to say with this notice of Lis Pendens pertaining to TCT Nos.
matter? T-519248, 519249 and 519250 and this letter request,
ATTY. CONCEPCION: your Honor for the annotation of the lis pendens clearly
Well as I have said before, I have not received any shows that it has been already entered in the book of
motion regarding this contempt you are talking. I am primary entry. We would like also to invite the attention
willing now to testify. of the Hon. Court that the Motion for Contempt of Court
ATTY. BUGARING: was filed on November 6, 1996. The letter for the
Your Honor I am still of the prosecution stage, it is not annotation of the lis pendens was made by the counsel
yet the defense. This is a criminal proceedings, for the plaintiff only on September 18, 1996, your
contempt proceedings is a criminal. Honor. However, your Honor, as early as August 16,
ATTY. CONCEPCION: 1996 an Order has already been issued by the Hon.
Your Honor please, may I ask for the assistance from Court reading as follows, 'Wherefore in view of the
the Fiscal. above, the motion of the defendant is GRANTED and
COURT: the Register of Deeds of the Province of Cavite, is
If this is going to proceed, we need the presence of a hereby directed to CANCEL the notice of lis pendens
Fiscal or a counsel for the Register of Deeds.
annotated at the back of Certificate of Title Nos. If your Honor please …
519248, 51949 (sic) and 51950 (sic).' COURT:
ATTY. BUGARING: Will you listen to the Court and just do whatever you
Your Honor please, may we proceed your Honor, will have to do after the submission of the comment.
first mark our documentary evidence. ATTY. BUGARING:
COURT: I am listening, your Honor please, but the record will
You wait until the Court allows you to do what you want show that the motion for contempt was copy furnished
to do, okay. The counsel has just made manifestation, with the Register of Deeds and Diosdado Concepcion.
he has not prayed for anything. So let us wait until he COURT:
is finished and then wait for the direction of this Court Precisely, if you are listening then you will get what the
what to do to have an orderly proceedings in this case. Court would want to do. This should be an orderly
ATTY. BUGARING: proceedings and considering that this is a Court of
Considering your Honor, that the issues appear to be a record the comment has to be in first then in your reply
little bit complicated your Honor, considering that the you can submit your evidence to rebut the argument
order regarding the annotation of the lis pendens has that is going to be put up by the respondent and so we
already been revoked by the Hon. Court your Honor, will be able to hear the case smoothly.
we just request that we be given a period of ten days
from today your Honor, within which to submit our
formal written opposition your Honor. ATTY. BUGARING:
COURT: My point here your Honor please, is that the
Counsel, will you direct your attention to the respondent had been long time furnished of this
manifestation filed earlier by Atty. Tutaan in connection contempt proceedings. With a copy of the motion they
with the refusal of the Register of Deeds to annotate should have filed it in due time in accordance with the
the lis pendens because of certain reasons. According rules and because it is scheduled for trial, we are ready
to the manifestation of Atty. Tutaan and it is appearing to mark our evidence and present to this Court, your
in the earlier part of the record of this case, the reason Honor
for that is because there was a pending subdivision COURT:
plan, it is so stated. I think it was dated March, 1996. (Banging the gavel) Will you listen.
May 1 have the record please. ATTY. BUGARING:
ATTY. BARZAGA: I am listening, your Honor.
Yes, your Honor. COURT:
COURT: And this Court declares that you are out of order.
This Court would like to be enlightened with respect to ATTY. BUGARING:
that matter. Well, if that is the contention of the Court your Honor
ATTY. BUGARING: please, we are all officers of the Court, your Honor,
Well, according to Atty. Diosdado Concepcion he could please, we have also ---- and we know also our
already explain this, your Honor. procedure, your Honor.
COURT: COURT:
Have it properly addressed as part of the manifestation If you know your procedure then you follow the
so that this court can be guided accordingly. Because procedure of the Court first and then do whatever you
this Court believes that the root of the matter started want.
from that. After the submission of the …. What are you ATTY. BUGARING:
suppose to submit? Yes, your Honor please, because we could feel the
ATTY. BUGARING: antagonistic approach of the Court of this
Comment your Honor, on the motion to cite Atty. representation ever since I appeared your Honor
Diosdado Concepcion in contempt of Court. please and I put on record that I will be filing an
COURT: inhibition to this Hon. Court.
After the submission of the Comment and furnishing a COURT:
copy of the comment to the counsel for the plaintiff, this Do that right away. (Banging the gavel)
Court is going to give the counsel for the plaintiff an ATTY. BUGARING:
equal time within which to submit his reply. Because we could not find any sort of justice in town.
ATTY. BUGARING: COURT:
Your Honor please, it is the position of this Do that right away.
representation your Honor please, that we will be ATTY. BUGARING:
marking first our documentary evidence because this is We are ready to present our witness and we are
set for hearing for today, your Honor please. deprive to present our witness.
COURT: COURT:
If you are going to mark your evidence and they do not You have presented a witness and it was an adverse
have their comment yet what are we going to receive witness that was presented.
as evidence. ATTY. BUGARING:
ATTY. BUGARING: I did not….
COURT: The Court called the attention of said counsel who
With respect to this, the procedure of the Court is for explained that he did not cause the appearance of the
the respondent to file his comment. cameraman to take pictures, however, he admitted that
ATTY. BUGARING: they came from a function, and that was the reason
Well your Honor please, at this point in time I don't why the said cameraman was in tow with him and the
want to comment on anything but I reserve my right to plaintiffs. Notwithstanding the flimsy explanation given,
inhibit this Honorable Court before trying this case. the counsel sent out the cameraman after the Court
COURT: took exception to the fact that although the
You can do whatever you want. proceedings are open to the public and that it being a
ATTY. BUGARING: court of record, and since its permission was not
Yes, your Honor, that is our prerogative your Honor. sought, such situation was an abuse of discretion of
COURT: the Court.
As far as this Court is concerned it is going to follow
the rules. When the respondent, Deputy Register of Deeds
ATTY. BUGARING: Concepcion manifested that he needed the services of
Yes, your Honor, we know all the rules. counsel and right then and there appointed Atty. Elpidio
COURT: Barzaga to present him, the case was allowed to be
Yes, you know your rules that's why you are putting the called again. On the second call, Atty. Burgaring
cart ahead of the horse. started to insist that he be allowed to mark and present
ATTY. BUGARING: his documentary evidence in spite of the fact that Atty.
No your Honor, I've been challenged by this Court that Barzaga was still manifesting that he be allowed to
I know better than this Court. Modestly (sic) aside your submit a written pleading for his client, considering that
Honor please, I've been winning in many certiorari the Motion has so many ramifications and the issues
cases, your Honor. are complicated.
COURT:
Okay, okay, do that, do that. I am going to cite you for At this point, Atty. Bugaring was insisting that he be
contempt of Court. (Banging the gavel) You call the allowed to mark his documentary evidence and was
police and I am going to send this lawyer in jail. raring to argue as in fact he was already perorating
(Turning to the Sheriff) despite the fact that Atty. Barzaga has not yet finished
ATTY. BUGARING: with his manifestation. As Atty. Bugaring appears to
I am just manifesting and arguing in favor of my client disregard orderly procedure, the Court directed him to
your Honor please. listen and wait for the ruling of the Court for an orderly
COURT: proceeding.
You have been given enough time and you have been
abusing the discretion of this Court.
While claiming that he was listening, he would speak
ATTY. BUGARING:
up anytime he felt like doing so. Thus, the Court
I am very sorry your Honor, if that is the appreciation of
declared him out of order, at which point, Atty. Bugaring
the Court but this is one way I am protecting my client,
flared up the uttered words insulting the Court; such
your Honor.
as: 'that he knows better than the latter as he has won
COURT:
all his cases of certiorari in the appellate Courts, that
That is not the way to protect your client that is an
he knows better the Rules of Court; that he was going
abuse of the discretion of this Court. (Turning to the
to move for the inhibition of the Presiding Judge for
Sheriff) "Will you see to it that this guy is put in
allegedly being antagonistic to his client,' and other
jail." (pp. 29-42. Rollo)
invectives were hurled to the discredit of the Court.

Thus, in open court, Atty. Bugaring was declared in
direct contempt and order the Court's sheriff to arrest
Hence, in an Order dated December 5, 1996, Judge
and place him under detention.
Español cited petitioner in direct contempt of court,
thus:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing and the fact
that Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring committed an open
During the hearing of this case, plaintiffs and counsel
defiance, even challenging the Court in a disrespectful,
were present together with one (1) operating a video
arrogant, and contumacious manner, he is declared in
camera who was taking pictures of the proceedings of
direct contempt of Court and is sentenced to three (3)
the case while counsel, Atty. Rexie Efren Bugaring was
days imprisonment and payment of a fine of
making manifestation to the effect that he was ready to
P3,000.00. His detention shall commence immediately
mark his documentary evidence pursuant to his Motion
at the Municipal Jail of Imus, Cavite.5
to cite (in contempt of court) the Deputy Register of
Deeds of Cavite, Diosdado Concepcion.
Pursuant to said Order, the petitioner served his three respectful towards the court as he always addressed
(3) day sentence at the Imus Municipal Jail, and paid the court with the phrase "your honor please."
the fine of P3,000.00.6
We disagree.
While serving the first day of his sentence on
December 5, 1996, petitioner filed a motion for Section 1, Rule 71 of the Rules of Court as amended
reconsideration of the Order citing him in direct by Administrative Circular No. 22-95 provides:
contempt of court. The next day, December 6, 1996,
petitioner filed another motion praying for the resolution Direct contempt punished summarily. – A person guilty
of his motion for reconsideration. Both motions were of misbehavior in the presence of or so near a court or
never resolved and petitioner was released on judge as to obstruct or interrupt the proceedings before
December 8, 1996.7 the same, including disrespect toward the court or
judge, offensive personalities toward others, or refusal
To clear his name in the legal circle and the general to be sworn or to answer as a witness, or to subscribe
public, petitioner filed a petition before the Court of an affidavit or deposition when lawfully required to do
Appeals praying for the annulment of the Order dated so, may be summarily adjudged in contempt by such
December 5, 1996 citing him in direct contempt of court or judge and punished by a fine not exceeding
court and the reimbursement of the fine of P3,000.00 two thousand pesos or imprisonment not exceeding
on grounds that respondent Judge Dolores S. Español ten (10) days, or both, if it be a superior court, or a
had no factual and legal basis in citing him in direct judge thereof, or by a fine not exceeding two hundred
contempt of court, and that said Order was null and pesos or imprisonment not exceeding one (1) day, or
void for being in violation of the Constitution and other both, if it be an inferior court.
pertinent laws and jurisprudence.8
We agree with the statement of the Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals found that from a thorough that petitioner's alleged deference to the trial court in
reading of the transcript of stenographic notes of the consistently addressing the respondent judge as "your
hearing held on December 5, 1996, it was obvious that Honor please" throughout the proceedings is belied by
the petitioner was indeed arrogant, at times his behavior therein:
impertinent, too argumentative, to the extent of being
disrespectful, annoying and sarcastic towards the 1. the veiled threat to file a petition for certiorari against
court.9 It affirmed the order of the respondent judge, the trial court (pp. 14-15, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp.
but found that the fine of P3,000.00 exceeded the limit 41-42, Rollo) is contrary to Rule 11.03, Canon 11 of the
of P2,000.00 prescribed by the Rules of Court,10 and Code of Professional Responsibility which mandates
ordered the excess of P1,000.00 returned to petitioner. that "a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive
On March 6, 1998, it rendered judgment, the or menacing language or behavior before the Courts".
dispositive portion of which reads:
2. the hurled uncalled for accusation that the
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DISMISSED for respondent judge was partial in favor of the other party
lack of merit and the assailed order dated December 5, (pp. 13-14, tsn, December 5, 1996; pp. 40-41, Rollo) is
1996 issued by the trial court is hereby AFFIRMED against Rule 11.04, Canon 11 of the Code of
with the modification that the excess fine of P1,000.00 Professional Responsibility which enjoins lawyers from
is ORDERED RETURNED to the petitioner. attributing to a judge "motives not supported by the
record or have no materiality to the case".
Before us, petitioner ascribes to the Court of Appeals
this lone error: 3. behaving without due regard to the trial court's order
to maintain order in the proceedings (pp. 9-13, tsn,
T H E A P P E L L AT E C O U R T C O M M I T T E D A December 5, 1996; pp. 36-40, Rollo) I in utter
REVERSIBLE ERROR IN AFFIRMING THE disregard to Canon 1 of the Canons of Professional
ASSAILED ORDER OF THE TRIAL COURT WHICH Ethics which makes it a lawyer's duty to "maintain
TO PETITIONER'S SUBMISSIONS SMACKS OF towards the courts (1) respectful attitude" in order to
OPPRESSION AND ABUSE OF AUTHORITY, HENCE maintain its importance in the administration of justice,
IT COMMITTED A GRAVE ERROR OF LAW IN ITS and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
QUESTIONED DECISION.11 Responsibility which mandates lawyers to "observe
and maintain the respect due to the Courts and to
Petitioner insists that a careful examination of the judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
transcript of stenographic notes of the subject others".
proceedings would reveal that the contempt order
issued by respondent judge had no factual and legal 4. behaving without due regard or deference to his
basis. It would also show that he was polite and fellow counsel who at the time he was making
representations in behalf of the other party, was rudely was bound to protect the interest of his client to the
interrupted by the petitioner and was not allowed to best of his ability and with utmost diligence.
further put a word in edgewise (pp. 7-13, tsn,
December 5, 1996; pp. 34-39, Rollo) is violative of The Court of Appeals aptly stated:
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Ethics which
obliges a lawyer to conduct himself with courtesy, But "a lawyer should not be carried away in espousing
fairness and candor toward his professional his client's cause" (Buenaseda v. Flavier, 226 SCRA
colleagues, and 645, 656). He should not forget that he is an officer of
the court, bound to exert every effort and placed under
5. The refusal of the petitioner to allow the Registrar of duty, to assist in the speedy and efficient administration
Deeds of the Province of Cavite, through counsel, to of justice Presiding Judge, RTC, Br. 15, Ozamis City,
exercise his right to be heard (Ibid) is against Section 1 249 SCRA 432, 439). He should not, therefore, misuse
of Article III, 1997 Constitution on the right to due the rules of procedure to defeat the ends of justice per
process of law, Canon 18 of the Canons of Rule 10.03. Canon 10 of the Canons of Professional
Professional Ethics which mandates a lawyer to always Responsibility, or unduly delay a case, impede the
treat an adverse witness "with fairness and due execution of a judgment or misuse court processes, in
consideration," and Canon 12 of Code of Professional accordance with Rule 12.04, Canon 12 of the same
Responsibility which insists on a lawyer to "exert every Canons (Ibid).
effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy
and efficient administration of justice." "Lawyers should be reminded that their primary duty is
to assist the courts in the administration of justice. Any
The Court cannot therefore help but notice the conduct which tends to delay, impede or obstruct the
sarcasm in the petitioner's use of the phrase "your administration of justice contravenes such lawyer's
honor please." For, after using said phrase he duty."16
manifested utter disrespect to the court in his
subsequent utterances. Surely this behavior from an Although respondent judge was justified in citing
officer of the Court cannot and should not be petitioner in direct contempt of court, she erred in
countenanced, if proper decorum is to be observed imposing a fine in the amount of P3,000.00 which
and maintained during court proceedings.12 exceeded the ceiling of P2,000.00 under Supreme
Court Administrative Circular No. 22-95 which took
Indeed, the conduct of petitioner in persisting to have effect on November 16, 1995. It was not established
his documentary evidence marked to the extent of that the fine was imposed in bad faith. The Court of
interrupting the opposing counsel and the court Appeals thus properly ordered the return of the excess
showed disrespect to said counsel and the court, was of P1,000.00. Aside from the fine, the three days
defiant of the court's system for an orderly proceeding, imprisonment meted out to petitioner was justified and
and obstructed the administration of justice. The power within the 10-day limit prescribed in Section 1, Rule 71
to punish for contempt is inherent in all courts and is of the Rules of Court, as amended.
essential to the preservation of order in judicial
proceedings and to the enforcement of judgments, It is our view and we hold, therefore, that the Court of
orders, and mandates of the court, and consequently, Appeals did not commit any reversible error in its
to the due administrative of justice.13 Direct contempt is assailed decision.
committed in the presence of or so near a court or
judge, as in the case at bar, and can be punished
WHEREFORE, the assailed Decision dated March 6,
summarily without hearing.14 Hence, petitioner cannot
1998 of the Court of Appeals is
claim that there was irregularity in the actuation of
hereby AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial Court of Cavite,
respondent judge in issuing the contempt order inside
Branch 90, Imus, Cavite is ordered to return to the
her chamber without giving the petitioner the
petitioner, Rexie Efren A. Bugaring, the sum of
opportunity to defend himself or make an immediate
P1,000.00 out of the original fine of
reconsideration. The records show that petitioner was
P3,000.00.1âwphi1.nêt
cited in contempt of court during he hearing in the sala
of respondent judge, and he even filed a motion for
reconsideration of the contempt order on the same
day.15
SO ORDERED.

Petitioner argued that while it might appear that he was


carried by his emotions in espousing the case of his
client – by persisting to have his documentary
evidence marked despite the respondent judge's
contrary order – he did so in the honest belief that he
EN BANC that the latter had not established a fishball
factory. When Xu asked for his money back, Pan
[A.C. No. 5148. July 1, 2003] became hostile, making it necessary for the former to
seek legal assistance.
Xu, through herein complainant, filed a
Complaint for estafa against Pan, who was
Atty. RAMON P. REYES, complainant, vs. Atty. represented by respondent. The Complaint, docketed
VICTORIANO T. CHIONG JR., respondent. as IS 98J-51990, was assigned to Assistant Manila
City Prosecutor Pedro B. Salanga, who then issued a
DECISION subpoena for Pan to appear for preliminary
investigation on October 27 and 29, 1998. The latter
PANGANIBAN, J.: neither appeared on the two scheduled hearings nor
submitted his counter-affidavit. Hence, Prosecutor
Lawyers should treat each other with courtesy, Salanga filed a Criminal Complaint[4] for estafa against
dignity and civility. The bickering and the hostility of him before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Manila.
[5] On April 8, 1999, the Manila RTC issued a Warrant
their clients should not affect their conduct and rapport
with each other as professionals and members of the of Arrest[6] against Pan.
bar.
Thereafter, respondent filed an Urgent Motion to
The Case Quash the Warrant of Arrest.[7] He also filed with the
RTC of Zamboanga City a Civil Complaint for the
collection of a sum of money and damages as well as
for the dissolution of a business venture against
Before us is a Sworn Complaint[1] filed by Atty. complainant, Xu and Prosecutor Salanga.
Ramon P. Reyes with the Office of the Bar Confidant of
this Court, seeking the disbarment of Atty. Victoriano T. When confronted by complainant, respondent
Chiong Jr. for violation of his lawyers oath and of explained that it was Pan who had decided to institute
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional the civil action against Atty. Reyes.Respondent claimed
Responsibility. After the Third Division of this Court he would suggest to his client to drop the civil case, if
referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the complainant would move for the dismissal of the estafa
Philippines (IBP), the IBP Commission on Bar case. However, the two lawyers failed to reach a
Discipline resolved to suspend him as follows: settlement.
x x x [C]onsidering that respondent is bound by his oath In his Comment[8] dated January 27, 2000,
which binds him to the obligation that he will not wittingly respondent argued that he had shown no disrespect in
or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or impleading Atty. Reyes as co-defendant in Civil Case
unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same. In No. 4884. He claimed that there was no basis to
addition, Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility conclude that the suit was groundless, and that it had
provides that a lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy, been instituted only to exact vengeance. He alleged
fairness and candor towards his professional colleagues, and that Prosecutor Salanga was impleaded as an
additional defendant because of the irregularities the
shall avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. In
latter had committed in conducting the criminal
impleading complainant and Prosecutor Salanga in Civil investigation. Specifically, Prosecutor Salanga had
Case No. 4884, when it was apparent that there was no legal resolved to file the estafa case despite the pendency of
ground to do so, respondent violated his oath of office as Pans Motion for an Opportunity to Submit Counter-
well as the above-quoted Canon of the Code of Professional Affidavits and Evidence,[9] of the appeal[10] to the justice
Responsibility, [r]espondent is hereby SUSPENDED from secretary, and of the Motion to Defer/Suspend
the practice of law for two (2) years.[2] Proceedings.[11]

The Facts On the other hand, complainant was impleaded,


because he allegedly connived with his client (Xu) in
filing the estafa case, which the former knew fully well
was baseless. According to respondent, the
In his Complaint, Atty. Reyes alleges that
irregularities committed by Prosecutor Salanga in the
sometime in January 1998, his services were engaged
criminal investigation and complainants connivance
by one Zonggi Xu,[3] a Chinese-Taiwanese, in a
therein were discovered only after the institution of the
b u s i n e s s v e n t u r e t h a t w e n t a w r y. X u
collection suit.
invested P300,000 on a Cebu-based fishball, tempura
and seafood products factory being set up by a certain The Third Division of this Court referred the case
Chia Hsien Pan, another Chinese-Taiwanese residing to the IBP for investigation, report and
in Zamboanga City. Eventually, the former discovered recommendation. [12] Thereafter, the Board of
Governors of the IBP passed its June 29, 2002 filed against Spouses Xu, but was later modified to
Resolution.[13] include complainant and Prosecutor Salanga.
Report and Recommendation of the IBP The Amended and Supplemental
Complaints[16] alleged the following:

27. The investigating prosecutor defendant Pedro Salanga


In her Report and Recommendation,
[14] Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, to whom the knowingly and deliberately refused and failed to perform his
case was assigned by the IBP for investigation and duty enjoined by the law and the Constitution to afford
report, averred that complainant and Prosecutor plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan due process by violating his rights
Salanga had been impleaded in Civil Case No. 4884 under the Rules on preliminary investigations; he also
on the sole basis of the Criminal Complaint for estafa falsely made a Certification under oath that preliminary
they had filed against respondents client. In his investigation was duly conducted and plaintiff [was] duly
Comment, respondent himself claimed that the reason informed of the charges against him but did not answer; he
x x x was x x x the irregularities of the criminal maliciously and x x x partially ruled that there was probable
investigation/connivance and consequent damages. cause and filed a Criminal Information for estafa against
plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan, knowing fully [well] that the
Commissioner San Juan maintained that the
collection suit with damages had been filed purposely proceedings were fatally defective and null and void; x x x;
to obtain leverage against the estafa case, in which
respondents client was the defendant. There was no 28. Said assistant prosecutor, knowing also that plaintiff
need to implead complainant and Prosecutor Salanga, Chia Hsien Pan filed said appeal and motion to defer for the
since they had never participated in the business valid grounds stated therein deliberately refused to correct
transactions between Pan and Xu. Improper and highly his errors and consented to the arrest of said plaintiff under
questionable was the inclusion of the prosecutor and an invalid information and warrant of arrest.
complainant in the civil case instituted by respondent
on the alleged prodding of his client. Verily, the suit 29. Defendant Atty. Ramon Reyes, knowing that the suit of
was filed to harass complainant and Prosecutor defendant Zongoi Xu is baseless connived with the latter to
Salanga. harass and extort money from plaintiff Chia Hsien Pan by
Commissioner San Juan held that respondent said criminal prosecution in the manner contrary to law,
had no ground to implead Prosecutor Salanga and morals and public policy, resulting to the arrest of said
complainant in Civil Case No. 4884. In so doing, plaintiff and causing plaintiffs grave irreparable damages[.]
[17]
respondent violated his oath of office and Canon 8 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. The IBP
adopted the investigating commissioners We concur with the IBP that the amendment of
recommendation for his suspension from the practice the Complaint and the failure to resort to the proper
of law for two (2) years. remedies strengthen complainants allegation that the
civil action was intended to gain leverage against the
This Courts Ruling estafa case. If respondent or his client did not agree
with Prosecutor Salangas resolution, they should have
used the proper procedural and administrative
We agree with the IBPs recommendation. remedies. Respondent could have gone to the justice
secretary and filed a Motion for Reconsideration or a
Lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who Motion for Reinvestigation of Prosecutor Salangas
are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and decision to file an information for estafa.
upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and
liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. In the trial court, a Motion to Dismiss was
[15] Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain available to him if he could show that the estafa case
obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the was filed without basis. Moreover, he could have
legal profession, they must conduct themselves instituted disbarment proceedings against complainant
honorably and fairly. Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of and Prosecutor Salanga, if he believed that the two
Professional Responsibility provides that [a] lawyer had conspired to act illegally. As a lawyer, respondent
shall conduct himself with courtesy, fairness and should have advised his client of the availability of
candor towards his professional colleagues, and shall these remedies. Thus, the filing of the civil case had no
avoid harassing tactics against opposing counsel. justification.

Respondents actions do not measure up to this The lack of involvement of complainant and
Canon. Civil Case No. 4884 was for the collection of a Prosecutor Salanga in the business transaction subject
sum of money, damages and dissolution of an of the collection suit shows that there was no reason
unregistered business venture. It had originally been for their inclusion in that case. It appears that
respondent took the estafa case as a personal affront
and used the civil case as a tool to return the
inconvenience suffered by his client. His actions
demonstrate a misuse of the legal process. The aim of
every lawsuit should be to render justice to the parties
according to law, not to harass them.[18]
Lawyers should treat their opposing counsels
and other lawyers with courtesy, dignity and civility. A
great part of their comfort, as well as of their success
at the bar, depends upon their relations with their
professional brethren. Since they deal constantly with
each other, they must treat one another with trust and
respect. Any undue ill feeling between clients should
not influence counsels in their conduct and demeanor
toward each other.Mutual bickering, unjustified
recriminations and offensive behavior among lawyers
not only detract from the dignity of the legal profession,
[19] but also constitute highly unprofessional conduct

subject to disciplinary action.

Furthermore, the Lawyers Oath exhorts law


practitioners not to wittingly or willingly promote or sue
any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor
consent to the same.
Respondent claims that it was his client who
insisted in impleading complainant and Prosecutor
Salanga. Such excuse is flimsy and
unacceptable. While lawyers owe entire devotion to the
interests of their clients, their office does not permit
violation of the law or any manner of fraud or
chicanery.[20] Their rendition of improper service invites
stern and just condemnation. Correspondingly, they
advance the honor of their profession and the best
interests of their clients when they render service or
give advice that meets the strictest principles of moral
law.[21]

The highest reward that can be bestowed on


lawyers is the esteem of their professional
brethren. This esteem cannot be purchased,
perfunctorily created, or gained by artifice or
contrivance. It is born of sharp contests and thrives
despite conflicting interests. It emanates solely from
integrity, character, brains and skill in the honorable
performance of professional duty.[22]

WHEREFORE, respondent is found guilty as


charged and is hereby SUSPENDED for two (2) years
from the practice of law, effective immediately.
SO ORDERED.
While the narratives of Atty. Espina and Atty. Chavez
diverged on many points, the following facts are
undisputed and stipulated during the preliminary
hearing before the IBP Commissioner on June 24,
2005:8

!
1. Atty. Espina's parents, represented by Atty.
SECOND DIVISION Espina, filed an ejectment complaint against
Enguio, represented by Atty. Chavez.

A.C. No. 7250 [Formerly CBD Case No. 

05-1448], April 20, 2015
2. During the pendency of the ejectment case,
ATTY. RICARDO M. Atty. Espina sent a letter9 dated December 13,
ESPINA, Complainant, v. ATTY. JESUS G. 2004 to the Department of Justice (DOJ)
CHAVEZ, Respondent.
 Secretary captioned "Abrasive and harassment
tactics of Public Attorney IHJesus G. Chavez."
The letter alleged that the Answer Atty. Chavez
DECISION prepared in the ejectment case contained
offensive statements.10

BRION, J.: 


Before this Court is a Complaint for Disbarment/ 3. Also while the ejectment case was pending,
Suspension1 that Atty. Ricardo M. Espina (Atty. Espina) A t t y. Chavez, as a Public
filed against Atty. Jesus G. Chavez (Atty. Chavez) with Attorney, endorsed through a letter (transmittal
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on March letter) to the Provincial Prosecutor,11  the filing
23, 2005 for violation of Canon 19, Rule 19.01 of the of a criminal complaint for Violation of Article
Code of Professional Responsibility.2
 172 (Falsification by private individual and use

 of falsified document) of the Revised Penal
The IBP Report and Recommendation3 transmitted to Code (RPC) against Atty. Espina, his wife (who
this Court on May 29, 2006 recommended the is a partner in his law office) and his parents.

dismissal of the charge for lack of proof.
 


On August 28, 2006, Atty. Espina filed with this Court 4. The criminal complaint was based on the
a Petition for Review on Certiorari4 questioning the IBP affidavit-complaint executed by Enguio.12  In
findings. On February 28, 2007, Atty. Chavez filed his this affidavit-complaint, Enguio alleged that "in
Comment on the Petition5  in compliance with our order to fashion a case for Ejectment,
Resolution of December 11, 2006.
 respondents made an untruthful statement in

 the narration of facts (par. 4, Article 171)."

The Provincial Prosecutor dismissed the falsification


The Facts
complaint for lack of probable cause.13

On November 3, 2004, Atty. Espina and his law firm In the meantime, the DOJ Secretary endorsed Atty.
represented Atty. Espina's parents in an ejectment suit Espina's letter captioned  "Abrasive and harassment
filed against Remedios C. Enguio (Enguio) in the tactics of Public Attorney III Jesus G. Chavez"  to the
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Carmen, Agusan Del Office of the Chief Public Attorney (Chief PAO) for
Norte. Atty. Chavez who was then a Public Attorney III action.

of the Public Attorney's Office, Regional Office XIII,


Butuan City represented Enguio.6
The Chief PAO ordered Atty. Chavez to comment on
the letter. Atty. Espina then filed his rebuttal to Atty.
On May 20, 2005, the MTC dismissed the ejectment Chavez's comment.

suit for lack of cause of action. On February 13, 2007,


the Regional Trial Court (RTC) affirmed the MTC A portion of Atty. Espina's rebuttal letter reads: "Baka
decision.7 Neither party appealed the RTC decision.
kulangpo ng indoctrination itong si Atty. Chavez sa
concept ng Torrens system, i-suspend nyo po muna
During the pendency of the ejectment suit, Atty. siya not for the purpose of penalizing him but for him
Chavez committed an act apparently in his official to be given time to take continuing legal education on
capacity, which prompted Atty. Espina to file his Torrens system. "

Complaint for Disbarment/Suspension with the IBP.

The Chief PAO, in her Resolution dated May 5, 2005, Our Ruling
dismissed the complaint against Atty. Chavez.

We affirm the IBP Report and Recommendation.

The IBP Report and Recommendation14

The complaint is anchored on the alleged violation by


Based on the facts and as stipulated by the parties, Atty. Chavez of Canon 19, Rule 19.01 of the Code of
the IBP Commissioner distilled the issues to be Professional Responsibility, viz:

resolved as follows:

Canon 1:  A lawyer shall represent his client with


1. Whether or not PAO III Jesus G. Chavez zeal within the bounds of law.

violated Rule 19.01 of Canon 19 of the Code of


Professional Responsibility when he prepared Rule 19.01:  A lawyer shall employ only  fair and
and transmitted the complaint of Remedios honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his
Enquio for falsification to the Provincial client and shall not present, participate in
Prosecutor of Agusan del Norte.

presenting or threaten to

present  unfounded  criminal charges to obtain
2. Whether or not the complaint for falsification an improper advantage in any case or proceeding.

was an unfounded charge intended to obtain


improper advantage in a case or proceeding.
(Underscoring supplied.)

The IBP Commissioner noted that the complaint is Atty. Espina contends that Atty. Chavez violated the
anchored on the alleged indispensable assistance above-quoted provisions when he indispensably
extended by Atty. Chavez in the preparation and filing participated in the filing of the falsification complaint
of the falsification complaint, as proven by the against him, his wife and his parents. The falsification
transmittal letter to the Provincial Prosecutor.
case was filed, according to Atty. Espina, solely for the
purpose of gaining an improper advantage and
The IBP Commissioner held that the preparation and leverage in the ejectment case.16

transmittal of the criminal complaint to the Provincial


Prosecutor's Office is not  per se  an unfair and Atty. Espina further argues that Atty. Chavez
dishonest means employed by Atty. Chavez.
participated in the filing of the baseless criminal
complaint by (i) goading Enguio to file the criminal
The IBP Commissioner found that the criminal charge complaint and (ii) ensuring that the criminal complaint
endorsed by Atty. Chavez was not exactly unfounded was acted upon by the Office of the Provincial
or wanting in basis. He observed that the complaint Prosecutor by sending the transmittal letter to the said
f o r e j e c t m e n t c o n t a i n e d c o n fl i c t i n g office under Atty. Chavez's signature.17

averments, i.e., while it is alleged that the discovery of


Enguio's occupation of the disputed property was We find Atty. Espina's position unmeritorious and
made in November 2003, the letter demand to Enguio without basis.

to vacate the property (which was attached to the


complaint) categorically stated that the defendant had What Rule 19.01 prohibits is the filing or the threat of
been notified as early as 1997 that her possession filing  patently frivolous and meritless  appeals
and/or occupation of the property was illegal.
or  clearly groundless actions  for the purpose of
gaining improper advantage in any case or
The IBP Commissioner - based on her examination of proceeding.18

the submitted facts and evidence - concluded that


Atty. Chavez was honestly mistaken when he Two elements are indispensable before a lawyer can
construed the contradictory allegations in the be deemed to have violated this rule: (i) the filing or
complaint for ejectment as criminal falsification under threat of filing a patently frivolous and meritless action
the Revised Penal Code. He noted that lawyers are not or appeal and (ii) the filing or threat of filing the action
liable for honest mistakes. He dismissed the complaint is intended to gain improper advantage in any case or
given the dearth of competent evidence on record to proceeding.

substantiate Atty. Espina's allegation that the


transmission of the complaint for falsification was Our jurisprudence is replete with cases on these
intended to gain an advantage in the civil complaint points.

for ejectment.

In  Pena v. Atty. Aparicio,19  the lawyer sent a demand


The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved in letter to his client's employer which contained threats
t o t o  t h e I B P C o m m i s s i o n e r ' s r e p o r t a n d of filing criminal charges for tax evasion, falsification of
recommendation.15
documents and cancellation of business license if the
separation pay allegedly due to his client was not
paid. The lawyer drafted the demand letter in response his goal of having the residue of the estate delivered to
to the notice to return to work sent by the employer.
his clients, instead of prematurely filing criminal
charges against Atty. Briones.26

We held that Atty. Aparicio did exactly what Canon 19


and its Rules prohibit. The threat to file the cases It can be gleamed from the above-cited cases that
against the employer was designed to secure leverage Rule 19.01 is violated only when the criminal
to compel the latter to give in to Atty. Aparicio's complaint filed or threatened to be filed is  patently
demands. The letter in this case contained more than frivolous, meritless and clearly groundless  and is
just a simple demand to pay. It contained threat to file aimed solely at gaining the sole purpose of improper
retaliatory charges against the complainant which had advantage.

nothing to do with the claim for separation pay. The


letter was obviously designed to secure leverage to In  Pena v. Atty. Aparicio, the demand letter was
compel the employer to yield to the client's claims.20
explicit and blatant in its threat of filing several actions
(which included tax evasion, a matter totally unrelated
In Ong v. Atty. Unto,21 we reprimanded a lawyer when to the pending labor case) if the employer failed to
he sent a demand letter which also contained the accede to the demand for payment of separation pay
threat of various charges against the complainant if allegedly due to the employee. It was clearly and
the latter failed to comply with the lawyer's demands. obviously done to compel the employer to grant the
The lawyer, in fact, made good his promise when the demand for separation pay.

complainant did not heed his warning. The lawyer filed


an array of criminal and administrative charges against Similarly, in  Ong v. Atty. Unto, the letter contained
the complainant, which charges were irrelevant to his threats of criminal prosecution if the complainant did
client's claim.
not accede to the lawyer's demand. The lawyer
subsequently filed totally unrelated and irrelevant
We held in Ong that:
criminal and administrative cases against the
complainant when the latter failed to comply with the
It is evident from the records that he tried to coerce demand letter. Without doubt, these cases were filed
the complainant to comply with his letter-demand by to force the complainant to give in to the lawyer's
threatening to file various charges against the latter. demands.

When the complainant did not heed his warning, he


made good his threat and filed a string of criminal and Finally, in  Atty. Briones v. Atty. Gimenez,  the criminal
administrative cases against the complainant. We find complaint was filed after the complainant did not
the respondent's action to be malicious as the cases comply with the demand letter. There was also an
he instituted against the complainant did not have any available remedy in the civil action which could have
bearing or connection to the cause of his client.22
given effect to Atty. Gimenez's demand without having
to file the criminal complaint.

In  Atty. Briones v. Atty. Gimenez,23  Atty. Briones


charged Atty. Gimenez (a special administrator of an The facts of the present case differed from the
estate) for violating Rule 19.01 of the Code of above-cited cases.  We note that Atty. Espina did not
Professional Responsibility. In this case, the Atty. only fail to substantiate his allegation that Atty. Chavez
Gimenez filed a criminal complaint24  against Atty. masterminded the filing of the criminal complaint for
Briones for resisting and seriously disobeying an order falsification; he also failed to show that the criminal
of the trial court in an estate settlement proceeding, complaint was patently frivolous, meritless and
directing him (Atty. Briones) to deliver the residue of groundless, and that it was filed to gain improper
the estate to the heirs.
advantage in favor of his client.

We noted that before Atty. Gimenez assisted the heirs First, the fact that Atty. Chavez endorsed the criminal
in filing the criminal complaint, he sent demand letters complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor was, in itself,
to Atty. Briones to comply with the order to deliver the not contrary to Rule 19.01.

residue of the estate to the heirs. When Atty. Briones


did not reply to the demand letters, Atty. Gimenez filed We point out that Atty. Chavez was then a PAO lawyer.
the criminal complaint on behalf of his clients against In this capacity, he had the duty to assist clients who
Atty. Briones for refusing to obey the lawful order of could not afford the services of a private lawyer. His
the court.25
assessment on the merit of the criminal complaint
might have been erroneous but the act of endorsing
We held that Atty. Gimenez should have first filed the the affidavit-complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor did
proper motion with the Regional Trial Court for not per se violate Rule 19.01.

execution of the order instead of immediately filing the


criminal complaint. We concluded that fair play Moreover, the affidavit-complaint for Falsification was
demands that Atty. Gimenez should have filed the signed and executed by Enguio and not by Atty.
proper motion with the Regional Trial Court to attain
Chavez. Atty. Chavez merely transmitted the affidavit- Finally, unlike in the cases cited above, there is no
complaint to the Provincial Prosecutor for the latter's clear and concrete proof that the falsification
consideration. We cannot conclude, solely given these complaint was filed to ensure improper advantage to
facts and Atty. Espina's bare assertions, that Enguio Enguio.

was goaded into filing the criminal complaint.

Other than the fact that the falsification complaint


Second, the criminal complaint was not patently arose from the narration of facts in the ejectment
frivolous and groundless. It was not unreasonable for complaint, Atty. Espina failed to show that the
Atty. Chavez to conclude (albeit incorrectly according falsification complaint was meant to ensure improper
to the assessment of the Provincial Prosecutor) that advantage to Enguio. Atty. Espina merely made this
there was a case for violation of Article 172 of the conclusion by inference but his basic premises were
RPC.
not supported by evidence. We cannot presume that
Enguio gained or stood to gain improper advantage to
Article 172 in relation to paragraph 4 of Article 171 of the detriment of Atty. Espina's parents by the mere
the RPC penalizes the making of untruthful statements filing of the falsification complaint. After all, both the
in a narration of facts. The basis of Enguio's affidavit- ejectment and falsification complaints were eventually
complaint was the contrary statements in the dismissed.

ejectment complaint on when Atty. Espina's parents


acquired knowledge of Enguio's alleged illegal As a final point, we note with concern the excessive
possession of the property.
antagonism between Atty. Espina and Atty. Chavez. It
appears that this case is no longer about the alleged
The body of the ejectment complaint alleged that the violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility but
plaintiffs discovered Enguio's illegal possession in a protracted and bitter fight between brothers in the
November 2003. On the other hand, the letter legal profession. Both claim that the other party is
attached to the complaint explicitly indicated that arrogant and ignorant of the law. The pleadings
Enguio has been notified as early as 1997 that her contained serious attacks on the professional
possession and occupation of the land was illegal. competence and personal integrity of one another.
This explains Enguio's allegation in her affidavit- These are acts that this Court should not allow to pass
complaint that "in order to fashion a case for without comments.

Ejectment, respondent made an untruthful statement


in the narration of facts."
We take this occasion to remind lawyers of their duties
to their professional colleagues. Rule 8.01 of Canon 8
As the IBP Commissioner correctly observed, the of the Code of Professional Responsibility is clear:  a
criminal complaint was not exactly unfounded or lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use
wanting in basis. That it was later dismissed by the language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise
Provincial Prosecutor for lack of probable cause is of improper.

no consequence. We cannot expect and require Atty.


Chavez (or any lawyer for that matter) to be infallible in While the fervor shown by Atty. Espina and Atty.
his judgment on the merit of every criminal charge he Chavez in defending their clients' respective claims
endorses to the prosecutor. It is only required that the has been admirable, we find it unfortunate that they
complaint is not patently frivolous and filed solely to allowed their personal animosity and bruised egos to
ensure improper advantage.
affect their handling of these cases.

It is also unwise to characterize every criminal Although we dismiss the present complaint because
complaint that arose from or is connected with a of lack of merit,  we strongly warn  both  counsels
separate case or proceeding to be within the coverage
that any future infraction of the Code of
of Rule 19.01. The better policy is to balance the
prohibition under Rule 19.01 with the equally Professional Responsibility may warrant actual
important right of the State to prosecute criminal penalty.

offenses. We stress that the key test is whether the


criminal complaint is patently meritless and clearly WHEREFORE, premises considered, we
filed to gain improper advantage.
hereby AFFIRM the recommendation of the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and DISMISS the Disbarment/
Unless the criminal complaint is patently frivolous and Suspension complaint against  ATTY. JESUS G.
obviously meant to secure an improper advantage, a CHAVEZ.  At the same time, we warn both counsels
lawyer who files such criminal complaint should not be about their use of intemperate language in their
automatically deemed to have violated Rule 19.01. pleadings and in dealing with one another.

Otherwise, lawyers who have a valid cause for filing a


criminal action may be compelled not to proceed SO ORDERED.

because of fear of administrative sanctions.

listened, but shortly after he again started shouting at


and scolding Atty. Salvani. To avoid any scene with
respondent, complainant went inside his office. He
asked his clerk to put a notice outside prohibiting
anyone from interfering with any activity in the Public
Attorney’s Office.

Complainant said that he then went out to attend a


hearing, but when he came back he heard respondent
Pefianco saying: "Nagsiling si Atty. Alcantara nga
pagwa-on na kuno ako dya sa PAO, buyon nga klase
" 
 ka tawo." ("Atty. Alcantara said that he would send me
SECOND DIVISION out of the PAO, what an idiot.") Then, upon seeing
complainant, respondent pointed his finger at him and
A. C. No. 5398 December 3, 2002 repeated his statement for the other people in the
office to hear. At this point, according to complainant,
ANTONIO A. ALCANTARA, complainant, 
 he confronted respondent Pefianco and told him to
vs.
 observe civility or else to leave the office if he had no
ATTY. MARIANO PEFIANCO, respondent. business there. Complainant said respondent resented
this and started hurling invectives at him. According to
DECISION complainant, respondent even took a menacing stance
towards him.
MENDOZA, J.:
This caused a commotion in the office. Atty. Pepin
Marfil and Mr. Robert Minguez, the Chief of the
This is a complaint against Atty. Mariano Pefianco for
Probation Office, tried to pacify respondent Pefianco.
conduct unbecoming a member of the bar for using
Two guards of the Hall of Justice came to take
improper and offensive language and threatening and
respondent out of the office, but before they could do
attempting to assault complainant.
so, respondent tried to attack complainant and even
shouted at him, "Gago ka!" ("You’re stupid!")
The complainant, Atty. Antonio A. Alcantara, is the Fortunately, the guards were able to fend off
incumbent District Public Attorney of the Public respondent’s blow and complainant was not harmed.
Attorney’s Office in San Jose, Antique. He alleged that
on May 18, 2000, while Atty. Ramon Salvani III was
Complainant also submitted the affidavits of Atty.
conferring with a client in the Public Attorney’s Office
Ramon Salvani III, Felizardo Del Rosario, Atty. Pepin
(PAO) at the Hall of Justice in San Jose, Antique, a
Joey Marfil, Robert Minguez, Herbert Ysulat and
woman approached them. Complainant saw the
Ramon Quintayo to corroborate his allegations.
woman in tears, whereupon he went to the group and
suggested that Atty. Salvani talk with her amicably as a
hearing was taking place in another room. At this point, In his Comment and Counter-Complaint, respondent
respondent Atty. Mariano Pefianco, who was sitting Pefianco said that the sight of the crying woman,
nearby, stood up and shouted at Atty. Salvani and his whose husband had been murdered, moved him and
client, saying, "Nga-a gina-areglo mo ina, ipapreso ang prompted him to take up her defense. He said that he
imo nga kliyente para mahibal-an na anang resented the fact that complainant had ordered an
sala." ("Why do you settle that case? Have your client employee, Napoleon Labonete, to put a sign outside
imprisoned so that he will realize his mistake.") prohibiting "standbys" from hanging round in the Public
Attorney’s Office.
Complainant said he was surprised at respondent
Pefianco’s outburst and asked him to cool off, but Respondent claimed that while talking with Atty.
respondent continued to fulminate at Atty. Salvani. Atty. Salvani concerning the woman’s case, complainant,
Salvani tried to explain to respondent that it was the with his bodyguard, arrived and shouted at him to get
woman who was asking if the civil aspect of the out of the Public Attorney’s Office. He claimed that two
criminal case could be settled because she was no security guards also came, and complainant ordered
longer interested in prosecuting the same. Respondent them to take respondent out of the office. Contrary to
refused to listen and instead continued to scold Atty. complainant’s claims, however, respondent said that it
Salvani and the latter’s client. was complainant who moved to punch him and shout
at him, "Gago ka!" ("You’re stupid!")
As head of the Office, complainant approached
respondent and asked him to take it easy and leave Prior to the filing of the present complaint, respondent
Atty. Salvani to settle the matter. Respondent at first Pefianco had filed before the Office of the Ombudsman
an administrative and criminal complaint against
complainant. However, the complaint was dismissed by moral righteousness respondent had was negated by
the said office. the way he chose to express his indignation. An
injustice cannot be righted by another injustice.
The Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines found that respondent committed the WHEREFORE, Atty. Mariano Pefianco is found
acts alleged in the complaint and that he violated GUILTY of violation of Canon 8 of the Code of
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Professional Responsibility and, considering this to be
The Committee noted that respondent failed not only to his first offense, is hereby FINED in the amount
deny the accusations against him but also to give any of P1,000.00 and REPRIMANDED with a warning that
explanation for his actions. For this reason, it similar action in the future will be sanctioned more
recommended that respondent be reprimanded and severely.
warned that repetition of the same act will be dealt with
more severely in the future.

We find the recommendation of the IBP Committee on SO ORDERED.

Bar Discipline to be well taken.


 
The evidence on record indeed shows that it was  
respondent Pefianco who provoked the incident in SECOND DIVISION 
question. The affidavits of several disinterested  
persons confirm complainant’s allegation that  
respondent Pefianco shouted and hurled invectives at ROSALIE DALLONG-GALICINAO, A.C. No. 6396
him and Atty. Salvani and even attempted to lay hands Complainant,
on him (complainant).
 
Present:
Canon 8 of the Code of Professional
 
Responsibility 1 admonishes lawyers to conduct
themselves with courtesy, fairness and candor toward PUNO, J.,
their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are duty bound to uphold Chairman,
the dignity of the legal profession. They must act - versus  -  AUSTRIA-
honorably, fairly and candidly toward each other and MARTINEZ,
otherwise conduct themselves without reproach at all CA
times.2 L L
EJ
In this case, respondent’s meddling in a matter in O,
which he had no right to do so caused the untoward TINGA, and 
incident. He had no right to demand an explanation CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
from Atty. Salvani why the case of the woman had not
or could not be settled. Even so, Atty. Salvani in fact ATTY. VIRGIL R. CASTRO,
tried to explain the matter to respondent, but the latter Respondent, Promulgated:
insisted on his view about the case.  
October 25, 2005
Respondent said he was moved by the plight of the  
woman whose husband had been murdered as she
x-----------------------------------------------------------
was pleading for the settlement of her case because
she needed the money. Be that as it may, respondent --------x
should realize that what he thought was righteous did  
not give him the right to demand that Atty. Salvani and RESOLUTION
his client, apparently the accused in the criminal case,  
settle the case with the widow. Even when he was TINGA, J.:
being pacified, respondent did not relent. Instead he  
insulted and berated those who tried to calm him down. This administrative case concerns a lawyer who
Two of the witnesses, Atty. Pepin Marfil and Robert hurled invectives at a Clerk of Court. Members of
Minguez, who went to the Public Attorney’s Office the bar decorum must at all times comfort
because they heard the commotion, and two guards at themselves in a manner befitting their noble
the Hall of Justice, who had been summoned, failed to profession.
stop respondent from his verbal rampage. Respondent
 
ought to have realized that this sort of public behavior
can only bring down the legal profession in the public  
estimation and erode public respect for it. Whatever  
  banging the door on his way out to show his
Complainant Atty. Rosalie Dallong- anger. The banging of the door was so loud it was
Galicinao is the Clerk of Court of the Regional heard by the people at the adjacent RTC, Branch
Trial Court (RTC) of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya. On 30 where a hearing was taking place.[4]
8 May 2003, she filed with the Commission on  
Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the After a few minutes, respondent returned to the
Philippines (IBP) a  Complaint-Affidavit[1]  with office, still enraged, and pointed his finger at
supporting documents[2] against respondent Atty. complainant and shouted,  Ukinnan, no adda ti
Virgil R. Castro for Unprofessional Conduct, unget mo iti kilientek haan mo nga ibales kaniak
specifically violation of Canon 7, Rule 7.03, ah! (Vulva of your mother! If you are harboring ill
Canon 8 and Rule 8.02 of the Code of feelings against my client, dont turn your ire on
Professional Responsibility.[3]  The charge in the me!) Complainant was shocked at respondents
complaint is summed up as follows: words but still managed to reply, I dont even
  know your client, Sir. Respondent left the office
Respondent Atty. Castro was a private and as he passed by complainants window, he
practitioner and Vice-President of IBP-Nueva again shouted,  Ukinnam nga babai!  (Vulva of
Vizcaya Chapter. On 5 May 2003, respondent your mother, you woman!)[5]
went to complainants office to inquire whether  
the complete records of Civil Case No. 784, Complainant suffered acute embarrassment at
entitled Sps. Crispino Castillano v. Sps. Federico the incident, as it happened in her office of which
S. Castillano and Felicidad Aberin,  had already she was, and still is, the head and in front of her
been remanded to the court of origin, MCTC staff. She felt that her credibility had been
Dupax del Norte, Alfonso Castaned, Nueva tarnished and diminished, eliciting doubt on her
Vizcaya. It must be noted that respondent was ability to command full respect from her staff.[6]
not the counsel of record of either party in Civil  
Case No. 784.   
   
Complainant informed respondent that The Complaint-Affidavit, filed three days after the
the record had not yet been transmitted since a incident,  was supported by an  Affidavit[7]  signed
certified true copy of the decision of the Court of by employees of RTC-Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya
Appeals should first be presented to serve as who witnessed the incident.
basis for the transmittal of the records to the The  Affidavit  narrated the same incident as
court of origin. To this respondent retorted witnessed by the said employees. A Motion to File
scornfully, Who will certify the Court of Appeals Additional Affidavit/Documentary Evidence  was
Decision, the Court of Appeals? You mean to say, filed by complainant on 25 September 2003.[8]
I would still have to go to Manila to get a certified  
true copy? Surprised at this outburst, On 26 May 2003, the CBD-IBP issued
complainant replied, Sir, its in the Rules but you an  Order[9]  requiring respondent to submit his
could show us the copy sent to the party you answer to the complaint. Respondent submitted
claim to be representing. Respondent then his  Compliance [10]  dated 18 June 2003.
replied, Then you should have notified me of the Respondent explained that he was counsel for the
said requirement. That was two weeks ago and I plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 847, entitled  Sps.
have been frequenting your office since then, but Federico Castillano, et al. v. Sps. Crispin
you never bothered to notify me. Complainant Castillano, et al.,  filed with the RTC of Nueva
replied, It is not our duty, Sir, to notify you of the Vizcaya, Branch 30.  He learned of the finality of
said requirement.  the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R.
  No. 64962 with respect to Civil Case No. 847
Respondent then answered, You mean to before the lower court. Prior to the incident, he
say it is not your duty to remand the record of went to the office of the complainant to request
the case? Complainant responded, No, Sir, I for the transmittal of the records of the case to
mean, its not our duty to notify you that you have the MCTC and the complainant reassured him of
to submit a copy of the Court of Appeals decision. the same. 
Respondent angrily declared in Ilocano, Kayat mo  
nga saw-en, awan pakialam yon? Kasdiay?  (You Respondent admits having inquired
mean to say you dont care anymore? Is that the about the status of the transmittal of the records
way it is?) He then turned and left the office, on 5 May 2003. However, he has no explanation
as to what transpired on that day. Instead, he represent them, respondent had no right to
narrates that on 25 May 2003, twelve days after impose his will on the clerk of court. 
the incident, the records had not yet been  
transmitted, and he subsequently learned that Rule 8.02 of the Code of Professional
these records were returned to the court of origin. Responsibility states:
   
The hearing for the administrative Rule 8.02A
complaint before the CBD was set on 25 lawyer shall not, directly
September 2003 by the Investigating or indirectly, encroach
Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan. However, upon the professional
on said date, only complainant appeared. The employment of another
latter also moved that the case be submitted for lawyer; however, it is the
r e s o l u t i o n . [ 1 1 ]  R e s p o n d e n t l a t e r o n f i l e d right of any lawyer,
a  Manifestation  stating that the reason for his without fear or favor, to
non-appearance was because he was still give proper advice and
recuperating from physical injuries and that he assistance to those
was not mentally fit to prepare the required seeking relief against
pleadings as his vehicle was rained with bullets unfaithful or neglectful
on 19 August 2003. He also expressed his public counsel.
apology to the complainant in the  
same Manifestation.[12]  
  Through his acts of constantly checking
Complainant filed the transmittal of the records of Civil Case No.
a  Manifestation  expressing her desire not to 784, respondent deliberately encroached upon
appear on the next hearing date in view of the legal functions of the counsel of record of that
respondents public apology, adding that case. It does not matter whether he did so in good
respondent personally and humbly asked for faith. 
forgiveness which she accepted.[13]  
  Moreover, in the course of his
The Investigating Commissioner questionable activities relating to Civil Case No.
recommended that respondent be reprimanded 784, respondent acted rudely towards an officer
and warned that any other complaint for breach of the court. He raised his voice at the clerk of
of his professional duties shall be dealt with more court and uttered at her the most vulgar of
severely.[14]  The IBP submitted to this Court a invectives. Not only was it ill-mannered but also
Notice of Resolution adopting and approving the unbecoming considering that he did all these to a
recommendation of the Investigating woman and in front of her subordinates. 
Commissioner.[15]  
  As held in  Alcantara v. Atty. Pefianco,
At the onset, it should be noted that [16]  respondent ought to have realized that this

respondent was not the counsel of record of Civil sort of public behavior can only bring down the
Case No. 784. Had he been counsel of record, it legal profession in the public estimation and
would have been easy for him to present the erode public respect for it.[17]These acts violate
required certified true copy of the decision of the Rule 7.03, Canon 8 and Rule 8.01, to wit:
Court of Appeals. He need not have gone to  
Manila to procure a certified true copy of the Rule 7.03 A
decision since the Court of Appeals furnishes the lawyer shall not engage
parties and their counsel of record a duplicate in conduct that
original or certified true copy of its decision.  adversely reflect on his
  fitness to practice law,
  now shall he, whether in
  public or private life
His explanation that he will enter his behave in scandalous
appearance in the case when its records were manner to the discredit
already transmitted to the MCTC is unacceptable. of the legal profession.
Not being the counsel of record and there being  
no authorization from either the parties to
Canon 8 A uttered cannot be taken back. Hence, he should
lawyer shall conduct bear the consequences of his actions. 
himself with courtesy,  
fairness and candor  
toward his professional The highest reward that can be bestowed
colleagues, and shall on lawyers is the esteem of their brethren. This
avoid harassing tactics esteem cannot be purchased, perfunctorily
against opposing created, or gained by artifice or contrivance. It is
counsel. born of sharp contexts and thrives despite
  conflicting interest. It emanates solely from
Rule 8.01 A integrity, character, brains and skills in the
lawyer shall not, in his honorable performance of professional duty.[20]
professional dealings,
use language which is WHEREFORE, premises considered, respondent
abusive, offensive or is hereby FINED in the amount of TEN
otherwise improper. THOUSAND (P10,000.00) PESOS with a warning
  that any similar infraction with be dealt with
  more severely. Let a copy of this  Decision  be
Moreover, Canon 8 of the Code of furnished the Bar Confidant for appropriate
Professional Responsibility demands that lawyers annotation in the record of the respondent. 
conduct themselves with courtesy, fairness and  
candor toward their fellow lawyers. Lawyers are SO ORDERED. 
duty bound to uphold the dignity of the legal
profession. They must act honorably, fairly and
candidly towards each other and otherwise
conduct themselves without reproach at all times.
[18]

As correctly evaluated by the


Investigating Commissioner, respondent did not
categorically deny the charges in the complaint.
Instead, he gave a lengthy narration of the
prefatory facts of the case as well as of the
incident on 5 May 2003. 
 
Complainant also alleged in
her  Complaint-Affidavit  that respondents
uncharacteristic behavior was not an isolated
incident. He has supposedly done the same to
Attys. Abraham Johnny G. Asuncion and Temmy
Lambino, the latter having filed a case against
respondent pending before this Court.[19]  We,
however, cannot acknowledge such allegation
absent any evidence showing the veracity of such
claim. No affidavits to that effect were submitted
by either Atty. Asuncion or Atty. Lambino. 
 
Nonetheless, the penalty to be imposed
should be tempered owing to the fact that
respondent had apologized to the complainant
and the latter had accepted it. This is not to say,
however, that respondent should be absolved
from his actuations. People are accountable for
the consequences of the things they say and do
even if they repent afterwards. The fact remains
that things done cannot be undone and words
Republic of the Philippines
 Aranas vs. Arnold Balmores. The Public Attorney’s
SUPREME COURT
 Office (PAO) thru Atty. Ferdinand P. Censon
Manila represented the complainant while Atty. Rodolfo Flores
appeared as counsel for the defendant.
SECOND DIVISION
x x x During the Preliminary Conference x x x,
A.C. No. 8954 November 13, 2013 respondent Atty. Flores entered his appearance and
was given time to file a Pre-Trial Brief. x x x On May
HON. MARIBETH RODRIGUEZ-MANAHAN, 24, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores filed his Pre-Trial
Presiding Judge, Municipal Trial Court, San Mateo, Brief but without proof of MCLE compliance hence it
Rizal,Complainant, 
 was expunged from the records without prejudice to
vs.
 the filing of another Pre-Trial Brief containing the
ATTY. RODOLFO FLORES, Respondent. required MCLE compliance. x x x Atty. Flores asked for
ten (10) days to submit proof.
RESOLUTION
The preliminary conference was reset several times
(August 11, September 8) for failure of respondent Atty.
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
Flores to appear and submit his Pre-Trial Brief
indicating thereon his MCLE compliance. The court a
Respondent Atty. Rodolto Flores (Atty. Flores) was quo likewise issued Orders dated September 15 and
counsel for the defendant in Civil Case No. 1863 October 20, 2010 giving respondent Atty. Flores a last
captioned as Marsha Aranas plaintiff versus Arnold chance to submit his Pre-Trial Brief with stern warning
Balmores defendant a suit for damages filed before the that failure to do so shall be considered a waiver on his
Municipal Trial Court of San Mateo, Rizal and presided part.
by herein complainant Judge Maribeth Rodriguez-
Manahan (Judge Manahan). During the proceedings in
M e a n w h i l e , r e s p o n d e n t A t t y. F l o r e s f i l e d a
Civil Case No. 1863, Judge Manahan issued an
Manifestation in Court dated September 14, 2010
Order 1 dated January 12, 2011, whereby she
stating among others, the following allegations:
voluntarily inhibited from hearing Civil Case No. 1863.
The said Order reads in part, viz:
xxxx
More than mere contempt do his (Atty. Flores)
unethical actuations, his traits of dishonesty and 4. When you took your oath as member of the Bar, you
discourtesy not only to his own brethren in the legal promised to serve truth, justice and fair play. Do you
profession, but also to the bench and judges, would think you are being truthful, just and fair by serving a
amount to grave misconduct, if not a malpractice of cheater?
law, a serious ground for disciplinary action of a
member of the bar pursuant to Rules 139 a & b. 5. Ignorance of the law excuses no one for which
reason even Erap was convicted by the
IN VIEW WHEREOF, furnish a copy of this Order to the Sandiganbayan.1âwphi1But even worse is a lawyer
Bar Discipline Committee, Integrated Bar of the who violates the law.
Philippines, to the Supreme Court en banc, for
appropriate investigation and sanction.2 6. Last but not the least, God said Thou shall not lie.
Again the Philippine Constitution commands: Give
Upon receipt of the copy of the above Order, the Office every Filipino his due. The act of refusal by the plaintiff
of the Bar Confidant (OBC) deemed the is violative of the foregoing divine and human laws.
pronouncements of Judge Manahan as a formal
administrative Complaint against Atty. Flores. Docketed xxxx
as A.C. No. 8954, the case was referred to the
Executive Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Rizal for Respondent Atty. Flores later filed his Pre-Trial Brief
investigation, report and recommendation.3 bearing an MCLE number which was merely
superimposed without indicating the date and place of
In her Investigation, Report and Recommendation, compliance. During the preliminary conference on
4 Investigating Judge Josephine Zarate Fernandez November 24, 2010, respondent Atty. Flores
(Investigating Judge) narrated the antecedents of the manifested that he will submit proof of compliance of
case as follows: his MCLE on the following day. On December 1, 2010,
respondent Atty. Flores again failed to appear and to
A complaint for Damages was filed before the submit the said promised proof of MCLE compliance.
Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of San Mateo, Rizal In its stead, respondent Atty. Flores filed a Letter of
docketed as Civil Case No. 1863, entitled Marsha even date stating as follows:
If only to give your Honor another chance to prove your responsibly. After all, every right carries with it the
pro plaintiff sentiment, I am hereby filing the attached corresponding obligation. Freedom is not freedom from
Motion which you may once more assign to the waste responsibility, but freedom with responsibility. The
basket of nonchalance. lawyer's fidelity to his client must not be pursued at the
expense of truth and orderly administration of justice. It
With the small respect that still remains, I have asked must be done within the confines of reason and
the defendant to look for another lawyer to represent common sense.9
him for I am no longer interested in this case because I
feel I cannot do anything right in your sala.5 However, we find the recommended penalty too harsh
and not commensurate with the infractions committed
The Investigating Judge found Atty. Flores to have by the respondent. It appears that this is the first
failed to give due respect to the court by failing to obey infraction committed by respondent. Also, we are not
court orders, by failing to submit proof of his prepared to impose on the respondent the penalty of
compliance with the Mandatory Continuing Legal one-year suspension for humanitarian reasons.
Education (MCLE) requirement, and for using Respondent manifested before this Court that he has
intemperate language in his pleadings. The been in the practice of law for half a century.10 Thus, he
Investigating Judge recommended that Atty. Flores be is already in his twilight years. Considering the
suspended from the practice of law for one year.6 foregoing, we deem it proper to fine respondent in the
amount of ₱5,000.00 and to remind him to be more
The OBC adopted the findings and recommendation of circumspect in his acts and to obey and respect court
the Investigating Judge.7 processes.

Our Ruling ACCORDINGLY, respondent Atty. Rodolfo Flores is


FINED in the amount of ₱5,000.00 with STERN
WARNING that the repetition of a similar offense shall
There is no doubt that Atty. Flores failed to obey the
be dealt with more severely.
trial court’s order to submit proof of his MCLE
compliance notwithstanding the several opportunities
given him. "Court orders are to be respected not
because the judges who issue them should be SO ORDERED.
respected, but because of the respect and
consideration that should be extended to the judicial
branch of the Government. This is absolutely essential
if our Government is to be a government of laws and
not of men. Respect must be had not because of the
incumbents to the positions, but because of the
authority that vests in them. Disrespect to judicial
incumbents is disrespect to that branc the Government
to which they belong, as well as to the State which has
instituted the judicial system."8

Atty. Flores also employed intemperate language in his


pleadings. As an officer of the court, Atty. Flores is
expected to be circumspect in his language. Rule
11.03, Canon 11 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility enjoins all attorneys to abstain from
scandalous, offensive or menacing language or
behavior before the Courts. Atty. Flores failed in this
respect.

At this juncture, it is well to remind respondent that:

While a lawyer owes absolute fidelity to the cause of


his client full devotion to his client's genuine interest
and warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his
client's rights, as well as the exertion of his utmost
learning and ability, he must do so only within the
bounds of law. A lawyer is entitled to voice his c1iticism
within the context of the constitutional guarantee of
freedom of speech which must be exercised
Republic of the Philippines
 administrative complaint that Somontan filed against
SUPREME COURT
 her.10 In another civil case where she was not a party,
Baguio City Gimeno observed that Atty. Zaide referred to his
opposing counsel as someone suffering from "serious
SECOND DIVISION mental incompetence" in one of his pleadings.
11 According to Gimeno, these statements constitute

A.C. No. 10303 April 22, 2015 intemperate, offensive and abusive language, which a
lawyer is proscribed from using in his dealings.
JOY A. GIMENO, Complainant, 

vs.
 In his answer12 dated September 13, 2007,Atty. Zaide
ATTY. PAUL CENTILLAS ZAIDE, Respondent. argued that he did not notarize the March 29, 2002
partial extrajudicial partition. As it appeared on the
notarial page of this document, his notarial stamp and
DECISION
falsified signature were superimposed over the
typewritten name of Atty. Elpedio Cabasan, the lawyer
BRION, J.: who actually notarized this document.13 Atty. Zaide
claimed that Gimeno falsified his signature to make it
We review Resolution No. XX-2011-2641 of the Board appear that he notarized it before his admission to the
of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Bar.
(IBP) in CBD Case No. 07-2069, which imposed on
Atty. Paul Centillas Zaide (Atty. Zaide) the penalty of On the alleged falsification of his notarial entries, Atty.
one-year suspension from the practice of law, Zaide contended that he needed to simultaneously use
revocation of notarial commission, if existing, and two several notarial registers in his separate satellite
years suspension from being commissioned as a offices in order to better cater to the needs of his
notary public, for violation of the 2004 Rules on clients and accommodate their growing number.14 This
Notarial Practice (Notarial Practice Rules).2 explains the irregular and non-sequential entries in his
notarial registers.
The Case
Further, Atty. Zaide argued that Gimeno was never his
On August 8, 2007, complainant Joy A. Gimeno client since she did not personally hire him as her
(Cimeno) filed a complaint3 with the IBP's Commission counsel. Gimeno engaged the services of ZMZ where
on Bar Discipline, charging Atty. Zaide with: (1) he previously worked as an associate. The real
usurpation of a notary public's office; (2) falsification; counsel of Gimeno and her relatives in their annulment
of title case was Atty. Leo Montalban Zaragoza, one of
(3) use of intemperate, offensive and abusive ZMZ's partners.15 On this basis, the respondent should
language; and (4) violation of lawyer-client trust. not be held liable for representing conflicting clients'
interests.
In her complaint, Gimeno alleged that even before Atty.
Zaide's admission4 to the Bar and receipt5 of his Finally, he denied that he used any intemperate,
notarial commission, he had notarized a partial offensive, and abusive language in his pleadings.16
extrajudicial partition with deed of absolute sale on
March 29, 2002.6 She also accused Atty. Zaide of The IBP Proceedings
making false and irregular entries in his notarial
registers.7 On October 4, 2007, the IBP CBD issued an order
setting the case for mandatory conference.17 After this,
Gimeno further submitted that she was Atty. Zaide's both parties were required to submit their position
former client. She engaged the services of his law firm papers.
Zaragoza-Makabangkit-Zaide Law Offices (ZMZ) in an
annulment of title case that involved her husband and In his report and recommendation18 dated May 18,
her parents-in-law. 2010, Commissioner Pedro A. Magpayo, Jr.
( C o m m i s s i o n e r M a g p a y o ) f o u n d A t t y. Z a i d e
Despite their previous lawyer-client relationship, Atty. administratively liable for violating the Notarial Practice
Zaide still appeared against her in the complaint for Rules, representing conflicting interests, and using
estafa and violation of RA 30198 that one Priscilla abusive and insulting language in his pleadings.
Somontan (Somontan) filed against her with the
Ombudsman. Gimeno posited that by appearing He noted that Atty. Zaide violated Section 1(a) and
against a former client, Atty. Zaide violated the 1(b), Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules when he
prohibition against the representation of conflicting maintained several active notarial registers in different
clients' interests.9 Lastly, Gimeno contended that Atty. offices. These provisions respectively require a notary
Zaide called her a "notorious extortionist" in the same
public to "keep, maintain, protect and provide for lawful For an orderly disposition of the case, we shall discuss
inspection, a chronological official register of notarial each of the main issues that the parties identified.
acts consisting of a permanently bound book with
numbered papers" and to "keep only one active Violation of the Notarial Practice Rules
notarial register at any given time."19 However,
Commissioner Magpayo opined that Atty. Zaide should a. Usurpation of a notarial office
not be held administratively liable for usurping a notary
public's office. The investigating commissioner noted
As the investigating commissioner found, Gimeno did
that the evidence presented on this issue is not enough
not present any concrete evidence to show that Atty.
to prove that Atty. Zaide signed and notarized the
Zaide notarized the March 29, 2002 partial extrajudicial
March 29, 2002 partial extrajudicial partition even after
partition prior to his admission to the Bar and receipt of
his admission to the Bar and receipt of his notarial
his notarial commission.
commission.20
It appears that this document originally carried the
Commissioner Magpayo also found that the evidence
name of one Atty. Elpedio Cabasan, as notary public.
presented proved that Gimeno was indeed Atty. Zaide's
1âwphi1 Atty. Zaide's signature and notarial stamp that
former client. He disagreed with Atty. Zaide's defense
bears his name, roll number, PTR number, IBP
that Gimeno only hired ZMZ but did not personally hire
number, and the expiration date of his notarial
him to defend them in their annulment of title case. The
commission, were merely superimposed over Atty.
retainer of a law firm is equivalent to the retainer of all
Cabasan's typewritten name.
its lawyers.21 But despite this previous attorney-client
relationship, the investigating commissioner noted that
Atty. Zaide should not be held liable for representing Notably, Atty. Zaide admitted that the details stamped
conflicting interests since the annulment of title case is on the document are his true information. However, he
totally unrelated to the Ombudsman complaint that denied that he personally stamped and signed the
Somontan filed against Gimeno through Atty. Zaide. document. In fact, this document never appeared in
his notarial register and was never included in his
notarial report for the year 2002. He contended that
Finally, the investigating commissioner noted that Atty.
Gimeno falsified his signature and used his notarial
Zaide used intemperate, offensive, and abusive
stamp to make it appear that he was the one who
language when he called Gimeno a "notorious
notarized it.
extortionist" in one of his pleadings.22 For violating the
Notarial Practice Rules, Commissioner Magpayo
recommended that Atty. Zaide be suspended for three This Court notes that at the time the document was
months, and for another six months for employing purportedly notarized, Atty. Zaide's details as a
abusive and insulting language.23 lawyer and as a notary public had not yet existed.
He was admitted to the Bar only on May 2, 2002;
thus, he could not have obtained and used the
The IBP Board of Governors' Findings
exact figures pertaining to his roll number, PTR
number, IBP number and the expiration date of his
In its November 19, 2011 resolution, the IBP Board of notarial commission, prior to this date, particularly
Governors (Board) opined that the evidence on record on March 29, 2002.
fully supports the findings of the investigating
commissioner. However, the Board modified the
This circumstance, coupled with the absence of any
recommended penalty and imposed instead the
evidence supporting Gimeno's claim such as a witness
penalty of one year suspension from the practice of
to the alleged fictitious notarization, leads us to the
law, revocation of notarial commission, if existing, and
conclusion that Atty. Zaide could not have notarized the
two years suspension from being commissioned as a
document before his Bar admission and receipt of his
notary public.24
notarial commission.
Atty. Zaide sought for the reconsideration25 of the
We can only conclude that his professional details,
Board's November 19, 2011 resolution but this was
which were only generated after his Bar admission,
also denied in its subsequent June 21, 2013 resolution.
26 were stamped on the March 29, 2002 document. How
this happened is not clear from the evidence before us.
The Court's Ruling
b. Maintaining different notarial registers in separate
notarial offices
The Court agrees with the IBP Board of Governors'
findings and recommended penalty, and accordingly
We find that Atty. Zaide violated the Notarial Practice
confirms them.
Rules by maintaining different notarial registers in
several offices. Because of this practice, the following
notarized documents had been irregularly numbered 4/21/06
and entered: 283
56
Document27 25
Date 2006
Doc. No. Deed of Absolute Sale
Page 4/27/06
Book 304
Year 60
Special Power of Attorney 25
6/20/05 2006
273 Section 1(a), Rule VI of the Notarial Practice Rules
55 provides that "a notary public shall keep, maintain,
18 protect and provide for lawful inspection as provided in
2005 these Rules, a chronological official notarial register of
Secretary's Certificate notarial acts consisting of a permanently bound book
10/28/05 with numbered pages." The same section further
226 provides that "a notary public shall keep only one
46 active notarial register at any given time."28 On this
18 basis, Atty. Zaide's act of simultaneously keeping
2005 several active notarial registers is a blatant violation of
Affidavit of Quitclaim Section 1, Rule VI.
10/31/05
272 The Notarial Practice Rules strictly requires a notary
55 public to maintain only one active notarial register and
18 ensure that the entries in it are chronologically
2005 arranged. The "one active notarial register" rule is in
Affidavit of Loss place to deter a notary public from assigning several
4/17/06 notarial registers to different offices manned by
54 assistants who perform notarial services on his behalf.
11
25 Since a notarial commission is personal to each
2006 lawyer, the notary public must also personally
Affidavit of Two Disinterested administer the notarial acts29 that the law authorizes
him to execute. This important duty is vested with
public interest. Thus, no other person, other than the
Persons notary public, should perform it.

4/17/06 On the other hand, entries in a notarial register need to


310 be in chronological sequence in order to address and
61 prevent the rampant practice of leaving blank spaces in
25 the notarial register to allow the antedating of
2006 notarizations.
Petition for Issuance of Owner's
In these lights, we cannot accept Atty. Zaide's
explanation that he needed to maintain several active
Duplicate copy notarial registers in separate offices so he could
accommodate the increasing number of his clients
4/17/06 requiring his notarial services.
72
15 This Court stresses that a notary public should not
25 trivialize his functions as his powers and duties are
2006 impressed with public interest.30 A notary public's office
Affidavit of Parental Consent is not merely an income-generating venture. It is a
4/19/06 public duty that each lawyer who has been privileged
461 to receive a notarial commission must faithfully and
93 conscientiously perform.
23
2006 Atty. Zaide should have been acutely aware of the
Confirmation of Sale requirements of his notarial commission. His flagrant
violation of Section 1, Rule VI of the Notarial Practice There was also no double-dealing on the part of Atty.
Rules is not merely a simple and excusable Zaide because at the time Somontan engaged his
negligence. It amounts to a clear violation of Canon 1 services, he had already left ZMZ. More importantly,
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which nothing in the record shows that Atty. Zaide used
provides that "a lawyer [should] uphold the constitution, against Gimeno any confidential information which he
obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law acquired while he was still their counsel in the
and legal processes." annulment of title case.

Representing conflicting interests Under these circumstances, Atty. Zaide should not be
held liable for violating the prohibition against the
The investigating commissioner properly noted that representation of conflicting interests.
Atty. Zaide should not be held liable for representing
conflicting clients' interests. Use of intemperate, offensive and

abusive language in professional

Rule 15.03, Canon 15 of the Code of Professional dealings
Responsibility provides:
The prohibition on the use of intemperate, offensive
Rule 15.03 - A lawyer shall not represent conflicting and abusive language in a lawyer's professional
interests except by written consent of all concerned dealings, whether with the courts, his clients, or any
given after a full disclosure of the facts.1âwphi1 other person, is based on the following canons and
rules of the Code of Professional Responsibility:
In Aniñon v. Sabitsana,31 the Court laid down the tests
to determine if a lawyer is guilty of representing Canon 8 - A lawyer shall conduct himself with courtesy,
conflicting interests between and among his clients. fairness and candor toward his professional
colleagues, and shall avoid harassing tactics against
One of these tests is whether the acceptance of a new opposing counsel.
relation would prevent the full discharge of a lawyer's
duty of undivided fidelity and loyalty to the client or Rule 8.01 - A lawyer shall not, in his professional
invite suspicion of unfaithfulness or double-dealing in dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or
the performance of that duty.32 otherwise improper.

Another test is whether a lawyer would be called upon Canon 11 - A lawyer shall observe and maintain the
in the new relation to use against a former client any respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and
confidential information acquired through their should insist on similar conduct by others.
connection or previous employment.33
Rule 11.03 - A lawyer shall abstain from scandalous,
Applying these tests, we find no conflict of interest offensive or menacing language or behavior before the
when Atty. Zaide appeared against Gimeno, his former Courts. (emphasis supplied)
law firm's client.
As shown in the record, Atty. Zaide,in the reply that he
The lawyer-client relationship between Atty. Zaide and drafted in the Ombudsman case, called Gimeno a
Gimeno ceased when Atty. Zaide left ZMZ. Moreover, "notorious extortionist."34 And in another case, Gimeno
the case where Gimeno engaged ZMZ's services is an observed that Atty. Zaide used the following
entirely different subject matter and is not in any way demeaning and immoderate language in presenting his
connected to the complaint that Somontan filed against comment against his opposing counsel:
Gimeno with the Ombudsman.
Her declaration in Public put a shame, DISGRACE,
The prior case where Gimeno hired ZMZ and where INDIGNITY AND HUMILIATION in the whole Justice
Atty. Zaide represented her family pertained to the System, and the Department of Justice in particular,
annulment of a land title. Somontan was never a party where the taxpayers paid for her salary over her
to this case since this only involved Gimeno's relatives. incompetence and poor performance as a
On the other hand, the case where Atty. Zaide prosecutor...This is a clear manifestation that the
appeared against Gimeno involved Somontan's Public prosecutor suffers serious mental incompetence
Ombudsman complaint against Gimeno for her alleged as regard her mandate as an Assistant City Prosecutor.
35 (emphasis supplied)
mishandling of the funds that Somontan entrusted to
her, and for Gimeno's alleged corruption as an
examiner in the Register of Deeds of Iligan City. This clearly confirms Atty. Zaide's lack of restraint in
Clearly, the annulment of title case and the the use and choice of his words - a conduct
Ombudsman case are totally unrelated. unbecoming of an officer of the court.
While a lawyer is entitled to present his case with vigor
and courage, such enthusiasm does not justify the use
of offensive and abusive language. Language abounds
with countless possibilities for one to be emphatic but
respectful, convincing but not derogatory, and
illuminating but not offensive.36

On many occasions, the Court has reminded the


members of the Bar to abstain from any offensive
personality and to refrain from any act prejudicial to the
honor or reputation of a party or a witness. In keeping
with the dignity of the legal profession, a lawyer's
language even in his pleadings, must be dignified.37

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court


resolves to ADOPT the recommended penalty of the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines. Atty. Paul Centillas Zaide is found GUILTY
of violating the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice and for
using intemperate, offensive and, abusive language in
violation of Rule 8.01, Canon 8 and Rule 11.03, Canon
11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. His
notarial commission, if existing, is hereby REVOKED,
and he is declared DISQUALIFIED from being
commissioned as a notary public for a period of two (2)
years. He is also SUSPENDED for one (1) year from
the practice of law.

SO ORDERED.

warranting either disbarment or suspension from the


practice of law.

In his comment, Attorney Pangulayan acknowledged


that not one of his co-respondents had taken part in
the negotiation, discussion, formulation, or execution of
the various Re-Admission Agreements complained of
and were, in fact, no longer connected at the time with
the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices. The Re-
Admission Agreements, he claimed, had nothing to do
with the dismissal of Civil Case Q-97-30549 and were
" 
 executed for the sole purpose of effecting the
THIRD DIVISION settlement of an administrative case involving nine
students of AMACC who were expelled therefrom upon
A.C. No. 4807 March 22, 2000 the recommendation of the Student Disciplinary
Tribunal. The students, namely, Ian Dexter Marquez,
MANUEL N. CAMACHO, complainant, 
 Almira O. Basalo, Neil Jason R. Salcedo, Melissa F.
vs.
 Domondon, Melyda B. De Leon, Leila D. Joven,
ATTYS. LUIS MEINRADO C. PANGULAYAN, Signorelli A. Santiago, Michael Ejercito, and Cleo B.
REGINA D. BALMORES, CATHERINE V. LAUREL Villareiz, were all members of the Editorial Board of
and HUBERT JOAQUIN P. BUSTOS of DATALINE, who apparently had caused to be
PANGULAYAN AND ASSOCIATES LAW published some objectionable features or articles in the
OFFICES, respondents. paper. The 3-member Student Disciplinary Tribunal
was immediately convened, and after a series of
VITUG, J.: hearings, it found the students guilty of the use of
indecent language and unauthorized use of the student
publication funds. The body recommended the penalty
Respondent lawyers stand indicted for a violation of
of expulsion against the erring students.
the Code of Professional Ethics, specifically Canon 9
thereof, viz:
The denial of the appeal made by the students to Dr.
Amable R. Aguiluz V, AMACC President, gave rise to
A lawyer should not in any way communicate upon the
the commencement of Civil Case No. Q-97-30549 on
subject of controversy with a party represented by
14th March 1997 before the Regional Trial Court,
counsel, much less should he undertake to negotiate
Branch 78, of Quezon City. While the civil case was
or compromise the matter with him, but should only
still pending, letters of apology and Re-Admission
deal with his counsel. It is incumbent upon the lawyer
Agreements were separately executed by and/or in
most particularly to avoid everything that may tend to
behalf of some of the expelled students, to wit: Letter
mislead a party not represented by counsel and he
of Apology, dated 27 May 1997, of Neil Jason Salcedo,
should not undertake to advise him as to law.
assisted by his mother, and Re-Admission Agreement
of 22 June 1997 with the AMACC President; letter of
Atty. Manuel N. Camacho filed a complaint against the apology, dated 31 March 1997, of Mrs. Veronica B. De
lawyers comprising the Pangulayan and Associates Leon for her daughter Melyda B. De Leon and Re-
Law Offices, namely, Attorneys Luis Meinrado C. Admission Agreement of 09 May 1997 with the AMACC
Pangulayan, Regina D. Balmores, Catherine V. Laurel, President; letter of apology, dated 22 May 1997, of
and Herbert Joaquin P. Bustos. Complainant, the hired Leila Joven, assisted by her mother, and Re-Admission
counsel of some expelled students from the AMA Agreement of 22 May 1997 with the AMACC President;
Computer College ("AMACC"), in an action for the letter or apology, dated 22 September 1997, of Cleo
Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction Villareiz and Re-Admission Agreement of 10 October
and for Damages, docketed Civil Case No. 1997 with the AMACC President; and letter of apology,
Q-97-30549 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 78, of dated 20 January 1997, of Michael Ejercito, assisted
Quezon City, charged that respondents, then counsel by his parents, and Re-Admission Agreement of 23
for the defendants, procured and effected on separate January 1997 with the AMACC President.
occasions, without his knowledge, compromise
agreements ("Re-Admission Agreements") with four of
Following the execution of the letters of apology and
his clients in the aforementioned civil case which, in
Re-Admission Agreements, a Manifestation, dated 06
effect, required them to waive all kinds of claims they
June 1997, was filed with the trial court where the civil
might have had against AMACC, the principal
case was pending by Attorney Regina D. Balmores of
defendant, and to terminate all civil, criminal and
the Pangulayan and Associates Law Offices for
administrative proceedings filed against it. Complainant
defendant AMACC. A copy of the manifestation was
averred that such an act of respondents was
furnished complainant. In his Resolution, dated 14
unbecoming of any member of the legal profession
June 1997, Judge Lopez of the Quezon City Regional 3. Consequently, as soon as possible, an Urgent
Trial Court thereupon dismissed Civil Case No. Motion to Withdraw from Civil Case No. Q-97-30549
Q-97-30549. will by filed them.1âwphi1

On 19 June 1999, the Board of Governors of the The Court can only thus concur with the IBP
Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") passed Investigating Commission and the IBP Board of
Resolution No. XIII-99-163, thus: Governors in their findings; nevertheless, the
recommended six-month suspension would appear to
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby be somewhat too harsh a penalty given the
ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and circumstances and the explanation of respondent.
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in
the above-entitled case, herein made part of this WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Luis Meinrado C.
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the Pangulayan is ordered SUSPENDED from the practice
recommendation fully supported by the evidence on of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS effective
record and the applicable laws and rules, with an immediately upon his receipt of this decision. The case
amendment Atty. Meinrado Pangulayan is suspended against the other respondents is DISMISSED for
from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS for being insufficiency of evidence.
remiss in his duty and DISMISSAL of the case against
the other Respondents for they did not take part in the Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal
negotiation of the case. record of respondent as an attorney and as a member
of the Bar, and furnished the Bar Confidant, the
It would appear that when the individual letters of Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court
apology and Re-Admission Agreements were Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
formalized, complainant was by then already the 1âwphi1.nêt
retained counsel for plaintiff students in the civil case.
Respondent Pangulayan had full knowledge of this
fact. Although aware that the students were
represented by counsel, respondent attorney SO ORDERED.

proceeded, nonetheless, to negotiate with them and


their parents without at the very least communicating
the matter to their lawyer, herein complainant, who was
counsel of record in Civil Case No. Q-97-30549. This
failure of respondent, whether by design or because of
oversight, is an inexcusable violation of the canons of
professional ethics and in utter disregard of a duty
owing to a colleague. Respondent fell short of the
demands required of him as a lawyer and as a member
of the Bar.

The allegation that the context of the Re-Admission


Agreements centers only on the administrative aspect
of the controversy is belied by the
Manifestation1 which, among other things, explicitly
contained the following stipulation; viz:

1. Among the nine (9) signatories to the complaint, four


(4) of whom assisted by their parents/guardian already
executed a Re-Admission Agreement with AMACC
President, AMABLE R. AGUILUZ V acknowledging
guilt for violating the AMA COMPUTER COLLEGE
MANUAL FOR DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS and agreed
among others to terminate all civil, criminal and
administrative proceedings which they may have
against the AMACC arising from their previous
dismissal.

xxx xxx xxx