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Republic of the Philippines

A.M. No. 1608 August 14, 1981
MAGDALENA T. ARCIGA complainant,

Magdalena T. Arciga in her complaint of February 24, 1976 asked for the disbarment of
lawyer Segundino D. Maniwang (admitted to the Bar in 1975 ) on the ground of grossly
immoral conduct because he refused to fulfill his promise of marriage to her. Their illicit
relationship resulted in the birth on September 4, 1973 of their child, Michael Dino
Magdalena and Segundino got acquainted sometime in October, 1970 at Cebu City.
Magdalena was then a medical technology student in the Cebu Institute of Medicine while
Segundino was a law student in the San Jose Recoletos College. They became sweethearts
but when Magdalena refused to have a tryst with Segundino in a motel in January, 1971,
Segundino stopped visiting her.
Their paths crossed again during a Valentine's Day party in the following month. They
renewed their relationship. After they had dinner one night in March, 1971 and finding
themselves alone (like Adam and Eve) in her boarding house since the other boarders had
gone on vacation, they had sexual congress. When Segundino asked Magdalena why she
had refused his earlier proposal to have sexual intercourse with him, she jokingly said that
she was in love with another man and that she had a child with still another man.
Segundino remarked that even if that be the case, he did not mind because he loved her
very much.
Thereafter, they had repeated acts of cohabitation. Segundino started telling his
acquaintances that he and Magdalena were secretly married.
In 1972 Segundino transferred his residence to Padada, Davao del Sur. He continued his
law studies in Davao City. .Magdalena remained in Cebu. He sent to her letters and
telegrams professing his love for her (Exh. K to Z).
When Magdalena discovered in January, 1973 that she was pregnant, she and Segundino
went to her hometown, Ivisan, Capiz, to apprise Magdalena's parents that they were
married although they were not really so. Segundino convinced Magdalena's father to
have the church wedding deferred until after he had passed the bar examinations. He
secured his birth certificate preparatory to applying for a marriage license.
Segundino continued sending letters to Magdalena wherein he expressed his love and
concern for the baby in Magdalena's womb. He reassured her time and again that he
would marry her once he passed the bar examinations. He was not present when

Magdalena gave birth to their child on September 4, 1973 in the Cebu Community
Hospital. He went to Cebu in December, 1973 for the baptism of his child.
Segundino passed the bar examinations. The results were released on April 25, 1975.
Several days after his oath-taking, which Magdalena also attended, he stopped
corresponding with Magdalena. Fearing that there was something amiss, Magdalena went
to Davao in July, 1975 to contact her lover. Segundino told her that they could not get
married for lack of money. She went back to Ivisan.
In December, 1975 she made another trip to Davao but failed to see Segundino who was
then in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. She followed him there only to be told that their marriage
could not take place because he had married Erlinda Ang on November 25, 1975. She was
broken-hearted when she returned to Davao.
Segundino followed her there and inflicted physical injuries upon her because she had a
confrontation with his wife, Erlinda Ang. She reported the assault to the commander of the
Padada police station and secured medical treatment in a hospital (Exh. I and J).
Segundino admits in his answer that he and Magdalena were lovers and that he is the
father of the child Michael. He also admits that he repeatedly promised to marry
Magdalena and that he breached that promise because of Magdalena's shady past. She had
allegedly been accused in court of oral defamation and had already an illegitimate child
before Michael was born.
The Solicitor General recommends the dismissal of the case. In his opinion, respondent's
cohabitation with the complainant and his reneging on his promise of marriage do not
warrant his disbarment.
An applicant for admission to the bar should have good moral character. He is required to
produce before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no
charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any
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).
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).
Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became pregnant by
reason of intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of six children, disbarment

of the attorney on the ground of immoral conduct was justified (In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd
There is an area where a lawyer's conduct may not be inconsonance with the canons of
the moral code but he is not subject to disciplinary action because his misbehavior or
deviation from the path of rectitude is not glaringly scandalous. It is in connection with a
lawyer's behavior to the opposite sex where the question of immorality usually arises.
Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of
marriage should be characterized as "grossly immoral conduct," will depend on the
surrounding circumstances.
This Court in a decision rendered in 1925, when old-fashioned morality still prevailed,
observed that "the legislator well knows the frailty of the flesh and the ease with which a
man, whose sense of dignity, honor and morality is not well cultivated, falls into
temptation when alone with one of the fair sex toward whom he feels himself attracted.
An occasion is so inducive to sin or crime that the saying "A fair booty makes many a thief"
or "An open door may tempt a saint" has become general." (People vs. De la Cruz, 48 Phil.
533, 535).
Disbarment of a lawyer for grossly immoral conduct is illustrated in the following cases:
(1) Where lawyer Arturo P. Lopez succeeded in having carnal knowledge of Virginia C.
Almirez, under promise of marriage, which he refused to fulfill, although they had already
a marriage license and despite the birth of a child in consequence of their sexual
intercourse; he married another woman and during Virginia's pregnancy, Lopez urged her
to take pills to hasten the flow of her menstruation and he tried to convince her to have an
abortion to which she did not agree. (Almirez vs. Lopez, Administrative Case No. 481,
February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 169. See Sarmiento vs. Cui, 100 Phil. 1102).
(2) Where lawyer Francisco Agustin made Anita Cabrera believe that they were married
before Leoncio V. Aglubat in the City Hall of Manila, and, after such fake marriage, they
cohabited and she later give birth to their child (Cabrera vs. Agustin, 106 Phil. 256).
(3) Where lawyer Jesus B. Toledo abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another
women who had borne him a child (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117 Phil. 768. As to disbarment for
contracting a bigamous marriage, see Villasanta vs. Peralta, 101 Phil. 313).
(4) The conduct of Abelardo Simbol in making a dupe of Concepcion Bolivar by living on
her bounty and allowing her to spend for his schooling and other personal necessities,
while dangling before her the mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as he
had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a secret while continuing to demand money
from the complainant, and trying to sponge on her and persuade her to resume their
broken relationship after the latter's discovery of his perfidy are indicative of a character
not worthy of a member of the bar (Bolivar vs. Simbol, 123 Phil. 450).
(5) Where Flora Quingwa, a public school teacher, who was engaged to lawyer Armando
Puno, was prevailed upon by him to have sexual congress with him inside a hotel by
telling her that it was alright to have sexual intercourse because, anyway, they were going
to get married. She used to give Puno money upon his request. After she became pregnant
and gave birth to a baby boy, Puno refused to marry her. (Quingwa vs. Puno,
Administrative Case No. 389, February 28, 1967, 19 SCRA 439).

(6) Where lawyer Anacleto Aspiras, a married man, misrepresenting that he was single
and making a promise of marriage, succeeded in having sexual intercourse with. Josefina
Mortel. Aspiras faked a marriage between Josefina and his own son Cesar. Aspiras wrote
to Josefina: "You are alone in my life till the end of my years in this world. I will bring you
along with me before the altar of matrimony." "Through thick and thin, for better or for
worse, in life or in death, my Josephine you will always be the first, middle and the last in
my life." (Mortel vs. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586).
(7) Where lawyer Ariston Oblena, who had been having adulterous relations for fifteen
years with Briccia Angeles, a married woman separated from her husband, seduced her
eighteen-year-old niece who became pregnant and begot a child. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117
Phil. 865).
The instant case can easily be differentiated from the foregoing cases. This case is similar
to the case of Soberano vs. Villanueva, 116 Phil. 1206, where lawyer Eugenio V. Villanueva
had sexual relations with Mercedes H. Soberano before his admission to the bar in 1954.
They indulged in frequent sexual intercourse. She wrote to him in 1950 and 1951 several
letters making reference to their trysts in hotels.
On letter in 1951 contain expressions of such a highly sensual, tantalizing and vulgar
nature as to render them unquotable and to impart the firm conviction that, because of the
close intimacy between the complainant and the respondent, she felt no restraint
whatsoever in writing to him with impudicity.
According to the complainant, two children were born as a consequence of her long
intimacy with the respondent. In 1955, she filed a complaint for disbarment against
This Court found that respondent's refusal to marry the complainant was not so corrupt
nor unprincipled as to warrant disbarment. (See Montana vs. Ruado, Administrative Case
No. 507, February 24, 1975, 62 SCRA 382; Reyes vs. Wong, Administrative Case No. 547,
January 29, 1975, 63 SCRA 667, Viojan vs. Duran, 114 Phil. 322; Abaigar vs. Paz,
Administrative Case No. 997, September 10, 1979,93 SCRA 91).
Considering the facts of this case and the aforecited precedents, the complaint for
disbarment against the respondent is hereby dismissed.
Barredo, (Chairman) Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.
Abad Santos and de Castro, JJ., are on leave.
Fernandez and Guerrero JJ., were designated to sit in the Second Division.


A.C. No. 6313


- versus -


TINGA, and
September 7, 2006

The allegations raised in this complaint for disbarment are more sordid, if not
tawdry, from the usual. As such, close scrutiny of these claims is called for. Disbarment
and suspension of a lawyer, being the most severe forms of disciplinary sanction, should
be imposed with great caution and only in those cases where the misconduct of the lawyer
as an officer of the court and a member of the bar is establishedby clear, convincing and
satisfactory proof.[1]
Under consideration is the administrative complaint for disbarment filed by
Catherine Joie P. Vitug (complainant) against Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal (respondent). A
classic case of he said, she said, the parties conflicting versions of the facts as culled
from the records are hereinafter presented.
Complainant narrates that she and respondent met sometime in December 2000
when she was looking for a lawyer to assist her in suing Arnulfo Aquino (Aquino), the
biological father of her minor daughter, for support. Her former classmate who was then
a Barangay Secretary referred her to respondent. After several meetings with
complainant, respondent sent a demand letter[2] in her behalf to Aquino wherein he asked
for the continuance of the monthly child support Aquino used to give, plus no less
than P300,000.00 for the surgical operation their daughter would need for her congenital
heart ailment.
At around this point, by complainants own admission, she and respondent started
having a sexual relationship. She narrates that this twist in the events began after
respondent started calling on her shortly after he had sent the demand letter in her

behalf. Respondent allegedly started courting her, giving her financial aid. Soon he had
progressed to making sexual advances towards complainant, to the accompaniment of
sweet inducements such as the promise of a job, financial security for her daughter, and
his services as counsel for the prospective claim for support against Aquino. Complainant
acknowledges that she succumbed to these advances, assured by respondents claim that
the lawyer was free to marry her, as his own marriage had already been annulled.
On 9 February 2001, respondent allegedly convinced complainant to sign an
Affidavit of Disclaimer[3] (Affidavit) categorically stating that even as Aquino was
denoted as the father in the birth certificate[4] of her daughter, he was, in truth, not the
real father. She was not allowed to read the contents of the Affidavit, she
claims. Respondent supposedly assured her that the document meant nothing, necessary
as it was the only way that Aquino would agree to give her daughter medical and
educational support. Respondent purportedly assured complainant that despite the
Affidavit, she could still pursue a case against Aquino in the future because the Affidavit is
not a public document. Because she completely trusted him at this point, she signed the
document without even taking a glance at it.[5]
On 14 February 2001, respondent allegedly advised complainant that Aquino gave
him P150,000.00 cash and P58,000.00 in two (2) postdated checks to answer for the
medical expenses of her daughter. Instead of turning them over to her, respondent handed
her his personal check[6] in the amount of P150,000.00 and promised to give her the
balance of P58,000.00 soon thereafter. However, sometime in April or May 2001,
respondent informed her that he could not give her the said amount because he used it for
his political campaign as he was then running for the position of Provincial Board Member
of the 2ndDistrict of Pampanga.
Complainant maintains that inspite of their sexual relationship and the fact that
respondent kept part of the money intended for her daughter, he still failed in his promise
to give her a job. Furthermore, he did not file the case against Aquino and referred her
instead to Atty. Federico S. Tolentino, Jr. (Atty. Tolentino).
Sometime in 2002, assisted by Atty. Tolentino, complainant filed a criminal case for
child abuse as well as a civil case against Aquino. While the criminal case was dismissed,
the civil case was decided on 30 August 2004 by virtue of a compromise agreement.[7] It
was only when said cases were filed that she finally understood the import of the Affidavit.
Complainant avers that respondent failed to protect her interest when he personally
prepared the Affidavit and caused her to sign the same, which obviously worked to her
disadvantage. In making false promises that all her problems would be solved, aggravated
by his assurance that his marriage had already been annulled, respondent allegedly
deceived her into yielding to his sexual desires. Taking advantage of the trust and
confidence she had in him as her counsel and paramour, her weak emotional state, and
dire financial need at that time, respondent was able to appropriate for himself money
that rightfully belonged to her daughter. She argues that respondents aforementioned
acts constitute a violation of his oath as a lawyer as well as the Code of Professional
Responsibility (Code), particularly Rule 1.01, Rule 1.02, Rule 16.01, Rule 16.02, and
Canon 7.[8] Hence, she filed the instant complaint[9] dated 2 February 2004.

Expectedly, respondent presents a different version. According to him, complainant

needed a lawyer who would file the aforementioned action for support. Complainants
former high school classmate Reinilda Bansil Morales, who was also his fellow barangay
official, referred her to him. He admits sending a demand letter to her former
lover, Aquino, to ask support for the child.[10] Subsequently, he and Aquino communicated
through an emissary. He learned that because of Aquinos infidelity, his relationship with
his wife was strained so that in order to settle things the spouses were willing to give
complainant a lump sum provided she would execute an affidavit to the effect that Aquino
is not the father of her daughter.
Respondent relayed this proposal to complainant who asked for his advice. He then
advised her to study the proposal thoroughly and with a practical mindset. He also
explained to her the pros and cons of pursuing the case. After several days, she requested
that he negotiate for an out-of-court settlement of no less than P500,000.00. When
Aquino rejected the amount, negotiations ensued until the amount was lowered
to P200,000.00. Aquino allegedly offered to issue four postdated checks in equal amounts
within four months. Complainant disagreed. Aquino then proposed to rediscount the
checks at an interest of 4% a month or a total of P12,000.00. The resulting amount
was P188,000.00.
Complainant finally agreed to this arrangement and voluntarily signed the Affidavit
that respondent prepared, the same Affidavit adverted to by complainant. He denies
forcing her to sign the document and strongly refutes her allegation that she did not know
what the Affidavit was for and that she signed it without even reading it, as he gave her the
draft before the actual payment was made. He notes that complainant is a college
graduate and a former bank employee who speaks and understands English. He likewise
vehemently denies pocketing P58,000.00 of the settlement proceeds. When complainant
allegedly signed the Affidavit, the emissary handed to her the sum of P150,000.00 in cash
and she allegedly told respondent that he could keep the remaining P38,000.00,
not P58,000.00 as alleged in the complaint. Although she did not say why, he assumed
that it was for his attorneys fees.
As regards their illicit relationship, respondent admits of his sexual liaison with
complainant. He, however, denies luring her with sweet words and empty
promises. According to him, it was more of a chemistry of (sic) two consensual (sic)
adults,[11] complainant then being in her thirties. He denies that he tricked her into
believing that his marriage was already annulled. Strangely, respondent devotes
considerable effort to demonstrate that complainant very well knew he was married when
they commenced what was to him, an extra-marital liaison. He points out that, first, they
had met through his colleague, Ms. Morales, a friend and former high school classmate of
hers. Second, they had allegedly first met at his residence where she was actually
introduced to his wife. Subsequently, complainant called his residence several times and
actually spoke to his wife, a circumstance so disturbing to respondent that he had to beg
complainant not to call him there. Third, he was the Punong Barangay from 1994 to 2002,
and was elected President of the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) and as such was
an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Guagua, Pampanga. He ran for the
position of Provincial Board Member in 2001. Thus, he was known in his locality and it

was impossible for complainant not to have known of his marital status especially that she
lived no more than three (3) kilometers away from his house and even actively helped him
in his campaign.
Respondent further alleges that while the demand for support from Aquino was
being worked out, complainant moved to a rented house in Olongapo City because a suitor
had promised her a job in the Subic Naval Base. But months passed and the promised job
never came so that she had to return to Lubao, Pampanga. As the money she received
from Aquino was about to be exhausted, she allegedly started to pester respondent for
financial assistance and urged him to file the Petition for Support against Aquino. While
respondent acceded to her pleas, he also advised her to look for the right man[12] and to
stop depending on him for financial assistance. He also informed her that he could not
assist her in filing the case, as he was the one who prepared and notarized the
Affidavit. He, however, referred her to Atty. Tolentino.
In August 2002, respondent finally ended his relationship with complainant, but still
he agreed to give her monthly financial assistance of P6,000.00 for six (6) months. Since
then, they have ceased to meet and have communicated only through an emissary or by
cellphone. In 2003, complainant begged him to continue the assistance until June when
her alleged fianc from the United States would have arrived. Respondent agreed. In July
2003, she again asked for financial assistance for the last time, which he turned
down. Since then he had stopped communicating to her.
Sometime in January 2004, complainant allegedly went to see a friend of
respondent. She told him that she was in need of P5,000.00 for a sari-sari store she was
putting up and she wanted him to relay the message to respondent. According to this
friend, complainant showed him a prepared complaint against respondent that she would
file with the Supreme Court should the latter not accede to her request. Sensing that he
was being blackmailed, respondent ignored her demand. True enough, he alleges, she
filed the instant complaint.
On 21 July 2004, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.[13] After the parties
submitted their respective position papers and supporting documents, the Investigating
Commissioner rendered his Report and Recommendation[14] dated 2 September
2005. After presenting the parties conflicting factual versions, the Investigating
Commissioner gave credence to that of complainant and concluded that respondent
clearly violated the Code, reporting in this wise, to wit:
Respondent, through the above mentioned acts, clearly showed that he
is wanting in good moral character, putting in doubt his professional
reputation as a member of the BAR and renders him unfit and unworthy of the
privileges which the law confers to him. From a lawyer, are (sic) expected
those qualities of truth-speaking, high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual
honesty and the strictest observance of fiduciary responsibility all of which
throughout the passage of time have been compendiously described as

Respondent, unfortunately took advantage and (sic) every opportunity

to entice complainant to his lascivious hungerness (sic). On several
occasions[,] respondent kept on calling complainant and dropped by her
house and gave P2,000.00 as aid while waiting allegedly for the reply of (sic)
their demand letter for support. It signals the numerous visits and regular
calls all because of [l]ewd design. He took advantage of her seeming financial
woes and emotional dependency.
Without doubt, a violation of the high moral standards of the legal
profession justifies the impositions (sic) of the appropriate penalty, including
suspension and disbarment. x x x[15]

It was then recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for six (6) months and that he be ordered to return to complainant the amount
of P58,000.00 within two months. The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the
said Report and Recommendation in a Resolution[16] dated 17 December 2005, finding the
same to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
and considering Respondents obviously taking advantage of the lawyer-client
relationship and the financial and emotional problem of his client and attempting to
mislead the Commission,[17] respondent was meted out the penalty of suspension for one
(1) year with a stern warning that a repetition of similar acts will merit severe
sanctions. He was likewise ordered to returnP58,000.00 to complainant.
Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Set Case for
Clarificatory Questioning[18] (Motion) dated 9 March 2006 with the IBP and a Motion to
Reopen/Remand Case for Clarificatory Questioning dated 22 March 2006 with the
Supreme Court. He reiterates his own version of the facts, giving a more detailed account
of the events that transpired between him and complainant. Altogether, he portrays
complainant as a shrewd and manipulative woman who depends on men for financial
support and who would stop at nothing to get what she wants. Arguing that the IBP based
its Resolution solely on complainants bare allegations that she failed to prove by clear and
convincing evidence, he posits the case should be re-opened for clarificatory questioning
in order to determine who between them is telling the truth.
In a Resolution[19] dated 27 April 2006, the IBP denied the Motion on the ground
that it has no more jurisdiction over the case as the matter had already been endorsed to
the Supreme Court.
While we find respondent liable, we adjudicate the matter differently from what the
IBP has recommended.
On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital
affair with complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not so corrupt and
false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
degree[20] in order to merit disciplinary sanction. We disagree.

One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess
good moral character. Said requirement persists as a continuing condition for the
enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the
revocation of such privilege.[21] 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.[22] The Court has
held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be
immoral, but grossly immoral.[23] A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false
as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a
high degree.[24] It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act that shows a moral indifference to
the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community.[25]
While it is has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations
between two unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for
such illicit behavior,[26] it is not so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of
fidelity.[27] Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are punishable under penal law,
sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as it manifests
deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the
Constitution and affirmed by our laws.[28]
By his own admission, respondent is obviously guilty of immorality in violation of
Rule 1.01 of the Code which states that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct. The next question to consider is whether this act is
aggravated by his alleged deceitful conduct in luring complainant who was then in low
spirits and in dire financial need in order to satisfy his carnal desires. While the IBP
concluded the question in the affirmative, we find otherwise.
Complainants allegations that she succumbed to respondents sexual advances due
to his promises of financial security and because of her need for legal assistance in filing a
case against her former lover, are insufficient to conclude that complainant deceived her
into having sexual relations with her. Surely, an educated woman like herself who was of
sufficient age and discretion, being at that time in her thirties, would not be easily fooled
into sexual congress by promises of a job and of free legal assistance, especially when
there is no showing that she is suffering from any mental or physical disability as to justify
such recklessness and/or helplessness on her part.[29] Respondents numerous visits and
regular calls to complainant do not necessarily prove that he took advantage of her. At
best, it proves that he courted her despite being a married man, precisely the fact on
which the finding of immorality is rooted. Moreover, the circumstance that he gave
her P2,000.00 as aid does not induce belief that he fueled her financial dependence as
she never denied pleading with, if not badgering, him for financial support.
Neither does complainants allegation that respondent lied to her about his marital
status inspire belief. We find credence in respondents assertion that it was impossible
for her not to have known of his subsisting marriage. She herself admitted that they were
introduced by her friend and former classmate, Ms. Morales who was a fellow barangay
official of respondent. She admitted that she knew his residence phone number and that

she had called him there. She also knew that respondent is an active barangay official who
even ran as Provincial Board Member in 2001. Curiously, she never refuted respondents
allegations that she had met and talked to his wife on several occasions, that she lived near
his residence, that she helped him in his campaign, or that she knew a lot of his friends, so
as not to have known of his marital status. Considering that she previously had an affair
with Aquino, who was also a married man, it would be unnatural for her to have just
plunged into a sexual relationship with respondent whom she had known for only a short
time without verifying his background, if it were true that she preferred to change [her]
life for the better,[30] as alleged in her complaint. We believe that her aforementioned
allegations of deceit were not established by clear preponderant evidence required in
disbarment cases.[31] We are left with the most logical conclusion that she freely and
wittingly entered into an illicit and immoral relationship with respondent sans any
misrepresentation or deceit on his part.
Next, complainant charged respondent of taking advantage of his legal skills and
moral control over her to force her to sign the clearly disadvantageous Affidavit without
letting her read it and without explaining to her its repercussions. While acting as her
counsel, she alleged that he likewise acted as counsel for Aquino.
We find complainants assertions dubious. She was clearly in need of financial
support from Aquino especially that her daughter was suffering from a heart ailment. We
cannot fathom how she could abandon all cares to respondent who she had met for only a
couple of months and thereby risk the welfare of her child by signing without even
reading a document she knew was related to the support case she intended to file. The
Affidavit consists of four short sentences contained in a single page. It is unlikely she was
not able to read it before she signed it.
Likewise obscure is her assertion that respondent did not fully explain to her the
contents of the Affidavit and the consequences of signing it. She alleged that respondent
even urged her to use her head as Arnulfo Aquino will not give the money for Alexandras
medical and educational support if she will not sign the said Affidavit of Disclaimer.[32] If
her own allegation is to be believed, it shows that she was aware of the on-going
negotiation with Aquino for the settlement of her claim for which the latter demanded the
execution of the Affidavit. It also goes to show that she was pondering on whether to sign
the same. Furthermore, she does not deny being a college graduate or that she knows and
understands English. The Affidavit is written in short and simple sentences that are
understandable even to a layman. The inevitable conclusion is that she signed the Affidavit
voluntarily and without any coercion whatsoever on the part of respondent.
The question remains as to whether his act of preparing and notarizing the Affidavit,
a document disadvantageous to his client, is a violation of the Code. We rule in the
It was not unlawful for respondent to assist his client in entering into a settlement
with Aquino after explaining all available options to her. The law encourages the amicable
settlement not only of pending cases but also of disputes which might otherwise be filed in
court.[33] Moreover, there is no showing that he knew for sure that Aquino is the father of

complainants daughter as paternity remains to be proven. As complainant voluntarily and

intelligently agreed to a settlement with Aquino, she cannot later blame her counsel when
she experiences a change of heart. Besides, the record is bereft of evidence as to whether
respondent also acted as Aquinos counsel in the settlement of the case. Again, we only
have complainants bare allegations that cannot be considered evidence.[34] Suspicion, no
matter how strong, is not enough. In the absence of contrary evidence, what will prevail is
the presumption that the respondent has regularly performed his duty in accordance with
his oath.[35]
Complainant further charged respondent of misappropriating part of the money
given by Aquino to her daughter. Instead of turning over the whole amount, he allegedly
issued to her his personal check in the amount of P150,000.00 and pocketed the
remaining P58,000.00 in violation of his fiduciary obligation to her as her counsel.
The IBP did not make any categorical finding on this matter but simply ordered
respondent to return the amount of P58,000.00 to complainant. We feel a discussion is in
We note that there is no clear evidence as to how much Aquino actually gave in
settlement of complainants claim for support. The parties are in agreement that
complainant received the amount ofP150,000.00. However, complainant insists that she
should have received more as there were two postdated checks amounting to P58,000.00
that respondent never turned over to her. Respondent essentially agrees that the amount
is in fact more than P150,000.00 but only P38,000.00 more and complainant said he
could have it and he assumed it was for his attorneys fees.
We scrutinized the records and found not a single evidence to prove that there
existed two postdated checks issued by Aquino in the amount of P58,000.00. On the other
hand, respondent admits that there is actually an amount of P38,000.00 but presented no
evidence of an agreement for attorneys fees to justify his presumption that he can keep
the same. Curiously, there is on record a photocopy of a check issued by respondent in
favor of complainant for P150,000.00. It was only in his Motion for Reconsideration
where respondent belatedly proffers an explanation. He avers that he cannot recall what
the check was for but he supposes that complainant requested for it as she did not want to
travel all the way to Olongapo City with a huge sum of money.
We find the circumstances rather suspicious but evidence is wanting to sustain a
finding in favor of either party in this respect. We cannot and should not rule on mere
conjectures. The IBP relied only on the written assertions of the parties, apparently
finding no need to subject the veracity of the assertions through the question and
answer modality. With the inconclusive state of the evidence, a more indepth investigation is called for to ascertain in whose favor the
substantial evidence level tilts. Hence, we are constrained to remand the case to the IBP
for further reception of evidence solely on this aspect.

We also are unable to grant complainants prayer for respondent to be made liable
for the cost of her childs DNA test absent proof that he misappropriated funds exclusively
earmarked for the purpose.
Neither shall we entertain complainants claim for moral damages and attorneys
fees. Suffice it to state that an administrative case against a lawyer is sui generis, one that
is distinct from a civil or a criminal action.[36] It is an investigation by the Court into the
fitness of a lawyer to remain in the legal profession and be allowed the privileges as
such. Its primary objective is to protect the Court and the public from the misconduct of
its officers with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the
proper and honest administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this
important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men and women in whom
courts and clients may repose confidence.[37] As such, it involves no private interest and
affords no redress for private grievance.[38] The complainant or the person who called the
attention of the court to the lawyers alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has
generally no interest in the outcome except as all good citizens may have in the proper
administration of justice.[39]
Respondents misconduct is of considerable gravity. There is a string of cases where
the Court meted out the extreme penalty of disbarment on the ground of gross immorality
where the respondent contracted a bigamous marriage,[40] abandoned his family to
cohabit with his paramour,[41] cohabited with a married woman,[42] lured an innocent
woman into marriage,[43] or was found to be a womanizer.[44] The instant case can be
easily differentiated from the foregoing cases.
We, therefore, heed the stern injunction on decreeing disbarment where any lesser
penalty, such as temporary suspension, would accomplish the end desired.[45] In Zaguirre
v. Castillo,[46] respondent was found to have sired a child with another woman who knew
he was married. He therein sought understanding from the Court pointing out the
polygamous nature of men and that the illicit relationship was a product of mutual lust
and desire. Appalled at his reprehensible and amoral attitude, the Court suspended him
indefinitely. However, in Fr. Sinnott v. Judge Barte,[47] where respondent judge consorted
with a woman not his wife, but there was no conclusive evidence that he sired a child with
her, he was fined P10,000.00 for his conduct unbecoming a magistrate despite his
retirement during the pendency of the case.
We note that from the very beginning of this case, herein respondent had expressed
remorse over his indiscretion and had in fact ended the brief illicit relationship years
ago. We take these as signs that his is not a character of such severe depravity and thus
should be taken as mitigating circumstances in his favor.[48] Considering further that this
is his first offense, we believe that a fine of P15,000.00 would suffice. This, of course, is
without prejudice to the outcome of the aspect of this case involving the alleged
misappropriation of funds of the client.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, we find Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal GUILTY of

immorality and impose on him a FINE of P15,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition
of the same or similar acts in the future will be dealt with more severely.
The charge of misappropriation of funds of the client is REMANDED to the IBP for
further investigation, report and recommendation within ninety (90) days from receipt of
this Decision.
Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as an
attorney and as a member of the Bar, and furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

A.C. No. 8391

[Formerly CBD Case No. 061631]

- versus -




November 23, 2010

x --------------------------------------------------x
Before us is a Complaint[1] dated January 10, 2006 for disciplinary action against
respondent Atty. Fred L. Gutierrez (Gutierrez) filed by Manuel C. Yuhico (Yuhico) for
violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:
Complainant Yuhico alleged that he met Gutierrez at the Office of the City
Prosecutor in Pasig City on May 4, 2005. Yuhico was there to testify at the preliminary
investigation of a Complaint for Estafa against one Jose S. Chicharro, who was then being
represented by Gutierrez. He claimed that they eventually became acquainted as they
frequently saw each other during the hearings of the case.

On June 24, 2005, Yuhico averred that Gutierrez phoned him and asked for a cash
loan of P30,000.00. Gutierrez then claimed that he needed money to pay for the medical
expenses of his mother who was seriously ill. Yuhico immediately handed the money. In
turn, Gutierrez promised to pay the loan very soon, since he was expecting to collect his
attorney's fees from a Japanese client.
On June 28, 2005, Gutierrez again asked Yuhico for a loan, this time in the amount
of P60,000.00, allegedly to pay the medical expenses of his wife who was also hospitalized.
Again, Yuhico readily issued to Atty. Gutierrez an Equitable PCI Bank check amounting
to P60,000.00.[2] Again, Gutierrez promised to pay his two loans totalling to P90,000.00
within a short time.
On July 12, 2005, Yuhico asked Gutierrez to pay his loans. Atty. Gutierrez failed to
pay. In a text message on July 12, 2005 at 2:47 p.m., Atty. Gutierrez stated:
I really don't know how to say this as I don't want to think that I may be
taking advantage of our friendship. You see i've long expected as substantial
attorney's fees since last week from my client Ogami from japan. It's more or
less more than 5m and its release is delayed due to tax and the law on money
laundering. From my estimate it wud be collected by me on or b4 august 5. N
the meantime I am quite in a financial difficulty as everyone is.
Later, Yuhico alleged that Gutierrez attempted to borrow money from him again. He
said Gutierrez claimed that his daughter needed P70,000.00 to pay the fees required to
take the licensure examination in the U.S. Medical Board. Gutierrez assured him that he
will pay all his debts on or before August 10, 2005. In his text message on July 12,
2005 at 3:05 p.m., Atty. Gutierrez said:
As you are aware of these past few days were really great trials 4 me. My
mother died, my wife got sick and now my bro in law died. These events led
me to struggling finances. To get me going I tried to sel my car but my buyer
backed out. Now my immediate problem is the amt of 70thousand which my
daughter needs for her payment sa US medical board. I dnt want her to miss
this opportunity. Can u help me again? I will pay all my debts on or b4 Aug.10
pls. Thanks.
However, this time, Yuhico refused to lend Gutierrez any amount of money. Instead,
he demanded from Gutierrez the payment of his debts. Gutierrez then sent another text
message to Yuhico on July 12, 2005 and requested him to give him another week to pay
his debts. Gutierrez failed to make the payment.
Yuhico repeatedly requested the payment of loans from Gutierrez from August to
December 2005. Gutierrez, on the other hand, for numerous times promised to pay, but
always failed to do so. At one point, Gutierrez even asked Yuhico's account number and
promised to deposit his payment there, but he never deposited the payment.

On December 5, 2005, Yuhico's counsel sent a demand letter[3] to Gutierrez to pay

his debts, but to no avail.
Thus, Yuhico filed the instant complaint against Gutierrez before the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines-Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD).
On January 12, 2006, the IBP-CBD directed Gutierrez to submit his Answer on the
complaint against him.[4]
In his Answer,[5] Gutierrez claimed that Yuhico was the one who offered to lend him
money in gratitude for the assistance he extended to the latter when he was under threat
by his clients. He, however, admitted that he accepted the loan due to compelling
circumstances. Gutierrez added that he has no intention of evading his obligation to pay
his debts, but he is currently in financial distress, thus, he cannot pay his debts yet. He
claimed he will pay his debts when his financial condition improves.
On March 24, 2006, both parties were directed to appear at the mandatory
conference before the IBP-CBD. Gutierrez failed to attend on two occasions.
On June 9, 2006, the IBP-CBD directed both parties to submit their respective
position papers.
Likewise, during the clarificatory hearing before the IBP-CBD, only the
complainant's counsel attended. There was no appearance on the part of Gutierrez.
In his Position Paper, Yuhico manifested that the Supreme Court, in Huyssen v. Atty.
Gutierrez,[6] had already disbarred Gutierrez from the practice of law for gross misconduct,
in view of his failure to pay his debts and his issuance of worthless checks.
Subsequently, in a Resolution dated December 11, 2008, the, IBP-CBD found
Gutierrez guilty of non-payment of just debts and ordered him to return the amount of
Ninety Thousand Pesos (P90,000.00) to Yuhico, with interest until full payment.
In view of the previous disbarment of Gutierrez, the IBP-CBD recommended to the
Court that, instead of rendering the instant case moot, Gutierrez should be disbarred anew
effective upon the expiration of the sanction pursuant to the March 26, 2004 Supreme
Court Decision. The IBP-CBD explained that while we do not have jurisprudence on the
issue of double or multiple disbarment, the American jurisprudence, however, recognizes
double or multiple disbarments as well as the minimum requirement of five (5) years for
readmission to the Bar.
On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors, in Resolution No. XVIII-2008649, resolved to adopt the report and recommendation of the IBP-CBD and approve it
with modification as to the payment of the amount of Ninety Thousand Pesos
(P90,000.00), this time, without interest.
We sustain the findings of the IBP, but with modification as to its recommendations.

We have held that deliberate failure to pay just debts constitute gross misconduct,
for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers
are instruments for the administration of justice and vanguards of our legal system. They
are expected to maintain not only legal proficiency, but also a high standard of morality,
honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial
system is ensured. They must, at all times, faithfully perform their duties to society, to the
bar, the courts and to their clients, which include prompt payment of financial obligations.
They must conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the values and norms of the legal
profession as embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.[7]
In the instant case, there is no question as to Gutierrez's guilt. His admission of the
loan he contracted and his failure to pay the same leaves no room for interpretation.
Neither can he justify his act of non-payment of debt by his dire financial condition.
Gutierrez should not have contracted loans which are beyond his financial capacity to pay.
Likewise, we cannot overlook Gutierrez's propensity of employing deceit and
misrepresentations for the purpose of obtaining debts without the intention of paying
them. Records show Gutierrez's pattern of habitually making promises of paying his debts,
yet repeatedly failing to deliver. The series of text messages he sent to Yuhico promising to
pay his loans, while simultaneously giving excuses without actually making good of his
promises, is clearly reprehensible. Undoubtedly, his acts demonstrate lack of moral
character to satisfy the responsibilities and duties imposed on lawyers as professionals
and as officers of the court.
We also note that in Huyssen v. Atty. Gutierrez,[8] the Court had already disbarred
Gutierrez from the practice of law for gross misconduct due to non-payment of just debts
and issuance of bouncing checks.
In view of the foregoing, while we agree with the findings of the IBP, we cannot,
however, adopt its recommendation to disbar Gutierrez for the second time, considering
that Gutierrez had already been previously disbarred. Indeed, as the IBP pointed out, we
do not have double or multiple disbarment in our laws or jurisprudence. Neither do we
have a law mandating a minimum 5-year requirement for readmission, as cited by the IBP.
Thus, while Gutierrez's infraction calls for the penalty of disbarment, we cannot disbar
him anew.
WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVIII-2008-649 dated December 11, 2008, of the IBP,
is ORDERED toPAY the amount of Ninety Thousand Pesos (P90,000.00) to the
complainant immediately from receipt of this decision with interest.
Let a copy of this Decision be furnished and properly recorded in the Office of the Bar
Confidant, to be appended to the personal record of Gutierrez; the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines; and the Office of the Court Administrator, for circulation to all courts in the
country for their information and guidance.
This Decision shall be immediately executory.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-27654 February 18, 1970


Before us is Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen's "Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of
Title," filed on September 25, 1967, in protest against what he therein asserts is "a great
injustice committed against his client by this Supreme Court." He indicts this Court, in his
own phrase, as a tribunal "peopled by men who are calloused to our pleas for justice, who
ignore without reasons their own applicable decisions and commit culpable violations of
the Constitution with impunity." His client's he continues, who was deeply aggrieved by
this Court's "unjust judgment," has become "one of the sacrificial victims before the altar
of hypocrisy." In the same breath that he alludes to the classic symbol of justice, he
ridicules the members of this Court, saying "that justice as administered by the present
members of the Supreme Court is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb." He then vows to
argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," so that "the people may know of the
silent injustice's committed by this Court," and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs and
injustices that were committed must never be repeated." He ends his petition with a
prayer that
... a resolution issue ordering the Clerk of Court to receive the certificate of the
undersigned attorney and counsellor-at-law IN TRUST with reservation that
at any time in the future and in the event we regain our faith and confidence,
we may retrieve our title to assume the practice of the noblest profession.
He reiterated and disclosed to the press the contents of the aforementioned petition. Thus,
on September 26, 1967, the Manila Times published statements attributed to him, as
Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did it to expose
the tribunal's"unconstitutional and obnoxious" practice of arbitrarily denying
petitions or appeals without any reason.
Because of the tribunal's "short-cut justice," Almacen deplored, his client was
condemned to pay P120,000, without knowing why he lost the case.

xxx xxx xxx

There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this
petition, "where our Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to
our pleas for justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable decisions
and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity.
xxx xxx xxx
He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he earns
his living, the present members of the Supreme Court "will become responsive
to all cases brought to its attention without discrimination, and will purge itself
of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of merit" or "denied resolutions.
(Emphasis supplied)
Atty. Almacen's statement that
... our own Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our pleas
of [sic] justice, who ignore their own applicable decisions and commit
culpable violations of the Constitution with impunity
was quoted by columnist Vicente Albano Pacis in the issue of the Manila Chronicle of
September 28, 1967. In connection therewith, Pacis commented that Atty. Almacen had
"accused the high tribunal of offenses so serious that the Court must clear itself," and that
"his charge is one of the constitutional bases for impeachment."
The genesis of this unfortunate incident was a civil case entitled Virginia Y. Yaptinchay vs.
Antonio H. Calero,1 in which Atty. Almacen was counsel for the defendant. The trial court,
after due hearing, rendered judgment against his client. On June 15, 1966 Atty. Almacen
received a copy of the decision. Twenty days later, or on July 5, 1966, he moved for its
reconsideration. He served on the adverse counsel a copy of the motion, but did not notify
the latter of the time and place of hearing on said motion. Meanwhile, on July 18, 1966, the
plaintiff moved for execution of the judgment. For "lack of proof of service," the trial court
denied both motions. To prove that he did serve on the adverse party a copy of his first
motion for reconsideration, Atty. Almacen filed on August 17, 1966 a second motion for
reconsideration to which he attached the required registry return card. This second
motion for reconsideration, however, was ordered withdrawn by the trial court on August
30, 1966, upon verbal motion of Atty. Almacen himself, who, earlier, that is, on August 22,
1966, had already perfected the appeal. Because the plaintiff interposed no objection to
the record on appeal and appeal bond, the trial court elevated the case to the Court of
But the Court of Appeals, on the authority of this Court's decision in Manila Surety &
Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., L-16636, June 24, 1965, dismissed the appeal,
in the following words:
Upon consideration of the motion dated March 27, 1967, filed by plaintiffappellee praying that the appeal be dismissed, and of the opposition thereto
filed by defendant-appellant; the Court RESOLVED TO DISMISS, as it hereby
dismisses, the appeal, for the reason that the motion for reconsideration dated
July 5, 1966 (pp. 90-113, printed record on appeal) does not contain a notice
of time and place of hearing thereof and is, therefore, a useless piece of paper
(Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction & Co., G.R. No. L-

16636, June 24, 1965), which did not interrupt the running of the period to
appeal, and, consequently, the appeal was perfected out of time.
Atty. Almacen moved to reconsider this resolution, urging that Manila Surety & Fidelity Co.
is not decisive. At the same time he filed a pleading entitled "Latest decision of the
Supreme Court in Support of Motion for Reconsideration," citing Republic of the
Philippines vs. Gregorio A. Venturanza, L-20417, decided by this Court on May 30, 1966, as
the applicable case. Again, the Court of Appeals denied the motion for reconsideration,
Before this Court for resolution are the motion dated May 9, 1967 and the
supplement thereto of the same date filed by defendant- appellant, praying for
reconsideration of the resolution of May 8, 1967, dismissing the appeal.
Appellant contends that there are some important distinctions between this
case and that of Manila Surety and Fidelity Co., Inc. vs. Batu Construction &
Co., G.R. No. L- 16636, June 24, 1965, relied upon by this Court in its resolution
of May 8, 1967. Appellant further states that in the latest case,Republic vs.
Venturanza, L-20417, May 30, 1966, decided by the Supreme Court
concerning the question raised by appellant's motion, the ruling is contrary to
the doctrine laid down in the Manila Surety & Fidelity Co., Inc. case.
There is no substantial distinction between this case and that of Manila Surety
& Fidelity Co.
In the case of Republic vs. Venturanza, the resolution denying the motion to
dismiss the appeal, based on grounds similar to those raised herein was
issued on November 26, 1962, which was much earlier than the date of
promulgation of the decision in the Manila Surety Case, which was June 24,
1965. Further, the resolution in the Venturanza case was interlocutory and
the Supreme Court issued it "without prejudice to appellee's restoring the
point in the brief." In the main decision in said case (Rep. vs. Venturanza the
Supreme Court passed upon the issue sub silencio presumably because of its
prior decisions contrary to the resolution of November 26, 1962, one of which
is that in the Manila Surety and Fidelity case. Therefore Republic vs.
Venturanza is no authority on the matter in issue.
Atty. Almacen then appealed to this Court by certiorari. We refused to take the case, and
by minute resolution denied the appeal. Denied shortly thereafter was his motion for
reconsideration as well as his petition for leave to file a second motion for reconsideration
and for extension of time. Entry of judgment was made on September 8, 1967. Hence, the
second motion for reconsideration filed by him after the Said date was ordered expunged
from the records.
It was at this juncture that Atty. Almacen gave vent to his disappointment by filing his
"Petition to Surrender Lawyer's Certificate of Title," already adverted to a pleading that
is interspersed from beginning to end with the insolent contemptuous, grossly
disrespectful and derogatory remarks hereinbefore reproduced, against this Court as well
as its individual members, a behavior that is as unprecedented as it is unprofessional.
Nonetheless we decided by resolution dated September 28, 1967 to withhold action on his
petition until he shall have actually surrendered his certificate. Patiently, we waited for
him to make good his proffer. No word came from him. So he was reminded to turn over

his certificate, which he had earlier vociferously offered to surrender, so that this Court
could act on his petition. To said reminder he manifested "that he has no pending petition
in connection with Case G.R. No. L-27654, Calero vs. Yaptinchay, said case is now final and
executory;" that this Court's September 28, 1967 resolution did not require him to do
either a positive or negative act; and that since his offer was not accepted, he "chose to
pursue the negative act."
In the exercise of its inherent power to discipline a member of the bar for contumely and
gross misconduct, this Court on November 17, 1967 resolved to require Atty. Almacen to
show cause "why no disciplinary action should be taken against him." Denying the charges
contained in the November 17 resolution, he asked for permission "to give reasons and
cause why no disciplinary action should be taken against him ... in an open and public
hearing." This Court resolved (on December 7) "to require Atty. Almacen to state, within
five days from notice hereof, his reasons for such request, otherwise, oral argument shall
be deemed waived and incident submitted for decision." To this resolution he manifested
that since this Court is "the complainant, prosecutor and Judge," he preferred to be heard
and to answer questions "in person and in an open and public hearing" so that this Court
could observe his sincerity and candor. He also asked for leave to file a written
explanation "in the event this Court has no time to hear him in person." To give him the
ampliest latitude for his defense, he was allowed to file a written explanation and
thereafter was heard in oral argument.
His written answer, as undignified and cynical as it is unchastened, offers -no apology. Far
from being contrite Atty. Almacen unremittingly repeats his jeremiad of lamentations, this
time embellishing it with abundant sarcasm and innuendo. Thus:
At the start, let me quote passages from the Holy Bible, Chapter 7, St. Matthew:

"Do not judge, that you may not be judged. For with what
judgment you judge, you shall be judged, and with what measure
you measure, it shall be measured to you. But why dost thou see
the speck in thy brother's eye, and yet dost not consider the beam
in thy own eye? Or how can thou say to thy brother, "Let me cast
out the speck from thy eye"; and behold, there is a beam in thy
own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam from thy own
eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the speck from thy
brother's eyes."
"Therefore all that you wish men to do to you, even to do you also
to them: for this is the Law and the Prophets."
xxx xxx xxx
Your respondent has no intention of disavowing the statements mentioned in
his petition. On the contrary, he refirms the truth of what he stated,
compatible with his lawyer's oath that he will do no falsehood, nor consent to
the doing of any in court. But he vigorously DENY under oath that the
underscored statements contained in the CHARGE are insolent,
contemptuous, grossly disrespectful and derogatory to the individual
members of the Court; that they tend to bring the entire Court, without
justification, into disrepute; and constitute conduct unbecoming of a member
of the noble profession of law.

xxx xxx xxx

Respondent stands four-square that his statement is borne by TRUTH and has
been asserted with NO MALICE BEFORE AND AFTER THOUGHT but mainly
motivated with the highest interest of justice that in the particular case of our
client, the members have shown callousness to our various pleas for JUSTICE,
our pleadings will bear us on this matter, ...
xxx xxx xxx
To all these beggings, supplications, words of humility, appeals for charity,
generosity, fairness, understanding, sympathy and above all in the highest
interest of JUSTICE, what did we get from this COURT? One word, DENIED,
with all its hardiness and insensibility. That was the unfeeling of the Court
towards our pleas and prayers, in simple word, it is plain callousness towards
our particular case.
xxx xxx xxx
Now that your respondent has the guts to tell the members of the Court that
notwithstanding the violation of the Constitution, you remained unpunished,
this Court in the reverse order of natural things, is now in the attempt to
inflict punishment on your respondent for acts he said in good faith.
Did His Honors care to listen to our pleadings and supplications for JUSTICE,
CHARITY, GENEROSITY and FAIRNESS? Did His Honors attempt to justify
their stubborn denial with any semblance of reason, NEVER. Now that your
respondent is given the opportunity to face you, he reiterates the same
statement with emphasis, DID YOU? Sir. Is this. the way of life in the
Philippines today, that even our own President, said: "the story is current,
though nebulous ,is to its truth, it is still being circulated that justice in the
Philippines today is not what it is used to be before the war. There are those
who have told me frankly and brutally that justice is a commodity, a
marketable commodity in the Philippines."
xxx xxx xxx
We condemn the SIN, not the SINNER. We detest the ACTS, not the ACTOR. We
attack the decision of this Court, not the members. ... We were provoked. We
were compelled by force of necessity. We were angry but we waited for the
finality of the decision. We waited until this Court has performed its duties.
We never interfered nor obstruct in the performance of their duties. But in the
end, after seeing that the Constitution has placed finality on your judgment
against our client and sensing that you have not performed your duties with
"circumspection, carefulness, confidence and wisdom", your Respondent rise
to claim his God given right to speak the truth and his Constitutional right of
free speech.
xxx xxx xxx
The INJUSTICES which we have attributed to this Court and the further
violations we sought to be prevented is impliedly shared by our President. ... .
xxx xxx xxx

What has been abhored and condemned, are the very things that were applied to us.
Recalling Madam Roland's famous apostrophe during the French revolution, "O Liberty,
what crimes are committed in thy name", we may dare say, "O JUSTICE, what technicalities
are committed in thy name' or more appropriately, 'O JUSTICE, what injustices are
committed in thy name."
xxx xxx xxx
We must admit that this Court is not free from commission of any abuses, but
who would correct such abuses considering that yours is a court of last resort.
A strong public opinion must be generated so as to curtail these abuses.
xxx xxx xxx
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolize in paintings that can be found in all
courts and government offices. We have added only two more symbols, that it
is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no members of this Court has
ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, fairness, understanding sympathy
and for justice; dumb in the sense, that inspite of our beggings, supplications,
and pleadings to give us reasons why our appeal has been DENIED, not one
word was spoken or given ... We refer to no human defect or ailment in the
above statement. We only describe the. impersonal state of things and nothing
xxx xxx xxx
As we have stated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members of
this Court and for which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's
certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be
regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed sacrifice,
then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self-sacrifice. If we
have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith and confidence in the
members of the Court but disregard our Constitution and to uphold the
Constitution and be condemned by the members of this Court, there is no
choice, we must uphold the latter.
But overlooking, for the nonce, the vituperative chaff which he claims is not intended as a
studied disrespect to this Court, let us examine the grain of his grievances.
He chafes at the minute resolution denial of his petition for review. We are quite aware of
the criticisms2expressed against this Court's practice of rejecting petitions by minute
resolutions. We have been asked to do away with it, to state the facts and the law, and to
spell out the reasons for denial. We have given this suggestion very careful thought. For
we know the abject frustration of a lawyer who tediously collates the facts and for many
weary hours meticulously marshalls his arguments, only to have his efforts rebuffed with
a terse unadorned denial. Truth to tell, however, most petitions rejected by this Court are
utterly frivolous and ought never to have been lodged at all.3 The rest do exhibit a firstimpression cogency, but fail to, withstand critical scrutiny. By and large, this Court has
been generous in giving due course to petitions for certiorari.
Be this as it may, were we to accept every case or write a full opinion for every petition we
reject, we would be unable to carry out effectively the burden placed upon us by the
Constitution. The proper role of the Supreme Court, as Mr. Chief Justice Vinson of the U.S.

Supreme Court has defined it, is to decide "only those cases which present questions
whose resolutions will have immediate importance beyond the particular facts and parties
involved." Pertinent here is the observation of Mr. Justice Frankfurter in Maryland vs.
Baltimore Radio Show, 94 L. ed 562, 566:
A variety of considerations underlie denials of the writ, and as to the same
petition different reasons may read different justices to the same result ... .
Since there are these conflicting, and, to the uninformed, even confusing
reasons for denying petitions for certiorari, it has been suggested from time to
time that the Court indicate its reasons for denial. Practical considerations
preclude. In order that the Court may be enabled to discharge its
indispensable duties, Congress has placed the control of the Court's business,
in effect, within the Court's discretion. During the last three terms the Court
disposed of 260, 217, 224 cases, respectively, on their merits. For the same
three terms the Court denied, respectively, 1,260, 1,105,1,189 petitions calling
for discretionary review. If the Court is to do its work it would not be feasible
to give reasons, however brief, for refusing to take these cases. The tune that
would be required is prohibitive. Apart from the fact that as already indicated
different reasons not infrequently move different members of the Court in
concluding that a particular case at a particular time makes review
Six years ago, in Novino, et al., vs. Court of Appeals, et al., 1,21098, May 31, 1963 (60 O.G.
8099), this Court, through the then Chief Justice Cesar Bengzon, articulated its considered
view on this matter. There, the petitioners counsel urged that a "lack of merit" resolution
violates Section 12 of Article VIII of the Constitution. Said Chief Justice Bengzon:
In connection with identical short resolutions, the same question has been
raised before; and we held that these "resolutions" are not "decisions" within
the above constitutional requirement. They merely hold that the petition for
review should not be entertained in view of the provisions of Rule 46 of the
Rules of Court; and even ordinary lawyers have all this time so understood it.
It should be remembered that a petition to review the decision of the Court of
Appeals is not a matter of right, but of sound judicial discretion; and so there
is no need to fully explain the court's denial. For one thing, the facts and the
law are already mentioned in the Court of Appeals' opinion.
By the way, this mode of disposal has as intended helped the Court in
alleviating its heavy docket; it was patterned after the practice of the U.S.
Supreme Court, wherein petitions for review are often merely ordered
We underscore the fact that cases taken to this Court on petitions for certiorari from the
Court of Appeals have had the benefit of appellate review. Hence, the need for compelling
reasons to buttress such petitions if this Court is to be moved into accepting them. For it is
axiomatic that the supervisory jurisdiction vested upon this Court over the Court of
Appeals is not intended to give every losing party another hearing. This axiom is implied
in sec. 4 of Rule 45 of the Rules of Court which recites:
Review of Court of Appeals' decision discretionary.A review is not a matter of
right but of sound judicial discretion, and will be granted only when there are
special and important reasons therefor. The following, while neither

controlling nor fully measuring the court's discretion, indicate the character of
reasons which will be considered:
(a) When the Court of Appeals has decided a question of substance, not
theretofore determined by the Supreme Court, nor has decided it in a way
probably not in accord with law or with the applicable decisions of the
Supreme Court;
(b) When the Court of Appeals has so far departed from the accepted and
usual course of judicial proceedings, or so far sanctioned such departure by
the lower court, as to call for the exercise of the power of supervision.
Recalling Atty. Almacen's petition for review, we found, upon a thoroughgoing
examination of the pleadings. and records, that the Court of Appeals had fully and
correctly considered the dismissal of his appeal in the light of the law and applicable
decisions of this Court. Far from straying away from the "accepted and usual course of
judicial proceedings," it traced the procedural lines etched by this Court in a number of
decisions. There was, therefore, no need for this Court to exercise its supervisory power.
As a law practitioner who was admitted to the Bar as far back as 1941, Atty. Almacen
knew or ought to have known that for a motion for reconsideration to stay the
running of the period of appeal, the movant must not only serve a copy of the motion upon
the adverse party (which he did), but also notify the adverse party of the time and place of
hearing (which admittedly he did not). This rule was unequivocally articulated in Manila
Surety & Fidelity vs. Batu Construction & Co., supra:
The written notice referred to evidently is prescribed for motions in general
by Rule 15, Sections 4 and 5 (formerly Rule 26), which provides that such
notice shall state the time, and place of hearing and shall be served upon all
the Parties concerned at least three days in advance. And according to Section
6 of the same Rule no motion shall be acted upon by the court without proof of
such notice. Indeed it has been held that in such a case the motion is nothing
but a useless piece of paper (Philippine National Bank v. Damasco, I,18638,
Feb. 28, 1963; citing Manakil v. Revilla, 42 Phil. 81; Roman Catholic Bishop of
Lipa v. Municipality of Unisan, 41 Phil. 866; and Director of Lands vs. Sanz, 45
Phil. 117). The reason is obvious: Unless the movant sets the time and place of
hearing the Court would have no way to determine whether that party agrees
to or objects to the motion, and if he objects, to hear him on his objection,
since the Rules themselves do not fix any period within which he may file his
reply or opposition.
If Atty. Almacen failed to move the appellate court to review the lower court's judgment,
he has only himself to blame. His own negligence caused the forfeiture of the remedy of
appeal, which, incidentally, is not a matter of right. To shift away from himself the
consequences of his carelessness, he looked for a "whipping boy." But he made sure that
he assumed the posture of a martyr, and, in offering to surrender his professional
certificate, he took the liberty of vilifying this Court and inflicting his exacerbating rancor
on the members thereof. It would thus appear that there is no justification for his
scurrilous and scandalous outbursts.
Nonetheless we gave this unprecedented act of Atty. Almacen the most circumspect
consideration. We know that it is natural for a lawyer to express his dissatisfaction each
time he loses what he sanguinely believes to be a meritorious case. That is why lawyers

are given 'wide latitude to differ with, and voice their disapproval of, not only the courts'
rulings but, also the manner in which they are handed down.
Moreover, every citizen has the right to comment upon and criticize the actuations of
public officers. This right is not diminished by the fact that the criticism is aimed at a
judicial authority,4 or that it is articulated by a lawyer.5 Such right is especially recognized
where the criticism concerns a concluded litigation,6 because then the court's actuations
are thrown open to public consumption.7"Our decisions and all our official actions," said
the Supreme Court of Nebraska,8 "are public property, and the press and the people have
the undoubted right to comment on them, criticize and censure them as they see fit.
Judicial officers, like other public servants, must answer for their official actions before the
chancery of public opinion."
The likely danger of confusing the fury of human reaction to an attack on one's integrity,
competence and honesty, with "imminent danger to the administration of justice," is the
reason why courts have been loath to inflict punishment on those who assail their
actuations.9 This danger lurks especially in such a case as this where those who Sit as
members of an entire Court are themselves collectively the aggrieved parties.
Courts thus treat with forbearance and restraint a lawyer who vigorously assails their
actuations. 10 For courageous and fearless advocates are the strands that weave durability
into the tapestry of justice. Hence, as citizen and officer of the court, every lawyer is
expected not only to exercise the right, but also to consider it his duty to expose the
shortcomings and indiscretions of courts and judges. 11
Courts and judges are not sacrosanct. 12 They should and expect critical evaluation of their
performance. 13 For like the executive and the legislative branches, the judiciary is rooted
in the soil of democratic society, nourished by the periodic appraisal of the citizens whom
it is expected to serve.
Well-recognized therefore is the right of a lawyer, both as an officer of the court and as a
citizen, to criticize in properly respectful terms and through legitimate channels the acts of
courts and judges. The reason is that
An attorney does not surrender, in assuming the important place accorded to
him in the administration of justice, his right as a citizen to criticize the
decisions of the courts in a fair and respectful manner, and the independence
of the bar, as well as of the judiciary, has always been encouraged by the
courts. (In re Ades, 6 F Supp. 487) .
Criticism of the courts has, indeed, been an important part of the traditional work of the
bar. In the prosecution of appeals, he points out the errors of lower courts. In written for
law journals he dissects with detachment the doctrinal pronouncements of courts and
fearlessly lays bare for -all to see that flaws and inconsistence" of the doctrines (Hill v.
Lyman, 126 NYS 2d 286). As aptly stated by Chief Justice Sharswood in Ex Parte Steinman,
40 Am. Rep. 641:
No class of the community ought to be allowed freer scope in the expansion or
publication of opinions as to the capacity, impartiality or integrity of judges
than members of the bar. They have the best opportunities for observing and
forming a correct judgment. They are in constant attendance on the courts. ...
To say that an attorney can only act or speak on this subject under liability to
be called to account and to be deprived of his profession and livelihood, by the

judge or judges whom he may consider it his duty to attack and expose, is a
position too monstrous to be
entertained. ... .
Hence, as a citizen and as Officer of the court a lawyer is expected not only to exercise the
right, but also to consider it his duty to avail of such right. No law may abridge this right.
Nor is he "professionally answerable for a scrutiny into the official conduct of the judges,
which would not expose him to legal animadversion as a citizen." (Case of Austin, 28 Am.
Dee. 657, 665).
Above all others, the members of the bar have the beat Opportunity to become
conversant with the character and efficiency of our judges. No class is less
likely to abuse the privilege, as no other class has as great an interest in the
preservation of an able and upright bench. (State Board of Examiners in Law v.
Hart, 116 N.W. 212, 216)
To curtail the right of a lawyer to be critical of the foibles of courts and judges is to seal the
lips of those in the best position to give advice and who might consider it their duty to
speak disparagingly. "Under such a rule," so far as the bar is concerned, "the merits of a
sitting judge may be rehearsed, but as to his demerits there must be profound silence."
(State v. Circuit Court, 72 N.W. 196)
But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona fide, and shall not
spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide chasm exists between fair criticism,
on the One hand, and abuse and slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other.
Intemperate and unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is
Such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action.
For, membership in the Bar imposes upon a person obligations and duties which are not
mere flux and ferment. His investiture into the legal profession places upon his shoulders
no burden more basic, more exacting and more imperative than that of respectful
behavior toward the courts. He vows solemnly to conduct himself "with all good fidelity ...
to the courts; 14 and the Rules of Court constantly remind him "to observe and maintain
the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers." 15 The first canon of legal ethics
enjoins him "to maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, not for the sake of the
temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme
As Mr. Justice Field puts it:
... the obligation which attorneys impliedly assume, if they do not by express
declaration take upon themselves, when they are admitted to the Bar, is not
merely to be obedient to the Constitution and laws, but to maintain at all times
the respect due to courts of justice and judicial officers. This obligation is not
discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous demeanor in open
court, but includes abstaining out of court from all insulting language and
offensive conduct toward judges personally for their judicial acts. (Bradley, v.
Fisher, 20 Law. 4d. 647, 652)
The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is essential to the
orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion of their clients' rights, lawyers
even those gifted with superior intellect are enjoined to rein up their tempers.

The counsel in any case may or may not be an abler or more learned lawyer
than the judge, and it may tax his patience and temper to submit to rulings
which he regards as incorrect, but discipline and self-respect are as necessary
to the orderly administration of justice as they are to the effectiveness of an
army. The decisions of the judge must be obeyed, because he is the tribunal
appointed to decide, and the bar should at all times be the foremost in
rendering respectful submission. (In Re Scouten, 40 Atl. 481)
We concede that a lawyer may think highly of his intellectual endowment That
is his privilege. And he may suffer frustration at what he feels is others' lack of
it. That is his misfortune. Some such frame of mind, however, should not be
allowed to harden into a belief that he may attack a court's decision in words
calculated to jettison the time-honored aphorism that courts are the temples
of right. (Per Justice Sanchez in Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer, L-22979.
June 26, 1967)
In his relations with the courts, a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an
attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. Thus, statements made by an attorney
in private conversations or communications 16 or in the course of a political,
campaign, 17 if couched in insulting language as to bring into scorn and disrepute the
administration of justice, may subject the attorney to disciplinary action.
Of fundamental pertinence at this juncture is an examination of relevant parallel
1. Admitting that a "judge as a public official is neither sacrosanct nor immune to public
criticism of his conduct in office," the Supreme Court of Florida in State v. Calhoon, 102 So.
2d 604, 608, nevertheless declared that "any conduct of a lawyer which brings into scorn
and disrepute the administration of justice demands condemnation and the application of
appropriate penalties," adding that:
It would be contrary to, every democratic theory to hold that a judge or a
court is beyond bona fide comments and criticisms which do not exceed the
bounds of decency and truth or which are not aimed at. the destruction of
public confidence in the judicial system as such. However, when the likely
impairment of the administration of justice the direct product of false and
scandalous accusations then the rule is otherwise.
2. In In Re Glenn, 130 N.W. 2d 672, an attorney was suspended for putting out and
circulating a leaflet entitled "JUSTICE??? IN OTUMWA," which accused a municipal judge
of having committed judicial error, of being so prejudiced as to deny his clients a fair trial
on appeal and of being subject to the control of a group of city officials. As a prefatory
statement he wrote: "They say that Justice is BLIND, but it took Municipal Judge Willard to
prove that it is also DEAF and DUMB!" The court did not hesitate to find that the leaflet
went much further than the accused, as a lawyer, had a right to do.
The entire publication evidences a desire on the part Of the accused to belittle
and besmirch the court and to bring it into disrepute with the general public.
3. In In Re Humphrey, 163 Pac. 60, the Supreme Court of California affirmed the two-year
suspension of an attorney who published a circular assailing a judge who at that time was
a candidate for re-election to a judicial office. The circular which referred to two decisions

of the judge concluded with a statement that the judge "used his judicial office to enable said bank to keep that money." Said the court:
We are aware that there is a line of authorities which place no limit to the
criticism members of the bar may make regarding the capacity, impartiality,
or integrity of the courts, even though it extends to the deliberate publication
by the attorney capable of correct reasoning of baseless insinuations against
the intelligence and integrity of the highest courts. See State Board, etc. v. Hart.
116 N.W. 212, 17 LRA (N.S.) 585, 15 Ann Cas 197 and note: Ex parte Steinman
95 Pac. 220, 40 Am. Rep. 637. In the first case mentioned it was observed, for
"It may be (although we do not so decide) that a libelous
publication by an attorney, directed against a judicial officer,
could be so vile and of such a nature as to justify the disbarment
of its author."
Yet the false charges made by an attorney in that case were of graver
character than those made by the respondent here. But, in our view, the better
rule is that which requires of those who are permitted to enjoy the privilege of
practicing law the strictest observance at all times of the principles of truth,
honesty and fairness, especially in their criticism of the courts, to the end that
the public confidence in the due administration of justice be upheld, and the
dignity and usefulness of the courts be maintained. In re Collins, 81 Pac. 220.
4. In People ex rel Chicago Bar Asso. v. Metzen, 123 N.E. 734, an attorney, representing a
woman who had been granted a divorce, attacked the judge who set aside the decree on
bill of review. He wrote the judge a threatening letter and gave the press the story of a
proposed libel suit against the judge and others. The letter began:
Unless the record in In re Petersen v. Petersen is cleared up so that my name is
protected from the libel, lies, and perjury committed in the cases involved, I
shall be compelled to resort to such drastic action as the law allows and the
case warrants.
Further, he said: "However let me assure you I do not intend to allow such dastardly work
to go unchallenged," and said that he was engaged in dealing with men and not
irresponsible political manikins or appearances of men. Ordering the attorney's
disbarment, the Supreme Court of Illinois declared:
... Judges are not exempt from just criticism, and whenever there is proper
ground for serious complaint against a judge, it is the right and duty of a
lawyer to submit his grievances to the proper authorities, but the public
interest and the administration of the law demand that the courts should have
the confidence and respect of the people. Unjust criticism, insulting language,
and offensive conduct toward the judges personally by attorneys, who are
officers of the court, which tend to bring the courts and the law into disrepute
and to destroy public confidence in their integrity, cannot be permitted. The
letter written to the judge was plainly an attempt to intimidate and influence
him in the discharge of judicial functions, and the bringing of the unauthorized
suit, together with the write-up in the Sunday papers, was intended and
calculated to bring the court into disrepute with the public.

5. In a public speech, a Rhode Island lawyer accused the courts of the state of being
influenced by corruption and greed, saying that the seats of the Supreme Court were
bartered. It does not appear that the attorney had criticized any of the opinions or
decisions of the Court. The lawyer was charged with unprofessional conduct, and was
ordered suspended for a period of two years. The Court said:
A calumny of that character, if believed, would tend to weaken the authority of
the court against whose members it was made, bring its judgments into
contempt, undermine its influence as an unbiased arbiter of the people's right,
and interfere with the administration of justice. ...
Because a man is a member of the bar the court will not, under the guise of
disciplinary proceedings, deprive him of any part of that freedom of speech
which he possesses as a citizen. The acts and decisions of the courts of this
state, in cases that have reached final determination, are not exempt from fair
and honest comment and criticism. It is only when an attorney transcends the
limits of legitimate criticism that he will be held responsible for an abuse of
his liberty of speech. We well understand that an independent bar, as well as
independent court, is always a vigilant defender of civil rights. In Re Troy, 111
Atl. 723. 725.
6. In In Re Rockmore, 111 NYS 879, an attorney was suspended for six months for
submitting to an appellate court an affidavit reflecting upon the judicial integrity of the
court from which the appeal was taken. Such action, the Court said, constitutes
unprofessional conduct justifying suspension from practice, notwithstanding that he fully
retracted and withdrew the statements, and asserted that the affidavit was the result of an
impulse caused by what he considered grave injustice. The Court said:
We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that there is a growing habit in the
profession of criticising the motives and integrity of judicial officers in the
discharge of their duties, and thereby reflecting on the administration of
justice and creating the impression that judicial action is influenced by
corrupt or improper motives. Every attorney of this court, as well as every
other citizen, has the right and it is his duty, to submit charges to the
authorities in whom is vested the power to remove judicial officers for any
conduct or act of a judicial officer that tends to show a violation of his duties,
or would justify an inference that he is false to his trust, or has improperly
administered the duties devolved upon him; and such charges to the tribunal,
if based upon reasonable inferences, will be encouraged, and the person
making them
protected. ... While we recognize the inherent right of an attorney in a case
decided against him, or the right of the Public generally, to criticise the
decisions of the courts, or the reasons announced for them, the habit of
criticising the motives of judicial officers in the performance of their official
duties, when the proceeding is not against the officers whose acts or motives
are criticised, tends to subvert the confidence of the community in the courts
of justice and in the administration of justice; and when such charges are
made by officers of the courts, who are bound by their duty to protect the
administration of justice, the attorney making such charges is guilty of
professional misconduct.
7. In In Re Mitchell, 71 So. 467, a lawyer published this statement:

I accepted the decision in this case, however, with patience, barring possible
temporary observations more or less vituperative and finally concluded, that,
as my clients were foreigners, it might have been expecting too much to look
for a decision in their favor against a widow residing here.
The Supreme Court of Alabama declared that:
... the expressions above set out, not only transcend the bounds of propriety
and privileged criticism, but are an unwarranted attack, direct, or by
insinuation and innuendo, upon the motives and integrity of this court, and
make out a prima facie case of improper conduct upon the part of a lawyer
who holds a license from this court and who is under oath to demean himself
with all good fidelity to the court as well as to his client.
The charges, however, were dismissed after the attorney apologized to the Court.
8. In State ex rel. Dabney v. Breckenridge, 258 Pac. 747, an attorney published in a
newspaper an article in which he impugned the motives of the court and its members to
try a case, charging the court of having arbitrarily and for a sinister purpose undertaken to
suspend the writ of habeas corpus. The Court suspended the respondent for 30 days,
saying that:
The privileges which the law gives to members of the bar is one most
subversive of the public good, if the conduct of such members does not
measure up to the requirements of the law itself, as well as to the ethics of the
profession. ...
The right of free speech and free discussion as to judicial determination is of
prime importance under our system and ideals of government. No right
thinking man would concede for a moment that the best interest to private
citizens, as well as to public officials, whether he labors in a judicial capacity
or otherwise, would be served by denying this right of free speech to any
individual. But such right does not have as its corollary that members of the
bar who are sworn to act honestly and honorably both with their client and
with the courts where justice is administered, if administered at all, could ever
properly serve their client or the public good by designedly misstating facts or
carelessly asserting the law. Truth and honesty of purpose by members of the
bar in such discussion is necessary. The health of a municipality is none the
less impaired by a polluted water supply than is the health of the thought of a
community toward the judiciary by the filthy wanton, and malignant misuse of
members of the bar of the confidence the public, through its duly established
courts, has reposed in them to deal with the affairs of the private individual,
the protection of whose rights he lends his strength and money to maintain
the judiciary. For such conduct on the part of the members of the bar the law
itself demands retribution not the court.
9. In Bar Ass'n of San Francisco v. Philbrook, 170 Pac. 440, the filing of an affidavit by an
attorney in a pending action using in respect to the several judges the terms criminal
corrupt, and wicked conspiracies,," "criminal confederates," "colossal and confident
insolence," "criminal prosecution," "calculated brutality," "a corrupt deadfall," and similar
phrases, was considered conduct unbecoming of a member of the bar, and the name of the
erring lawyer was ordered stricken from the roll of attorneys.

10. In State Board of Examiners v. Hart, 116 N.W. 215, the erring attorney claimed that
greater latitude should be allowed in case of criticism of cases finally adjudicated than in
those pending. This lawyer wrote a personal letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court of Minnesota impugning both the intelligence and the integrity of the said Chief
Justice and his associates in the decisions of certain appeals in which he had been attorney
for the defeated litigants. The letters were published in a newspaper. One of the letters
contained this paragraph:
You assigned it (the property involved) to one who has no better right to it
than the burglar to his plunder. It seems like robbing a widow to reward a
fraud, with the court acting as a fence, or umpire, watchful and vigilant that
the widow got no undue
advantage. ... The point is this: Is a proper motive for the decisions
discoverable, short of assigning to the court emasculated intelligence, or a
constipation of morals and faithlessness to duty? If the state bar association,
or a committee chosen from its rank, or the faculty of the University Law
School, aided by the researches of its hundreds of bright, active students, or if
any member of the court, or any other person, can formulate a statement of a
correct motive for the decision, which shall not require fumigation before it is
stated, and quarantine after it is made, it will gratify every right-minded
citizen of the state to read it.
The Supreme Court of Minnesota, in ordering the suspension of the attorney for six
months, delivered its opinion as follows:
The question remains whether the accused was guilty of professional
misconduct in sending to the Chief Justice the letter addressed to him. This
was done, as we have found, for the very purpose of insulting him and the
other justices of this court; and the insult was so directed to the Chief Justice
personally because of acts done by him and his associates in their official
capacity. Such a communication, so made, could never subserve any good
purpose. Its only effect in any case would be to gratify the spite of an angry
attorney and humiliate the officers so assailed. It would not and could not ever
enlighten the public in regard to their judicial capacity or integrity. Nor was it
an exercise by the accused of any constitutional right, or of any privilege
which any reputable attorney, uninfluenced by passion, could ever have any
occasion or desire to assert. No judicial officer, with due regard to his position,
can resent such an insult otherwise than by methods sanctioned by law; and
for any words, oral or written, however abusive, vile, or indecent, addressed
secretly to the judge alone, he can have no redress in any action triable by a
jury. "The sending of a libelous communication or libelous matter to the
person defamed does not constitute an actionable publication." 18 Am. & Eng.
Enc. Law (2d Ed.) p. 1017. In these respects the sending by the accused of this
letter to the Chief Justice was wholly different from his other acts charged in
the accusation, and, as we have said, wholly different principles are applicable
The conduct of the accused was in every way discreditable; but so far as he
exercised the rights of a citizen, guaranteed by the Constitution and
sanctioned by considerations of public policy, to which reference has been
made, he was immune, as we hold, from the penalty here sought to be
enforced. To that extent his rights as a citizen were paramount to the
obligation which he had assumed as an officer of this court. When, however he

proceeded and thus assailed the Chief Justice personally, he exercised no right
which the court can recognize, but, on the contrary, willfully violated his
obligation to maintain the respect due to courts and judicial officers. "This
obligation is not discharged by merely observing the rules of courteous
demeanor in open court, but it includes abstaining out of court from all
insulting language and offensive conduct toward the judges personally for
their official acts."Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. (U.S.) 355, 20 L. Ed. 646. And
there appears to be no distinction, as regards the principle involved, between
the indignity of an assault by an attorney upon a judge, induced by his official
act, and a personal insult for like cause by written or spoken words addressed
to the judge in his chambers or at his home or elsewhere. Either act
constitutes misconduct wholly different from criticism of judicial acts
addressed or spoken to others. The distinction made is, we think entirely
logical and well sustained by authority. It was recognized in Ex
parte McLeod supra. While the court in that case, as has been shown, fully
sustained the right of a citizen to criticise rulings of the court in actions which
are ended, it held that one might be summarily punished for assaulting a
judicial officer, in that case a commissioner of the court, for his rulings in a
cause wholly concluded. "Is it in the power of any person," said the court, "by
insulting or assaulting the judge because of official acts, if only the assailant
restrains his passion until the judge leaves the building, to compel the judge to
forfeit either his own self-respect to the regard of the people by tame
submission to the indignity, or else set in his own person the evil example of
punishing the insult by taking the law in his own hands? ... No high-minded,
manly man would hold judicial office under such conditions."
That a communication such as this, addressed to the Judge personally,
constitutes professional delinquency for which a professional punishment
may be imposed, has been directly decided. "An attorney who, after being
defeated in a case, wrote a personal letter to the trial justice, complaining of
his conduct and reflecting upon his integrity as a justice, is guilty of
misconduct and will be disciplined by the court." Matter of Manheim 133 App.
Div. 136, 99 N.Y. Supp. 87 The same is held in Re Griffin (City Ct.) 1 N.Y. 7 and
in Re Wilkes (City Ct.) 3 N.Y. In the latter case it appeared that the accused
attorney had addressed a sealed letter to a justice of the City Court of New
York, in which it was stated, in reference to his decision: "It is not law; neither
is it common sense. The result is I have been robbed of 80." And it was
decided that, while such conduct was not a contempt under the state, the
matter should be "called to the attention of the Supreme Court, which has
power to discipline the attorney." "If," says the court, "counsel learned in the
law are permitted by writings leveled at the heads of judges, to charge them
with ignorance, with unjust rulings, and with robbery, either as principals or
accessories, it will not be long before the general public may feel that they
may redress their fancied grievances in like manner, and thus the lot of a
judge will be anything but a happy one, and the administration of justice will
fall into bad repute."
The recent case of Johnson v. State (Ala.) 44 South. 671, was in this respect
much the same as the case at bar. The accused, an attorney at law, wrote and
mailed a letter to the circuit judge, which the latter received by due course of
mail, at his home, while not holding court, and which referred in insulting
terms to the conduct of the judge in a cause wherein the accused had been one

of the attorneys. For this it was held that the attorney was rightly disbarred in
having "willfully failed to maintain respect due to him [the judge] as a judicial
officer, and thereby breached his oath as an attorney." As recognizing the
same principle, and in support of its application to the facts of this case, we
cite the following: Ex parte Bradley, 7 Wall (U.S.) 364, 19 L. Ed. 214; Beene v.
State, 22 Ark. 149;Commonwealth v. Dandridge, 2 Va. Cas. 408; People v. Green,
7 Colo 237, 244, 3 Pac. 65, 374, 49 Am. Rep. 351; Smith's Appeal, 179 Pa. 14,
36 Atl. 134; Scouten's Appeal, 186 Pa. 270, Atl. 481.
Our conclusion is that the charges against the accused have been so far
sustained as to make it our duty to impose such a penalty as may be sufficient
lesson to him and a suitable warning to others. ...
11. In Cobb v. United States, 172 F. 641, the court affirmed a lawyer's suspension for 18
months for publishing a letter in a newspaper in which he accused a judge of being under
the sinister influence of a gang that had paralyzed him for two years.
12. In In Re Graves, 221 Pac. 411, the court held that an attorney's unjustifiable attack
against the official acts and decisions of a judge constitutes "moral turpitude." There, the
attorney was disbarred for criticising not only the judge, but his decisions in general
claiming that the judge was dishonest in reaching his decisions and unfair in his general
conduct of a case.
13. In In Re Doss, 12 N.E. 2d 659, an attorney published newspaper articles after the trial of
cases, criticising the court in intemperate language. The invariable effect of this sort of
propaganda, said the court, is to breed disrespect for courts and bring the legal profession
into disrepute with the public, for which reason the lawyer was disbarred.
14. In State v. Grimes, 354 Pac. 2d 108, an attorney, dissatisfied with the loss of a case,
prepared over a period of years vicious attacks on jurists. The Oklahoma Supreme Court
declared that his acts involved such gross moral turpitude as to make him unfit as a
member of the bar. His disbarment was ordered, even though he expressed an intention to
resign from the bar.
The teaching derived from the above disquisition and impressive affluence of judicial
pronouncements is indubitable: Post-litigation utterances or publications, made by
lawyers, critical of the courts and their judicial actuations, whether amounting to a crime
or not, which transcend the permissible bounds of fair comment and legitimate criticism
and thereby tend to bring them into disrepute or to subvert public confidence in their
integrity and in the orderly administration of justice, constitute grave professional
misconduct which may be visited with disbarment or other lesser appropriate disciplinary
sanctions by the Supreme Court in the exercise of the prerogatives inherent in it as the
duly constituted guardian of the morals and ethics of the legal fraternity.
Of course, rarely have we wielded our disciplinary powers in the face of unwarranted
outbursts of counsel such as those catalogued in the above-cited jurisprudence. Cases of
comparable nature have generally been disposed of under the power of courts to punish
for contempt which, although resting on different bases and calculated to attain a different
end, nevertheless illustrates that universal abhorrence of such condemnable practices.
A perusal of the more representative of these instances may afford enlightenment.

1. In Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil. 724, where counsel branded the denial of his motion
for reconsideration as "absolutely erroneous and constituting an outrage to the rigths of
the petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at the polls,"
this Court, although conceding that
It is right and plausible that an attorney, in defending the cause and rights of
his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is capable,
but it is not, and never will be so for him to exercise said right by resorting to
intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect which the
dignity of the courts requires. The reason for this is that respect for the courts
guarantees the stability of their institution. Without such guaranty, said
institution would be resting on a very shaky foundation,
found counsel guilty of contempt inasmuch as, in its opinion, the statements made
... an inexcusable disrespect of the authority of the court and an intentional
contempt of its dignity, because the court is thereby charged with no less than
having proceeded in utter disregard of the laws, the rights to the parties, and
'of the untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked
and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client ... .
2. In In re Sotto, 82 Phil. 595, counsel, a senator and the author of the Press Freedom Law,
reaching to, the imprisonment for contempt of one Angel Parazo, who, invoking said law,
refused to divulge the source of a news item carried in his paper, caused to be published in
i local newspaper a statement expressing his regret "that our High Tribunal has not only
erroneously interpreted said law, but it is once more putting in evidence the
incompetency or narrow mindedness of the majority of its members," and his belief that
"In the wake of so many blunders and injustices deliberately committed during these last
years, ... the only remedy to put an end to go much evil, is to change the members of the
Supreme Court," which tribunal he denounced as "a constant peril to liberty and
democracy" and "a far cry from the impregnable bulwark of justice of those memorable
times of Cayetano Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who
were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary." He there also announced that one of
the first measures he would introduce in then forthcoming session of Congress would
have for its object the complete reorganization of the Supreme Court. Finding him in
contempt, despite his avowals of good faith and his invocation of the guarantee of free
speech, this Court declared:
But in the above-quoted written statement which he caused to be published in
the press, the respondent does not merely criticize or comment on the
decision of the Parazo case, which was then and still is pending consideration
by this Court upon petition of Angel Parazo. He not only intends to intimidate
the members of this Court with the presentation of a bill in the next Congress,
of which he is one of the members, reorganizing the Supreme Court and
reducing the number of Justices from eleven, so as to change the members of
this Court which decided the Parazo case, who according to his statement, are
incompetent and narrow minded, in order to influence the final decision of
said case by this Court, and thus embarrass or obstruct the administration of
justice. But the respondent also attacks the honesty and integrity of this Court
for the apparent purpose of bringing the Justices of this Court into disrepute
and degrading the administration. of justice ... .

To hurl the false charge that this Court has been for the last years committing
deliberately so many blunders and injustices, that is to say, that it has been
deciding in favor of Que party knowing that the law and justice is on the part
of the adverse party and not on the one in whose favor the decision was
rendered, in many cases decided during the last years, would tend necessarily
to undermine the confidence of the people in the honesty and integrity of the
members of this Court, and consequently to lower ,or degrade the
administration of justice by this Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippines
is, under the Constitution, the last bulwark to which the Filipino people may
repair to obtain relief for their grievances or protection of their rights when
these are trampled upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty
and integrity of the members of this Court and believe that they cannot expect
justice therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their own hands,
and disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar
and an officer of the courts, Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty bound
to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes fidelity
according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to promote
distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts guarantees the
stability of other institutions, which without such guaranty would be resting
on a very shaky foundation.
Significantly, too, the Court therein hastened to emphasize that
... an attorney as an officer of the court is under special obligation to be
respectful in his conduct and communication to the courts; he may be
removed from office or stricken from the roll of attorneys as being guilty of
flagrant misconduct (17 L.R.A. [N.S.], 586, 594.)
3. In Rheem of the Philippines vs. Ferrer: In re Proceedings against Alfonso Ponce Enrile, et
al., supra, where counsel charged this Court with having "repeatedly fallen" into ,the pitfall
of blindly adhering to its previous "erroneous" pronouncements, "in disregard of the law
on jurisdiction" of the Court of Industrial Relations, our condemnation of counsel's
misconduct was unequivocal. Articulating the sentiments of the Court, Mr. Justice Sanchez
As we look back at the language (heretofore quoted) employed in the motion
for reconsideration, implications there are which inescapably arrest attention.
It speaks of one pitfall into which this Court has repeatedly fallen whenever
the jurisdiction of the Court of Industrial Relations comes into question. That
pitfall is the tendency of this Court to rely on its own pronouncements in
disregard of the law on jurisdiction. It makes a sweeping charge that the
decisions of this Court, blindly adhere to earlier rulings without as much as
making any reference to and analysis of the pertinent statute governing the
jurisdiction of the industrial court. The plain import of all these is that this
Court is so patently inept that in determining the jurisdiction of the industrial
court, it has committed error and continuously repeated that error to the
point of perpetuation. It pictures this Court as one which refuses to hew to the
line drawn by the law on jurisdictional boundaries. Implicit in the quoted
statements is that the pronouncements of this Court on the jurisdiction of the
industrial court are not entitled to respect. Those statements detract much
from the dignity of and respect due this Court. They bring into question the
capability of the members and some former members of this Court to

render justice. The second paragraph quoted yields a tone of sarcasm which
counsel labelled as "so called" the "rule against splitting of jurisdiction."
Similar thoughts and sentiments have been expressed in other cases 18 which, in the
interest of brevity, need not now be reviewed in detail.
Of course, a common denominator underlies the aforecited cases all of them involved
contumacious statements made in pleadings filed pending litigation. So that, in line with
the doctrinal rule that the protective mantle of contempt may ordinarily be invoked only
against scurrilous remarks or malicious innuendoes while a court mulls over a pending
case and not after the conclusion thereof, 19 Atty. Almacen would now seek to sidestep the
thrust of a contempt charge by his studied emphasis that the remarks for which he is now
called upon to account were made only after this Court had written finis to his appeal. This
is of no moment.
The rule that bars contempt after a judicial proceeding has terminated, has lost much of its
vitality. For sometime, this was the prevailing view in this jurisdiction. The first stir for a
modification thereof, however, came when, inPeople vs. Alarcon, 20 the then Chief Justice
Manuel V. Moran dissented with the holding of the majority, speaking thru Justice Jose P.
Laurel, which upheld the rule above-adverted to. A complete disengagement from the
settled rule was later to be made in In re Brillantes, 21 a contempt proceeding, where the
editor of the Manila Guardian was adjudged in contempt for publishing an editorial which
asserted that the 1944 Bar Examinations were conducted in a farcical manner after the
question of the validity of the said examinations had been resolved and the case closed.
Virtually, this was an adoption of the view expressed by Chief Justice Moran in his dissent
in Alarcon to the effect that them may still be contempt by publication even after a case
has been terminated. Said Chief Justice Moran in Alarcon:
A publication which tends to impede, obstruct, embarrass or influence the
courts in administering justice in a pending suit or proceeding, constitutes
criminal contempt which is 'summarily punishable by courts. A publication
which tends to degrade the courts and to destroy public confidence in them or
that which tends to bring them in any way into disrepute, constitutes likewise
criminal contempt, and is equally punishable by courts. What is sought, in the
first kind of contempt, to be shielded against the influence of newspaper
comments, is the all-important duty of the courts to administer justice in the
decision of a pending case. In the second kind of contempt, the punitive hand
of justice is extended to vindicate the courts from any act or conduct
calculated to bring them into disfavor or to destroy public confidence in them.
In the first there is no contempt where there is no action pending, as there is
no decision which might in any way be influenced by the newspaper
publication. In the second, the contempt exists, with or without a pending
case, as what is sought to be protected is the court itself and its dignity. Courts
would lose their utility if public confidence in them is destroyed.
Accordingly, no comfort is afforded Atty. Almacen by the circumstance that his statements
and actuations now under consideration were made only after the judgment in his client's
appeal had attained finality. He could as much be liable for contempt therefor as if it had
been perpetrated during the pendency of the said appeal.
More than this, however, consideration of whether or not he could be held liable for
contempt for such post litigation utterances and actuations, is here immaterial. By the
tenor of our Resolution of November 17, 1967, we have confronted the situation here

presented solely in so far as it concerns Atty. Almacen's professional identity, his sworn
duty as a lawyer and his fitness as an officer of this Court, in the exercise of the
disciplinary power the morals inherent in our authority and duty to safeguard and ethics
of the legal profession and to preserve its ranks from the intrusions of unprincipled and
unworthy disciples of the noblest of callings. In this inquiry, the pendency or nonpendency of a case in court is altogether of no consequence. The sole objective of this
proceeding is to preserve the purity of the legal profession, by removing or suspending a
member whose misconduct has proved himself unfit to continue to be entrusted with the
duties and responsibilities belonging to the office of an attorney.
Undoubtedly, this is well within our authority to do. By constitutional mandate, 22 our is
the solemn duty, amongst others, to determine the rules for admission to the practice of
law. Inherent in this prerogative is the corresponding authority to discipline and exclude
from the practice of law those who have proved themselves unworthy of continued
membership in the Bar. Thus
The power to discipline attorneys, who are officers of the court, is an inherent
and incidental power in courts of record, and one which is essential to an
orderly discharge of judicial functions. To deny its existence is equivalent to a
declaration that the conduct of attorneys towards courts and clients is not
subject to restraint. Such a view is without support in any respectable
authority, and cannot be tolerated. Any court having the right to admit
attorneys to practice and in this state that power is vested in this court-has
the inherent right, in the exercise of a sound judicial discretion to exclude
them from practice. 23
This, because the admission of a lawyer to the practice of law is a representation to all that
he is worthy of their confidence and respect. So much so that
... whenever it is made to appear to the court that an attorney is no longer
worthy of the trust and confidence of the public and of the courts, it becomes,
not only the right, but the duty, of the court which made him one of its officers,
and gave him the privilege of ministering within its bar, to withdraw the
privilege. Therefore it is almost universally held that both the admission and
disbarment of attorneys are judicial acts, and that one is admitted to the bar
and exercises his functions as an attorney, not as a matter of right, but as a
privilege conditioned on his own behavior and the exercise of a just and sound
judicial discretion. 24
Indeed, in this jurisdiction, that power to remove or suspend has risen above being a mere
inherent or incidental power. It has been elevated to an express mandate by the Rules of
Court. 25
Our authority and duty in the premises being unmistakable, we now proceed to make an
assessment of whether or not the utterances and actuations of Atty. Almacen here in
question are properly the object of disciplinary sanctions.
The proffered surrender of his lawyer's certificate is, of course, purely potestative on Atty.
Almacen's part. Unorthodox though it may seem, no statute, no law stands in its way.
Beyond making the mere offer, however, he went farther. In haughty and coarse language,
he actually availed of the said move as a vehicle for his vicious tirade against this Court.
The integrated entirety of his petition bristles with vile insults all calculated to drive home
his contempt for and disrespect to the Court and its members. Picturing his client as "a

sacrificial victim at the altar of hypocrisy," he categorically denounces the justice

administered by this Court to be not only blind "but also deaf and dumb." With
unmitigated acerbity, he virtually makes this Court and its members with verbal talons,
imputing to the Court the perpetration of "silent injustices" and "short-cut justice" while at
the same time branding its members as "calloused to pleas of justice." And, true to his
announced threat to argue the cause of his client "in the people's forum," he caused the
publication in the papers of an account of his actuations, in a calculated effort ;to startle
the public, stir up public indignation and disrespect toward the Court. Called upon to
make an explanation, he expressed no regret, offered no apology. Instead, with
characteristic arrogance, he rehashed and reiterated his vituperative attacks and, alluding
to the Scriptures, virtually tarred and feathered the Court and its members as inveterate
hypocrites incapable of administering justice and unworthy to impose disciplinary
sanctions upon him.
The virulence so blatantly evident in Atty. Almacen's petition, answer and oral
argumentation speaks for itself. The vicious language used and the scurrilous innuendoes
they carried far transcend the permissible bounds of legitimate criticism. They could
never serve any purpose but to gratify the spite of an irate attorney, attract public
attention to himself and, more important of all, bring ;this Court and its members into
disrepute and destroy public confidence in them to the detriment of the orderly
administration of justice. Odium of this character and texture presents no redeeming
feature, and completely negates any pretense of passionate commitment to the truth. It is
not a whit less than a classic example of gross misconduct, gross violation of the lawyer's
oath and gross transgression of the Canons of Legal Ethics. As such, it cannot be allowed to
go unrebuked. The way for the exertion of our disciplinary powers is thus laid clear, and
the need therefor is unavoidable.
We must once more stress our explicit disclaimer of immunity from criticism. Like any
other Government entity in a viable democracy, the Court is not, and should not be, above
criticism. But a critique of the Court must be intelligent and discriminating, fitting to its
high function as the court of last resort. And more than this, valid and healthy criticism is
by no means synonymous to obloquy, and requires detachment and disinterestedness,
real qualities approached only through constant striving to attain them. Any criticism of
the Court must, possess the quality of judiciousness and must be informed -by perspective
and infused by philosophy. 26
It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our authority in ;the
premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have appear, the members of the Court are the
"complainants, prosecutors and judges" all rolled up into one in this instance. This is an
utter misapprehension, if not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at
hand but also of our role therein.
Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the present are sui
generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this proceeding is not and does not
involve a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by the Court into the
conduct of its officers. 27 Not being intended to. inflict punishment, it is in no sense a
criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein It
may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. 28 Public interest is its primary objective, and
the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be
allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court
merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the
Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper
and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their

misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and
responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. 29 In such posture, there can thus be
no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor.
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved parties. Any
tirade against the Court as a body is necessarily and inextricably as much so against the
individual members thereof. But in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court acts
as an entity separate and distinct from the individual personalities of its members.
Consistently with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act not
as such individuals but. only as a duly constituted court. Their distinct individualities are
lost in the majesty of their office.30 So that, in a very real sense, if there be any complainant
in the case at bar, it can only be the Court itself, not the individual members thereof as
well as the people themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, nay, even lives,
would be placed at grave hazard should the administration of justice be threatened by the
retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the solemn responsibilities of membership
in the legal fraternity.
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a necessary incident
of the power to admit persons to said practice. By constitutional precept, this power is
vested exclusively in this Court. This duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot
unilaterally renounce jurisdiction legally invested upon it. 31 So that even if it be conceded
that the members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone does not
and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of that power because public policy
demands that they., acting as a Court, exercise the power in all cases which call for
disciplinary action. The present is such a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the
merger in one entity of the personalities of complainant, prosecutor and judge is
absolutely inexistent.
Last to engage our attention is the nature and extent of the sanctions that may be visited
upon Atty. Almacen for his transgressions. As marked out by the Rules of Court, these may
range from mere suspension to total removal or disbarment. 32 The discretion to assess
under the circumstances the imposable sanction is, of course, primarily addressed to the
sound discretion of the Court which, being neither arbitrary and despotic nor motivated
by personal animosity or prejudice, should ever be controlled by the imperative need that
the purity and independence of the Bar be scrupulously guarded and the dignity of and
respect due to the Court be zealously maintained.
That the misconduct committed by Atty. Almacen is of considerable gravity cannot be
overemphasized. However, heeding the stern injunction that disbarment should never be
decreed where a lesser sanction would accomplish the end desired, and believing that it
may not perhaps be futile to hope that in the sober light of some future day, Atty. Almacen
will realize that abrasive language never fails to do disservice to an advocate and that in
every effervescence of candor there is ample room for the added glow of respect, it is our
view that suspension will suffice under the circumstances. His demonstrated persistence
in his misconduct by neither manifesting repentance nor offering apology therefor leave
us no way of determining how long that suspension should last and, accordingly, we are
impelled to decree that the same should be indefinite. This, we are empowered to do not
alone because jurisprudence grants us discretion on the matter 33 but also because, even
without the comforting support of precedent, it is obvious that if we have authority to
completely exclude a person from the practice of law, there is no reason why indefinite
suspension, which is lesser in degree and effect, can be regarded as falling outside of the
compass of that authority. The merit of this choice is best shown by the fact that it will
then be left to Atty. Almacen to determine for himself how long or how short that

suspension shall last. For, at any time after the suspension becomes effective he may
prove to this Court that he is once again fit to resume the practice of law.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS THE SENSE of the Court that Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen be, as he is
hereby, suspended from the practice of law until further orders, the suspension to take
effect immediately.
Let copies of this resolution. be furnished the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and
the Court of Appeals for their information and guidance.
Concepcion,. C.J., Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Teehankee, Barredo and
Villamor JJ., concur.
Fernando, J., took no part.


[A.C. No. 4017. September 29, 1999]


NALDOZA, respondent.
On April 19, 1993, Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc., filed before this Court a
Petition for disbarment against Attorney Primo R. Naldoza. The precursor of this Petition
was the action of respondent, as counsel for complainant, appealing a Decision of the
Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA). In relation to the appeal, complainant
asserts that respondent should be disbarred for the following acts:
1. Appealing a decision, knowing that the same was already final and executory
2. Deceitfully obtaining two thousand, five hundred and fifty-five US dollars
(US$2,555) from complainant, allegedly for cash bond in the appealed case
3. Issuing a spurious receipt to conceal his illegal act.[1]
In his Answer,[2] respondent denies that he persuaded complainant to file an
appeal. On the contrary, he asserts that it was the complainant who insisted on appealing
the case in order to delay the execution of the POEA Decision.[3] He also controverts
complainants allegation that he asked for a cash bond and that he issued the fake
In a Resolution dated May 17, 1993, this Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The pertinent portions of the complaint were summarized by the IBP in this wise:
Under its petition, complainant alleges that the respondent was given the task to defend
the interest of the complainant corporation in POEA Case No. 8888-06-468, entitled Olano,
et al. versus Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pool, Inc., et al.; that when the said case was
resolved in favor of the complainant therein on October 5, 1992, the respondent Atty.
Naldoza knowing fully well that the said decision had already become final and
unappealable[,] through malpractice in [an] apparent desire to collect or to bleed his
client of several thousand pesos of attorneys fees, convinced the complainant to appeal
the case before the Supreme Court. Thus, on December 14, 1992, the respondent filed
with the Supreme Court a Petition for Review which was docketed as G.R. No. 107984 and
that two (2) days thereafter misrepresented to the complainant corporation that the
complainant ha[d] to pay, which it did, [a] Cash Bond in UNITED STATES DOLLAR
amounting to TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED FIFTY FIVE (U.S. $2,555.00) to the
Supreme Court in order that the said appealed case could be heard or acted upon by the
Supreme Court. The said amount was given to the respondent.
x x x [S]ubsequently the complainant corporation came to know that the fees to be paid
to the Supreme Court consist[ed] only of normal filing and docket fees for such kind of
appeal but in order to cover up respondents misrepresentation, Atty. Naldoza presented

complainant a fake xerox copy of an alleged Supreme court receipt representing payment
of U.S. $2,555.00.
Subsequent verification from the Supreme Court made by the complainant corporation
revealed that the said receipt issued by the treasurers office of the Supreme Court x x x
[was] spurious, meaning a fake receipt. The said verification revealed that what was only
paid by the respondent to the Supreme court was the amount of P622.00 as shown by the
enumerated legal fees of the Supreme Court Docket-Receiving Section showing the
handwritten name of the respondent for purpose of showing that the said computation
was requested by and addressed to the respondent.[5](citations omitted)
Meanwhile, a criminal case[6] for estafa based on the same facts was filed against
herein respondent before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, Branch
141. Although acquitted on reasonable doubt, he was declared civilly liable in the amount
of US$ 2,555.
Thereafter, respondent filed before the IBP a Manifestation with Motion to Dismiss on
July 22, 1996, on the ground that he had already been acquitted in the criminal case for
estafa. Complainant opposed the Motion.[7]
On February 16, 1998, this Court received the IBP Board of Governors Resolution,
which approved the investigating commissioners report[8] and recommendation that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for one (1) year. In his Report,
Investigating Commissioner Plaridel Jose justified his recommendation in this manner:
x x x [R]espondent fails to rebut the position of the complainant that the signature [on the
receipt for the amount of $2,555.00] was his. Hence, respondent anchors his position on a
mere denial that it is not his signature. Likewise, the respondent denies the check voucher
dated December 15, 1992, and the encircled signature of the respondent, which x x x
according to him is falsified and irregular. No evidence, however, was presented by the
respondent that his signature therein was falsified and irregular. [As to the altered
Supreme Court Official Receipt, the respondent denied] that he ha[d] anything to do with
it because it was the complainant who signed the Petition for Review and tried to explain
that his name appear[ed] to be the payee because he [was] the counsel of record of the
petitioner. But while it is true that the affiant in the said Petition for Review [was] Mr.
Rogelio G. Gatchalian, president of the complainant company, the respondent does not
deny that he signed the said petition as counsel of the petitioner corporation and that he
was actually the one who prepared the same and the notary public before whom the
affiant subscribed and [swore] as the one who caused the preparation of the said
The legal form (Exh. G) of the legal fees for the Petition for Review re G.R. 107984 was
denied by the respondent because according to him he was never given a chance to crossexamine the person who issued the [certification] x x x. However, respondent does not
deny that he is the person referred to by the handwritten name P.R. Naldoza who paid the
legal fees of P622.00.
In addition to the said respondents Formal Offer of Evidence, he submitted to this
Commission as his most important piece of evidence the Decision of acquittal in Criminal
Case No. 93-8748 entitled People of the Philippines versus Primo R. Naldoza, the copy of
which Decision is appended to his Manifestation with Motion to Dismiss dated July 22,
1996 praying for the dismissal of the present administrative case in view of his being
exonerated in the said criminal case based on the same facts and evidence.[9] (citations

Commissioner Jose brushed aside respondents contention that his acquittal in the
companion criminal case should result in the dismissal of this administrative
complaint. The commissioner emphasized that the criminal case for estafa[10]was
completely different from the proceedings before him; acquittal in the former did not
exonerate respondent in the latter.[11] He further noted that the RTC Decision itself hinted
at the administrative liability of respondent, since it found him civilly liable to herein
complainant for $2,555.[12]
We agree with the IBP Board of Governors that respondent should be
sanctioned. However, the recommended penalty is not commensurate to the gravity of
the wrong perpetrated.
At the outset, the Court agrees with the IBP that respondents Motion to Dismiss
should be denied. In that Motion, he maintains that he should be cleared of administrative
liability, because he has been acquitted of estafa which involved the same facts. He argues
that the issue involved there was the very same issue litigated in this case,[13] and that
his exoneration was a result a full blown trial on the merits of this case.[14]
In a similar case, we have said:
x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these
[administrative] proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by
conduct which merely enables one to escape the penalties of xxx criminal law. Moreover,
this Court in disbarment proceedings is acting in an entirely different capacity from that
which courts assume in trying criminal cases.[15]
Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own.[16] They are
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.
The burden of proof for these types of cases differ. In a criminal case, proof beyond
reasonable doubt is necessary;[17] in an administrative case for disbarment or suspension,
clearly preponderant evidence is all that is required.[18] Thus, a criminal prosecution will
not constitute a prejudicial question even if the same facts and circumstances are
attendant in the administrative proceedings.[19]
It should be emphasized that a finding of guilt in the criminal case will not necessarily
result in a finding of liability in the administrative case.[20] Conversely, respondents
acquittal does not necessarily exculpate him administratively. In the same vein, the trial
courts finding of civil liability against the respondent will not inexorably lead to a similar
finding in the administrative action before this Court. Neither will a favorable disposition
in the civil action absolve the administrative liability of the lawyer. [21] The basic premise is
that criminal and civil cases are altogether different from administrative matters, such
that the disposition in the first two will not inevitably govern the third and vice versa. For
this reason, it would be well to remember the Courts ruling in In re Almacen,[22] which we
x x x Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor
purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather investigations
by theCourt into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment,
[they are] in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a
prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is
[their] primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the
attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his
actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the

legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the
profession of members who by their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer
worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an
attorney. x x x (emphasis ours)
We shall now discuss seriatim the specific charges against respondent.
First. Complainant alleges that respondent appealed the POEA Decision, despite
knowing that it had already become final and executory. The IBP investigating
commissioner had no explicit finding on this point. Rogelio G. Gatchalian testified that
during the pendency of the appeal, his company had received from the POEA a Writ of
Execution which led him to the conlcusion that they [had] lost the case before the
Supreme Court.[23] This, however, does not substantiate the charge.
Complainant has failed to present proof regarding the status of the appeal. Neither has
there been any showing that the appeal was dismissed on the ground that the POEA
Decision had become final and executory. Worse, there has been no evidence that
respondent knew that the case was unappealable. Indeed, the records of this Court shows
that the Petition for Review was dismissed for petitioners failure to submit an Affidavit of
Service and a legible duplicate of the assailed Order. Clearly, this charge has no leg to
stand on.
Second. Be that as it may, we agree with the IBP that respondent obtained from
complainant the amount of $2,555, on the false representation that it was needed for the
appeal before this Court. According to Gatchalian,[24] respondent explained that the
amount would cover all the expenses to be incurred in the Petition for Review with the
Supreme Court and which amount also will answer for the payment as sort of deposit so
that if our case is lost, the money will be given or paid to the complainant in that case so
that our deposit with the bank would not be garnished.[25] Corroborating Gatchalians
testimony, Edna Deles declared that respondent received the amount on the
representation that it would be paid to the Supreme Court in connection with the Olano
The defense of denial proferred by respondent is not convincing. Quite the contrary,
when he paid P10,000 and issued a check to complainant as his moral obligation, he
indirectly admitted the charge. Normally, this is not the actuation of one who is falsely
accused of appropriating the money of another. This is an admission of misconduct.[27] In
his Answer submitted to this Court, he declared:
(8). That I have no knowledge, information or belief as to truthfulness of the allegation of
the Petitioner, on his allegation no. 8 and no. 9, the truth being that in all the cases and
assignments made by the Petitioner to me, I was made to report to him personally and to
his Board of Directors the progress of the cases both orally and in writing. I even [went]
to the extent of paying him P10,000.00 as my moral obligation only to find after
accounting that he still owes me P180,000.00 as attorneys fee [to] which I am entitled
under rule 130 of the rules of court sec. 24, and under sec. 37 of the above-cited rules, I
have the right to apply the funds received from Gatchalian in satisfaction of my claim for
Professional Services, otherwise known as Attorneys Lien, as shown in my Service Billings
and Statement of Accounts.[28] (emphasis ours)
Contrary to respondents claim, the amount of $2,555 was not a part of his attorneys
lien. He demanded the money from his client on the pretext that it was needed for the
Petition before the Supreme Court, but he actually converted it to his personal gain. This
act clearly constitutes malpractice.[29] The claim that respondent merely applied his lien
over the funds of his client is just an afterthought, the accounting being made after the

fact. It is settled that the conversion by a lawyer of funds entrusted to him is a gross
violation of professional ethics and a betrayal of public confidence in the legal
Third. In an effort to conceal his misappropriation of the money entrusted to him,
respondent gave complainant a photocopy of a receipt purportedly showing that the
Supreme Court had received the sum of $2,555 from him. Again, the testimonies of
Gatchalian[31] and Deles[32] were equally clear on this point. After respondent had
presented the false receipt, Gatchalian learned that no such payment was made. Ms
Araceli Bayuga of the Supreme Court Cash Collection and Disbursement Division issued a
certification that respondent had paid the amount of P622 only, not $2,555. In fact, the
records of the said case[33] contain no indication at all the Court has required the payment
of the latter sum, or that it has been paid at all.
Juxtaposed to the complainants evidence, the bare denials of respondent cannot
overturn the IBPs findings that he has indeed presented a false receipt to conceal his
misappropriation of his clients money. We agree with the IBP that it is unbelievable that
the complainant in the person of Rogelio Gatchalian, being a layman as he is without any
knowledge in the procedure of filing a case before the Supreme court, could spuriously
weave such documents which are denied by the respondent.[34]
In view of the foregoing, respondent has clearly failed the standards of his noble
profession. As we have stated in Resurrecion v. Sayson:[35]
[L]awyers must at all times conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their
clients and the public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach.
Clearly reprehensible are the established facts that he demanded money from his
client for a bogus reason, misappropriated the same, and then issued a fake receipt to hide
his deed. In Dumadag v. Lumaya,[36] the Court ordered the indefinite suspension of a
lawyer for not remitting to his client the amount he had received pursuant to an
execution, viz.:
[E]ven as respondent consistently denied liability to Dumadag, his former client, the
records abundantly point to his receipt of and failure to deliver the amount of P4,344.00
to his client, the herein complainant, a clear breach of the canons of professional
In Obia v. Catimbang,[37] we meted out the same penalty to a lawyer who had misappropriated the
money entrusted to him:
The acts committed by respondent definitely constitute malpractice and gross misconduct in his office as
attorney. These acts are noted with disapproval by the Court; they are in violation of his duty, as a
lawyer, to uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and to engage in no conduct that
adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law. Such misconduct discredits the legal profession."
Respondents acts are more despicable. Not only did he misappropriate the money entrusted to him;
he also faked a reason to cajole his client to part with his money. Worse, he had the gall to falsify an
official receipt of this Court to cover up his misdeeds. Clearly, he does not deserve to continue being a
member of the bar.
WHEREFORE, Primo R. Naldoza is hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the Clerk of Court is directed to
strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys and to inform all courts of this Decision.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Purisima,
Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and Ynares-Santiago, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines

Adm. Case No. 4749

January 20, 2000

SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR., complainant,

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 "Ex-Parte Manifestation and Submission" dated December 1, 1995 in
Civil Case No. Q-95-25253, RTC, Br. 224, QC.
Annex B "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.
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. 1037CJ 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 appears to be respondent's signature above his name, address and the receipt
number "IBP Rizal 259060."1 Also attached was a copy of the order,2dated February 14,
1995, issued by Judge Eriberto U. Rosario, Jr. of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 66,
Makati, denying respondent's motion for reconsideration of his conviction, in Criminal
Case No. 11787, for violation of Art. 316, par. 2 of the Revised Penal Code.
On April 18, 1997, complainant filed a certification3 dated March 18, 1997, by the then
president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Atty. Ida R. Macalinao-Javier, that
respondent's "last payment of his IBP dues was in 1991. 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-memorandum4 dated June 3, 1998,
respondent alleged:5
3. That with respect to the complainant's 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 complainant's 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.
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.
On December 4, 1998, the IBP Board of Governors passed a resolution6 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,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 respondent's suspension for three months.
The findings of IBP Commissioner Alfredo Sanz are as follows:
On the first issue, Complainant has shown "respondent's 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
The records also show a "Certification dated March 24, 1997 from IBP Rizal Chapter
President Ida R. Makahinud Javier that respondent's 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.



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 Respondent's

Therefore respondent is not exempt from paying his yearly dues to the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines.
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
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.

Respondent's 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 respondent's
advanced age, his express willingness to pay his dues and plea for a more temperate
application of the law,8 we believe the penalty of one year suspension from the practice of
law or until he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later, is appropriate.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco R. Llamas is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for ONE (1) YEAR, or until he has paid his IBP dues, whichever is later. Let a copy of
this decision be attached to Atty. Llamas' personal record in the Office of the Bar Confidant
and copies be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and to all
courts in the land.1wphi1.nt
Bellosillo, Quisumbing, Buena and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.


[B.M. No. 1370. May 9, 2005]


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 the bar. It maintained that there is no rule
allowing the exemption of payment of annual dues as requested by respondent, that what
is allowed is voluntary termination and reinstatement of membership. It asserted that
what petitioner could have done was to inform the secretary of the IBP of his intention to
stay abroad, so that his membership in the IBP could have been terminated, thus, his
obligation to pay dues could have been stopped. It also alleged that 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 nonpractice 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 19862003?
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
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.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, AustriaMartinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, Tinga, and Garcia, JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines

A.C. No. 217

November 27, 1968


CASIANO U. LAPUT, respondent.
Complainant Nieves Rillas Vda. de Barrera seeks the disbarment of respondent Casiano U.
Laput, upon the ground that, being her counsel, as administratrix of the estate of her late
husband, Macario Barrera, in Special Proceedings No. 2-J of the Court of First Instance of
Cebu, he (Laput) had misappropriated several sums of money held by him in trust for said
estate and tried to appropriate two (2) parcels of land belonging to the same, as well as
threatened her, in a fit of anger, with a gun, into signing several papers, despite the fact
that she is 72 years of age.
In his answer, respondent admitted his former relationship with Mrs. Barrera as attorney
and client and, apart from denying the main allegations of her complaint, averred that the
filing thereof was "part of a scheme to beat off" his claim for attorney's fees in said Special
Proceedings No. 2-J.
The matter was, pursuant to the Rules of Court,1 referred for investigation, report and
recommendation, to the Solicitor General, who after appropriate proceedings,
recommended the dismissal of all the charges preferred against the respondent, for
insufficiency of the evidence except as regards the alleged act of coercion on his part, for
which said Officer filed the corresponding complaint alleging, inter alia:
3. That while being such counsel for the administratrix Nieves Rillas Vda. de Barrera, and
of the estate, the respondent Casiano U. Laput on January 10, 1955 presented to the
complainant Nieves Rillas Vda. de Barrera at her residence at 854-D D. Jakosalem St., Cebu
City, certain pleadings for the latter's signature in the aforementioned administration
4. That the complainant administratrix Nieves Rillas Vda. de Barrera declined to sign said
pleadings but requested respondent to leave the papers in order that she may first ask
somebody to translate the same for her;
5. That the respondent Casiano U. Laput instead of acceding to her (his) client's request
became angry and told complainant to sign the papers, at the same time drawing his
revolver from its holster and placing it on his lap with the evident purpose of intimidating
the complainant, an old woman of 72 years old, into signing the papers or pleadings
presented for signature;
6. That complainant administratrix Nieves Rillas Vda. de Barrera intimidated by the threat
aforementioned was compelled to sign as in fact she did sign, said pleadings against her

and praying that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of one (1)
In his answer, respondent denied having committed the acts imputed to him in this
complaint of the Solicitor General and alleged, in substance that the papers he caused Mrs.
Barrera to sign, on the occasion referred to in said pleading, was a "Notice for Rendition of
Final Accounting and Partition of Estate"; that this "notice" was legally unnecessary and
useless; that he, however, caused it to be prepared in order to impress upon Mrs. Barrera
the necessity of filing her final accounts in the aforementioned proceedings and, closing
the same, because she was reluctant to do so; that Mrs. Barrera had, also, filed against him
a criminal complaint for coercion with the office of the City Fiscal of Cebu, based upon the
same allegations made in her administrative complaint herein; and that, after due
investigation, said criminal complaint was dismissed by the City Fiscal.
From the evidence on record, we gather that, prior to January 10, 1955, Mrs. Barrera was
not inclined to cause the proceedings for the settlement of the estate of Macario Barrera to
be closed; that, upon the other hand, respondent wanted to put an end to said proceedings
since there was nothing else to be done therein so that he could collect his fees for
services rendered to Mrs. Barrera as administratrix of said estate; that he, therefore,
prepared a petition for the declaration of Mrs. Barrera as the universal heir of her
deceased husband, for the delivery to her of the residue of his estate and the termination
of the proceedings; that he, moreover, caused to be prepared a notice "for the rendition of
the final, accounting and partition" of said estate; that his purpose in preparing said
petition was to induce her to virtually agree and promise to submit her final accounts by
signing this notice; that respondent presented said petition and notice to Mrs. Barrera, on
January 10, 1955, for her signature; that she, however, refused to do so and suggested that
the papers be left with her so that she could have them read by somebody else; that,
annoyed or angered by this open manifestation of distrust, respondent sought to offset her
adamance by putting his revolver on his lap; and that, although he did not point the
firearm at her, its display attained the intended effect of intimidating Mrs. Barrera, who,
accordingly affixed her signature on the petition and the notice aforementioned.
Improper and censurable as these acts inherently are, they become more so when we
consider that they were performed by a man dealing with a woman 72 years of age. The
offense in this case is compounded by the circumstance that, being a member of the Bar
and an officer of the Court, the offender should have set the example as man of peace and a
champion of the Rule of Law. Worse still is the fact that the offended party is the very
person whom the offender was pledged to defend and protect his own client.
There are, of course, two (2) extenuating circumstance in favor of respondent herein,
namely: (1) he evidently considered himself insulted by Mrs. Barrera and was obfuscated
because she clearly indicated her lack of confidence in him, by stating bluntly that she
wanted somebody else to read the papers to her; and (2) he required her to do something
really harmless. Still, it cannot be denied that his intent in placing the gun on his lap was to
intimidate his client.
WHEREFORE, as recommended by the Solicitor General, respondent herein is hereby
found guilty of gross misconduct in office and accordingly suspended from the practice of
law for a period of one (1) year, beginning from the date of entry of judgment in this case.
It is so ordered.
Reyes, J.B.L., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Castro, Fernando and Capistrano,
JJ., concur.

Republic of the Philippines


A.C. No. 1512 January 29, 1993


In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on August 20, 1975, complainant Victoria C.
Barrientos seeks the disbarment of respondent Transfiguracion Daarol, ** a member of
the Philippine Bar, on grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct.
After respondent filed his answer (Rollo, p. 12), the Court Resolved to refer the case to the
Solicitor General for investigation, report and recommendation (Rollo, p. 18).
As per recommendation of the Solicitor General and for the convenience of the parties and
their witnesses who were residing in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, the Provincial
Fiscal of said province was authorized to conduct the investigation and to submit a report,
together with transcripts of stenographic notes and exhibits submitted by the parties, if
any (Rollo, p. 20).
On November 9, 1987, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted its Report and
Recommendation, viz.:
Evidence of the complainant:
. . . complainant Victoria Barrientos was single and a resident of Bonifacio St.,
Dipolog City; that when she was still a teenager and first year in college she
came to know respondent Transfiguracion Daarol in 1969 as he used to go to
their house being a friend of her sister Norma; that they also became friends,
and she knew the respondent as being single and living alone in Galas, Dipolog
City; that he was the General Manager of Zamboanga del Norte Electric
Cooperative, Inc. (ZANECO) and subsequently transferred his residence to the
ZANECO compound at Laguna Blvd. at Del Pilar St., Dipolog City (pp. 109-111,
tsn, September 30, 1976).
That on June 27, 1973, respondent came to their house and asked her to be
one of the usherettes in the Mason's convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City, from
June 28 to 30, 1973 and, she told respondent to ask the permission of her
parents, which respondent did, and her father consented; that for three whole
days she served as usherette in the convention and respondent picked her up

from her residence every morning and took her home from the convention
site at the end of each day (pp. 112-114, tsn, id.).
That in the afternoon of July 1, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house
and invited her for a joy ride with the permission of her mother who was a
former classmate of respondent; that respondent took her to Sicayab in his
jeep and then they strolled along the beach, and in the course of which
respondent proposed his love to her; that respondent told her that if she
would accept him, he would marry her within six (6) months from her
acceptance; complainant told respondent that she would think it over first;
that from then on respondent used to visit her in their house almost every
night, and he kept on courting her and pressed her to make her decision on
respondent's proposal; that on July 7, 1973, she finally accepted respondent's
offer of love and respondent continued his usual visitations almost every night
thereafter; they agreed to get married in December 1973 (pp. 115-119,
tsn, id.).
That in the morning of August 20, 1973, respondent invited her, with the
consent of her father, to a party at the Lopez Skyroom; that at 7:00 p.m. of that
day respondent fetched her from her house and went to the Lopez Skyroom
(pp. 119-121, tsn, id); that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening they left the
party at the Lopez Skyroom, but before taking her home respondent invited
her for a joy ride and took her to the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City;
respondent parked the jeep by the beach where there were no houses around;
that in the course of their conversation inside the jeep, respondent reiterated
his promise to marry her and then started caressing her downward and his
hand kept on moving to her panty and down to her private parts (pp. 121-122,
tsn. id.); that she then said: "What is this Trans?", but he answered: "Day, do
not be afraid of me. I will marry you" and reminded her also that "anyway,
December is very near, the month we have been waiting for" ([p], 122,
tsn, id.), then he pleaded, "Day, just give this to me, do not be afraid" (ibid),
and again reiterated his promise and assurances, at the same time pulling
down her panty; that she told him that she was afraid because they were not
yet married, but because she loved him she finally agreed to have sexual
intercourse with him at the back seat of the jeep; that after the intercourse she
wept and respondent again reiterated his promises and assurances not to
worry because anyway he would marry her; and at about 12:00 midnight they
went home (pp.
122-124, tsn, id.).
After August 20, 1973, respondent continued to invite her to eat outside
usually at the Honeycomb Restaurant in Dipolog City about twice or three
times a week, after which he would take her to the airport where they would
have sexual intercourse; that they had this sexual intercourse from August to
October 1973 at the frequency of two or three times a week, and she
consented to all these things because she loved him and believed in all his
promises (pp. 125-127, tsn, id.).
Sometime in the middle part of September, 1973 complainant noticed that her
menstruation which usually occurred during the second week of each month
did not come; she waited until the end of the month and still there was no
menstruation; she submitted to a pregnancy test and the result was positive;
she informed respondent and respondent suggested to have the fetus aborted

but she objected and respondent did not insist; respondent then told her not
to worry because they would get married within one month and he would talk
to her parents about their marriage (pp. 129-132, tsn,id.).
On October 20, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house and talked to
her parents about their marriage; it was agreed that the marriage would be
celebrated in Manila so as not to create a scandal as complainant was already
pregnant; complainant and her mother left for Manila by boat on October 22,
1973 while respondent would follow by plane; and they agreed to meet in
Singalong, Manila, in the house of complainant's sister Delia who is married to
Ernesto Serrano (pp. 132-135, tsn, id.).
On October 26, 1973, when respondent came to see complainant and her
mother at Singalong, Manila, respondent told them that he could not marry
complainant because he was already married (p. 137, tsn, id.); complainant's
mother got mad and said: "Trans, so you fooled my daughter and why did you
let us come here in Manila?" (p. 138, tsn, id.). Later on, however, respondent
reassured complainant not to worry because respondent had been separated
from his wife for 16 years and he would work for the annulment of his
marriage and, subsequently marry complainant (p. 139, tsn, id.); respondent
told complainant to deliver their child in Manila and assured her of a monthly
support of P250.00 (p. 140, tsn, id.); respondent returned to Dipolog City and
actually sent the promised support; he came back to Manila in January 1974
and went to see complainant; when asked about the annulment of his
previous marriage, he told complainant that it would soon be approved (pp.
141-142, tsn, id.); he came back in February and in March 1974 and told
complainant the same thing (p. 142, tsn, id.); complainant wrote her mother to
come to Manila when she delivers the child, but her mother answered her that
she cannot come as nobody would be left in their house in Dipolog and instead
suggested that complainant go to Cebu City which is nearer; complainant went
to Cebu City in April 1974 and, her sister Norma took her to the Good
Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill; she delivered a baby girl on June 14, 1974
at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City; and the child was registered as
"Dureza Barrientos" (pp. 143-148, tsn, id.).
In the last week of June 1974 complainant came to Dipolog City and tried to
contact respondent by phone and, thru her brother, but to no avail; as she was
ashamed she just stayed in their house; she got sick and her father sent her to
Zamboanga City for medical treatment; she came back after two weeks but
still respondent did not come to see her (tsn. 48-150, tsn, id.); she consulted a
lawyer and filed an administrative case against respondent with the National
Electrification Administration; the case was referred to the Zamboanga del
Norte Electric Cooperative (ZANECO) and it was dismissed and thus she filed
the present administrative case (pp. 150-151, tsn, id.).
Evidence for the Respondent
The evidence of the respondent consists of his sole testimony and one exhibit,
the birth certificate of the child (Exh. 1). Respondent declared substantially as
follows: that he was born on August 6, 1932 in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte;
that he married Romualda Sumaylo in Liloy in 1955; that he had a son who is
now 20 years old; that because of incompatibility he had been estranged from
his wife for 16 years; that in 1953 he was baptized as a moslem and thereby

embraced the Islam Religion (pp.

173-180 tsn, Jan. 13, 1977); that he came to know complainant's father since
1952 because he was his teacher; likewise he knew complainant's mother
because they were former classmates in high school; that he became
acquainted with complainant when he used to visit her sister, Norma, in their
house; they gradually became friends and often talked with each other, and
even talked about their personal problems; that he mentioned to her his being
estranged from his wife; that with the consent of her parents he invited her to
be one of the usherettes in the Masonic Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City
held on June 28-30, 1973 (pp. 185-192, tsn, id.); that the arrangement was for
him to fetch her from her residence and take her home from the convention
site; that it was during this occasion that they became close to each other and
after the convention, he proposed his love to her on July 7, 1973; that (sic) a
week of courtship, she accepted his proposal and since then he used to invite
her (pp. 193-194, tsn, id.).
That in the evening of August 20, 1973, respondent invited complainant to be
his partner during the Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom;
that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening after the affair, complainant
complained to him of a headache, so he decided to take her home but once
inside the jeep, she wanted to have a joy ride, so he drove around the city and
proceeded to the airport; that when they were at the airport, only two of
them, they started the usual kisses and they were carried by their passion;
they forgot themselves and they made love; that before midnight he took her
home; that thereafter they indulged in sexual intercourse many times
whenever they went on joy riding in the evening and ended up in the airport
which was the only place they could be alone
(p. 195, tsn, id.).
That it was sometime in the later part of October 1973 that complainant told
him of her pregnancy; that they agreed that the child be delivered in Manila to
avoid scandal and respondent would take care of expenses; that during
respondent's talk with the parents of complainant regarding the latter's
pregnancy, he told him he was married but estranged from his wife; that when
complainant was already in Manila, she asked him if he was willing to marry
her, he answered he could not marry again, otherwise, he would be charged
with bigamy but he promised to file an annulment of his marriage as he had
been separated from his wife for 16 years; that complainant consented to
have sexual intercourse with him because of her love to him and he did not
resort to force, trickery, deceit or cajolery; and that the present case was filed
against him by complainant because of his failure to give the money to
support complainant while in Cebu waiting for the delivery of the child and,
also to meet complainant's medical expenses when she went to Zamboanga
City for medical check-up (pp. 198-207, tsn, id.).
From the evidence adduced by the parties, the following facts are not
1. That the complainant, Victoria Barrientos, is single, a college student, and
was about 20 years and 7 months old during the time (July-October 1975) of
her relationship with respondent, having been born on December 23, 1952;

while respondent Transfiguracion Daarol is married, General Manager of

Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the time of the
said relationship, having been born on August 6, 1932;
2. That respondent is married to Romualda A. Sumaylo with whom be has a
son; that the marriage ceremony was solemnized on September 24, 1955 at
Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte by a catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Anacleto Pellamo,
Parish Priest thereat; and that said respondent had been separated from his
wife for about 16 years at the time of his relationship with complainant;
3. That respondent had been known by the Barrientos family for quite
sometime, having been a former student of complainant's father in 1952 and,
a former classmate of complainant's mother at the Andres Bonifacio College in
Dipolog City; that he became acquainted with complainant's sister, Norma in
1963 and eventually with her other sisters, Baby and Delia and, her brother,
Boy, as he used to visit Norma at her residence; that he also befriended
complainant and who became a close friend when he invited her, with her
parents' consent, to be one of the usherettes during the Masonic Convention in
Sicayab, Dipolog City from June 28 to 30, 1973, and he used to fetch her at her
residence in the morning and took her home from the convention site after
each day's activities;
4. That respondent courted complainant, and after a week of courtship,
complainant accepted respondent's love on July 7, 1973; that in the evening of
August 20, 1973, complainant with her parents' permission was respondent's
partner during the Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom in the
Dipolog City, and at about 10:00 o'clock that evening, they left the place but
before going home, they went to the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City and
parked the jeep at the beach, where there were no houses around; that after
the usual preliminaries, they consummated the sexual act and at about
midnight they went home; that after the first sexual act, respondent used to
have joy ride with complainant which usually ended at the airport where they
used to make love twice or three times a week; that as a result of her intimate
relations, complainant became pregnant;
5. That after a conference among respondent, complainant and complainant's
parents, it was agreed that complainant would deliver her child in Manila,
where she went with her mother on October 22, 1973 by boat, arriving in
Manila on the 25th and, stayed with her brother-in-law Ernesto Serrano in
Singalong, Manila; that respondent visited her there on the 26th, 27th and
28th of October 1973, and again in February and March 1974; that later on
complainant decided to deliver the child in Cebu City in order to be nearer to
Dipolog City, and she went there in April 1974 and her sister took her to the
Good Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill, Cebu City; that on June 14, 1974, she
delivered a baby girl at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City and, named
her "Dureza Barrientos"; that about the last week of June 1974 she went home
to Dipolog City; that during her stay here in Manila and later in Cebu City, the
respondent defrayed some of her expenses; that she filed an administrative
case against respondent with the National Electrification Administration;
which complaint, however, was dismissed; and then she instituted the present
disbarment proceedings against respondent.
xxx xxx xxx

In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after

hearing, respondent Transfiguracion Daarol be disbarred as a lawyer. (Rollo,
pp. 28-51).
After a thorough review of the case, the Court finds itself in full accord with the findings
and recommendation of the Solicitor General.
From the records, it appears indubitable that complainant was never informed by
respondent attorney of his real status as a married individual. The fact of his previous
marriage was disclosed by respondent only after the complainant became pregnant. Even
then, respondent misrepresented himself as being eligible to re-marry for having been
estranged from his wife for 16 years and dangled a marriage proposal on the assurance
that he would work for the annulment of his first marriage. It was a deception after all as it
turned out that respondent never bothered to annul said marriage. More importantly,
respondent knew all along that the mere fact of separation alone is not a ground for
annulment of marriage and does not vest him legal capacity to contract another marriage.
Interestingly enough. respondent lived alone in Dipolog City though his son, who was also
studying in Dipolog City, lived separately from him. He never introduced his son and went
around with friends as though he was never married much less had a child in the same
locality. This circumstance alone belies respondent's claim that complainant and her
family were aware of his previous marriage at the very start of his courtship. The Court is
therefore inclined to believe that respondent resorted to deceit in the satisfaction of his
sexual desires at the expense of the gullible complainant. It is not in accordance with the
nature of the educated, cultured and respectable, which complainant's family is, her father
being the Assistant Principal of the local public high school, to allow a daughter to have an
affair with a married man.
But what surprises this Court even more is the perverted sense of respondent's moral
values when he said that: "I see nothing wrong with this relationship despite my being
married." (TSN, p. 209, January 13, 1977; Rollo, p. 47) Worse, he even suggested abortion.
Truly, respondent's moral sense is so seriously impaired that we cannot maintain his
membership in the Bar. In Pangan v. Ramos (107 SCRA 1 [1981]), we held that:
(E)ven his act in making love to another woman while his first wife is still
alive and their marriage still valid and existing is contrary to honesty, justice,
decency and morality. Respondent made a mockery of marriage which is a
sacred institution demanding respect and dignity.
Finally, respondent even had the temerity to allege that he is a Moslem convert and as
such, could enter into multiple marriages and has inquired into the possibility of marrying
complainant (Rollo, p. 15). As records indicate, however, his claim of having embraced the
Islam religion is not supported by any evidence save that of his self-serving testimony. In
this regard, we need only to quote the finding of the Office of the Solicitor General, to wit:
When respondent was asked to marry complainant he said he could not
because he was already married and would open him to a charge of bigamy (p.
200, tsn, January 13, 1977). If he were a moslem convert entitled to four (4)
wives, as he is now claiming, why did he not marry complainant? The answer
is supplied by respondent himself. He said while he was a moslem, but, having
been married in a civil ceremony, he could no longer validly enter into
another civil ceremony without committing bigamy because the complainant
is a christian (p. 242, tsn, January 13, 1977). Consequently, if respondent

knew, that notwithstanding his being a moslem convert, he cannot marry

complainant, then it was grossly immoral for him to have sexual intercourse
with complainant because he knew the existence of a legal impediment.
Respondent may not, therefore, escape responsibility thru his dubious claim
that he has embraced the Islam religion. (Rollo,
p. 49).
By his acts of deceit and immoral tendencies to appease his sexual desires, respondent
Daarol has amply demonstrated his moral delinquency. Hence, his removal for conduct
unbecoming a member of the Bar on the grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct
(Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court) is in order. Good moral character is a condition which
precedes admission to the Bar (Sec. 2, Rule 138, Rules of Court) and is not dispensed with
upon admission thereto. It is a continuing qualification which all lawyers must possess
(People v. Tuanda, 181 SCRA 682 [1990]; Delos Reyes v. Aznar, 179 SCRA 653 [1989]),
otherwise, a lawyer may either be suspended or disbarred.
As we have held in Piatt v. Abordo (58 Phil. 350 [1933], cited in Leda v. Tabang, 206 SCRA
395 [1992]):
It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of good character is not
only a condition precedent to admission to the practice of law; its continued
possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law (People v.
Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As aptly put by
Mr. Justice George A. Malcolm: "As good character is an essential qualification
for admission of an attorney to practice, when the attorney's character is bad
in such respects as to show that he is unsafe and unfit to be entrusted with the
powers of an attorney, the court retains the power to discipline him (Piatt v.
Abordo, 58 Phil. 350 [1933]).
Only recently, another disbarment proceeding was resolved by this Court against a lawyer
who convinced a woman that her prior marriage to another man was null and void ab
initio and she was still legally single and free to marry him (the lawyer), married her, was
supported by her in his studies, begot a child with her, abandoned her and the child, and
married another woman (Terre vs. Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992).
Here, respondent, already a married man and about 41 years old, proposed love and
marriage to complainant, then still a 20-year-old minor, knowing that he did not have the
required legal capacity. Respondent then succeeded in having carnal relations with
complainant by deception, made her pregnant, suggested abortion, breached his promise
to marry her, and then deserted her and the child. Respondent is therefore guilty of deceit
and grossly immoral conduct.
The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to the exacting
standards of mental and moral fitness. Respondent having exhibited debased morality, the
Court is constrained to impose upon him the most severe disciplinary action
The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its members the highest standard
of morality. The members are, in fact, enjoined to aid in guarding the Bar against the
admission of candidates unfit or unqualified because deficient either moral character or
education (In re Puno, 19 SCRA 439, [1967]; Pangan vs. Ramos, 107 SCRA 1 [1981]).

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 must lead a life in accordance with the
highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and an
officer of the Court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the
keeping of mistresses but must also behave himself in such a manner as to avoid
scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards
(Tolosa vs. Cargo, 171 SCRA 21, 26 [1989], citing Toledo vs. Toledo, 7 SCRA 757 [1963]
and Royong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859 [1963]).
In brief, We find respondent Daarol morally delinquent and as such, should not be allowed
continued membership in the ancient and learned profession of law (Quingwa v. Puno, 19
SCRA 439 [1967]).
ACCORDINGLY, We find respondent Transfiguracion Daarol guilty of grossly immoral
conduct unworthy of being a member of the Bar and is hereby ordered DISBARRED and
his name stricken off from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished
to all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar
Confidant and spread on the personal record of respondent Daarol.
Narvasa, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Regalado, Davide, Jr.,
Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Campos, Jr., JJ., concur.