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[ A.M. No.

RTJ-10-2217, April 08, 2013 ]


SONIA C. DECENA AND REY C. DECENA, PETITIONERS,
VS.
JUDGE NILO A. MALANYAON, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 32, IN PILI,
CAMARINES SUR, RESPONDENT.
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:
A judge may not involve himself in any activity that is an aspect of the private
practice of law. His acceptance of an appointment to the Bench inhibits him from
engaging in the private practice of law, regardless of the beneficiary of the activity
being a member of his immediate family. He is guilty of conduct unbecoming of a
judge otherwise.
Antecedents
The complainants have lodged an administrative complaint for conduct unbecoming
a judge against Hon. Nilo A. Malanyaon, the Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 32, in Pili, Camarines Sur.
In their joint complaint-affidavit dated April 10, 2007, the complainants averred that
complainant Rey C. Decena had brought an administrative case in Regional Office No.
V of the Civil Service Commission in Legaspi City, Albay against Judge Malanyaons
wife, Dr. Amelita C. Malanyaon (Dr. Amelita), then the Assistant Provincial Health
Officer of the Province of Camarines Sur; that during the hearing of the
administrative case on May 4, 2006, Judge Malanyaon sat beside his daughter, Atty.
Ma. Kristina C. Malanyaon, the counsel of Dr. Amelita in the case; and that the
events that then transpired were as recounted in the joint complaint-affidavit, to wit:

3. During the early stage of the hearing when the hearing officer, Atty. Dennis
Masinas Nieves, brought up the matter regarding Dr. Malanyaons manifestation or
motion (to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction), Judge Malanyaon coached her
daughter in making manifestations/motions before the hearing officer, by scribbling
on some piece of paper and giving the same to the former, thus prompting her
daughter to rise from her seat and/or ask permission from the officer to speak, and
then make some manifestations while reading or glancing on the paper given by
Judge Malanyaon. At one point, Judge Malanyaon even prompted her daughter to
demand that Atty. Eduardo Loria, the collaborating counsel of our principal counsel,
Atty. Mary Ailyne Zamora, be required to produce his PTR number.
4. When our principal counsel, Atty. Zamora, arrived and took over from Atty. Loria,
she inquired regarding the personality of Judge Malanyaon, being seated at the
lawyers bench beside Atty. Malanyaon, Judge Malanyaon then proudly introduced
himself and manifested that he was the counsel of the respondents counsel. Atty.
Zamora proceeded to raise the propriety of Judge Malanyaons sitting with and
assisting his daughter in that hearing, being a member of the judiciary, to which
Judge Malanyaon loudly retorted that he be shown any particular rule that prohibits
him from sitting with his daughter at the lawyers bench. He insisted that he was
merely assisting her daughter, who just passed the bar, defend the respondent,
and was likewise helping the latter defend herself. Pertinent portion of the records
of the proceedings are as follows:
xxxx
Atty. Nieves
:
First, she has to enter her appearance. Okay?
Atty. Zamora
:

Anyway, I dont think, I do not memorize my PTR number, I dont remember my


PTR number, but aside from that Your Honor, I think this Honorable Hearing Officer
could take judicial notice that Atty. Ed Loria is indeed a lawyer in good standing in
IBP. And moreover, Your Honor, I would like to inquire as to the personality of the
gentleman next to the lawyer of the defendant or respondent, Your Honor?
Judge Malanyaon
:
I am the counsel of the complainant, ah, of the respondents counsel, I am Judge
Malanyaon. I am assisting her. And so what?!!
Atty. Zamora
:
Ah, you are the counsel of the (interrupted)
Atty. Nieves
:
Theres no need to be belligerent lets calm down
Atty. Zamora
:
Your Honor, Your Honor, we all do not know each other, and with due respect to the
judge, there is also a hearing officer here Your Honor, and I think Your Honor the
Hearing Officer here deserves due respect. I mean, the word So what?!, I dont
think that would be proper Your Honor in this Court.

Judge Malanyaon
:
I am sorry your Honor, because the is out of turn, out of turn.
Atty. Nieves
:
This is not necessary, actually, this is not necessary. So we might as well proceed
with our hearing today. Ive already made a ruling regarding the, the query regarding
PTR. Okay, at this stage it is not proper considering that Atty. Loria only entered his
appearance during the start of the hearing. Okay. So, we have to proceed now.
Atty. Zamora
:
I am accepting Your Honor the delegation again of Atty. Loria. I am entering my
appearance as the lead counsel for this case, Your Honor, as counsel for the
complainant.
Atty. Nieves
:
Okay.
Atty. Zamora
:

And may I be clear that the judge will be the collaborating counsel for the
respondent or the counsel of record of the respondent?
Atty. Nieves
:
of the judge is Im sorry?
Atty. Zamora
:
He manifested Your Honor that he is the counsel of the respondent.
Atty. Malanyaon
:
No, the counsel of the counsel of the respondent.
Atty. Nieves
:
He has not, he has not entered his appearance in this case.
Atty. Zamora
:
Would that be proper for him Your Honor, considering that he is a judge Your Honor?
Would that, ah, there will be undue influence, or whatever, Your Honor? We are just
trying to avoid any bias or undue influence in this court, Your Honor.

Atty. Nieves
:
Okay, it will not, considering the fact that he has not entered his appearance for the
respondent.
Judge Malanyaon
:
If Your Honor, please, the respondent is my wife. Counsel for the respondent is my
daughter. She just passed the bar! Im assisting her. Is it not my right, my duty to
assist my daughter? And to assist my wife defend herself? I am only sitting with my
daughter! Im not acting for the respondent!
Atty. Zamora
:
I dont think Your Honor under the rule, the counsel needs a counsel. Only the one
charged or the one being charged needs a counsel.
Atty. Nieves
:
Okay, lets settle this now. Judge Malanyaon has not entered his appearance. It will
not in any way
xxxx
The complainants averred that the actuations of Judge Malanyaon during the

hearing of his wifes administrative case in the Civil Service Commission constituted
violations of the New Code of Judicial Conduct for the Philippines Judiciary.
On June 21, 2007, then Court Administrator Christopher O. Lock required Judge
Malanyaon to comment on the complaint.
On July 15, 2007, Judge Malanyaon filed his comment, refuting the allegations of the
complaint thusly:
Complainants are the sister and nephew of my wife, Amelita C. Malanyaon, there is
bad blood between them arising from divergent political loyalties and family
differences;
There is no reason for complainants to take offense at my sitting beside my daughter
Ma. Kristina, when she appeared for my wife in the first hearing of the administrative
case Rey C. Decena filed against my wife; the hearing officer himself could cite no
rule disallowing me from sitting beside my daughter, in the counsels table, and he
did not ask me to vacate where I sat beside my daughter; the transcript does not
support complainants claim;
It is true I snapped at Atty. Zamora, when she asked about my personality but she
was speaking out of turn as all I was doing was sitting beside my daughter when she
came as the transcript will show, I apologized to the hearing officer, who graciously
let the matter pass;
My daughter is a new practitioner; her law partner and lead counsel could not make
it on time, and as her consultant, I did not speak, nor enter my appearance for my
wife to lend a helping hand to a neophyte lawyer, defending her mother in an
administrative case, is not unethical, nor does it constitute the proscribed practice of
law;
It is petty for my sister-in-law and for my nephew to complain of my presence during
the hearing; it is my filial duty to lend my wife and daughter, moral and legal support
in their time of need; indeed, it is strange for complainants to take offense at my

presence and accuse me of practicing law during my stint as a judge when before the
bad blood between my wife and her sibling and nephew erupted, I helped them out
with their legal problems gratis et amore and they did not complain of my practicing
law on their behalf, indeed, one of the crosses a judge must carry is the cross of base
ingratitude.
On March 27, 2008, then Court Administrator Zenaida N. Elepao recommended to
the Court that: (a) the complaint be re-docketed as a regular administrative matter;
(b) Judge Malanyaon be found guilty of gross misconduct; and (c) Judge Malanyaon
be fined P50,000.00.
On September 16, 2009, the Court required the parties to manifest within 10 days
from notice if they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
records or pleadings filed.
The complainants complied on November 13, 2009, stating their willingness to
submit the case for resolution after a formal investigation or hearing was conducted,
and after they were given time to file their respective position papers or
memoranda.
On January 11, 2010, the Court resolved: (a) to re-docket the administrative case as a
regular administrative matter; (b) to await Judge Malanyaons compliance with the
September 16, 2009 resolution; and (c) to refer the administrative matter to the OCA
for evaluation, report and recommendation.
After Judge Malanyaon did not submit any compliance with the September 16, 2009
resolution, the Court ordered him on February 10, 2010 to show cause why he
should not be disciplinarily dealt with or held in contempt for such failure, and
further directed him to still comply with the resolution.
On February 15, 2010, Judge Malanyaons counsel informed the Court that Judge
Malanyaon had meanwhile suffered a massive stroke on September 2, 2009 that had
affected his mental faculties and made him unfit to defend himself here; and prayed
for the suspension of the proceedings until Judge Malanyaon would have been found

competent to comprehend and stand the rigors of the investigation.


On April 12, 2010, the Court deferred action on the case, and required Judge
Malanyaon to submit a medical certificate.
Judge Malanyaon submitted a medical certificate dated May 27, 2010, issued by the
Philippine General Hospital, certifying that he had been confined thereaft from
September 2, 2009 to October 19, 2009 for the following reason, to wit:
Cerebro Vascular disease, Hypertension Intra Cerebral Hematoma
Left Thalamus with obstructive Hydrocephalus; DM type II, Chronic
Obstructive Pulmonary disease; Pneumonia; lleus (resolved); Neurogenic bladder,
Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy; Graves disease;
Arthritis.
OPERATION PERFORMED:
Bilateral tube ventriculostomy
Judge Malanyaon submitted two more medical certificates, the first dated October 5,
2010, certifying that, among others, he was undergoing regular check-up, and the
other, dated January 24, 2011, certifying that his functional and mental status had
been assessed as follows:
The severity and location of the hemorrage in the brain resulted in residual
epoliptogenic focus (Post-gliotic seizures) and significant impairment of cognition,
memory judgment behavior (Vascular Dementia). He has problems with memory
recall, analysis of information, events and situations which may make defending
himself difficult, if necessary. Although he is independent on ambulation, he requires
assistance even in basic activities of daily living.

The Court required the complainants to comment on Judge Malanyaons medical


certification dated October 5, 2010.
On July 18, 2011, however, Dr. Amelita submitted a manifestation and urgent motion
to dismiss, seeking the dismissal of the administrative case against Judge Malanyaon
upon the following grounds, to wit:
xxxx
2. Unfortunately, in a Medical Certification dated June 15, 2011 the original of
which is attached hereto as Annex 1, the attending neurologist of my husband has
pronounced him permanently mentally impaired. x x x.
xxxx
3. As a consequence, my husband has permanently lost the capacity to understand
the nature and object of the administrative proceedings against him. He cannot
intelligently appoint his counsel or communicate coherently with him. He cannot
testify in his own behalf, and confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses.
Indeed, he cannot properly avail himself of his rights in an adversarial administrative
investigation;
4. Given the progressive mental impairment afflicting my husband, he has
permanently lost the capacity to defend himself. Thus, to continue the
administrative investigation against my husband who is no longer in any position to
defend himself would constitute a denial of his right to be heard (Baikong Akang
Camsa vs. Judge Aurelio Rendon, A.M. No. MTJ-02-1395 dated 19 February 2002).
Even so, on September 26, 2011, we required the complainants to comment on the
manifestation and motion of Dr. Amelita.
Subsequently, Dr. Amelita submitted another motion dated January 23, 2012,
praying for the dismissal of the case against Judge Malanyaon.

On February 6, 2012, Court Administrator Jose Midas P. Marquez reiterated the


recommendation made on March 27, 2008 by then Court Administrator Elepao by
recommending that: (a) the administrative case be re-docketed as a regular
administrative matter; and (b) Judge Malanyaon be found guilty of gross misconduct
and fined P50,000.00.
On May 3, 2012, the Court received the complainants compliance dated February 1,
2012, as their response to the show cause order issued in relation to their failure to
submit the comment the Court had required on September 26, 2011.
On September 4, 2012, the Court received from Dr. Amelita an urgent ex parte
motion for immediate resolution, praying that the motion to dismiss dated July 18,
2011 be already resolved.
Issues
For consideration and resolution are the following issues, namely: (a) whether or not
Judge Malanyaon would be denied due process if the administrative case was not
dismissed; (b) whether the actuations of Judge Malanyaon complained of constituted
conduct unbecoming of a judge; and (c) if Judge Malanyaon was guilty of conduct
unbecoming of a judge, what should be the correct sanction.
Ruling
We now discuss and resolve the issues accordingly.
1.
Respondents right to due process
is not violated by resolution of the case
In her manifestation with urgent motion to dismiss, Dr. Amelita stressed that
proceeding against Judge Malanyaon despite his present medical state would violate

his right to due process. She stated:


3. As a consequence, my husband has permanently lost the capacity to understand
the nature and object of the administrative proceedings against him. He cannot
intelligently appoint his counsel or communicate coherently with him. He cannot
testify in his own behalf, and confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses.
Indeed, he cannot properly avail himself of his rights in an adversarial administrative
investigation.
Opposing, the complainants argued that Dr. Amelitas concern was unfounded
considering that Judge Malanyaon had not only been given the opportunity to be
heard, but had been actually heard on their complaint.
The complainants argument is well taken.
On August 3, 2007, or prior to his suffering the massive stroke that impaired his
mental faculty, Judge Malanyaon already submitted his comment containing his
explanations and refutations of the charge against him. His comment asserted that
during the hearing of the administrative case of his wife in the Regional Office of the
Civil Service Commission, the hearing officer did not even cite any rule that
prohibited him from sitting beside his daughter who was then acting as the counsel
of Dr. Amelita therein, or that inhibited him from assisting his daughter in the
defense of his wife. He pointed out that although he had then lost his temper after
the opposing counsel had inquired about his personality in that hearing, he had
ultimately apologized to the hearing officer, who had in turn graciously let the
matter pass.
Under the circumstances, Judge Malanyaon was accorded due process. In
administrative cases, the requirement of due process is satisfied whenever the
parties are afforded the fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the
controversy, either through oral arguments or through pleadings. That is what
happened herein. Accordingly, Dr. Amelitas motion was bereft of basis, and should
be denied.

2.
Actuations of Judge Malanyaon
rendered him guilty of
conduct unbecoming of a judge
The following actuations of Judge Malanyaon constituted conduct unbecoming of a
judge upon the reasons set forth below.
First was Judge Malanyaons occupying a seat beside his daughter that was reserved
for the lawyers during the hearing. Such act displayed his presumptuousness, and
probably even his clear intention to thereby exert his influence as a judge of the
Regional Trial Court on the hearing officer in order for the latter to favor his wifes
cause. That impression was definitely adverse against the Judiciary, whose every
judicial officer was presumed to be a subject of strict scrutiny by the public. Being an
incumbent RTC Judge, he always represented the Judiciary, and should have acted
with greater circumspection and self-restraint, simply because the administrative
hearing was unavoidably one in which he could not but be partisan. Simple prudence
should have counselled him to avoid any form of suspicion of his motives, or to
suppress any impression of impropriety on his part as an RTC judge by not going to
the hearing himself.
Second was Judge Malanyaons admission that his presence in that hearing was to
advise his daughter on what to do and say during the hearing, to the point of
coaching his daughter. In the process, he unabashedly introduced himself as the
counsel of the respondents counsel upon his presence being challenged by the
adverse counsel, stating that his daughter was still inexperienced for having just
passed her Bar Examinations. Such excuse, seemingly grounded on a filial duty
towards his wife and his daughter, did not furnish enough reason for him to forsake
the ethical conduct expected of him as a sitting judge. He ought to have restrained
himself from sitting at that hearing, being all too aware that his sitting would have
him cross the line beyond which was the private practice of law.

Section 35 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court expressly prohibits sitting judges like
Judge Malanyaon from engaging in the private practice of law or giving professional
advice to clients. Section 11, Canon 4 (Propriety), of the New Code of Judicial
Conduct and Rule 5.07 of the Code of Judicial Conduct reiterate the prohibition from
engaging in the private practice of law or giving professional advice to clients. The
prohibition is based on sound reasons of public policy, considering that the rights,
duties, privileges and functions of the office of an attorney are inherently
incompatible with the high official functions, duties, powers, discretion and
privileges of a sitting judge. It also aims to ensure that judges give their full time and
attention to their judicial duties, prevent them from extending favors to their own
private interests, and assure the public of their impartiality in the performance of
their functions. These objectives are dictated by a sense of moral decency and desire
to promote the public interest.
Thus, an attorney who accepts an appointment to the Bench must accept that his
right to practice law as a member of the Philippine Bar is thereby suspended, and it
shall continue to be so suspended for the entire period of his incumbency as a judge.
The term practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court or to
participation in court proceedings, but extends to the preparation of pleadings or
papers in anticipation of a litigation, the giving of legal advice to clients or persons
needing the same, the preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal
rights are secured, and the preparation of papers incident to actions and special
proceedings. To the Court, then, Judge Malanyaon engaged in the private practice of
law by assisting his daughter at his wifes administrative case, coaching his daughter
in making manifestations or posing motions to the hearing officer, and preparing the
questions that he prompted to his daughter in order to demand that Atty. Eduardo
Loria, collaborating counsel of the complainants principal counsel, should produce
his privilege tax receipt. Judge Malanyaon did so voluntarily and knowingly, in light of
his unhesitating announcement during the hearing that he was the counsel for Atty.
Katrina Malanyaon, the counsel of the respondent, as his response to the query by
the opposing counsel why he was seated next to Atty. Malanyaon thereat.
Third was Judge Malanyaons admission that he had already engaged in the private

practice of law even before the incident now the subject of this case by his
statement in his comment that it is strange for complainants to take offense at my
presence and accuse me of practicing law during my stint as a judge when before the
bad blood between my wife and her sibling and nephew erupted, I helped them out
with their legal problems gratis et amore and they did not complain of my practicing
law on their behalf. He thereby manifested his tendencies to disregard the
prohibition against the private practice of law during his incumbency on the Bench.
Any propensity on the part of a magistrate to ignore the ethical injunction to conduct
himself in a manner that would give no ground for reproach is always worthy of
condemnation. We should abhor any impropriety on the part of judges, whether
committed in or out of their courthouses, for they are not judges only occasionally.
The Court has fittingly emphasized in Castillo v. Calanog, Jr.:
The Code of Judicial Ethics mandates that the conduct of a judge must be free of a
whiff of impropriety not only with respect to his performance of his judicial duties,
but also to his behavior outside his sala and as a private individual. There is no
dichotomy of morality; a public official is also judged by his private morals. The Code
dictates that a judge, in order to promote public confidence in the integrity and
impartiality of the judiciary, must behave with propriety at all times. As we have very
recently explained, a judges official life cannot simply be detached or separated
from his personal existence. Thus:
Being a subject of constant public scrutiny, a judge should freely and willingly accept
restrictions on conduct that might be viewed as burdensome by the ordinary citizen.
A judge should personify judicial integrity and exemplify honest public service. The
personal behavior of a judge, both in the performance of official duties and in private
life should be above suspicion.
Fourth was Judge Malanyaons display of arrogance during the hearing, as reflected
by his reaction to the opposing counsels query on his personality to sit at the
counsel table at the hearing, to wit:

I am the counsel of the complainant, ah, of the respondents counsel, I am Judge


Malanyaon. I am assisting her. And so what?!!
Judge Malanyaons uttering And so what? towards the opposing counsel evinced
his instant resentment towards the adverse parties counsel for rightly challenging
his right to be sitting on a place reserved for counsel of the parties. The utterance,
for being made in an arrogant tone just after he had introduced himself as a judge,
was unbecoming of the judge that he was, and tainted the good image of the
Judiciary that he should uphold at all times. It is true that the challenge of the
opposing counsel might have slighted him, but that was not enough to cause him to
forget that he was still a judge expected to act with utmost sobriety and to speak
with self-restraint. He thereby ignored the presence of the hearing officer, appearing
to project that he could forsake the decorum that the time and the occasion rightly
called for from him and the others just because he was a judge and the other side
was not. He should not forget that a judge like himself should be the last person to
be perceived by others as a petty and sharp-tongued tyrant.
Judge Malanyaon has insisted that his actuations were excused by his filial obligation
to assist his daughter, then only a neophyte in the Legal Profession. We would easily
understand his insistence in the light of our culture to be always solicitous of the
wellbeing of our family members and other close kin, even risking our own safety
and lives in their defense. But the situation of Judge Malanyaon was different, for he
was a judicial officer who came under the stricture that uniformly applied to all
judges of all levels of the judicial hierarchy, forbidding him from engaging in the
private practice of law during his incumbency, regardless of whether the beneficiary
was his wife or daughter or other members of his own family.
3.
What is the proper penalty?
Judge Malanyaon had been previously sanctioned by the Court on the following
three occasions, namely: (a) A.M. No. RTJ-93-1090, with admonition for gross
ignorance of the law and unreasonable delay in resolving motions; (b) A.M. No. RTJ-

99-1444, with reprimand for failure to resolve motions; and (c) A.M. No. RTJ-021669, with a fine of P20,000.00 (coupled with a stern warning that a repetition of the
same or similar act would be dealt with more severely) for conduct unbecoming of a
judge. He had other administrative cases that were dismissed. Of the three
administrative cases that merited sanctions, however, only the third should be
considered as aggravating herein because it involved the similar offense of conduct
unbecoming of a judge for which he had been given the stern warning of a more
severe penalty upon a repetition.
However, our uniform treatment of administrative sanctions as having the nature of
liabilities akin to those in criminal cases now brings us to offset such aggravating
circumstance with the apparent fact that the actuations of Judge Malanyaon
complained of had not been motivated by bad faith, or by any malice towards
another. Indeed, he did not intend to thereby cause any prejudice to another, having
so acted from a sincere, albeit misplaced, desire to go to the help of his wife and
daughter.
Accordingly, the Court deems it condign and proper to mitigate the fine of
P50,000.00 recommended by the Court Administrator by imposing on Judge
Malanyaon a fine of P40,000.00. With his disability retirement from the Judiciary
having been earlier granted by the Court, the fine shall be deducted from his
remaining retirement benefits.
WHEREFORE, the Court finds and pronounces JUDGE NILO A. MALANYAON, Presiding
Judge of Branch 32 of the Regional Trial Court in Pili, Camarines Sur, administratively
liable for conduct unbecoming of a Judge, and penalizes him with a fine of
P40,000.00.
SO ORDERED

[ A.C. No. 6490 [Formerly CBD Case No. 03-1054], July 09, 2013 ]
LILIA TABANG AND CONCEPCION TABANG, COMPLAINANTS,

VS.
ATTY. GLENN C. GACOTT, RESPONDENT.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
This case involves a complaint for disbarment directly filed with the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) charging respondent Atty. Glenn Gacott of engaging in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility (CPR).
Complainants alleged that sometime in 1984 and 1985, complainant Lilia Tabang
sought the advice of Judge Eustaquio Gacott, respondent Atty. Glenn Gacotts father.
Lilia Tabang intended to purchase a total of thirty (30) hectares of agricultural land
located in Barangay Bacungan, Puerto Princesa, Palawan, which consisted of several
parcels belonging to different owners. Judge Gacott noted that under the
governments agrarian reform program, Tabang was prohibited from acquiring vast
tracts of agricultural land as she already owned other parcels. Thus, Judge Gacott
advised her to put the titles of the parcels under the names of fictitious persons.
Eventually, Lilia Tabang was able to purchase seven parcels and obtained the
corresponding Transfer Certificates of Title (TCT) under the names of fictitious
persons, as follows:
1. TCT No. 12475 Amelia Andes;
2. TCT No. 12476 Wilfredo Ondoy;
3. TCT No. 12790 Agnes Camilla;
4. TCT No. 12791 Leonor Petronio;

5. TCT No. 12792 Wilfredo Gomez;


6. TCT No. 12793 Elizabeth Dungan; and
7. TCT No. 12794 Andes Estoy.
Later, complainants Lilia and Concepcion Tabang decided to sell the seven parcels as
they were in need of funds for their medication and other expenses. Claiming that he
would help complainants by offering the parcels to prospective buyers, respondent
Glenn Gacott borrowed from Lilia Tabang the TCTs covering the parcels.
About a year after respondent borrowed the titles and after he failed to negotiate
any sale, complainants confronted respondent. Respondent then told the
complainants that he had lost all seven titles.
On the pretext of offering a remedy to complainants, respondent advised them to
file petitions in court for re-issuance of titles. Pretending to be the authorized
agent-representative of the fictitious owners of the seven parcels, Lilia Tabang filed
petitions for re-issuance of titles.
In the course of the proceedings, the public prosecutor noticed similarities in the
signatures of the supposed owners that were affixed on the Special Powers of
Attorney (SPA) purportedly executed in favor of Lilia Tabang. The public prosecutor,
acting on his observation, asked the court to have the supposed owners summoned.
Seeking to avoid embarrassment, Lilia Tabang had the petitions voluntarily dismissed
without prejudice to their being re-filed.
Subsequently, Lilia Tabang filed a new set of petitions. This time, she changed the
fictitious owners signatures in the hope of making them look more varied.
Upon learning that Lilia Tabang had filed a new set of petitions, respondent executed
several documents that included revocations of SPAs and various affidavits of

recovery purportedly signed by the parcels (fictitious) owners. Respondent then


caused the annotation of these documents on the TCTs of the seven parcels.
Also, respondent caused the publication of notices where he represented himself as
the owner of the parcels and announced that these were for sale. Later, respondent
succeeded in selling the seven parcels. He received a total of ?3,773,675.00 from the
proceeds of the sales.
Alleging that respondent committed gross misconduct, dishonesty, and deceit,
complainants filed their complaint directly with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
on February 3, 2003. The case was docketed as Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
Case No. 03-1054.
In his defense, respondent alleged that the owners of the seven parcels were not
fictitious and that they had voluntarily sold the seven parcels. He added that Lilia
Tabang had been merely the broker for the seven parcels and that she had
unsuccessfully demanded a balato of twenty percent (20%) from the proceeds of
the sale of the seven parcels. He alleged that after she had been refused to be given
a balato, Lilia Tabang had threatened to defame him and seek his disbarment.
In her Report and Recommendation dated March 4, 2004, IBP Investigating
Commissioner Lydia A. Navarro found respondent guilty of gross misconduct for
violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. She recommended that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months.
In a Resolution dated April 16, 2004, the IBP Board of Governors adopted the report
of Commissioner Navarro. However, the IBP Board of Governors increased the
penalty to disbarment. Thereafter, the case was referred to the Supreme Court
pursuant to Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court.
In a Resolution dated September 29, 2004, the Supreme Court remanded the case to
the IBP. The Court noted that majority of the pieces of evidence presented by
complainants were mere photocopies and affidavits and that the persons who
supposedly executed such documents were neither presented nor subpoenaed.

Thus, there could not have been adequate basis for sustaining the imposition of a
penalty as grave as disbarment.
The case was then assigned to Investigating Commissioner Dennis B. Funa. Hearings
were conducted on March 22, 2005; October 7, 2005; July 18, 2006; August 29, 2006;
November 7, 2006; February 23, 2007; and July 25, 2007.
The complainants presented several witnesses. One was Dieter Heinze, President of
the Swiss American Lending Corporation. Heinze testified that in April 2001, a friend
introduced him to respondent who, in turn, introduced himself as the owner of
seven (7) parcels in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. They agreed on the purchase of a
lot priced at P900,000.00. His company, however, paid only P668,000.00. Heinze
noted that his company withheld payment upon his realization that Lilia Tabang had
caused the annotation of an adverse claim and upon respondents failure to produce
Leonor Petronio, the alleged lot owner.
Another of complainants witnesses was Atty. Agerico Paras. He testified that Heinze
introduced him to respondent who, in turn, introduced himself as the owner of
seven (7) parcels in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan. They agreed on the purchase of a
lot priced at P2,300,000.00. He paid for the said parcel in two (2) installments. Upon
learning that Lilia Tabang had caused the annotation of an adverse claim, he wrote to
respondent asking him to either work on the cancellation of the claim or to
reimburse him. He added that respondent was unable to produce Amelia Andes, the
ostensible owner of the parcel he had purchased.
Teodoro Gallinero, another buyer of one of the seven parcels, also testified for
complainants. He testified that in February 2001, he was introduced to respondent
who claimed that several parcels with a total area of thirty (30) hectares were owned
by his mother. Gallinero agreed to purchase a parcel for the price of P2,000,000.00
which he paid in cash and in kind (L-300 van).
Complainant Lilia Tabang also testified on the matters stated in the Complaint.
On July 25, 2007, Commissioner Funa required the complainants to submit their

Position Paper. Respondent filed his Motion for Reconsideration and the Inhibition of
Commissioner Funa who, respondent claimed, deprived him of the chance to crossexamine complainants witnesses, and was bent on prejudicing him.
Commissioner Funa then inhibited himself. Following this, the case was reassigned to
Investigating Commissioner Rico A. Limpingco.
In the meantime, with the Supreme Court En Bancs approval of the IBP-CBDs Rules
of Procedure, it was deemed proper for an Investigating Commissioner to submit
his/her Report and Recommendation based on matters discussed during the
mandatory conferences, on the parties Position Papers (and supporting documents),
and on the results of clarificatory questioning (if such questioning was found to be
necessary). As such, respondents Motion for Reconsideration was denied, and he
was required to file his Position Paper.
On July 30, 2009, respondent filed his Position Paper. Subsequently, the case was
deemed submitted for Commissioner Limpingcos Report and Recommendation.
In his Position Paper, respondent noted that he filed criminal complaints against Lilia
Tabang on account of Tabangs statement that she had fabricated the identities of
the owners of the seven (7) parcels. He claimed that since 1996, he had relied on the
Torrens Titles of the seven (7) owners who were introduced to him by Lilia Tabang.
He asserted that Lilia Tabang could not have been the owner of the seven (7) parcels
since the SPAs executed by the parcels owners clearly made her a mere agent and
him a sub-agent. He also assailed the authenticity of the public announcements
(where he supposedly offered the seven parcels for sale) and Memorandum of
Agreement. He surmised that the signatures on such documents appearing above
the name Glenn C. Gacott had been mere forgeries and crude duplications of his
own signature.
In his Report and Recommendation dated August 23, 2010, Commissioner Limpingco
found respondent liable for gross violation of Rule 1.01 of the CPR. He likewise noted
that respondent was absent in most of the hearings without justifiable reason, in
violation of Rule 12.04 of the CPR. He recommended that respondent be disbarred

and his name, stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.


On October 8, 2010, the IBP Board of Governors issued a Resolution adopting the
Report of Investigating Commissioner Limpingco.
On June 26, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors denied respondents Motion for
Reconsideration.
Respondent then filed his Notice of Appeal with the IBP on August 8, 2011.
On August 17, 2011, respondent filed before the Supreme Court his Urgent Motion
for Extension of Time (to file Petition for Review/Appeal). On September 20, 2011,
the Court granted respondents Motion and gave him an extension of thirty (30) days
to file his Appeal. The Supreme Court warned respondent that no further extension
will be given. Despite this, respondent filed two (2) more Motions for Extension the
first on September 29, 2011 and the second on November 3, 2011 both of which
were denied by the Court.
Despite the Courts denials of his Motions for Extension, respondent filed on
December 14, 2011 a Motion to Admit Petition for Review/Appeal (with attached
Petition/Appeal). This Motion was denied by the Court on April 17, 2012.
For resolution is the issue of whether or not respondent engaged in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, thus warranting his disbarment.
After a careful examination of the records, the Court concurs with and adopts the
findings and recommendation of Commissioner Limpingco and the IBP Board of
Governors. It is clear that respondent committed gross misconduct, dishonesty, and
deceit in violation of Rule 1.01 of the CPR when he executed the revocations of SPAs
and affidavits of recovery and in arrogating for himself the ownership of the seven
(7) subject parcels.
While it may be true that complainant Lilia Tabang herself engaged in illicit activities,

the complainants own complicity does not negate, or even mitigate, the repugnancy
of respondents offense. Quite the contrary, his offense is made even graver. He is a
lawyer who is held to the highest standards of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair
dealing. Perverting what is expected of him, he deliberately and cunningly took
advantage of his knowledge and skill of the law to prejudice and torment other
individuals. Not only did he countenance illicit action, he instigated it. Not only did he
acquiesce to injustice, he orchestrated it. Thus, We impose upon respondent the
supreme penalty of disbarment.
Under Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court (Rules), a lawyer may be disbarred
for any of the following grounds:
deceit;
malpractice;
gross misconduct in office;
grossly immoral conduct;
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude;
violation of the lawyer's oath;
willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court; and
willfully appearing as an attorney for a party without authority to do so.
It is established in Jurisprudence that disbarment is proper when lawyers commit
gross misconduct, dishonesty, and deceit in usurping the property rights of other
persons. By way of examples:
In Brennisen v. Contawi: Respondent Atty. Ramon U. Contawi was disbarred for
having used a spurious SPA to mortgage and sell property entrusted to him for

administration.
In Sabayle v. Tandayag: One of the respondents, Atty. Carmelito B. Gabor, was
disbarred for having acknowledged a Deed of Sale in the absence of the purported
vendors and for taking advantage of his position as Assistant Clerk of Court by
purchasing one-half (1/2) of the land covered by said Deed of Sale knowing that the
deed was fictitious.
In Daroy v. Legaspi: The Court disbarred respondent Atty. Ramon Legaspi for having
converted to his personal use the funds that he received for his clients.
Nevertheless, recourse to disbarment must be done with utmost caution. As this
Court noted in Moran v. Moron:
Disbarment should never be imposed unless it is evidently clear that the lawyer, by
his serious misconduct, should no longer remain a member of the bar. Disbarment is
the most severe form of disciplinary sanction, and, as such, the power to disbar must
always be exercised with great caution, only for the most imperative reasons and in
clear cases of misconduct affecting the standing and moral character of the lawyer as
an officer of the court and member of the bar. Accordingly, disbarment should not
be decreed where any punishment less severe such as a reprimand, suspension, or
fine would accomplish the end desired.
Moreover, considering the gravity of disbarment, it has been established that clearly
preponderant evidence is necessary to justify its imposition.
As explained in Aba v. De Guzman, [p]reponderance of evidence means that the
evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has greater weight than
that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy
of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto.
Per Rule 133, Section 1 of the Rules, a court may consider the following in
determining preponderance of evidence:

All the facts and circumstances of the case;


The witnesses manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity
of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which
they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony;
The witnesses interest or want of interest and also their personal credibility so far as
the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and
The number of witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is
necessarily with the greater number.
In this case, complainants have shown by a preponderance of evidence that
respondent committed gross misconduct, dishonesty, and deceit in violation of Rule
1.01 of the CPR.
Specifically, complainants have shown not only through Lilia Tabangs testimony but
more so through the testimonies of Dieter Heinze, Atty. Agerico Paras, and Teodoro
Gallinero that:
respondent misrepresented himself as the owner of or having the right to dispose of
the subject parcels;
respondent actively sought to sell or otherwise dispose of the subject parcels;
respondent perfected the sales and received the proceeds of the sales whether in
cash or in kind of the subject parcels;
such sales were without the consent or authorization of complainants; and
respondent never remitted the proceeds of the sales to complainants.
More importantly, complainants witnesses showed that when respondent had been
confronted with Lilia Tabangs adverse claims and asked to substantiate the

identities of the supposed owners of the subject parcels, he had failed to produce
such persons or even show an iota of proof of their existence. In this regard, the
testimonies of Dieter Heinze, Atty. Agerico Paras, and Teodoro Gallinero are
particularly significant in so far as they have been made despite the fact that their
interest as buyers is contrary to that of complainants interest as adverse claimants.
In contrast, respondent failed to present evidence to rebut complainant's
allegations.
Respondents defense centered on his insistence that the owners of the seven
parcels were not fictitious and that they had voluntarily sold the seven parcels.
Respondent also evaded the allegations against him by flinging counter-allegations.
For instance, he alleged that Lilia Tabang had unsuccessfully demanded a balato
from the proceeds of the sale of the subject parcels and that after she had been
refused, she threatened to defame respondent and seek his disbarment. In support
of this allegation, he pointed out that he had filed criminal complaints against Lilia
Tabang. He also surmised that the signatures on the subject documents appearing
above the name Glenn C. Gacott were mere forgeries and crude duplications of his
signature.
Per Rule 131, Section 1 of the Rules of Court, the burden of proof is vested upon the
party who alleges the truth of his claim or defense or any fact in issue. Thus, in Leave
Division, Office of Administrative Services, Office of the Court Administrator v.
Gutierrez where a party resorts to bare denials and allegations and fails to submit
evidence in support of his defense, the determination that he committed the
violation is sustained.
It was incumbent upon respondent to prove his allegation that the supposed owners
of the seven parcels are real persons. Quite the contrary, he failed to produce the
slightest proof of their identities and existence, much less produce their actual
persons. As to his allegations regarding Lilia Tabangs supposed extortion and threat
and the forgery or crude duplication of his signature, they remain just that
allegations. Respondent failed to aver facts and circumstances which support these
claims.

At best, respondent merely draws conclusions from the documents which form the
very basis of complainants own allegations and which are actually being assailed by
complainants as inaccurate, unreliable, and fraudulent. Respondent makes much of
how Lilia Tabang could not have been the owner of the seven (7) parcels since her
name does not appear on the parcels TCTs and how he merely respected the title
and ownership of the ostensible owners. Similarly, he makes much of how Lilia
Tabang was named as a mere agent in the SPAs. However, respondent loses sight of
the fact that it is precisely the accuracy of what the TCTs and SPAs indicate and the
deception they engender that are the crux of the present controversy. In urging this
Court to sustain him, respondent would have us rely on the very documents assailed
as fraudulent.
Apart from these, all that respondent can come up with are generic, sweeping, and
self-serving allegations of (1) how he could not have obtained the TCTs from Tabang
as it is a standing policy of his law office not to accept Torrens title [sic] unless it is
related to a court case and because [he] does not borrow any Torrens title from
anybody and for whatever purpose; (2) how complainants could not have
confronted him to demand the return of the TCTs and how he could not have told
them that he lost the TCTs because [a]s a lawyer, [he] always respects and
recognizes the right of an owner to keep in his custody or possession any of his
properties of value; and (3) how he could not have met and talked with Lilia Tabang
for the engagement of his services only to refuse Lilia Tabang because legal practice
constituted his livelihood, and there was no reason for him to refuse an occasion to
earn income.
Rather than responding squarely to complainants allegations, respondent merely
embarks on conjectures and ascribes motives to complainants. He accuses Lilia
Tabang of demanding a balato of twenty percent (20%) from the proceeds of the
sale of the seven parcels, and of threatening to defame him and to seek his
disbarment after she had been refused. This evasive posturing notwithstanding,
what is clear is that respondent failed to adduce even the slightest proof to
substantiate these claims. From all indications, Lilia Tabang had sufficient basis to file
the present Complaint and seek sanctions against respondent.

Given the glaring disparity between the evidence adduced by complainants and the
sheer lack of evidence adduced by respondent, this Court is led to no other
reasonable conclusion than that respondent committed the acts of which he is
accused and that he acted in a manner that is unlawful, dishonest, immoral, and
deceitful in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
This Court has repeatedly emphasized that the practice of law is imbued with public
interest and that 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 most important functions of the State the administration of justice as an
officer of the court. Accordingly, [l]awyers are bound to maintain not only a high
standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair
dealing.
Respondent has fallen dismally and disturbingly short of the high standard of
morality, honesty, integrity, and fair dealing required of him. Quite the contrary, he
employed his knowledge and skill of the law as well as took advantage of the
credulity of petitioners to secure undue gains for himself and to inflict serious
damage on others. He did so over the course of several years in a sustained and
unrelenting fashion and outdid his previous wrongdoing with even greater, more
detestable offenses. He has hardly shown any remorse. From how he has conducted
himself in these proceedings, he is all but averse to rectifying his ways and assuaging
complainants plight. Respondent even foisted upon the IBP and this Court his
duplicity by repeatedly absenting himself from the IBPs hearings without justifiable
reasons. He also vexed this Court to admit his Appeal despite his own failure to
comply with the much extended period given to him, thus inviting the Court to be a
party in delaying complainants cause. For all his perversity, respondent deserves
none of this Courts clemency.
WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. GLENN C. GACOTT, having clearly violated the
Canons of Professional Responsibility through his unlawful, dishonest, and deceitful
conduct, is DISBARRED and his name ordered STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys.

Let copies of this Decision be served on the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and all courts in the country for their information
and guidance. Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent's personal
record as attorney.
SO ORDERED.

[ A.C. No. 9604, March 20, 2013 ]


RODRIGO E. TAPAY AND ANTHONY J. RUSTIA, COMPLAINANTS,
VS.
ATTY. CHARLIE L. BANCOLO AND ATTY. JANUS T. JARDER, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
This administrative case arose from a Complaint filed by Rodrigo E. Tapay (Tapay)
and Anthony J. Rustia (Rustia), both employees of the Sugar Regulatory
Administration, against Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo (Atty. Bancolo) and Atty. Janus T.
Jarder (Atty. Jarder) for violation of the Canons of Ethics and Professionalism,
Falsification of Public Document, Gross Dishonesty, and Harassment.
The Facts
Sometime in October 2004, Tapay and Rustia received an Order dated 14 October
2004 from the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas requiring them to file a counteraffidavit to a complaint for usurpation of authority, falsification of public document,
and graft and corrupt practices filed against them by Nehimias Divinagracia, Jr.

(Divinagracia), a co-employee in the Sugar Regulatory Administration. The Complaint


dated 31 August 2004 was allegedly signed on behalf of Divinagracia by one Atty.
Charlie L. Bancolo of the Jarder Bancolo Law Office based in Bacolod City, Negros
Occidental.
When Atty. Bancolo and Rustia accidentally chanced upon each other, the latter
informed Atty. Bancolo of the case filed against them before the Office of the
Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo denied that he represented Divinagracia since he had yet
to meet Divinagracia in person. When Rustia showed him the Complaint, Atty.
Bancolo declared that the signature appearing above his name as counsel for
Divinagracia was not his. Thus, Rustia convinced Atty. Bancolo to sign an affidavit to
attest to such fact. On 9 December 2004, Atty. Bancolo signed an affidavit denying
his supposed signature appearing on the Complaint filed with the Office of the
Ombudsman and submitted six specimen signatures for comparison. Using Atty.
Bancolos affidavit and other documentary evidence, Tapay and Rustia filed a
counter-affidavit accusing Divinagracia of falsifying the signature of his alleged
counsel, Atty. Bancolo.
In a Resolution dated 28 March 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman provisionally
dismissed the Complaint since the falsification of the counsels signature posed a
prejudicial question to the Complaints validity. Also, the Office of the Ombudsman
ordered that separate cases for Falsification of Public Document and Dishonesty be
filed against Divinagracia, with Rustia and Atty. Bancolo as complainants.
Thereafter, Divinagracia filed his Counter-Affidavit dated 1 August 2005 denying that
he falsified the signature of his former lawyer, Atty. Bancolo. Divinagracia presented
as evidence an affidavit dated 1 August 2005 by Richard A. Cordero, the legal
assistant of Atty. Bancolo, that the Jarder Bancolo Law Office accepted Divinagracias
case and that the Complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman was signed by
the office secretary per Atty. Bancolos instructions. Divinagracia asked that the
Office of the Ombudsman dismiss the cases for falsification of public document and
dishonesty filed against him by Rustia and Atty. Bancolo and to revive the original
Complaint for various offenses that he filed against Tapay and Rustia.

In a Resolution dated 19 September 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman dismissed


the criminal case for falsification of public document (OMB-V-C-05-0207-E) for
insufficiency of evidence. The dispositive portion states:
WHEREFORE, the instant case is hereby DISMISSED for insufficiency of evidence,
without prejudice to the re-filing by Divinagracia, Jr. of a proper complaint for
violation of RA 3019 and other offenses against Rustia and Tapay.
SO ORDERED.
The administrative case for dishonesty (OMB-V-A-05-0219-E) was also dismissed for
lack of substantial evidence in a Decision dated 19 September 2005.
On 29 November 2005, Tapay and Rustia filed with the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) a complaint to disbar Atty. Bancolo and Atty. Jarder, Atty. Bancolos
law partner. The complainants alleged that they were subjected to a harassment
Complaint filed before the Office of the Ombudsman with the forged signature of
Atty. Bancolo. Complainants stated further that the signature of Atty. Bancolo in the
Complaint was not the only one that was forged. Complainants attached a Report
dated 1 July 2005 by the Philippine National Police Crime Laboratory 6 which
examined three other letter-complaints signed by Atty. Bancolo for other clients,
allegedly close friends of Atty. Jarder. The report concluded that the questioned
signatures in the letter-complaints and the submitted standard signatures of Atty.
Bancolo were not written by one and the same person. Thus, complainants
maintained that not only were respondents engaging in unprofessional and unethical
practices, they were also involved in falsification of documents used to harass and
persecute innocent people.
On 9 January 2006, complainants filed a Supplement to the Disbarment Complaint
Due to Additional Information. They alleged that a certain Mary Jane Gentugao, the
secretary of the Jarder Bancolo Law Office, forged the signature of Atty. Bancolo.
In their Answer dated 26 January 2006 to the disbarment complaint, respondents
admitted that the criminal and administrative cases filed by Divinagracia against

complainants before the Office of the Ombudsman were accepted by the Jarder
Bancolo Law Office. The cases were assigned to Atty. Bancolo. Atty. Bancolo alleged
that after being informed of the assignment of the cases, he ordered his staff to
prepare and draft all the necessary pleadings and documents. However, due to some
minor lapses, Atty. Bancolo permitted that the pleadings and communications be
signed in his name by the secretary of the law office. Respondents added that
complainants filed the disbarment complaint to retaliate against them since the
cases filed before the Office of the Ombudsman were meritorious and strongly
supported by testimonial and documentary evidence. Respondents also denied that
Mary Jane Gentugao was employed as secretary of their law office.
Tapay and Rustia filed a Reply to the Answer dated 2 March 2006. Thereafter, the
parties were directed by the Commission on Bar Discipline to attend a mandatory
conference scheduled on 5 May 2006. The conference was reset to 10 August 2006.
On the said date, complainants were present but respondents failed to appear. The
conference was reset to 25 September 2006 for the last time. Again, respondents
failed to appear despite receiving notice of the conference. Complainants manifested
that they were submitting their disbarment complaint based on the documents
submitted to the IBP. Respondents were also deemed to have waived their right to
participate in the mandatory conference. Further, both parties were directed to
submit their respective position papers. On 27 October 2006, the IBP received
complainants position paper dated 18 October 2006 and respondents position
paper dated 23 October 2006.
The IBPs Report and Recommendation
On 11 April 2007, Atty. Lolita A. Quisumbing, the Investigating Commissioner of the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP, submitted her Report. Atty. Quisumbing
found that Atty. Bancolo violated Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility while Atty. Jarder violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the same Code. The
Investigating Commissioner recommended that Atty. Bancolo be suspended for two
years from the practice of law and Atty. Jarder be admonished for his failure to
exercise certain responsibilities in their law firm.

In her Report and Recommendation, the Investigating Commissioner opined:


x x x. In his answer[,] respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo admitted that his signature
appearing in the complaint filed against complainants Rodrigo E. Tapay and Anthony
J. Rustia with the Ombudsman were signed by the secretary. He did not refute the
findings that his signatures appearing in the various documents released from his
office were found not to be his. Such pattern of malpratice by respondent clearly
breached his obligation under Rule 9.01 of Canon 9, for a lawyer who allows a nonmember to represent him is guilty of violating the aforementioned Canon. The fact
that respondent was busy cannot serve as an excuse for him from signing personally.
After all respondent is a member of a law firm composed of not just one (1) lawyer.
The Supreme Court has ruled that this practice constitute negligence and
undersigned finds the act a sign of indolence and ineptitude. Moreover, respondents
ignored the notices sent by undersigned. That showed patent lack of respect to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippine[s] Commission on Bar Discipline and its proceedings.
It betrays lack of courtesy and irresponsibility as lawyers.
On the other hand, Atty. Janus T. Jarder, a senior partner of the law firm Jarder
Bancolo and Associates Law Office, failed to exercise certain responsibilities over
matters under the charge of his law firm. As a senior partner[,] he failed to abide to
the principle of command responsibility. x x x.
xxxx
Respondent Atty. Janus Jarder after all is a seasoned practitioner, having passed the
bar in 1995 and practicing law up to the present. He holds himself out to the public
as a law firm designated as Jarder Bancolo and Associates Law Office. It behooves
Atty. Janus T. Jarder to exert ordinary diligence to find out what is going on in his law
firm, to ensure that all lawyers in his firm act in conformity to the Code of
Professional Responsibility. As a partner[,] it is his responsibility to provide
efficacious control of court pleadings and other documents that carry the name of
the law firm. Had he done that, he could have known the unethical practice of his
law partner Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo. Respondent Atty. Janus T. Jarder failed to
perform this task and is administratively liable under Canon 1, Rule 1.01 of the Code

of Professional Responsibility.
On 19 September 2007, in Resolution No. XVIII-2007-97, the Board of Governors of
the IBP approved with modification the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner. The Resolution states:
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 Respondent Atty. Bancolos violation of
Rule 9.01, Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo
is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1) year.
However, with regard to the charge against Atty. Janus T. Jarder, the Board of
Governors RESOLVED as it is hereby RESOLVED to AMEND, as it is hereby AMENDED
the Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, and APPROVE the
DISMISSAL of the case for lack of merit.
Tapay and Rustia filed a Motion for Reconsideration. Likewise, Atty. Bancolo filed his
Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 December 2007. Thereafter, Atty. Jarder filed
his separate Consolidated Comment/Reply to Complainants Motion for
Reconsideration and Comment Filed by Complainants dated 29 January 2008.
In Resolution No. XX-2012-175 dated 9 June 2012, the IBP Board of Governors denied
both complainants and Atty. Bancolos motions for reconsideration. The IBP Board
found no cogent reason to reverse the findings of the Investigating Commissioner
and affirmed Resolution No. XVIII-2007-97 dated 19 September 2007.
The Courts Ruling
After a careful review of the records of the case, we agree with the findings and
recommendation of the IBP Board and find reasonable grounds to hold respondent
Atty. Bancolo administratively liable.

Atty. Bancolo admitted that the Complaint he filed for a former client before the
Office of the Ombudsman was signed in his name by a secretary of his law office.
Clearly, this is a violation of Rule 9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which provides:
CANON 9
A LAWYER SHALL NOT, DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, ASSIST IN THE UNAUTHORIZED
PRACTICE OF LAW.
Rule 9.01 - A lawyer shall not delegate to any unqualified person the performance of
any task which by law may only be performed by a member of the Bar in good
standing.
This rule was clearly explained in the case of Cambaliza v. Cristal-Tenorio, where we
held:
The lawyers duty to prevent, or at the very least not to assist in, the unauthorized
practice of law is founded on public interest and policy. 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 lawyer 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 disciplinary control of the Court. It devolves upon
a lawyer to see that this purpose is attained. Thus, the canons and ethics of the
profession enjoin him not to permit his professional services or his name to be used
in aid of, or to make possible the unauthorized practice of law by, any agency,
personal or corporate. And, the law makes it a misbehavior on his part, subject to
disciplinary action, to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.
In Republic v. Kenrick Development Corporation, we held that the preparation and
signing of a pleading constitute legal work involving the practice of law which is

reserved exclusively for members of the legal profession. Atty. Bancolos authority
and duty to sign a pleading are personal to him. Although he may delegate the
signing of a pleading to another lawyer, he may not delegate it to a non-lawyer.
Further, under the Rules of Court, counsels signature serves as a certification that
(1) he has read the pleading; (2) to the best of his knowledge, information and belief
there is good ground to support it; and (3) it is not interposed for delay. Thus, by
affixing ones signature to a pleading, it is counsel alone who has the responsibility to
certify to these matters and give legal effect to the document.
In his Motion for Reconsideration dated 22 December 2007, Atty. Bancolo wants us
to believe that he was a victim of circumstances or of manipulated events because of
his unconditional trust and confidence in his former law partner, Atty. Jarder.
However, Atty. Bancolo did not take any steps to rectify the situation, save for the
affidavit he gave to Rustia denying his signature to the Complaint filed before the
Office of the Ombudsman. Atty. Bancolo had an opportunity to maintain his
innocence when he filed with the IBP his Joint Answer (with Atty. Jarder) dated 26
January 2006. Atty. Bancolo, however, admitted that prior to the preparation of the
Joint Answer, Atty. Jarder threatened to file a disbarment case against him if he did
not cooperate. Thus, he was constrained to allow Atty. Jarder to prepare the Joint
Answer. Atty. Bancolo simply signed the verification without seeing the contents of
the Joint Answer.
In the Answer, Atty. Bancolo categorically stated that because of some minor lapses,
the communications and pleadings filed against Tapay and Rustia were signed by his
secretary, albeit with his tolerance. Undoubtedly, Atty. Bancolo violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility by allowing a non-lawyer to affix his signature to a
pleading. This violation is an act of falsehood which is a ground for disciplinary
action.
The complainants did not present any evidence that Atty. Jarder was directly
involved, had knowledge of, or even participated in the wrongful practice of Atty.
Bancolo in allowing or tolerating his secretary to sign pleadings for him. Thus, we
agree with the finding of the IBP Board that Atty. Jarder is not administratively liable.

In sum, we find that the suspension of Atty. Bancolo from the practice of law for one
year is warranted. We also find proper the dismissal of the case against Atty. Jarder.
WHEREFORE, we DISMISS the complaint against Atty. Janus T. Jarder for lack of
merit.
We find respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolo administratively liable for violating Rule
9.01 of Canon 9 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. He is hereby SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for one year effective upon finality of this Decision. He is
warned that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the future shall be dealt with
more severely.
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to respondent Atty. Charlie L. Bancolos
record in this Court as attorney. Further, let copies of this Decision be furnished to
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator, which
is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the country for their information and
guidance.
SO ORDERED.

[Adm. Case No. 6148, January 22, 2013]


FLORENCE MACARUBBO, TEVES COMPLAINANT, VS. ATTY. EDMUNDO L.
MACARUBBO, RESPONDENT.
RE: PETITION (FOR EXTRAORDINARY MERCY) OF EDMUNDO L. MACARUBBO.
RESOLUTION
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
For resolution is the Petition (For Extraordinary Mercy) filed by respondent Edmundo
L. Aacarubbo (respondent) who seeks to be reinstated in the Roll of
Attorneys.cralawlibrary

Records show that in the Decision1rl1 dated February 27, 2004, the Court
disbarred respondent from the practice of law for having contracted a bigamous
marriage with complainant Florence Teves and a third marriage with one Josephine
Constantino while his first marriage to Helen Esparza was still subsisting, which acts
constituted gross immoral conduct in violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7,
Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The dispositive portion of the
subject Decision reads:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
WHEREFORE, respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo is found guilty of gross immorality
and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law. He is likewise ORDERED to show
satisfactory evidence to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline and to this Court that
he is supporting or has made provisions for the regular support of his two children by
complainant.cralawlibrary
Let respondent's name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.cralawlibrary
SO ORDERED.2rl1
Aggrieved, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration/Appeal for Compassion
and Mercy3rl1 which the Court denied with finality in the Resolution4rl1 dated
June 1, 2004. Eight years after or on June 4, 2012, respondent filed the instant
Petition (For Extraordinary Mercy)5rl1 seeking judicial clemency and
reinstatement in the Roll of Attorneys. The Court initially treated the present suit as
a second motion for reconsideration and accordingly, denied it for lack of merit in
the Resolution dated September 4, 2012.6rl1 On December 18, 2012, the same
petition was endorsed to this Court by the Office of the Vice President7rl1 for reevaluation, prompting the Court to look into the substantive merits of the
case.cralawlibrary
In Re: Letter of Judge Augustus C. Diaz, Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City,
Branch 37, Appealing for Clemency,8rl1 the Court laid down the following
guidelines in resolving requests for judicial clemency, to
wit:chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
1. There must be proof of remorse and reformation. These shall include but should
not be limited to certifications or testimonials of the officer(s) or chapter(s) of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, judges or judges associations and prominent
members of the community with proven integrity and probity. A subsequent finding
of guilt in an administrative case for the same or similar misconduct will give rise to a

strong presumption of non-reformation.cralawlibrary


2. Sufficient time must have lapsed from the imposition of the penalty to ensure a
period of reform.cralawlibrary
3. The age of the person asking for clemency must show that he still has productive
years ahead of him that can be put to good use by giving him a chance to redeem
himself.cralawlibrary
4. There must be a showing of promise (such as intellectual aptitude, learning or
legal acumen or contribution to legal scholarship and the development of the legal
system or administrative and other relevant skills), as well as potential for public
service.cralawlibrary
5. There must be other relevant factors and circumstances that may justify
clemency.9rl1 (Citations omitted)
Moreover, to be reinstated to the practice of law, the applicant must, like any other
candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court that he is a person of good
moral character.10rl1
Applying the foregoing standards to this case, the Court finds the instant petition
meritorious.cralawlibrary
Respondent has sufficiently shown his remorse and acknowledged his indiscretion in
the legal profession and in his personal life. He has asked forgiveness from his
children by complainant Teves and maintained a cordial relationship with them as
shown by the herein attached pictures.11rl1 Records also show that after his
disbarment, respondent returned to his hometown in Enrile, Cagayan and devoted
his time tending an orchard and taking care of his ailing mother until her death in
2008.12rl1 In 2009, he was appointed as Private Secretary to the Mayor of Enrile,
Cagayan and thereafter, assumed the position of Local Assessment Operations
Officer II/ Office-In-Charge in the Assessor's Office, which office he continues to
serve to date.13rl1
Moreover, he is a part-time instructor at the University of Cagayan Valley and F.L.
Vargas College during the School Year 2011-2012.14rl1 Respondent likewise took
an active part in socio-civic activities by helping his neighbors and friends who are in
dire need.cralawlibrary

The following documents attest to respondent's reformed ways: (1) Affidavit of


Candida P. Mabborang; (2) Affidavit of Reymar P. Ramirez;161 (3) Affidavit of Roberto
D. Tallud;l1 (4) Certification from the Municipal Local Government Office;18 (5)
Certification by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist/Health Officer, Social
Welfare Development Officer;19 (6) Certification from the Election Officer of Enrile,
Cagayan;1 (7) Affidavit of Police Senior Inspector Jacinto T. Tuddao;21 (8)
Certifications from nine (9) Barangay Chairpersons;22 (9) Certification from the
Office of the Provincial Assessor;23(10) Certification from the Office of the Manager,
Magsaka ca Multi-Purpose Cooperative;24 and (11) Certification of the Office of the
Federation of Senior Citizens, Enrile Chapter.25The Office of the Municipal Treasurer
also certified that respondent has no monetary accountabilities in relation to his
office21 while the Office of the Human Resource Management Officer attested that
he has no pending administrative case.21 He is not known to be involved in any
irregularity and/or accused of a crime. Even the National Bureau of Investigation
(NBI) attested that he has no record on file as of May 31, 2011.28rl1
Furthermore, respondent's plea for reinstatement is duly supported by the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Cagayan Chapter29 and by his former and present
colleagues.30His parish priest, Rev. Fr. Camilo Castillejos, Jr., certified that he is
faithful to and puts to actual practice the doctrines of the Catholic Church.31He is
also observed to be a regular churchgoer.32rl1 Records further reveal that
respondent has already settled his previous marital squabbles,33 as in fact, no
opposition to the instant suit was tendered by complainant Teves. He sends regular
support341 to his children in compliance with the Court's directive in the Decision
dated February 27, 2004.cralawlibrary
The Court notes the eight (8) long years that had elapsed from the time respondent
was disbarred and recognizes his achievement as the first lawyer product of Lemu
National High School,35 and his fourteen (14) years of dedicated government service
from 1986 to July 2000 as Legal Officer of the Department of Education, Culture and
Sports; Supervising Civil Service Attorney of the Civil Service Commission;
Ombudsman Graft Investigation Officer; and State Prosecutor of the Department of
Justice.36 From the attestations and certifications presented, the Court finds that
respondent has sufficiently atoned for his transgressions. At 5837years of age, he
still has productive years ahead of him that could significantly contribute to the
upliftment of the law profession and the betterment of society. While the Court is
ever mindful of its duty to discipline and even remove its errant officers,
concomitant to it is its duty to show compassion to those who have reformed their

ways38rl1 as in this case.cralawlibrary


Accordingly, respondent is hereby ordered reinstated to the practice of law. He is,
however, reminded that such privilege is burdened with conditions whereby
adherence. to the rigid standards of intellect, moral uprightness, and strict
compliance with the rules and the law are continuing requirements.39rl1
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is GRANTED. Respondent
Edmundo L. Macarubbo is hereby ordered REINSTATED in the Roll of
Attorneys.cralawlibrary
SO ORDERED.