Sie sind auf Seite 1von 138

ASSIGNMENT IN LEGAL ETHICS 2012 I.READ: 1. Canons 1-6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility 2.

Article VIII, Section 5 (5) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution 3. Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court 4. Rules 138- A, Revised Rules of Court 5. CASES: In Bar Matter No. 914, 1 October 1999 Bar Matter No. 730, 10 June 1997 Cruz vs. Atty. Cabrera, AC 5737, October 25, 2004 Yumol Jr. vs. Atty. Ferrer Sr., AC 6585, April 21, 2005 Cayetano vs. Monsod, 101 SCRA 210 Aguirre vs. Rana, BM 1036, June 10, 2003 In RE Atty. Marcial Edillion, AM 192, August 3, 1987 In the matter of the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, January 9, 1973 Letter of Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo Jr., BM 1370, May 9, 2005 Santos Jr. vs. Llamas, AC 4749, January 20, 2000 Leslie Ui vs. Atty Iris Bonifacio, AC 3319, June 8, 2000 Dantes vs. Atty. Dantes, AC 6486, September 22, 2004 Tolentino, et al vs. Atty. Mendoza, AC 5151, October 19, 2004 Moreno vs. Atty. Araneta, AC 1109, April 7, 2005 Cojuangco vs. Atty. Palma, AC 2474, September 15, 2004 Barrios vs. Atty. Martinez, AC 4585, November 12, 2004 In RE Luis Tagorda, March 23, 1929 Ulep vs. The Legal Clinic Inc., BM 553, June 17, 1993 Khan vs. Atty. Simbillo, AC 5299, August 19, 2003 B.R. Sebastian Enterprises Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, GR L- 41862, February 7, 1992 Consolidated Farms Inc. vs. Atty. Alpon Jr., AC 5525, March 14, 2005 Viriolo vs. Atty. Dasig, C 4984, April 1, 2003 Artezuela vs. Atty. Maderazo, AC (), April 22, 2002 Pimentel Jr. vs. Attys. Llorente and Salayon, AC 4680, August 29, 2002 Lim and Tan vs. Atty. Barcelona, AC 5438, March 12, 2004 II. BRING 1 EXAM BOOKLET (White Notes)

INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPINES CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY CHAPTER I. THE LAW AND SOCIETY

CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Rule 1.02 - A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Rule 1.03 - A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. Rule 1.04 - A lawyer shall encourage his clients to avoid, end or settle a controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement. CANON 2 - A LAWYER SHALL MAKE HIS LEGAL SERVICES AVAILABLE IN AN EFFICIENT AND CONVENIENT MANNER COMPATIBLE WITH THE INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY AND EFFECTIVE-NESS OF THE PROFESSION.

Rule 2.01 - A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the cause of the defenseless or the oppressed. Rule 2.02 - In such cases, even if the lawyer does not accept a case, he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person concerned if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latters rights. Rule 2.03 - A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Rule 2.04 - A lawyer shall not charge rates lower than those customarily prescribed unless the circumstances so warrant. CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS. Rule 3.01 - A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, selflaudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Rule 3.02 - In the choice of a firm name, no false, misleading or assumed name shall be used. The continued use of the name of a deceased partner is permissible provided that the firm indicates in all its communications that said partner is deceased. Rule 3.03 - Where a partner accepts public office, he shall withdraw from the firm and his name shall be dropped from the firm name unless the law allows him to practice law concurrently. Rule 3.04 - A lawyer shall not pay or give anything of value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. CANON 4 - A LAWYER SHALL PARTICIPATE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LEGAL SYSTEM BY INITIATING OR SUPPORTING EFFORTS IN LAW REFORM AND IN THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE. CANON 5 - A LAWYER SHALL KEEP ABREAST OF LEGAL DEVELOPMENTS, PARTICIPATE IN CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS, SUPPORT EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE HIGH STANDARDS IN LAW SCHOOLS AS WELL AS IN THE PRACTICAL TRAINING OF LAW STUDENTS AND ASSIST IN DISSEMINATING INFORMATION REGARDING THE LAW AND JURISPRUDENCE. CANON 6 - THESE CANONS SHALL APPLY TO LAWYERS IN GOVERNMENT SERVICE IN THE DISCHARGE OF THEIR OFFICIAL TASKS. Rule 6.01 - The primary duty of a lawyer engaged in public prosecution is not to convict but to see that justice is done. The suppression of facts or the concealment of witnesses capable of establishing the innocence of the accused is highly reprehensible and is cause for disciplinary action. Rule 6.02 - A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties. Rule 6.03 - A lawyer shall not, after leaving government service, accept engagement or employment in connection with any matter in which he had intervened while in said service. Article VIII, Section 5 (5) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution Section 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers:chanrobles virtual law library (5) Promulgate rules concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal assistance to the under-privileged. Such rules shall provide a simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the Supreme Court.

Rule 138 - Rules of Court Attorneys and Admission to Bar ATTORNEYS & ADMISSION TO BAR Rule 138

Section 1.Who may practice law. - Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this rule, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.chanrobles virtualawlibrary Sec. 2.Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. - Every applicant for admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 3.Requirements for lawyers who are citizens of the United States of America. - Citizens of the United States of America who, before July 4, 1946, were duly licensed members of the Philippine Bar, in active practice in the courts of the Philippines and in good and regular standing as such may, upon satisfactory proof of those facts before the Supreme Court, be allowed to continue such practice after taking the following oath of office:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary "I, _________________________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God." Sec. 4.Requirements for applicants from other jurisdictions. - Applicants for admission who, being Filipino citizens, are enrolled attorneys in good standing in the Supreme Court of the United States or in any circuit court of appeals or district court therein, or in the highest court of any State or Territory of the United States, and who can show by satisfactory certificates that they have practiced at least five years in any of said courts, that such practice began before July 4, 1946, and that they have never been suspended or disbarred, may, in the discretion of the Court, be admitted without examination.chanrobles virtualawlibrary Sec. 5.Additional requirements for other applicants. - All applicants for admission other than those referred to in the two preceding sections shall, before being admitted to the examination, satisfactorily show that they have regularly studied law for four years, and successfully completed all prescribed courses, in a law school or university, officially approved and recognized by the Secretary of Education. The affidavit of the candidate, accompanied by a certificate from the university or school of law, shall be filed as evidence of such facts, and further evidence may be required by the court. No applicant shall be admitted to the bar examinations unless he has satisfactorily completed the following courses in a law school or university duly recognized by the government: civil law, commercial law, remedial law, criminal law, public and private international law, political law, labor and social legislation, medical jurisprudence, taxation and legal ethics. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 6.Pre-Law. - No applicant for admission to the bar examination shall be admitted unless he presents a certificate that he has satisfied the Secretary of Education that, before he began the study of law, he had pursued and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and recognized university or college, requiring for admission thereto the completion of a four-year high school course, the course of study prescribed therein for a bachelor's degree in arts or sciences with any of the following subjects as major or field of concentration: political science, logic, english, spanish, history and economics. Sec. 7.Time for filing proof of qualifications. - All applicants for admission shall file with the clerk of the Supreme Court the evidence required by section 2 of this rule at least fifteen (15) days before the beginning of the examination. If not embraced within sections 3 and 4 of this rule they shall also file within the same period the affidavit and certificate required by section 5, and if embraced within sections 3 and 4 they shall exhibit a license evidencing the fact of their admission to practice, satisfactory evidence that the same has not been revoked, and certificates as to their professional standing. Applicants shall also file at the same time their own affidavits as to their age, residence, and citizenship.

Sec. 8.Notice of applications. - Notice of applications for admission shall be published by the clerk of the Supreme Court in newspapers published in Pilipino, English and Spanish, for at least ten (10) days before the beginning of the examination. Sec. 9.Examination; subjects. - Applicants, not otherwise provided for in sections 3 and 4 of this rule, shall be subjected to examinations in the following subjects: Civil Law; Labor and Social Legislation; Mercantile Law; Criminal Law; Political Law (Constitutional Law, Public Corporations, and Public Officers); International Law (Private and Public); Taxation; Remedial Law (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence); Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (in Pleading and Conveyancing). Sec. 10.Bar examination, by questions and answers, and in writing. - Persons taking the examination shall not bring papers, books or notes into the examination rooms. The questions shall be the same for all examinees and a copy thereof, in English or Spanish, shall be given to each examinee. Examinees shall answer the questions personally without help from anyone. Upon verified application made by an examinee stating that his penmanship is so poor that it will be difficult to read his answers without much loss of time, the Supreme Court may allow such examinee to use a typewriter in answering the questions. Only noiseless typewriters shall be allowed to be used. chan robles virtual law library The committee of bar examiners shall take such precautions as are necessary to prevent the substitution of papers or commission of other frauds. Examinees shall not place their names on the examination papers. No oral examination shall be given. Sec. 11.Annual examination. - Examinations for admission to the bar of the Philippines shall take place annually in the City of Manila. They shall be held in four days to be designated by the chairman of the committee on bar examiners. The subjects shall be distributed as follows: First day: Political and International Law (morning) and Labor and Social Legislation (afternoon); Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); Third day: Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon); Fourth day: Remedial Law (morning) and Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (afternoon). Sec. 12.Committee of examiners. - Examinations shall be conducted by a committee of bar examiners to be appointed by the Supreme Court. This committee shall be composed of a Justice of the Supreme Court, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be designated by the court to serve for one year, and eight members of the bar of the Philippines, who shall hold office for a period of one year. The names of the members of this committee shall be published in each volume of the official reports. Sec. 13.Disciplinary measures. - No candidate shall endeavor to influence any member of the committee, and during examination the candidates shall not communicate with each other nor shall they give or receive any assistance. The candidate who violates this provision, or any other provision of this rule, shall be barred from the examination, and the same to count as a failure against him, and further disciplinary action, including permanent disqualification, may be taken in the discretion of the court. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 14.Passing average. - In order that a candidate may be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, without falling below 50 per cent in any subject. In determining the average, the subjects in the examination shall be given the following relative weights: Civil Law, 15 per cent; Labor and Social Legislation, 10 per cent; Mercantile Law, 15 per cent; Criminal Law; 10 per cent; Political and International Law, 15 per cent; Taxation, 10 per cent; Remedial Law, 20 per cent; Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises, 5 per cent. Sec. 15.Report of the committee; filing of examination papers. - Not later than February 15th after the examination, or as soon thereafter as may be practicable, the committee shall file its reports on the result of such examination. The examination papers and notes of the committee shall be fixed with the clerk and may there be examined by the parties in interest, after the court has approved the report. Sec. 16.Failing candidates to take review course. - Candidates who have failed the bar examinations for three times shall be disqualified from taking another examination unless they show to the satisfaction of the court that they have enrolled in and passed regular fourth year review classes as well as attended a pre-bar review course in a recognized law school. The professors of the individual review subjects attended by the candidates under this rule shall certify under

oath that the candidates have regularly attended classes and passed the subjects under the same conditions as ordinary students and the ratings obtained by them in the particular subject. Sec. 17.Admission and oath of successful applicants. - An applicant who has passed the required examination, or has been otherwise found to be entitled to admission to the bar, shall take and subscribe before the Supreme Court the corresponding oath of office. Sec. 18.Certificate. - The Supreme Court shall thereupon admit the applicant as a member of the bar for all the courts of the Philippines, and shall direct an order to be entered to that effect upon its records, and that a certificate of such record be given to him by the clerk of court, which certificate shall be his authority to practice. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 19.Attorneys' roll. - The clerk of the Supreme Court shall keep a roll of all attorneys admitted to practice, which roll shall be signed by the person admitted when he receives his certificate. Sec. 20.Duties of attorneys. - It is the duty of an attorney:chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary (a) To maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the Philippines; (b) To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers; (c) To counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law; (d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes confided to him, such means only as are consistent with truth and honor, and never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law; (e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his client's business except from him or with his knowledge and approval; (f) To abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which he is charged; (g) Not to encourage either the commencement or the continuance of an action or proceeding, or delay any man's cause, from any corrupt motive or interest; (h) Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, the cause of the defenseless or oppressed; (i) In the defense of a person accused of crime, by all fair and honorable means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, to present every defense that the law permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or liberty, but by due process of law. Sec. 21.Authority of attorney to appear. - An attorney is presumed to be properly authorized to represent any cause in which he appears, and no written power of attorney is required to authorize him to appear in court for his client, but the presiding judge may, on motion of either party and on reasonable grounds therefor being shown, require any attorney who assumes the right to appear in a case to produce or prove the authority under which he appears, and to disclose, whenever pertinent to any issue, the name of the person who employed him, and may thereupon make such order as justice requires. An attorney wilfully appearing in court for a person without being employed, unless by leave of the court, may be punished for contempt as an officer of the court who has misbehaved in his official transactions. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 22.Attorney who appears in lower court presumed to represent client on appeal. - An attorney who appears de parte in a case before a lower court shall be presumed to continue representing his client on appeal, unless he files a formal petition withdrawing his appearance in the appellate court. Sec. 23.Authority of attorneys to bind clients. - Attorneys have authority to bind their clients in any case by any agreement in relation thereto made in writing, and in taking appeals, and in all matters of ordinary judicial procedure. But they cannot, without special authority, compromise their client's litigation, or receive anything in discharge of a client's claim but the full amount in cash.

Sec. 24.Compensation of attorneys; agreement as to fees. - An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, with a view to the importance of the subject matter of the controversy, the extent of the services rendered, and the professional standing of the attorney. No court shall be bound by the opinion of attorneys as expert witnesses as to the proper compensation, but may disregard such testimony and base its conclusion on its own professional knowledge. A written contract for services shall control the amount to be paid therefor unless found by the court to be unconscionable or unreasonable. Sec. 25.Unlawful retention of client's funds; contempt. - When an attorney unjustly retains in his hands money of his client after it has been demanded, he may be punished for contempt as an officer of the Court who has misbehaved in his official transactions; but proceedings under this section shall not be a bar to a criminal prosecution. Sec. 26.Change of attorneys. - An attorney may retire at any time from any action or special proceeding, by the written consent of his client filed in court. He may also retire at any time from an action or special proceeding, without the consent of his client, should the court, on notice to the client and attorney, and on hearing, determine that he ought to be allowed to retire. In case of substitution, the name of the attorney newly employed shall be entered on the docket of the court in place of the former one, and written notice of the change shall be given to the adverse party. A client may at any time dismiss his attorney or substitute another in his place, but if the contract between client and attorney has been reduced to writing and the dismissal of the attorney was without justifiable cause, he shall be entitled to recover from the client the full compensation stipulated in the contract. However, the attorney may, in the discretion of the court, intervene in the case to protect his rights. For the payment of his compensation the attorney shall have a lien upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgment, rendered in the case wherein his services had been retained by the client. Sec. 27.Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. - A member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. Sec. 28.Suspension of attorney by the Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance. - The Court of Appeals or a Court of First Instance may suspend an attorney from practice for any of the causes named in the last preceding section, and after such suspension such attorney shall not practice his profession until further action of the Supreme Court in the premises. Sec. 29.Upon suspension by Court of Appeals or Court of First Instance, further proceedings in Supreme Court. Upon such suspension, the Court of Appeals or the Court of First Instance shall forthwith transmit to the Supreme Court a certified copy of the order or suspension and a full statement of the facts upon which the same was based. Upon the receipt of such certified copy and statement, the Supreme Court shall make full investigation of the facts involved and make such order revoking or extending the suspension, or removing the attorney from his office as such, as the facts warrant. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 30.Attorney to be heard before removal or suspension. - No attorney shall be removed or suspended from the practice of his profession, until he has had full opportunity upon reasonable notice to answer the charges against him, to produce witnesses in his own behalf, and to be heard by himself or counsel. But if upon reasonable notice he fails to appear and answer the accusation, the court may proceed to determine the matter ex parte. Sec. 31.Attorneys for destitute litigants. - A court may assign an attorney to render professional aid free of charge to any party in a case, if upon investigation it appears that the party is destitute and unable to employ an attorney, and that the services of counsel are necessary to secure the ends of justice and to protect the rights of the party. It shall be the duty of the attorney so assigned to render the required service, unless he is excused therefrom by the court for sufficient cause shown.

Sec. 32.Compensation for attorneys de oficio. - Subject to availability of funds as may be provided by law the court may, in its discretion, order an attorney employed as counsel de oficio to be compensated in such sum as the court may fix in accordance with section 24 of this rule. Whenever such compensation is allowed, it shall not be less than thirty pesos (P30.00) in any case, nor more than the following amounts: (1) Fifty pesos (P50.00) in light felonies; (2) One hundred pesos (P100.00) in less grave felonies; (3) Two hundred pesos (P200.00) in grave felonies other than capital offenses; (4) Five hundred pesos (P500.00) in capital offenses. chan robles virtual law library Sec. 33.Standing in court of persons authorized to appear for Government. - Any official or other person appointed or designated in accordance with law to appear for the Government of the Philippines shall have all the rights of a duly authorized member of the bar to appear in any case in which said government has an interest direct or indirect. Sec. 34.By whom litigation conducted. - In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar. Sec. 35.Certain attorneys not to practice. - No judge or other official or employee of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private practice as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients. Sec. 36.Amicus curiae. - The court may, in special cases, and upon proper application, permit the appearance, as amici curiae, of those lawyers who in its opinion can help in the disposition of the matter before it; or it may, on its own initiative, invite prominent attorneys to appear as amici curiae in such special cases. Sec. 37.Attorneys' liens. - An attorney shall have a lien upon the funds, documents and papers of his client which have lawfully come into his possession and may retain the same until his lawful fees and disbursements have been paid, and may apply such funds to the satisfaction thereof. He shall also have a lien to the same extent upon all judgments for the payment of money, and executions issued in pursuance of such judgments, which he has secured in a litigation of his client, from and after the time when he shall have caused a statement of his claim of such lien to be entered upon the records of the court rendering such judgment, or issuing such execution, and shall have caused written notice thereof to be delivered to his client and to the adverse party; and he shall have the same right and power over such judgments and executions as his client would have to enforce his lien and secure the payment of his just fees and disbursements.

Rule 138-A - Rules of Court Law Student Practice Rule LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE Rule 138-A SECTION 1.Conditions for Student Practice. - A law student who has successfully completed 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school. chan robles virtual law library SEC. 2. Appearance. - The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic. chan robles virtual law library SEC. 3. Privileged communications. - The Rules safeguarding privileged communications between attorney and client shall apply to similar communications made to or received by the law student, acting for the legal clinic. SEC. 4. Standards of conduct and supervision. - The law student shall comply with the standards of professional conduct governing members of the Bar. Failure of an attorney to provide adequate supervision of student practice may be a ground for disciplinary action. (SC Circular No. 19, prom. Dec. 19, 1986).

Republic of the Philippines SUPREME COURT Manila EN BANC

BAR MATTER No. 914 October 1, 1999 RE: APPLICATION FOR ADMISSION TO THE PHILIPPINE BAR, vs. VICENTE D. CHING, applicant. RESOLUTION

KAPUNAN, J.: Can a legitimate child born under the 1935 Constitution of a Filipino mother and an alien father validly elect Philippine citizenship fourteen (14) years after he has reached the age of majority? This is the question sought to be resolved in the present case involving the application for admission to the Philippine Bar of Vicente D. Ching. The facts of this case are as follows: Vicente D. Ching, the legitimate son of the spouses Tat Ching, a Chinese citizen, and Prescila A. Dulay, a Filipino, was born in Francia West, Tubao, La Union on 11 April 1964. Since his birth, Ching has resided in the Philippines. On 17 July 1998, Ching, after having completed a Bachelor of Laws course at the St. Louis University in Baguio City, filed an application to take the 1998 Bar Examinations. In a Resolution of this Court, dated 1 September 1998, he was allowed to take the Bar Examinations, subject to the condition that he must submit to the Court proof of his Philippine citizenship. In compliance with the above resolution, Ching submitted on 18 November 1998, the following documents: 1. Certification, dated 9 June 1986, issued by the Board of Accountancy of the Professional Regulations Commission showing that Ching is a certified public accountant; 2. Voter Certification, dated 14 June 1997, issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, Election Officer of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in Tubao La Union showing that Ching is a registered voter of the said place; and 3. Certification, dated 12 October 1998, also issued by Elizabeth B. Cerezo, showing that Ching was elected as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tubao, La Union during the 12 May 1992 synchronized elections. On 5 April 1999, the results of the 1998 Bar Examinations were released and Ching was one of the successful Bar examinees. The oath-taking of the successful Bar examinees was scheduled on 5 May 1999. However, because of the questionable status of Ching's citizenship, he was not allowed to take his oath. Pursuant to the resolution of this Court, dated 20 April 1999, he was required to submit further proof of his citizenship. In the same resolution, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) was required to file a comment on Ching's petition for admission to the bar and on the documents evidencing his Philippine citizenship.

The OSG filed its comment on 8 July 1999, stating that Ching, being the "legitimate child of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother born under the 1935 Constitution was a Chinese citizen and continued to be so, unless upon reaching the age of 1 majority he elected Philippine citizenship" in strict compliance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act No. 625 entitled "An Act Providing for the Manner in which the Option to Elect Philippine Citizenship shall be Declared by a Person Whose Mother is a Filipino Citizen." The OSG adds that "(w)hat he acquired at best was only an inchoate Philippine citizenship 2 which he could perfect by election upon reaching the age of majority." In this regard, the OSG clarifies that "two (2) conditions must concur in order that the election of Philippine citizenship may be effective, namely: (a) the mother of the person making the election must be a citizen of the Philippines; and (b) said election must be made upon reaching the 3 age of majority." The OSG then explains the meaning of the phrase "upon reaching the age of majority:" The clause "upon reaching the age of majority" has been construed to mean a reasonable time after reaching the age of majority which had been interpreted by the Secretary of Justice to be three (3) years (VELAYO, supra at p. 51 citing Op., Sec. of Justice No. 70, s. 1940, Feb. 27, 1940). Said period may be extended under certain circumstances, as when a (sic) person concerned has always considered himself a Filipino (ibid., citing Op. Nos. 355 and 422, s. 1955; 3, 12, 46, 86 and 97, s. 1953). But in Cuenco, it was held that an election done after over seven (7) years was not made within a reasonable time. In conclusion, the OSG points out that Ching has not formally elected Philippine citizenship and, if ever he does, it would already be beyond the "reasonable time" allowed by present jurisprudence. However, due to the peculiar circumstances surrounding Ching's case, the OSG recommends the relaxation of the standing rule on the construction of the phrase "reasonable period" and the allowance of Ching to elect Philippine citizenship in accordance with C.A. No. 625 prior to taking his oath as a member of the Philippine Bar. On 27 July 1999, Ching filed a Manifestation, attaching therewith his Affidavit of Election of Philippine Citizenship and his Oath of Allegiance, both dated 15 July 1999. In his Manifestation, Ching states: 1. I have always considered myself as a Filipino; 2. I was registered as a Filipino and consistently declared myself as one in my school records and other official documents; 3. I am practicing a profession (Certified Public Accountant) reserved for Filipino citizens; 4. I participated in electoral process[es] since the time I was eligible to vote; 5. I had served the people of Tubao, La Union as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan from 1992 to 1995; 6. I elected Philippine citizenship on July 15, 1999 in accordance with Commonwealth Act No. 625; 7. My election was expressed in a statement signed and sworn to by me before a notary public; 8. I accompanied my election of Philippine citizenship with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines; 9. I filed my election of Philippine citizenship and my oath of allegiance to ( sic) the Civil Registrar of Tubao La Union, and 10. I paid the amount of TEN PESOS (Ps. 10.00) as filing fees. Since Ching has already elected Philippine citizenship on 15 July 1999, the question raised is whether he has elected Philippine citizenship within a "reasonable time." In the affirmative, whether his citizenship by election retroacted to the time he took the bar examination. When Ching was born in 1964, the governing charter was the 1935 Constitution. Under Article IV, Section 1(3) of the 1935 Constitution, the citizenship of a legitimate child born of a Filipino mother and an alien father followed the citizenship of the 4 father, unless, upon reaching the age of majority, the child elected Philippine citizenship. This right to elect Philippine citizenship was recognized in the 1973 Constitution when it provided that "(t)hose who elect Philippine citizenship 5 pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution of nineteen hundred and thirty-five" are citizens of the Philippines. Likewise,

this recognition by the 1973 Constitution was carried over to the 1987 Constitution which states that "(t)hose born before January 17, 1973 of Filipino mothers, who elect Philippine citizenship upon reaching the age of majority" are Philippine 6 citizens. It should be noted, however, that the 1973 and 1987 Constitutional provisions on the election of Philippine citizenship should not be understood as having a curative effect on any irregularity in the acquisition of citizenship for 7 those covered by the 1935 Constitution. If the citizenship of a person was subject to challenge under the old charter, it remains subject to challenge under the new charter even if the judicial challenge had not been commenced before the 8 effectivity of the new Constitution. C.A. No. 625 which was enacted pursuant to Section 1(3), Article IV of the 1935 Constitution, prescribes the procedure that should be followed in order to make a valid election of Philippine citizenship. Under Section 1 thereof, legitimate children born of Filipino mothers may elect Philippine citizenship by expressing such intention "in a statement to be signed and sworn to by the party concerned before any officer authorized to administer oaths, and shall be filed with the nearest civil registry. The said party shall accompany the aforesaid statement with the oath of allegiance to the Constitution and the Government of the Philippines." However, the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 did not prescribe a time period within which the election of Philippine citizenship should be made. The 1935 Charter only provides that the election should be made "upon reaching the age of 9 majority." The age of majority then commenced upon reaching twenty-one (21) years. In the opinions of the Secretary of Justice on cases involving the validity of election of Philippine citizenship, this dilemma was resolved by basing the time period on the decisions of this Court prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution. In these decisions, the proper period for electing Philippine citizenship was, in turn, based on the pronouncements of the Department of State of the United States Government to the effect that the election should be made within a "reasonable time" after attaining the age of 10 majority. The phrase "reasonable time" has been interpreted to mean that the election should be made within three (3) years from reaching the age of 11 12 majority. However, we held in Cuenco vs. Secretary of Justice, that the three (3) year period is not an inflexible rule. We said: It is true that this clause has been construed to mean a reasonable period after reaching the age of majority, and that the Secretary of Justice has ruled that three (3) years is the reasonable time to elect Philippine citizenship under the constitutional provision adverted to above, which period may be extended 13 under certain circumstances, as when the person concerned has always considered himself a Filipino. However, we cautioned in Cuenco that the extension of the option to elect Philippine citizenship is not indefinite: Regardless of the foregoing, petitioner was born on February 16, 1923. He became of age on February 16, 1944. His election of citizenship was made on May 15, 1951, when he was over twenty-eight (28) years of age, or over seven (7) years after he had reached the age of majority. It is clear that said election 14 has not been made "upon reaching the age of majority." In the present case, Ching, having been born on 11 April 1964, was already thirty-five (35) years old when he complied with the requirements of C.A. No. 625 on 15 June 1999, or over fourteen (14) years after he had reached the age of majority. Based on the interpretation of the phrase "upon reaching the age of majority," Ching's election was clearly beyond, by any reasonable yardstick, the allowable period within which to exercise the privilege. It should be stated, in this connection, that the special circumstances invoked by Ching, i.e., his continuous and uninterrupted stay in the Philippines and his being a certified public accountant, a registered voter and a former elected public official, cannot vest in him Philippine citizenship as the law specifically lays down the requirements for acquisition of Philippine citizenship by election. Definitely, the so-called special circumstances cannot constitute what Ching erroneously labels as informal election of 15 citizenship. Ching cannot find a refuge in the case of In re: Florencio Mallare, the pertinent portion of which reads: And even assuming arguendo that Ana Mallare were (sic) legally married to an alien, Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age, constitutes a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship. It has been established that Esteban Mallare was a registered voter as of April 14, 1928, and that as early as 1925 (when he was about 22 years old), Esteban was already participating in the elections and campaigning for certain candidate[s]. These acts are sufficient to show his preference for 16 Philippine citizenship. Ching's reliance on Mallare is misplaced. The facts and circumstances obtaining therein are very different from those in the present case, thus, negating its applicability. First, Esteban Mallare was born before the effectivity of the 1935

Constitution and the enactment of C.A. No. 625. Hence, the requirements and procedures prescribed under the 1935 Constitution and C.A. No. 625 for electing Philippine citizenship would not be applicable to him. Second, the ruling in Mallare was an obiter since, as correctly pointed out by the OSG, it was not necessary for Esteban Mallare to elect Philippine citizenship because he was already a Filipino, he being a natural child of a Filipino mother. In this regard, the Court stated: Esteban Mallare, natural child of Ana Mallare, a Filipina, is therefore himself a Filipino, and no other act would be necessary to confer on him all the rights and privileges attached to Philippine citizenship (U.S. vs. Ong Tianse, 29 Phil. 332; Santos Co vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 42 Phil. 543, Serra vs. Republic, L-4223, May 12, 1952, Sy Quimsuan vs. Republic, L-4693, Feb. 16, 1953; Pitallano vs. Republic, L-5111, June 28, 1954). Neither could any act be taken on the erroneous belief that he is a 17 non-filipino divest him of the citizenship privileges to which he is rightfully entitled. The ruling in Mallare was reiterated and further elaborated in Co vs. Electoral Tribunal of the House of Representatives, where we held: We have jurisprudence that defines "election" as both a formal and an informal process. In the case of In re: Florencio Mallare (59 SCRA 45 [1974]), the Court held that the exercise of the right of suffrage and the participation in election exercises constitute a positive act of election of Philippine citizenship. In the exact pronouncement of the Court, we held: Esteban's exercise of the right of suffrage when he came of age constitutes a positive act of Philippine citizenship. (p. 52: emphasis supplied) The private respondent did more than merely exercise his right of suffrage. He has established his life here in the Philippines. For those in the peculiar situation of the respondent who cannot be excepted to have elected Philippine citizenship as they were already citizens, we apply the In Re Mallare rule . xxx xxx xxx The filing of sworn statement or formal declaration is a requirement for those who still have to elect citizenship. For those already Filipinos when the time to elect came up, there are acts of deliberate choice which cannot be less binding. Entering a profession open only to Filipinos, serving in public office where citizenship is a qualification, voting during election time, running for public office, and other categorical acts of similar nature are themselves formal manifestations for these persons. An election of Philippine citizenship presupposes that the person electing is an alien. Or his status is doubtful because he is a national of two countries. There is no doubt in this case about Mr. Ong's being a Filipino when he turned twenty-one (21). We repeat that any election of Philippine citizenship on the part of the private respondent would not only have been superfluous but it would also have resulted in an absurdity. How can a Filipino citizen elect 19 Philippine citizenship? The Court, like the OSG, is sympathetic with the plight of Ching. However, even if we consider the special circumstances in the life of Ching like his having lived in the Philippines all his life and his consistent belief that he is a Filipino, controlling statutes and jurisprudence constrain us to disagree with the recommendation of the OSG. Consequently, we hold that Ching failed to validly elect Philippine citizenship. The span of fourteen (14) years that lapsed from the time he reached the age of majority until he finally expressed his intention to elect Philippine citizenship is clearly way beyond the contemplation of the requirement of electing "upon reaching the age of majority." Moreover, Ching has offered no reason why he delayed his election of Philippine citizenship. The prescribed procedure in electing Philippine citizenship is certainly not a tedious and painstaking process. All that is required of the elector is to execute an affidavit of election of Philippine citizenship and, thereafter, file the same with the nearest civil registry. Ching's unreasonable and unexplained delay in making his election cannot be simply glossed over.
18

Philippine citizenship can never be treated like a commodity that can be claimed when needed and suppressed when 20 convenient. One who is privileged to elect Philippine citizenship has only an inchoate right to such citizenship. As such, he should avail of the right with fervor, enthusiasm and promptitude. Sadly, in this case, Ching slept on his opportunity to elect Philippine citizenship and, as a result. this golden privilege slipped away from his grasp. IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the Court Resolves to DENY Vicente D. Ching's application for admission to the Philippine Bar. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima, Pardo, Buena, GonzagaReyes and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.
Footnotes 1 Citing Cu vs. Republic of the Philippines, 89 Phil. 473, 476 (1951). 2 Citing CRUZ, Constitutional Law, 1991 Ed., p. 359. 3 Citing Cuenco.vs. Secretary of Justice, 5 SCRA 108, 110 (1962). 4 Sec. 1, Art. IV of the 1935 Constitution reads: Sec. 1. The following are citizens of the Philippines: (1) Those who are citizens of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of the Constitution; (2) Those born in the Philippine Islands of foreign parents who, before the adoption of this Constitution, had been elected to public office; (3) Those whose fathers are citizens of the Philippines; (4) Those whose mothers are citizens of the Philippines, and, upon reaching the age of majority, elect Philippine citizenship; (5) Those who are naturalized in accordance with law. 5 Sec. 1(1), Article III, 1973 Constitution. 6 Sec. 1(3), Article IV, 1987 Constitution. 7 BERNAS, The Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines;First Ed. (1987), p. 502. 8 Ibid.,citing Convention Session of November 27, 1972 and noting that it is also applicable to the 1987 Constitution. 9 Art.402, Civil Code. 10 Lim Teco vs. Collector of Customs, 24 SCRA 84, 88 (1912). 11 Muoz vs. Collector of Customs, 20 SCRA 494: 498 (1911); Lorenzo vs. Collector of Customs, 15 SCRA 559, 592 (1910). 12 5 SCRA 108 (1962). 13 Id., at 110. 14 Id. 15 59 SCRA 45 (1974) 16 Id., at 52. 17 Id. 18 199 SCRA 692 (1991). 19 Id., at 707-709 (Emphasis supplied).

20 Yu vs. Defensor-Santiago, 169 SCRA 364, 379 (1989) BAR MATTER NO. 730 June 13, 1997 Gentlemen: Quoted hereunder, for your information, is a resolution of the Court En Banc dated June 10, 1997 . IN RE: NEED THAT LAW STUDENT PRACTICING UNDER RULE 138-A BE ACTUALLY SUPERVISED DURING TRIAL (BAR MATTER NO. 730). The issue in this Consulta is whether a law student who appears before the court under the Law Student Practice Rule (Rule 138-A) should be accompanied by a member of the bar during the trial. This issue was raised by retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio P. Barredo, counsel for the defendant in Civil Case No. BCV-92-11 entitled Irene A. Caliwara v. Roger T. Catbagan filed before the Regional Trial Court of Bacoor, Cavite. The records show that the plaintiff in civil Case No. BCV-92-11 was represented by Mr. Cornelio Carmona, Jr., an intern at the Office of Legal Aid, UP-College of Law (UP-OLA). Mr. Carmona conducted hearings and completed the presentation of the plaintiff's evidence-in-chief without the presence of a supervising lawyer. Justice Barredo questioned the appearance of Mr. Carmona during the hearing because the latter was not accompanied by a duly accredited lawyer. On December 15, 1994, Presiding Judge Edelwina Pastoral issued an Order requiring Mr. Carmona to be accompanied by a supervising lawyer on the next hearing. In compliance with said Order, UP-OLA and the Secretary of Justice executed a Memorandum of Agreement directing Atty. Catubao and Atty. Legayada of the Public Attorney's Office to supervise Mr. Carmona during the subsequent hearings.

Justice Barredo asserts that a law student appearing before the trial court under Rule 138-A should be accompanied by a supervising lawyer. 1 On the other hand, UP-OLA, through its Director, Atty. Alfredo F. Tadiar, submits that "the matter of allowing a law intern to appear unaccompanied by a duly accredited supervising lawyer should be . . . left to the sound discretion of the court after having made at least one supervised appearance." 2 For the guidance of the bench and bar, we hold that a law student appearing before the Regional Trial Court under Rule 138-A should at all times be accompanied by a supervising lawyer. Section 2 of Rule 138-A provides. Section 2.Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must be signed the by supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic. The phrase "direct supervision and control" requires no less than the physical presence of the supervising lawyer during the hearing. This is in accordance with the threefold rationale behind the Law Student Practice Rule, to wit: 3 1. to ensure that there will be no miscarriage of justice as a result of incompetence or inexperience of law students, who, not having as yet passed the test of professional competence, are presumably not fully equipped to act a counsels on their own; 2. to provide a mechanism by which the accredited law school clinic may be able to protect itself from any potential vicarious liability arising from some culpable action by their law students; and 3. to ensure consistency with the fundamental principle that no person is allowed to practice a particular profession without possessing the qualifications, particularly a license, as required by law. The matter of allowing a law student to appear before the court unaccompanied by a supervising lawyer cannot be left to the discretion of the presiding judge. The rule clearly states that the appearance of the law student shall be under the direct control and supervision of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by law schools. The rule must be strictly construed because public policy demands that legal work should be entrusted only to those who possess tested qualifications, are sworn to observe the rules and ethics of the legal profession and subject to judicial disciplinary control. 4 We said in Bulacan v. Torcino: 5 Court procedures are often technical and may prove like snares to the ignorant or the unwary. In the past, our law has allowed non-lawyers to appear for party litigants in places where duly authorized members of the bar are not available (U.S. vs. Bacansas, 6 Phil. 539). For relatively simple litigation before municipal courts, the Rules still allow a more educated or capable person in behalf of a litigant who cannot get a lawyer. But for the protection of the parties and in the interest of justice, the requirement for appearances in regional trial courts and higher courts is more stringent. The Law Student Practice Rule is only an exception to the rule. Hence, the presiding judge should see to it that the law student appearing before the court is properly guided and supervised by a member of the bar. The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court, where the issues and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34 Rule 138 provides; Section 34.By whom litigation is conducted. In the court of a justice of the peace, a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar. Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party without the supervision of a member of the bar. IN VIEW WHEREOF, we hold that a law student appearing before the Regional Trial Court under the authority of Rule 138-A must be under the direct control and supervision of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly

accredited by the law school and that said law student must be accompanied by a supervising lawyer in all his appearance. Padilla and Francisco, J.J., on leave. Very truly yours, (Sgd.) LUZVIMINDA D. PUNO Clerk of court
Footnotes 1 Consulta, p. 2. 2 Comment, p. 9. 3 Comment, p. 5. 4 Agpalo, Legal Ethics (Fourth Edition, 1989), pp. 39-40. 5 134 SCRA 252 (1985).

[A.C. No. 5737. October 25, 2004] FERDINAND A. CRUZ, complainant, vs. ATTY. STANLEY CABRERA, respondent. RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: In an administrative complaint dated July 7, 2002, Ferdinand A. Cruz charges Atty. Stanley Cabrera with misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Complainant alleges that he is a fourth year law student; since the latter part of 2001, he instituted several actions against his neighbors; he appeared for and in his behalf in his own cases; he met respondent who acted as the counsel of his neighbors; during a hearing on January 14, 2002, in one case before the Regional Trial Court, Branch 112, Pasay City, presided by Judge Caridad Cuerdo, the following exchange transpired: xxx xxx So, may we know your honor, if he is a lawyer or not? The Court having been inhibited by the respondent from hearing the case, replied: You are asking for my inhibition and yet you want me to rule on his appearance xxx xxx. Thereafter, the respondent said: Because your honor, he (pertaining to the complainant) is misrepresenting himself to be a lawyer! To this the complainant remarked: Your Honor, Im not xxx xxx. Respondent, this time engulfed with anger in a raising voice said: Appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna; x x x. Respondents imputations were uncalled for and the latters act of compelling the court to ask complainant whether he is a lawyer or not was intended to malign him before the public, inasmuch as respondent knew that complainant is not a lawyer, having appeared for and in his behalf as a party litigant in prior cases; respondents imputations of complainants misrepresentation as a lawyer was patently with malice to discredit his honor, with the intention to threaten him not to appear anymore in cases respondent was handling; the manner, substance, tone of voice and how the words appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna! were uttered were totally with the intention to annoy, vex and humiliate, malign, ridicule, incriminate and discredit complainant before the public. Complainant claims that respondents display of improper attitude, arrogance, misbehavior, misconduct in the performance of his duties both as a lawyer and officer of the court, before the public and the court, was a patent transgression of the very ethics that lawyers are sworn to uphold in their dealings with society and corresponding appropriate penalty or sanctions for the said administrative violations should be imposed on the respondent. In his Comment, respondent contends that the complaint filed against him is a vicious scheme to dissuade him from appearing as counsel for the Mina family against whom complainant had filed several civil and criminal cases including

him to further complainants illegal practice of law; complainants complaint occurred during a judicial proceeding wherein complainant was able to represent himself considering that he was appearing in barong tagalog thus the presiding judge was misled when she issued an order stating [i]n todays hearing both lawyers appeared; because of which, respondent stated: Your honor I would like to manifest that this counsel (referring to complainant) who represents the plaintiff in thi s case is not a lawyer, to which complainant replied: The counsel very well know that I am not yet a lawyer; the reason he informed the court that complainant is not a lawyer was because the presiding judge did not know that complainant is not a lawyer and complainant did not inform the presiding judge that he is not a lawyer when he stated: for the plaintiff your honor; he stated pumasa ka muna out of indignation because of complainants temerity in misrepresenting himself as lawyer; it is surprising that the City Prosecutor of Pasay City filed a complaint for oral defamation against him considering that in a precedent case the Supreme Court stated: It is a settled principle in this jurisdiction that statement s made in the course of judicial proceedings are absolutely privileged (Navarrete vs. Court of Appeals, 325 SCRA 540); in another malicious prosecution being perpetuated by the complainant against the Mina family pending before Judge Priscilla Mijares of RTC Branch 108, Pasay City, they were able to prohibit the appearance of complainant as counsel for himself as authenticated by an Order of Judge Priscilla Mijares which allegedly stated among other; to wit: In connection with Ferdinand A. Cruzs motion to appear as counsel, the motion is likewise denied, movant not having satisfied the requirements and conditions under Rule 138-A, Sections 1 and 2. Respondent alleges that when complainant filed an administrative case against Judge Priscilla Mijares when said Judge stated in Tagalog in open court Hay naku masama yung marunong pa sa Huwes! OK? the same was dismissed by the Honorable Courts Third Division which stated among others: That the questioned remarks of respondent were uttered more out of frustration and in reaction to complainants actuations and taking into account that complainant is not yet a lawyer but was already lecturing the court on a matter which is not even a point of discussion was sheer arrogance on the part of the complainant. Respondent prays that the complaint against him be dismis sed for lack of merit. The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. In a report, dated March 4, 2004, IBP Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro recommended respondents suspensi on from the practice of law for a period of three months for violating Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: A lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use language which is abusive, offensive or otherwise improper. In her report, Commissioner Navarro stated: After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, the undersigned noted that respondents averment that the utterances he made in open court is (sic) privileged communication does not hold water for the same was (sic) not relevant to the issue of the case in question under trial before the said court. Respondent did not refute the fact that the same utterances he made in open court against the complainant had been the basis for his indictment of Oral Defamation and later Unjust Vexation under Criminal Cases Nos. 02-1031 and No. 022136 respectively, pending trial before MTC Branch 45, Pasay City. Likewise respondent did not refute complainants allegation that in 1979 he was held in contempt and was not a llowed to practice law for seven years by the Supreme Court in the administrative case filed against him by Emilia E. Andres on December 14, 1979 docketed as A.M. L-585 for his fondness in using contumacious language in his dealing with others. From the facts obtaining, it is apparent that the utterance hurled by the respondent in the manner, substance and tone of his voice which was not refuted by him that appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna in whatever manner it was uttered are in itself not only abusive but insulting specially on the part of law students who have not yet taken nor passed the bar examination required of them. Respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in informing the court if it was his purpose relative to complainants appearance in court; although the latter appeared only in his behalf but not for others if he had complied with the requirements of Rule 138 (Sections 1 and 3) of the Rules of Court. Respondent should have been more temperate in making utterances in his professional dealings so as not to offend the sensitivities of the other party as in this case.

On April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution to annul and set aside the recommendation of the investigating commissioner and to approve the dismissal of the case for lack of merit. Prefatorily, we note that the IBP Board of Governors failed to observe the procedural requirements of Sec. 12 of Rule 139B of the Rules of Court on review and decision by the Board of Governors which states: SEC. 12. Review and decision by the Board of Governors . (a) Every case heard by an investigator shall be reviewed by the IBP Board of Governors upon the record and evidence transmitted to it by the Investigator with his report. The decision of the Board upon such review shall be in writing and shall clearly and distinctly state the facts and the reasons on which it is based. It shall be promulgated within a period not exceeding thirty (30) days from the next meeting of the Board following the submittal of the Investigators report. (Emphasis supplied) In Teodosio vs. Nava,[1] the Court stressed the important function of the requirement that the decision of the Board of Governors state the facts and the reasons on which it is based, which is akin to what is required of the decisions of courts of record, thus: For aside from informing the parties the reason for the decision to enable them to point out to the appellate court the findings with which they are not in agreement, in case any of them decides to appeal the decision, it is also an assurance that the judge, or the Board of Governors in this case, reached his judgment through the process of legal reasoning.[2] In this case, the Board of Governors resolution absolving respondent of any m isconduct does not contain any findings of facts or law upon which it based its ruling. Ordinarily, non-compliance with the rule would result in the remand of the case. Nonetheless, where the controversy has been pending resolution for quite sometime and the issues involved could be resolved on the basis of the records on appeal, the Court has opted to resolve the case in the interest of justice and speedy disposition of cases.[3] This case falls within the exception. We hold that respondents outburst of appear ka ng appear, pumasa ka muna does not amount to a violation of Rule 8.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Based on the facts of this case, such outburst came about when respondent pointed out to the trial court that complainant is not a lawyer to correct the judges impression of complainants appearance, inasmuch as the judge, in her Order of January 14, 2002, noted that complainant is a lawyer.[4] Such single outburst, though uncalled for, is not of such magnitude as to warrant respondents suspension or reproof. It is but a product of impulsiveness or the heat of the moment in the course of an argument between them. It has been said that lawyers should not be held to too strict an account for words said in the heat of the moment, because of chagrin at losing cases, and that the big way is for the court to condone even contemptuous language.[5] Nonetheless, we remind respondent that complainant is not precluded from litigating personally his cases. A partys right to conduct litigation personally is recognized by Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 34.By whom litigation conducted. -- In the court of a justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar. In Maderada vs. Mediodea,[6] this Court expounded on the foregoing provision, thus: This provision means that in a litigation, parties may personally do everything during its progress -- from its commencement to its termination. When they, however, act as their own attorneys, they are restricted to the same rules of evidence and procedure as those qualified to practice law; otherwise, ignorance would be unjustifiably rewarded. Individuals have long been permitted to manage, prosecute and defend their own actions; and when they do so, they are not considered to be in the practice of law. One does not practice law by acting for himself any more than he practices medicine by rendering first aid to himself. The practice of law, though impossible to define exactly, involves the exercise of a profession or vocation usually for gain, mainly as attorneyby acting in a representative capacity and as counsel by rendering legal advise to others. Private practice has been defined by this Court as follows:

x x x. Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise. Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute [referring to the prohibition for judges and other officials or employees of the superior courts or of the Office of the Solicitor General from engaging in private practice] has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. x x x. Clearly, in appearing for herself, complainant was not customarily or habitually holding herself out to the public as a lawyer. Neither was she demanding payment for such services. Hence, she cannot be said to be in the practice of law.[7] On the other hand, all lawyers should take heed that lawyers are licensed officers of the courts who are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend; and upon whom peculiar duties, responsibilities and liabilities are devolved by law as a consequence. Membership in the bar imposes upon them certain obligations. Mandated to maintain the dignity of the legal profession, they must conduct themselves honorably and fairly.[8] Though a lawyers 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.[9] WHEREFORE, the complaint against respondent Atty. Stanley Cabrera for misconduct in violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility is DISMISSED for lack of merit. He is, however, admonished to be more circumspect in the performance of his duties as an officer of the court. SO ORDERED. Puno, (Chairman), Callejo, Sr., Tinga, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur

[1] 357 SCRA 406 (2001). [2]Id., p. 412. [3]Id., pp. 412-413. [4]Rollo, p. 9. [5] In re: Gomez, 43 Phil. 376, 377 (1922). [6] 413 SCRA 313 (2003). [7]Id., pp. 324-325. [8]Reyes vs. Chiong Jr., 405 SCRA 212, 217 (2003). [9]De la Rosa vs. Sabio, Jr., 407 SCRA 213, 220 (2003).

[A.C. No. 6585. April 21, 2005] TOMAS B. YUMOL, JR., FELIX S. VENTIC, ELMER L. MANIEGO and JAKE M. MAGCALAS, complainants, vs. ATTY. ROBERTO R. FERRER, SR., respondent. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: This is a complaint for disbarment filed by Atty. Tomas B. Yumol, Jr., Felix S. Ventic, Elmer L. Maniego and Jake Magcalas against Atty. Roberto R. Ferrer, Sr., for grave misconduct. At all time material to the controversy, complainants were employees of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), Atty. Yumol as Officer-in-Charge,[1] Mr. Ventic, as Supervising Special Investigator, Mr. Maniego as Special Investigator III and Mr. Magcalas as Special Investigator I. Respondent Atty. Ferrer, Sr., held the position of Attorney IV, also of the Commission. On 17 September 2001, Mrs. Ma. Cecilia Mallari-Dy sought the assistance of the CHR for the alleged kidnapping of her child Jianzil Irish M. Dy by her husband, John Burt Dy, and the coercive act of the latter in the transfer of her account with the Porac Rural Bank. Acting on this, Atty. Ferrer, a Senior Legal Officer of the CHR, issued the two (2) Orders quoted below. The facts as above stated resulted in the heated altercation that took place on 28 September 2001 between respondent and one Mr. John Burt Dy, whereby the latter accused the CHR of conniving with his wife, Mrs. Ma. Cecilia Dy, and of destroying his reputation and good name at the Porac Rural Bank. Atty. Yumol, being the OIC Head of the Office, asked

Mr. Dy if he could substantiate his accusations. The latter showed him two (2) alleged Office Orders dated 18 and 19 September 2001, both signed by respondent. The Order dated 18 September 2001,[2] reads: Acting on the Complaint of Ma. CECILIA M. DY, and pursuant to the provision of the Family Code that children five (5) years and below should remain under the custody of the mother, in relation to the provisions of the Constitution vesting powers unto this Commission and in particular, Section 18, Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution, the respondent is hereby ordered to give custody of JIANZIL IRISH M. DY to the maternal custody of the aforementioned mother. Wherefore, premises considered, pending investigation of the above-entitled case, the custody of JIANZIL IRISH M. DY is hereby awarded to the mother MA. CECILIA M. DY. SO ORDERED. City of San Fernando, Pampanga, September 18, 2001. (SGD)ATTY. ROBERTO R. FERRER, SR. Senior Legal Counsel The Order dated 19 September 2001,[3] reads: Before this Commission is the Complaint filed by complainant wife for alleged kidnapping of her child Jianzil Irish M. Dy which happened last August 22, 2001 and the coercive mean (sic) of respondent JOHN BURT DY in the transfer of the complainants cash deposit with the Porac Rural Bank. Finding the allegations to (sic) sufficiently established, custody of the child was awarded to the Complainant and properly executed with the aid [of] the Sangguniang Barangay of Sta. Cruz, Porac, Pampanga and the elements of the Porac PNP. Likewise, we find that there had been coercion in the transfer of complainant (sic) deposit in bank, which was already effected by the aforementioned Rural Bank. NOW, THEREFORE, pending the final determination of this above-entitled case and by virtue of the powers and authority granted this Commission under Sec. 18, Article 13 of the Constitution, the Rural Bank of Porac is hereby ordered to reinstate the account of complainant MA. CECILIA M. DY. SO ORDERED. City of San Fernando, Pampanga, September 19, 2001. (SGD)ATTY. ROBERTO R. FERRER, SR. Senior Legal Counsel IV Complainants Yumol and Magcalas, together with their staff, witnessed the incident and were surprised to see the two (2) orders allegedly issued by respondent. Mr. Dy also informed Atty. Yumol that the two (2) orders were already enforced by respondent himself and his co-employees V. Rigor and E. Enolpe, Police Officer Larucom and the Barangay Captain of their place. Concerned by the acts of respondent, Atty. Yumol tried to clarify the matter by writing a letter[4] to the Bank Manager stating, thus: In reference to the order of Atty. Roberto R. Ferrer, Sr., Attorney IV of this Regional Office, the undersigned would like to inform your good office that the Commissions participation on the matter is limited only to extend legal guidance/assistance considering that the disagreement of spouses John Burt Dy and Ma. Cecilia M. Dy is a family matter. Hence, you are being advised to disregard Atty. Ferrers order dated September 19, 2001. Moreover, the said case is not officially docketed as part of Human Rights cases handled by the Commission.

I hope this will clarify any misinterpretation of the Commissions mandate. On 28 September 2001, Yumol required[5] respondent to explain within seventy-two (72) hours the unauthorized issuance of the said Orders. It turned out later that respondent was engaged in private practice by handling private cases in courts and other quasijudicial bodies as shown by the following pleadings: Pleadings Motion for Reconsideration in Sp. Proc. No. 0101 Motion for Issuance of Mandatory Injunction Urgent Ex-Parte Motion For Issuance of Preliminary Injunction Petition Motion for Reconsideration and Urgent Motion for Postponement Motion for Reconsideration Motion for Reconsideration On Denial of the Release of Vehicle Addendum to Motion For Re-Investigation Motion to Set Motion For Release of Vehicle Where Filed MTC, Sta. Ana, Candaba, Pampanga.[6] MTC, San Fernando, Pampanga[7] RTC-58, Angeles City[8] MTC, Sta. Ana, Candaba, Pampanga[9] RTC-58, Angeles City[10] - do -[11] - do -[12] - do -[13] - do -[14]

Several documents were also notarized by respondent, viz: Documents Reply of Norberto San Angel dated October 16, 2001 Sworn Statement dated October 15, 2001 of May Paule, et al. Criminal Complaint of Myrna Bulaon Reply Affidavit of Myrna Bulaon Affidavit of Renato P. Canlas Where Used MTC, Branch 1, San Fernando, Pampanga[15] Civil Case No. 8509 filed with the MTC San Fernando, Pampanga[16] Criminal Case No. 01-1401 MTC of Sta. Ana, Pampanga[17] - do-[18] Special Proceeding No. 01-01 at MTC, Sta. Ana, Pampanga[19]

Respondent also attended court hearings as shown in the following Minutes of Hearings, Orders, and Transcripts of Stenographic Notes: Date March 2, 2001 April 23, 2001 March 6, 2001 August 3, 2001 Sept. 7, 2001 October 15, 2001 Nov. 5, 2001 Time 9:00 A.M. 1:30 P.M. 2:15 P.M. 9:00 A.M. - do 8:30 A.M. 2:00 P.M. Case No. 01-01 (Ejectment Case) Crim. Case No. 00-1164 Crim. Case No. 00-1164 Crim. Case No. 01-1401 Court MTC/Sta. Ana, Pampanga[20] RTC-58 Angeles City[21] - do -[22] MTC, Sta. Ana. Pampanga[23] - do -[24] RTC 42, San Frdo., Pamp.[25] MTC Branch 1, San Fernando, Pampanga.[26] RTC 58, Angeles City[27] MTC Br. I, San

Civil Case No. 17360 Civil Case No. 8509

Nov. 27, 2001 Dec. 6, 2001 2:00 P.M.

Civil Case No. 8509 Civil Case No. 8509

Fernando, Pampanga.[28] During those times that respondent attended hearings, he declared in his Daily Time Records (DTRs) that he was present at the Office as shown by the DTRs attached to the complaint. The actuations of the respondent provoked the filing of several criminal cases against him, to wit: (1) Falsification of Public Documents,[29] (2) Usurpation of Functions,[30] and (3) Violation of Republic Act No. 6713.[31] Still, despite the cases filed against him, respondent continued attending hearings in different courts as demonstrated by the following photostatic copies of the Minutes of the trials of the cases:[32] Dates October 24, 2002 November 7, 2002 January 17, 2003 February 10, 2003 March 10, 2003 March 24, 2003 March 28, 2003 May 9, 2003 May 29, 2003 June 12, 2003 June 17, 2003 July 17, 2003 August 26, 2003 Time 2:00 PM 2:00 PM 9:00 AM 9:00 AM 9:00 AM 9:00 AM 9:00 AM 8:30 AM 2:00 PM Court MTC Arayat, Pampanga[33] - do MTC Sta. Ana, Pampanga[34] MTC Arayat, Pampanga[35] - do -[36] - do -[37] MTC Sta. Ana, Pampanga[38] - do -[39] RTC-54, Macabebe, Pampanga[40] MTC Arayat, Pampanga[41] MTC-4, San Frdo., Pampanga[42] RTC-54, Macabebe, Pampanga[43] MTC-4, San Frdo., Pampanga[44]

8:30 AM 9:00 A.M.

Complainants maintained that all these acts constitute grave misconduct.

We referred the present case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and investigation.

On 04 November 2003, respondent filed a motion[45] for extension of twenty (20) days within which to file his answer, which was granted by the Commission on Bar Discipline, IBP, Pasig City.[46]

In his answer,[47] respondent admitted that Mrs. Ma. Cecilia Mallari-Dy dropped by at the CHR to seek assistance regarding the recovery of her minor son and the restitution of her time deposit. He also acknowledged having issued the two orders but maintained that the same were in consonance with the powers and functions granted to all CHR lawyers. He argued that CHR lawyers, pursuant to CHR Resolution No. A-88-056 dated 8 October 1988 and CHR Resolution No. A89-109-A dated 19 July 1989, can file, appear, prosecute and represent the Commission for underprivileged victims and persons whose human rights have been violated or in need of protection in civil, criminal and administrative matters which are properly cognizable by the Commission. He likewise claimed that he was allowed by the CHR to file a petition for commission as a notary public and was commissioned on 01 December 2000. He denied having falsified his DTRs as the same were certified by complainant Atty. Yumol as Officer-In-Charge of their office and that his appearances in courts were for legal assistance as allowed in CHR Resolution No. A-88-056. Lastly, respondent insisted that the instant complaint was an offshoot of the administrative case filed by Mrs. Ma. Cecilia Mallari-Dy against Atty. Yumol and the other

complainants, which prevented the issuance of a certificate of clearance to Atty. Yumol relative to his impending retirement. In their reply,[48] complainants claimed that respondents commission as notary public was granted only by the CHR on 29 October 2001, and received by the CHR Region 3 on 07 November 2001, hence, the belated authority granted to him cannot be made to retroact to the notarized documents which were all done before 07 November 2001. Complainants likewise argued that respondents act of appearing in courts as counsel is a form of privat e practice which is expressly prohibited by Republic Act No. 6713.[49] They further explained that the CHR has no authority to issue the questioned orders as it cannot try and decide cases which courts of justice or quasi-judicial bodies do. Finally, they pointed out that the complaint filed by Mrs. Dy against them was already dismissed in an Order dated 15 October 2003. After investigative hearings, IBP Investigating Commissioner Rebecca Villanueva-Maala submitted her report, the dispositive portion of which reads:[50] IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, there is merit in the complaint and it is hereby recommended that respondent ATTY. ROBERTO R. FERRER, SR. be SUSPENDED for a period of TWO (2) YEARS from the practice of his profession as a lawyer and as a member of the bar. On 30 July 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP approved the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner but modified the penalty imposed: [51] RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that respondent can be held liable for falsification for making it appear that he was at the CHR office by logging in at the DTR when actually he was attending a hearing in some courts, Atty. Roberto R. Ferrer, Sr., is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months. The issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not respondent has committed gross misconduct arising from the following alleged acts: 1. 2. 3. 4. Engaging in the private practice of his profession while being a government employee; Falsifying his Daily Time Records; Issuing unauthorized orders; and Continuously engaging in private practice even after the filing of case against him for engaging in private practice.

Relative to the first ground, respondent contends that CHR lawyers are authorized to engage in private practice by invoking CHR Resolution No. (III) A2002-133. CHR Resolution No. (III) A2002-133 authorizes CHR lawyers to engage in private practice (adopting the Civil Service Commission Resolution) subject to the following conditions,[52] to wit: NOW THEREFORE, foregoing premises considered, the Commission hereby resolves to adopt the following policy: Lawyers employed in the Civil Service Commission, upon written request, may be authorized to practice their profession subject to the following conditions: 1. It shall not entail any conflict of interest insofar as the functions of the Commission are concerned; 2. It shall not be in representation of a client whose cause of action is against the government; 3. It shall not involve the use of government funds or property; 4. It shall not impair the lawyers efficiency in the discharge of his/her regular functions in the office, and absences incurred, if any, shall be covered by duly approved vacation leaves and pass slips; 5. It shall be subject to the provisions of RA No. 6713 and such other relevant Civil Service Laws and Rules; 6. The lawyers can appear only in courts of law, offices of state prosecutors (Department of Justice), Office of the Ombudsman and quasi-judicial agencies decisions of which are rendered by presidential appointees; 7. Authority is for one year subject to renewal after review of the lawyers office performance; 8. Provided, that, the commission reserves its right to revoke the said authority. Recognizing that the dearth of lawyers committed to the civil service is due to the . . . huge disparity in the income of government lawyers as compared to those employed in the private sector, the Commission on Human Rights is

convinced that CHR lawyers may be authorized to engage in the practice of their profession to augment their income so as to encourage them in the government service. NOW, THEREFORE, the Commission on Human Rights adopts the above-cited conditions to authorize, upon written request, to practice their profession. However, it is the Commission (sic) position that said authority should be strictly construed to maintain efficient and effective delivery of Commission programs and services. (Underscoring supplied) Crystal clear from the foregoing is the fact that private practice of law by CHR lawyers is not a matter of right. Although the Commission allows CHR lawyers to engage in private practice, a written request and approval thereof, with a duly approved leave of absence for that matter are indispensable . In the case at bar, the record is bereft of any such written request or duly approved leave of absence. No written authority nor approval of the practice and approved leave of absence by the CHR was ever presented by respondent. Thus, he cannot engage in private practice. As to respondents act of notarizing documents, records show that he applied[53] for commission as notary public on 14 November 2000, before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 42. This was granted by RTC Executive Judge Pedro M. Sunga, Jr., on 01 December 2000.[54] However, the CHR authorized[55] respondent to act as notary public only on 29 October 2001.[56] Considering that acts of notarization are within the ambit of the term practice of law, for which a prior written request and approval by the CHR to engage into it are required, the crucial period to be considered is the approval of the CHR on 29 October 2001 and not the approval of the RTC on 04 December 2000. Practice of law has a settled meaning. It refers to any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill. [57] Thus, as correctly pointed out by complainants, the belated authority granted to respondent cannot be made to retroact to the notarized documents dated prior thereto. As to the alleged falsification of DTRs, records show that respondent has been actually attending hearings in different courts as shown by the minutes of hearings and/or orders issued by different courts. Since it has been amply established that he was not properly authorized to do so as no written request by him and approval thereof of his request and of his leave of absence was made by the CHR, it is an ineluctable conclusion that he falsified his DTRs when he certified thereon that he was at the office on the same days and time. Needless to say, he could not be at two different places at the same time. We shall now discuss respondents authority to issue the two (2) Orders. The following are instructive: . . . The [1987] Constitution clearly and categorically grants to the Commission [on Human Rights] the power to investigate all forms of human rights violations involving civil and political rights. . . But it cannot try and decide cases (or hear and determine causes) as courts of justice, or even quasi-judicial bodies do. To investigate is not to adjudicate or adjudge. Whether in the popular or the technical sense, these terms have well understood and quite distinct meanings. Investigate, commonly understood, means to examine, explore, inquire or delve or probe into, research on, study. The dictionary definition of investigate is to observe or study closely: inquire into systematically: to search or inquire in to: . . . to subject to an official probe . . .: to conduct an official inq uiry. The purpose of investigation, of course, is to discover, to find out, to learn, obtain information. Nowhere included or intimated is the notion of settling, deciding or resolving a controversy involved in the facts inquired into by application of the law to the facts established by the inquiry. The legal meaning of investigate is essentially the same: to follow up step by step by patient inquiry or observation. To trace or track; to search into; to examine and inquire into with care and accuracy; to find out by careful inquisition; examination; the taking of evidence; a legal inquiry; to inquire; to make an investigation, investigation being in turn described as (a)n administrative function, the exercise of which ordinarily does not require a hearing . . . Adjudicate, commonly or popularly understood, means to adjudge, arbitrate, judge, decide, determine, resolve, rule on, settle. The dictionary defines the term as to settle finally (the rights and duties of the parties to a court case ) on the merits of issues raised: x x to pass judgment on: settle judicially: x x act as judge. And adjudge means to decide or rule upon as a judge or with judicial or quasi-judicial powers: x x to award or grant judicially in a case of controversy x x .

In the legal sense, adjudicate means: To settle in the exercise of judicial authority. To determine finally. Synonymous with adjudge in its strictest sense; and adjudge means: To pass on judicially, to decide, settle or decree, or to sentenc e or condemn. x x Implies a judicial determination of a fact, and the entry of a judgment. [58] The Commission on Human Rights having merely the power to investigate, cannot and should not try and resolve the subject matters involved in the Order dated 18 September 2001, which awarded the custody of the child to her mother, and Order dated 19 September 2001, which ordered the Rural Bank of Porac to reinstate the account of the mother of the child. These matters are undoubtedly and clearly within the judicial and adjudicatory powers of a regular court. As to the fourth charge, suffice it to state that despite the cases filed against respondent in courts, he continued without the proper authority and approved leave of absence, to engage in the private practice of his profession as shown by certified true copies of the minutes and orders of the different courts where he attended hearings. In Spouses Jeneline Donato and Mario Donato v. Atty. Isaiah B. Asuncion, Sr. ,[59] we explained the concept of gross misconduct as any inexcusable, shameful or flagrant unlawful conduct on the part of the person concerned in the administration of justice which is prejudicial to the rights of the parties or to the right determination of the cause. Such conduct is generally motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose. The term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent. To our mind, respondents acts of issuing the subject orders, engaging in private practice witho ut prior written request and authority of the CHR and duly approved leave of absence, notarizing documents even before being so authorized by the CHR and falsifying his DTRs, constitute gross misconduct for which he may be suspended, per the dictates of Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court: SEC. 27. Disbarment or Suspension of Attorneys by Supreme Court; grounds therefore.- A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. . . . The question now arises as to the penalty to be imposed. Complainants ask that respondent be disbarred. On imposing the supreme penalty of disbarment, the rule is that disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the court.[60] While we will not hesitate to remove an erring attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice to accomplish the desired end.[61] In the case at bar, the IBP Investigating Commissioner Rebecca V. Maala recommended the suspension of respondent for two (2) years while the IBP Board of Governors recommended a lighter penalty of six (6) months suspension. Taking our cue therefrom, we find one (1) year suspension to be sufficient sanction against respondent suspension being primarily intended not as a punishment, but as a means to protect the public and the legal profession.[62] WHEREFORE, Atty. Roberto Ferrer, Sr., is hereby found guilty of Gross Misconduct and is hereby SUSPENDED for One (1) year from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt of this Decision. He is warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Decision be entered in the record of respondent as attorney and served on the IBP, as well as to the Court Administrator who shall circulate it to all courts for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED. Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Tinga, JJ., concur.

[1]Atty.

Yumol retired before the filing of the complaint. [2]Rollo, p. 12. [3]Rollo, p. 13. [4]Rollo, p. 16. [5]Rollo, p. 17. [6] Annex I hereof; Rollo, pp. 27-28.

[7] Annex I-2 hereto; Rollo, p. 29. [8] Annexes I-3 to I-4 hereof; Rollo, pp. 30-31. [9] Annex I-6 hereof; Rollo, pp. 32-33. [10] Annexes I-7 and I-9 hereof; Rollo, pp. 34-35. [11] Annex I-9 hereof; Rollo, p. 36. [12] Annex I-11 hereof; Rollo, p. 37. [13] Annexes I-12 and I-13 hereof; Rollo, pp. 39-40. [14]Rollo, p. 41. [15] Annex H hereof; Rollo, p. 22. [16] Annex H-2 hereof; Rollo, p. 23. [17] Annex H-2; Rollo, p. 24. [18] Annex H-3 hereof; Rollo, p. 25. [19] Annex H-4 hereof; Rollo, p. 26. [20] Annex J hereof; Rollo, p. 42. [21] Annex J-1 hereof; Rollo, p. 43. [22] Annex J-2 hereof; Rollo, pp. 44-46. [23] Annex J-3 hereof; Rollo, p. 47. [24] Annex J-4 hereof; Rollo, p. 48. [25] Annex J-5 hereof; Rollo, p. 49. [26] Annex J-6 hereof; Rollo, p. 50. [27] Annex J-7 hereof; Rollo, p. 51. [28] Annex J-8 hereof; Rollo, p. 52. [29]Pending in different Regional Trial Courts of San Fernando, Pampanga, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 12804 to 12812; Rollo, pp. 59-77. [30] Pending before the Regional Trial Court of Pampanga, Branch 46; Rollo, p. 78. [31] Pending with the Municipal Trial Court of San Fernando, Pampanga, Branch 1; Rollo, pp. 80-81. [32] Annexes W to II; Rollo, pp. 82-94. [33] Annex W; Rollo, p. 82. [34] Annex X; Rollo, p. 83. [35] Annex Y; Rollo, p. 84. [36] Annex Z; Rollo, p. 85. [37] Annex AA; Rollo, p. 86. [38] Annex CC; Rollo, p. 88. [39] Annex DD; Rollo, p. 89. [40] Annex EE; Rollo, p. 90. [41] Annex FF; Rollo, p. 91. [42] Annex GG; Rollo, p. 92. [43] Annex HH; Rollo, p. 93. [44] Annex II; Rollo, p. 94. [45]Rollo, p. 9. [46]Rollo, p. 102. [47]Rollo, pp. 103-106. [48]Rollo, pp. 133-138. [49] Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees. [50]Rollo, pp. 202-208, 26 May 2004. [51]Rollo, p. 201. [52]Rollo, pp. 197-198, CHR Resolution No. (III) A2002-133. [53]Rollo, p. 129. [54]Rollo, p. 130 [55]Rollo, p. 139. [56] This authority was received by CHR, Region 3 on 07 November 2001. [57] Cayetano v. Monsod, G.R. No. 100113, 03 September 1991, 201 SCRA 210. [58] Cario v. Commission on Human Rights, G.R. No. 96681, 02 December 1991, 204 SCRA 483, 494-496. [59] A.C. No. 4914, 03 March 2004, 424 SCRA 199, citing SPO2 Jose B. Yap v. Judge Aquilino A. Inopiquez, Jr., A.M. No. MTJ-02-1431, 09 May 2003, 403 SCRA 141. [60]Tapucar v. Tapucar, A.C. No. 4148, 30 July 1998, 293 SCRA 331; Vda de Rosales v. Ramos, A.C. No. 5645, 02 July 2002, 383 SCRA 498; Tiboli Agro-Industrial Development, Inc. v. Solilapsi, A.C. No. 4766, 27 December 2002, 394 SCRA 269. [61]Montano v. IBP, A.C. No. 4215, 21 May 2001, 358 SCRA 1, citing Resurreccion v. Sayson, A.C. No. 1037, 14 December 1998, 300 SCRA 129; Castillo v. Taguines, A.C. No. 2024, 11 March 1996, 254 SCRA 554; Igual v. Javier, A.C. No. CBD-174, 07 March 1996, 254 SCRA 416; Mendoza v. Mal, A.C. No. 1129, 27 July 1992, 211 SCRA 839. [62] Magat v. Santiago, et al., G.R. Nos. L-43301-45665, 01 April 1980, 97 SCRA 1.

G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991 RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner, vs. CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents. Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf. Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for petitioner.

PARAS, J.:p We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a profound effect on the political aspect of our national existence. The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C: There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis supplied) The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides: There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college degree. However, a majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis supplied) Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive office. Black defines "practice of law" as: The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. An attorney engages in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held out to be-an attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in legal matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for services rendered by his associate. ( Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.) The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. ( Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: ... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative capacity performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. ( State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852) This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the

work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions . (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied) Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation . They require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc . [R.I.] 179 A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours) The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy, counselling and public service. One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in the profession. If what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such as this he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312) Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23) The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term "practice of law." MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation which I forgot to do during our review of the provisions on the Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to make a very brief statement? THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir). The Commissioner will please proceed. MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the Commission on Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by Section I is that "They must be Members of the Philippine Bar" I am quoting from the provision "who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years". To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members of the Bar who are now employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to make the clarification that this provision on qualifications regarding members of the Bar does not necessarily refer or involve actual practice of law outside the COA We have to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers who are employed in the COA are using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their respective work within COA, then they are qualified to be considered for appointment as members or commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission on Audit. This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on the floor so that this interpretation may be made available whenever this

provision on the qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar engaging in the practice of law for at least ten years is taken up. MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question. MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer. MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is equivalent to the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the Article on the Commission on Audit? MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work. And, therefore, lawyers who are employed in COA now would have the necessary qualifications in accordance with the Provision on qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And, therefore, the answer is yes. MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is equivalent to the practice of law. MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer. MR. OPLE. Thank you. ... ( Emphasis supplied) Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants with not less than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis supplied) Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority of lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15). At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of delivering legal services." ( Ibid.). Lawyers who practice alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called "firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may be organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either case, the members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or more inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.). The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.). The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.). In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, not reality. ( Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most developed societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices than in the courtrooms. General

practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find themselves spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be avoided where internal medicine can be effective." ( Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and other interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig usually perform at least some legal services outside their specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-giving to an importantly different one such as representing a client before an administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687). By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the relatively rare types a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation are both effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.). Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common of these roles are those of corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.). In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure from the traditional concept of practice of law. We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary transformation in corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular those members participating in various legal-policy decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making. Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires an accurate understanding of the nature and implications of the corporate law research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of information accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and "contingency planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of traditional procedures in many decisional contexts. In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the sorting and weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of major trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences of given courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data processing, and electronic computing equipment. Understandably, an improved decisional structure must stress the predictive component of the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional context or a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses of action in terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom. Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the subject of corporate finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education. Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has become a vital necessity. Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early introduction to multi-variable decisional context and the various approaches for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or doctorate degree in business administration or management, functioning at the legal policy level of decision-making now have some appreciation for the concepts and analytical techniques of other professions which are currently engaged in similar types of complex decision-making.

Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would require the services of an astute attorney because of the complex legal implications that arise from each and every necessary step in securing and maintaining the business issue raised. ( Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred to as the "abogado de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates of business and industry. Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not explain what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with the size and type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in-house counsel only for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff large enough to handle most legal problems in-house. A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles the legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting out as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with the law. At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than the legal affairs of the business of the corporation he is representing. These include such matters as determining policy and becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.) In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated from the action, or not understanding how one's work actually fits into the work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running of the business. Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a multinational corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter the international law field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small number of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country is perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international practice" in law libraries. ( Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May 25,1990, p. 4). This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent lawyer is one who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the arm," so to speak. No longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching method of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code and the Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern management issues. Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) types of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into current advances which are of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an introduction to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and management of the legal function itself. These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with a shared area linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate counsel's total learning. Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the globalization process, including the resulting strategic repositioning that the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to think about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global

multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national governmental units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public entities but with each other often with those who are competitors in other arenas. Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within the corporation is rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a new role as a stakeholder in some cases participating in the organization and operations of governance through participation on boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns develop alongside existing legal institutions and laws are perceived as barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations organize for global operations. ( Emphasis supplied) The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental policies toward the promotion and management of technology. New collaborative arrangements for promoting specific technologies or competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of seeking to influence governmental policies . And there are lessons to be learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are examples of collaborative efforts between governmental and business Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied) Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate Counsel comprises a distinct group within the managerial structure of all kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable factors in the groupcontext interaction such as the groups actively revising their knowledge of the environment coordinating work with outsiders, promoting team achievements within the organization. In general, such external activities are better predictors of team performance than internal group processes. In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of corporations are challenged. Current research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability and insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied) Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are apropos: First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an effective tool for new managerial thinking regarding both planning and pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the role of feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all sorts of systematic problems physical, economic, managerial, social, and psychological. New programming techniques now make the system dynamics principles more accessible to managers including corporate counsels. (Emphasis supplied) Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context of a law department, it can be used to appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied) Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can be used directly by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective negotiation support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate the point. [Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal function, concern three pointed areas of consideration, thus: Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that comprise a major part of the general counsel's responsibilities. They differ from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being considered and made. Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are undertaken those activities of the firm to which legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in a global, interdependent environment.

The practice and theory of "law" is not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to make a global economy work. Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office . The general counsel has emerged in the last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with an increasingly diversified body of employees, managing expanded liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions with public decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or by decisions. This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is not enough to make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give him a full sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities. And even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understand all of the law's effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain a working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem corporation. " Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4). The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more than a passing knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the financial law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional security: Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign understanding and risk exposure? ( Business Star, "Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC. Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void. Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 8655%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo) After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the Meralco Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various companies as a legal and economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy, Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative action for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for which he was cited by the President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and public accountability and the party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied) Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to be a member. In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and which is adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies that arise during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower

concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved in negotiating the contracts ) who comprise the members of the team. (Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied) After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays down the law as far as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5) fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. 13). In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring program . For aside from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and legal advising, they score national development policies as key factors in maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United States Agency for International Development, during the Session on Law for the Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied) Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in legislation and agreement drafting and in renegotiation . Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist or an economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only with the advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the guidance of adequate technical support personnel. ( See International Law Aspects of the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321).( Emphasis supplied) A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is the set of terms and conditions which determines the contractual remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements of the contract. A good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both parties, but must also state the recourse open to either party when the other fails to discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents a devotion to that principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law in domestic and international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, they beat no drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265). Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law". particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years . Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said: Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been preferred. This is a political question involving considerations of wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide . (emphasis supplied) No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated: It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and all the other legal requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no alternative but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a particular position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a substitute of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment on the discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An appointment is essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested, subject

to the only condition that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law . ( Emphasis supplied) The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of its certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc. . . . ( Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law on Public Officers, p. 200) The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution which provides: The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first appointed, three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five years, and the last Members for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity. Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his definition of the practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the practice of law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's definition would require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps practised two or three times a week and would outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from the constitutional intent. Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in my written opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which really means nothing because the definition says that law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that the definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the phrase itself that is being defined. Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising others on what the law means, are actually practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over ten years. This is different from the acts of persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers. Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how can an action or petition be brought against the President? And even assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent President? We now proceed: The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown. Additionally, consider the following: (1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the President, may the Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the negative. (2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.

(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S. Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S. Senate. Finally, one significant legal maxim is: We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life. Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that No blade shall touch his skin; No blood shall flow from his veins. When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement. In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED. Fernan, C.J., Grio-Aquino and Medialdea, JJ., concur. Feliciano, J., I certify that he voted to dismiss the petition. (Fernan, C.J.) Sarmiento, J., is on leave. Regalado, and Davide, Jr., J., took no part. Separate Opinions NARVASA, J., concurring: I concur with the decision of the majority written by Mr. Justice Paras, albeit only in the result; it does not appear to me that there has been an adequate showing that the challenged determination by the Commission on Appointments-that the appointment of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections should, on the basis of his stated qualifications and after due assessment thereof, be confirmed-was attended by error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion and consequently merits nullification by this Court in accordance with the second paragraph of Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution. I therefore vote to DENY the petition. PADILLA, J., dissenting: The records of this case will show that when the Court first deliberated on the Petition at bar, I voted not only to require the respondents to comment on the Petition, but I was the sole vote for the issuance of a temporary restraining order to enjoin respondent Monsod from assuming the position of COMELEC Chairman, while the Court deliberated on his constitutional qualification for the office. My purpose in voting for a TRO was to prevent the inconvenience and even embarrassment to all parties concerned were the Court to finally decide for respondent Monsod's disqualification. Moreover, a reading of the Petition then in relation to established jurisprudence already showed prima facie that respondent Monsod did not possess the needed qualification, that is, he had not engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman. After considering carefully respondent Monsod's comment, I am even more convinced that the constitutional requirement of "practice of law for at least ten (10) years" has not been met. The procedural barriers interposed by respondents deserve scant consideration because, ultimately, the core issue to be resolved in this petition is the proper construal of the constitutional provision requiring a majority of the membership of COMELEC, including the Chairman thereof to "have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." (Art. IX(C), Section 1(1), 1987 Constitution). Questions involving the construction of constitutional provisions are best left to

judicial resolution. As declared in Angara v. Electoral Commission, (63 Phil. 139) "upon the judicial department is thrown the solemn and inescapable obligation of interpreting the Constitution and defining constitutional boundaries." The Constitution has imposed clear and specific standards for a COMELEC Chairman. Among these are that he must have been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years." It is the bounden duty of this Court to ensure that such standard is met and complied with. What constitutes practice of law? As commonly understood, "practice" refers to the actual performance or application of knowledge as distinguished from mere possession of knowledge; it connotes an active, habitual, repeated or customary 1 action. To "practice" law, or any profession for that matter, means, to exercise or pursue an employment or profession actively, habitually, repeatedly or customarily. Therefore, a doctor of medicine who is employed and is habitually performing the tasks of a nursing aide, cannot be said to be in the "practice of medicine." A certified public accountant who works as a clerk, cannot be said to practice his profession as an accountant. In the same way, a lawyer who is employed as a business executive or a corporate manager, other than as head or attorney of a Legal Department of a corporation or a governmental agency, cannot be said to be in the practice of law. As aptly held by this Court in the case of People vs. Villanueva:
2

Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State vs- Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644,647.) ... (emphasis supplied). It is worth mentioning that the respondent Commission on Appointments in a Memorandum it prepared, enumerated several factors determinative of whether a particular activity constitutes "practice of law." It states: 1. Habituality. The term "practice of law" implies customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People vs. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Boyen, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of law (U.S. v. Ney Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968). Practice is more than an isolated appearance for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864). 2. Compensation. Practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the public for compensation, as a service of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services. (People v. Villanueva, supra). Hence, charging for services such as preparation of documents involving the use of legal knowledge and skill is within the term "practice of law" (Ernani Pao, Bar Reviewer in Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1988 ed., p. 8 citing People v. People's Stockyards State Bank, 176 N.B. 901) and, one who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is to that extent, practicing law (Martin, supra, p. 806 citing Mendelaun v. Gilbert and Barket Mfg. Co., 290 N.Y.S. 462) If compensation is expected, all advice to clients and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law; are practicing law. (Elwood Fitchette et al., v. Arthur C. Taylor, 94A-L.R. 356-359) 3. Application of law legal principle practice or procedure which calls for legal knowledge, training and experience is within the term "practice of law". (Martin supra) 4. Attorney-client relationship. Engaging in the practice of law presupposes the existence of lawyer-client relationship. Hence, where a lawyer undertakes an activity which requires knowledge of law but involves no attorney-client relationship, such as teaching law or writing law books or articles, he cannot be said to 3 be engaged in the practice of his profession or a lawyer (Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 1989 ed., p. 30).

The above-enumerated factors would, I believe, be useful aids in determining whether or not respondent Monsod meets the constitutional qualification of practice of law for at least ten (10) years at the time of his appointment as COMELEC Chairman. The following relevant questions may be asked: 1. Did respondent Monsod perform any of the tasks which are peculiar to the practice of law? 2. Did respondent perform such tasks customarily or habitually? 3. Assuming that he performed any of such tasks habitually, did he do so HABITUALLY FOR AT LEAST TEN (10) YEARS prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman? Given the employment or job history of respondent Monsod as appears from the records, I am persuaded that if ever he did perform any of the tasks which constitute the practice of law, he did not do so HABITUALLY for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment as COMELEC Chairman. While it may be granted that he performed tasks and activities which could be latitudinarianly considered activities peculiar to the practice of law, like the drafting of legal documents and the rendering of legal opinion or advice, such were isolated transactions or activities which do not qualify his past endeavors as "practice of law." To become engaged in the practice 4 of law, there must be a continuity, or a succession of acts. As observed by the Solicitor General in People vs. Villanueva: Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal profession and that his professional services are available to the public for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of his said services. ACCORDINGLY, my vote is to GRANT the petition and to declare respondent Monsod as not qualified for the position of COMELEC Chairman for not having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years prior to his appointment to such position. CRUZ, J., dissenting: I am sincerely impressed by the ponencia of my brother Paras but find I must dissent just the same. There are certain points on which I must differ with him while of course respecting hisviewpoint. To begin with, I do not think we are inhibited from examining the qualifications of the respondent simply because his nomination has been confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. In my view, this is not a political question that we are barred from resolving. Determination of the appointee's credentials is made on the basis of the established facts, not the discretion of that body. Even if it were, the exercise of that discretion would still be subject to our review. In Luego, which is cited in the ponencia, what was involved was the discretion of the appointing authority to choose between two claimants to the same office who both possessed the required qualifications. It was that kind of discretion that we said could not be reviewed. If a person elected by no less than the sovereign people may be ousted by this Court for lack of the required qualifications, I see no reason why we cannot disqualified an appointee simply because he has passed the Commission on Appointments. Even the President of the Philippines may be declared ineligible by this Court in an appropriate proceeding notwithstanding that he has been found acceptable by no less than the enfranchised citizenry. The reason is that what we would be examining is not the wisdom of his election but whether or not he was qualified to be elected in the first place. Coming now to the qualifications of the private respondent, I fear that the ponencia may have been too sweeping in its definition of the phrase "practice of law" as to render the qualification practically toothless. From the numerous activities accepted as embraced in the term, I have the uncomfortable feeling that one does not even have to be a lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law as long as his activities involve the application of some law, however peripherally. The stock broker and the insurance adjuster and the realtor could come under the definition as they deal with or give advice on matters that are likely "to become involved in litigation." The lawyer is considered engaged in the practice of law even if his main occupation is another business and he interprets and applies some law only as an incident of such business. That covers every company organized under the Corporation

Code and regulated by the SEC under P.D. 902-A. Considering the ramifications of the modern society, there is hardly any activity that is not affected by some law or government regulation the businessman must know about and observe. In fact, again going by the definition, a lawyer does not even have to be part of a business concern to be considered a practitioner. He can be so deemed when, on his own, he rents a house or buys a car or consults a doctor as these acts involve his knowledge and application of the laws regulating such transactions. If he operates a public utility vehicle as his main source of livelihood, he would still be deemed engaged in the practice of law because he must obey the Public Service Act and the rules and regulations of the Energy Regulatory Board. The ponencia quotes an American decision defining the practice of law as the "performance of any acts ... in or out of court, commonly understood to be the practice of law," which tells us absolutely nothing. The decision goes on to say that "because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global to be workable." The effect of the definition given in the ponencia is to consider virtually every lawyer to be engaged in the practice of law even if he does not earn his living, or at least part of it, as a lawyer. It is enough that his activities are incidentally (even if only remotely) connected with some law, ordinance, or regulation. The possible exception is the lawyer whose income is derived from teaching ballroom dancing or escorting wrinkled ladies with pubescent pretensions. The respondent's credentials are impressive, to be sure, but they do not persuade me that he has been engaged in the practice of law for ten years as required by the Constitution. It is conceded that he has been engaged in business and finance, in which areas he has distinguished himself, but as an executive and economist and not as a practicing lawyer. The plain fact is that he has occupied the various positions listed in his resume by virtue of his experience and prestige as a businessman and not as an attorney-at-law whose principal attention is focused on the law. Even if it be argued that he was acting as a lawyer when he lobbied in Congress for agrarian and urban reform, served in the NAMFREL and the Constitutional Commission (together with non-lawyers like farmers and priests) and was a member of the Davide Commission, he has not proved that his activities in these capacities extended over the prescribed 10-year period of actual practice of the law. He is doubtless eminently qualified for many other positions worthy of his abundant talents but not as Chairman of the Commission on Elections. I have much admiration for respondent Monsod, no less than for Mr. Justice Paras, but I must regretfully vote to grant the petition. GUTIERREZ, JR., J., dissenting: When this petition was filed, there was hope that engaging in the practice of law as a qualification for public office would be settled one way or another in fairly definitive terms. Unfortunately, this was not the result. Of the fourteen (14) member Court, 5 are of the view that Mr. Christian Monsod engaged in the practice of law (with one of these 5 leaving his vote behind while on official leave but not expressing his clear stand on the matter); 4 categorically stating that he did not practice law; 2 voting in the result because there was no error so gross as to amount to grave abuse of discretion; one of official leave with no instructions left behind on how he viewed the issue; and 2 not taking part in the deliberations and the decision. There are two key factors that make our task difficult. First is our reviewing the work of a constitutional Commission on Appointments whose duty is precisely to look into the qualifications of persons appointed to high office. Even if the Commission errs, we have no power to set aside error. We can look only into grave abuse of discretion or whimsically and arbitrariness. Second is our belief that Mr. Monsod possesses superior qualifications in terms of executive ability, proficiency in management, educational background, experience in international banking and finance, and instant recognition by the public. His integrity and competence are not questioned by the petitioner. What is before us is compliance with a specific requirement written into the Constitution. Inspite of my high regard for Mr. Monsod, I cannot shirk my constitutional duty. He has never engaged in the practice of law for even one year. He is a member of the bar but to say that he has practiced law is stretching the term beyond rational limits. A person may have passed the bar examinations. But if he has not dedicated his life to the law, if he has not engaged in an activity where membership in the bar is a requirement I fail to see how he can claim to have been engaged in the practice of law.

Engaging in the practice of law is a qualification not only for COMELEC chairman but also for appointment to the Supreme Court and all lower courts. What kind of Judges or Justices will we have if there main occupation is selling real estate, managing a business corporation, serving in fact-finding committee, working in media, or operating a farm with no active involvement in the law, whether in Government or private practice, except that in one joyful moment in the distant past, they happened to pass the bar examinations? The Constitution uses the phrase "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." The deliberate choice of words shows that the practice envisioned is active and regular, not isolated, occasional, accidental, intermittent, incidental, seasonal, or extemporaneous. To be "engaged" in an activity for ten years requires committed participation in something which is the result of one's decisive choice. It means that one is occupied and involved in the enterprise; one is obliged or pledged to carry it out with intent and attention during the ten-year period. I agree with the petitioner that based on the bio-data submitted by respondent Monsod to the Commission on Appointments, the latter has not been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. In fact, if appears that Mr. Monsod has never practiced law except for an alleged one year period after passing the bar examinations when he worked in his father's law firm. Even then his law practice must have been extremely limited because he was also working for M.A. and Ph. D. degrees in Economics at the University of Pennsylvania during that period. How could he practice law in the United States while not a member of the Bar there? The professional life of the respondent follows: 1.15.1. Respondent Monsod's activities since his passing the Bar examinations in 1961 consist of the following: 1. 1961-1963: M.A. in Economics (Ph. D. candidate), University of Pennsylvania 2. 1963-1970: World Bank Group Economist, Industry Department; Operations, Latin American Department; Division Chief, South Asia and Middle East, International Finance Corporation 3. 1970-1973: Meralco Group Executive of various companies, i.e., Meralco Securities Corporation, Philippine Petroleum Corporation, Philippine Electric Corporation 4. 1973-1976: Yujuico Group President, Fil-Capital Development Corporation and affiliated companies 5. 1976-1978: Finaciera Manila Chief Executive Officer 6. 1978-1986: Guevent Group of Companies Chief Executive Officer 7. 1986-1987: Philippine Constitutional Commission Member 8. 1989-1991: The Fact-Finding Commission on the December 1989 Coup Attempt Member 9. Presently: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the following companies: a. ACE Container Philippines, Inc. b. Dataprep, Philippines c. Philippine SUNsystems Products, Inc. d. Semirara Coal Corporation e. CBL Timber Corporation Member of the Board of the Following: a. Engineering Construction Corporation of the Philippines b. First Philippine Energy Corporation c. First Philippine Holdings Corporation d. First Philippine Industrial Corporation e. Graphic Atelier f. Manila Electric Company g. Philippine Commercial Capital, Inc. h. Philippine Electric Corporation i. Tarlac Reforestation and Environment Enterprises j. Tolong Aquaculture Corporation k. Visayan Aquaculture Corporation l. Guimaras Aquaculture Corporation (Rollo, pp. 21-22) There is nothing in the above bio-data which even remotely indicates that respondent Monsod has given the law enough attention or a certain degree of commitment and participation as would support in all sincerity and candor the claim of having engaged in its practice for at least ten years. Instead of working as a lawyer, he has lawyers working for him. Instead of giving receiving that legal advice of legal services, he was the oneadvice and those services as an executive but not as a lawyer.

The deliberations before the Commission on Appointments show an effort to equate "engaged in the practice of law" with the use of legal knowledge in various fields of endeavor such as commerce, industry, civic work, blue ribbon investigations, agrarian reform, etc. where such knowledge would be helpful. I regret that I cannot join in playing fast and loose with a term, which even an ordinary layman accepts as having a familiar and customary well-defined meaning. Every resident of this country who has reached the age of discernment has to know, follow, or apply the law at various times in his life. Legal knowledge is useful if not necessary for the business executive, legislator, mayor, barangay captain, teacher, policeman, farmer, fisherman, market vendor, and student to name only a few. And yet, can these people honestly assert that as such, they are engaged in the practice of law? The Constitution requires having been "engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years." It is not satisfied with having been "a member of the Philippine bar for at least ten years." Some American courts have defined the practice of law, as follows: The practice of law involves not only appearance in court in connection with litigation but also services rendered out of court, and it includes the giving of advice or the rendering of any services requiring the use of legal skill or knowledge, such as preparing a will, contract or other instrument, the legal effect of which, under the facts and conditions involved, must be carefully determined. People ex rel. Chicago Bar Ass'n v. Tinkoff, 399 Ill. 282, 77 N.E.2d 693; People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v.People's Stock Yards State Bank, 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901, and cases cited. It would be difficult, if not impossible to lay down a formula or definition of what constitutes the practice of law. "Practicing law" has been defined as "Practicing as an attorney or counselor at law according to the laws and customs of our courts, is the giving of advice or rendition of any sort of service by any person, firm or corporation when the giving of such advice or rendition of such service requires the use of any degree of legal knowledge or skill." Without adopting that definition, we referred to it as being substantially correct in People ex rel. Illinois State Bar Ass'n v. People's Stock Yards State Bank , 344 Ill. 462,176 N.E. 901. (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773, 776) For one's actions to come within the purview of practice of law they should not only be activities peculiar to the work of a lawyer, they should also be performed, habitually, frequently or customarily, to wit: xxx xxx xxx Respondent's answers to questions propounded to him were rather evasive. He was asked whether or not he ever prepared contracts for the parties in real-estate transactions where he was not the procuring agent. He answered: "Very seldom." In answer to the question as to how many times he had prepared contracts for the parties during the twenty-one years of his business, he said: "I have no Idea." When asked if it would be more than half a dozen times his answer was I suppose. Asked if he did not recall making the statement to several parties that he had prepared contracts in a large number of instances, he answered: "I don't recall exactly what was said." When asked if he did not remember saying that he had made a practice of preparing deeds, mortgages and contracts and charging a fee to the parties therefor in instances where he was not the broker in the deal, he answered: "Well, I don't believe so, that is not a practice." Pressed further for an answer as to his practice in preparing contracts and deeds for parties where he was not the broker, he finally answered: "I have done about everything that is on the books as far as real estate is concerned." xxx xxx xxx Respondent takes the position that because he is a real-estate broker he has a lawful right to do any legal work in connection with real-estate transactions, especially in drawing of real-estate contracts, deeds, mortgages, notes and the like. There is no doubt but that he has engaged in these practices over the years and has charged for his services in that connection. ... (People v. Schafer, 87 N.E. 2d 773) xxx xxx xxx ... An attorney, in the most general sense, is a person designated or employed by another to act in his stead; an agent; more especially, one of a class of persons authorized to appear and act for suitors or defendants in legal proceedings. Strictly, these professional persons are attorneys at law, and non-

professional agents are properly styled "attorney's in fact;" but the single word is much used as meaning an attorney at law. A person may be an attorney in facto for another, without being an attorney at law. Abb. Law Dict. "Attorney." A public attorney, or attorney at law, says Webster, is an officer of a court of law, legally qualified to prosecute and defend actions in such court on the retainer of clients. "The principal duties of an attorney are (1) to be true to the court and to his client; (2) to manage the business of his client with care, skill, and integrity; (3) to keep his client informed as to the state of his business; (4) to keep his secrets confided to him as such. ... His rights are to be justly compensated for his services." Bouv. Law Dict. tit. "Attorney."The transitive verb "practice," as defined by Webster, means 'to do or perform frequently, customarily, or habitually; to perform by a succession of acts, as, to practice gaming, ... to carry on in practice, or repeated action; to apply, as a theory, to real life; to exercise, as a profession, trade, art. etc.; as, to practice law or medicine,' etc...." (State v. Bryan, S.E. 522, 523; Emphasis supplied) In this jurisdiction, we have ruled that the practice of law denotes frequency or a succession of acts. Thus, we stated in the case of People v. Villanueva (14 SCRA 109 [1965]): xxx xxx xxx ... Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual exercise (State v. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768). Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as a lawyer and demanding payment for such services. ... . (at p. 112) It is to be noted that the Commission on Appointment itself recognizes habituality as a required component of the meaning of practice of law in a Memorandum prepared and issued by it, to wit: l. Habituality. The term 'practice of law' implies customarilyor habitually holding one's self out to the public as a lawyer (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109 citing State v. Bryan, 4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644) such as when one sends a circular announcing the establishment of a law office for the general practice of law (U.S. v. Noy Bosque, 8 Phil. 146), or when one takes the oath of office as a lawyer before a notary public, and files a manifestation with the Supreme Court informing it of his intention to practice law in all courts in the country (People v. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968). Practice is more than an isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary action, a succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is a habitual exercise (People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 1 09 citing State v. Cotner, 1 27, p. 1, 87 Kan, 864)." (Rollo, p. 115) xxx xxx xxx While the career as a businessman of respondent Monsod may have profited from his legal knowledge, the use of such legal knowledge is incidental and consists of isolated activities which do not fall under the denomination of practice of law. Admission to the practice of law was not required for membership in the Constitutional Commission or in the Fact-Finding Commission on the 1989 Coup Attempt. Any specific legal activities which may have been assigned to Mr. Monsod while a member may be likened to isolated transactions of foreign corporations in the Philippines which do not categorize the foreign corporations as doing business in the Philippines. As in the practice of law, doing business also should be active and continuous. Isolated business transactions or occasional, incidental and casual transactions are not within the context of doing business. This was our ruling in the case of Antam Consolidated, Inc. v. Court of appeals, 143 SCRA 288 [1986]). Respondent Monsod, corporate executive, civic leader, and member of the Constitutional Commission may possess the background, competence, integrity, and dedication, to qualify for such high offices as President, Vice-President, Senator, Congressman or Governor but the Constitution in prescribing the specific qualification of having engaged in the practice of law for at least ten (10) years for the position of COMELEC Chairman has ordered that he may not be confirmed for that office. The Constitution charges the public respondents no less than this Court to obey its mandate. I, therefore, believe that the Commission on Appointments committed grave abuse of discretion in confirming the nomination of respondent Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. I vote to GRANT the petition. Bidin, J., dissent

Footnotes 1 Webster's 3rd New International Dictionary. 2 14 SCRA 109 3 Commission on Appointments' Memorandum dated 25 June 1991 RE: WHAT CONSTITUTES PRACTICE OF LAW, pp. 6-7. 4 14 SCRA 109.

DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, complainant, vs. EDWIN L. RANA, respondent. DECISION CARPIO, J.: The Case Before one is admitted to the Philippine Bar, he must possess the requisite moral integrity for membership in the legal profession. Possession of moral integrity is of greater importance than possession of legal learning. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed only on the morally fit. A bar candidate who is morally unfit cannot practice law even if he passes the bar examinations. The Facts Respondent Edwin L. Rana (respondent) was among those who passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, complainant Donna Marie Aguirre (complainant) filed against respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant charged respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the Bar during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine International Convention Center. However, the Court ruled that respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of the charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyers oath on the scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law and grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers (MBEC) of Mandaon, Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself as counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George Bunan, and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan (Bunan). On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that respondent is a municipal government employee, being a secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such, respondent is not allowed by law to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative body. On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, complainant accuses respondent of acting as counsel for vice mayoralty candidate George Bunan (Bunan) without the latter engaging respondents services. Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a ploy to prevent the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution allowing respondent to take the lawyers oath but disallowed him from signing the Roll of Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him. In the same resolution, the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint against him. In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his specific assistance to represent him before the MBEC. Respondent claims that he decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer but as a person who knows the law. Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 pleading that objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. He explains, however, that he did not sign the pleading as a lawyer or represented himself as an attorney in the pleading.

On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent claims that he submitted his resignation on 11 May 2001 which was allegedly accepted on the same date. He submitted a copy of the Certification of Receipt of Revocable Resignation dated 28 May 2001 signed by Vice-Mayor Napoleon Relox. Respondent further claims that the complaint is politically motivated considering that complainant is the daughter of Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed for lack of merit and that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys. On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to respondents Comment and refuted the claim of respondent that his appearance before the MBEC was only to extend specific assistance to Bunan. Complainant alleges that on 19 May 2001 Emily Estipona-Hao (Estipona-Hao) filed a petition for proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor. Respo ndent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in this petition. When respondent appeared as counsel before the MBEC, complainant questioned his appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had not taken his oath as a lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the government. Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents Comment) reiterating his claim that the instant administrative case is motivated mainly by political vendetta. On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC) for evaluation, report and recommendation. OBCs Report and Recommendation The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared before the MBEC as counsel for Bunan in the May 2001 elections. The minutes of the MBEC proceedings show that respondent actively participated in the proceedings. The OBC likewise found that respondent appeared in the MBEC proceedings even before he took the lawyers oath on 22 May 2001. The OBC believes that respondents misconduct casts a serious doubt on his moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. The OBC also believes that respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to deny his admission to the practice of law. The OBC therefore recommends that respondent be denied admission to the Philippine Bar. On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant failed to cite a law which respondent allegedly violated when he appeared as counsel for Bunan while he was a government employee. Respondent resigned as secretary and his resignation was accepted. Likewise, respondent was authorized by Bunan to represent him before the MBEC. The Courts Ruling We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that respondent engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve admission to the Philippine Bar. Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the records show that respondent appeared as counsel for Bunan prior to 22 May 2001, before respondent took the lawyers oath. In the pleading entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor dated 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for George Bunan. In the first paragraph of the same pleading respondent stated that he was the (U)ndersigned Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice May oralty Candidate, GEORGE T. BUNAN. Bunan himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he had authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his counsel to represent him before the MBEC and similar bodies. On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona-Hao also retained respondent as her counsel. On the same date, 14 May 2001, Erly D. Hao informed the MBEC that Atty. Edwin L. Rana has been authorized by REFORMA LM PPC as the legal counsel of the party and the candidate of the said party. Respondent himself w rote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he was entering his appearance as counsel for Mayoralty Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the REFORMA LM-PPC. On 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona -Hao in the petition filed before the MBEC praying for the proclamation of Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate. All these happened even before respondent took the lawyers oath. without being a member of the Philippine Bar. Clearly, respondent engaged in the practice of law

In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,1[1] the Court elucidated that: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveyancing. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law, incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions . (5 Am. Jur.p. 262, 263). (Italics supplied) xxx In Cayetano v. Monsod,2[2] the Court held that practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by members of the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render any kind of service which requires the use of legal knowledge or skill. Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without license to do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized practice of law. Respondent called himself counsel knowing fully well that he was no t a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as counsel knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.3[3] The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, educational attainment, and even public trust4[4] since a lawyer is an officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to practice law simply by passing the bar examinations. The practice of law is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law without a license.5[5] The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably strict. In Beltran, Jr. v. Abad,6[6] a candidate passed the bar examinations but had not taken his oath and signed the Roll of Attorneys. He was held in contempt of court for practicing law even before his admission to the Bar. Under Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court.7[7] True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only qualification to become an attorney-at-law.8[8] Respondent should know that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by this Court and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.9[9] On the charge of violation of law, complainant contends that the law does not allow respondent to act as counsel for a private client in any court or administrative body since respondent is the secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan. Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan prior to the acts complained of as constituting unauthorized practice of law. In his letter dated 11 May 2001 addressed to Napoleon Relox, vice- mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent stated that he was resigning effective upon your acceptance.10[10] Vice-Mayor Relox accepted respondents resignation effective 11 May 2001. 11[11] Thus, the evidence does not support the charge that respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan.
1[1]105

Phil. 173 (1959).

2[2] G.R. No. 100113, 3 September 1991, 201 SCRA 210. 3[3] Yap Tan v. Sabandal, 211 Phil. 252 (1983). 4[4]In the Matter of the Petition for Authority to Continue Use of the Firm Name Ozaeta, Romulo, etc., 30 July 1979, 92 SCRA 1. 5[5]Ui v. Bonifacio, Administrative Case No. 3319, 8 June 2000, 333 SCRA 38. 6[6]Bar Matter No. 139, 28 March 1983, 121 SCRA 217. 7[7]People v. Santocildes, Jr., G.R. No. 109149, 21 December 1999, 321 SCRA 310. 8[8]Diao v. Martinez, Administrative Case No.244, 29 March 1963, 7 SCRA 475. 9[9] Beltran, Jr. v. Abad, B.M. No. 139, 28 March 1983, 121 SCRA 217. 10[10] Respondents Comment, Annex A. 11[11]Ibid., Annex B.

On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, evidence shows that Bunan indeed authorized respondent to represent him as his counsel before the MBEC and similar bodies. While there was no misrepresentation, respondent nonetheless had no authority to practice law. WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED admission to the Philippine Bar. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, AustriaMartinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ.,concur.

A.M. No. 1928 August 3, 1978 In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. MARCIAL A. EDILION (IBP Administrative Case No. MDD-1) RESOLUTION CASTRO, C.J.: The respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed practicing attorney in the Philippines. On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP for short) Board of Governors unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in Administrative Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A. Edillon) recommending to the Court the removal of the name of the respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for "stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to the IBP since the latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice. On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri, submitted the said resolution to the Court for consideration and approval, pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws of the IBP, which reads: .... Should the delinquency further continue until the following June 29, the Board shall promptly inquire into the cause or causes of the continued delinquency and take whatever action it shall deem appropriate, including a recommendation to the Supreme Court for the removal of the delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys. Notice of the action taken shall be sent by registered mail to the member and to the Secretary of the Chapter concerned. On January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment on the resolution and letter adverted to above; he submitted his comment on February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the membership fees due from him. On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP President and the IBP Board of Governors to reply to Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976, they submitted a joint reply. Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, 1976. After the hearing, the parties were required to submit memoranda in amplification of their oral arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for resolution. At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the respondent's pleadings would show that the propriety and necessity of the integration of the Bar of the Philippines are in essence conceded. The respondent, however, objects to particular features 1 of Rule of Court 139-A (hereinafter referred to as the Court Rule) in accordance with which the Bar of the Philippines was integrated and to the provisions of par. 2, Section 24, Article III, of the IBP By-Laws (hereinabove cited). The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to recommend to the Supreme Court the removal of a delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys is found in par. 2 Section 24, Article Ill of the IBP By-Laws (supra), whereas the authority of the Court to issue the order applied for is found in Section 10 of the Court Rule, which reads:

SEC. 10.Effect of non-payment of dues. Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in 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 Attorneys. The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of membership in the IBP is stated in these words of the Court Rule: SECTION 1.Organization. There is hereby organized an official national body to be known as the 'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,' composed of all persons whose names now appear or may hereafter be included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in the following words of the Court Rule: SEC. 9.Membership dues. Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with the approval of the Supreme Court. ... The core of the respondent's arguments is that the above provisions constitute an invasion of his constitutional rights in the sense that he is being compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a lawyer in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay the corresponding dues, and that as a consequence of this compelled financial support of the said organization to which he is admittedly personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to liberty and property guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Hence, the respondent concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP By-Laws are void and of no legal force and effect. The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of the Court to strike his name from the Roll of Attorneys, contending that the said matter is not among the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is rather of an "administrative nature pertaining to an administrative body." The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the Court relating to constitutional issues that inevitably and inextricably come up to the surface whenever attempts are made to regulate the practice of law, define the conditions of such practice, or revoke the license granted for the exercise of the legal profession. The matters here complained of are the very same issues raised in a previous case before the Court, entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, In the Matter of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the Philippines, Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners." The Court exhaustively considered all these matters in that case in its Resolution ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines, promulgated on January 9, 1973. The Court there made the unanimous pronouncement that it was ... fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative materials and the mass of factual data contained in the exhaustive Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the integration of the Philippine Bar is 'perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable'. ... Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of the Court. An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an official national body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics or professional responsibility breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper cause appearing, 2 a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the offending member. The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by overriding considerations of public interest and public welfare to such an extent as more than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that integration imposes upon 3 the personal interests and personal convenience of individual lawyers.

Apropos to the above, it must be stressed that all legislation directing the integration of the Bar have been uniformly and universally sustained as a valid exercise of the police power over an important profession. The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover clothed with public interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and takes part in one of the 4 most important functions of the State the administration of justice as an officer of the court. The practice of law being clothed with public interest, the holder of this privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good, to the extent of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme Court through Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the expression "affected with a public interest" is the equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police power" (Nebbia vs. New York, 291 U.S. 502). When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 authorizing the Supreme Court to "adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit," it did so in the exercise of the paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is to "raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." Hence, the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court in ordaining the integration of the Bar through its Resolution promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the President of the Philippines in decreeing the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through Presidential Decree No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental considerations of public welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the demands of pressing public necessity. The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with and regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure the general prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus, 31 Phil 218), for, as the Latin maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme lex." The public welfare is the supreme law. To this fundamental principle of government the rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty is a blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to prevail over authority because then society win fall into anarchy (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the State to restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals from some freedom. But the most compelling argument sustaining the constitutionality and validity of Bar integration in the Philippines is the explicit unequivocal grant of precise power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article X of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, which reads: Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: xxx xxx xxx (5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and pro. procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Bar ..., and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads: SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the Supreme Court may adopt rules of Court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit in order to raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively. Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even without the enabling Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the language of the provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power "to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law," it at once becomes indubitable that this constitutional declaration vests the Supreme Court with plenary power in all cases regarding the admission to and supervision of the practice of law. Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the legal profession, his practice of law and his exercise of the said profession, which affect the society at large, were (and are) subject to the power of the body politic to require him to conform to such regulations as might be established by the proper authorities for the common good, even to the extent of interfering with some of his liberties. If he did not wish to submit himself to such reasonable interference and regulation, he should not have clothed the public with an interest in his concerns. On this score alone, the case for the respondent must already fall. The issues being of constitutional dimension, however, we now concisely deal with them seriatim.
5

1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without power to compel him to become a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional for it impinges on his constitutional right of freedom to associate (and not to associate). Our answer is: To compel a lawyer to be a member of 6 the Integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate. Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a member. He became a member 7 of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. All that integration actually does is to provide an official national 8 organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is a ready a member. Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by 9 the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory program the lawyers. Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar, such 10 compulsion is justified as an exercise of the police power of the State. 2. The second issue posed by the respondent is that the provision of the Court Rule requiring payment of a membership fee is void. We see nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution) which power the respondent acknowledges from requiring members of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to 11 raise funds for carrying out the objectives and purposes of integration. 3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty provisions would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a license to practice a profession, we do not here pause to consider at length, as it clear that under the police power of the State, and under the necessary powers granted to the Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondent's right to practise law before the courts of this country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize, then a penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or 12 arbitrary. But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyer's public responsibilities. 4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys, it is sufficient to state that the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and supervision have been and are indisputably recognized as inherent judicial functions and 14 responsibilities, and the authorities holding such are legion. In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in which the report of the Board of Bar Commissioners in a disbarment proceeding was confirmed and disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar Integration Act of Kentucky, said: "The power to regulate the conduct and qualifications of its officers does not depend upon constitutional or statutory grounds. It is a power which is inherent in this court as a court appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper administration of justice ... the argument that this is an arbitrary power which the court is arrogating to itself or accepting from the legislative likewise misconceives the nature of the duty. It has limitations no less real because they are inherent. It is an unpleasant task to sit in judgment upon a brother member of the Bar, particularly where, as here, the facts are disputed. It is a grave responsibility, to be assumed only with a determination to uphold the Ideals and traditions of an honorable profession and to protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The very burden of the duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be misused or prostituted. ..." The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our 1973 Constitution when it explicitly granted to the Court the power to "Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice ... and the admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Bar ... (Article X, Sec. 5(5) the power to pass upon the fitness of the respondent to remain a member of the legal profession is indeed undoubtedly vested in the Court.
13

We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A and of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained of are neither unconstitutional nor illegal. WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the unanimous sense of the Court that the respondent Marcial A. Edillon should be as he is hereby disbarred, and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll of Attorneys of the Court. Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio, Muoz Palma, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr., Santos, Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur. Footnotes
1 Adopted in the Supreme Court's Resolution, promulgated on January 9, 1973, ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines. 2 114 A.L.R. 101. 3 Memorandum of Authorities on the Constitutionality of Bar Integration, cited in the Report of the Commission Bar Integration on the Integration of the Philippine Bar, Nov. 30, 1972; see also Supreme Court Resolution of January 9, 1973, ordaining the integration of the Philippine Bar. 4 In re Integrating the Bar, 222 Ark 35, 259 S. W. 2d 114; Petition of Florida State Bar Association, 40 So. 2d 902; Petition of Florida State Bar Association, 134 Fla. 851, 186 So. 280: In re Edwards, 45 Idaho 676, 266 P. 665; Commonwealth ex rel. Ward vs. Harrington, 266 Ky. 41 98 S. W. 2d 53; Ayres vs. Hadaway 303 Mich. 589, 6 N. W. 2d 905; Petition for Integration of Bar of Minnesota, 216 Minn. 195; Petition for Integration of Bar of Minnesota, 216 Minn. 195, 12 N. W. 2d 515; Clark vs. Austin, 101 S. W. 2d 977; In Re Integration of Nebraska State Bar Assn., 133 Neb. 283, 275 N. W. 265, 114 A.L.R. 151; In re Scott, 53 Nev. 24, 292 291; Baker vs. Varser, 240 N.C. 260, 82 S.E. 2d 90; In re Integration of State Bar of Oklahoma, 185 Okla, 505, 95 P. 2d 113; State ex rel. Rice vs. Cozad, 70 S. Dak. 193, 16 N. W. 2d 484; Campbell vs. Third District Committee of Virginia State Bar, 179 Va. 244, 18 S. E. 2d 883; Lathrop vs. Donahue, 10 Wis. 2d 230,102 N. W. 2d 404. 5 AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE INTEGRATION OF THE PHILIPPINE BAR AND APPROPRIATING FUNDS THEREFOR, approved on September 17,1971. 6 In re Unification of New Hampsire Bar, 248 A. 2d 709; In re Gibson, 35 N. Mex. 550, 4P. 2d 643; Lathrop vs. Donahue, 10 Wis. 2d 230, 102 N. W. 2d 404; Lathrop vs. Donahue, 367 U.S. 820, 6 L. ed. 2d 1191, 81 S. Ct. 1826; Railways Employes' Dept. vs. Hanson, 351 U. S. 225, 100 L. ed. 1112, 76 S. Ct. 714. 7 Diokno, Jose W., "Bar Integration A Sword and a Shield for Justice" (Manor Press, Q.C., 1962) p. 17. 8 Fellers James, "Integration of the Bar Aloha!", Journal of the Am. Judicature Society, Vol. 47, No. 11 (1964) p. 256. 9 Lathrop vs. Donahue, 10 Wis. 2d 230, 102, N.W. 2d 404; Lathrop vs. Donahue, 367 U.S. 820, 6 L, ed. 2d 1191, 81 S. Ct. 1826. 9. Lathrop vs. Donohue, 10 Wis., 2d 230, 102, N.W. 2d 404; Lathrop vs. Donohue, 367 U.S. 820, 6L. ed. 2d 1191, 81 S. Ct. 1826. 10 Hill vs. State Bar of California, 97 P. 2d 236; Herron vs. State Bar of California, 24 Cal. 53, 147 P. 2d 543; Carpenter vs. State Bar of California, 211 Cal. 358, 295 P. 23; In re Mundy, 202 La. 41, 11 SO. 2d 398; In re Scott, 53 Nev. 24, 292 P. 291; In re Platz, 60 Nev. 24, 108 P. 2d 858, In re Gibson, 35 N. Mex. 550, 4 P. 2d 643; Kelley vs. State Bar of Oklahoma, 148 Okla, 282, 298 P. 623. 11 Petition of Florida State Bar Association, 40 So. 2d 902; In re Integration of Bar of Hawaii, 432 P. 2d 887; Petition for Integration of Bar of Minnesota, 216 Minn. 195, 12 N. W. 2d 515; In re Scott, 53 Nev. 24, 292 P. 291; In re Unification of New Hampshire Bar, 248 A. 2d 709; In re Gibson, 35 N. Mex. 550, 4 P. 2d 643; State Bar of Oklahoma vs. McGhnee 148 Okla, 219, 298 P. 580; Kelley vs. State Bar of Oklahoma, 148 Okla, 282, 298 P. 623; Lathrop vs. Donahue, 10 Wis. 2d 230,102 N. W. 2d 404. 12 In re Gibson, 4 P. 2d 643. The following words of Justice Harlan are opposite: "The objection would make every Governmental exaction the material of a 'free speech' issue. Even the income tax would be suspect. The objection would carry us to lengths that have never been dreamed of. The conscientious objector, if his liberties were to thus extended, might refuse to contribute taxes in furtherance of war or of any other end condemned by his conscience as irreligious or immoral The right of private judgment has never yet been exalted above the powers and the compulsion of the agencies of Government." (Concurring opinion of Harlan, J, joined by Frankfurter, J., in Lathrop vs. Donahue, 367 U.S. 820, 6 L.ed. 21191, 81 S. Ct. 1826, citing Cardozo, J. with Branders and Stone, JJ., concurring, in Hamilton vs. Regents of Univ. of California, 293 U.S. 245, 79 L.ed. 343, 55 S. Ct. 197.) 13 Inre Scott, 53 Nev. 24, 292 P. 291. 14 Bar Flunkers Case, 50 O.G. 1602; In re Aguas, 1 Phil. 1, and others.

January 9, 1973 IN THE MATTER OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: On December 1, 1972, the Commission on Bar Integration submitted its Report dated November 30, 1972, with the 2 "earnest recommendation" on the basis of the said Report and the proceedings had in Administrative Case No. 526 of the Court, and "consistently with the views and counsel received from its [the Commission's] Board of Consultants, as well as the overwhelming nationwide sentiment of the Philippine Bench and Bar" that "this Honorable Court ordain the integration of the Philippine Bar as soon as possible through the adoption and promulgation of an appropriate Court Rule." The petition in Adm. Case No. 526 formally prays the Court to order the integration of the Philippine Bar, after due hearing, giving recognition as far as possible and practicable to existing provincial and other local Bar associations. On August 16, 1962, arguments in favor of as well as in opposition to the petition were orally expounded before the Court. 3 4 Written oppositions were admitted, and all parties were thereafter granted leave to file written memoranda. Since then, the Court has closely observed and followed significant developments relative to the matter of the integration of the Bar in this jurisdiction.
1

In 1970, convinced from preliminary surveys that there had grown a strong nationwide sentiment in favor of Bar integration, the Court created the Commission on Bar Integration for the purpose of ascertaining the advisability of unifying the Philippine Bar. In September, 1971, Congress passed House Bill No. 3277 entitled "An Act Providing for the Integration of the Philippine Bar, and Appropriating Funds Therefor." The measure was signed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos on September 17, 1971 and took effect on the same day as Rep. Act 6397. This law provides as follows: SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit in order to raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively. SEC. 2. The sum of five hundred thousand pesos is hereby appropriated, out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to carry out the purposes of this Act. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for the same purpose shall be included in the annual appropriations for the Supreme Court. SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval. The Report of the Commission abounds with argument on the constitutionality of Bar integration and contains all necessary factual data bearing on the advisability (practicability and necessity) of Bar integration. Also embodied therein are the views, opinions, sentiments, comments and observations of the rank and file of the Philippine lawyer population relative to Bar integration, as well as a proposed integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission and presented to them by that body in a national Bar plebiscite. There is thus sufficient basis as well as ample material upon which the Court may decide whether or not to integrate the Philippine Bar at this time. The following are the pertinent issues: (1) Does the Court have the power to integrate the Philippine Bar? (2) Would the integration of the Bar be constitutional? (3) Should the Court ordain the integration of the Bar at this time? A resolution of these issues requires, at the outset, a statement of the meaning of Bar integration. It will suffice, for this purpose, to adopt the concept given by the Commission on Bar Integration on pages 3 to 5 of its Report, thus: Integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of the entire lawyer population of the Philippines. This requires membership and financial support (in reasonable amount) of every attorney as conditions sine qua non to the practice of law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court. The term "Bar" refers to the collectivity of all persons whose names appear in the Roll of Attorneys. An Integrated Bar (or Unified Bar) perforce must include all lawyers. Complete unification is not possible unless it is decreed by an entity with power to do so: the State. Bar integration, therefore, signifies the setting up by Government authority of a national organization of the legal profession based on the recognition of the lawyer as an officer of the court. Designed to improve the position of the Bar as an instrumentality of justice and the Rule of Law, integration fosters cohesion among lawyers, and ensures, through their own organized action and participation, the promotion of the objectives of the legal profession, pursuant to the principle of maximum Bar autonomy with minimum supervision and regulation by the Supreme Court. The purposes of an integrated Bar, in general, are: (1) Assist in the administration of justice; (2) Foster and maintain on the part of its members high ideals of integrity, learning, professional competence, public service and conduct; (3) Safeguard the professional interests of its members; (4) Cultivate among its members a spirit of cordiality and brotherhood; (5) Provide a forum for the discussion of law, jurisprudence, law reform, pleading, practice and procedure, and the relations of the Bar to the Bench and to the public, and publish information relating thereto; (6) Encourage and foster legal education;

(7) Promote a continuing program of legal research in substantive and adjective law, and make reports and recommendations thereon; and (8) Enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility effectively. Integration of the Bar will, among other things, make it possible for the legal profession to: (1) Render more effective assistance in maintaining the Rule of Law; (2) Protect lawyers and litigants against the abuse of tyrannical judges and prosecuting officers; (3) Discharge, fully and properly, its responsibility in the disciplining and/or removal of incompetent and unworthy judges and prosecuting officers; (4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except within its own forum, from the assaults that politics and self-interest may level at it, and assist it to maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence; (5) Have an effective voice in the selection of judges and prosecuting officers; (6) Prevent the unauthorized practice of law, and break up any monopoly of local practice maintained through influence or position; (7) Establish welfare funds for families of disabled and deceased lawyers; (8) Provide placement services, and establish legal aid offices and set up lawyer reference services throughout the country so that the poor may not lack competent legal service; (9) Distribute educational and informational materials that are difficult to obtain in many of our provinces; (10) Devise and maintain a program of continuing legal education for practising attorneys in order to elevate the standards of the profession throughout the country; (11) Enforce rigid ethical standards, and promulgate minimum fees schedules; (12) Create law centers and establish law libraries for legal research; (13) Conduct campaigns to educate the people on their legal rights and obligations, on the importance of preventive legal advice, and on the functions and duties of the Filipino lawyer; and (14) Generate and maintain pervasive and meaningful country-wide involvement of the lawyer population in the solution of the multifarious problems that afflict the nation. Anent the first issue, the Court is of the view that it may integrate the Philippine Bar in the exercise of its power, under Article VIII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution, "to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law." Indeed, the power to integrate is an inherent part of the Court's constitutional authority over the Bar. In providing that "the Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar," Republic Act 6397 neither confers a new power nor restricts the Court's inherent power, but is a mere legislative declaration that the integration of the Bar will promote public interest or, more specifically, will "raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." Resolution of the second issue whether the unification of the Bar would be constitutional hinges on the effects of Bar integration on the lawyer's constitutional rights of freedom of association and freedom of speech, and on the nature of the dues exacted from him. The Court approvingly quotes the following pertinent discussion made by the Commission on Bar Integration pages 44 to 49 of its Report: Constitutionality of Bar Integration Judicial Pronouncements. In all cases where the validity of Bar integration measures has been put in issue, the Courts have upheld their constitutionality. The judicial pronouncements support this reasoning: Courts have inherent power to supervise and regulate the practice of law. The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege; a privilege, moreover, clothed with public interest, because a lawyer owes duties not only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation; and takes part in one of the most important functions of the State, the administration of justice, as an officer of the court.

Because the practice of law is privilege clothed with public interest, it is far and just that the exercise of that privilege be regulated to assure compliance with the lawyer's public responsibilities. These public responsibilities can best be discharged through collective action; but there can be no collective action without an organized body; no organized body can operate effectively without incurring expenses; therefore, it is fair and just that all attorneys be required to contribute to the support of such organized body; and, given existing Bar conditions, the most efficient means of doing so is by integrating the Bar through a rule of court that requires all lawyers to pay annual dues to the Integrated Bar. 1. Freedom of Association. To compel a lawyer to be a member of an integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate (or the corollary right not to associate). Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a member. He became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. All that integration actually does is to provide an official national organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is already a member. Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The body compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. Otherwise stated, membership in the Unified Bar imposes only the duty to pay dues in reasonable amount. The issue therefore, is a question of compelled financial support of group activities, not involuntary membership in any other aspect. The greater part of Unified Bar activities serves the function of elevating the educational and ethical standards of the Bar to the end of improving the quality of the legal service available to the people. The Supreme Court, in order to further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory program the lawyers. Assuming that Bar integration does compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as an exercise of the police power of the State. The legal profession has long been regarded as a proper subject of legislative regulation and control. Moreover, the inherent power of the Supreme Court to regulate the Bar includes the authority to integrate the Bar. 2. Regulatory Fee. For the Court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not mean that the Court levies a tax. A membership fee in the Integrated Bar is an exaction for regulation, while the purpose of a tax is revenue. If the Court has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it follows that as an incident to regulation, it may impose a membership fee for that purpose. It would not be possible to push through an Integrated Bar program without means to defray the concomitant expenses. The doctrine of implied powers necessarily includes the power to impose such an exaction. The only limitation upon the State's power to regulate the Bar is that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden. The public interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far outweighs the inconsequential inconvenience to a member that might result from his required payment of annual dues. 3. Freedom of Speech. A lawyer is free, as he has always been, to voice his views on any subject in any manner he wishes, even though such views be opposed to positions taken by the Unified Bar. For the Integrated Bar to use a member's due to promote measures to which said member is opposed, would not nullify or adversely affect his freedom of speech.

Since a State may constitutionally condition the right to practice law upon membership in the Integrated Bar, it is difficult to understand why it should become unconstitutional for the Bar to use the member's dues to fulfill the very purposes for which it was established. The objection would make every Governmental exaction the material of a "free speech" issue. Even the income tax would be suspect. The objection would carry us to lengths that have never been dreamed of. The conscientious objector, if his liberties were to be thus extended, might refuse to contribute taxes in furtherance of war or of any other end condemned by his conscience as irreligious or immoral. The right of private judgment has never yet been exalted above the powers and the compulsion of the agencies of Government. 4. Fair to All Lawyers. Bar integration is not unfair to lawyers already practising because although the requirement to pay annual dues is a new regulation, it will give the members of the Bar a new system which they hitherto have not had and through which, by proper work, they will receive benefits they have not heretofore enjoyed, and discharge their public responsibilities in a more effective manner than they have been able to do in the past. Because the requirement to pay dues is a valid exercise of regulatory power by the Court, because it will apply equally to all lawyers, young and old, at the time Bar integration takes effect, and because it is a new regulation in exchange for new benefits, it is not retroactive, it is not unequal, it is not unfair. To resolve the third and final issue whether the Court should ordain the integration of the Bar at this time requires a careful overview of the practicability and necessity as well as the advantages and disadvantages of Bar integration. In many other jurisdictions, notably in England, Canada and the United States, Bar integration has yielded the following benefits: (1) improved discipline among the members of the Bar; (2) greater influence and ascendancy of the Bar; (3) better and more meaningful participation of the individual lawyer in the activities of the Integrated Bar; (4) greater Bar facilities and services; (5) elimination of unauthorized practice; (6) avoidance of costly membership campaigns; (7) establishment of an official status for the Bar; (8) more cohesive profession; and (9) better and more effective discharge by the Bar of its obligations and responsibilities to its members, to the courts, and to the public. No less than these salutary consequences are envisioned and in fact expected from the unification of the Philippine Bar. Upon the other hand, it has been variously argued that in the event of integration, Government authority will dominate the Bar; local Bar associations will be weakened; cliquism will be the inevitable result; effective lobbying will not be possible; the Bar will become an impersonal Bar; and politics will intrude into its affairs. It is noteworthy, however, that these and other evils prophesied by opponents of Bar integration have failed to materialize in over fifty years of Bar integration experience in England, Canada and the United States. In all the jurisdictions where the Integrated Bar has been tried, none of the abuses or evils feared has arisen; on the other hand, it has restored public confidence in the Bar, enlarged professional consciousness, energized the Bar's responsibilities to the public, and vastly improved the administration of justice. How do the Filipino lawyers themselves regard Bar integration? The official statistics compiled by the Commission on Bar integration show that in the national poll recently conducted by the Commission in the matter of the integration of the Philippine Bar, of a total of 15,090 lawyers from all over the archipelago who have turned in their individual responses, 14,555 (or 96.45 per cent) voted in favor of Bar integration, while only 378 (or 2.51 per cent) voted against it, and 157 (or 1.04 per cent) are non-commital. In addition, a total of eighty (80) local Bar association and lawyers' groups all over the Philippines have submitted resolutions and other expressions of unqualified endorsement and/or support for Bar integration, while not a single local Bar association or lawyers' group has expressed opposed position thereto. Finally, of the 13,802 individual lawyers who cast their plebiscite ballots on the proposed integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission, 12,855 (or 93.14 per cent) voted in favor thereof, 662 (or 4.80 per cent) vote against it, and 285 (or 2.06 per 5 cent) are non-committal. All these clearly indicate an overwhelming nationwide demand for Bar integration at this time. The Court is fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative materials and the mass of factual data contained in the exhaustive Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the integration of the Philippine Bar is "perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable," within the context of contemporary conditions in the Philippines, has become an imperative means to raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility fully and effectively.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court, by virtue of the power vested in it by Section 13 of Article VIII of the Constitution, hereby ordains the integration of the Bar of the Philippines in accordance with the attached COURT RULE, effective on January 16, 1973. Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castillo, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., concur.
Footnotes 1 Created by Supreme Court Resolution of October 5, 1970 "for the purpose of ascertaining the advisability of the integration of the Bar in this jurisdiction," the Commission is composed of Supreme Court Associate Justice Fred Ruiz Castro (Chairman), Senator Jose J. Roy, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Conrado V. Sanchez, Supreme Court Associate Justice (then Court of Appeals Presiding Justice) Salvador V. Esguerra, U. P. Law Center Director Crisolito Pascual, Ex-Senator Tecla San Andres Ziga, and San Beda Law Dean and Constitutional Convention Delegate Feliciano Jover Ledesma (Members). 2 Filed on July 11, 1962 (by a Committee composed of Jose W. Diokno, Roman Ozaeta, Jose P. Carag, Eugenio Villanueva, Jr. and Leo A. Panuncialman), the petition represented the unanimous consensus of 53 Bar Associations (from all over the Philippines) reached in convention at the Far Eastern University Auditorium in Manila on June 23, 1962. 3 Written oppositions were submitted by Attys. Cesar Fajardo and Vicente L. Arcega, the Camarines Norte Lawyers League, Atty. Fructuoso S. Villarin, the Camarines Sur Bar Association and the Manila Bar Association. 4 The Petitioners and the Negros Occidental Bar Association submitted memoranda in favor of Bar integration, while the Manila Bar Association submitted a memoranda opposing Bar integration. 5 All figures are as of January 8, 1973

LETTER OF ATTY. CECILIO Y. AREVALO, JR., REQUESTING EXEMPTION FROM PAYMENT OF IBP DUES. DECISION CHICO-NAZARIO, J.: This is a request for exemption from payment of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) dues filed by petitioner Atty. Cecilio Y. Arevalo, Jr. In his letter,[1] dated 22 September 2004, petitioner sought exemption from payment of IBP dues in the amount of P12,035.00 as alleged unpaid accountability for the years 1977-2005. He alleged that after being admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1961, he became part of the Philippine Civil Service from July 1962 until 1986, then migrated to, and worked in, the USA in December 1986 until his retirement in the year 2003. He maintained that he cannot be assessed IBP dues for the years that he was working in the Philippine Civil Service since the Civil Service law prohibits the practice of ones profession while in government service, and neither can he be assessed for the years when he was working in the USA. On 05 October 2004, the letter was referred to the IBP for comment.[2] On 16 November 2004, the IBP submitted its comment[3] stating inter alia: that membership in the IBP is not based on the actual practice of law; that a lawyer continues to be included in the Roll of Attorneys as long as he continues to be a member of the IBP; that one of the obligations of a member is the payment of annual dues as determined by the IBP Board of Governors and duly approved by the Supreme Court as provided for in Sections 9 and 10, Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court; that the validity of imposing dues on the IBP members has been upheld as necessary to defray the cost of an Integrated Bar Program; and that the policy of the IBP Board of Governors of no exemption from payment of dues is but an implementation of the Courts directives for all members of the IBP to help in defraying the cost of integration of th e 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 the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of discussing proposals for the creation of an inactive status for its members, which if approved by the Board of Governors and by this Court, will exempt inactive IBP members from payment of the annual dues. In his reply[4] dated 22 February 2005, petitioner contends that what he is questioning is the IBP Board of Governors 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 practice. He asseverates that the Policy of Non-Exemption in the payment of annual membership dues suffers from constitutional infirmities, such as equal protection clause and the due process clause. He also posits that compulsory payment of the IBP annual membership dues would indubitably be oppressive to him considering that he has been in an inactive status and is without income derived from his law practice. He adds that his

removal from nonpayment of annual membership dues would constitute deprivation of property right without due process of law. Lastly, he claims that non-practice of law by a lawyer-member in inactive status is neither injurious to active law practitioners, to fellow lawyers in inactive status, nor to the community where the inactive lawyers-members reside. Plainly, the issue here is: whether or nor petitioner is entitled to exemption from payment of his dues during the time that he was inactive in the practice of law that is, when he was in the Civil Service from 1962-1986 and he was working abroad from 1986-2003? We rule in the negative. An Integrated Bar is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must belong, as distinguished from bar association organized by individual lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded an opportunity to do his shares in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or under the direction of the State, an Integrated Bar is an official national body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are, therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a code of professional ethics or professional responsibility, breach of which constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the offending member.[5] The integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of the entire lawyer population. This requires membership and financial support of every attorney as condition sine qua non to the practice of law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.[6] Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not to attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of his annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order to foster the States legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory program the lawyers.[7] Moreover, there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the practice of law and in the integration of the Philippine Bar[8] - which power required members of a privileged class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite apparent that the fee is, indeed, imposed as a regulatory measure, designed to raise funds for carrying out the noble objectives and purposes of integration. The rationale for prescribing dues has been explained in the Integration of the Philippine Bar,[9] thus: For the court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not mean that the Court is attempting to levy a tax. A membership fee in the Bar association is an exaction for regulation, while tax purpose of a tax is a revenue. If the judiciary has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it follows that as an incident to regulation, it may impose a membership fee for that purpose. It would not be possible to put on an integrated Bar program without means to defray the expenses. The doctrine of implied powers necessarily carries with it the power to impose such exaction. The only limitation upon the States power to regulate the privilege of law is that the regulation does not impose an unconstitutional burden. The public interest promoted by the integration of the Bar far outweighs the slight inconvenience to a member resulting from his required payment of the annual dues. Thus, payment of dues is a necessary consequence of membership in the IBP, of which no one is exempt. This means that the compulsory nature of payment of dues subsists for as long as ones membership in the IBP remains regardless of the lack of practice of, or the type of practice, the member is engaged in. There is nothing in the law or rules which allows exemption from payment of membership dues. At most, as correctly observed by the IBP, he could have informed the Secretary of the Integrated Bar of his intention to stay abroad before he left. In such case, his membership in the IBP could have been terminated and his obligation to pay dues could have been discontinued.

As abovementioned, the IBP in its comment stated that the IBP Board of Governors is in the process of discussing the situation of members under inactive status and the nonpayment of their dues during such inactivity. In the meantime, petitioner is duty bound to comply with his obligation to pay membership dues to the IBP. Petitioner also contends that the enforcement of the penalty of removal would amount to a deprivation of property without due process and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. This question has been settled in the case of In re Atty. Marcial Edillon,[10] in this wise: . . . Whether the practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its being one that entitles the holder of a license to practice a profession, we do not here pause to consider at length, as it [is] clear that under the police power of the State, and under the necessary powers granted to the Court to perpetuate its existence, the respondents right to practice law before the courts of this country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and inquiry. And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize[d], then a penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary. But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyers public responsibilities. As a final note, it must be borne in mind that membership in the bar is a privilege burdened with 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, petitioners 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. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, and Garcia, JJ., concur. SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO R. LLAMAS, respondent. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: This is a complaint for misrepresentation and non-payment of bar membership dues filed against respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas. In a letter-complaint to this Court dated February 8, 1997, complainant Soliman M. Santos, Jr., himself a member of the bar, alleged that: On my oath as an attorney, I wish to bring to your attention and appropriate sanction the matter of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas who, for a number of years now, has not indicated the proper PTR and IBP O.R. Nos. and data (date & place of issuance) in his pleadings. If at all, he only indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" but he has been using this for at least three years already, as shown by the following attached sample pleadings in various courts in 1995, 1996 and 1997: (originals available) Annex A .......Annex B ......."Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" dated December 1, 1995 in Civil Case No. Q-95-25253, RTC, Br. 224, QC "Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation Motion" dated November 13, 1996 in Sp. Proc. No. 95-030, RTC Br. 259 (not 257), Paraaque, MM

Annex C .......-

"An Urgent and Respectful Plea for extension of Time to File Required Comment and Opposition" dated January 17, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP (not Civil Case) No. 42286, CA 6th Div.

This matter is being brought in the context of Rule 138, Section 1 which qualifies that only a duly admitted member of the bar "who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law". There is also Rule 139-A, Section 10 which provides that "default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in 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 Attorneys." Among others, I seek clarification (e.g. a certification) and appropriate action on the bar standing of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas both with the Bar Confidant and with the IBP, especially its Rizal Chapter of which Atty. Llamas purports to be a member. Jksm Please note that while Atty. Llamas indicates "IBP Rizal 259060" sometimes, he does not indicate any PTR for payment of professional tax. Under the Rules, particularly Rule 138, Sections 27 and 28, suspension of an attorney may be done not only by the Supreme Court but also by the Court of Appeals or a Regional Trial Court (thus, we are also copy furnishing some of these courts). Finally, it is relevant to note the track record of Atty. Francisco R. Llamas, as shown by: 1........his dismissal as Pasay City Judge per Supreme Court Admin. Matter No. 1037-CJ En Banc Decision on October 28, 1981 ( in SCRA ) 2........his conviction for estafa per Decision dated June 30, 1994 in Crim. Case No. 11787, RTC Br. 66, Makati, MM (see attached copy of the Order dated February 14, 1995 denying the motion for reconsideration of the conviction which is purportedly on appeal in the Court of Appeals). Attached to the letter-complaint were the pleadings dated December 1, 1995, November 13, 1996, and January 17, 1997 referred to by complainant, bearing, at the end thereof, what appear s to be respondents signature above his name, address and the receipt number "IBP Rizal 259060."12[1] Also attached was a copy of the order,13[2] dated February 14, 1995, issued by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66, Makat i, denying respondents motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal Case No. 11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code. On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification14[3] dated March 18, 1997, by the then president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R. Macalinao-Javier, that respondents "last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991. Since then he has not paid or remitted any amount to cover his membership fees up to the present." On July 7, 1997, respondent was required to comment on the complaint within ten days from receipt of notice, after which the case was referred to the IBP for investigation, report and recommendation. In his comment-memorandum,15[4] dated June 3, 1998, respondent alleged:16[5] 3. That with respect to the complainants absurd claim that for using in 1995, 1996 and 1997 the same O.R. No. 259060 of the Rizal IBP, respondent is automatically no longer a member in good standing. Precisely, as cited under the context of Rule 138, only an admitted member of the bar who is in good standing is entitled to practice law. The complainants basis in claiming that the undersigned was no longer in good standing, were as above cited, the October 28, 1981 Supreme Court decision of dismissal and the February 14, 1995 conviction for Violation of Article 316 RPC, concealment of encumbrances. Chief

12[1]Rollo, pp. 4-9. 13[2]Id., p. 11. 14[3]Id., p. 13. 15[4] Records, pp. 35-42. 16[5]Id., pp. 39-40.

As above pointed out also, the Supreme Court dismissal decision was set aside and reversed and respondent was even promoted from City Judge of Pasay City to Regional Trial Court Judge of Makati, Br. 150. Also as pointed out, the February 14, 1995 decision in Crim. Case No. 11787 was appealed to the Court of Appeals and is still pending. Complainant need not even file this complaint if indeed the decision of dismissal as a Judge was never set aside and reversed, and also had the decision of conviction for a light felony, been affirmed by the Court of Appeals. Undersigned himself would surrender his right or privilege to practice law. 4. That complainant capitalizes on the fact that respondent had been delinquent in his dues. Undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income Tax Return, up to the present, that he had only a limited practice of law. In fact, in his Income Tax Return, his principal occupation is a farmer of which he is. His 30 hectares orchard and pineapple farm is located at Calauan, Laguna. Moreover, and more than anything else, respondent being a Senior Citizen since 1992, is legally exempt under Section 4 of Rep. Act 7432 which took effect in 1992, in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an example. Being thus exempt, he honestly believe in view of his detachment from a total practice of law, but only in a limited practice, the subsequent payment by him of dues with the Integrated Bar is covered by such exemption. In fact, he never exercised his rights as an IBP member to vote and be voted upon. Nonetheless, if despite such honest belief of being covered by the exemption and if only to show that he never in any manner wilfully and deliberately failed and refused compliance with such dues, he is willing at any time to fulfill and pay all past dues even with interests, charges and surcharges and penalties. He is ready to tender such fulfillment or payment, not for allegedly saving his skin as again irrelevantly and frustratingly insinuated for vindictive purposes by the complainant, but as an honest act of accepting reality if indeed it is reality for him to pay such dues despite his candor and honest belief in all food faith, to the contrary. Esmsc On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a resolution17[6] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner which found respondent guilty, and recommended his suspension from the practice of law for three months and until he pays his IBP dues. Respondent moved for a reconsideration of the decision, but this was denied by the IBP in a resolution,18[7] dated April 22, 1999. Hence, pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(b) of the Rules of Court, this case is here for final action on the decision of the IBP ordering respondents suspension for three months. The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows: On the first issue, Complainant has shown "respondents non -indication of the proper IBP O.R. and PTR numbers in his pleadings (Annexes "A", "B" and "C" of the letter complaint, more particularly his use of "IBP Rizal 259060 for at least three years." The records also show a "Certification dated March 24, 1997 from IBP Rizal Chapter President Ida R. Makahinud Javier that respondents last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991." While these allegations are neither denied nor categorically admitted by respondent, he has invoked and cited that "being a Senior Citizen since 1992, he is legally exempt under Section 4 of Republic Act No. 7432 which took effect in 1992 in the payment of taxes, income taxes as an example."

17[6]

Records, p. 57. p. 38.

18[7]Rollo,

The above cited provision of law is not applicable in the present case. In fact, respondent admitted that he is still in the practice of law when he alleged that the "undersigned since 1992 have publicly made it clear per his Income tax Return up to the present time that he had only a limited practice of law." (par. 4 of Respondents Memorandum). Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his yearly dues to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Esmmis On the second issue, complainant claims that respondent has misled the court about his standing in the IBP by using the same IBP O.R. number in his pleadings of at least six years and therefore liable for his actions. Respondent in his memorandum did not discuss this issue. First. Indeed, respondent admits that since 1992, he has engaged in law practice without having paid his IBP dues. He likewise admits that, as appearing in the pleadings submitted by complainant to this Court, he indicated "IBP-Rizal 259060" in the pleadings he filed in court, at least for the years 1995, 1996, and 1997, thus misrepresenting that such was his IBP chapter membership and receipt number for the years in which those pleadings were filed. He claims, however, that he is only engaged in a "limited" practice and that he believes in good faith that he is exempt from the payment of taxes, such as income tax, under R.A. No. 7432, 4 as a senior citizen since 1992. Rule 139-A provides: Sec. 9.Membership dues. - Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with the approval of the Supreme Court. A fixed sum equivalent to ten percent (10%) of the collections from each Chapter shall be set aside as a Welfare Fund for disabled members of the Chapter and the compulsory heirs of deceased members thereof. Sec. 10.Effect of non-payment of dues. - Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant suspension of membership in 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 Attorneys. In accordance with these provisions, respondent can engage in the practice of law only by paying his dues, and it does not matter that his practice is "limited." While it is true that R.A. No. 7432, 4 grants senior citizens "exemption from the payment of individual income taxes: provided, that their annual taxable income does not exceed the poverty level as determined by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for that year," the exemption does not include payment of membership or association dues. Second. By indicating "IBP-Rizal 259060" in his pleadings and thereby misrepresenting to the public and the courts that he had paid his IBP dues to the Rizal Chapter, respondent is guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides: Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION, AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. Esmso CANON 10 - A LAWYER OWES CANDOR, FAIRNESS AND GOOD FAITH TO THE COURT. Rule 10.01 - A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice. 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,19[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. Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent. DECISION DE LEON, JR., J.: Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui. The relevant facts are: On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City20[1] and as a result of their marital union, they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband, Carlos Ui, was carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982. Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent would come to an end. However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her husband in his company. A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,21[2] respondent averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 198522[3]. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in their Greenhills residence because

20[1]Records, 21[2]

Vol. I, p. 5. Records, Vol III, p. 8. 22[3] Records, Vol. III, p. 17.

respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.23[4] In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm24[5] she was connected with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has been communicating with her. It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built exclusively f rom her parents funds.25[6] By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against respondent. In her Reply26[7] dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui. During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 895247, but the same was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads: Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989. It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they, admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same. From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in th e concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause for the offense charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178). It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation. WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged.

Records, Vol. III, pp. 10-11. 24[5]Rilloraza Africa De Ocampo & Africa Law Offices.
23[4] 25[6]

Records, Vol. III, p. 12. Records, Vol. III, p. 26.

26[7]

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.27[8] Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed 28[9] on the ground of insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila. In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission 29[10] wherein she charged respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage 30[11] duly certified by the State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.31[12] It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a violation of Articles 18332[13] and 18433[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar. In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt),34[15] respondent averred that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in her possession. Respondent filed her Memorandum 35[16] on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely: (i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal profession; and

Records, Vol. III, pp. 71, 73-74. 28[9] Records, Vol. III, pp. 75-78. 29[10] Records, Vol. III, pp. 113-117. 30[11] Records, Vol. III, pp. 125-126.
27[8] 31[12]

Records, Vol. III, pp. 114-115.

32[13]Art.

183. False testimony in other cases and perjury in solemn affirmation.-The penalty of arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its minimum period shall be imposed upon any person who, knowingly making untruthful statements and not being included in the provisions of the next preceding articles, shall testify under oath, or make an affidavit, upon any material matter before a competent person authorized to administer an oath in cases in which the law so requires.

Any person who, in case of a solemn affirmation made in lieu of an oath, shall commit any of the falsehoods mentioned in this and the three preceding articles of this section, shall suffer the respective penalties provided therein. Art. 184. Offering false testimony in evidence.- Any person who shall knowingly offer in evidence a false witness or testimony in any judicial or official proceeding, shall be punished as guilty of false testimony and shall suffer the respective penalties provided in this section.
33[14] 34[15]

Records, Vol. III, p. 133. Records, Vol. III, pp. 265 287.

35[16]

(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself in an immoral manner.36[17] In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her, and he was so open in his courtship.37[18] On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered. Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter. Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage,38[19] does not prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged 39[20] and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department of Justice 40[21] to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him. In the Memorandum 41[22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents moth er, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager.42[23] It was thus highly improbable that respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date. In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum 43[24], respondent stated that complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of complainant, there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was made known to respondent. Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that:

36[17]Records, 37[18]

Vol. III, pp. 275, 281.

Records, p. 278 citing TSN dated January 22, 1993, p. 52.

Records, Vol. III, pp. 52, 54-56. 39[20] Records, Vol. III, pp. 71 74. 40[21] Resolution No. 030, Series of 1992 of the Department of Justice dated December 18, 1991, Records, Vol. III, pp. 75-78. 41[22] Records, Vol. III, pp. 289 300. 42[23] Records, Vol. III, p. 296. 43[24] Records, Vol. III, pp. 317 321.
38[19]

In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary human experience. Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men. The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together. Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by every single girl. x..........................x..........................x" Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe penalty." We agree with the findings aforequoted. The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the practice of law are: a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines; b. a resident thereof; c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age; d. a person of good moral character; e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed or pending in court; f. possess the required educational qualifications; and g. pass the bar examinations.44[25] (Italics supplied) Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).

44[25] Ruben E. Agpalo, Legal Ethics, (1985)

A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional probity. It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment. Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community." (7 C.J.S. 959).45[26] In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him. Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about C arlos Uis personal background prior to her intimate involvement with him. Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also, despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her. All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable members of the community.46[27] Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.47[28] We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards."48[29] Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.49[30] This, herein complainant miserably failed to do. On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable.

45[26] Arciga vs. Maniwang, 106 SCRA 591, 594 (1981) 46[27] Narag vs. Narag, 291 SCRA 454, 464(1998) 47[28] Reyes vs. Wong, 63 SCRA 667, 673 citing Section 27, Rule 138, New Rules of Court; Soberano vs. Villanueva, 6 SCRA 893, 895; Mortel vs. Aspiras, December 28, 1956, 100 Phil. 587, 591-593; Royong vs. Oblena, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 869-870; Bolivar vs. Simbol, April 29, 1966, 16 SCRA 623, 630; and Quingwa vs. Puno, February 28, 1967, 19 SCRA 439-440, 444-445) 48[29]Ibid. 49[30]Ibid.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot stand.It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality. WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED. However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a STERNWARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future. SO ORDERED. Bellosillo, (Chairman and Acting C.J.), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ.,concur

EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISPIN G. DANTES, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: Despite variations in the specific standards and provisions, one requirement remains constant in all the jurisdictions where the practice of law is regulated: the candidate must demonstrate t hat he or she has good moral character, and once he becomes a lawyer he should always behave in accordance with the standard. In this jurisdiction too, good moral character is not only a condition precedent50[1] to the practice of law, but an unending requirement for all the members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is found guilty of grossly immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred.51[2] In an Affidavit-Complaint52[3]dated June 6, 2001, filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Emma T. Dantes, sought the disbarment of her husband, Atty. Crispin G. Dantes on the ground of immorality, abandonment, and violation of professional ethics and law. The case was docketed as CBD Case No. 01-851. Complainant alleged that respondent is a philanderer. Respondent purportedly engaged in illicit relationships with two women, one after the other, and had illegitimate children with them. From the time respondents illicit affairs started, he failed to give regular support to complainant and their children, thus forcing complainant to work abroad to provide for their childrens needs. Complainant pointed out that these acts of respondent constitute a violation of his lawyers oath and his moral and legal obligation to be a role model to the community. On July 4, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an Order53[4] requiring respondent to submit his answer to the Affidavit-Complaint. Respondent submitted his Answer54[5] on November 19, 2001. Though admitting the fact of marriage with the complainant and the birth of their children, respondent alleged that they have mutually agreed to separate eighteen (18) years before after complainant had abandoned him in their Balintawak residence and fled to San Fernando, Pampanga. Respondent claimed that when complainant returned after eighteen years, she insisted that she be accommodated in the place where he and their children were residing. Thus, he was forced to live alone in a rented apartment. Respondent further alleged that he sent their children to the best school he could afford and provided for their needs. He even bought two lots in Pampanga for his sons, Dandelo and Dante, and gave complainant adequate financial support even after she had abandoned him in 1983.
50[1]Section 2, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. 51[2]Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. 52[3] Rollo, pp. 1-2. 53[4]Id. at 18. 54[5] Id. at 23-30.

Respondent asserted that complainant filed this case in order to force him to remit seventy percent (70%) of his monthly salary to her. Subsequently, the IBP conducted its investigation and hearings on the complaint. Complainant presented her evidence, both oral and documentary,55[6] to support the allegations in her Affidavit-Complaint. From the evidence presented by the complainant, it was established that on January 19, 1979, complainant and respondent were married56[7] and lived with the latters mother in Balintawak. At that tim e, respondent was just a fourth year law student. To make ends meet, complainant engaged in the buy and sell business and relied on dole-outs from the respondents mother. Three children were born to the couple, namely, Dandelo, Dante and Daisy, who were born on February 20, 1980,57[8] October 14, 198158[9] and August 11, 1983,59[10] respectively. Complainant narrated that their relationship was marred by frequent quarrels because of respondents extra -marital affairs.60[11] Sometime in 1983, she brought their children to her mother in Pampanga to enable her to work because respondent had failed to provide adequate support. From 1986 to 2001, complainant worked abroad as a domestic helper. Denying that there was a mutual agreement between her and respondent to live separately, complainant asseverated that she was just compelled to work abroad to support their children. When she returned to the Philippines, she learned that respondent was living with another woman. Respondent, then bluntly told her, that he did not want to live with her anymore and that he preferred his mistresses. Complainant presented documentary evidence consisting of the birth certificates of Ray Darwin, Darling, and Christian Dave,61[12] all surnamed Dantes, and the affidavits of respondent and his paramour62[13] to prove the fact that respondent sired three illegitimate children out of his illicit affairs with two different women. Letters of complainants legitimate children likewise support the allegation that respondent is a womanizer.63[14] In an Order dated April 17, 2002,respondent was deemed to have waived his right to cross-examine complainant, after he failed to appear during the scheduled hearings despite due notice. He, however, submitted his Comment/Opposition to the Complainants Formal Offer of Evidence with Motion to Exclude the Evidence from the Records of the Proceedings64[15]on August 1, 2002. Subsequently, on May 29, 2003, respondent submitted a Motion to Adopt Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. Respondents motion was denied because it was filed after the complainant had already presented her evidence.65[16] Respondent was given a final chance to present his evidence on July 11, 2003. Instead of presenting evidence, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Dismiss, which was likewise denied for being a prohibited pleading under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline. Respondent submitted his Position Paper on August 4, 2003. In respondents Position Paper,66[17] he reiterated the allegations in his Answer except that this time, he argued that in view of the resolution of the complaint for support with alimony pendente lite67[18]filed against him by the complainantbefore the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City,68[19] the instant administrative case should be dismissed for lack of merit. On July 7, 2004, the IBP submitted to us through the Office of the Bar Confidant its Report69[20] and Resolution No. XVI2004-230 involving CBD Case No. 01-851.70[21] The IBP recommended that the respondent be suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.

55[6] Exhibits A to Z, Rollo, pp. 72-96. 56[7] Rollo, p. 72.


57[8]Id. at 74. 58[9]Id. at 73. 59[10]Id. at 75. 60[11]TSN, April 17, 2002, p.11. 61[12] Exhibit G, G-1, G-2; Exhibit H, H-1, H-2; Exhibit M, M-1, M-2, Rollo, pp. 77-78, 83. 62[13] Exhibit I; Exhibit J; Exhibit K; and Exhibit L, Rollo, pp. 79-81. 63[14] Exhibits S; Exhibit T; and Exhibit U, Rollo, pp. 89-91. 64[15] Rollo, pp. 105-107. 65[16]Id. at 139. 66[17] Id. at 145-156. 67[18]Civil Case No.Q-01-45222. 68[19]Presided by Judge Rosalina L. Luna Pison of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court, Branch 107, National Capital Judicial Region, Rollo, pp. 157-158. 69[20] Rollo, pp. 198-201.

Except for the penalty, we find the above recommendation well-taken. The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar. Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. The Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community.71[22] To be the basis of disciplinary action, the lawyers conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree72[23] or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.73[24] In Barrientos vs. Daarol,74[25] we ruled that as officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideals, those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning. It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has three ostensible purposes, namely: (i) to protect the public; (ii) to protect the public image of lawyers; and (iii) to protect prospective clients. A writer added a fourth: to protect errant lawyers from themselves.75[26] Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity.76[27] They may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.77[28] Undoubtedly, respondents acts of engaging in illicit relationships with two different women durin g the subsistence of his marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly immoral conduct warranting the imposition appropriate sanctions. Complainants testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently established respondents commission of marital infidelity and immorality. Evidently, respondent had breached the high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession. He has made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity.78[29] In Toledo vs. Toledo,79[30] we disbarred respondent for abandoning his lawful wife and cohabiting with another woman who had borne him a child. Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan,80[31] we ruled that abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal relations with a paramour fall within that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.

70[21]Id. at 197.

71[22] BLACKS LAW DICTIONARY, 6th ed., p. 751 citing In re: Monaghan, 126 VT, 53m 222 A 2d 665, 674. 72[23]Reyes vs. Wong, A.C. No. 547, January 29, 1975, 63 SCRA 667. 73[24] Royong vs. Oblena, A. C. No. 376, April 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 859, 869. 74[25]A.C. No. 1512, January 29, 1993, 218 SCRA 30. 75[26] Elliston, F.A. The Ethics of Ethics Tests for Lawyers, published in The Bar Examiner, vol. 51, no. 3 (August 1982) 8:16. 76[27]Cordon vs. Balicanta, A.C. No. 2797, October 4, 2002, 390 SCRA 299. 77[28]Rural Bank of Silay, Inc. vs. Pilla, A.C. No. 3637, January 24, 2001, 350 SCRA 138; Saburnido vs. Madroo, A.C. No. 4497, September 26, 2001, 366 SCRA 1. 78[29] Pangan vs. Ramos, Adm. Case No. 1053, August 31, 1981, 107 SCRA 1 79[30] Adm. Case No. 266, April 27, 1963, 7 SCRA 757 80[31] Adm. Case No. 1392, April 2, 1984, 128 SCRA 485

We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova,81[32] that moral delinquency which affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such, includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community as exemplified by behavior which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage. The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar.82[33] Where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should never be decreed.83[34] However, in the present case, the seriousness of the offense compels the Court to wield its power to disbar as it appears to be the most appropriate penalty. WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing Atty. Crispin G. Dantes is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ.,concur. Carpio-Morales, J., on official leave. Chico-Nazario, J., on leave.

EN BANC [A.C. No. 5151. October 19, 2004 PEDRO G. TOLENTINO, ROMEO M. LAYGO, SOLOMON M. LUMALANG, SR., MELITON D. EVANGELISTA, SR., and NELSON B. MELGAR, complainants, vs. ATTY. NORBERTO M. MENDOZA, Respondent. RESOLUTION AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.: Before us is a complaint filed by Pedro G. Tolentino, Romeo M. Laygo, Solomon M. Lumalang, Sr., Meliton D. Evangelista, Sr., and Nelson B. Melgar against Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza for Grossly Immoral Conduct and Gross Misconduct. Complainants allege in their Affidavit-Complaint that respondent, a former Municipal Trial Court Judge, abandoned his legal wife, Felicitas V. Valderia in favor of his paramour, Marilyn dela Fuente, who is, in turn, married to one Ramon G. Marcos; respondent and Marilyn dela Fuente have been cohabiting openly and publicly as husband and wife in Brgy. Estrella, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro; respondent had fathered two children by his paramour Marilyn dela Fuente; respondent and Marilyn dela Fuente declared in the birth certificates of their two daughters that they were married on May 12, 1986, making it appear that their two children are legitimate, while in respondents Certificate of Candidacy filed with the COMELEC during the 1995 elections, respondent declared that his wife is Felicitas V. Valderia; in respondents certificate of candidacy for the 1998 elections, he declared his civil status as separated; such declarations in the birth certificates of his children and in his certificate of candidacy are acts constituting falsification of public documents; and respondents acts betray his lack of good moral character and constitute grounds for his removal as a member of the bar. Respondent filed his Comment wherein he states that complainants, who are his political opponents in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro, are merely filing this case to exact revenge on him for his filing of criminal charges against them; complainants illegally procured copies of the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza, in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993, thus, such documents are inadmissible in evidence; respondent did not participate in the preparation and submission with the local civil registry
81[32] November 29, 1989, 179 SCRA 680 82[33]Tapucar vs. Tapucar, A.C. No. 4148, July 30, 1998, 293 SCRA 331. 83[34]Resurreccion vs. Sayson, A.C. No. 1037, December 14, 1998, 300 SCRA 129.

of subject birth certificates; respondent never declared that he had two wives, as he has always declared that he is separated in fact from his wife, Felicitas V. Valderia; and complainants have used this issue against him during elections and yet, the people of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro still elected him as Mayor, hence, respondent has not offended the publics sense of morality. The administrative case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. Thereafter, the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP conducted hearings. Witnesses for complainants, Nelson B. Melgar and Romeo M. Laygo, submitted their affidavits as their direct testimony and were subjected to cross-examination by respondents counsel. Witness Nelson B. Melgar declares in his affidavit as follows: He knows respondent for they both reside in Naujan, Oriental Mindoro. Respondent is known as a practicing lawyer and a former Municipal Trial Court Judge. Respondent has been cohabiting openly and publicly with Marilyn dela Fuente, representing themselves to be husband and wife, and from their cohabitation, they produced two children, namely, Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza. Sometime in 1995, he (witness Melgar) received a letter from a concerned citizen, informing him that respondent was married to Felicitas Valderia of San Rafael, Bulacan, on January 16, 1980, but respondent abandoned his wife to cohabit with Marilyn dela Fuente. Attached to the letter was a photocopy of a Certification issued by the Civil Register attesting to the marriage between respondent and Felicitas Valderia. He also received information from concerned citizens that Marilyn dela Fuente is also legally married to one Ramon G. Marcos, as evidenced by a Certification from the Office of the Civil Register. Respondent stated in his Certificate of Candidacy filed with the COMELEC in 1995 that he is still legally married to Felicitas Valderia. In respondents Certificate of Candidacy filed with the COMELEC in 1998, he declared his civil status as separated. Respondent has represented to all that he is married to Marilyn dela Fuente. In the Naujanews, a local newspaper where respondent holds the position of Chairman of the Board of the Editorial Staff, respondent was reported by said newspaper as husband to Marilyn dela Fuente and the father of Mara Khrisna Charmina and Myrra Khrisna Normina. On cross-examination, witness Melgar testified as follows: He was the former mayor of Naujan and he and respondent belong to warring political parties. It was not respondent who told him about the alleged immoral conduct subject of the present case. Although he received the letter of a concerned citizen regarding the immoral conduct of respondent as far back as 1995, he did not immediately file a case for disbarment against respondent. It was only after respondent filed a criminal case for falsification against him that he decided to file an administrative case against respondent.[1 On re-direct examination, witness Melgar testified that there were people who were against the open relationship between respondent and Marilyn dela Fuente as respondent had been publicly introducing the latter as his wife despite the fact that they are both still legally married to other persons, and so someone unknown to him just handed to their maid copies of the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina and Myrra Khrisna Normina.[2 The affidavit of Mr. Romeo M. Laygo, which was adopted as his direct testimony, is practically identical to that of witness Melgar. On cross-examination, witness Laygo testified that he was not the one who procured the certified true copies of the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza, as somebody just gave said documents to Nelson Melgar. He was a municipal councilor in 1995 when the letter of a concerned citizen regarding respondents immorality was sent to Melgar, but he did not take any action against respondent at that time.[3 Complainants then formally offered documentary evidence consisting of photocopies which were admitted by respondents counsel to be faithful reproductions of the originals or certified true copies thereof, to wit: a letter of one Luis Bermudez informing Nelson Melgar of respondents immoral acts,[4 the Certification of the Local Civil Registrar of San Rafael, Bulacan, attesting to the celebration of the marriage between respondent and one Felicitas Valderia,[5 the Birth Certificate of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza,[6 the Birth Certificate of Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza,[7 the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent dated March 9, 1995,[8 the Certificate of Candidacy of respondent dated March 25, 1998,[9 Certification issued by the Civil Registrar of Naujan, Oriental Mindoro dated October 27, 1998, attesting to the marriage celebrated between Marilyn dela Fuente and Ramon Marcos,[10 and the editorial page of the Naujanews (February-March 1999 issue),[11 wherein it was stated that respondent has two daughters with his wife, Marilyn dela Fuente. Respondent, on the other hand, opted not to present any evidence and merely submitted a memorandum expounding on his arguments that the testimonies of complainants witnesses are mere hearsay, thus, said testimonies and their documentary evidence have no probative weight.

On February 27, 2004, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed Resolution No. XVI-2004-123, reading as follows: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering respondents violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza is hereby SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the practice of law until he submits satisfactory proof that he is no longer cohabiting with a woman who is not his wife and has abandoned such immoral course of conduct. Portions of the report and recommendation of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, upon which the above-quoted Resolution was based, read as follows: FINDINGS: The evidence of complainants to support their charge of immorality consists in a) the testimonies of Nelson Melgar and Romeo Laygo given by way of affidavits executed under oath and affirmed before the Commission and b) their documentary evidence consisting of their Exhibits A to H. Respondent filed his comment through counsel and did not formally present or offer any evidence. Respondent opted not to present his evidence anymore because according to him there is none to rebut vis--vis the evidence presented by the private complainants. Respondent instead submitted a memorandum through counsel to argue his position. As can be seen from the comment and memorandum submitted, respondents counsel argues that the complaint is politically motivated since complainants are political rivals of respondent and that the birth certificates Exhibits D and D-1 which were offered to show that respondent sired the children namely Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza out of his cohabitation with Marilyn dela Fuente are inadmissible because they were allegedly secured in violation of Administrative Order No. 1, Series of 1993. The rest of the exhibits are either hearsay or self-serving according to respondent. The witnesses who are also two of the complainants herein, on the other hand, categorically state in their affidavits [Exhibits A and B] particularly in paragraph 2 that Respondent has been cohabiting openly and publicly with Marilyn de la Fuente, representing themselves to be husband and wife. In paragraph 10 of said affidavits the witnesses also categorically state that respondent has even represented to all and sundry that Marilyn de la Fuente is his wife. These categorical statements made under oath by complainants are not hearsay and remain un-rebutted. Respondent chose not to rebut them. Exhibit E, the Certificate of Candidacy executed by respondent shows that respondent is married to one, Felicitas V. Valderia. As shown by Exhibit H, a marriage certificate, Marilyn de la Fuente is married to one, Ramon G. Marcos. Duly certified true copies of said exhibits have been presented by complainants. With respect to Exhibits D and D-1, we believe that they are competent and relevant evidence and admissible in this proceedings. The exclusionary rule which bars admission of illegally obtained evidence applies more appropriately to evidence obtained as a result of illegal searches and seizures. The instant case cannot be analogous to an illegal search or seizure. A person who violates Rule 24 of Administrative Order No. 1 Series of 1993 as cited by respondent risks the penalty of imprisonment or payment of a fine but it does not make the document so issued inadmissible as evidence specially in proceedings like the present case. Exhibits D and D-1 which are duly certified birth certificates are therefore competent evidence to show paternity of said children by respondent in the absence of any evidence to the contrary. By and large the evidence of complainants consisting of the testimonies of witnesses Nelson Melgar and Romeo Laygo, and corroborated by the documentary exhibits will show that indeed respondent has been cohabiting publicly with a certain Marilyn de la Fuente who is not his wife and that out of said cohabitation respondent sired two children. These facts we repeat have not been denied by respondent under oath since he chose to just argue on the basis of the improper motivations and the inadmissibility, hearsay and self-serving nature of the documents presented. Complainants have presented evidence sufficient enough to convince us that indeed respondent has been cohabiting publicly with a person who is not his wife. The evidence taken together will support the fact that respondent is not of good moral character. That respondent chose not to deny under oath the grave and serious allegations made against him is to our mind his undoing and his silence has not helped his position before the Commission. As between the documents and positive statements of complainants, made under oath and the arguments and comments of respondent submitted through his lawyers, which were not verified under oath by respondent himself, we are inclined and so give weight to the evidence of complainants. The direct and forthright testimonies and statements of Nelson Melgar and Romeo Laygo that respondent was openly cohabiting with Marilyn de la Fuente is not hearsay. The witnesses may have admitted that respondent Mendoza did not

tell them that a certain Marilyn de la Fuente was his paramour (for why would respondent admit that to complainants) but the witnesses did state clearly in their affidavits under oath that respondent was cohabiting with Marilyn de la Fuente who is not respondents wife. Again their categorical statements taken together with the other documents, are enough to convince us and conclude that respondent is not of good moral character. Members of the Bar have been repeatedly reminded that possession of good moral character is a continuing condition for membership in the Bar in good standing. The continued possession of good moral character is a requisite condition for remaining in the practice of law [Mortel vs. Aspiras 100 Phil. 586 (1956); Cordova vs. Cordova 179 SCRA 680 (1989); People vs. Tuanda 181 SCRA 682 (1990)]. The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for instance, which makes mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage [Mijares vs. Villaluz 274 SCRA 1 (1997)]. In the instant case respondent has disregarded and made a mockery of the fundamental institution of marriage. Respondent in fact even so stated in Exhibit F that he is separated from his wife. This fact and statement without any further explanation from respondent only contributes to the blot in his moral character which good moral character we repeat is a continuing condition for a member to remain in good standing. Under Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Respondent has violated this rule against engaging in immoral conduct. We agree, as cited by the respondent, with the pronouncement made in Santos vs. Dischoso, 84 SCRA 622 (1978) that courts should not be used by private persons particularly disgruntled opponents to vent their rancor on members of the Bar through unjust and unfounded accusations. However, in the instant case the charges can hardly be considered as unfounded or unjust based on the evidence presented. The evidence presented shows that respondent no longer possess (sic) that good moral character necessary as a condition for him to remain a member of the Bar in good standing. He is therefore not entitled to continue to engage in the practice of law. We find such report and recommendation of the IBP to be fully supported by the pleadings and evidence on record, and, hence, approve and adopt the same. The evidence presented by complainants reach that quantum of evidence required in administrative proceedings which is only substantial evidence, or that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conviction.[12 Witness Melgars testimony that respondent had been publicly introducing Marilyn dela Fuente as his wife is corroborated by the contents of an article in the Naujanews, introducing respondent as one of Naujans public servants, and stating therein that respondent has been blessed with two beautiful children with his wife, Marilyn dela Fuente.[13 It should be noted that said publication is under the control of respondent, he being the Chairman of the Board thereof. Thus, it could be reasonably concluded that if he contested the truth of the contents of subject article in the Naujanews, or if he did not wish to publicly present Marilyn dela Fuente as his wife, he could have easily ordered that the damning portions of said article to be edited out. With regard to respondents argument that the credibility of witnesses for the complainants is tainted by the fact that they are motivated by revenge for respondents filing of criminal cases against them, we opine that even if witnesses Melgar and Laygo are so motivated, the credibility of their testimonies cannot be discounted as they are fully supported and corroborated by documentary evidence which speak for themselves. The birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza born on June 16, 1988 and May 22, 1990, respectively, to Norberto M. Mendoza and Marilyn Dela Fuente; and the Certification from the Office of the Local Civil Registrar of Bulacan attesting to the existence in its records of an entry of a marriage between respondent and one Felicitas Valderia celebrated on January 16, 1980, are public documents and are prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein, as provided for under Article 410[14 of the Civil Code of the Philippines. Respondent mistakenly argues that the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza born on June 16, 1988 and May 22, 1990, respectively, to Norberto M. Mendoza and Marilyn Dela Fuente, are inadmissible in evidence for having been obtained in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993, which provides as follows: Rule 24.Non-Disclosure of Birth Records. (1) The records of a persons birth shall be kept strictly confidential and no information relating thereto shall be issued except on the request of any of the following:

a. the concerned person himself, or any person authorized by him; b. the court or proper public official whenever absolutely necessary in administrative, judicial or other official proceedings to determine the identity of the childs parents or other circumstances surrounding his birth; and c. in case of the persons death, the nearest of kin. (2) Any person violating the prohibition shall suffer the penalty of imprisonment of at least two months or a fine in an amount not exceeding five hundred pesos, or both in the discretion of the court. (Article 7, P.D. 603) Section 3, Rule 128 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides that evidence is admissible when it is relevant to the issue and is not excluded by the law or these rules. There could be no dispute that the subject birth certificates are relevant to the issue. The only question, therefore, is whether the law or the rules provide for the inadmissibility of said birth certificates allegedly for having been obtained in violation of Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993. Note that Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993 only provides for sanctions against persons violating the rule on confidentiality of birth records, but nowhere does it state that procurement of birth records in violation of said rule would render said records inadmissible in evidence. On the other hand, the Revised Rules of Evidence only provides for the exclusion of evidence if it is obtained as a result of illegal searches and seizures. It should be emphasized, however, that said rule against unreasonable searches and seizures is meant only to protect a person from interference by the government or the state.[15 In People vs. Hipol,[16 we explained that: The Constitutional proscription enshrined in the Bill of Rights does not concern itself with the relation between a private individual and another individual. It governs the relationship between the individual and the State and its agents. The Bill of Rights only tempers governmental power and protects the individual against any aggression and unwarranted interference by any department of government and its agencies. Accordingly, it cannot be extended to the acts complained of in this case. The alleged warrantless search made by Roque, a co-employee of appellant at the treasurers office, can hardly fall within the ambit of the constitutional proscription on unwarranted searches and seizures. Consequently, in this case where complainants, as private individuals, obtained the subject birth records as evidence against respondent, the protection against unreasonable searches and seizures does not apply. Since both Rule 24, Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1993 and the Revised Rules on Evidence do not provide for the exclusion from evidence of the birth certificates in question, said public documents are, therefore, admissible and should be properly taken into consideration in the resolution of this administrative case against respondent. Verily, the facts stated in the birth certificates of Mara Khrisna Charmina dela Fuente Mendoza and Myrra Khrisna Normina dela Fuente Mendoza and respondents Certificate of Candidacy dated March 9, 1995 wherein respondent himself declared he was married to Felicitas Valderia, were never denied nor rebutted by respondent. Hence, said public documents sufficiently prove that he fathered two children by Marilyn dela Fuente despite the fact that he was still legally married to Felicitas Valderia at that time. In Bar Matter No. 1154,[17 good moral character was defined thus: . . . good moral character is what a person really is, as distinguished from good reputation or from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which corresponds to objective reality. The standard of personal and professional integrity is not satisfied by such conduct as it merely enables a person to escape the penalty of criminal law. In Zaguirre vs. Castillo,[18 we reiterated the definition of immoral conduct, to wit: . . . that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency. In the above-quoted case, we pointed out that a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must also behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards and, thus, ruled that siring a child with a woman other than his wife is a conduct way below the standards of morality required of every lawyer.[19 We must rule in the same wise in this case before us. The fact that respondent continues to publicly and openly cohabit with a woman who is not his legal wife, thus, siring children by her, shows his lack of good moral character. Respondent

should keep in mind that the requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the Philippine Bar but is also a continuing requirement to maintain ones good standing in the legal profession.[20 In Aldovino vs. Pujalte, Jr.,[21 we emphasized that: This Court has been exacting in its demand for integrity and good moral character of members of the Bar. They are expected at all times to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession. Membership in the legal profession is a privilege. And whenever it is made to appear that an attorney is no longer worthy of the trust and confidence of the public, it becomes not only the right but also the duty of this Court, which made him one of its officers and gave him the privilege of ministering within its Bar, to withdraw the privilege. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Norberto M. Mendoza is hereby found GUILTY of immorality, in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY from the practice of law until he submits satisfactory proof that he has abandoned his immoral course of conduct. Let a copy of this resolution be served personally on respondent at his last known address and entered in his record as attorney. Let the IBP, the Bar Confidant, and the Court Administrator be furnished also a copy of this resolution for their information and guidance as well as for circularization to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Corona, CarpioMorales, Callejo, Sr., Tinga, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ., concur. Azcuna, J., on leave.

Endnotes: [1 TSN of June 10, 2002, pp. 4-14. [2Id. at pp. 15-16. [3 TSN of August 12, 2002, pp. 16-20. [4 Exhibits C to C-2, Rollo, pp. 34-36. [5 Exhibit C-3, Rollo, p. 37. [6 Exhibit D, Rollo, p. 7. [7 Exhibit D-1, Rollo, p. 8. [8 Exhibit E, Rollo, p. 38. [9 Exhibit F, Rollo, p. 39. [10 Exhibit H, Rollo, p. 41. [11 Exhibit G, Rollo, p. 40. [12Office of the Court Administrator vs. Morante, A.M. No. P-02-1555, April 16, 2004. [13 The pertinent portion of the article written in the vernacular is reproduced as follows: Sapagkat ang kanyang hangarin na maglingkod sa bayan ng Naujan ay wagas at dalisay kung kayat siya ay pinalad na manalo bilang punumbayan noong halalan nang 1998. Si Mayor Bert Mendoza ay naninirahan sa Barangay Estrella at biniyayaan ng dalawang magagandang anak na sina Cham-Cham at Chin-Chin sa kaniyang may-bahay na si Marilyn Dela Fuente. [14 Art. 410. The books making up the civil register and all documents relating thereto shall be considered public documents and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein contained. [15 Villanueva vs. Querubin, 48 SCRA 345, 350 (1972). [16 407 SCRA 179, 185 (2003). [17In The Matter Of The Disqualification Of Bar Examinee Haron S. Meling In The 2002 Bar Examinations And For Disciplinary Action As Member Of The Philippine Sharia Bar, June 8, 2004. [18 398 SCRA 658, 662 (2003), citing Narag vs. Narag, 291 SCRA 451, 464 (1998). [19Id. at p. 663. [20In Re: Suspension From The Practice Of Law In The Territory Of Guam Of Atty. Leon G. Maquera, Bar Matter No. 793, July 30, 2004. [21 A.C. No. 5082, February 17, 2004.

EN BANC [A.C. No. 1109. April 27, 2005] MARIA ELENA MORENO, complainant, vs. ATTY. ERNESTO ARANETA, respondent. DECISION PER CURIAM: Before this Court is a complaint for disbarment against Atty. Ernesto S. Araneta for deceit and nonpayment of debts. The complaint,[1] dated 25 September 1972, was filed in this Court by Maria Elena Moreno on two causes of action. The first cause of action involved Treasury Warrant No. B-02997354 issued by the Land Registration Commission in favor of

Lira, Inc., and indorsed by Araneta, purportedly as president of the said corporation, to Moreno, in consideration of the amount of P2,177. The complaint alleged that almost a year later, the warrant was dishonored. The second cause of action involved Aranetas nonpayment of debts in the amount of P11,000. Moreno alleged that sometime in October 1972, Araneta borrowed P5,000 from her, purportedly to show to his associates, with the assurance that he would return the said amount within the shortest possible time. Again in May 1972, Araneta borrowed P6,000 for the same purpose and with the same assurance. Thereafter, since he failed to make good on both promises, Moreno sought repayment in the aggregate amount of P11,000. Araneta issued two Bank of America checks in her favor, the first dated 30 June 1972 for P6,000, and the other dated 15 July 1972 for P5,000. However, when Moreno tried to encash the checks, the same were dishonored and returned to her marked Account Closed. She referred the matter to a lawyer, who sent Araneta a demand letter. Araneta, however, ignored the same. In his defense, Araneta claimed it was in fact Moreno who sought to borrow P2,500 from him. To accommodate her, he allegedly endorsed to her the Treasury Warrant in question, worth P2,177, which he received from Lira, Inc., as part of his attorneys fees, and gave her an additional P323 in cash. Araneta also denied borrowing any amount from Moreno. He admitted that he issued the two undated checks in her favor, but maintains that he had no intention of negotiating them. He avers that he gave them to Moreno, allegedly upon her request, only so she could show the bank where she was working that she had money coming to her. Araneta further claims that he warned her that the checks belonged to the unused portion of a closed account and could not be encashed. To protect himself, he asked the complainant to issue a check in the amount of P11,000 to offset the two borrowed checks. The respondent offered this check in evidence. Moreno, however, contended[2] that this check for P11,000 belonged to the Philippine Leasing Cor poration, which she managed when her father passed away. She claimed she signed the check in blank sometime in 1969 when she fell seriously ill and gave them to Araneta who was then helping her in the management of the corporation. She concluded that Araneta falsely filled up the check in a desperate bid to turn the tables on her. [3] On 01 December 1972, the case was referred to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation.[4] The case was first set for hearing on 22 January 1973 at nine oclock in the morning, when the complainant and her counsel appeared. Araneta was absent despite due notice. Upon motion, however, of Moreno, and to give the respondent a chance to defend himself, the hearing was reset to 23 and 24 January 1973, both at nine oclock in the morning. Service of the notice for the new dates of hearing were effected to the respondent through a certain Mely Magsipoc on 22 January 1973.[5] On 23 January 1973, Araneta once more did not appear, so the case was called again the following day, 24 January 1973. In the absence of respondent Araneta, an ex-parte hearing was conducted on 24 January 1973 with the complainant, Moreno, taking the stand.[6] On 27 February 1973, Araneta appeared for the scheduled hearing, only to ask for a postponement to prepare his defense.[7] No further hearings appear to have been conducted thereafter. A hearing is shown to have been scheduled on 28 May 1973, however, on said date, Araneta filed a joint motion for postponement with the conform of Morenos lawyer, as he, Araneta, was earnestly pursuing a possible clarification of complainants basic grievance. Thereafter, nothing was heard from respondent Araneta. On 14 September 1988, records of the case were forwarded to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court. Two days later, the Commission notified[8] both parties of a hearing to be held on 2 November 1988, on which date neither of the parties nor the complainants counsel appeared despite due notice. It appears that notice could not be served on Araneta, as he no longer resided in his indicated address, and his whereabouts were unknown. An inquiry[9] made at his IBP chapter yielded negative results. The Commission reset the hearing to 18 November 1988 at two oclock in the afternoon. [10] Again on this date, none of the parties appeared. Thus on the basis of the evidence so far adduced, the case was submitted for resolution on such date.[11] On 28 December 1988, IBP Commissioner Concepcion Buencamino submitted her Report,[12] which reads in part: The evidence of the complainant was not formally offered in evidence. Be that as it may, it is worthwhile considering. The stop payment of Treasury Warrant No. B-02997354 was an act of Lira, Inc. and not that of the respondent. There was a subpoena issued for the appearance of Lilia Echaus, alleged President of Lira, Inc. and Simplicio Uy Seun, the alleged Secretary/Treasurer of Lira, Inc. to explain about why the stop payment of the treasury warrant was done but neither witness appeared (as evidenced by the records) before the Office of the Solicitor General to testify. At the dorsal portion

of Exh. B, the photocopy of the Treasury Warrant is a signature which complainant claims to be that of the respondent beneath which is the word President and above the signature are the words Lira, Inc. but an ocular examination of said signature in relation to the signature on the checks Exhibits G and H do not show definitely that they were the signatures of one and the same person, so there is no basis to form the conclusion that the respondent did sign the treasury warrant as president of Lira, Inc. The testimony of the complainant was merely that [the] same treasury warrant was given to her by Atty. Araneta, which she deposited [in] her account. There is no evidence to prove that she saw him sign it. There is no evidence of a letter of the complainant informing the respondent about the stop payment or even any written demand by the complainant to the respondent that the payment of the treasury warrant having been stopped he should reimburse her with what he received as consideration for this check. Same considered, there is no cause to fault the respondent for the first cause of action. On the other hand, the respondent admits having issued the two checks, one for P5,000.00 and the other for P6,000.00 to the complainant for her to show to her creditors that money was coming her way, when in fact he is presumed to have been aware when he issued said checks that his account with the bank against which [these] checks were drawn was already closed, as was discovered from the fact that the checks were dishonored for said reason. Even disregarding the complainants evidence and considering the answer of the respondent, the act of the respondent in issuing the two checks, one for P5,000.00 and the other for P6,000.00 which he gave to the complainant for her to show to her creditors that money was coming her way, when there was none and the respondent knew such fact was an act of connivance of the respondent with the complainant to make use of these useless commercial documents to deceive the public. However beneficial it may have been to the complainant, this act of the respondent as a lawyer is abhorrent and against the exacting standards of morality and decency required of a member of the Bar. The personal actuations of a member of the bar the like of which was, as in this case, committed by the respondent, belittles the confidence of the public in him and reflects upon his integrity and morality. In the Bar, moral integrity as a virtue is a necessity which the respondent lacks. The above considered, it is respectfully recommended that as a lesson the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three (3) months arising from his irresponsible conduct as a member of the bar to take effect upon notice by him of the decision of suspension. The IBP Board of Governors adopted[13] the above report, but increased its recommended period of suspension from three months to six months. Over ten years later, on 15 October 2002, IBP Director for Bar Discipline Victor C. Fernandez, transmitted[14] the records of this case back to this Court pursuant to Rule 139-B, Sec. 12(b) of the Rules of Court.[15] On 8 July 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant filed a Report[16] regarding various aspects of the case. The Report further made mention of a Resolution[17] from this Court indefinitely suspending the respondent for having been convicted by final judgment of estafa through falsification of a commercial document. The Resolution, which was attached to the report, states: L-46550 (Ernesto S. Araneta vs. Court of Appeals, et. al.) Considering that the motion of petitioner Ernesto S. Araneta for reconsideration of the resolution of September 16, 1977 which denied the petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 18553-R which affirmed the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila convicting the said petitioner of the crime of estafa thru falsification of commercial document, was denied in the resolution dated October 17, 1977 of the Second Division of this Court for lack of merit, which denial is final, the Court Resolved: (a) to SUSPEND petitioner Ernesto S. Araneta from the practice of law and (b) to require the said petitioner to SHOW CAUSE within ten days from notice why he should not be disbarred. Verification conducted by the Office of the Bar Confidant revealed that the above case had been archived on 20 November 1992. It therefore appears that in the intervening time between herein respondents last filed pleading dated 28 May 1973, when he sought a postponement of the scheduled hearing on this case to settle matters amicably between himself and Moreno, and the present, Araneta had been found guilty and convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude, and indefinitely suspended.

We find no reason to disturb the findings of Commissioner Buencamino. However, we disagree with the penalty sought to be imposed. Whether or not the complainant sufficiently proved that Araneta failed to pay his debts is irrelevant, because by his own admission, the respondent issued two checks in favor of Moreno knowing fully well that the same were drawn against a closed account. And though Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 had not yet been passed at that time, the IBP correctly found this act abhorrent and against the exacting standards of morality and decency required of a member of the Bar, which belittles the confidence of the public in him and reflects upon his integrity and morality. Indeed, in recent cases, we have held that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct,[18] as the effect transcends the private interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public since the circulation of valueless commercial papers can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. Thus, paraphrasing Black's definition, a drawer who issues an unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals. [19] Thus, we have held that the act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the payment of the check in full upon its presentment, is also a manifestation of moral turpitude.[20] In Co v. Bernardino[21]and Lao v. Medel,[22] we held that for issuing worthless checks, a lawyer may be sanctioned with one years suspension from the practice of law, or a suspension of six months upon partial payment of the obligation.[23] In the instant case, however, herein respondent has, in the intervening time, apparently been found guilty by final judgment of estafa thru falsification of a commercial document, a crime involving moral turpitude, for which he has been indefinitely suspended. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. [24] It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.[25] Considering that he had previously committed a similarly fraudulent act, and that this case likewise involves moral turpitude, we are constrained to impose a more severe penalty. In fact, we have long held[26] that disbarment is the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude. As we said in In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo ,[27] [t]he review of respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has become final but has been executed. No elaborate argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the privilege bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the administration of justice.[28] WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ernesto S. Araneta is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ., concur. Carpio-Morales, J., on leave.

[1]Rollo, Vol. 1, pp. 30-33. [2] Reply, Id., pp. 56-58. [3]Id., p. 58. [4] Resolution dated 01 December 1972, Id., p. 63. [5] TSN, 24 January 1973, p. 2.

[6] TSN, 24 January 1973, pp. 1-32. [7] TSN, 27 February 1973, p. 3. [8]Id., p. 1. [9] Letter to President of IBP Manila Chapter IV from IBP Commissioner Concepcion Buencamino dated 22 September 1988, Id., p. 2. [10] Order, Id., p. 3. [11] Order, Id., p. 6. [12]Id., pp. 65-73. [13] Resolution dated 27 June 1989, Id., pp. 75-81. [14]Id., p. 83. [15] Said Rule states that: If the Board, by the vote of a majority of its total membership determines that the respondent should be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred, it shall issue a resolution setting forth its findings and recommendations which, together with the whole records of the case, shall forthwith be transmitted to the Supreme Court for final action. [16]Id., pp. 124-125. [17]Id., p. 126. [18]Lao v. Medel, A.C. No. 5916, 01 July 2003, 405 SCRA 227. [19] Lozano v. Martinez, L-63419, 18 July 1986, 146 SCRA 323. [20]Villaber v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 148326, 15 November 2001, 369 SCRA 126; People v. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692. [21]Adm. Case No. 3919, 28 January 1998, 285 SCRA 102. [22]Supra, Note No. 18. [23]People v. Tuanda, supra, Note No. 20. [24]In re Basa, 7 December 1920, 41 Phil. 275. [25]Villaber v. Commission on Elections, supra, Note No. 20, citing Dela Torre v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 121592, 05 July 1996, 258 SCRA 483. [26] In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo, Adm. Case No. 229, 30 April 1957, 101 Phil 323; In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon, Adm. Case No. 561, 27 April 1967, 126 Phil 96; Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana, CBD Case No. 251, 11 July 1995, 245 SCRA 707; Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson, Adm. Case No. 1037, 14 December 1998, 300 SCRA 129. [27] Adm. Case No. 229, 30 April 1957, 101 Phil 323. [28] We are not unmindful of the possibility that, given the time that has elapsed, herein respondent may no longer be living. We have consistently dismissed disbarment proceedings wherein the Court was informed of the death of the respondent ( De Aquino v. Castellano, A.C. No. 1145, 24 March 2004; Pelejo v. Zaballero, A.C. No. 2311, 25 July 1983, 123 SCRA 460; Orijuela v. Rosario, A.C. No. 1182, 30 July 1982, 115 SCRA 456; Coronado v. Huertas, A.C. No. 924; 28 December 1981, 110 SCRA 474; Sotto v. de Guia, A.C. No. 196, 30 June 1980, 98 SCRA 398; Mateos v. Wisco, Adm. Case No. 613, 25 May 1972, 45 SCRA 72), however, we have received no such notification in this case. The Law List reveals that one Ernesto S. Araneta was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1957. A verification with the Office of the Bar Confidant reveals that he was born on 21 December 1932. Inquiry with the Civil Registration Department of the National Statistics Office reveals no record of the death of such a person.

EN BANC EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., Complainant,

Adm. Case No. 2474 Present: DAVIDE, JR., C.J., PUNO, PANGANIBAN, QUISUMBING, YNARES-SANTIAGO, SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, CARPIO, *AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, CORONA, *CARPIO MORALES, CALLEJO, SR., AZCUNA, TINGA, and **CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.

versus

ATTY. LEO J. PALMA, Respondent. Promulgated:

September 15, 2004 X --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

*On Official Leave. **On leave.

PER CURIAM:

The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain rigid standards of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a candidate to the bar, the Rules of Court not only prescribe a test of academic preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character. These standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or removal. 84[1]

Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. filed with this Court the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. Leo J. Palma, alleging as grounds deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, violation of his oath as a lawyer and grossly immoral conduct.

The facts are undisputed: Complainant and respondent met sometime in the 70s. Complainant was a client of Angara Concepcion Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA) and respondent was the lawyer assigned to handle his cases. Owing to his growing business concerns, complainant decided to hire respondent as his personal counsel. Consequently, respondents relationship with complainants family became intimate. He traveled and dined with them abroad.85[2] He frequented their house and even tutored complainant s 22-year old daughter Maria Luisa

Cojuangco (Lisa), then a student of Assumption

Convent. On June 22, 1982, without the knowledge of complainants family, respondent married Lisa in Hongkong. only the next day that respondent informed complainant and assured him that everything is legal. Complainant was shocked, It was

knowing fully well that respondent is a married man and has three children. Upon investigation, complainant found that respondent courted Lisa during their tutoring sessions. Immediately, complainant sent his two sons to Hongkong to

convince Lisa to go home to Manila and discuss the matter with the family. Lisa was persuaded.

84[1]In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. L-363, July 31, 1962, 5 SCRA 661.

85[2]

Transcript of Stenographic Notes (TSN), April 21, 1983 at 49-51.

Complainant also came to know that: (a) on the date of the supposed marriage, respondent requested from his (complainants) office an airplane ticket to and from Australia, with stop -over in Hong Kong; (b) respondent misrepresented himself as bachelor before the Hong Kong authorities to facilitate his marriage with Lisa; and (c)

respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has three children, namely: Eugene Philippe, Elias Anton and Eduardo Lorenzo.

On August 24, 1982, complainant filed with the Court of First Instance, petition86[3] for declaration of

Branch

XXVII,

Pasay

City

nullity of the marriage between respondent and Lisa, docketed as Civil Case No. Pq-0401-P. November 2, 1982, the CFI declared the marriage null and void ab initio.

In the Decision87[4] dated

Thereafter, complainant filed with this Court the instant complaint88[5] for disbarment, imputing to respondent the following acts :

a. In grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant and his family and taking undue advantage of his tutoring sessions with Maria Luisa, respondent secretly courted her. The great disparity in intelligence, education, age, experience and maturity between Maria Luisa and respondent gave the latter an overwhelming moral ascendancy over Maria Luisa as to overcome her scruples and appre hensions about respondents courtship and advances, considering that he is a married man with three (3) children; b. Respondent courted Maria Luisa with persistence and determination and even pursued her in her travels abroad under false pretenses that he was traveling on official business for complainant. To break down the final resistance of Maria Luisa and assuage her pangs of guilt, he made representations that there was no legal impediment whatsoever to his marrying; c. With his moral ascendancy over Maria Luisa and his misrepresentation that there was no legal impediment or prohibition to his contracting a second marriage, respondent succeeded in inducing and beguiling her into marrying him. Without complying with the requirements of Philippine law that he should first obtain a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Elizabeth H. Palma and that the advice of Maria Luisas parents should first be obtained she being only twenty-two (22) years of age, respondent succeeded in contracting marriage with her in Hongkong on June 22, 1982 by falsely representing himself before the Hongkong authorities that he is a bachelor. x x x.

86[3]Annex D, Complaint, Rollo at 13-19. 87[4]Annex F, id.at 32-36. 88[5]Dated November 8, 1982, id.at 1-6.

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss89[6] on the ground of lack of cause of action.

He contended that the

complaint fails to allege acts constituting deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct or violation of his lawyers oath. There is no allegation that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack of skill or ignorance of the law in serving

complainants interest. Anent the charge of grossly immoral conduct, he stressed that he married complainants daughter with utmost sincerity and good faith and that it is contrary to the natural course of things for an immoral man to marry the woman he sincerely loves.

In the Resolution90[7] dated March 2, 1983, we referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report and recommendation. investigation. Former Assistant Solicitor General Oswaldo D. Agcaoili conducted the

Meanwhile, on December 28, 1983, the First Division of this Court issued in G.R. No. 6453891[8] a Resolution92[9] (a) setting aside the CFI Decision dated November 2, 1982 in Civil Case No. Pq 0401-P declaring the marriage between respondent and Lisa null and void ab initio; and (b) remanding the case to the CFI for proper proceeding and determination. To this date, the records fail to disclose the outcome of this case.

89[6]Dated February 8, 1983, id. at 53-56. 90[7]Supra. 91[8]Leo J. Palma vs. Hon. Manuel V. Romillo, etc. In Civil Case No. Pq-0401-P, for declaration of nullity of marriage mentioned earlier, the trial court issued an order dated January 17, 1983 denying respondents motion for reconsideration/new trial. This prompted him to file with this Court a petition for certiorari assailing the said order.

In this Resolution, this Court ordered respondent judge to conduct a new trial in the case below and to allow petitioner to file his answer, which answer should be filed within ten (10) days from finality of this Resolution. The records show that respondent judge acted with undue haste in declaring petitioner in default on the complaint filed on August 24, 1982 and in rendering his ex parte decision of November 2, 1982 as well as in refusing to give due course to the timely appeal filed by petitioner and instead ordering the execution of the judgment.

92[9]

Rollo, at 197-198.

On March 19, 1984, respondent filed with the OSG an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings93[10] on the ground that the final outcome of Civil Case No. Pq 0401-P poses a prejudicial question to the disbarment proceeding. It was denied.

Respondent sought refuge in this Court through an Urgent Motion for Issuance of a Restraining Order.94[11] In the Resolution dated December 19, 1984, we enjoined the OSG from continuing the investigation of the disbarment proceedings.95[12]

Thereafter, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline. October 19, 1998, Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo issued the following order:

On

Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending and as a practical measure to ease the backlog of this Commission, the parties shall within ten (10) days from notice, manifest whether or not they are still interested in prosecuting this case or supervening events have transpired which render this case moot and academic or otherwise, this case shall be deemed closed and terminated. 96[13] In his Manifestation,97[14] complainant manifested and confirmed his continuing interest in prosecuting his complaint for disbarment against respondent.

On the other hand, respondent sought several postponements of hearing on the ground that he needed more time to locate vital documents in support of his defense. The scheduled hearing of December 4, 2001 was reset for the last

time on January 24, 2002, with a warning that should he fail to appear or present deposition, the case will be deemed submitted for resolution.98[15] Respondent again failed to appear on January 24, 2002; hence, the case was

considered submitted for resolution.99[16]

93[10]

Id. at 199 - 201.

94[11]Dated December 13, 1984.


95[12]OSG Records at 5. The OSG issued the Order dated December 20, 1984 suspending the scheduled hearing until the Court orders otherwise. (OSG Records at 1)

96[13]

Records of the Commission on Bar Discipline at 11.

97[14]Dated November 13, 1998, id.at 13. 98[15] 99[16] Order dated December 4, 2001, id. at 51. Order dated January 24, 2002, id.at 97.

On March 20, 2003, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan submitted a Report and Recommendation finding respondent guilty of grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer. respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years. Thus: She recommended that

The main issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not respondent committed the following acts which warrant his disbarment:

a)

Grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant;

b)

His misrepresentation that there was no legal impediment or prohibition to his contracting a second marriage;

c)

The acts of respondent constitute deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer.

Respondent admits that he married Maria Luisa in Hongkong representing himself as a bachelor, however, he claimed that the marriage certificate stated a condition no different from term spinster with respect to Luisa.

There is no question that respondent as a lawyer well versed in the law knew fully well that in marrying Maria Luisa he was entering into a bigamous marriage defined and penalized under Article 349 of the Revised Penal Code. The respondent betrayed the trust reposed in him by complainant. He was treated as part of the family and was allowed to tutor Maria Luisa.

For the foregoing reasons, it is submitted that respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer, and it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three (3) years.

SO ORDERED. The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the above Report and Recommendation, but it reduced respondents penalty to only one (1) year suspension.

Except for the penalty, we affirm the IBPs Report and Recommendation.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the law profession does not prescribe a dichotomy of standards among its members. There is no distinction as to whether the transgression is committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an attorney at one time and a mere Thus, not only his professional activities but even his private life, insofar as the latter may

citizen at another.100[17]

reflect unfavorably upon the good name and prestige of the profession and the courts, may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the part of the proper authorities.101[18]

Respondent claims that he had served complainant to the best of his ability. allege that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack of skill and ignorance of the law.

In fact, the complaint does not

While, complainant himself admitted that respondent was a good lawyer,102[19] competency alone does not make a lawyer a worthy member of the Bar. indispensable requirement.

however, professional

Good moral character is always an

The ringing truth in this case is that respondent married Lisa while he has a subsisting marriage with Elizabeth Hermosisima. The Certification103[20] from the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City shows that he married Elizabeth on On the other hand, the Certificate of Marriage 104[21] from

December 19, 1971 at Cardials Private Chapel, Cebu City.

the Deputy Registrar of Marriages, Hong Kong, proves respondents subsequen t marriage with Lisa on July 9, 1982. That

100[17]In re Almacen, 31 SCRA 562 (1970). 101[18]Bustamante-Alejandro vs. Alejandro, et al., AC No. 4256, February 13, 2004. Rule 7.03, Canon 7 provides: 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 scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

102[19]TSN, April 21, 1983, at 98. 103[20] 104[21] Annex A, Rollo at 7. Annex C and Annex D, id., at 12 and 13.

Elizabeth was alive at the time of respondents second marriage was confirmed on the witness stand by Atty. Victor P. Lazatin, Elizabeths classmate and family friend. 105[22]

Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes grossly immoral conduct, a ground for disbarment under Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. He exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the Bar. In particular, he made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality.106[23] This is not the first occasion that we censure immorality. Thus, we have somehow come up with a common definition of what constitutes immoral conduct, i.e., that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community .107[24] Measured against this definition, respondents act is manifestly immoral. First, he abandoned his lawful wife and three children. Second, he lured an innocent young woman into marrying him. And third, he misrepresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract marriage in a foreign land. Our rulings in the following cases are relevant:

1)

In Macarrubo vs. Macarrubo,108[25] respondent entered into multiple marriages and then resorted to legal

remedies to sever them. There, we ruled that [S]uch pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. there can be no other fate that awaits respondent than to be disbarred. As such,

(2) In Tucay vs. Tucay,109[26] respondent contracted marriage with another married woman and left complainant with whom he has been married for thirty years. We ruled that such acts constitute a grossly immoral conduct and only indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession, warranting respondents disbarment.

(3) In Villasanta vs. Peralta,110[27] respondent married complainant while his first wife was still alive, their marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that the act of respondent of contracting the second marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality. Thus, lacking the good moral character required by the Rules of Court,

respondent was disqualified from being admitted to the bar.

105[22]

TSN, July 12, 1982, at 1-42.

106[23]Villasanta vs. Peralta, 101 Phil. 313 (1957). 107[24]7 C.J.S. 959. 108[25] Adm. Case. No. 6148, February 27, 2004.

109[26]A.C. No. 5170, November 17, 1999, 318 SCRA 229. 110[27]101 Phil.313 (1957).

(4) In Cabrera vs. Agustin,111[28] respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated marriage and thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality and integrity, which at all times is expected of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred from the practice of law.

(5)

In Toledo vs. Toledo,112[29] respondent abandoned his wife, who supported him and spent for his law We ruled that he failed to maintain the highest degree of

education, and thereafter cohabited with another woman.

morality expected and required of a member of the bar. For this, respondent was disbarred. (6) In Obusan vs. Obusan, Jr.,113[30] respondent abandoned his lawful wife and child and resumed cohabitation with his former paramour. Here, we ruled that abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal relations with a former paramour, a married woman, constitute grossly immoral conduct warranting disbarment. The circumstances here speak of a clear case of betrayal of trust and abuse of confidence.It was respondents closeness to the complainants family as well as the latters complete trust in him that made possible his intimate relationship with Lisa. When his concern was supposed to be complainants legal affairs only, he sneaked at the latters back and courted his daughter. Like the proverbial thief in the night, he attacked when nobody was looking. Moreover, he availed of complainants resources by securing a plane ticket from complainants office in order to marry the latters daughter in Hongkong. He did this without complainants knowledge. Afterwards, he even had the temerity to assure

complainant that everything is legal. Clearly, respondent had crossed the limits of propriety and decency.

Respondent justified his conduct by professing he really loved Lisa and since he married her, he cannot be charged with immorality. His reasoning shows a distorted mind and a brazen regard on the sanctity of marriage. In such relationship, the man and the woman are obliged to live together, observe mutual respect could respondent and fidelity.114[31] How

perform these obligations to Lisa when he was previously married to Elizabeth?

If he really loved

her, then the noblest thing he could have done was to walk away. Respondents culpability is aggravated by the fact that Lisa was just a 22 -year old college student of Assumption Convent and was under psychological treatment for emotional immaturity.115[32] Naturally, she was an easy prey.

111[28]106 Phil. 256 (1960). 112[29] 113[30] 117 SCRA768, Adm. Case No. 266, April 27, 1963. 128 SCRA 485, Adm. Case No. 1392, April 2, 1984.

114[31]Article 109 of the Civil Code. 115[32] TSN, April 21, 1983 at 90-93.

Anent respondents argument that since the validity of his marriage to Lisa has not yet been determin ed by the court with finality, the same poses a prejudicial question to the present disbarment proceeding. Suffice it to say that a subsequent judgment of annulment of marriage has no bearing to the instant disbarment proceeding. As we held in In re Almacen,116[33] a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers. Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative of an administrative case against him,117[34] or if an affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course,118[35] then the judgment of annulment of respondents marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing actually committed. So long as the quantum of proof --- clear preponderance of evidence --- in disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar is met, then liability attaches.119[36] The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility , is that they shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. This is founded on the lawyers primordial duty to society as spelled out in Canon 1 which states:

CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes. It is not by coincidence that the drafters of our Code of Professional Responsibility ranked the above responsibility first in the enumeration. They knew then that more than anybody else, it is the lawyers -- the disciples of law -- who are most obliged to venerate the law. As stated in Ex Parte Wall:120[37] Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body politic. Corollarily, the above responsibility is enshrined in the Attorneys Oath which every lawyer in the country has to take before he is allowed to practice. In sum, respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer. The penalty of one (1) year suspension recommended by the IBP is not commensurate to the gravity of his offense. The bulk of jurisprudence supports the imposition of the extreme penalty of disbarment. WHEREFORE,respondent Leo J. Palma is found GUILTY of grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer, and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law. Let respondents name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys immediately. Furnish the Bar Confidant, the

Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts throughout the country with copies of this Decision. SO ORDERED.

EN BANC [A.C. No. 4585. November 12, 2004] MICHAEL P. BARRIOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO P. MARTINEZ, respondent

116[33]31 Phil. 562 (1970). 117[34]Calub vs. Suller, 323 SCRA 556 (2000). 118[35]Rayos Ombac vs. Rayos, 285 SCRA 93 (1998). 119[36]Macarubbo vs. Macarubbo, supra. 120[37]107 U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552, 556.

DECISION PER CURIAM: This is a verified petition121[1] for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco Martinez for having been convicted by final judgment in Criminal Case No. 6608 of a crime involving moral turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.122[2] The dispositive portion of the same states: WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime for (sic) violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 charged in the Information. He is imposed a penalty of ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment and fine double the amount of the check which is EIGHT THOUSAND (8,000.00) PESOS, plus payment of the tax pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue Code and costs against the accused.123[3] Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and the Entry of Judgment from this Court dated 20 March 1996.On 03 July 1996, we required124[4] respondent to comment on said petition within ten (10) days from notice. On 17 February 1997, we issued a second resolution125[5] requiring him to show cause why no disciplinary action should be imposed on him for failure to comply with our earlier Resolution, and to submit said Comment. On 07 July 1997, we imposed a fine of P1,000 for respondents failure to file said Comment and required him to comply with our previous resolution within ten days.126[6] On 27 April 1998, we fined respondent an additional P2,000 and required him to comply with the resolution requiring his comment within ten days under pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of five (5) days or until his compliance.127[7] Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost three years later, we declared respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec. 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and ordered his imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid resolutions.128[8] On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported129[9] that respondent was arrested in Tacloban City on 26 March 1999, but was subsequently released after having shown proof of compliance with the resolutions of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998 by remitting the amount of P2,000 and submitting his long overdue Comment. In the said Comment130[10] dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that: 1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he was at that time undergoing medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo, Leyte; 2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997; and

3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was decided in responde nts favor (as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent avers that as a result of his moving for the execution of judgment in his favor and the eviction of the family of herein complainant Michael Barrios, the latter filed the present administrative case. In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the Provincial Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter131[11] to the First Division Clerk of Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged in another estafa case before the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch 9, as well as a civil case involving the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar, Branch 30 rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having been dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

16 May 1996, filed by Michael P. Barrios, Rollo, Vol. 1, pp. 1-3. Entitled People of the Philippines v. Francisco Martinez for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, affirmed by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 09899 and by this Court in G.R. No. 118049. 123[3]Per Order, dated 10 May 1996, of Judge Mateo Leanda of the said trial court, Rollo, Vol. I, p. 4. 124[4]Resolution, Id. at23.
121[1] 122[2] 125[5]Resolution, Id. at 30. 126[6]Resolution, Id. at 33. 127[7]Resolution, Id. at 79. 128[8]Resolution, Id. at 97. 129[9] Letter from NBI Supervising Agent Arlis Vela to Second Division Clerk of Court Teresita Magay-Dris, Id. at 100. 130[10]Id. at 112-113. 131[11]Id. at 49-50.

In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar,132[12] it appears that herein respondent Atty. Martinez offered his legal services to the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy for free. However, when the plaintiff in the said civil case was issued a check for P90,000 by Sulpicio Lines representing compensation for the deaths of his wife and two daughters, Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse said check, which was then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, Atty. Martinezs wife. When plaintiff asked for his money, he was only able to recover a total of P30,000. Atty. Martinez claimed the remaining P60,000 as his attorneys fees. Holding that it was absurd and totally ridiculous tha t for a simple legal service he would collect 2/3 of the money claim, the trial court ordered Atty. Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the amount of P60,000 with interest, P5,000 for moral and exemplary damages, and the costs of the suit. Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinezs dilatory tactics during the trial, citing fourteen (14) specific instances thereof. Martinezs appeal from the above judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for his failure to file his brief, despite having been granted threethirty (30)-day extensions to do so.133[13] On 16 June 1999, we referred134[14] the present case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation. The report135[15] of IBP Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan stated in part that: Several dates for the hearing of the case were scheduled but none of the parties appeared before the Commission, until finally it was considered submitted for resolution last 27 June 2002. On the same date respondent filed a motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the complainant died sometime in June 1997 and that dismissal is warranted because the case filed by him does not survive due to his demise; as a matter of fact, it is extinguished upon his death. We disagree with respondents contention. Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, the Honorable Supreme Court or the IBP may motu proprio initiate the proceedings when they perceive acts of lawyers which deserve sanctions or when their attention is called by any one and a probable cause exists that an act has been perpetrated by a lawyer which requires disciplinary sanctions. As earlier cited, respondent lawyers propensity to disregard or ignore orders of the Honorable Supreme Court for which he was fined twice, arrested and imprisoned reflects an utter lack of good moral character. Respondents conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (estafa and/or violation of BP Blg. 22) clearly shows his unfitness to protect the administration of justice and therefore justifies the imposition of sanctions against him (see In re: Abesamis, 102 Phil. 1182; In re: Jaramillo, 101 Phil. 323; In re: Vinzon, 19 SCRA 815; Medina vs. Bautista, 12 SCRA 1, People vs. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 Jan. 1990). WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended that respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez be disbarred and his name stricken out from the Roll of Attorneys immediately. On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution136[16] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner. On 03 December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation,137[17] in the instant case alleging that: 1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law, although admittedly the practice of law is a privilege; 2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and allowed to adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at by the Investigating Commissioner; and 3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in various capacities (from acting city judge to Municipal Judges League Leyte Chapter President) for almost 17 years prior to resuming his law practice.

132[12]Id. at 52-60. 133[13]Id. at 61-62. 134[14]Resolution, Id. at 125. 135[15] Rollo, Vol. III, pp. 200-205. 136[16]Id. at 199. 137[17]Id. at 215-218.

On 14 January 2004, we required138[18] complainant to file a comment within ten days. On 16 February 2004, we received a Manifestation and Motion139[19] from complainants daughter, Diane Francis Barrios Latoja, alleging that they had not been furnished with a copy of respondents Motion, notwithstanding the fact that respondent ostensibly lives next door to complainants family. Required to Comment on 17 May 2004, respondent has until now failed to do so. The records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of said Motion to herein complainant. The records also show that respondent was given several opportunities to present evidence by this Court140[20] as well as by the IBP.141[21] Indeed, he only has himself to blame, for he has failed to present his case despite several occasions to do so. It is now too late in the day for respondent to ask this court to receive his evidence. This court, moreover, is unwilling to exercise the same patience that it did when it waited for his comment on the original petition. At any rate, after a careful consideration of the records of the instant case, we find the evidence on record sufficient to support the IBPs findings. Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by final judgment for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check in the amount of P8,000. The issue with which we are now concerned is whether or not the said crime is one involving moral turpitude. 142[22] Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals. 143[23] It involves an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.144[24] In People of the Philippines v. Atty. Fe Tuanda,145[25] where the erring lawyer was indefinitely suspended for having been convicted of three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, we held that conviction by final judgment of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude and stated: We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted also import deceit and violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude might not (as in the instant case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, it certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person convicted of such offense146[26] (emphasis supplied) Over ten years later, we reiterated the above ruling in Villaber v. Commission on Elections 147[27] and disqualified a congressional candidate for having been sentenced by final judgment for three counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 in accordance with Sec. 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, which states: SEC. 12. Disqualifications. Any person who has been declared by competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months, or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary pardon or granted amnesty. (emphasis supplied) Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the check in full upon its
138[18]Resolution, Id. at 219. 139[19]Id. at 253-255. 140[20] Resolutions dated 3 July 1996, 17 February 1997, 7 July 1997, 27 April 1998, 3 February 1999; supra, Note Nos. 4-8. 141[21] IBP Order dated 08 February 2000, Records p. 156; Notice of Hearing dated 29 November 2001, Records, p. 163, Order dated 24 January 2002, Records, p. 169; Order dated 27 June 2002, Records, p. 183. 142[22] In the Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo, Adm. Case No. 229, 30 April 1957, 101 Phil 323; De Jesus-Paras v. Vailoces, Adm. Case No. 439, 12 April 1961, 111 Phil 569. 143[23]In re Basa, 7 December 1920, 41 Phil. 275. 144[24]Villaber v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 148326, 15 November 2001, 369 SCRA 126, citing Dela Torre v. COMELEC, G.R. No. 121592, 05 July 1996, 258 SCRA 483. 145[25] Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692. 146[26]Id. at 697. 147[27]Supra, Note No. 24.

presentment, is a manifestation of moral turpitude. Notwithstanding therein petitioners averment that he was not a lawyer, we nevertheless applied our ruling in People v. Tuanda, to the effect that (A) conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, imports deceit and certainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person. [Indeed] the effects of the issuance of a worthless check, as we held in the landmark case of Lozano v. Martinez, through Justice Pedro L. Yap, transcends the private interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public since the circulation of valueless commercial papers can very well pollute the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. Thus, paraphrasing Black's definition, a drawer who issues an unfunded check deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his fellow men or society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and duty, justice, honesty or good morals.148[28] (emphasis supplied) In the recent case of Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro,149[29] we stated that: (T)he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyers unfitness for the trust and confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. [ Cuizon v. Macalino, A.C. No. 4334, 07 July 2004] The issuance of a series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude of respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public interest and public order. [ Lao v. Medel, 405 SCRA 227] It also manifests a lawyers low regard for her commitment to the oath she has taken when she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of the profession she should hold in high esteem. [Sanchez v. Somoso, A.C. No. 6061, 03 October 2003] Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check without sufficient funds to cover the same constitutes such willful dishonesty and immoral conduct as to undermine the public confidence in law and lawyer s. And while the general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to discipline him for misconduct in his non-professional or private capacity, where, however, the misconduct outside of the lawyer's professional dealings is so gross a character as to show him morally unfit for the office and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer on him, the court may be justified in suspending or removing him from the office of attorney.150[30] The argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due process of law is also untenable. As respondent himself admits, the practice of law is a privilege. The purpose of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may repose confidence. 151[31] A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not in any sense a civil action where the complainant is plaintiff and the respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare, and for the purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of persons unfit to practice them. 152[32] Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or suspend lawyers for any professional or private misconduct showing them to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the Court. 153[33] Nor are we inclined to look with favor upon respondents plea that if given another chance to have his day in court and to adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at. We note with displeasure the inordinate length of time respondent took in responding to our requirement to submit his Comment on the original petition to disbar him. These acts constitute a willful disobedience of the lawful orders of this Court, which under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court is in itself a cause sufficient for suspension or disbarment. Thus, from the time we issued our first Resolution on 03 July 1996 requiring him to submit his Comment, until 16 March 1999, when he submitted said Comment to secure his release from arrest, almost three years had elapsed.

148[28]Id. at 134. 149[29] Adm. Case No. 6408, 31 August 2004. 150[30]Co v. Bernardino, Adm. Case No. 3919, 28 January 1998, 285 SCRA 102, citing In Re Pelaez, 3 March 1923, 44 Phil 567 and In Re Sotto, No. 14576, 6 September 1918, 38 Phil 532. 151[31]In re MacDougall, No. 1167, 16 December 1903, 3 Phil 70, 78. 152[32]Rayos-Ombac v. Rayos, Adm. Case No. 2884, 28 January 1998, 285 SCRA 93. 153[33]Ibid;Nakpil v. Valdes, Adm. Case No. 2040, 4 March 1998, 286 SCRA 758; Calub v. Suller, Adm. Case No. 1474, 28 January 2000, 323 SCRA 556; Cruz v. Jacinto, Adm. Case No. 5235, 22 March 2000, 328 SCRA 636.

It is revealing that despite the unwarranted length of time it took respondent to comply, his Comment consists of all of two pages, a copy of which, it appears, he neglected to furnish complainant.154[34] And while he claims to have been confined while undergoing medical treatment at the time our Resolution of 17 February 1997 was issued, he merely reserved the submission of a certification to that effect. Nor, indeed, was he able to offer any explanation for his failure to submit his Comment from the time we issued our first Resolution of 03 July 1996 until 16 March 1999. In fact, said Comment alleged, merely, that the complainant, Michael Barrios, passed away sometime in June 1997, and imputed upon the latter unsupported ill-motives for instituting the said Petition against him, which argument has already been resolved squarely in the abovementioned IBP report. Moreover, the IBP report cited the failure of both parties to appear before the Commission as the main reason for the long delay, until the same was finally submitted for Resolution on 27 June 2002. Respondent, therefore, squandered away seven years to have his day in court and adduce evidence in his behalf, which inaction also unduly delayed the courts prompt disposition of this petition. In Pajares v. Abad Santos,155[35] we reminded attorneys that there must be more faithful adherence to Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court [now Rule 7, Section 3] which provides that the signature of an attorney constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there is good ground to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay, and expressly admonishes that for a willful violation of this rule an attorney may be subjected to disciplinary action.156[36] It is noteworthy that in the past, the Court has disciplined lawyersand judges for willful disregard of its orders to file comments or appellants briefs, as a penalty for disobedience thereof. 157[37] For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondents old age and the fact that he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his favor. If at all, we hold respondent to a higher standard for it, for a judge should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and independence,158[38] and his conduct should be above reproach.159[39] The fact that respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean he is now free to conduct himself in less honorable or indeed in a less than honorable manner. We stress that membership in the legal profession is a privilege,160[40] demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing requirement for the practice of law.161[41] Sadly, herein respondent falls short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the legal profession. The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be disbarred from the practice of law. We agree. We come now to the matter of the penalty imposable in this case. In Co v. Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we upheld the imposition of one years suspension for non-payment of debt and issuance of worthless checks, or a suspension of six months upon partial payment of the obligation.162[42] However, in these cases, for various reasons, none of the issuances resulted in a conviction by the erring lawyers for either estafa or B.P. Blg. 22. Thus, we held therein that the issuance of worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. In the instant case, however, herein respondent has been found guilty and stands convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude. In People v. Tuanda, which is similar to this case in that both respondents were convicted for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 which we have held to be such a crime, we affirmed the order of suspension from the practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals, until further orders. However, in a long line of cases, some of which were decided after Tuanda, we have held disbarment to be the appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Thus:

154[34] Manifestation and Motion of Diane Frances Barrios Latoja dated 06 February 2004, Rollo, Vol. III, pp. 253 to 255. Respondent has failed to comment within the period given him to do so. 155[35]G.R. No.L-29543, 29 November 1969, 30 SCRA 748. 156[36]Id. at 753. 157[37] In The Matter Of Attorney Lope E. Adriano, Member of the Philippine Bar, People of the Philippines v. Remigio Estebia, G.R. No. L-26868, 27 February 1969, 27 SCRA 106; People v. Rosqueta, G.R. No.L-36138, 31 January 1974, 55 SCRA 486; People v. Manangan, G.R. Nos.L-32918-19, 30 April 1974, 56 SCRA 817; People v. Dalusag, G.R. No.L-38988, 25 February 1975, 62 SCRA 540; Casals v. Cusi, G.R. No.L-35766, 12 July 1973, 52 SCRA 58. 158[38] Rule 1.01, Canon 1, Code of Judicial Conduct, 05 September 1989. 159[39]Canon 31, Canons of Judicial Ethics (Administrative Order No. 62, Department of Justice, 01 August 1946). 160[40]Dumadag v. Lumaya, Adm. Case No. 2614, 29 June 2000, 334 SCRA 513; NBI v. Reyes, A.M. No.MTJ-97-1120, 21 February 2000, 326 SCRA 109. 161[41]Supra, Note No. 28; supra, Note No. 26. 162[42]Supra, Note No. 25.

1. In In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. Jaramillo, 163[43]we disbarred a lawyer convicted of estafa without discussing the circumstances behind his conviction. We held that: There is no question that the crime of estafa involves moral turpitude. The review of respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The judgment not only has become final but has been executed. No elaborate argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the privilege bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the administration of justice.164[44] 2. In In Re: Dalmacio De Los Angeles,165[45]a lawyer was convicted of the crime of attempted bribery in a final decision rendered by the Court of Appeals. And since bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral turpitude ( 7 C.J.S., p. 736; 5 Am. Jur. p. 428), this Court, much as it sympathizes with the plight of respondent, is constrained to decree his disbarment as ordained by Section 25 of Rule 127. 166[46] 3. In Ledesma De Jesus-Paras v. Quinciano Vailoces,167[47]the erring lawyer acknowledged the execution of a document purporting to be a last will and testament, which later turned out to be a forgery. He was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public document, which the Court held to be a crime involving moral turpitude, said act being contrary to justice, honesty and good morals, and was subsequently disbarred. 4. In In Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Atty. Diosdado Q. Gutierrez, 168[48]Atty. Gutierrez was convicted for murder. After serving a portion of the sentence, he was granted a conditional pardon by the President. Holding that the pardon was not absolute and thus did not reach the offense itself but merely remitted the unexecuted portion of his term, the court nevertheless disbarred him. 5. In In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon,169[49]Atty. Vinzon was convicted of the crime of estafa for misappropriating the amount of P7,000.00, and was subsequently disbarred. We held thus: Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there can be no question that the term moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals. In essence and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral turpitude because the act is unquestionably against justice, honesty and good morals (In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962; Bouvier's Law Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil. 275-76). As respondent's guilt cannot now be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable. (emphasis supplied)170[50] 6. In In Re: Attorney Jose Avancea,171[51] the conditional pardon extended to the erring lawyer by the Chief Executive also failed to relieve him of the penalty of disbarment imposed by this court. 7. In In Re Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,172[52] a lawyer was charged and found guilty of the crime of falsification of public document for having prepared and notarized a deed of sale of a parcel of land knowing that the supposed affiant was an impostor and that the vendor had been dead for almost eight years. We ruled that disbarment follows as a consequence of a lawyer's conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude, and since the crime of falsification of public document involves moral turpitude, we ordered respondents name stricken off the roll of attorneys. 8. In Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana,173[53] we upheld the recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to disbar a lawyer who had been convicted of estafa through falsification of public documents, because she was totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession.174[54] 9. In Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson,175[55] a lawyer was disbarred for having been convicted of estafa by final judgment for misappropriating the funds of his client.

163[43] Adm. Case No. 229, 30 April 1957, 101 Phil 323. 164[44]Id. at 324. 165[45] Adm. Case No. 350, 07 August 1959, 106 Phil 1. 166[46]Id. at 2. 167[47] Adm. Case No. 439, 12 April 1961, 111 Phil 569. 168[48] Adm. Case No. 363, 31 July 1962, 115 Phil 647. 169[49] Adm. Case No. 561, 27 April 1967, 126 Phil 96. 170[50]Id. at 100. 171[51] Adm. Case No. 407, 15 August 1967, 127 Phil 426. 172[52] Adm. Case No. 2410, 23 October 1982, 203 Phil 79. 173[53] CBD Case No. 251, 11 July 1995, 245 SCRA 707. 174[54]Id. at 709. 175[55] Adm. Case No. 1037, 14 December 1998, 300 SCRA 129.

In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bands of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements o f the body politic.176[56] WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, CarpioMorales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Chico-Nazario, and Garcia, JJ.,concur. Puno, J., on official leave. Corona, and Tinga, JJ., on leave.

EN BANC March 23, 1929 In re LUIS B. TAGORDA, Duran & Lim for respondent. Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Government. MALCOLM, J.: The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of the provincial board of Isabela, admits that previous to the last general elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, in translation, reads as follows: LUIS B. TAGORDA Attorney Notary Public CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER Province of Isabela (NOTE. As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for the purchase of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost documents of your animals; can make your application and final requisites for your homestead; and can execute any kind of affidavit. As a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans although long overdue, as well as any complaint for or against you. Come or write to him in his town, Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing to help and serve the poor.) The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed to a lieutenant of barrio in his home municipality written in Ilocano, which letter, in translation, reads as follows: ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928 MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching date for our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that is on the 16th of next month. Before my induction into office I should be very glad to hear your suggestions or recommendations for the good of the province in general and for

176[56]Supra, Note No. 44, p. 651, citing Ex parte Wall, 107 U.S. 263, 27 Law Ed., 552, 556.

your barrio in particular. You can come to my house at any time here in Echague, to submit to me any kind of suggestion or recommendation as you may desire. I also inform you that despite my membership in the Board I will have my residence here in Echague. I will attend the session of the Board of Ilagan, but will come back home on the following day here in Echague to live and serve with you as a lawyer and notary public. Despite my election as member of the Provincial Board, I will exercise my legal profession as a lawyer and notary public. In case you cannot see me at home on any week day, I assure you that you can always find me there on every Sunday. I also inform you that I will receive any work regarding preparations of documents of contract of sales and affidavits to be sworn to before me as notary public even on Sundays. I would like you all to be informed of this matter for the reason that some people are in the belief that my residence as member of the Board will be in Ilagan and that I would then be disqualified to exercise my profession as lawyer and as notary public. Such is not the case and I would make it clear that I am free to exercise my profession as formerly and that I will have my residence here in Echague. I would request you kind favor to transmit this information to your barrio people in any of your meetings or social gatherings so that they may be informed of my desire to live and to serve with you in my capacity as lawyer and notary public. If the people in your locality have not as yet contracted the services of other lawyers in connection with the registration of their land titles, I would be willing to handle the work in court and would charge only three pesos for every registration. Yours respectfully, (Sgd.)LUIS TAGORDA Attorney Notary Public. The facts being conceded, it is next in order to write down the applicable legal provisions. Section 21 of the Code of Civil Procedure as originally conceived related to disbarments of members of the bar. In 1919 at the instigation of the Philippine Bar Association, said codal section was amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following: "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908 and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the Code of Ethics provide: 27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or circulation of ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal taste or local custom, and sometimes of convenience, is not per se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements, or by personal communications or interview not warranted by personal relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation, defy the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable. 28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS. It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit, except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his duty to do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional, but it is indictable at common law. It is disreputable to hunt up defects in titles or other causes of action and inform thereof in order to the employed to bring suit, or to breed litigation by seeking out those with claims for personal injuries or those having any other grounds of action in order to secure them as clients, or to employ agents or runners for like purposes, or to pay or reward directly or indirectly, those who bring or influence the bringing of such cases to his office, or to remunerate policemen, court or prison officials, physicians, hospital attaches or others who may succeed, under the guise of giving disinterested friendly advice, in influencing the criminal, the sick and the injured, the ignorant or others, to seek his professional services. A duty to the public and to the profession devolves upon every member of the bar

having knowledge of such practices upon the part of any practitioner immediately to inform thereof to the end that the offender may be disbarred. Common barratry consisting of frequently stirring up suits and quarrels between individuals was a crime at the common law, and one of the penalties for this offense when committed by an attorney was disbarment. Statutes intended to reach the same evil have been provided in a number of jurisdictions usually at the instance of the bar itself, and have been upheld as constitutional. The reason behind statutes of this type is not difficult to discover. The law is a profession and not a business. The lawyer may not seek or obtain employment by himself or through others for to do so would be unprofessional. (State vs. Rossman [1909], 53 Wash., 1; 17 Ann. Cas., 625; People vs. Mac Cabe [1893], 19 L. R. A., 231; 2 R. C. L., 1097.) It becomes our duty to condemn in no uncertain terms the ugly practice of solicitation of cases by lawyers. It is destructive of the honor of a great profession. It lowers the standards of that profession. It works against the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar. It results in needless litigation and in incenting to strife otherwise peacefully inclined citizens. The solicitation of employment by an attorney is a ground for disbarment or suspension. That should be distinctly understood. Giving application of the law and the Canons of Ethics to the admitted facts, the respondent stands convicted of having solicited cases in defiance of the law and those canons. Accordingly, the only remaining duty of the court is to fix upon the action which should here be taken. The provincial fiscal of Isabela, with whom joined the representative of the AttorneyGeneral in the oral presentation of the case, suggests that the respondent be only reprimanded. We think that our action should go further than this if only to reflect our attitude toward cases of this character of which unfortunately the respondent's is only one. The commission of offenses of this nature would amply justify permanent elimination from the bar. But as mitigating, circumstances working in favor of the respondent there are, first, his intimation that he was unaware of the impropriety of his acts, second, his youth and inexperience at the bar, and, third, his promise not to commit a similar mistake in the future. A modest period of suspension would seem to fit the case of the erring attorney. But it should be distinctly understood that this result is reached in view of the considerations which have influenced the court to the relatively lenient in this particular instance and should, therefore, not be taken as indicating that future convictions of practice of this kind will not be dealt with by disbarment. In view of all the circumstances of this case, the judgment of the court is that the respondent Luis B. Tagorda be and is hereby suspended from the practice as an attorney-at-law for the period of one month from April 1, 1929, Street, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ., concur. Johnson, J., reserves his vote. Separate Opinions OSTRAND, J., dissenting: I dissent. Under the circumstances of the case a reprimand would have been sufficient punishment. EN BANC Bar Matter No. 553 June 17, 1993 MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, vs. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC., respondent. R E SO L U T I O N REGALADO, J.: Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist from issuing advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of annexes "A" and "B" (of said petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons or entities from making advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the law profession other than those allowed by law."

The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows: Annex A SECRET MARRIAGE? P560.00 for a valid marriage. Info on DIVORCE.ABSENCE. ANNULMENT.VISA. THE Please call: 521-0767 LEGAL 5217232, 5222041 CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am 6:00 pm 7-Flr. Victoria Bldg., UN Ave., Mla. Annex B GUAM DIVORCE. DON PARKINSON an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. Guam divorce.Annulment of Marriage.Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa.Declaration of Absence.Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees.Adoption.Investment in the Phil. US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. THE 7F Victoria Bldg. 429 UN Ave., LEGAL Ermita, Manila nr. US Embassy CLINIC, INC. 7232; 521-7251; 522-2041; 521-0767
1

Tel. 521-

It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above reproduced are champterous, unethical, demeaning of the law profession, and destructive of the confidence of the community in the integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said advertisements, hence the reliefs sought in his petition as hereinbefore quoted. In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of said advertisement at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal support services" through paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic machines. Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised are legal services, the act of advertising these services should be allowed supposedly 2 in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, reportedly decided by the United States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977. Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association (PLA), (4) U.P. Womens Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federacion International de 3 Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. The said bar associations readily responded and extended their valuable services and cooperation of which this Court takes note with appreciation and gratitude. The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised by it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether the same can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein complained of. Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case, we deem it proper and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from the respective position papers adopted by the aforementioned bar associations and the memoranda submitted by them on the issues involved in this bar matter. 1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines: xxx xxx xxx

Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal services", common sense would readily dictate that the same are essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of basic institutional services from government or non-government agencies like birth, marriage, property, or business registration, obtaining documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitutes practice of law? xxx xxx xxx The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make issue with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP has made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the view espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to advertise one's legal services). The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly advertising the same through newspaper publications. The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of this Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent from undertaking highly unethical activities in the field of law practice as 4 aforedescribed. xxx xxx xxx A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the impression that respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it renders legal services. While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services to the public, the advertisements in question give the impression that respondent is offering legal services. The Petition in fact simply assumes this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect that the advertisements have on the reading public. The impression created by the advertisements in question can be traced, first of all, to the very name being used by respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully submitted connotes the rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic connotes medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic connotes doctors. Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the advertisements subject of the present case, appears with (the) scale(s) of justice, which all the more reinforces the impression that it is being operated by members of the bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of a person being represented as a lawyer from Guam, and this practically removes whatever doubt may still remain as to the nature of the service or services being offered. It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering "legal support services" as claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services as any lawyer actively engaged in law practice does. And it becomes unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal services" and "legal support services," as the respondent would have it. The advertisements in question leave no room for doubt in the minds of the reading public that legal services are being offered by lawyers, whether true or not. B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the performance of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public policy. It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the advertisements in question are only meant to inform the general public of the services being offered by it. Said advertisements, however, emphasize to Guam divorce, and any law student ought to know that under the Family Code, there is only one instance when a foreign divorce is recognized, and that is: Article 26. . . .

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine Law. It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a marriage as follows: Article 1. Marriage is special contract of permanent union between a man and woman entered into accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage settlements may fix the property relation during the marriage within the limits provided by this Code. By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that the message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the legal consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with our law, by simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading, but encourages, or serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal practice, where certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of profit. At worst, this is outright malpractice. Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements such as that shown in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to address those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent union," the inviolable social institution," which is how the Family Code describes marriage, obviously to emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse, this particular advertisement appears to encourage marriages celebrated in secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for a marriage license. If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily be concluded that the above impressions one may gather from the advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon CunetaGabby Concepcion example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest. Here it can be seen that criminal acts are being encouraged or committed (a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity simply because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend to the place where the crime is committed. Even if it be assumed, arguendo, (that) the "legal support services" respondent offers do not constitute legal services as commonly understood, the advertisements in question give the impression that respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it offers legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical consequence is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar themselves are encouraging or inducing the performance of acts which are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public good, thereby destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar. xxx xxx xxx It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from causing the publication of the advertisements in question, or any other advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted that respondent should be prohibited from further performing or offering some of the services it presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such services to the public in general. The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal research, electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized legal forms, investigators for gathering of evidence, and like services will greatly benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but instead encouraged. However, when the conduct of such business by non-members of the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, there can be no choice but to prohibit such business. Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be better performed by specialists in other fields, such as computer experts, who by reason of their having devoted time and effort exclusively to such field cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the Bar. To prohibit them from

"encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the profession of the great benefits and advantages of modern technology. Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be doing better than a lawyer using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill. Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to allow or tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not only for the protection of members of the Bar but also, and more importantly, for the protection of the public. Technological development in the profession may be encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of illegal practice. There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to perform all of its services, but only if such services are made available exclusively to members of the Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be offering technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the more difficult task of carefully distinguishing between which service may be offered to the public in general and which should be made available exclusively to members of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may require further proceedings because of the factual considerations involved. It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's services ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or induce celebration abroad of marriages which are bigamous or otherwise illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent may not be prohibited from simply disseminating information regarding such matters, it must be required to include, in the information given, a disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law, that certain course of action may be illegal under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of rendering a legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before deciding on which course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for illegal practice of law. If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or perform legal services. The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for profit, without such term being clearly defined by rule or regulation, and without any adequate and effective means of regulating his activities. Also, law practice in a corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal profession, but before allowance of such practice may be considered, the corporation's Article of Incorporation and By-laws must conform to each 5 and every provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and the Rules of Court. 2. Philippine Bar Association: xxx xxx xxx. Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and laymen, through experienced paralegals, with the use of modern computers and electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. Unquestionably, respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public under the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for its enumerated services fall within the realm of a practice which thus yields itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For respondent to say that it is merely engaged in paralegal work is to stretch credulity. Respondent's own commercial advertisement which announces a certain Atty. Don Parkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its pretense. From all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is offering and rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It has been held that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court, but includes drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering opinions, and advising clients as to their legal right and then take them to an attorney and ask the latter to look after their case in court See Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1984 ed., p. 39). It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the practice of law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by a corporation employing competent lawyers to practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the public and solicits employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle for deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely, the limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly admitted as members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to subject the members to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although respondent uses its business name, the persons and the lawyers who act for it are subject to court discipline. The practice of law is not

a profession open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be assigned to another (See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons who have qualified themselves under the law. It follows that not only respondent but also all the persons who are acting for respondent are the persons engaged in unethical 6 law practice. 3. Philippine Lawyers' Association: The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the issues stated herein, are wit: 1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law; 2. Such practice is unauthorized; 3. The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but also misleading and patently immoral; and 4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to supress and punish the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers for its unauthorized practice of law and for its unethical, misleading and immoral advertising. xxx xxx xxx Respondent posits that is it not engaged in the practice of law. It claims that it merely renders "legal support services" to answers, litigants and the general public as enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of its Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment). But its advertised services, as enumerated above, clearly and convincingly show that it is indeed engaged in law practice, albeit outside of court. As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence and adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems, immigration problems; the Investments Law of the Philippines and such other related laws. Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the aforesaid law, the legal principles and procedures related thereto, the legal advices based thereon and which activities call for legal training, knowledge and experience. Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Case, the activities of respondent fall 7 squarely and are embraced in what lawyers and laymen equally term as "the practice of law." 4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle: In resolving, the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount consideration should be given to the protection of the general public from the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or entities who may be engaged in the practice of law. At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-year course of study on top of a fouryear bachelor of arts or sciences course and then to take and pass the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer qualified to practice law. While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdiction as an aid to the administration of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, courses of study and/or standards which would qualify these paralegals to deal with the general public as such. While it may now be the opportune time to establish these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains that at present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In the meantime, this Honorable Court may decide to make measures to protect the general public from being exploited by those who may be dealing with the general public in the guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so. In the same manner, the general public should also be protected from the dangers which may be brought about by advertising of legal services. While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under the present Code of Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant case that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by an entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures should be

taken to protect the general public from falling prey to those who advertise legal services without being 8 qualified to offer such services. A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, however, seems to give the impression that information regarding validity of marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage, immigration, visa extensions, declaration of absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are in essence, legal matters , will be given to them if they avail of its services. The Respondent's name The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help matters. It gives the impression again that Respondent will or can cure the legal problems brought to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as claimed, staffed purely by paralegals, it also gives the misleading impression that there are lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as there are doctors in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc. Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions of its President and majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight on the structure and main purpose of Respondent 9 corporation in the aforementioned "Starweek" article." 5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines: Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to solicit cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for under the above cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of Professional Responsibility of lawyers in this country. Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an advertisement to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold letters it announces that the Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the celebration of a secret marriage which is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid marriage it is certainly fooling the public for valid marriages in the Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized to do so under the law. And to employ an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage is not necessary. No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other countries the trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills to enable people to obtain from qualified practitioners legal services for their particular needs can justify the use of advertisements such as are the subject matter of the petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act even by whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be amended so that such act could become justifiable. We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project that secret marriages and divorce are possible in this country for a fee, when in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible. It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they could go about having a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever be attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where in this country there is none, except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines. It is also against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely represents to the public to be able to do that which by our laws cannot be done (and) by our Code of Morals should not be done. In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held that solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is unprofessional, and offenses of this character justify permanent 10 elimination from the Bar. 6. Federacion Internacional de Abogados: xxx xxx xxx 1.7 That entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such as management consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run by lawyers or not, perform the services rendered by Respondent does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that the business of respondent (assuming it can be engaged in independently of the practice of law) involves knowledge of the law does not necessarily make respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law.

. . . . Of necessity, no one . . . .acting as a consultant can render effective service unless he is familiar with such statutes and regulations. He must be careful not to suggest a course of conduct which the law forbids. It seems . . . .clear that (the consultant's) knowledge of the law, and his use of that knowledge as a factor in determining what measures he shall recommend, do not constitute the practice of law . . . . It is not only presumed that all men know the law, but it is a fact that most men have considerable acquaintance with broad features of the law . . . . Our knowledge of the law accurate or inaccurate moulds our conduct not only when we are acting for ourselves, but when we are serving others. Bankers, liquor dealers and laymen generally possess rather precise knowledge of the laws touching their particular business or profession. A good example is the architect, who must be familiar with zoning, building and fire prevention codes, factory and tenement house statutes, and who draws plans and specification in harmony with the law. This is not practicing law. But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a fire tower, replies that it is required by the statute. Or the industrial relations expert cites, in support of some measure that he recommends, a decision of the National Labor Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my opinion, they are not, provided no separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information, and the legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem. It is largely a matter of degree and of custom. If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his land to engage a lawyer to advise him and the architect in respect to the building code and the like, then an architect who performed this function would probably be considered to be trespassing on territory reserved for licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial relations field had been preempted by lawyers, or custom placed a lawyer always at the elbow of the lay personnel man. But this is not the case. The most important body of the industrial relations experts are the officers and business agents of the labor unions and few of them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate employers, it has been the practice for some years to delegate special responsibility in employee matters to a management group chosen for their practical knowledge and skill in such matter, and without regard to legal thinking or lack of it. More recently, consultants like the defendants have the same service that the larger employers get from their own specialized staff. The handling of industrial relations is growing into a recognized profession for which appropriate courses are offered by our leading universities. The court should be very cautious about declaring [that] a widespread, well-established method of conducting business is unlawful, or that the considerable class of men who customarily perform a certain function have no right to do so, or that the technical education given by our schools cannot be used by the graduates in their business. In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should consider his work for any particular client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine defendant being engaged primarily to advise as to the law defining his client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client along the path charted by law. This, of course, would be the practice of the law. But such is not the fact in the case before me. Defendant's primarily efforts are along economic and psychological lines. The law only provides the frame within which he must work, just as the zoning code limits the kind of building the limits the kind of building the architect may plan. The incidental legal advice or information defendant may give, does not transform his activities into the practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of his work, he performed services which are customarily reserved to members of the bar, he would be practicing law. For instance, if as part of a welfare program, he drew employees' wills. Another branch of defendant's work is the representations of the employer in the adjustment of grievances and in collective bargaining, with or without a mediator. This is not per se the practice of law. Anyone may use an agent for negotiations and may select an agent particularly skilled in the subject under discussion, and the person appointed is free to accept the employment whether or not he is a member of the bar. Here, however,

there may be an exception where the business turns on a question of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by brokers who are not lawyers. But if the value of the land depends on a disputed right-of-way and the principal role of the negotiator is to assess the probable outcome of the dispute and persuade the opposite party to the same opinion, then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment. Or if a controversy between an employer and his men grows from differing interpretations of a contract, or of a statute, it is quite likely that defendant should not handle it. But I need not reach a definite conclusion here, since the situation is not presented by the proofs. Defendant also appears to represent the employer before administrative agencies of the federal government, especially before trial examiners of the National Labor Relations Board. An agency of the federal government, acting by virtue of an authority granted by the Congress, may regulate the representation of parties before such agency. The State of New Jersey is without power to interfere with such determination or to forbid representation before the agency by one whom the agency admits. The rules of the National Labor Relations Board give to a party the right to appear in person, or by counsel, or by other representative. Rules and Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. 'Counsel' here means a licensed attorney, and ther representative' one not a lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant may lawfully do whatever the Labor Board allows, even arguing questions purely legal. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited in Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism [1974], at pp. 154-156.). 1.8 From the foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a lawful calling (which may involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the practice of law provided that: (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal problem;. (b) The services performed are not customarily reserved to members of the bar; . (c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information. All these must be considered in relation to the work for any particular client as a whole. 1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of Professional Responsibility succintly states the rule of conduct: Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to his client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity. 1.10. In the present case. the Legal Clinic appears to render wedding services (See Annex "A" Petition). Services on routine, straightforward marriages, like securing a marriage license, and making arrangements with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of law. However, if the problem is as complicated as that described in "Rx for Legal Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby ConcepcionRichard Gomez case, then what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a non-lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services then it is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. 1.11. The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce, absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B" Petition). Purely giving informational materials may not constitute of law. The business is similar to that of a bookstore where the customer buys materials on the subject and determines on the subject and determines by himself what courses of action to take. It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the particular problem of the client, and give legal advice. Such would constitute unauthorized practice of law. It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text which publication of a legal text which purports to say what the law is amount to legal practice. And the mere fact that the principles or rules stated in the text may be accepted by a particular reader as a solution to his problem does not affect this. . . . . Apparently it is urged that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text and the forms, with advice as to how the forms should be filled out, constitutes the unlawful practice of law. But that is the situation with many approved and accepted texts. Dacey's book is sold to the public at large. There is no personal contact

or relationship with a particular individual. Nor does there exist that relation of confidence and trust so necessary to the status of attorney and client. THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE THE REPRESENTATION AND ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR PERSON IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most the book assumes to offer general advice on common problems, and does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or readily identified person. Similarly the defendant's publication does not purport to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or readily identified person in a particular situation in their publication and sale of the kits, such publication and sale did not constitutes the unlawful practice of law . . . . There being no legal impediment under the statute to the sale of the kit, there was no proper basis for the injunction against defendant maintaining an office for the purpose of selling to persons seeking a divorce, separation, annulment or separation agreement any printed material or writings relating to matrimonial law or the prohibition in the memorandum of modification of the judgment against defendant having an interest in any publishing house publishing his manuscript on divorce and against his having any personal contact with any prospective purchaser. The record does fully support, however, the finding that for the change of $75 or $100 for the kit, the defendant gave legal advice in the course of personal contacts concerning particular problems which might arise in the preparation and presentation of the purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of action or pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance in the preparation of necessary documents (The injunction therefore sought to) enjoin conduct constituting the practice of law, particularly with reference to the giving of advice and counsel by the defendant relating to specific problems of particular individuals in connection with a divorce, separation, annulment of separation agreement sought and should be affirmed. (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2D 270 [1973], cited in Statsky, supra at p. 101.). 1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory. "It is not controverted, however, that if the services "involve giving legal advice or counselling," such would constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA submits that a factual inquiry may be necessary for the judicious disposition of this case. xxx xxx xxx 2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give the impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that there is a secret marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other requisites of marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage can be secret. 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The second paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily related to the first paragraph) fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal services?" or 11 "legal support services", and not legal services, are available." A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law" becomes exigent for the proper determination of the issues raised by the petition at bar. On this score, we note that the clause "practice of law" has long been the subject of judicial construction and interpretation. The courts have laid down general principles and doctrines explaining the meaning and scope of the term, some of which we now take into account. Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give advice or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge or skill.
12

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal instruments and contract by which legal rights are secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in a 13 court. In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally engages in three principal types of professional activity: legal advice and instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations, preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine rights of life, liberty, and property according to law, in 14 order to assist in proper interpretation and enforcement of law.

When a person participates in the a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the practice of law. One who confers with clients, advises them as to their legal rights and then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter to 16 look after the case in court, is also practicing law. Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights of 17 another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of law. One who renders an opinion as to the proper 18 interpretation of a statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law. In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, after citing the doctrines in several cases, we laid down the test to determine whether certain acts constitute "practice of law," thus: Black defines "practice of law" as: The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases on court.(Land Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken , 129 Ohio St. 23, 193N. E. 650). A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: . . . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations or corporations as to their right under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings, pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative capacity, performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S. W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852). This Court, in the case of Philippines Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 Phil. 173, 176-177),stated: The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters or estate and guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects and the preparation and execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules o Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], pp. 665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass], 194 N. E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 197 A. 139, 144).
19

15

The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court. Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations that the activities of respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law." The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied by respondent's own description of the services it has been offering, to wit: Legal support services basically consists of giving ready information by trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non-diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use of computers and modern information technology in the gathering, processing, storage, transmission and reproduction of information and communication, such as computerized legal research; encoding and reproduction of documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or lawyers; document search; evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a case; fact finding investigations; and assistance to laymen in need of basic institutional services from government or non-government agencies, like birth, marriage, property, or business registrations; educational or employment records or certifications, obtaining documentation like clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving information about laws of other countries that they may find useful, like foreign divorce, marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration to the foreign country, and other matters that do not involve representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer systems, programs, or software for the efficient management of law offices, corporate legal departments, courts and other entities engaged in dispensing or administering 20 legal services. While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation merely involve mechanical and technical knowhow, such as the installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule. What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all the respondent corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client the intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of action to be taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its advertisements represent and for the which services it will consequently charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the fact that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since law practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely giving legal advice, contract drafting and so forth. The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippines Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose and operations of respondent corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales: This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The Legal Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U. N. Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's problem, and even if it is as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty. Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors are "specialists" in various fields can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation, and family law. These specialist are backed up by a battery of paralegals, counsellors and attorneys. Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend in the medical field toward specialization, it caters to clients who cannot afford the services of the big law firms. The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "when they come, we start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask you how you contracted what's bothering you, they take your temperature, they observe you for the symptoms and so on. That's how we operate, too. And once the problem has been categorized, then it's referred to one of our specialists. There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale or an affidavit of loss can be taken care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital the residents or the interns. We can take

care of these matters on a while you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa hospital, out-patient, hindi kailangang ma-confine. It's just like a common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. Nogales. Those cases which requires more extensive "treatment" are dealt with accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and named you her sole heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of property, we would refer you to a specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and arrears which would need to be put in order, and your relative is even taxed by the state for the right to transfer her property, and only a specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal with the problem. Now, if there were other heirs contesting your rich relatives will, then you would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange the 21 problem for presentation in court, and gather evidence to support the case. That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services is not controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the practice of law by virtue of the nature of the services it renders which thereby brings it within the ambit of the statutory prohibitions against the advertisements which it has caused to be published and are now assailed in this proceeding. Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main purpose of respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts for various legal problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of 22 law. It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private respondent which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.
23

Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an individual and limited privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the court, the client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the 24 disciplinary control of the court. The same rule is observed in the american jurisdiction wherefrom respondent would wish to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines there also stress that the practice of law is limited to those who meet the requirements for, and have been 25 admitted to, the bar, and various statutes or rules specifically so provide. The practice of law is not a lawful business except for members of the bar who have complied with all the conditions required by statute and the rules of court. Only those persons are allowed to practice law who, by reason of attainments previously acquired through education and study, have been recognized by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal science entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction, 26 interpretation, operation and effect of law. The justification for excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to the bar is found, not in the protection of the bar from competition, but in the protection of the public from being advised and represented in legal matters by incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial department can exercise 27 little control. We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that the concept in the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate from the law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be a matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption as it has done. Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are schools and universities 28 there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in the Philippines. As the concept of the "paralegals" or "legal assistant" evolved in the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of the major standards or guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association which set up Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation has even been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in the United States with their own code of professional ethics, 29 such as the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of what may be considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have been allowed limited

representation in behalf of another or to render legal services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent 30 by the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law for the proper administration of justice cannot be 31 hindered by the unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of law. That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal 32 assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the state. Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or statement 33 of facts. He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self34 laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Nor shall he pay or give something of 35 value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal business. Prior to the adoption of the code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of the lawyer's 36 position, and all other like self-laudation. The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics of his profession. advertise his talents or skill as in a manner similar to a merchant advertising his 37 goods. The prescription against advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental postulate that the that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in the case of The Director of Religious Affairs.vs. 38 Estanislao R. Bayot an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in the present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising or solicitation. The pertinent part of the decision therein reads: It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. "The most worthy and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . .is the establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.). We repeat, the canon of the profession tell us that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of 40 able service and the unwholesome result of propaganda. Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The canons of the profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against advertising or solicitation and define the extent to which they may be undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those which are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied from the 41 restrictions. The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and informative data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific

societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, 42 with their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management or contents of which 43 are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing of the profession. The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed 44 in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for which respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the fees charged by said respondent corporation for services rendered, we find and so hold that the same definitely do not and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions. The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, which is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation or the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an estimate of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such exception is provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso that the exceptions stated therein 46 are "not applicable in any state unless and until it is implemented by such authority in that state." This goes to show that an exception to the general rule, such as that being invoked by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition stands, as in the case at bar. It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of 47 the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials, it was found that public opinion dropped significantly with respect to these characteristics of lawyers: Trustworthy from 71% to 14% Professional from 71% to 14% Honest from 65% to 14% Dignified from 45% to 14% Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal and judicial systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose integrity has consistently been under attack lately by media and the community in general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the legal profession. In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject to disciplinary action, to advertise his services 48 49 except in allowable instances or to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law. Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely. While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created should be passed upon and determined, we are constrained to refrain from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not within the adjudicative parameters of the 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 support services.
45

The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is the concern and province of the Solicitor General 50 who can institute the corresponding quo warranto action, 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. 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, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr., Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ., concur # Footnotes
1 Rollo, 5. A facsimile of the scales of justice is printed together with and on the left side of "The Legal Clinic, Inc." in both advertisements which were published in a newspaper of general circulation. 2 433 U.S. 350, 53 L Ed 2d 810, 97 S Ct. 2691. 3 Resolution dated January 15, 1991, Rollo, 60; Resolution dated December 10, 1991, Rollo, 328. 4 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Basilio H. Alo, IBP Director for Legal Affairs, 1, 10; Rollo, 209, 218. 5 Memorandum prepared by Atty. Jose A. Grapilon, Chairman, Committee on Bar Discipline, and Atty. Kenny H. Tantuico, 16-18, 27-29, Rollo 414-416, 425-427. 6 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Rafael D. Abiera, Jr., Chairman, Committee on Lawyers' Rights and Legal Ethics, and Atty. Arturo M. del Rosario, President, 5-6; Rollo, 241-242. 7 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Lorenzo Sumulong, President, and Atty. Mariano M. Magsalin, Vice-President, 2, 4-5; Rollo, 93, 95-96. 8 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Victoria C. de los Reyes, 1-2; Rollo, 105-106. 9 Memorandum prepared by Atty. Victoria C. de los Reyes, 10-11; Rollo, 370-371. 10 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Leticia E. Sablan, Officer-in-Charge, WLAP Free Legal Aid Clinic, 1-2; Rollo, 169-170. 11 Position Paper prepared by Atty. Lily C. Limpe, President, and Atty. Barbara Anne C. Migallos, 8-12, 23-24; Rollo, 139-143, 154155. 12 Annotation: 111 ALR 23. 13 Howton vs. Morrow, 269 Ky. 1. 14 West Virginia State Bar vs. Earley, 109 S.E. 2d 420, 144 W.Va. 504; Rhode Island Bar Assoc. vs. Automobile Service Assoc. (R.I.) 179 A. 139, 144. 15 People vs. Castleman, 88 Colo. 229. 16 Depew, et al. vs. Witchita Assn. of Credit Men., Inc., 142 Kan. 403. 17 Fitchette vs. Taylor, 94 ALR 356. 18 Mandelaum vs. Gilbert and Barker Mfg. Co., 290 NYS 46218. 19 201 SCRA 210 (1991). 20 Comment of Respondent, 3; Rollo, 15. 21 Rollo, 130-131. 22 Memorandum of U.P. WILOCI, 12-13; Rollo, 372-373. 23 Sec. 1, Rule 138, Rules of Court. 24 Phil. Ass'n. of Free Labor Unions, et al. vs. Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Co., et al., 42 SCRA 302 (1971). 25 7 C.J.S., Attorney and Client, 863, 864. 26 Mounier vs. Regcinh, 170 So. 567. 27 Lowell Bar Ass'n. vs. Loeb. 52 N.E. 2d 27, 315 Mass. 176; 7 C.J.S., Attorney and Client 64, 865. 28 Comment of Respondent, 2; Rollo, 14. 29 Position Paper, U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), 11-12, citing Statsky, Introduction to Paralegalism, 214-224, West Publishing Co. (1974) and Shayne, The Paralegal Profession, Oceana Publications, 1977, Appendix II and III; Rollo, 116-117. 30 Illustrations: (a) A law student who has successfully completed his third year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court (Rule 138-A, Rules of Court); (b) An official or other person appointed or designated in accordance with law to appear for the Government of the Philippines in a case in which the government has an interest (Sec. 33, Rule 138, id.); (c) An agent or friend who aids a party-litigant in a municipal court for the purpose of conducting the litigation (Sec. 34, Rule 138, id.); (d) A person, resident of the province and of good repute for probity and ability, who is appointed counsel de oficio to defend the accused in localities where members of the bar are not available (Sec. 4, Rule 116, id.); (e) Persons registered or specially recognized to practice in the Philippine Patent Office (now known as the Bureau of Patents, Trademarks and Technology Transfer) in trademark, service mark and trade name cases (Rule 23, Rules of Practice in Trademark Cases); (f) A non-lawyer who may appear before the National Labor Relations Commission or any Labor Arbiter only if (1) he represents himself as a party to the case; (2) he represents an organization or its members, provided that he shall be made to present written proof that he is properly authorized; or (3) he is duly-accredited members of any legal aid office duly recognized by the Department of Justice or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in cases referred thereto by the latter (New Rules of Procedure of the National Labor Relations Commission); (g) An agent, not an attorney, representing the lot owner or claimant in a case falling under the Cadastral Act (Sec. 9, Act No. 2259); and (h) Notaries public for municipalities where completion and passing the studies of law in a reputable university or school of law is deemed sufficient qualification for appointment (Sec. 233, Administrative Code of 1917). See Rollo, 144-145.

31 7 C.J.S., Attorney and Client, 866; Johnstown Coal and Coke Co. of New York vs. U.S., 102 Ct. Cl. 285. 32 Florida Bar vs. Brumbaugth, 355 So. 2d 1186. 33 Canon 3, Code of Professional Responsibility. 34 Rule 3.01, id. 35 Rule 3.04, id. 36 Canon 27, Canons of Professional Ethics. 37 People vs. Smith, 93 Am. St. Rep. 206. 38 74 Phil. 579 (1944). 39 The advertisement in said case was as follows: "Marriage license promptly secured thru our assistance and the annoyance of delay or publicity avoided if desired, and marriage arranged to wishes of parties. Consultation on any matter free for the poor. Everything confidential.". 40 Agpalo, Legal Ethics, Fourth Edition (1989), 79-80. 41 Op. cit., 80. 43 * * * Missing * * * . 44 Op. cit., 81, citing A.B.A. Op. 11 (May 11, 1927); A.B.A. Op. 24 (Jan. 24, 1930); A.B.A. Ops. 53 (Dec. 14, 1931), 123 (Dec. 14, 1934), (July 12, 1941), 241 (Feb. 21, 1942), 284 (Aug. 1951); and 286 (Sept. 25, 1952). . 45 Supra, Fn 2. 46 Id., 810, 825. 47 Position Paper of the Philippine Bar Association, 12, citing the American Bar Association Journal, January, 1989, p. 60; Rollo, 248. 48 In re Tagorda, 53 Phil. 37 (1929); The Director of Religious Affairs vs. Bayot, supra, Fn 38. 49 U.S. vs. Ney and Bosque, 8 Phil. 146 (1907); People vs. Luna, 102 Phil. 968 (1958). 50 Secs. 2 and 3, Rule 66, Rules of Court, in relation to Sec. 6(1), P.D. No. 902-A and Sec. 121, Corporation Code.

FIRST DIVISION [A.C. No. 5299. August 19, 2003] ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, complainant, vs. ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, respondent. [G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003] ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, respondents. RESOLUTION YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads: ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667.177[1] Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number and pretended to be an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a court decree within four to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of property or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of filing of the case and the other half after a decision thereon has been rendered. Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public Information Office revealed that similar advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6, 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000 issue of The Philippine Star.178[2] On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court.179[3] In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to change our views about the prohibition on advertising and solicitation; that the interest of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades-old prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that

177[1]Rollo, p. 13. 178[2]Id., pp. 14-15. 179[3]Id., p. 9.

he be exonerated from all the charges against him and that the Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as long as it is dignified.180[4] The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.181[5] On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306,182[6] finding respondent guilty of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more severely. The IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11, 2002.183[7] In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,184[8] which was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002185[9] Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053 entitled, Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, Respondents. This petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts Resolution dated March 4, 2003. In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the pleadings.186[10] Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003, stating that he is not submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its early resolution on the basis of pleadings and records thereof. 187[11] Respondent, on the other hand, filed a Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003. We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606. Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read: Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily to solicit legal business. Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, selflaudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states: SEC. 27.Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party without authority to do so. It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business.188[12] It is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.189[13] The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary consideration.190[14] The duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal interests or what they owe to themselves.191[15] The following elements distinguish the legal profession from a business: 1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much money;

180[4]Id., pp. 21-57. 181[5]Id., p. 60. 182[6]Id., p. 62. 183[7]Id., p. 72. 184[8]Id., p. 75. 185[9]Id., p. 73. 186[10]Id.,p. 109. 187[11]Id., p. 110. 188[12]Cantiller v. Potenciano, A.C. No. 3195, 18 December 1989, 180 SCRA 246, 253. 189[13]Canlas v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No.L-77691, 8 August 1988, 164 SCRA 160, 174. 190[14] Agpalo R., LEGAL ETHICS, p. 12 [1997]. 191[15] Burbe v. Magulta, A.C. No. 5713, 10 June 2002.

2.

A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability; A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary; A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.192[16]

3. 4.

There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements. While he professes repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition rings hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he pleaded for compassion and after claiming that he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his answer, he again advertised his legal services in the August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper.193[17] Ten months later, he caused the same advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.194[18]Such acts of respondent are a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Courts authority. What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising himself as a self -styled Annulment of Marriage Specialist, he wittingly or unwittingly erodes and undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of an institution still considered sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed, in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four to six months from the time of the filing of the case,195[19] he in fact encourages people, who might have otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so. Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed. However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar.196[20] Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or names of the lawyers, the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now acceptable.197[21] Publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.:198[22] Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyers name and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented. The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes . Forthat reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list the conduct, management, or contents of which are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower dignity or standing of the profession . The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a designation of special branch of law.(emphasis and italics supplied)

192[16]Agpalo, supra, at pp. 13-14, citing In re Sycip, 30 July 1979, 92 SCRA 1, 10; Pineda E.L. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS, p. 58 [1999]. 193[17] Rollo, Vol. II, p. 41. 194[18]Id., p. 110. 195[19] Rollo, Vol. I, p. 3. 196[20]Pineda, Legal and Judicial Ethics, supra, at p. 61. 197[21]Id., p. 65. 198[22] Bar Matter No. 553, 17 June 1993, 223 SCRA 378, 407.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information and guidance. SO ORDERED. Vitug, (Acting Chairman),Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman ), abroad, on official business.

THIRD DIVISION G.R. No. L-41862 February 7, 1992 B. R. SEBASTIAN ENTERPRISES, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, EULOGIO B. REYES, NICANOR G. SALAYSAY, in his capacity as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and ANTONIO MARINAS, in his capacity as Deputy Sheriff, respondents. Benito P. Fabie for petitioner. Ildefonso de Guzman-Mendiola for private respondents. DAVIDE, JR., J.: This is a petition for prohibition and mandamus, with prayer for preliminary injunction, to review the Resolution dated 10 November 1975 of respondent Court of Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. 53546-R denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, earlier dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. The material operative facts of this case, as gathered from the pleadings of the parties, are not disputed. Eulogio B. Reyes, now deceased, filed an action for damages with the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal, Pasay City Branch, against the Director of Public Works, the Republic of the Philippines and petitioner 1 herein, B. R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. 757-R. On 7 May 1973, the trial court rendered a decision finding petitioner liable for damages but absolving the other 2 defendants. Petitioner, thru its counsel, the law firm of Baizas, Alberto and Associates, timely appealed the adverse decision to the 3 respondent Court of Appeals, which docketed the case as C.A.-G.R. No. 53546-R.

During the pendency of the appeal, the plaintiff-appellee therein, Eulogio B. Reyes, died. Upon prior leave of the respondent Court, he was substituted by his heirs Enrique N. Reyes, Felicisima R. Natividad, Donna Marie N. Reyes and Renne Marie N. Ryes who are now the private respondents in this present petition. On 19 February 1974, petitioner, thru its then counsel of record, received notice to file Appellant's Brief within 45 days from receipt thereof. It had, therefore, until 5 April 1974 within which to comply. Counsel for petitioner failed to file the Brief; thus, on 9 July 1974, respondent Court issued a Resolution requiring said counsel to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief within the 4 5 reglementary period. A copy of this Resolution was received by counsel for petitioner on 17 July 1974. As the latter failed to comply with the above Resolution, respondent Court, on 9 September 1974, issued another Resolution this time dismissing petitioner's appeal: It appearing that counsel for defendant-appellant failed to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed (for failure to file the appellant's brief within the reglementary period which expired on April 5, 1974) within the period of 10 days fixed in the resolution of July 9, 1974, copy of which was received by 6 said counsel on July 17, 1974; . . . On 28 September 1974, petitioner, this time thru the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, filed a motion for reconsideration of the resolution dismissing its appeal alleging that as a result of the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas, senior partner in the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES, the affairs of the said firm are still being settled between Atty. Jose Baizas (son of Crispin Baizas) and Atty. Ruby Alberto, the latter having established her own law office; furthermore, Atty. Rodolfo Espiritu, the lawyer who handled this case in the trial court and who is believed to have also attended to the preparation of the Appellant's Brief but failed to submit it through oversight and inadvertence, had also left the firm. In its Resolution of 9 October 1974, respondent Court denied the motion for reconsideration, stating that: Upon consideration of the motion of counsel for defendant-appellant, praying, on the grounds therein stated, that the resolution of September 9, 1974, dismissing the appeal, be set aside, and that appellant be granted a reasonable period of time within which to file its brief: considering that six (6) months had elapsed since the expiration of the original period and more than two and one-half (2-) months since counsel received copy of the resolution requiring him to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file brief; Motion Denied. 8 No action having been taken by petitioner from the above Resolution within the period to file a petition for review, the same became final and executory, and the records of the case were remanded to the court of origin for execution. The trial court issued a writ of execution on 21 October 1975. Pursuant thereto, respondent Provincial Sheriff and Deputy Sheriff attached petitioner's Hough Pay Loader with Hercules Diesel Engine and issued on 5 November 1975 a Notice of Sheriff's Sale, scheduling for Friday, 14 November 1975 at 10:00 o'clock in the morning, the auction sale 10 thereof. On 6 November 1975, petitioner filed with respondent Court a Motion to Reinstate Appeal with Prayer for Issuance of a 11 Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated 5 November 1975, and containing the following allegations: 1. That late as it may be, this Honorable Court has the inherent power to modify and set aside its processes, in the interest of justice, especially so in this case when the case was dismissed on account of the untimely death of Atty. Crispin D. Baizas, counsel of BRSEI (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc.). 2. That to dismiss the case for failure to file the appellant's brief owing to the untimely death of the late Atty. Crispin D. Baizas would be tantamount to denying BRSEI its ( sic) day in court, and is, therefore, a clear and unmistakable denial of due process on the part of BRSEI. 3. That to reinstate BRSEI's appeal would not impair the rights of the parties, since all that BRSEI is asking for, is a day in court to be heard on appeal in order to have the unfair, unjust and unlawful decision, set aside and reversed. The respondent Court denied the said motion in its Resolution of 10 November 1975:
12 9 7

. . . it appearing that appellant was represented by the law firm of Baizas, Alberto & Associates, and while Atty. Baizas died on January 16, 1974, his law firm was not dissolved since it received the notice to file brief on February 19, 1974, and the copy of the Resolution of July 9, 1974, requiring appellant to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed was received by the law firm on July 17, 1974 and no cause was shown; . . . Hence, on 13 November 1975, petitioner filed the original petition in this case against the Court of Appeals, Eulogio B. Reyes, Nicanor G. Salaysay, as Provincial Sheriff of Rizal, and Antonio Marinas, as Deputy Sheriff. The petition likewise prayed for the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order. In the Resolution of 13 November 1975, this Court required respondents to comment on the petition within ten (10) days 14 from receipt thereof, and issued a Temporary Restraining Order. On 12 January 1976, respondents filed a Partial Comment on the Petition with a Motion to Suspend the Proceedings on the ground that respondent Eulogio B. Reyes is already dead and his lawful heirs had already been ordered substituted for him during the pendency of the appeal before the respondent Court of Appeals. In the Resolution of 21 January 1976, this Court ordered petitioner to amend its petition within then (10) days from receipt 16 of notice, and suspended the filing of respondents' Comment until after the amendment is presented and admitted. In compliance therewith, petitioner filed on 9 February 1976 a Motion for Leave to Admit Amended Petition to which it 17 attached the said Amended Petition. The amendment consists in the substitution of Eulogio B. Reyes with his heirs. This Court admitted the Amended Petition and required the respondents to file their Comment within ten (10) days from 19 20 notice thereof, which they complied with on 5 April 1976. Petitioner filed its Reply to the Comment on 29 April 1976. In the Resolution of 12 May 1976, this Court denied the petition for lack of merit:
21 18 15 13

L-41862 (B.R. Sebastian Enterprises, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, et. al.). Considering the allegations, issues and arguments adduced in the amended petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals, respondents' comment thereon, as well as petitioner's reply to said comment, the Court Resolved to DENY the petition for lack of merit. However, on 31 May 1976, petitioner filed a motion for its reconsideration to appeal without fault on its part, the petition should be given due course. Respondents submitted on 22 July 1976 their Comment
23 22

claiming that since it was deprived of the right

to said Motion for Reconsideration.


24

On 10 September 1976, this Court resolved to reconsider its Resolution of 12 May 1976 and required both parties to submit simultaneously their respective Memoranda within thirty (30) days from notice thereof. Petitioner submitted its Memorandum on 5 November 1976 while respondents submitted theirs on 22 November 1976. 26 27 On 29 November 1976, this Court deemed the present case submitted for decision. The sole issue to be addressed is whether or not the respondent Court of Appeals gravely abused its discretion in denying petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal, previously dismissed for failure to file the Appellant's Brief. Petitioner, in its Memorandum, extensively expounds on respondent Court's authority to reinstate dismissed appeals and 28 cites as basis thereof the decision of this Court in Heirs of Clemente Celestino vs. Court of Appeals, et al., Indeed, in said case, this Court affirmed the resolution of the Court of Appeals reinstating an appeal after being dismissed for failure by the appellants therein to file their brief, and after entry of judgment and remand of the records to the lower court and cancelled the entry of judgment, requiring the lower court to return the records to the Court of Appeals and admit appellant's brief. Said case, however, had a peculiar or singular factual situation" which prompted the Court of Appeals to grant the relief and which this Court found sufficient to justify such action. As this Court, through Associate Justice Ramon Aquino, said: We are of the opinion that under the peculiar or singular factual situation in this case and to forestall a miscarriage of justice the resolution of the Court of Appeals reinstating the appeal should be upheld.
25

That Court dismissed the appeal of the Pagtakhans in the mistaken belief that they had abandoned it because they allegedly failed to give to their counsel the money needed for paying the cost of printing their brief. But presumably the Appellate Court realized later that fraud might have been practised on appellants Pagtakhans since their oppositions were not included in the record on appeal. In ( sic) sensed that there was some irregularity in the actuations of their lawyer and that Court ( sic) itself had been misled into dismissing the appeal. Counsel for the Pagtakhans could have furnished them with copies of his motions for extension of time to file brief so that they would have known that the Court of Appeals had been apprised of their alleged failure to defray the cost of printing their brief and they could have articulated their reaction directly to the Court. Counsel could have moved in the Appellate Court that he be allowed to withdraw from the case or that the Pagtakhans be required to manifest whether they were still desirous of prosecuting their appeal or wanted a mimeographed brief to be filed for them ( See People vs. Cawili, L-30543, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 728). Since counsel did none of those things, his representation that the appellants had evinced lack of interest in pursuing their appeal is difficult to believe. If the appellate court has not yet lost its jurisdiction, it may exercise its discretion in reinstating an appeal, having in mind the circumstances obtaining in each case and the demands of substantial justice (Alquiza vs. Alquiza, L-23342, February 10, 1968, 22 SCRA 494, 66 O.G. 276; C. Vda. de Ordoveza vs. Raymundo, 62 Phil. 275; Chavez vs. Ganzon, 108 Phil. 6). But even if it has already lost jurisdiction over the appeal by reason of the remand of the record to the lower court, it, nevertheless, has the inherent right to recall the remittitur or the remand of the record to the lower court if it had rendered a decision or issued a resolution which was induced by fraud practised upon it. Such a right is not affected by the statutory provision that after the record has been remanded, the appellate court has no further jurisdiction over the appeal (5 Am Jur. 2nd 433 citing Lovett vs. State, 29 Fla. 384, 11 So. 176; 84 ALR 595; State vs. Ramirez, 34 Idaho 623, 203 Pac. 279). In the instant case, no fraud is involved; what obtain is simple negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel, which is neither excusable nor unavoidable. Petitioner thus failed to demonstrate sufficient cause to warrant a favorable action on its plea. As held in Chavez, et al. vs. Ganzon, et al., said:
29

and reiterated in Negros Stevedoring Co., Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,

30

We

Granting that the power or discretion to reinstate an appeal that had been dismissed is included in or implied from the power or discretion to dismiss an appeal, still such power or discretion must be exercised upon a showing of good and sufficient cause, in like manner as the power or discretion vested in the appellate court to allow extensions of time for the filing of briefs. There must be such a showing which would call for, prompt and justify its exercise (sic). Otherwise, it cannot and must not be upheld. To justify its failure to file the Appellant's Brief, petitioner relies mainly on the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas and the 31 supposed confusion it brought to the firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES. It says: Petitioner, thru its president Bernardo R. Sebastian, engaged the services of Atty. Crispin D. Baizas to handle its defense in Civil Case No. 757-R; however, it appears that Atty. Baizas entered petitioner's case as a case to be handled by his law firm operating under the name and style "Crispin D. Baizas & Associates." Hence, the Answer to the complaint, Answer to Cross-Claim, and Answer to Fourth-party Complaint filed for petitioner in said case, evince that the law firm "Crispin D. Baizas & Associates" represents petitioner in the action. After rendition of the assailed Decision of the trial court, petitioner's counsel appears to have changed its firm name to "Baizas, Alberto & Associates." The appeal was thus pursued for petitioner by the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates." On January 16, 1974, Atty. Crispin D. Baizas died as a result of a brief heart attack. In consequence ( sic) of his death, the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" was in a terribly confused state of affairs. In effect, said law firm was dissolved. Atty. Ruby Alberto formed her own law office and other associates left

the dissolved law firms (sic) joining other offices or putting up their own. Atty. Jose Baizas, son of deceased Crispin D. Baizas, took over the management of why may have been left of his father's office, it appearing that some, if not many, cases of the defunct office were taken over by the associates who left the firm upon its dissolution. But, none of the former partners and associates/assistants of the dissolved law firm filed the required appellant's brief for herein petitioner in its appealed case before the respondent Court of Appeals. No notice was served upon petitioner by any of the surviving associates of the defunct law firm that its appellant's brief was due for filing or that the law office had been dissolved and that the law office had been dissolved and that none of the lawyers herein formerly connected desired to handle the appealed case of petitioner. . . . The circumstances that the law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" was dissolved and that none of the associates took over petitioner's case, and no notice of such state of affairs was given to petitioner who could have engaged the services of another lawyer to prosecute its appeal before respondent Court, constitutes (sic) an UNAVOIDABLE CASUALTY that entitles petitioner to the relief prayed for. On the other hand, the non-dissolution of said law firm "Baizas, Alberto & Associates" will not defeat petitioner's claim for relief since, in such event, the said firm had ABANDONED petitioner's cause, which act constitutes fraud and/or reckless inattention the result of which is deprivation of petitioner's day in court. In the abovementioned Yuseco case, this Honorable Court had emphatically and forcefully declared that it will always be disposed to grant relief to parties aggrieved by perfidy, fraud, reckless inattention and downright incompetence of lawyers, which has the consequence of depriving their day ( sic) in court. We find no merit in petitioner's contentions. Petitioner's counsel was the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES and not merely Atty. Crispin Baizas. Hence, the death of the latter did not extinguish the lawyer-client relationship between said firm and petitioner. In Gutierrez & Sons, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals, the appeal filed by the law firm of BAIZAS, ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES on behalf of respondent therein was dismissed for failure to comply with the requisites enumerated in the Rules of Court; the excuse presented by said counsel was also the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas. This Court held therein that: The death of Attorney Baizas was not a valid excuse on the part of his associates for not attending to Alvendia's appeal, supposing arguendo that his office was solely entrusted with the task of representing Alvendia in the Court of Appeals. Attorney Espiritu (not Attorney Baizas) was the one actually collaborating with Viola in handling Alvendia's case. He did not file a formal appearance in the Court of Appeals. Undoubtedly, there was inexcusable negligence on the part of petitioner's counsel in failing to file the Appellant's Brief. As revealed by the records, petitioner's counsel, the BAIZAS ALBERTO & ASSOCIATES law firm, received the notice to file Brief on 19 February 1974. It failed to do so within the 45 days granted to it. Said law firm also received a copy of the respondent Court's Resolution of 9 July 1974 requiring it to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the Brief within the reglementary period. Petitioner chose not to comply with it, thus compelling the respondent Court to issue on 9 September 1974 a Resolution dismissing the appeal, a copy of which the former also received. Then, on 28 September 1974, the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE moved for reconsideration of the said Resolution which respondent Court denied in its Resolution of 9 October 1974. Nothing more was heard from petitioner until after a year when, on 6 November 1975, it filed the instant petition in reaction to the issuance of a writ of execution by the trial court following receipt of the records for the respondent Court. The "confusion" in the office of the law firm following the death of Atty. Crispin Baizas is not a valid justification for its failure to file the Brief. With Baizas' death, the responsibility of Atty. Alberto and his Associates to the petitioner as counsel remained until withdrawal by the former of their appearance in the manner provided by the Rules of Court. This is so because it was the law firm which handled the case for petitioner before both the trial and appellate courts. That Atty. Espiritu, an associate who was designated to handle the case, later left the office after the death of Atty. Baizas is of no moment since others in the firm could have replaced him.. Upon receipt of the notice to file Brief, the law firm should have re-assigned the case to another associate or, it could have withdrawn as counsel in the manner provided by the Rules of Court so that the petitioner could contract the services of a new lawyer. In the Negros Stevedoring case, supra.,this Court held:
32

The negligence committed in the case at bar cannot be considered excusable, nor ( sic) is it unavoidable. Time and again the Court has admonished law firms to adopt a system of distributing pleadings and notices, whereby lawyers working therein receive promptly notices and pleadings intended for them, so that they will always be informed of the status of their cases. Their Court has also often repeated that the negligence of clerks which adversely affect the cases handled by lawyers, is binding upon the latter. Compounding such negligence is the failure of the BAIZAS LAW OFFICE, which filed on 28 September 1974 the motion for reconsider the Resolution of 9 September 1974, to take any further appropriate action after the respondent Court denied said motion on 9 October 1974. The appearance of said counsel is presumed to be duly authorized by petitioner. The latter has neither assailed nor questioned such appearance. The rule is settled that negligence of counsel binds the client.
33

Moreover, petitioner itself was guilty of negligence when it failed to make inquiries from counsel regarding its case. As pointed out by respondents, the president of petitioner corporation claims to be the intimate friend of Atty. Crispin Baizas; 34 hence, the death of the latter must have been known to the former. This fact should have made petitioner more vigilant with respect to the case at bar. Petitioner failed to act with prudence and diligence, thus, its plea that they were not 35 accorded the right to procedural due process cannot elicit either approval or sympathy. Based on the foregoing, it is clear that there was failure to show a good and sufficient cause which would justify the reinstatement of petitioner's appeal. Respondent Court of Appeals did not them commit any grave abuse of discretion when it denied petitioner's motion to reinstate its appeal. WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DISMISSED and the temporary restraining order issued in this case is lifted. Costs against petitioner. IT SO ORDERED. Gutierrez, Jr., Feliciano, Bidin and Romero, JJ., concur.
Footnotes 1 Rollo, 76; 141. 2 Id., 77. 3 Id. 4 Rollo, 79. 5 Appendix "K" and paragraph X, Amended Petition. 6 Appendix "B", Id. 7 Op. cit. 101. 8 Rollo, 105; Appendix "F", Amended Petition. 9 Id., 302. 10 Id., 106; Appendix "G", op cit. 11 Id., 110; Appendix "H", Id. 12 Rollo, 126; Appendix "I" Petition. 13 Id., 1. 14 Rollo, 51. 15 Id., 63-65. 16 Id., 72. 17 Id., 73-75. 18 Rollo, 128. 19 Id., 139. 20 Id., 174. 21 Id., 180. 22 Id., 183. 23 Id., 204-206. 24 Rollo, 241. 25 Id., 273. 26 Id., 295. 27 Id., 311. 28 G.R. No.L-38690, 12 September 1975, 67 SCRA 22. 29 108 Phil. 9. 30 162 SCRA 371. 31 Rollo, 274-276; 283-284. 32 61 SCRA 87, 91. 33 Manila Electric Co. vs. Court of Appeals, 187 SCRA 200. 34 Rollo, 306. 35 Florendo vs. Florendo, 27 Phil. 432; Reyes vs. Court of Appeals, 189 SCRA 46.

THIRD DIVISION [A.C. No. 5525. March 04, 2005]

CONSOLIDATED FARMS, INC., acting thru its President ANTONIO C. OPPEN, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISANTO E. ALPON, JR., respondent. RESOLUTION GARCIA, J.: Before the Court is this complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Consolidated Farms, Inc., thru its President Antonio C. Oppen, against respondent Atty. Crisanto E. Alpon, Jr. for gross negligence, incompetence, dereliction of duty and violation of his oath as counsel to protect the interest of his client. Record reveals that complainant hired the services of respondent as counsel in its case before the Social Security Commission, docketed as SSC Case No. 3-13961-93, entitled Agapita Padohinog vs. Margarita C. Vda. De Oppen et al. and the Social Security System. Complainant alleged that respondent, as its counsel in said case, did not submit the position paper despite being required by the Social Security Commission, and that he likewise failed to attend the scheduled hearings of the case despite due notice. On account thereof, complainant was considered to have waived the right to present evidence and to cross examine those of the other party. As a consequence, the Social Security Commission, in its resolution dated February 7, 1996, held complainant liable in SSC Case No. 3-13961-93 and ordered it to remit to the Social Security System the amount of P27,117.09, representing the other partys claim for retirement benefits. Complainant thus pray that respondent be disbarred; dismissed from the service as municipal judge of Castellana, Negros Occidental; and required to reimburse the amount of P27,117.09 it paid to the Social Security System. In his COMMENT, respondent denied that he is the presiding judge of the Municipal Trial Court of La Castellana, Negros Occidental. He manifested willingness to reimburse complainant the amount of the judgment decreed in the February 7, 1996 resolution in SSC Case No. 3-1361-93. Respondent explains that he stopped reporting to the Octaviano, Pelayo and Associates Law Office where he was previously connected as he was hounded by marital problems, adding that the notices issued by the Social Security Commission were not sent to him by the said law office. He asserts that he is not habitually negligent of his cases, albeit admitting that SSC Case No. 3-13961-93 was an oversight on his part. He also stresses that he did not represent any client before the courts except close friends and relatives on a pro-bono basis during the period 1995 to 1999. According to him, he limited his practice to being a consultant to local government leaders in the field of administration and development planning. Upon verification with the Office of the Court Administrator, it was confirmed that respondent is not a municipal judge of Castellana, Negros Occidental, hence not a member of the Judiciary. In a resolution dated March 10, 2003, the Court referred the case to the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. In time, the Commission designated Atty. Milagros V. San Juan as Investigating Commissioner. On October 25, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVI-2003-229, adopting and approving the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, to wit: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as annex A, and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering that respondent violated Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Crisanto E. Alpon, Jr. is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a stern Warning that a similar offense in the future will be dealt with more severely. We agree with the aforestated recommendation. Records show that respondent admitted under oath the acts imputed against him and even offered to make amends by reimbursing the amount of P27,117.09 to the complainant.

In People vs. Sevillano,[1] we ruled: Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility requires every lawyer to serve his client with utmost dedication, competence and diligence. He must not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negligence in this regard renders him administratively liable. As complainants counsel in SSC Case No. 3-13961-93, respondent is duty bound to monitor the progress of the case he is handling. He should have put himself on guard on all the processes issued by the hearing body relative thereto and should have, thus, anticipated a resolution thereof. So it is that in Re: Vicente Y. Bayani,[2] we have made it clear that [A] lawyer owes his client the exercise of utmost prudence and capability in that representation. Respondent, through gross negligence and incompetence, failed to perform what is required of him. As it were, he fell short of the demands required of him as a lawyer and as a member of the bar. His offer to pay the amount of P27,117.09 would not exonerate him from liability. This Court has always reminded the members of the legal profession that every case they handle deserves full and undivided attention, diligence, skill and competence, regardless of its importance and whether they accept it for a fee or for free, and to constantly keep in mind that not only the property but also the life of their clients may be at stake. Verily, in Del Rosario vs. Court of Appeals,[3] as reiterated in Rosita Tan vs. Atty. Jose L. Lapak,[4] we ruled: An Attorney is bound to protect his clients interest to the best of his ability and with utmost diligence. Respondent placed much emphasis on the fact that during the time complainant engaged his services as counsel in the case in question, he was still connected with the Octaviano, Pelayo and Associates Law Office, thereby suggesting that the blame should lay at the doorstep of said law firm for not sending him all the notices relative to the subject SSC case. Evidently, respondent would want us to view his situation in the light of our ruling in Rilloraza, Africa, De Ocampo and Africa vs. Eastern Telecommunications Phils., Inc.,[5] where this Court ruled that when a client employs the services of a law firm, he does not employ the services of the lawyer who is assigned to personally handle the case, as well as that in Five Star Bus Company, Inc. vs. Court of Appeals,[6] where we declared that if a party is represented by a law firm, it means that any of the firms members could lawfully act as his counsel during tria l. Regrettably, respondents attempt to pass the buck, so to speak, falls flat on its face considering that the evidence on record point to his own gross negligence. For one, in his Entry of Appearance and Motion to Reset Case for Hearing, bearing date November 19, 1993,[7] respondent affixed his signature under the representation of the Antonio de Luzuriaga and Crisanto E. Alpon, Jr. Law Office as counsel for complainant. This clearly shows that respondent was personally hired as counsel to the subject SSC case even before he became an associate of the Octaviano, Pelayo and Associates Law Office. Clearly, complainant did not hire the services of the latter law firm to represent it in that case. For another, the following processes were issued in the said SSC case during the period 1994 when respondent was still very much connected with the Octaviano, Pelayo and Associates Law Office : Order dated March 27, 1994, requiring the submission of the parties respective position papers and resetting the case for hearing [8]; Order dated August 15, 1994, granting last chance to respondents client to submit verified position paper and resetting the case for clarificatory questions[9]; and Order dated November 15, 1994, granting one last chance to the client to submit the required verified position paper, with a clear warning that failure to do so would amount to a waiver.[10] Respondent, therefore, could not use the excuse that he was not notified of the processes issued by the hearing officer. At the very least, respondent should have inquired from the same hearing officer the status of his clients case. Unfortunately, thr ough manifest gross negligence, respondent failed to attend to the case. On the issue of reimbursement of the amount of P27,119.09 which complainant was ordered to pay the Social Security System in the same case, it appears that on May 26, 2003, complainant filed a Compliance, therein stating that respondents proposal for settlement of the instant administrative case has been accepted by it and that it was just waiting for the payment to be made by respondent. On September 3, 2003, respondent filed a Manifestationof Settlement of Case, whereunder he stated that complainant has accepted his proposal for reimbursement and had in fact paid complainant the amount of P27,117.00.

Not being a municipal judge of Castellana, Negros Occidental per verification from the records of the Office of the Court Administrator, complainants additional prayer for respondents dismissal from the Judiciary is not possible. All told, we rule and so hold that on account of his failure to file the required Position Paper for his client, as well as attend the scheduled hearings in SSC Case No. 3-13961-93, respondent indeed violated Rule 18.03, Canon 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, stating that [A] lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his negli gence in connection therewith shall render him liable. WHEREFORE, the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors approving and adopting the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner is hereby AFFIRMED. Accordingly, ATTY. CRISANTO E. ALPON, JR. is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of THREE (3) MONTHS, with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar wrongdoing will be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED. Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez and Corona, JJ., concur. Carpio Morales, J., on leave.

[1] 365 Phil. 63 [1999]. [2] 392 Phil. 229 [2000]. [3] 199 Phil. 367 [1982]. [4] 350 SCRA 74 [2001]. [5] 369 Phil. 1 [1999]. [6] 372 Phil. 249 [1999]. [7]Rollo, p. 4, Annex A. [8]Rollo, p. 10, Annex C. [9]Rollo, p. 12, Annex D. [10]Rollo, p. 14, Annex E.

EN BANC [A.C. No. 4984. April 1, 2003] ATTY. JULITO D. VITRIOLO, PRECILLANA J. HONORICA, ARLEEN J. RAMOS, DR. ROGER PEREZ, DR. IMELDA DARAUG, DR. REMIGIA NATHANIELZ, CELEDONIA CORONACION, and JOSE RABALO, complainants, vs. ATTY. FELINA DASIG, respondent. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: This is an administrative case for disbarment filed against Atty. Felina S. Dasig,199[1] an official of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). The charge involves gross misconduct of respondent in violation of the Attorneys Oath for having used her public office to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the CHED. Almost all complainants in the instant case are high-ranking officers of the CHED. In their sworn Complaint-Affidavit filed with this Court on December 4, 1998, complainants allege that respondent, while she was OIC of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, committed acts that are grounds for disbarment under Section 27,200[2] Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, to wit: a) Sometime in August 1998 and during the effectivity of Responden ts designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Betty C. Mangohon, a teacher of Our Lady of Mariazel Educational Center in Novaliches, Quezon City, the amount of P20,000.00 and later reduced to P5,000.00 for the facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED... b) Likewise, sometime in July to August 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondents designation as Officer -inCharge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Rosalie B. Dela Torre, a student, the amount of P18,000.00 to P20,000.00 for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED

199[1]Admitted to the Bar, May 30, 1986. Per 1998 LAW LIST, p. 232. 200[2]SEC. 27.Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by the Supreme Court; grounds therefor. - A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

c) Likewise, sometime in September 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondents designation as Officer -inCharge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Rocella G. Eje, a student, the amount of P5,000.00 for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED. . . In addition, Respondent even suggested to Ms. Eje to register her birth anew with full knowledge of the existence of a prior registration d) Likewise, sometime in August to September 1998 and during the effectivity of Respondent s designation as Officer-in-Charge of Legal Affairs Service, CHED, she demanded from Jacqueline N. Ng, a student, a considerable amount which was subsequently confirmed to be P15,000.00 and initial fee of P5,000.00 more or less for facilitation of her application for correction of name then pending before the Legal Affairs Service, CHED... In addition, the Respondent even suggested to Ms. Ng to hire a lawyer who shall be chosen by Respondent Dasig to facilitate the application for correction of name.201[3] Complainants likewise aver that respondent violated her oath as attorney-at-law by filing eleven (11) baseless, groundless, and unfounded suits before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Quezon City, which were subsequently dismissed.202[4] Further, complainants charge respondent of transgressing subparagraph b (22), Section 36203[5] of Presidential Decree No. 807, for her willful failure to pay just debts owing to Borela Tire Supply and Novas Lining Brake & Clutch as evidenced by the dishonored checks she issued,204[6] the complaint sheet, and the subpoena issued to respondent.205[7] Complainants also allege that respondent instigated the commission of a crime against complainant Celedonia R. Coronacion and Rodrigo Coronacion, Jr., when she encouraged and ordered her son, Jonathan Dasig, a guard of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, to draw his gun and shoot the Coronacions on the evening of May 14, 1997. As a result of this incident, a complaint for grave threats against the respondent and her son, docketed as Criminal Case No. 86052, was lodged with the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 36.206[8] Finally, complainants allege that respondent authored and sent to then President Joseph Estrada a libelous and unfair report, which maligned the good names and reputation of no less than eleven (11) CHED Directors calculated to justify her ill motive of preventing their re-appointment and with the end view of securing an appointment for herself.207[9] In our resolution of February 3, 1999, we required respondent to file a Comment on the charges.208[10] A copy of said resolution was sent to the respondent at her address at Blk. 4, Lot 12, Hobart II Subdivision, Novaliches, Quezon City, only to be returned to this Court with the notation Unclaimed. 209[11] On July 5, 1999, we directed that a copy of the resolution of February 3, 1999, be served by registered mail to respondent at her office address in CHED.

201[3]Rollo, p. 3. 202[4] These include: Felina S. Dasig and Victor Alba v. Celedonia R. Coronacion. Rodrigo R. Coronacion, Jr., and Jose R. Rabalo, I.S. No. 96-19974 for Perjury, False Testimony: Felma S.

Dasig and Victor Alba v. Celedonia R. Coronacion and Rodrigo R. Coronacion, Jr., I.S. No. 96-25879 for Oral Defamation and Unjust Vexation; Felina S. Dasig and Victor Alba v. Francis Lacandazo, Mark Imperio and Michael Namoca, l.S. No. 96-27189 for Libel; Felma S. Dasig and Victor Alba v. Celedonia R. Coronacion, Rodrigo R. Coronacion, Jr., and Jose R. Rabalo, I.S. No. 96-19974 for Libel; Felina S. Dasig v. Celedonia Coronacion, I.S. No. 97-3026 for Grave Oral Defamation; Felina S. Dasig v. Celedonia Coronacion, Francis Lacandazo, Mark Imperio, and Michael Namoca, I.S. No. 96-27189, for violation of Art. 290, Rev. Penal Code; Felina S. Dasig v. Asuncion Lacandazo and Francis Lacandazo, I.S. No. 96-27189 for Grave Oral Defamation; Felina S. Dasig and Victor Alba v. Ma. Teresa Galdon Lingal, I.S. No. 96-25870 for Oral Defamation, Threat; Felina S. Dasig v. Ruel Martin and Jean Martin, I.S. No. 97-348 for Libel; Felina S. Dasig v. Celedonia Coronacion, I.S. No. 97-7218 for Perjury, Libel; and Felina S. Dasig v. Francis Lacandazo. Michael Namoca. and Mark Imperio. I.S. No. 97-8864 for Perjury. 203[5]SEC. 36. Discipline: General Provisions.

xxx

(b) The following shall be grounds for disciplinary action: (22) Willful failure to pay just debts or willful failure to pay taxes due to the government. xxx
204[6]Rollo, pp. 22-24. 205[7]Id. at 26-27. 206[8]Id. at 28-30. 207[9]Id. at 32-35. 208[10]Id. at 36. 209[11]Id. at 47.

In a letter dated August 28, 2000, the Postmaster of the Ortigas Center Post Office informed the Court that the said mail matter had been delivered to, received by, and signed for by one Antonio Molon, an authorized agent of respondent on August 27, 1999.210[12] On November 22, 2000, we granted complainants motion to refer the complaint to the Commissi on on Bar Discipline, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation. In its order dated February 6, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline directed respondent to submit her Answer to the Complaint, failing which she would be considered in default and the case heard ex parte. Respondent failed to heed said order and on January 8, 2002, the Commission directed her anew to file her Answer, but again she failed to comply with the directive. As a result, the Commission ruled that she had waived her right to file her Comment or Answer to the Complaint and the case was mainly resolved on the basis of the documents submitted and on record. In its report and recommendation, dated April 5, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline stated as follows: From the foregoing evidence on record, it can be concluded that respondent in violation of her oath as a government official and as a member of the Bar, indeed made unlawful demands or attempted to extort money from certain people who had pending applications/requests before her office in exchange for her promise to act favorably on said applications/requests. Clearly, respondent unlawfully used her public office in order to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the Commission on Higher Education. For the foregoing reasons, it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for the maximum period allowable of three (3) years with a further warning that similar action in the future will be a ground for disbarment of respondent. On August 3, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XV-2002-393, the full text of which reads as follows: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution/Decision as Annex A:; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules; and considering that respondent unlawfully used her public office in order to secure financial spoils to the detriment of the dignity and reputation of the Commission on Higher Education, Respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) years.211[13] At the threshold is the query of whether respondent attorney-at-law, as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of Legal Services, CHED, may be disciplined by this Court for her malfeasance, considering that her position, at the time of filing of the complaint, was Chief Education Program Specialist, Standards Development Division, Office of Programs and Standards, CHED. Generally speaking, a lawyer who holds a government office may not be disciplined as a member of the Bar for misconduct in the discharge of his duties as a government official.212[14] However, if said misconduct as a government official also constitutes a violation of his oath as a lawyer, then he may be disciplined by this Court as a member of the Bar.213[15] In this case, the record shows that the respondent, on various occasions, during her tenure as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, attempted to extort from Betty C. Mangohon, Rosalie B. Dela Torre, Rocella G. Eje, and Jacqueline N. Ng sums of money as consideration for her favorable action on their pending applications or requests before her office. The evidence remains unrefuted, given the respondents failure, despite the opportunities afforded her by this Court and the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline to comment on the charges. We find that respondents misconduct as a lawyer of the CHED is of such a character as to affect her qualification as a member of the Bar, for as a lawyer, she ought to have known that it was patently unethical and illegal for her to demand sums of money as consideration for the approval of applications and requests awaiting action by her office. The Attorneys Oath is the source of the obligations and duties of every lawyer and any violation thereof is a ground for disbarment, suspension, or other disciplinary action. The Attorney s Oath imposes upon every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for money or malice. Said duty is further stressed in Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional
210[12]Id. at 57. 211[13]Id. at 61. 212[14]Gonzales-Austria v. Abaya, A.M. No.R-705-RTJ, 23 August 1989, 176 SCRA 634, 649. 213[15] Dinsay v. Cioco, A.C. No. 2995, 27 November 1996, 264 SCRA 703, 706; Collantes v. Renomeron, A.C. No. 3056, 16 August 1991, 200 SCRA 584, 589.

Responsibility.214[16] Respondents demands for sums of money to facilitate the processing of pen ding applications or requests before her office violates such duty, and runs afoul of the oath she took when admitted to the Bar. Such actions likewise run contrary to Rule 1.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. A member of the Bar who assumes public office does not shed his professional obligations. Hence, the Code of Professional Responsibility, promulgated on June 21, 1988, was not meant to govern the conduct of private practitioners alone, but of all lawyers including those in government service. This is clear from Canon 6215[17] of said Code. Lawyers in government are public servants who owe the utmost fidelity to the public service. Thus, they should be more sensitive in the performance of their professional obligations, as their conduct is subject to the ever-constant scrutiny of the public. Respondents attempts to extort money from persons with applications or requests pending before her office are violative of Rule 1.01216[18] of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which prohibits members of the Bar from engaging or participating in any unlawful, dishonest, or deceitful acts. Moreover, said acts constitute a breach of Rule 6.02217[19] of the Code which bars lawyers in government service from promoting their private interests. Promotion of private interests includes soliciting gifts or anything of monetary value in any transaction requiring the approval of his office or which may be affected by the functions of his office. Respondents conduct in office falls short of the integrity and good mo ral character required from all lawyers, specially from one occupying a high public office. For a lawyer in public office is expected not only to refrain from any act or omission which might tend to lessen the trust and confidence of the citizenry in government, she must also uphold the dignity of the legal profession at all times and observe a high standard of honesty and fair dealing. Otherwise said, a lawyer in government service is a keeper of the public faith and is burdened with high degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher than her brethren in private practice. For her violation of the Attorneys Oath as well as of Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.03 of Canon 1 218[20] and Rule 6.02 of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly for acts of dishonesty as well as gross misconduct as OIC, Legal Services, CHED, we find that respondent deserves not just the penalty of three years suspension from membership in the Bar as well as the practice of law, as recommended by the IBP Board of Governors, but outright disbarment. Her name shall be stricken off the list of attorneys upon finality of this decision. WHEREFORE, respondent Arty. Felina S. Dasig is found liable for gross misconduct and dishonesty in violation of the Attorneys Oath as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility, and is hereby ordered DISBARRED. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to the Bar Confidant to be spread on the records of the respondent, as well as to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for distribution to all its chapters, and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the country. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Puno, Vitug, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., and Azcuna, JJ., concur.

FIRST DIVISION [A.C. No. 4354. April 22, 2002] LOLITA ARTEZUELA, complainant, vs. ATTY. RICARTE B. MADERAZO, respondent. DECISION PUNO, J.: For his failure to meet the exacting standards of professional ethics, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in its Resolution of May 2, 2000 recommended the suspension from the practice of law of respondent Atty. Ricarte B. Maderazo for the period of six (6) months, with a stern warning that repetition of the same act will be dealt with more severely. Respondent allegedly represented conflicting interests in violation of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Ethics, and Canon 15 and Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.i[1]

214[16]Rule 1.03. A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. 215[17]CANON 6. These Canons shall apply to lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks. 216[18]Rule 1.01. A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral, or deceitful conduct. 217[19]Rule 6.02. A lawyer in the government service shall not use his public position to promote or advance his private interests, nor allow the latter to interfere with his public duties.
218[20] CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.

By way of a Motion for Reconsideration,ii[2] respondent now comes before this Court to challenge the basis of the IBPs resolution, and prays for its reversal. The factual antecedents of the case are as follows: On or about 3:00 in the early morning of December 24, 1992, Allan Echavia had a vehicular accident at Caduman St., corner H. Abellana St., Mandaue City. At the time of the accident, Echavia was driving a Ford Telstar car owned by a Japanese national named Hirometsi Kiyami, but was registered in the name of his brother-in-law, Jun Anthony Villapez. The car rammed into a small carinderia owned by complainant Lolita Artezuela.iii[3] The destruction of the complainants carinderia caused the cessation of the operation of her small business, resulting to her financial dislocation. She incurred debts from her relatives and due to financial constraints, stopped sending her two children to college.iv[4] Complainant engaged the services of the respondent in filing a damage suit against Echavia, Villapez and one Bernardo Sia.v[5] Docketed as Civil Case No. 13666, the case was assigned to Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu. An Amended Complaint was thereafter filed, impleading Echavia, Kiyami and Villapez, and dropping Sia as a partydefendant.vi[6] For his services, complainant paid the respondent the amount of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10, 000.00) as attorneys fees and Two Thousand Pesos (P2,000.00) as filing fee.vii[7] However, the case was dismissed on March 22, 1994, allegedly upon the instance of the complainant and her husband.viii[8] Because of the dismissal of Civil Case No. 13666, complainant filed a civil case for damages against the respondent. It was docketed as CEB-18552 and assigned to Branch 57, Regional Trial Court of Cebu City. The case was dismissed on June 12, 2001.ix[9] On November 24, 1994, Artezuela filed before this Court a verified complaint for disbarment against the respondent. She alleged that respondent grossly neglected his duties as a lawyer and failed to represent her interests with zeal and enthusiasm. According to her, when Civil Case No. 13666 was scheduled for pre-trial conference on August 20, 1993, respondent asked for its postponement although all the parties were present. Notwithstanding complainants persistent and repeated follow-up, respondent did not do anything to keep the case moving. He withdrew as counsel without obtaining complainants consent.x[10] Complainant also claimed that respondent engaged in activities inimical to her interests. While acting as her counsel, respondent prepared Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint. The said document was even printed in respondents office. Complainant further averred that it was respondent who sought the dismissal of the case, misleading the trial court into thinking that the dismissal was with her consent.xi[11] Respondent denied the complainants allegations and averred that he conscientiously did his part as the complainants lawyer in Civil Case No. 13666. He withdrew as counsel because the complainant was uncooperative and refused to confer with him. He also gave several notices to the complainant and made known his intention before he filed his Manifestation to withdraw as counsel. Because of the severed relationship, the lower court, after holding a conference, decided to grant respondents manifestation and advised the complainant to secure the services of a new lawyer. Complainant, however, refused and instead, sought the dismissal of the case.xii[12] Respondent alleged that he sought the postponement of the Pre-Trial Conference scheduled on August 20, 1993 so that he could file the Amended Complaint. He admitted that Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint was printed in his office but denied having prepared the document and having acted as counsel of Echavia. He claimed that complainant requested him to prepare Echavias Answer but he declined. Echavia, however, went back to his office and asked respondents secretary to print the document. Respon dent intimated that the complainant and Echavia have fabricated the accusations against him to compel him to pay the amount of P500,000.00.xiii[13] This Court referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). The IBP-Visayas Regional Committee on Bar Discipline formed an Investigating Committee to hear the disbarment complaint. On October 6, 1999, Commissioner Gabriel T. Ingles issued a Report finding the respondent guilty of representing conflicting interests, in violation of Canon 15 and Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as, of Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Ethics. He recommended that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1) year.xiv[14] Commissioner Ingles did not rule on the other issues. As aforesaid, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines upheld the findings of the Committee with modification only as to the penalty.

Seeking reconsideration of the IBPs resolution, respondent contends that the Investigating Committee did not conduct trial; hence, he was not able to confront and examine the witnesses against him. He argues that the Investigating Committees finding that he represented Echavia is contrary to court records and the complainants own testimony in CEB-18552. He also casts doubt on the credibility of the Investigating Committee to render just and fair recommendations considering that the Investigating Commissioner and the respondent are counsel-adversaries in another case, Civil Case No. R-33277. Finally, he questions the imposition of a six-month suspension, which he claims to be harsh considering that his private practice is his only source of income.xv[15] After carefully examining the records, as well as the applicable laws and jurisprudence on the matter, this Court is inclined to uphold the IBPs resolution. In administrative cases, the requirement of notice and hearing does not connote full adversarial proceedings, as actual adversarial proceedings become necessary only for clarification or when there is a need to propound searching questions to witnesses who give vague testimonies. xvi[16] Due process is fulfilled when the parties were given reasonable opportunity to be heard and to submit evidence in support of their arguments.xvii[17] In the case at bar, records show that respondent repeatedly sought the postponement of the hearings, prompting the Investigating Commissioner to receive complainants evidence ex parte and to set the case for resolution after the parties have submitted their respective memorandum. Hence: The records show that this is already the third postponement filed by respondent namely December 12, 1996 (sic), January 3, 1996 and April 1, 1996. The Commission for the last time, will cancel todays hearing and can no longer tolerate any further postponement. Notify respondent by telegram for the hearing for (sic) April 22, 1996 at 2:00 P.M. Said hearing is intransferable in character. In the meantime, complainant affirmed her complaint and likewise her witness, Allan Echavia, also affirmed the contents of his affidavit and further stated that he had executed the same and understood the contents thereof. xviii[18] It is by his own negligence that the respondent was deemed to have waived his right to cross-examine the complainant and her witness. He cannot belatedly ask this Court to grant new trial after he has squandered his opportunity to exercise his right. Respondents contention that the finding of the Investigating Committee was contrary to the records and the complainants own admission in CEB-18552 is without merit. It is true that Atty. Aviola was Echavias counsel -of-record in Civil Case No. 13666 as evidenced by the certification from the clerk of court,xix[19] and as admitted by the complainant in CEB-18552, viz: ATTY. MADERAZO: (To witness- ON CROSS) Q: Madam witness, you mentioned that the defendant in this case was the counsel of Allan Echavia as early as August 20, 1993, wherein you learned for the first time of this fact when you say he is counsel of Allan Echavia. (sic) You mean he is the counsel of record of Allan Echavia in the Civil Case before Judge Dacudao? Is that what you mean? A: What I learned was that Atty. Alviola was the counsel of Allan Echavia in the case before Judge Dacudao but I heard Atty. Maderazo telling Allan Echavia not to admit that Atty. Maderazo is appearing for me because he will be the one to coordinate with Allans case. Q: So it is clear that the defendant in this case is not the counsel of record of Allan Echavia. It was Atty. Alviola stated by you now? A: Atty. Maderazo was not Allan Echavias counsel but it was Atty. Alviola who was the counsel of record of Allan Echavia.xx[20] Nevertheless, the issue in this case is not whether the respondent also acted as the counsel-of-record of Echavia. Rather, it is whether or not he had a direct hand in the preparation of Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint. To be guilty of representing conflicting interests, a counsel-of-record of one party need not also be counsel-of-record of the adverse party. He does not have to publicly hold himself as the counsel of the adverse party, nor make his efforts to

advance the adverse partys conflicting interests of record --- although these circumstances are the most obvious and satisfactory proof of the charge. It is enough that the counsel of one party had a hand in the preparation of the pleading of the other party, claiming adverse and conflicting interests with that of his original client. To require that he also be counsel-of-record of the adverse party would punish only the most obvious form of deceit and reward, with impunity, the highest form of disloyalty. Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Ethics states: It is the duty of a lawyer at the time of the retainer to disclose to the clie nt the circumstances of his relations to the parties and any interest in or in connection with the controversy, which might influence the client in the selection of the counsel. It is unprofessional to represent conflicting interests, except by express c onsent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. Within the meaning of this Canon, a lawyer represents conflicting interests when in behalf of one of the clients, it is his duty to contend for that which duty to another client requires h im to oppose. (emphasis supplied) An attorney owes his client undivided allegiance. Because of the highly fiduciary nature of the attorney-client relationship, sound public policy dictates that a lawyer be prohibited from representing conflicting interests or discharging inconsistent duties. He may not, without being guilty of professional misconduct, act as counsel for a person whose interest conflicts with that of his present or former client. Indeed, good faith and honest intention on the part of the erring lawyer does not make this rule inoperative.xxi[21] The lawyer is an officer of the court and his actions are governed by the uncompromising rules of professional ethics. Thus: The relations of attorney and client is founded on principles of public pol icy, on good taste. The question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With these thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Ceasars wife, not only to keep inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice. xxii[22] The professional obligation of the lawyer to give his undivided attention and zeal for his clients cause is likewise demanded in the Code of Professional Responsibility. Inherently disadvantageous to his clients cause, representation by the lawyer of conflicting interests requires disclosure of all facts and consent of all the parties involved. Thus: CANON 15- All lawyers shall observe candor, fairness and loyalty in all his dealings and transactions with his clients. xxx Rule 15.03- A lawyer shall not represent conflicting interests except by written consent of all concerned given after a full disclosure of the facts. While the Resolution of the IBP is purely recommendatory, we find no reason to reverse the same. In disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar, only clear preponderance of evidence is required to establish liability. As long as the evidence presented by complainant or that taken judicial notice of by the Court is more convincing and worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto, the imposition of disciplinary sanction is justified.xxiii[23] A perusal of Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint shows that it indeed conflicts with the complainants claims. It reads: 1. The allegations (sic) in Paragraph One (1) of the Complaint is admitted in so far as it pertains to the personal circumstance and residence of the answering defendant. The rest of the allegations in Paragraph One (1), and all the allegations in Paragraph Two (2) , THREE (3), FOUR (4), FIVE (5), SIX (6), ELEVEN (11), TWELVE (12), and FOURTEEN (14), of the Complaint are DENIED for lack of knowledge sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of such allegations.xxiv[24] By way of prayer, Echavia states: WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed that after hearing, judgment be rendered dismissing plaintiffs complaint. xxv[25]

Anent the authorship by the respondent of the document quoted above, the Investigating Committee found the testimonies of the complainant and Echavia credible as opposed to respondents bare den ial. As pointed out by Echavia, he was approached by Atty. Maderazo, introduced himself as his lawyer and after some sessions in the latters office, asked him to return and sign a document which he later identified as the Answer to the Amended Complaint. The Investigating Committee found respondents defense weak. Respondent did not bother to present his secretary as witness, nor obtain her affidavit to prove his allegations. Instead, he offered a convenient excuse--- that he cannot anymore locate his secretary. Respondent argued that it was the complainant who asked him to prepare Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint, after reaching an agreement whereby Echavia would testify in favor of the complainant. After he declined the request, he claimed that it was the complainant who prepared the document and asked his secretary to print the same. But as shown, Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint was in no way favorable to the complainant. With the dismissal of Civil Case No. 13666, Echavia is practically off the hook. We cannot find any reason why Echavia would commit perjury and entangle himself, once again, with the law. He does not stand to profit at all by accusing the respondent falsely. Furthermore, considering complainants stature and lack of legal education, we can not see how she could have prepared Echavias Answer to the Amended Complaint and device a legal maneuver as complicated as the present case. Respondents attack on the credibility of Investigating Commissioner Ingles to render an impartial decision, having been an adversary in Civil Case No. R-33277, does not convince us to grant new trial. This is the first time that respondent questions the membership of Commissioner Ingles in the Investigating Committee. If respondent really believed in good faith that Commissioner Ingles would be biased and prejudiced, he should have asked for the latters inhibition at the first instance. Moreover, we could not find any hint of irregularity, bias or prejudice in the conduct of the investigation that would lead us to set it aside. Finally, we remind the respondent that the practice of law is not a property right but a mere privilege, and as such, must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyers public responsibilities.xxvi[26] The suspension of the respondents privilege to practice law may result to financial woes. But as the guardian of the legal profession, we are constrained to balance this concern with the injury he caused to the very same profession he vowed to uphold with honesty and fairness. IN VIEW WHEREOF, the Resolution of the IBP finding the respondent guilty of violating Canon 6 of the Code of Professional Ethics, and Canon 15 and Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is affirmed. Respondent is suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months with a stern warning that a similar act in the future shall be dealt with more severely. SO ORDERED. Austria-Martinez, J., concur. Sandoval-Gutierrez, J., per special order no. 220, dated April 22, 2002, concur. Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman), Kapunan, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., on official leave

i[1]Records, vol. I, p. 189. ii[2]Id., pp. 202-223. iii[3]Id., p. 2. iv[4]Id., p. 3. v[5] Under the original complaint, Villapez was alleged to be the true owner of the Ford Telstar car driven by Echvia while Sia was alleged to be the registered owner thereof. See Original Complaint, Records, vol. I, pp. 146-153. vi[6]Records, vol. I, pp. 11-19. vii[7]Id., p. 3. viii[8]Id., p. 183. ix[9]Id., pp. 283-288. x[10]Id., p. 3. xi[11]Id., p. 4. xii[12]Id., pp. 126-134. xiii[13]Id., pp. 135-139. xiv[14]Id., pp. 191-200.

xv[15]Id., pp. 202-223. xvi[16]Arboleda vs. NLRC, 303 SCRA 38 (1999). xvii[17]Padilla vs. Sto.Tomas, 243 SCRA 155 (1995). xviii[18]Records, vol. I, p. 195. xix[19]Id., p. 224. xx[20] TSN, CEB-18552, October 17, 1997, Records, vol. III, p. 213-214. xxi[21]Maturan vs. Gonzales, 287 SCRA 443 (1998). xxii[22]Hilado vs. David, 84 Phil. 569 (1949). xxiii[23] Pimentel vs. Llorente, 399 SCRA 154, 159-160 (2000). xxiv[24]Records, vol. I, p. 20. xxv[25]Id., p. 22. xxvi[26] In re: Edillion

SECOND DIVISION [A.C. No. 4680. August 29, 2000] AQUILINO Q. PIMENTEL, JR., complainant, vs. ATTYS. ANTONIO M. LLORENTE and LIGAYA P. SALAYON, Respondents. DECISION MENDOZA, J.: chanrobles virtual law library This is a complaint for disbarment against respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon for gross misconduct, serious breach of trust, and violation of the lawyers oath in connection with the discharge of their duties as members of the Pasig City Board of Canvassers in the May 8, 1995 elections. Salayon, then election officer of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), was designated chairman of said Board, while Llorente, who was then City Prosecutor of Pasig City, served as its ex oficio vice-chairman 1 as provided by law. Complainant, now a senator, was also a candidate for the Senate in that election. chanrobles virtual law library Complainant alleges that, in violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b), respondents tampered with the votes received by him, with the result that, as shown in the Statements of Votes (SoVs) and Certificate of Canvass (CoC) pertaining to 1,263 precincts of Pasig City, (1) senatorial candidates Juan Ponce Enrile, Anna Dominique Coseteng, Gregorio Honasan, Marcelo Fernan, Ramon Mitra, and Rodolfo Biazon were credited with votes which were above the number of votes they actually received while, on the other hand, petitioners votes were reduced; (2) in 101 precincts, Enriles votes were in excess of the total number of voters who actually voted therein; and (3) the votes from 22 precincts were twice recorded in 18 SoVs. Complainant maintains that, by signing the SoVs and CoC despite respondents knowledge that some of the entries therein were false, the latter committed a serious breach of public trust and of their lawyers oath. chanrobles virtual law library Respondents denied the allegations against them. They alleged that the preparation of the SoVs was made by the 12 canvassing committees which the Board had constituted to assist in the canvassing. They claimed that the errors pointed out by complainant could be attributed to honest mistake, oversight, and/or fatigue. chanrobles virtual law library In his Consolidated Reply, complainant counters that respondents should be held responsible for the illegal padding of the votes considering the nature and extent of the irregularities and the fact that the canvassing of the election returns was done under their control and supervision. chanrobles virtual law library On December 4, 1998, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, to which this matter had been referred pursuant to Rule 139-B, 13, in 3 relation to 20 of the Rules of Court, recommended the dismissal of the complaint for lack of merit. Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration on March 11, 1999, but his motion was denied in a resolution of the IBP Board of Governors dated April 22, 1999. On June 4, 1999, he filed this petition pursuant to Rule 139-B, 12(c). chanrobles virtual law library It appears that complainant likewise filed criminal charges against respondents before the COMELEC (E.O. Case No. 96-1132) for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b). In its resolution dated January 8, 1998, the COMELEC dismissed complainants charges for 4 insufficiency of evidence. However, on a petition for certiorari filed by complainant, this Court set aside the resolution and directed the COMELEC to file appropriate criminal charges against respondents. Reconsideration was denied on August 15, 2000. chanrobles virtual law library Considering the foregoing facts, we hold that respondents are guilty of misconduct. chanrobles virtual law library
2

First. Respondent Llorente seeks the dismissal of the present petition on the ground that it was filed late. He contends that a motion 5 for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading under Rule 139-B, 12(c) and, therefore, the filing of such motion before the IBP Board of Governors did not toll the running of the period of appeal. Respondent further contends that, assuming such motion can be filed, petitioner nevertheless failed to indicate the date of his receipt of the April 22, 1999 resolution of the IBP denying his motion for reconsideration so that it cannot be ascertained whether his petition was filed within the 15-day period under Rule 139-B, 12(c). chanrobles virtual law library The contention has no merit. The question of whether a motion for reconsideration is a prohibited pleading or not under Rule 139-B, 6 12(c) has been settled in Halimao v. Villanueva, in which this Court held: chanrobles virtual law library Although Rule 139-B, 12(c) makes no mention of a motion for reconsideration, nothing in its text or in its history suggests that such motion is prohibited. It may therefore be filed within 15 days from notice to a party. Indeed, the filing of such motion should be encouraged before resort is made to this Court as a matter of exhaustion of administrative remedies, to afford the agency rendering the judgment an opportunity to correct any error it may have committed through a misapprehension of facts or misappreciation of the evidence.[7chanrobles virtual law library On the question whether petitioners present petition was filed within the 15-day period provided under Rule 139-B, 12(c), although the records show that it was filed on June 4, 1999, respondent has not shown when petitioner received a copy of the resolution of the IBP Board of Governors denying his motion for reconsideration. It would appear, however, that the petition was filed on time because a copy of the resolution personally served on the Office of the Bar Confidant of this Court was received by it on May 18, 1999. Since copies of IBP resolutions are sent to the parties by mail, it is possible that the copy sent to petitioner was received by him later than May 18, 1999. Hence, it may be assumed that his present petition was filed within 15 days from his receipt of the IBP resolution. In any event, the burden was on respondent, as the moving party, to show that the petition in this case was filed beyond the 15-day period for filing it. chanrobles virtual law library Even assuming that petitioner received the IBP resolution in question on May 18, 1999, i.e., on the same date a copy of the same 8 was received by the Office of the Bar Confidant, the delay would only be two days. The delay may be overlooked, considering the merit of this case. Disbarment proceedings are undertaken solely for public welfare. The sole question for determination is whether a member of the bar is fit to be allowed the privileges as such or not. The complainant or the person who called the attention of the Court to the attorneys alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and generally has no interest in the outcome except as all good 9 10 11 citizens may have in the proper administration of justice. For this reason, laws dealing with double jeopardy or prescription or 12 13 with procedure like verification of pleadings and prejudicial questions have no application to disbarment proceedings. chanrobles virtual law library Even in ordinary civil actions, the period for perfecting appeals is relaxed in the interest of justice and equity where the appealed 14 15 16 case is clearly meritorious. Thus, we have given due course to appeals even though filed six, four, and three days late. In this case, the petition is clearly meritorious. chanrobles virtual law library Second. The IBP recommends the dismissal of petitioners complaint on the basis of the following: (1) respondents had no involvement in the tabulation of the election returns, because when the Statements of Votes (SoVs) were given to them, such had already been accomplished and only needed their respective signatures; (2) the canvassing was done in the presence of watchers, representatives of the political parties, the media, and the general public so that respondents would not have risked the commission of any irregularity; and (3) the acts dealt with in R.A. No. 6646, 27(b) are mala in se and not mala prohibita, and petitioner failed to 17 establish criminal intent on the part of respondents. chanrobles virtual law library The recommendation is unacceptable. In disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar, only clear preponderance of evidence 18 19 is required to establish liability. As long as the evidence presented by complainant or that taken judicial notice of by the Court is 20 more convincing and worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto, the imposition of disciplinary sanction is justified. chanrobles virtual law library In this case, respondents do not dispute the fact that massive irregularities attended the canvassing of the Pasig City election returns. The only explanation they could offer for such irregularities is that the same could be due to honest mistake, human error, and/or fatigue on the part of the members of the canvassing committees who prepared the SoVs. chanrobles virtual law library This is the same allegation made in Pimentel v. Commission on Elections. In rejecting this allegation and ordering respondents prosecuted for violation of R.A. No. 6646, 27(b), this Court said: chanrobles virtual law library
21

There is a limit, We believe, to what can be construed as an honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, in the performance of official duty. The sheer magnitude of the error, not only in the total number of votes garnered by the aforementioned candidates as reflected in the CoC and the SoVs, which did not tally with that reflected in the election returns, but also in the total number of votes credited for senatorial candidate Enrile which exceeded the total number of voters who actually voted in those precincts during the May 8, 1995 elections, renders the defense of honest mistake or oversight due to fatigue, as incredible and simply unacceptable.[22chanrobles virtual law library Indeed, what is involved here is not just a case of mathematical error in the tabulation of votes per precinct as reflected in the 23 election returns and the subsequent entry of the erroneous figures in one or two SoVs but a systematic scheme to pad the votes of certain senatorial candidates at the expense of petitioner in complete disregard of the tabulation in the election returns. A cursory look at the evidence submitted by petitioner reveals that, in at least 24 SoVs involving 101 precincts, the votes for candidate Enrile exceeded the number of voters who actually voted in the said precincts and, in 18 SoVs, returns from 22 precincts were tabulated twice. In addition, as the Court noted in Pimentel, the total number of votes credited to each of the seven senatorial candidates in 24 question, as reflected in the CoC, markedly differ from those indicated in the SoVs. Despite the fact that these discrepancies, especially the double recording of the returns from 22 precincts and the variation in the tabulation of votes as reflected in the SoVs and CoC, were apparent on the face of these documents and that the variation involves substantial number of votes, respondents nevertheless certified the SoVs as true and correct. Their acts constitute misconduct. chanrobles virtual law library Respondent Llorentes contention that he merely certified the genuineness and due execution of the SoVs but not their correctness is belied by the certification which reads: chanrobles virtual law library WE HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing Statement of Votes by . . . [p]recinct is true and correct. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we sign these presents at the City/Municipality of ___________ Province of ____________ this _______ day of May, 1995. (Emphasis added) chanrobles virtual law library Nor does the fact that the canvassing was open to the public and observed by numerous individuals preclude the commission of acts for which respondents are liable. The fact is that only they had access to the SoVs and CoC and thus had the opportunity to compare them and detect the discrepancies therein. chanrobles virtual law library Now, a lawyer who holds a government position may not be disciplined as a member of the bar for misconduct in the discharge of 25 his duties as a government official. However, if the misconduct also constitutes a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility or the lawyers oath or is of such character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or shows moral delinquency on his 26 part, such individual may be disciplined as a member of the bar for such misconduct. chanrobles virtual law library Here, by certifying as true and correct the SoVs in question, respondents committed a breach of Rule 1.01 of the Code which stipulates that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. By express provision of Canon 6, this is made applicable to lawyers in the government service. In addition, they likewise violated their oath of office as lawyers to do no falsehood. chanrobles virtual law library Nowhere is the need for lawyers to observe honesty both in their private and in their public dealings better expressed in Sabayle v. 27 Tandayag in which this Court said: chanrobles virtual law library There is a strong public interest involved in requiring lawyers . . . to behave at all times in a manner consistent with truth and honor. It is important that the common caricature that lawyers by and large do not feel compelled to speak the truth and to act honestly, should not become a common reality. . . .[28chanrobles virtual law library It may be added that, as lawyers in the government service, respondents were under greater obligation to observe this basic tenet of the profession because a public office is a public trust. chanrobles virtual law library Third.Respondents participation in the irregularities herein reflects on the legal profession, in general, and on lawyers in government, in particular. Such conduct in the performance of their official duties, involving no less than the ascertainment of the popular will as expressed through the ballot, would have merited for them suspension were it not for the fact that this is their first 29 administrative transgression and, in the case of Salayon, after a long public service. Under the circumstances, a penalty of fine in the amount of P10,000.00 for each of the respondents should be sufficient. chanrobles virtual law library

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondents Antonio M. Llorente and Ligaya P. Salayon GUILTY of misconduct and imposes on each of them a FINE in the amount of P10,000.00 with a WARNING that commission of similar acts will be dealt with more severely. chanrobles virtual law library SO ORDERED.chanrobles virtual law library Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur

Endnotes: EN BANC [A.C. No. 5438. March 10, 2004] DAN JOEL V. LIM and RICHARD C. TAN, complainants, vs. ATTY. EDILBERTO BARCELONA, respondent. RESOLUTION PER CURIAM: On May 9, 2001, Dan Joel V. Lim and Richard C. Tan,xxvi[1] both businessmen, filed a complaint for alleged robbery or extortion and violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act against Atty. Edilberto Barcelona, a lawyer formerly employed with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). The complaint was simultaneously filed with this Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.xxvi[2] Complainant Lim alleged that on the first week of August 2000, respondent phoned him and introduced himself as a lawyer and chief of the Public Assistance Center, NLRC. Respondent informed him that his employees filed a labor complaint against him in his office and it was necessary for him to see and talk with respondent. From then on respondent would often call him. Respondent visited him in his office and told him to settle the case or else his business, Top Gun Billiards, would be shut down. Lim recalled that on August 14, 2000, at around 7:30 p.m., respondent again visited his establishment and told him to settle the case for P20,000.00. In support of his allegations, Lim submitted a written complaint of Arnel E. Ditan and Pilipino Ubante; an endorsement letter dated August 2, 2000 of Atty. Jonathan F. Baligod of the Presidential Action Center; handwritten calling cards of the respondent; and an affidavit of desistance executed by Ditan and Ubante. In their joint affidavit, Ditan and Ubante confirmed the filing of their complaint against their employer, Lim, and that after some dialogue, the aforenamed employees executed an affidavit dated August 8, 2000 withdrawing their complaint. According to Ditan and Ubante, they met the respondent in Top Gun Billiards where the latter often played billiards. One day, respondent gave them a letter and asked them to sign it. Since they were busy at that time, they signed it without reading and understanding its contents. Their employer, Lim, asked what it was about and they told him that they were just made to sign a document without their understanding it. They added, they did not have any complaint against their employer. Despite such withdrawal, respondent still called Lim threatening the latter that he would pursue the case, have his establishment closed and he would be jailed if he did not come up with P20,000.00 as settlement. In the evening of August 14, 2000, respondent reiterated his demand for P20,000.00, again with the threat of closure of the billiard center and putting Lim in jail. Complainant Lim said that after his meeting with respondent, he agreed to give the amount but did not fix any date when payment would be made, whereupon, respondent gave notice that he would drop in at around 7:00 in the evening, on August 16, 2000, to pick up the money.

Aurora Cruz y Libunao, owner of the carinderia adjacent to Top Gun Billiards, stated in her sworn statement as well as court testimony that she met respondent when he ate in her carinderia. She recalled that the respondent told her that he would shut down the billiard business if the owner would not talk to him. She also recounted that on August 14, 2000, at around 8:30 p.m., she saw on the second floor of the pool house, the respondent and Lim talking. After a while, the respondent came down and passed by her carinderia. The respondent then informed her that he and Lim talked about the P20,000.00 which respondent would give to his alleged boss in Malacaang. During the hearing, she also recalled seeing Lim hand money to respondent who in turn put the cash in his attach case and immediately thereafter, she saw three men arrest respondent. xxvi[3] Notably, almost nine months before the filing of his complaint, or on August 14, 2000, complainant Lim personally submitted a letter to the NBI requesting the NBI to investigate respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona.xxvi[4] According to the NBI report, after due investigation, it decided to conduct an entrapment operation. On August 15, 2000, Special Investigator Marvin de Jemil, sent nine five hundred peso bills and five one hundred peso bills for fluorescent powder dusting to the NBI Forensic Chemistry Division. Further, the NBI reported that thru the NBI Identification and Records Division, it found no record of such person named Edilberto Barcelona. The NBI report also stated that on August 16, 2000, Lim informed the NBI operatives that at around 7:00 p.m. respondent would drop by his pool house to collect the money. At around 6:30 p.m., the operatives went to the pool house and strategically positioned themselves and posed as pool players. At about 7:20 p.m., respondent arrived, sat on a plastic chair and talked to complainant Lim. At around 7:30 p.m., Lim handed the marked money to the respondent who, in turn, received it. While respondent was counting the money and about to place it inside his bag, he was immediately arrested. The respondent initially resisted and tried to create scandal but was later pacified. The NBI averred that the respondent was informed of his constitutional rights and was brought to the NBI office where he was booked and fingerprinted. In his fingerprint chart, the respondent indicated that he was a government lawyer and assigned at the office of the Chief, Public Assistance Center, NLRC, Banawe, Quezon City. He showed his identification card. Later he was brought to the Forensic Chemistry Division for ultraviolet examination. The certification issued by Forensic Chemist Loren G. Janobas stated that there were yellow fluorescent specks and smudges on the back and palm of the left and right hand of the respondent. On August 17, 2000, the NBI turned over respondent to the City Prosecutor of Manila who eventually indicted him for robbery/extortion.xxvi[5] Complainant Richard Tan, owner of Tai Hing Glass Supply, a co-signee in the herein complaint, executed a sworn statement dated August 16, 2000. In it he alleged that he went to the Criminal Intelligence Division, Intelligence Service of the NBI to complain about respondent Barcelona. He said that sometime during the last week of July, respondent called him, introduced himself and informed him that one of his employees filed an illegal dismissal case against him. He remembered that before respondents call, he had suspended an employee, Bryan Tellen, for leaving his workplace without permission. Tellen received several warning letters from him regarding his misdemeanors. Tan remembered that Tellen once hinted that he knew someone in the Department of Labor, who turned out to be herein respondent, Atty. Barcelona. Before Tan sent his accountant, Ditas Guitierrez, to respondents office to represent him, he told her to bring a copy of Tellens suspension letter and to inform respondent that Tellen had not been dismissed. When Guitierrez returned, she told him that respondent wanted him to pay his employee. She added that respondent did not give her any copy of a formal complaint on the alleged illegal dismissal. After two days, according to Tan, respondent went to his office, showed him an identification card and gave him a handwritten calling card. Respondent told him to pay his employee P20,000.00 to P30,000.00, otherwise respondent would go on with the filing of the illegal dismissal case. When he said he did not have that kind of money, respondent lowered the amount to P15,000.00. Complainant Tan added that when he gave respondent the money, the latter promised to take care of the illegal

dismissal complaint. On July 29, 2000, according to Tan, respondent came to see him again. Respondent appeared drunk and told Tan to go to the respondents office because a problem regarding the case arose. Tan stated that before respondent left, respondent invited his employees to a game of billiards. Tan said he did not consent to the employees playing because they had work. On July 31, 2000, respondent went to him a third time and asked for an additional P10,000.00 allegedly for his employee, Tellen, since the P15,000.00 Tan gave earlier was for respondent only. After a few more visits by respondent, Tan finally told the respondent to show him the formal complaint and he would just get himself a lawyer.xxvi[6] The Joint Affidavit of Arrest, signed on August 17, 2000 by Agent Don R. Hernandez, SI Felix O. Senora and SI Marvin de Jemil, cited complainant Tans allegations.xxvi[7] Respondent Atty. Barcelona filed his Commentxxvi[8] on December 10, 2001, praying for the dismissal of the complaint against him. Respondent, in his defense, alleges that he normally played billiards at the Top Gun Billiard Center where he would drop by from his office before going to his residence; that when certain employees of the billiard center learned that he was a lawyer and Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC, they confided in him their grievance against their employer, Lim, for alleged violation of labor laws, there respondent gave them assistance; that with the proper complaint and required documentation accomplished, respondents office scheduled the case for a dialogue-conference between the complaining workers and their employer; that on instigation and coercion of complainant Lim, respondent became a victim of theft, billiard hustling, swindling and syndicated gambling on August 9, 2000; that on or about August 9, 2000, respondent filed a complaint for theft of cellphone and pack of cigarettes, billiard hustling, syndicated gambling, and swindling against Lim and his three workers, eventually docketed as I.S. No. 38251 to 53.xxvi[9] Respondents Comment narrated his version on how the money allegedly was given to him. According to the respondent, on August 16, 2000, at about 3 p.m., he received a phone call from complainant Lim informing him that Ian Gonvan,xxvi[10] one of the accused in I.S. No. 38251, admitted taking his cellphone and was willing and ready to return it at around 7 p.m., at the Top Gun Billiard Center. It was the birthday of his daughter that was why he took the day off from office. At about 7:30 p.m., he arrived at the billiard hall and there found Lim with one of his complaining workers, fixing the lamp of one of the billiard tables. He did not see Gonvan within the premises so he sat and watched the billiard games going on while he waited. After about 15 minutes Lim sat beside him and told him that Gonvan could no longer return the cellphone and instead Gonvan entrusted Lim with the equivalent value in cash. According to respondent, Lim persistently whispered to him to accept and count the wad of paper money Lim pulled out. According to respondent, he consistently refused to touch the money and he insisted, Gusto ko munang makaharap ang sinasabi mong si Gumban,xxvi[11] continuously refusing to accept, much less count, the offered wad of money. Respondent added that when Lim realized that he could not be prevailed upon to accept it, he placed and inserted the wad of money in the open side pocket of respondents shoulder bag that respondent normally carried, again pleading to respondent that he should count the money. Respondent added that Lims behavior was rude and intimidating so much so that respondent protested such rudeness. But respondent said while he was trying to retrieve the wad of money to throw it back to Lim, about five or seven burly men accosted respondent and handcuffed him over his vehement protestations.xxvi[12] On Tans complaint, respondent declared that he never demanded nor received money from Tan, and Tans accusations are but a product of the formers fertile imagination as leverage because he actively assisted a complaining worker of Tan.xxvi[13] Respondent added that a formal labor complaint has been filed against Tan.xxvi[14] Eventually, we referred the complaint against Atty. Barcelona to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. Its report with recommendation is now before us. We shall now proceed to the merits of the complaint.

Respondents version seeks to discredit the NBI report to the effect that respondent accepted the marked money which Lim handed to him. His version, however, fails to explain why he was found positive for yellow fluorescent specks and smudges in his dorsal and palmar aspects of the left and right hands by the Forensic Department of the NBI. Respondent claims that he continuously refused to accept, much less count, the offered wad of money. Because of such refusal, according to respondent, Lim inserted the wad of money in respondents shoulder bags open pocket while complainant Lim was still pleading to count the wad of money. Respondent alleges that the alleged bribery or extortion is a mere concoction of complainant and as leverage for the cases against Lim and Tan. Based on the NBI report, this case appears to be an entrapment operation. Notably, Atty. Don Hernandez and his team of arresting officers confirm the entrapment operation against respondent on the basis of complainant Lims call for NBI assistance. While respondent alleges that complainant Lim merely concocted a charge of extortion against him in retaliation to a complaint for theft which he had filed, it may be noted that the complaint for theft was not directed against Lim but only against his workers who were accused by respondent. Hence, there appears to be no strong reason for Lim to resort to a counter-charge for extortion against respondent. The Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP concluded that it is highly improbable that the NBI could be misled by complainant Lim into conducting an entrapment operation against respondent, if there was no merit to his complaint against respondent. From a reading of the NBI Report as well as the documents attached to said report, it is evident that the NBI considered the merits of Lims complaint of extortion against respondent. Finding it worth pursuing, the NBI conducted an entrapment operation against respondent. On the basis of the entrapment operation conducted by the NBI, respondent was caught in the act, so to speak, of attempted extortion. Respondent was brought to the City Prosecutor of Manila for inquest and the appropriate complaint for Robbery/Extortion was filed against respondent.xxvi[15] Based on its own evaluation and the NBI Report, the Investigating Commissioner of the Commission on Bar Discipline recommended the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a period of two years.xxvi[16] In the final resolution dated September 27, 2003, the Board of Governors of the IBP imposed the penalty of disbarment for the reason that respondent in fact attempted to extort money as Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC to threaten/coerce Lim and that no less than the NBI caught him in the act of receiving and counting the money extorted from Lim.xxvi[17] The grounds for disbarment or suspension of an attorney are: (1) deceit; (2) malpractice or other gross misconduct in office; (3) grossly immoral conduct; (4) conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude; (5) violation of the lawyers oath; (6) willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and (7) willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority.xxvi[18] The NBI found that respondents hands had yellow fluorescent specks and smudges with which the money used for the entrapment of the respondent had been powdered. We find no reason to doubt the NBI report. Also, we see no basis to overturn the presumption that the NBI had done its duty regularly. Respondent would make us believe that the specks and smudges of yellow fluorescent were in his hands because Lim offered him what was allegedly the payment for the stolen cellphone by a certain Gonvan. Regrettably, there is no corroboration from Gonvan nor anyone else on this matter. Thus, respondents story appears to us entirely self-serving.

We had held previously that if a lawyers misconduct in the discharge of his official duties as government official is of such a character as to affect his qualification as a lawyer or to show moral delinquency, he may be disciplined as a member of the Bar on such ground.xxvi[19] More significantly, lawyers in government service in the discharge of their official tasks have more restrictions than lawyers in private practice. Want of moral integrity is to be more severely condemned in a lawyer who holds a responsible public office.xxvi[20] Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. Extortion by a government lawyer, an outright violation of the law, calls for the corresponding grave sanctions. With the aforesaid rule a high standard of integrity is demanded of a government lawyer as compared to a private practitioner because the delinquency of a government lawyer erodes the peoples trust and confidence in the government. Needless to say, lawyers owe it to the court and to society not to stir up litigations. Employees of the billiards hall, Ditan and Ubante, swore that respondent public officer encouraged complainant Lims workers to file a case against the latter. Rule 1.03 of the same Code states that a lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage any suit or proceeding or delay any mans cause. Noteworthy, as an Attorney IV and Chief of the Public Assistance Center of the NLRC, respondent failed to observe prudence by hanging out and playing in the billiard hall. By so doing, he exposed himself unnecessarily to certain elements and situations which could compromise his official position and his status as a lawyer. Time and again, we have declared that the practice of law is a noble profession. It is a special privilege bestowed only upon those who are competent intellectually, academically and morally. A lawyer must at all times conduct himself, especially in his dealings with his clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach. He must faithfully perform his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. A violation of the high standards of the legal profession subjects the lawyer to administrative sanctions which includes suspension and disbarment.xxvi[21] More importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice; otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.xxvi[22] Indeed, the primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish and discipline the erring individual lawyers, but also to safeguard the administration of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of the lawyers oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in them as members of the bar.xxvi[23] These pronouncements gain practical significance in this case, considering that respondent is a senior lawyer of the NLRC. It bears stressing also that government lawyers who are public servants owe fidelity to the public service, a public trust. As such, government lawyers should be more sensitive to their professional obligations as their disreputable conduct is more likely to be magnified in the public eye.xxvi[24] As a lawyer, who was also a public officer, respondent miserably failed to cope with the strict demands and high standards of the legal profession. In Montano v. IBP,xxvi[25] this Court said that only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer may disbarment be imposed as a penalty. In the instant case, the Court is convinced that the evidence against respondent is clear and convincing. He is administratively liable for corrupt activity, deceit, and gross misconduct. As correctly held by the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, he should not only be suspended from the practice of law but disbarred. WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edilberto Barcelona is found administratively guilty of corrupt activity, deceit, and gross misconduct and is hereby ordered DISBARRED. Let his name be stricken from the Roll of

Attorneys effective immediately, and this resolution spread in his record in this Court and circulated to all courts in the Philippines. SO ORDERED. Davide, Jr., C. J., Vitug, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur. Puno, J., on leave. Panganiban, J., on official leave.