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[A.C. No. 4943.

January 26, 2001]

DIANA D. DE GUZMAN, complainant, vs. ATTY. LOURDES I. DE DIOS,


respondent.
R E SO L U T I O N
PARDO, J.:

The case before the Court is a complaint i[1] for disbarment against Atty. Lourdes I. De Dios
on the ground of violation of Canon 15, Rule 15.03 of the code of Professional Responsibility,
for representing conflicting interests, and of Article 1491 Civil Code, for acquiring property in
litigation.
In 1995, complainant engaged the services of respondent as counsel in order to form a
corporation, which would engage in hotel and restaurant business in Olongapo City.
On January 10, 1996, with the assistance of Atty. De Dios, complainant registered Suzuki
Beach Hotel, Inc. (SBHI) with the Securities and Exchange Commission.ii[2] Complainant paid on
respondent a monthly retainer fee of P5,000.00.
On December 15, 1997, the corporation required complainant to pay her unpaid subscribed
shares of stock amounting to two million two hundred and thirty five thousand pesos
(P2,235,000.00) or 22,350 shares, on or before December 30, 1997.
On January 29, 1998,iii[3] complainant received notice of the public auction sale of her
delinquent shares and a copy of a board resolution dated January 6, 1998 authorizing such sale. iv
[4]
Complainant soon learned that her shares had been acquired by Ramon del Rosario, one of the
incorporators of SBHI. The sale ousted complainant from the corporation completely. While
respondent rose to be president of the corporation, complainant lost all her lifes savings invested
therein.
Complainant alleged that she relied on the advice of Atty. De Dios and believed that as the
majority stockholder, Atty. de Dios would help her with the management of the corporation.
Complainant pointed out that respondent appeared as her counsel and signed pleadings in a
case where complainant was one of the parties. v[5] Respondent, however, explained that she only
appeared because the property involved belonged to SBHI. Respondent alleged that complainant
misunderstood the role of respondent as legal counsel of Suzuki Beach Hotel, Inc. Respondent
manifested that her appearance as counsel for complainant Diana de Guzman was to protect the
rights and interest of SBHI since the latter was real owner of the land in controversy.
Respondent further said that the land on which the resort was established belonged to the
Japanese incorporators, not to complainant. The relationship of the complainant and the
Japanese investors turned sour because complainant misappropriated the funds and property of
the corporation. To save the corporation from bankruptcy, respondent advised all concerned

stockholders that it was proper to call for the payment of unpaid subscriptions and subsequent
sale of the delinquent shares. These lead to the auction of the unpaid shares of complainant and
hence, the ouster of complainant from the corporation.
Meantime, Mr. Del Rosario transferred one hundred (100) shares to respondent in payment
of legal services as evidenced by a Deed of Waiver and Transfer of corporate Shares of Stock.
On October 22, 1999, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a resolution vi[6] finding that
the acts of respondent were not motivated by ill will as she acts in the best interest of her client,
SBHI. The IBP found that complainant failed to present convincing proof of her attorney-client
relationship with respondent other than the pleadings respondent filed in the trial court where
complainant was one of the parties.
We disagree.
We find merit in the complaint. There are certain facts presented before us that created
doubt on the propriety of the declaration of delinquent shares and subsequent sale of
complainants entire subscription. Complainant subscribed to 29,800 shares equivalent to two
million nine hundred and eighty thousand pesos (P2,980,000.00). She was the majority
stockholder. Out of the subscribed shares, she paid up seven hundred forty-five thousand pesos
(P745,000.00) during the stage of incorporation.
How complainant got ousted from the corporation considering the amount she had invested
in it is beyond us. Granting that the sale of her delinquent shares was valid, what happened to
her original shares? This, at least, should have been explained.
Respondent claims that there was no attorney-client relationship between her and
complainant. The claim has no merit. It was complainant who retained respondent to form a
corporation. She appeared as counsel in behalf of complainant.
There was evidence of collusion between the board of directors and respondent. Indeed, the
board of directors nowe included respondent as the president, Ramon del Rosario as secretary,
Hikoi Suzuki as chairman, Agnes Rodriguez as treasurer and Takayuki Sato as director.vii[7] The
present situation shows a clear case of conflict of interest of the respondent.
Lawyers must conduct themselves, especially in their dealings with their clients and the
public at large, with honesty and integrity in a manner beyond reproach.viii[8]
We said:
To say that lawyers must at all times uphold and respect the law is to state the obvious, but such
statement can never be overemphasized. Considering that, of all classes and professions, [lawyers are]
most sacredly bound to uphold the law, it is imperative that they live by the law. Accordingly, lawyers
who violate their oath and engage in deceitful conduct have no place in the legal profession. ix[9]

Clearly, respondent violated the prohibition against representing conflicting interests and
engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.x[10]
As a lawyer, respondent is bound by her oath to do no falsehood or consent to its
commission and to conduct herself as a lawyer according to the best of her knowledge and
discretion. The lawyers oath is a source of obligations and violation thereof is a ground for
suspension, disbarment,xi[11] or other disciplinary action.xii[12] The acts of respondent Atty. De Dios
are clearly in violation of her solemn oath as a lawyer that this Court will not tolerate.

WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Atty. Lourdes I. De Dios remiss in her sworn
duty to her client, and to the bar. The Court hereby SUSPENDS her from the practice of law for
six (6) months, with warning that a repetition of the charges will be dealth with more severely.
Let a copy ofthis decision be entered in the personal records of respondent as an attorney
and as a member of the Bar, and furnish the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines,
and the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.

[A.C. No. 4539. May 14, 1997]

ROMANA R. MALIGSA, complainant, vs. ATTY. ARSENIO FER


CABANTING, respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:

ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING is charged by Romana R. Maligsa in a verified


affidavit-complaint for disbarment with conduct unbecoming a lawyer for certifying under
oath a Deed of Quitclaim dated 5 May 1992 xiii over a piece of property subject of a
pending civil case before the Regional Trial Court Br. 45, Urdaneta, Pangasinan,
docketed as Civil Case No. U-5434.xiv
[1]

[2]

On 11 March 1996 we required respondent to comment on the complaint. He failed


to comply despite service upon him of our Resolution together with copy of the
complaint.
On 22 October 1996 we considered the failure of respondent Atty. Arsenio Fer
Cabanting to file his comment as waiver of his right to do so and directed the case
submitted for decision.
On the basis of the complaint and the supporting documents, this Court finds
sufficient legal basis for disciplinary action against respondent for making it appear in
the Acknowledgment of the Deed of Quitclaim in question that the affiant therein signed
the document and acknowledged the contents thereof before him as Notary Public on 5
May 1992 when in truth and in fact the affiant did not and could not have done so.
The evidence clearly discloses that on 5 May 1992 a Deed of Quitclaim was
purportedly executed by one Irene Maligsa in favor of Juanito V. Abaoag over a parcel
of land located in Cablong, Pozorrubio, Pangasinan. xv The subject document was
notarized by respondent on the same date. The document was apparently used as
[3]

evidence against complainant in a pending civil case for annulment of OCT No. P31297, quieting of title with prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or
temporary restraining order plus damages.
The complainant alleges that the Deed of Quitclaim could not have been executed
and notarized on 5 May 1992 because the affiant Irene Maligsa died on 21 April 1992 or
sixteen (16) days earlier.xvi Moreover, Irene Maligsa could not have signed the
document because she "never knew how to write as she uses the thumb mark in every
transaction she entered." xvii
[4]

[5]

Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103 xviii provides


[6]

(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly
authorized by law of the country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents
in the place where the act is done. The notary public or the officer taking the
acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the instrument or
document is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, and
acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made
under the official seal, if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate
shall so state.

Furthermore, the Acknowledgment contained in the questioned document


specifically provides "BEFORE ME personally appeared IRENE MALIGSA x x x x" xix
Clearly, the party acknowledging must personally appear before the Notary Public or
any other person authorized to take such acknowledgment of instruments or
documents.

[7]

In the case before us, it would have been physically and legally impossible for the
affiant Irene Maligsa to have executed the alleged Deed of Quitclaim on 5 May 1992
and to have personally subscribed to its authenticity and validity before respondent
notary public on the same date, affiant having died on 21 April 1992. Also, it behooves
respondent as a notary public to require the personal appearance of the person
executing a document to enable the former to verify the genuineness of the signature of
the affiant.
Quite importantly, this is not the first time that respondent has been involved in an
act of malpractice in violation of his oath as a lawyer and the Canons of Professional
Ethics.
In the consolidated administrative cases of Valencia v. Cabanting,xx the Court
suspended respondent Atty. Arsenio Fer Cabanting for six (6) months from the practice
of law. In those cases respondent purchased his client's property which was still the
subject of a pending certiorari proceeding contrary to the prohibition stated in Art. 1491
of the New Civil Code and Art. II of the Canons of Professional Ethics. Under the
circumstances, a recollection of the basic principles of professional ethics in the practice
of law is apropos.
[8]

A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession.
The bar should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and
fair dealing. A lawyer brings honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his
duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to his clients. To this end a member of the

legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which might lessen in any degree the
confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the
legal profession. xxi
[9]

Notarization is not an empty routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a


substantial degree and protection of the interest requires preventing those who are not
qualified or authorized to act as notaries public from imposing upon the public and the
courts and the administrative offices generally.xxii Notarization of a private document
converts the document into a public one making it admissible in court without further
proof of its authenticity.
[10]

As a lawyer commissioned as notary public, respondent is mandated to subscribe to


the sacred duties appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated by public policy
and impressed with public interest. Faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal
solemnity of an oath in an acknowledgment or jurat is sacrosanct. Simply put, such
responsibility is incumbent upon respondent and failing therein, he must now accept the
commensurate consequences of his professional indiscretion. By his effrontery of
notarizing a fictitious or spurious document, he has made a mockery of the legal
solemnity of the oath in an Acknowledgment.
A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his
professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in
honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
xxiii
Considering the serious nature of the instant offense and in light of his prior
misconduct hereinbefore mentioned for which he was penalized with a six (6) month
suspension from the practice of law, with a warning that repetition of the same or similar
act would be dealt with more severely, the contumacious behavior of respondent in the
instant case which grossly degrades the legal profession indeed warrants the imposition
of a much graver penalty.
[11]

ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING


guilty of grave misconduct rendering him unworthy of his continued membership in the
legal profession; consequently, he is ordered DISBARRED from the practice of law and
his name stricken off the Roll of Attorneys effective immediately.
Let copies of this Resolution be furnished all the courts of the land as well as the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and recorded in the
personal files of respondent.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 95026 October 4, 1991


SPOUSES PEDRO and ANGELINA TELAN, petitioner,
vs.

COURT OF APPEALS, ROBERTO TELAN, and SPOUSES VICENTE and VIRGINIA TELAN,
respondent.
Peter Donnely A. Barot for petitioners.
Monsanto Law Office for private respondent.

SARMIENTO, J.:p
This is a petition for review of the Resolution dated December 28, 1989 of the Court of Appeals

1
which considered the appeal of the herein petitioner, spouses Pedro and Angelina Telan (hereinafter PEDRO and ANGELINA),
ABANDONED and DISMISSED, for their failure to file an appeal brief within the reglementary period, pursuant to Section I(f), Rule 50 of the
Rules of the Court.

The only issue involved in this petition for review on certiorari is:
Whether or not the representation of the petitioner by a fake lawyer amounts to a
deprivation of his right to counsel and hence a lack of due process.
The circumstances under which the case arose are as follows:
The petitioner PEDRO is a retired government employee and high school graduate who settled in
1973 on a property abutting the national highway in Guibang, Gamu, Isabela. 2
In 1977, when the government needed the land, PEDRO was compelled to transfer his residence to
the other side of the national highway on a lot owned by Luciano Sia where he rented 750 square
meters for P50.00 a month. 3
Because the lot was en route to the shrine of Our Lady of Guibang which was frequented by
pilgrims, PEDRO set up business enterprises such as a vulcanizing shop and an eatery. Shortly
thereafter, his cousins, the herein private respondents Roberto Telan and Spouses Vicente and
virginia Telan (hereinafter ROBERTO, VICENTE, and VIRGINIA), followed suit by setting up their
own eatery within the same lot. 4
On March 27, 1984, PEDRO and his spouses ANGELINA received a Notice to Vacate from the
Development Bank of the Philippine (DBP). This was followed by a letter from VIRGINIA herself,
reiterating the said demand. Apparently VICENTE and VIRGINIA had executed a Deed of Sale with
Assumption of Mortgage with Sia over the said lot shared by PEDRO and ANGELINA. 5
Soon, DBP as the mortgagee of Sia's lot, foreclosed the mortgage.
On June 7, 1984, the DBP and the Spouses VICENTE and VIRGINIA TELAN filed a suit at the
Regional Trial Court of Ilagan, Isabela to evict PEDRO TELAN's family from the lot. The case was
dismissed.

Meanwhile, on September 22, 1986, ROBERTO TELAN was able to secure a Certificate of Title in
his name over the contested lot. 6
With the new Transfer Certificate of Title, ROBERTO and the spouses VICENTE and VIRGINIA filed
a complaint denominated as Accion Publiciana against the petitioners, Spouses PEDRO and
ANGELINA. 7
At this point, PEDRO and ANGELINA hired the services of Atty. Antonio Paguiran to defend them in
the suit. 8
On October 27, 1988, the lower court awarded the possession of the property in question to
ROBERTO and Souses VICENTE and VIRGINIA TELAN.
PEDRO and ANGELINA informed Atty. Paguiran that they wanted to appeal the case, but since Atty.
Paguiran was disposed not to do so, PEDRO and ANGELINA asked another person to sign for them.
9

In the course of their eatery business, petitioner ANGELINA TELAN became acquainted with Ernesto
Palma who represented himself to be a "lawyer." Having no counsel to assist them in their appeal,
Angelina asked "Atty. Palma" to handle their case. he cosented and the petitioners paid his "lawyer's
fees." 10
In the meantime, on August 5, 1988, PEDRO TELAN broke his hip while he was getting off from a
passenger jeepney. On September 5, 1988, unable to withstand the pain, he went to the Philippine
General Hospital for treatment where he was diagnosed to have a "fractured, closed, complete,
femoral neck garden type IV (R) femur." 11 On the spot, the doctors recommended an operation.
Another operation followed on September 22, 1988. All the while, from September 5, 1988 up to
October 2, 1988, PEDRO was confined a the PGH. He had to go back to PGH several times for
check-up even after was released from the hospital. 12
It was only by January 1990 that PEDRO managed to walk again although still with much difficulty.
Meanwhile, on December 28, 1989, the Court of Appeals issued a Resolution which considered the
appeal interposed by petitioners as abandoned and dismissed "for failure ... to file an appeal brief
within the reglementary period, pursuant to Section 1 (f), Rule 50 of the Rules of Court. 13
The petitioners were not aware of the dismissal of their appeal. They only came to know about it on
May 1990, when somebody in the Isabela Provincial Capitol at Ilagan informed PEDRO TELAN
immediately verified the facts. "Atty. Palma" could no longer be found. PEDRO in verifying the
existence of "Atty. Palma" in the Roll of Attorneys with the Bar Confidant's Office. This was followed
by the filing of Criminal Case No. 389-90 for Estafa against "Atty. Palma." 15 By now PEDRO had
realized that "Atty. Palma" was a fake.
The Court of Appeals in its Resolution dated August 27, 1990 ruled as follows:

xxx xxx xxx


It should be recalled that the instant appeal was dismissed only on December 28, 1989 (p. 13 rollo).
Prior thereto, appellant's counsel received on July 25, 1989 this Court's letter-notice dated July 14,
1989 requiring him to file the appellants' brief within forty-five (45) days from receipt thereof. Per
report dated October 185, 1989 of the brief, non has yet been filed as of said date and hence, this
Court issued a Resolution dated October 20, 1989 for appellants to show cause, within ten (10)
days, why the appeal should not be dismissed for failure to file the appellants' brief within the
reglementary period. Hence from July 25, 1989 when appellants' counsel received this Court's letternotice to file brief until the JRD's report on December 15, 1989 that no appellant's brief has been
filed, a period of about four (4) months and twenty-three (23) days have elapsed, thus giving
appellants enough to time to file their brief. Unfortunately, no appellants' brief was ever filed during
said period. Let it be stressed that the rules prescribing the time within which certain acts must be
done or certain proceedings taken are absolutely indispensable to the prevention of needless delay
and the orderly and speedy discharge of judicial business. (FJR Garment Industries v. CA, 130
SCRA 216, 218). 16
On January 24, 1990, the Resolution dated December 28, 1989 became final and was entered on
May 24, 1990 in the Book of Entries of Judgment.
On September 12, 1990, the presiding judge of the lower court issue the Writ of Demolition for the
enforcement of the decision. 17
The Petition for Review on certiorari before this Court was filed on October 18, 1990 by the spouses
PEDRO and ANGELINA TELAN with an Urgent Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order/Preliminary
Injunction. 18
On October 24, 1990, after deliberating on the petition for review on certiorari, the Court without
giving due course required the respondents to COMMENT within ten (10) days form notice thereof.
At the same time, as prayed for, effective "immediately" and "continuing until further orders from this
Court", a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER was issued enjoining the respondents from
enforcing the Order dated September 12, 1990 issued in Civil Case No. 279.
In due time, after the filing of the necessary pleadings, the petition was given due course and the
parties were ordered to submit simultaneously their respective memoranda. The petitioners filed
their memorandum while the private respondents manifested to adopt their Comments dated
November 5, 1990. However, after the filing of the petitioners' memorandum, the private respondents
filed on June 10, 1991, a pleading they denominated as Addendum. Apparently, changing their
minds, on July 23, 1991, the private respondents filed their memorandum.
We rule for the petitioners. We hold that they had not been accorded due process of law because
they lost their to appeal when deprived of the right to counsel.
Article III, Section 2 of the Constitutional provides:
xxx xxx xxx

No person shall be deprived of life, or property, without due process of law, nor shall
any person be denied the equal protection of the law.
The right to counsel in civil cases exists just as forcefully as in criminal cases,

19 specially so when as a

consequence, life, liberty, or property is subjected to restraint or in danger of loss.

In criminal cases, the right of an accused person to be assisted by a member of the bar is
immutable. Otherwise, there would be a grave denial of due process. Thus, even if the judgment had
become final and executory, it may still be recalled, and the accused afforded the opportunity to be
heard by himself and counsel. 20
There is no reason why the rule in criminal cases has to be different from that in civil cases. The
preeminent right to due process of law applies not only to life and liberty but also to property. There
can be no fair hearing unless a party, who is in danger of losing his house in which he and his family
live and in which he has established a modest means of livelihood, is given the right to be heard by
himself and counsel.
Even the most experienced lawyers ge tangled in the web of procedure. To demand as much form
ordinary citizens whose only compelle intrare is their sense of right would turn the legal system into a
intimidating monstrosity where an individual may be stripped of his property rights not because he
has no right to the property but because he does not know how to establish such right.
The right to counsel is absolute and may be invoked at all times. More so, in the case of an on-going
litigation, it is a right that must be exercised at every step of the way, with the lawyer faithfully
keeping his client company.
No arrangement or interpretation of law could be as absurd as the position that the right to counsel
exists only in the trial courts and that thereafter, the right ceases in the pursuit of the appeal.
This is the reason why under ordinary circumstances, a lawyer can not simply refuse anyone the
counsel that only the exercise of his office can impart. 21
Curiously, the counsel of the private respondents, ROBERTO TELAN and spouses VICENTE and
VIRGINIA, would still insist that the petitioners, spouses PEDRO and ANGELINA TELAN, had lost
their right to appeal because of the negligence of their counsel, referring to "Atty. Palma."
A client is generally bound by the action of his counsel in the management of a litigation even by the
attorney's mistake or negligence in procedural technique. 22 But how can there be negligence by the counsel in the
case at bar when the "lawyer", "Atty. Palma," turned out to be fake? The Affidavit of the petitioner PEDRO TELAN, the sworn Petition, the
Certifications of the Bar Confidant's Office and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the submitted records of Criminal Case No. 389-90
more than sufficiently establish the existence of an Ernesto Palma who misrepresented himself as a lawyer. 23

WHEREFORE, the Petitioner is GRANTED; the proceedings in CA-G.R CV No. 20786 are hereby
REINSTATED and the respondent Court of Appeals is ordered to give DUE COURSE to the appeal
and to decide the same on the merits.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-12426

February 16, 1959

PHILIPPINE LAWYER'S ASSOCIATION, petitioner,


vs.
CELEDONIO AGRAVA, in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office, respondent.
Arturo A. Alafriz for petitioner.
Office of the Solicitor General Ambrosio Padilla and Solicitor Pacifico P. de Castro for respondent.
MONTEMAYOR, J.:
This is the petition filed by the Philippine Lawyer's Association for prohibition and injunction against
Celedonio Agrava, in his capacity as Director of the Philippines Patent Office.
On may 27, 1957, respondent Director issued a circular announcing that he had scheduled for June
27, 1957 an examination for the purpose of determining who are qualified to practice as patent
attorneys before the Philippines Patent Office, the said examination to cover patent law and
jurisprudence and the rules of practice before said office. According to the circular, members of the
Philippine Bar, engineers and other persons with sufficient scientific and technical training are
qualified to take the said examination. It would appear that heretofore, respondent Director has been
holding similar examinations.
It is the contention of the petitioner Philippine Lawyer's Association that one who has passed the bar
examinations and is licensed by the Supreme Court to practice law in the Philippines and who is in
good standing, is duly qualified to practice before the Philippines Patent Office, and that
consequently, the cat of the respondent Director requiring members of the Philippine Bar in good
standing to take and pass an examination given by the Patent Office as a condition precedent to
their being allowed to practice before said office, such as representing applicants in the preparation
and prosecution of applications for patent, is in excess of his jurisdiction and is in violation of the law.
In his answer, respondent Director, through the Solicitor General, maintains that the prosecution of
patent cases "does not involve entirely or purely the practice of law but includes the application of
scientific and technical knowledge and training, so much so that, as a matter of actual practice, the
prosecution of patent cases may be handled not only by lawyers, but also engineers and other
persons with sufficient scientific and technical training who pass the prescribed examinations as
given by the Patent Office; . . . that the Rules of Court do not prohibit the Patent Office, or any other
quasi-judicial body from requiring further condition or qualification from those who would wish to
handle cases before the Patent Office which, as stated in the preceding paragraph, requires more of
an application of scientific and technical knowledge than the mere application of provisions of law; . .
. that the action taken by the respondent is in accordance with Republic Act No. 165, otherwise
known as the Patent Law of the Philippines, which similar to the United States Patent Law, in

accordance with which the United States Patent Office has also prescribed a similar examination as
that prescribed by respondent. . . .
Respondent further contends that just as the Patent law of the United States of America authorizes
the Commissioner of Patents to prescribe examinations to determine as to who practice before the
United States Patent Office, the respondent, is similarly authorized to do so by our Patent Law,
Republic Act No. 165.
Although as already stated, the Director of Patents, in the past, would appear to have been holding
tests or examinations the passing of which was imposed as a required qualification to practice
before the Patent Office, to our knowledge, this is the first time that the right of the Director of
Patents to do so, specially as regards members of the bar, has been questioned formally, or
otherwise put in issue. And we have given it careful thought and consideration.
The Supreme Court has the exclusive and constitutional power with respect to admission to the
practice of law in the Philippines1 and to any member of the Philippine Bar in good standing may
practice law anywhere and before any entity, whether judicial or quasi-judicial or administrative, in
the Philippines. Naturally, the question arises as to whether or not appearance before the patent
Office and the preparation and the prosecution of patent applications, etc., constitutes or is included
in the practice of law.
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and social proceedings, the
management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts,
and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in
matters connected with the law corporation services, assessment and condemnation
services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage,
enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to
constitute law practice as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the
work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and
conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied).
Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside
of any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces
conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation
and execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations
and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court
proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many
aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an
attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the
courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be
drawn between that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is
of importance to the welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be
performed by persons possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character,

and acting at all times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 (1953 ed.), p. 665-666, citing In
re Opinion of the Justices (Mass.), 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. vs.
Automobile Service Assoc. (R. I. ) 179 A. 139, 144). (Emphasis ours).
In our opinion, the practice of law includes such appearance before the Patent Office, the
representation of applicants, oppositors, and other persons, and the prosecution of their applications
for patent, their oppositions thereto, or the enforcement of their rights in patent cases. In the first
place, although the transaction of business in the Patent Office involves the use and application of
technical and scientific knowledge and training, still, all such business has to be rendered in
accordance with the Patent Law, as well as other laws, including the Rules and Regulations
promulgated by the Patent Office in accordance with law. Not only this, but practice before the
Patent Office involves the interpretation and application of other laws and legal principles, as well as
the existence of facts to be established in accordance with the law of evidence and procedure. For
instance: Section 8 of our Patent Law provides that an invention shall not be patentable if it is
contrary to public order or morals, or to public health or welfare. Section 9 says that an invention
shall not be considered new or patentable if it was known or used by others in the Philippines before
the invention thereof by the inventor named in any printed publication in the Philippines or any
foreign country more than one year before the application for a patent therefor, or if it had been in
public use or on sale in the Philippines for more than one year before the application for the patent
therefor. Section 10 provides that the right to patent belongs to the true and actual inventor, his heirs,
legal representatives or assigns. Section 25 and 26 refer to connection of any mistake in a patent.
Section 28 enumerates the grounds for cancellation of a patent; that although any person may apply
for such cancellation, under Section 29, the Solicitor General is authorized to petition for the
cancellation of a patent. Section 30 mentions the requirements of a petition for cancellation. Section
31 and 32 provide for a notice of hearing of the petition for cancellation of the patent by the Director
of Patents in case the said cancellation is warranted. Under Section 34, at any time after the
expiration of three years from the day the patent was granted, any person patent on several
grounds, such as, if the patented invention is not being worked in the Philippines on a commercial
scale, or if the demand for the patented article in the Philippines on a commercial scale, or if the
demand for the patented article in the Philippines is not being met to an adequate extent and
reasonable terms, or if by reason of the patentee's refusal to grant a license on reasonable terms or
by reason of the condition attached by him to the license, purchase or use of the patented article or
working of the patented process or machine of production, the establishment of a new trade or
industry in the Philippines is prevented; or if the patent or invention relates to food or medicine or is
necessary to public health or public safety. All these things involve the applications of laws, legal
principles, practice and procedure. They call for legal knowledge, training and experience for which a
member of the bar has been prepared.
In support of the proposition that much of the business and many of the act, orders and decisions of
the Patent Director involve questions of law or a reasonable and correct evaluation of facts, the very
Patent Law, Republic Act No. 165, Section 61, provides that:
. . . . The applicant for a patent or for the registration of a design, any party to a proceeding
to cancel a patent or to obtain a compulsory license, and any party to any other proceeding

in the Office may appeal to the Supreme Court from any final order or decision of the
director.
In other words, the appeal is taken to this Tribunal. If the transaction of business in the Patent Office
and the acts, orders and decisions of the Patent Director involved exclusively or mostly technical and
scientific knowledge and training, then logically, the appeal should be taken not to a court or judicial
body, but rather to a board of scientists, engineers or technical men, which is not the case.
Another aspect of the question involves the consideration of the nature of the functions and acts of
the Head of the Patent Office.
. . . . The Commissioner, in issuing or withholding patents, in reissues, interferences, and
extensions, exercises quasi-judicial functions. Patents are public records, and it is the duty of
the Commissioner to give authenticated copies to any person, on payment of the legal fees.
(40 Am. Jur. 537). (Emphasis supplied).
. . . . The Commissioner has the only original initiatory jurisdiction that exists up to the
granting and delivering of a patent, and it is his duty to decide whether the patent is new and
whether it is the proper subject of a patent; and his action in awarding or refusing a patent is
a judicial function. In passing on an application the commissioner should decide not only
questions of law, but also questions of fact, as whether there has been a prior public use or
sale of the article invented. . . . (60 C.J.S. 460). (Emphasis supplied).
The Director of Patents, exercising as he does judicial or quasi-judicial functions, it is reasonable to
hold that a member of the bar, because of his legal knowledge and training, should be allowed to
practice before the Patent Office, without further examination or other qualification. Of course, the
Director of Patents, if he deems it advisable or necessary, may require that members of the bar
practising before him enlist the assistance of technical men and scientist in the preparation of papers
and documents, such as, the drawing or technical description of an invention or machine sought to
be patented, in the same way that a lawyer filing an application for the registration of a parcel of land
on behalf of his clients, is required to submit a plan and technical description of said land, prepared
by a licensed surveyor.
But respondent Director claims that he is expressly authorized by the law to require persons desiring
to practice or to do business before him to submit an examination, even if they are already members
of the bar. He contends that our Patent Law, Republic Act No. 165, is patterned after the United
States Patent Law; and of the United States Patent Office in Patent Cases prescribes an
examination similar to that which he (respondent) has prescribed and scheduled. He invites our
attention to the following provisions of said Rules of Practice:
Registration of attorneys and agents. A register of an attorneys and a register agents are
kept in the Patent Office on which are entered the names of all persons recognized as
entitled to represent applicants before the Patent Office in the preparation and prosecution of
applicants for patent. Registration in the Patent Office under the provisions of these rules
shall only entitle the person registered to practice before the Patent Office.

(a) Attorney at law. Any attorney at law in good standing admitted to practice before any
United States Court or the highest court of any State or Territory of the United States who
fulfills the requirements and complied with the provisions of these rules may be admitted to
practice before the Patent Office and have his name entered on the register of attorneys.
xxx

xxx

xxx

(c) Requirement for registration. No person will be admitted to practice and register unless
he shall apply to the Commissioner of Patents in writing on a prescribed form supplied by the
Commissioner and furnish all requested information and material; and shall establish to the
satisfaction of the Commissioner that he is of good moral character and of good repute and
possessed of the legal and scientific and technical qualifications necessary to enable him to
render applicants for patent valuable service, and is otherwise competent to advise and
assist him in the presentation and prosecution of their application before the Patent Office. In
order that the Commissioner may determine whether a person seeking to have his name
placed upon either of the registers has the qualifications specified, satisfactory proof of good
moral character and repute, and of sufficient basic training in scientific and technical matters
must be submitted and an examination which is held from time to time must be taken and
passed. The taking of an examination may be waived in the case of any person who has
served for three years in the examining corps of the Patent Office.
Respondent states that the promulgation of the Rules of Practice of the United States Patent Office
in Patent Cases is authorized by the United States Patent Law itself, which reads as follows:
The Commissioner of Patents, subject to the approval of the Secretary of Commerce may
prescribe rules and regulations governing the recognition of agents, attorneys, or other
persons representing applicants or other parties before his office, and may require of such
persons, agents, or attorneys, before being recognized as representatives of applicants or
other persons, that they shall show they are of good moral character and in good repute, are
possessed of the necessary qualifications to enable them to render to applicants or other
persons valuable service, and are likewise to competent to advise and assist applicants or
other persons in the presentation or prosecution of their applications or other business
before the Office. The Commissioner of Patents may, after notice and opportunity for a
hearing, suspend or exclude, either generally or in any particular case from further practice
before his office any person, agent or attorney shown to be incompetent or disreputable, or
guilty of gross misconduct, or who refuses to comply with the said rules and regulations, or
who shall, with intent to defraud in any matter, deceive, mislead, or threaten any applicant or
prospective applicant, or other person having immediate or prospective applicant, or other
person having immediate or prospective business before the office, by word, circular, letter,
or by advertising. The reasons for any such suspension or exclusion shall be duly recorded.
The action of the Commissioner may be reviewed upon the petition of the person so refused
recognition or so suspended by the district court of the United States for the District of
Columbia under such conditions and upon such proceedings as the said court may by its
rules determine. (Emphasis supplied)

Respondent Director concludes that Section 78 of Republic Act No. 165 being similar to the
provisions of law just reproduced, then he is authorized to prescribe the rules and regulations
requiring that persons desiring to practice before him should submit to and pass an examination. We
reproduce said Section 78, Republic Act No. 165, for purposes of comparison:
SEC. 78. Rules and regulations. The Director subject to the approval of the Secretary of
Justice, shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations, not inconsistent with law, for
the conduct of all business in the Patent Office.
The above provisions of Section 78 certainly and by far, are different from the provisions of the
United States Patent Law as regards authority to hold examinations to determine the qualifications of
those allowed to practice before the Patent Office. While the U.S. Patent Law authorizes the
Commissioner of Patents to require attorneys to show that they possess the necessary qualifications
and competence to render valuable service to and advise and assist their clients in patent cases,
which showing may take the form of a test or examination to be held by the Commissioner, our
Patent Law, Section 78, is silent on this important point. Our attention has not been called to any
express provision of our Patent Law, giving such authority to determine the qualifications of persons
allowed to practice before the Patent Office.
Section 551 of the Revised Administrative Code authorizes every chief of bureau to prescribe forms
and make regulations or general orders not inconsistent with law, to secure the harmonious and
efficient administration of his branch of the service and to carry into full effect the laws relating to
matters within the jurisdiction of his bureau. Section 608 of Republic Act 1937, known as the Tariff
and Customs Code of the Philippines, provides that the Commissioner of Customs shall, subject to
the approval of the Department Head, makes all rules and regulations necessary to enforce the
provisions of said code. Section 338 of the National Internal Revenue Code, Commonwealth Act No.
466 as amended, states that the Secretary of Finance, upon recommendation of the Collector of
Internal Revenue, shall promulgate all needful rules and regulations for the effective enforcement of
the provisions of the code. We understand that rules and regulations have been promulgated not
only for the Bureau of Customs and Internal Revenue, but also for other bureaus of the Government,
to govern the transaction of business in and to enforce the law for said bureaus.
Were we to allow the Patent Office, in the absence of an express and clear provision of law giving
the necessary sanction, to require lawyers to submit to and pass on examination prescribed by it
before they are allowed to practice before said Patent Office, then there would be no reason why
other bureaus specially the Bureau of Internal Revenue and Customs, where the business in the
same area are more or less complicated, such as the presentation of books of accounts, balance
sheets, etc., assessments exemptions, depreciation, these as regards the Bureau of Internal
Revenue, and the classification of goods, imposition of customs duties, seizures, confiscation, etc.,
as regards the Bureau of Customs, may not also require that any lawyer practising before them or
otherwise transacting business with them on behalf of clients, shall first pass an examination to
qualify.
In conclusion, we hold that under the present law, members of the Philippine Bar authorized by this
Tribunal to practice law, and in good standing, may practice their profession before the Patent Office,
for the reason that much of the business in said office involves the interpretation and determination

of the scope and application of the Patent Law and other laws applicable, as well as the presentation
of evidence to establish facts involved; that part of the functions of the Patent director are judicial or
quasi-judicial, so much so that appeals from his orders and decisions are, under the law, taken to the
Supreme Court.
For the foregoing reasons, the petition for prohibition is granted and the respondent Director is
hereby prohibited from requiring members of the Philippine Bar to submit to an examination or tests
and pass the same before being permitted to appear and practice before the Patent Office. No costs.
Paras, C.J., Bengzon, Padilla, Reyes, A., Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion, Reyes, J.B.L. and
Endencia, JJ., concur.

EN BANC

January 9, 1973
IN THE MATTER OF THE INTEGRATION OF THE BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES.
RESOLUTION

PER CURIAM:
On December 1, 1972, the Commission on Bar Integration 1 submitted its Report dated November 30,
1972, with the "earnest recommendation" on the basis of the said Report and the proceedings had in
Administrative Case No. 526 2 of the Court, and "consistently with the views and counsel received from its
[the Commission's] Board of Consultants, as well as the overwhelming nationwide sentiment of the
Philippine Bench and Bar" that "this Honorable Court ordain the integration of the Philippine Bar as
soon as possible through the adoption and promulgation of an appropriate Court Rule."
The petition in Adm. Case No. 526 formally prays the Court to order the integration of the Philippine
Bar, after due hearing, giving recognition as far as possible and practicable to existing provincial and
other local Bar associations. On August 16, 1962, arguments in favor of as well as in opposition to
the petition were orally expounded before the Court. Written oppositions were admitted, 3 and all
parties were thereafter granted leave to file written memoranda. 4
Since then, the Court has closely observed and followed significant developments relative to the
matter of the integration of the Bar in this jurisdiction.
In 1970, convinced from preliminary surveys that there had grown a strong nationwide sentiment in
favor of Bar integration, the Court created the Commission on Bar Integration for the purpose of
ascertaining the advisability of unifying the Philippine Bar.

In September, 1971, Congress passed House Bill No. 3277 entitled "An Act Providing for the
Integration of the Philippine Bar, and Appropriating Funds Therefor." The measure was signed by
President Ferdinand E. Marcos on September 17, 1971 and took effect on the same day as Rep. Act
6397. This law provides as follows:
SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the Supreme Court may
adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under such
conditions as it shall see fit in order to raise the standards of the legal profession,
improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public
responsibility more effectively.
SEC. 2. The sum of five hundred thousand pesos is hereby appropriated, out of any
funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to carry out the purposes
of this Act. Thereafter, such sums as may be necessary for the same purpose shall
be included in the annual appropriations for the Supreme Court.
SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.
The Report of the Commission abounds with argument on the constitutionality of Bar integration and
contains all necessary factual data bearing on the advisability (practicability and necessity) of Bar
integration. Also embodied therein are the views, opinions, sentiments, comments and observations
of the rank and file of the Philippine lawyer population relative to Bar integration, as well as a
proposed integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission and presented to them by that body in a
national Bar plebiscite. There is thus sufficient basis as well as ample material upon which the Court
may decide whether or not to integrate the Philippine Bar at this time.
The following are the pertinent issues:
(1) Does the Court have the power to integrate the Philippine Bar?
(2) Would the integration of the Bar be constitutional?
(3) Should the Court ordain the integration of the Bar at this time?
A resolution of these issues requires, at the outset, a statement of the meaning of Bar integration. It
will suffice, for this purpose, to adopt the concept given by the Commission on Bar Integration on
pages 3 to 5 of its Report, thus:
Integration of the Philippine Bar means the official unification of the entire lawyer
population of the Philippines. This requires membership and financial support (in
reasonable amount) of every attorney as conditions sine qua non to the practice of
law and the retention of his name in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court.
The term "Bar" refers to the collectivity of all persons whose names appear in the
Roll of Attorneys. An Integrated Bar (or Unified Bar) perforce must include all
lawyers.

Complete unification is not possible unless it is decreed by an entity with power to do


so: the State. Bar integration, therefore, signifies the setting up by Government
authority of a national organization of the legal profession based on the recognition of
the lawyer as an officer of the court.
Designed to improve the position of the Bar as an instrumentality of justice and the
Rule of Law, integration fosters cohesion among lawyers, and ensures, through their
own organized action and participation, the promotion of the objectives of the legal
profession, pursuant to the principle of maximum Bar autonomy with minimum
supervision and regulation by the Supreme Court.
The purposes of an integrated Bar, in general, are:
(1) Assist in the administration of justice;
(2) Foster and maintain on the part of its members high ideals of integrity, learning,
professional competence, public service and conduct;
(3) Safeguard the professional interests of its members;
(4) Cultivate among its members a spirit of cordiality and brotherhood;
(5) Provide a forum for the discussion of law, jurisprudence, law reform, pleading,
practice and procedure, and the relations of the Bar to the Bench and to the public,
and publish information relating thereto;
(6) Encourage and foster legal education;
(7) Promote a continuing program of legal research in substantive and adjective law,
and make reports and recommendations thereon; and
(8) Enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility effectively.
Integration of the Bar will, among other things, make it possible for the legal
profession to:
(1) Render more effective assistance in maintaining the Rule of Law;
(2) Protect lawyers and litigants against the abuse of tyrannical judges and
prosecuting officers;
(3) Discharge, fully and properly, its responsibility in the disciplining and/or removal of
incompetent and unworthy judges and prosecuting officers;

(4) Shield the judiciary, which traditionally cannot defend itself except within its own
forum, from the assaults that politics and self-interest may level at it, and assist it to
maintain its integrity, impartiality and independence;
(5) Have an effective voice in the selection of judges and prosecuting officers;
(6) Prevent the unauthorized practice of law, and break up any monopoly of local
practice maintained through influence or position;
(7) Establish welfare funds for families of disabled and deceased lawyers;
(8) Provide placement services, and establish legal aid offices and set up lawyer
reference services throughout the country so that the poor may not lack competent
legal service;
(9) Distribute educational and informational materials that are difficult to obtain in
many of our provinces;
(10) Devise and maintain a program of continuing legal education for practising
attorneys in order to elevate the standards of the profession throughout the country;
(11) Enforce rigid ethical standards, and promulgate minimum fees schedules;
(12) Create law centers and establish law libraries for legal research;
(13) Conduct campaigns to educate the people on their legal rights and obligations,
on the importance of preventive legal advice, and on the functions and duties of the
Filipino lawyer; and
(14) Generate and maintain pervasive and meaningful country-wide involvement of
the lawyer population in the solution of the multifarious problems that afflict the
nation.
Anent the first issue, the Court is of the view that it may integrate the Philippine Bar in the exercise of
its power, under Article VIII, Sec. 13 of the Constitution, "to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law." Indeed, the power to
integrate is an inherent part of the Court's constitutional authority over the Bar. In providing that "the
Supreme Court may adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar," Republic Act
6397 neither confers a new power nor restricts the Court's inherent power, but is a mere legislative
declaration that the integration of the Bar will promote public interest or, more specifically, will "raise
the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to
discharge its public responsibility more effectively."
Resolution of the second issue whether the unification of the Bar would be constitutional
hinges on the effects of Bar integration on the lawyer's constitutional rights of freedom of association
and freedom of speech, and on the nature of the dues exacted from him.

The Court approvingly quotes the following pertinent discussion made by the Commission on Bar
Integration pages 44 to 49 of its Report:
Constitutionality of Bar Integration
Judicial Pronouncements.
In all cases where the validity of Bar integration measures has been put in issue, the
Courts have upheld their constitutionality.
The judicial pronouncements support this reasoning:
Courts have inherent power to supervise and regulate the practice of law.
The practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege; a privilege, moreover,
clothed with public interest, because a lawyer owes duties not only to his client, but
also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation; and takes part
in one of the most important functions of the State, the administration of justice, as
an officer of the court.
Because the practice of law is privilege clothed with public interest, it is far and
just that the exercise of that privilege be regulated to assure compliance with the
lawyer's public responsibilities.
These public responsibilities can best be discharged through collective action; but
there can be no collective action without an organized body; no organized body can
operate effectively without incurring expenses; therefore, it is fair and just that all
attorneys be required to contribute to the support of such organized body; and, given
existing Bar conditions, the most efficient means of doing so is by integrating the Bar
through a rule of court that requires all lawyers to pay annual dues to the Integrated
Bar.
1. Freedom of Association.
To compel a lawyer to be a member of an integrated Bar is not violative of his
constitutional freedom to associate (or the corollary right not to associate).
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he is not
already a member. He became a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar
examinations. All that integration actually does is to provide an official national
organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group of which
every lawyer is already a member.
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to
attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to

vote in its elections as he chooses. The body compulsion to which he is subjected is


the payment of annual dues.
Otherwise stated, membership in the Unified Bar imposes only the duty to pay dues
in reasonable amount. The issue therefore, is a question of compelled financial
support of group activities, not involuntary membership in any other aspect.
The greater part of Unified Bar activities serves the function of elevating the
educational and ethical standards of the Bar to the end of improving the quality of the
legal service available to the people. The Supreme Court, in order to further the
State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of professional services, may
require that the cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the
subjects and beneficiaries of the regulatory program the lawyers.
Assuming that Bar integration does compel a lawyer to be a member of the
Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as an exercise of the police power of the
State. The legal profession has long been regarded as a proper subject of legislative
regulation and control. Moreover, the inherent power of the Supreme Court to
regulate the Bar includes the authority to integrate the Bar.
2. Regulatory Fee.
For the Court to prescribe dues to be paid by the members does not mean that the
Court levies a tax.
A membership fee in the Integrated Bar is an exaction for regulation, while the
purpose of a tax is revenue. If the Court has inherent power to regulate the Bar, it
follows that as an incident to regulation, it may impose a membership fee for that
purpose. It would not be possible to push through an Integrated Bar program without
means to defray the concomitant expenses. The doctrine of implied powers
necessarily includes the power to impose such an exaction.
The only limitation upon the State's power to regulate the Bar is that the regulation
does not impose an unconstitutional burden. The public interest promoted by the
integration of the Bar far outweighs the inconsequential inconvenience to a member
that might result from his required payment of annual dues.
3. Freedom of Speech.
A lawyer is free, as he has always been, to voice his views on any subject in any
manner he wishes, even though such views be opposed to positions taken by the
Unified Bar.
For the Integrated Bar to use a member's due to promote measures to which said
member is opposed, would not nullify or adversely affect his freedom of speech.

Since a State may constitutionally condition the right to practice law upon
membership in the Integrated Bar, it is difficult to understand why it should become
unconstitutional for the Bar to use the member's dues to fulfill the very purposes for
which it was established.
The objection would make every Governmental exaction the material of a "free
speech" issue. Even the income tax would be suspect. The objection would carry us
to lengths that have never been dreamed of. The conscientious objector, if his
liberties were to be thus extended, might refuse to contribute taxes in furtherance of
war or of any other end condemned by his conscience as irreligious or immoral. The
right of private judgment has never yet been exalted above the powers and the
compulsion of the agencies of Government.
4. Fair to All Lawyers.
Bar integration is not unfair to lawyers already practising because although the
requirement to pay annual dues is a new regulation, it will give the members of the
Bar a new system which they hitherto have not had and through which, by proper
work, they will receive benefits they have not heretofore enjoyed, and discharge their
public responsibilities in a more effective manner than they have been able to do in
the past. Because the requirement to pay dues is a valid exercise of regulatory
power by the Court, because it will apply equally to all lawyers, young and old, at the
time Bar integration takes effect, and because it is a new regulation in exchange for
new benefits, it is not retroactive, it is not unequal, it is not unfair.
To resolve the third and final issue whether the Court should ordain the integration of the Bar at
this time requires a careful overview of the practicability and necessity as well as the advantages
and disadvantages of Bar integration.
In many other jurisdictions, notably in England, Canada and the United States, Bar integration has
yielded the following benefits: (1) improved discipline among the members of the Bar; (2) greater
influence and ascendancy of the Bar; (3) better and more meaningful participation of the individual
lawyer in the activities of the Integrated Bar; (4) greater Bar facilities and services; (5) elimination of
unauthorized practice; (6) avoidance of costly membership campaigns; (7) establishment of an
official status for the Bar; (8) more cohesive profession; and (9) better and more effective discharge
by the Bar of its obligations and responsibilities to its members, to the courts, and to the public. No
less than these salutary consequences are envisioned and in fact expected from the unification of
the Philippine Bar.
Upon the other hand, it has been variously argued that in the event of integration, Government
authority will dominate the Bar; local Bar associations will be weakened; cliquism will be the
inevitable result; effective lobbying will not be possible; the Bar will become an impersonal Bar; and
politics will intrude into its affairs.
It is noteworthy, however, that these and other evils prophesied by opponents of Bar integration have
failed to materialize in over fifty years of Bar integration experience in England, Canada and the

United States. In all the jurisdictions where the Integrated Bar has been tried, none of the abuses or
evils feared has arisen; on the other hand, it has restored public confidence in the Bar, enlarged
professional consciousness, energized the Bar's responsibilities to the public, and vastly improved
the administration of justice.
How do the Filipino lawyers themselves regard Bar integration? The official statistics compiled by the
Commission on Bar integration show that in the national poll recently conducted by the Commission
in the matter of the integration of the Philippine Bar, of a total of 15,090 lawyers from all over the
archipelago who have turned in their individual responses, 14,555 (or 96.45 per cent) voted in favor
of Bar integration, while only 378 (or 2.51 per cent) voted against it, and 157 (or 1.04 per cent) are
non-commital. In addition, a total of eighty (80) local Bar association and lawyers' groups all over the
Philippines have submitted resolutions and other expressions of unqualified endorsement and/or
support for Bar integration, while not a single local Bar association or lawyers' group has expressed
opposed position thereto. Finally, of the 13,802 individual lawyers who cast their plebiscite ballots on
the proposed integration Court Rule drafted by the Commission, 12,855 (or 93.14 per cent) voted in
favor thereof, 662 (or 4.80 per cent) vote against it, and 285 (or 2.06 per cent) are non-committal. 5
All these clearly indicate an overwhelming nationwide demand for Bar integration at this time.
The Court is fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the arguments adduced
in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative materials and the mass of factual data contained in the
exhaustive Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the integration of the Philippine Bar is
"perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable," within the context of contemporary conditions
in the Philippines, has become an imperative means to raise the standards of the legal profession,
improve the administration of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility fully
and effectively.
ACCORDINGLY, the Court, by virtue of the power vested in it by Section 13 of Article VIII of the
Constitution, hereby ordains the integration of the Bar of the Philippines in accordance with the
attached COURT RULE, effective on January 16, 1973.
Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castillo, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio
and Esguerra, JJ., concur.

[A.C. No. 5299. August 19, 2003]

ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and Chief,


Public Information Office, complainant, vs. ATTY. RIZALINO T.
SIMBILLO, respondent.

[G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003]

ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON


BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his
capacity as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public
Information Office, respondents.
RESOLUTION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that appeared in the
July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Inquirer, which reads:
ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532-4333/521-2667. 1
[1]

Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information Office of the
Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number and pretended to be an
interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, who claimed that her husband, Atty.
Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in handling annulment cases and can guarantee a
court decree within four to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of
property or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges a fee
of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of filing of the case and the other half
after a decision thereon has been rendered.
Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public Information
Office revealed that similar advertisements were published in the August 2 and 6, 2000
issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, 2000 issue of The Philippine Star.2
[2]

On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as Assistant Court
Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, filed an administrative
complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for improper advertising and solicitation of his
legal services, in violation of Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. 3
[3]

In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued that
advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the time has come to
change our views about the prohibition on advertising and solicitation; that the interest
of the public is not served by the absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the
Court can lift the ban on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades1
2
3

old prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be exonerated from all
the charges against him and that the Court promulgate a ruling that advertisement of
legal services offered by a lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as
long as it is dignified.4
[4]

The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
report and recommendation.5
On June 29, 2002, the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306, 6 finding respondent guilty of violation
of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section
27 of the Rules of Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year
with the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more severely. The
IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11, 2002. 7
[5]

[6]

[7]

In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration, 8 which


was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated October 19, 2002 9
[8]

[9]

Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No. 157053
entitled, Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office,
Respondents. This petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts
Resolution dated March 4, 2003.
In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to manifest
whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution on the basis of the
pleadings.10 Complainant filed his Manifestation on April 25, 2003, stating that he is not
submitting any additional pleading or evidence and is submitting the case for its early
resolution on the basis of pleadings and records thereof.
Respondent, on the other
hand, filed a Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
[10]

11[11]

4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11

We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-606.


Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:
Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed primarily
to solicit legal business.
Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent,
misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding
his qualifications or legal services.

Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:


SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds
therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in
such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party
without authority to do so.

It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business. 12 It is a
profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary consideration.
Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making venture, and law advocacy is
not a capital that necessarily yields profits. 13 The gaining of a livelihood should be a
secondary consideration.14 The duty to public service and to the administration of
justice should be the primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their
personal interests or what they owe to themselves. 15 The following elements
distinguish the legal profession from a business:
[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

1.A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product, and in which
one may attain the highest eminence without making much money;

12
13
14
15
16

2.

A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice involving


thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability;

3.

A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;

4.

A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor, fairness, and


unwillingness to resort to current business methods of advertising and
encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with their clients.16[16]

There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of. He himself
admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements. While he professes
repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his contrition rings hollow considering
the fact that he advertised his legal services again after he pleaded for compassion and
after claiming that he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his
answer, he again advertised his legal services in the August 14, 2001 issue of the Buy &
Sell Free Ads Newspaper.17 Ten months later, he caused the same advertisement to
be published in the October 5, 2001 issue of Buy & Sell.18 Such acts of respondent are
a deliberate and contemptuous affront on the Courts authority.
[17]

[18]

What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising himself as a selfstyled Annulment of Marriage Specialist, he wittingly or unwittingly erodes and
undermines not only the stability but also the sanctity of an institution still considered
sacrosanct despite the contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed,
in assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four to six months
from the time of the filing of the case, 19 he in fact encourages people, who might have
otherwise been disinclined and would have refrained from dissolving their marriage
bonds, to do so.
[19]

Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether proscribed.


However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible with the dignity of the legal
profession. If it is made in a modest and decorous manner, it would bring no injury to
the lawyer and to the bar.20 Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or names of
the lawyers, the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as
advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same brief data, are permissible. Even
the use of calling cards is now acceptable. 21 Publication in reputable law lists, in a
manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canon, of brief
biographical and informative data is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v.
Legal Clinic, Inc.:22
[20]

[21]

[22]

Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of the
lawyers name and the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone
numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of birth and
admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other
17
18
19
20
21
22

educational distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal


authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar associations and
committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of
listings in other reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with
their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented.
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it
cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade journal or
periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For that reason, a lawyer
may not properly publish his brief biographical and informative data in a daily
paper, magazine, trade journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his
name to be published in a law list the conduct, management, or contents of which are
calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower dignity or
standing of the profession.
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The card may
contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected
with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced. The publication
of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm or of changes in the
partnership, associates, firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the
profession, is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone
directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. (emphasis and italics
supplied)

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO is


found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED
from the practice of law for ONE (1) YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He
is likewise STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be
dealt with more severely.
Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be furnished
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their information
and guidance.
SO ORDERED.

[A.C. No. 4838. July 29, 2003]

EMILIO GRANDE, complainant, vs. ATTY. EVANGELINE DE SILVA,


respondent.
DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

Complainant Emilio Grande was the private offended party in Criminal Cases Nos.
96-1346 to 96-1353, filed with the Regional Trial Court of Marikina City, Branch 273, for
Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22, entitled People of the Philippines,
Plaintiff versus Sergio Natividad, Accused. During the proceedings, respondent Atty.
Evangeline de Silva, counsel for the accused, tendered to complainant Check No.
0023638 in the amount of P144,768.00, drawn against her account with the Philippine
National Bank, as settlement of the civil aspect of the case against her client.
Complainant refused to accept the check, but respondent assured him that the same
will be paid upon its presentment to her drawee bank. She manifested that as a lawyer,
she would not issue a check which is not sufficiently funded. Thus, respondent was
prevailed upon by complainant to accept the check. Consequently, he desisted from
participating as a complaining witness in the criminal case, which led to the dismissal of
the same and the release of the accused, Sergio Natividad.
When complainant deposited the check, the same was returned unpaid by the
drawee bank for the reason: Account Closed. On June 19, 1997, complainant wrote a
letter to respondent demanding that she pay the face value of the check. 23 However,
his demand was ignored by respondent; hence, he instituted a criminal complaint
against her for Estafa and Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 with the Office of the
City Prosecutor of Marikina, which was docketed as I.S. No. 97-1036. On September
22, 1997, the Marikina City Prosecutor filed the necessary information for violation of
Batas Pambansa Bilang 22 against respondent Atty. Evangeline de Silva. 24
[1]

[2]

On November 10, 1997, complainant filed the instant administrative complaint for
disbarment of respondent for deceit and violation of the Lawyers Oath. 25
[3]

In a Resolution dated February 2, 1998 sent to respondents given address at


Carmelo Compound, Newton Avenue, Mayamot, Antipolo City, she was required to
comment on the complaint within ten (10) days from notice. 26 However, it was returned
unserved with the notation Moved. 27 The Assistant National Secretary of the IBP
submitted the latest address of respondent as 274 M.H. Del Pilar Street, Pasig City.28
[4]

[5]

[6]

On June 20, 2001, another resolution requiring respondent to comment on the


administrative complaint filed against her was served at the aforesaid address. This
23
24
25
26
27
28

was again returned unserved with the notation: Refused. Thus, the case was referred
to the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) for investigation, report and
recommendation.29
[7]

In a Report dated December 6, 2001, Investigating Commissioner Florimond C.


Rous found respondent guilty of deceit, gross misconduct and violation of the Lawyers
Oath. Thus, he recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law
for two (2) years.
On October 19, 2002, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XV-2002554 which adopted the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner that
respondent be suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years.
We fully agree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP Board of
Governors.
The record shows that respondent prevailed upon complainant to accept her
personal check by way of settlement for the civil liability of her client, Sergio Natividad,
with the assurance that the check will have sufficient funds when presented for
payment. In doing so, she deceived complainant into withdrawing his complaint against
her client in exchange for a check which she drew against a closed account.
It is clear that the breach of trust committed by respondent in issuing a bouncing
check amounted to deceit and constituted a violation of her oath, for which she should
be accordingly penalized.30
Such an act constitutes gross misconduct and the
penalties for such malfeasance is prescribed by Rule 138, Section 27of the Rules of
Court, to wit:
[8]

SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds


therefore. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice or other gross misconduct in
such office, grossly immoral conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving
moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before the
admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as attorney for a party
without authority to do so.

The nature of the office of an attorney requires that a lawyer shall be a person of
good moral character. Since this qualification is a condition precedent to a license to
enter upon the practice of law, the maintenance thereof is equally essential during the
continuance of the practice and the exercise of the privilege. Gross misconduct which
puts the lawyers moral character in serious doubt may render her unfit to continue in
the practice of law.31
[9]

The loss of moral character of a lawyer for any reason whatsoever shall warrant her
29
30
31

suspension or disbarment,32 because it is important that members of the legal


brotherhood must conform to the highest standards of morality.33
Any wrongdoing
which indicates moral unfitness for the profession, whether it be professional or nonprofessional, justifies disciplinary action. Thus, a lawyer may be disciplined for evading
payment of a debt validly incurred. Such conduct is unbecoming and does not speak
well of a member of the bar, for a lawyers professional and personal conduct must at all
times be kept beyond reproach and above suspicion. 34
[10]

[11]

[12]

Moreover, the attitude of respondent in deliberately refusing to accept the notices


served on her betrays a deplorably willful character or disposition which stains the
nobility of the legal profession. 35 Her conduct not only underscores her utter lack of
respect for authority; it also brings to the fore a darker and more sinister character flaw
in her psyche which renders highly questionable her moral fitness to continue in the
practice of law: a defiance for law and order which is at the very core of her profession.
[13]

Such defiance is anathema to those who seek a career in the administration of


justice because obedience to the dictates of the law and justice is demanded of every
lawyer. How else would respondent even endeavor to serve justice and uphold the law
when she disdains to follow even simple directives? Indeed, the first and foremost
command of the Code of Professional Responsibility could not be any clearer:
CANON 1.A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION OBEY THE LAWS
OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LEGAL
PROCESSES.

Needless to state, respondents persistent refusal to comply with lawful orders


directed at her with not even an explanation for doing so is contumacious conduct which
merits no compassion. The duty of a lawyer is to uphold the integrity and dignity of the
legal profession at all times. She can only do this by faithfully performing her duties to
society, to the bar, to the courts and to her clients. 36 We can not tolerate any
misconduct that tends to besmirch the fair name of an honorable profession.
[14]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent ATTY. EVANGELINE DE SILVA


is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of Two (2) Years, effective upon
receipt hereof. Let copies of this Decision be entered in her record as attorney and be
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the country for their
information and guidance.
32
33
34
35
36

SO ORDERED.

[A.C. No. 2797. October 4, 2002]

ROSAURA P. CORDON,
respondent.

complainant,

vs.

JESUS BALICANTA,

RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:

On August 21, 1985, herein complainant Rosaura Cordon filed with this Court a
complaint for disbarment, docketed as Administrative Case No. 2797, against Atty.
Jesus Balicanta. After respondents comment to the complaint and complainants reply
thereto, this Court, on March 29, 1995 referred the matter to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP, for brevity) for investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days
from notice. Commissioner George Briones of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
was initially tasked to investigate the case. Commissioner Briones was later on
replaced by Commissioner Renato Cunanan. Complainant filed a supplemental
complaint which was duly admitted and, as agreed upon, the parties filed their
respective position papers.
Based on her complaint, supplemental complaint, reply and position paper, the
complainant alleged the following facts:
When her husband Felixberto C. Jaldon died, herein complainant Rosaura Cordon
and her daughter Rosemarie inherited the properties left by the said decedent. All in all,
complainant and her daughter inherited 21 parcels of land located in Zamboanga City.
The lawyer who helped her settle the estate of her late husband was respondent Jesus
Balicanta.
Sometime in the early part of 1981, respondent enticed complainant and her
daughter to organize a corporation that would develop the said real properties into a
high-scale commercial complex with a beautiful penthouse for complainant. Relying on
these apparently sincere proposals, complainant and her daughter assigned 19 parcels
of land to Rosaura Enterprises, Incorporated, a newly-formed and duly registered
corporation in which they assumed majority ownership. The subject parcels of land
were then registered in the name of the corporation.
Thereafter, respondent single-handedly ran the affairs of the corporation in his
capacity as Chairman of the Board, President, General Manager and Treasurer. The
respondent also made complainant sign a document which turned out to be a voting

trust agreement. Respondent likewise succeeded in making complainant sign a special


power of attorney to sell and mortgage some of the parcels of land she inherited from
her deceased husband. She later discovered that respondent transferred the titles of
the properties to a certain Tion Suy Ong who became the new registered owner thereof.
Respondent never accounted for the proceeds of said transfers.
In 1981, respondent, using a spurious board resolution, contracted a loan from the
Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP, for brevity) in the amount of Two Million Two
Hundred Twenty Pesos (P2,220,000) using as collateral 9 of the real properties that the
complainant and her daughter contributed to the corporation. The respondent
ostensibly intended to use the money to construct the Baliwasan Commercial Center
(BCC, for brevity). Complainant later on found out that the structure was made of poor
materials such as sawali, coco lumber and bamboo which could not have cost the
corporation anything close to the amount of the loan secured.
For four years from the time the debt was contracted, respondent failed to pay even
a single installment. As a result, the LBP, in a letter dated May 22, 1985, informed
respondent that the past due amortizations and interest had already accumulated to
Seven Hundred Twenty-nine Thousand Five Hundred Three Pesos and Twenty-five
Centavos (P729,503.25). The LBP made a demand on respondent for payment for the
tenth time. Meanwhile, when the BCC commenced its operations, respondent started to
earn revenues from the rentals of BCCs tenants. On October 28, 1987, the LBP
foreclosed on the 9 mortgaged properties due to non-payment of the loan.
Respondent did not exert any effort to redeem the foreclosed properties. Worse, he
sold the corporations right to redeem the mortgaged properties to a certain Hadji
Mahmud Jammang through a fake board resolution dated January 14, 1989 which
clothed himself with the authority to do so. Complainant and her daughter, the majority
stockholders, were never informed of the alleged meeting held on that date. Again,
respondent never accounted for the proceeds of the sale of the right to redeem.
Respondent also sold to Jammang a parcel of land belonging to complainant and her
daughter which was contiguous to the foreclosed properties and evidenced by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 62807. He never accounted for the proceeds of the sale.
Sometime in 1983, complainants daughter, Rosemarie, discovered that their
ancestral home had been demolished and that her mother, herein complainant, was
being detained in a small nipa shack in a place called Culianan. Through the help of
Atty. Linda Lim, Rosemarie was able to locate her mother. Rosemarie later learned that
respondent took complainant away from her house on the pretext that said ancestral
home was going to be remodeled and painted. But respondent demolished the
ancestral home and sold the lot to Tion Suy Ong, using another spurious board
resolution designated as Board Resolution No. 1, series of 1992. The resolution
contained the minutes of an alleged organizational meeting of the directors of the
corporation and was signed by Alexander Wee, Angel Fernando, Erwin Fernando and
Gabriel Solivar. Complainant and her daughter did not know how these persons
became stockholders and directors of the corporation. Respondent again did not
account for the proceeds of the sale.

Complainant and her daughter made several demands on respondent for the
delivery of the real properties they allegedly assigned to the corporation, for an
accounting of the proceeds of the LBP loan and as well as the properties sold, and for
the rentals earned by BCC. But the demands remained unheeded. Hence,
complainant and her daughter, in a letter dated June 4, 1985, terminated the services of
respondent as their lawyer and repeated their demands for accounting and turn-over of
the corporate funds, and the return of the 19 titles that respondent transferred to the
corporation. They also threatened him with legal action in a letter dated August 3, 1985.
Soon after, complainant found out from the Securities and Exchange Commission
(SEC, for brevity) that Rosaura Enterprises, Inc., due to respondents refusal and
neglect, failed to submit the corporations annual financial statements for 1981, 1982
and 1983; SEC General Information Sheets for 1982, 1983 and 1984; Minutes of Annual
Meetings for 1982, 1983 and 1984; and Minutes of Annual Meetings of Directors for
1982, 1983 and 1984.
Complainant also discovered that respondent collected rental payments from the
tenants of BCC and issued handwritten receipts which he signed, not as an officer of
the corporation but as the attorney-at-law of complainant. Respondent also used the
tennis court of BCC to dry his palay and did not keep the buildings in a satisfactory
state, so much so that the divisions were losing plywood and other materials to thieves.
Complainant likewise accused respondent of circulating rumors among her friends
and relatives that she had become insane to prevent them from believing whatever
complainant said. According to complainant, respondent proposed that she legally
separate from her present husband so that the latter would not inherit from her and that
respondent be adopted as her son.
For his defense, respondent, in his comment and position paper, denied employing
deceit and machination in convincing complainant and her daughter to assign their real
properties to the corporation; that they freely and voluntary executed the deeds of
assignment and the voting trust agreement that they signed; that he did not singlehandedly manage the corporation as evidenced by certifications of the officers and
directors of the corporation; that he did not use spurious board resolutions authorizing
him to contract a loan or sell the properties assigned by the complainant and her
daughter; that complainant and her daughter should be the ones who should render an
accounting of the records and revenues inasmuch as, since 1984 up to the present, the
part-time corporate book-keeper, with the connivance of the complainant and her
daughter, had custody of the corporate records; that complainant and her daughter
sabotaged the operation of BCC when they illegally took control of it in 1986; that he
never pocketed any of the proceeds of the properties contributed by the complainant
and her daughter; that the demolition of the ancestral home followed legal procedures;
that complainant was never detained in Culianan but she freely and voluntarily lived with
the family of P03 Joel Constantino as evidenced by complainants own letter denying
she was kidnapped; and that the instant disbarment case should be dismissed for being
premature, considering the pendency of cases before the SEC and the Regional Trial
Court of Zamboanga involving him and complainant.

Based on the pleadings and position papers submitted by the parties,


Commissioner Renato Cunanan, in his report 37 dated July 1, 1999, recommended
respondents disbarment based on the following findings:
[1]

A. The complainant, Rosaura Jaldon-Cordon and her daughter, Rosemarie were


stockholders of a corporation, together with respondent, named Rosaura Enterprises,
Inc.
Per the Articles of Incorporation marked as Annex A of Complainants Position
Paper, complainants subscription consists of 55% of the outstanding capital stock
while her daughters consists of 18%, giving them a total of 73%. Respondents
holdings consist of 24% while three other incorporators, Rosauro L. Alvarez, Vicente T.
Maalac and Darhan S. Graciano each held 1% of the capital stock of the corporation.
B. On April 5, 1981, complainant and her daughter Rosemarie Jaldon executed
two Deeds of Transfer and Assignment conveying and transferring to the corporation
19 parcels of land in exchange for shares of stock in the corporation.

xxxxxx

xxx

C. Both Deeds of Assignment particularly page 3 thereof indicate that respondent


accepted said assignment of properties and titles in behalf of the corporation as
Treasurer. The deeds were signed on April 5, 1981.

xxx

xxx

xxx
Together, therefore, complainant and her daughter owned 1,711 shares of the
1,750 shares comprising the authorized capital stock of the corporation of 97% thereof.
No increase in capitalization was applied for by the corporation.
F. Respondent claims in his Comment, his Answer and his Position Paper that on
April 4, 1981 he was elected as Chairman and Director and on April 5, 1981 he was
elected President of the corporation. Respondents own Annexes marked as G and
G-1 of his Comment show that on April 4, 1981 he was not only elected as Chairman
and Director as he claims but as Director, Board Chairman and President. The
purported minutes was only signed by respondent and an acting Secretary by the
name of Vicente Maalac.
Said Annex does not show who was elected Treasurer.
Respondents Annex H and H-1 shows that in the alleged organizational
meeting of the directors on April 5, 1981 a certain Farnacio Bucoy was elected
Treasurer. Bucoys name does not appear as an incorporator nor a stockholder
anywhere in the documents submitted.
The purported minutes of the organizational meeting of the directors was signed
only by respondent Balicanta and a Secretary named Verisimo Martin.
G. Since respondent was elected as Director, Chairman and President on April 4,
1981 as respondents own Annexes G to G-1 would show, then complainants claim
that respondent was likewise acting as Treasurer of two corporations bear truth and
37

credence as respondent signed and accepted the titles to 19 parcels of land ceded by
the complainant and her daughter, as Treasurer on April 5, 1981 after he was already
purportedly elected as Chairman, President and Director.
H. Respondent misleads the Commission into believing that all the directors
signed the minutes marked as Exhibit H to H-1 by stating that the same was duly
signed by all the Board of Directors when the document itself shows that only he and
one Verisimo Martin signed the same.
He also claims that all the stockholders signed the minutes of organizational
meeting marked as Annexes G and G-1 of his Comment yet the same shows that
only the acting Chairman and acting Secretary signed.
I. Respondent claims that the Board or its representative was authorized by the
stockholders comprising 2/3 of the outstanding capital stock, as required by law, to
mortgage the parcels of land belonging to the corporation, which were all assigned to
the corporation by complainant and her daughter, by virtue of Annex I and I-1:
attached to his Comment.
The subject attachment however reveals that only the following persons signed
their conformity to the said resolution: respondent Balicanta who owned 109 shares,
Vicente Maalac (1 share), Daihan Graciano (1 share).
Complainants who collectively held a total of 1,711 shares out of the 1,750
outstanding capital stock of the corporation were not represented in the purported
stockholders meeting authorizing the mortgage of the subject properties.
The 2/3 vote required by law was therefore not complied with yet respondent
proceeded to mortgage the subject 9 parcels of land by the corporation.
J. Respondent further relies on Annex J of his Comment, purportedly the minutes
of a special meeting of the Board of Directors authorizing him to obtain a loan and
mortgage the properties of the corporation dated August 29, 1981. This claim is
baseless. The required ratification of 2/3 by the stockholders of records was not met.
Again, respondent attempts to mislead the Commission and Court.
K. Further, the constitution of the Board is dubious. The alleged minutes of the
organizational meeting of the stockholders electing the members of the Board, have
not been duly signed by the stockholders as shown in respondents annex G which
was purportedly the organizational meeting of the stockholders.
L. Also, Annex J of respondents Comment which purportedly authorized him to
obtain a loan and to mortgage the 9 parcels of land was only signed by himself and a
secretary.
M. In said Annex 'J' of respondents Comment he stated that complainant
Rosaura Cordon was on leave by virtue of a voting trust agreement allegedly executed
by complainant in his favor covering all her shares of stock. The claim is baseless.
The voting trust referred to by respondent (annex D of his Comment), even if it were
assumed to be valid, covered only 266 shares of complainants yet she owned a total of
1,039 shares after she and her daughter ceded in favor of the corporation 19 parcels of
land.
Being a former lawyer to complainant, respondent should have ensured that her
interest was safeguarded. Yet, complainant was apparently and deliberately left our

(sic) on the pretext that, she had executed a voting trust agreement in favor of
respondent.
It is suspicious that complainant was made to sign a voting trust agreement on 21
August 1981 and immediately thereafter, the resolutions authorizing respondent to
obtain a loan and to mortgage the 9 parcels of land were passed and approved.
N. It is also highly irregular for respondent who is a lawyer, to allow a situation to
happen where, with the exclusion of complainant as director the result was that there
remained only 4 members of the Board,.
O. Respondents own pleadings submitted to the Commission contradict
each other.
1. For instance, while in his Comment respondent DENIES that
he employed deceit and machination in convincing the complainant
and her daughter to sign the articles of incorporation of Rosaura
Enterprises and in ceding to the corporation 19 parcels of land in
Zamboanga City, because they freely, intelligently and voluntarily
signed the same, yet, in his Position Paper, respondent took another
stance.
In paragraphs 1.1 and 1.2 of his Position Paper which was
submitted 12 years later, respondent claimed that it was actually the
idea of Atty. Rosaura L. Alvarez that a corporation be put up to
incorporate the estate of the late Felixberto D. Jaldon.
2. Likewise, respondent claimed that complainant and her
daughter were not directors, hence they were not notified of
meetings, in paragraph 2-6 (c) of his Comment he blamed the other
stockholders and directors for the corporations inability to comply
with the Land Banks demands saying that they have consistently
failed since 1982 to convene (1.) for the annual stockholders
meetings and (i.i) for the monthly board meeting.
His own pleadings claim that he had been the
Chairman/President since 1981 to the present. If (sic) so, it was his
duty to convene the stockholders and the directors for meetings.
Respondent appeared able to convene the stockholders and
directors when he needed to make a loan of p2.2 million; when he
sold the corporations right of redemption over the foreclosed
properties of the corporation to Jammang, when he sold one parcel
of land covered by TCT 62,807 to Jammang in addition to the 9
parcels of land which were foreclosed, and when he sold the
complainants ancestral home covered by TCT No. 72,004.
It is thus strange why respondent claims that the corporation
could not do anything to save the corporations properties from being
foreclosed because the stockholders and directors did not convene.
This assertion of respondent is clearly evident of dishonest,
deceitful and immoral conduct especially because, in all his acts
constituting conveyances of corporate property, respondent used
minutes of stockholders and directors meetings signed only by him

and a secretary or signed by him and persons who were not


incorporators much less stockholders.
It is worthy of note that in respondents Exhibits 15, 16, 17 and
18 of his position paper, there were 7 new stockholders and
complainant appeared to have only 266 shares to her name while her
daughter Rosemarie had no shares at all. Respondent did not
present any proof of conveyance of shares by complainant and her
daughter.
It is further worth noting that complainants voting trust (annex
D of respondents Comment) where she allegedly entrusted 266
shares to respondent on August 21, 1981 had only a validity of 5
years. Thus, she should have had her entire holdings of 1,283
shares back in her name in August 1986.
Respondents purported minutes of stockholders meeting
(Exhs. 15 and 17) do not reflect this.
There was no explanation whatsoever from respondent on how
complainant and her daughter lost their 97% control holding in the
corporation.
3. As a further contradiction in respondents pleadings, we note
that in paragraph 2.7.C of his Comment he said that only recently,
this year, 1985, the complainant and her aforenamed daughter
examined said voluminous supporting receipts/documents which had
previously been examined by the Land Bank for loan releases, during
which occasion respondent suggested to them that the corporation
will have to hire a full-time book-keeper to put in order said
voluminous supporting receipts/documents, to which they adversely
reacted due to lack of corporate money to pay for said book-keeper.
But in respondents Position Paper par. 6.3 he stated that:
Anyway, it is not the respondent but rather the complainant
who should render a detailed accounting to the corporation of
the corporate records as well as corporate revenues/income
precisely because since 1994 to the present:
(a). The corporate part-time book-keeper Edilberto
Benedicto, with the indispensable connivance and instigation of
the complainant and her daughter, among others, has custody
of the corporate records, xxx
4. In other contradictory stance, respondent claims in par. 7.3 of
his position paper that complainant and her daughter sabotaged the
BCC operations of the corporation by illegally taking over actual
control and supervision thereof sometime in 1986, xxx
Yet respondents own exhibits in his position paper particularly
Exhibit 15 and 16 where the subject of the foreclosed properties of
the corporation comprising the Baliwasan Commercial Center (BCC)
was taken up, complainant and her daughter were not even present
nor were they the subject of the discussion, belying respondents

claim that the complainant and her daughter illegally took actual
control of BCC.
5. On the matter of the receipts issued by respondent
evidencing payment to him of rentals by lessees of the corporation,
attached to the complaint as Annexes H to H-17, respondent claims
that the receipts are temporary in nature and that subsequently
regular corporate receipts were issued. On their face however the
receipts clearly appear to be official receipts, printed and numbered
duly signed by the respondent bearing his printed name.
It is difficult to believe that a lawyer of respondent stature would
issue official receipts to lessees if he only meant to issue temporary
ones.
6. With regard to respondents claim that the complainant
consented to the sale of her ancestral home, covered by TCT No. T72,004 to one Tion Suy Ong for which he attached as Exhibit 22 to
his Position Paper the minutes of an annual meeting of the
stockholders, it behooves this Commission why complainants
signature had to be accompanied by her thumb mark. Furthermore,
complainants signature appears unstable and shaky. This Office is
thus persuaded to believe complainants allegation in paragraph 3b
of her position paper that since September 1992 up to March 1993
she was being detained by one PO# (sic) Joel Constantino and
his wife under instructions from respondent Balicanta.
This conclusion is supported by a letter from respondent dated
March 1993, Annex H of complainants position paper, where
respondent ordered Police Officer Constantino to allow Atty. Linda
Lim and Rosemarie Jaldon to talk to Tita Rosing.
The complainants thumb mark together with her visibly unstable
shaky signature lends credence to her claim that she was detained in
the far flung barrio of Culianan under instructions of respondent while
her ancestral home was demolished and the lot sold to one Tion Suy
Ong.
It appears that respondent felt compelled to over-ensure
complainants consent by getting her to affix her thumb mark in
addition to her signature.
7. Respondent likewise denies that he also acted as Corporate
Secretary in addition to being the Chairman, President and Treasurer
of the corporation. Yet, respondent submitted to this commission
documents which are supported to be in the possession of the
Corporate Secretary such as the stock and transfer book and
minutes of meetings.
The foregoing findings of this Commission are virtual smoking guns that prove on
no uncertain terms that respondent, who was the legal counsel of complainant in the
latter part of the settlement of the estate of her deceased husband, committed
unlawful, immoral and deceitful conduct proscribed by Rule 1.01 of the code of
professional responsibility.

Likewise, respondent clearly committed a violation of Canon 15 of the same code


which provides that A lawyer should observe candor fairness and loyalty in all his
dealings and transactions with his client.
Respondents acts gravely diminish the publics respect for the integrity of the
profession of law for which this Commission recommends that he be meted the penalty
of disbarment.
The pendency of the cases at the SEC and the Regional Trial Court of
Zamboanga filed by complainant against respondent does not preclude a
determination of respondents culpability as a lawyer.
This Commission cannot further delay the resolution of this complaint filed in 1985
by complainant, and old widow who deserves to find hope and recover her confidence
in the judicial system.
The findings of this office, predominantly based on documents adduced by both
parties lead to only one rather unpalatable conclusion. That respondent Atty. Jesus F.
Balicanta, in his professional relations with herein complainant did in fact employ
unlawful, dishonest, and immoral conduct proscribed in no uncertain terms by Rule
1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. In addition, respondents actions
clearly violated Canon 15 to 16 of the same Code.
It is therefore our unpleasant duty to recommend that respondent, having
committed acts in violation of the Canons of Professional Responsibility, thereby
causing a great disservice to the profession, be meted the ultimate sanction of
disbarment.38[2]

On September 30, 1999, while Commissioner Cunanans recommendation for


respondents disbarment was pending review before Executive Vice-President and
Northern Luzon Governor Teofilo Pilando, respondent filed a motion requesting for a
full-blown investigation and for invalidation of the entire proceedings and/or remedial
action under Section 11, Rule 139-B, Revised Rules of Court, alleging that he had
evidence that Commissioner Cunanans report was drafted by the lawyers of
complainant, Attys. Antonio Cope and Rita Linda Jimeno. He presented two unsigned
anonymous letters allegedly coming from a disgruntled employee of Attys. Cope and
Jimeno. He claimed to have received these letters in his mailbox. 39
[3]

Respondents motion alleging that Attys. Antonio Cope and Rita Linda Jimeno
drafted Commissioner Cunanans report was accompanied by a complaint praying for
the disbarment of said lawyers including Commissioner Cunanan. The complaint was
docketed as CBD Case No. 99-658. After Attys. Cope and Jimeno and Commissioner
Cunanan filed their answers, a hearing was conducted by the Investigating Committee
of the IBP Board of Governors.
On May 26, 2001, the IBP Board of Governors issued a resolution 40 dismissing for
lack of merit the complaint for disbarment against Attys. Cope and Jimeno and
Commissioner Cunanan. And in Adm. Case No. 2797, the Board adopted and
[4]

38
39

approved the report and recommendation of Commissioner Cunanan, and meted


against herein respondent Balicanta the penalty of suspension from the practice of law
for 5 years for commission of acts of misconduct and disloyalty by taking undue and
unfair advantage of his legal knowledge as a lawyer to gain material benefit for himself
at the expense of complainant Rosaura P. Jaldon-Cordon and caused serious damage
to the complainant.41
[5]

To support its decision, the Board uncovered respondents fraudulent acts in the
very same documents he presented to exonerate himself. It also took note of
respondents contradictory and irreconcilable statements in the pleadings and position
papers he submitted. However, it regarded the penalty of disbarment as too severe for
respondents misdeeds, considering that the same were his first offense. 42
[6]

Pursuant to Section 12 (b), Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, 43 the said resolution
in Administrative Case No. 2797 imposing the penalty of suspension for 5 years on
respondent was automatically elevated to this Court for final action. On the other hand,
the dismissal of the complaint for disbarment against Attys. Cope and Jimeno and
Commissioner Cunanan, docketed as CBD Case No. 99-658, became final in the
absence of any petition for review.
[7]

This Court confirms the duly supported findings of the IBP Board that respondent
committed condemnable acts of deceit against his client. The fraudulent acts he carried
out against his client followed a well thought of plan to misappropriate the corporate
properties and funds entrusted to him. At the very outset, he embarked on his devious
scheme by making himself the President, Chairman of the Board, Director and
Treasurer of the corporation, although he knew he was prohibited from assuming the
position of President and Treasurer at the same time. 44 As Treasurer, he accepted in
behalf of the corporation the 19 titles that complainant and her daughter co-owned. The
other treasurer appointed, Farnacio Bucoy, did not appear to be a stockholder or
director in the corporate records. The minutes of the meetings supposedly electing him
and Bucoy as officers of the corporation actually bore the signatures of respondent and
the secretary only, contrary to his claim that they were signed by the directors and
stockholders.
[8]

He likewise misled the IBP investigating commission in claiming that the mortgage
of 9 of the properties of the corporation previously belonging to complainant and her
40
41
42
43
44

daughter was ratified by the stockholders owning two-thirds or 67% of the outstanding
capital stock when in fact only three stockholders owning 111 out of 1,750 outstanding
shares or 6.3% assented thereto. The alleged authorization granting him the power to
contract the LBP loan for Two Million Two Hundred Twenty Pesos (P2,220,000) was
also not approved by the required minimum of two-thirds of the outstanding capital stock
despite respondents claim to the contrary. In all these transactions, complainant and
her daughter who both owned 1,711 out of the 1,750 outstanding shares of the
corporation or 97.7% never had any participation. Neither were they informed thereof.
Clearly, there was no quorum for a valid meeting for the discussion and approval of
these transactions.
Respondent cannot take refuge in the contested voting trust agreement supposedly
executed by complainant and her daughter for the reason that it authorized respondent
to represent complainant for only 266 shares.
Aside from the dishonest transactions he entered into under the cloak of sham
resolutions, he failed to explain several discrepancies in his version of the facts. We
hereby reiterate some of these statements noted by Commissioner Cunanan in his
findings.
First, respondent blamed the directors and the stockholders who failed to convene
for the required annual meetings since 1982. However, respondent appeared able to
convene the stockholders and directors when he contracted the LBP debt, when he sold
to Jammang the corporations right of redemption over the foreclosed properties of the
corporation, when he sold one parcel of land covered by TCT No. 62807 to Jammang,
when he mortgaged the 9 parcels of land to LBP which later foreclosed on said
mortgage, and when he sold the complainants ancestral home covered by TCT No.
72004.
Second, the factual findings of the investigating commission, affirmed by the IBP
Board, disclosed that complainant and her daughter own 1,711 out of 1,750 shares of
the outstanding capital stock of the corporation, based on the Articles of Incorporation
and deeds of transfer of the properties. But respondents evidence showed that
complainant had only 266 shares of stock in the corporation while her daughter had
none, notwithstanding the fact that there was nothing to indicate that complainant and
her daughter ever conveyed their shares to others.
Respondent likewise did not explain why he did not return the certificates
representing the 266 shares after the lapse of 5 years from the time the voting trust
certificate was executed in 1981.45
[9]

The records show that up to now, the complainant and her daughter own 97% of the
outstanding shares but respondent never bothered to explain why they were never
asked to participate in or why they were never informed of important corporate
decisions.

45

Third, respondent, in his comment, alleged that due to the objection of complainant
and her daughter to his proposal to hire an accountant, the corporation had no formal
accounting of its revenues and income. However, respondents position paper
maintained that there was no accounting because the part-time bookkeeper of the
corporation connived with complainant and her daughter in keeping the corporate
records.
Fourth, respondents claim that complainant and her daughter took control of the
operations of the corporation in 1986 is belied by the fact that complainant and her
daughter were not even present in the alleged meeting of the board (which took place
after 1986) to discuss the foreclosure of the mortgaged properties. The truth is that he
never informed them of such meeting and he never gave control of the corporation to
them.
Fifth, Commissioner Cunanan found that:
5. on the matter of the receipts issued by respondent evidencing payment to him
of rentals by lessees of the corporation, attached to the complaint as Annexes H to H17, respondent claims that the receipts are temporary in nature and that subsequently
regular corporate receipts were issued. On their face however the receipts clearly
appear to be official receipts, printed and numbered duly signed by the respondent
bearing his printed name.
It is difficult to believe that a lawyer of respondents stature would issue official
receipts to lessees if he only meant to issue temporary ones.46[10]

Sixth, respondent denies that he acted as Corporate Secretary aside from being the
Chairman, President and Treasurer of the corporation. Yet respondent submitted to the
investigating commission documents which were supposed to be in the official
possession of the Corporate Secretary alone such as the stock and transfer book and
minutes of meetings.
Seventh, he alleged in his comment that he was the one who proposed the
establishment of the corporation that would invest the properties of the complainant but,
in his position paper, he said that it was a certain Atty. Rosauro Alvarez who made the
proposal to put up the corporation.
After a thorough review of the records, we find that respondent committed grave
and serious misconduct that casts dishonor on the legal profession. His misdemeanors
reveal a deceitful scheme to use the corporation as a means to convert for his own
personal benefit properties left to him in trust by complainant and her daughter.
Not even his deviousness could cover up the wrongdoings he committed. The
documents he thought could exculpate him were the very same documents that
revealed his immoral and shameless ways. These documents were extremely revealing
in that they unmasked a man who knew the law and abused it for his personal gain
without any qualms of conscience. They painted an intricate web of lies, deceit and
opportunism beneath a carefully crafted smokescreen of corporate maneuvers.
46

The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates upon each lawyer, as his duty to
society, the obligation to obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and
legal processes. Specifically, he is forbidden to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct.47 If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and
attain its basic ideal, those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and
principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. 48 Thus, the
requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general
public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning. 49 Lawyers are expected to
abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also throughout
their legal career, in order to maintain ones good standing in that exclusive and
honored fraternity.50 Good moral character is more than just the absence of bad
character. Such character expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is
right and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is wrong. 51 This must be so
because vast interests are committed to his care; he is the recipient of unbounded trust
and confidence; he deals with his clients property, reputation, his life, his all. 52
[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

[16]

Indeed, the words of former Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeals Pompeyo
Diaz cannot find a more relevant application than in this case:
There are men in any society who are so self-serving that they try to make law
serve their selfish ends. In this group of men, the most dangerous is the man of the law
who has no conscience. He has, in the arsenal of his knowledge, the very tools by
which he can poison and disrupt society and bring it to an ignoble end.53[17]

Good moral standing is manifested in the duty of the lawyer to hold in trust all
moneys and properties of his client that may come into his possession. 54 He is bound
to account for all money or property collected or received for or from the client. 55 The
relation between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in nature. Thus, lawyers
[18]

[19]

47
48
49
50
51
52
53
54

are bound to promptly account for money or property received by them on behalf of their
clients and failure to do so constitutes professional misconduct. 56
[20]

This Court holds that respondent cannot invoke the separate personality of the
corporation to absolve him from exercising these duties over the properties turned over
to him by complainant. He blatantly used the corporate veil to defeat his fiduciary
obligation to his client, the complainant. Toleration of such fraudulent conduct was
never the reason for the creation of said corporate fiction.
The massive fraud perpetrated by respondent on the complainant leaves us no
choice but to set aside the veil of corporate entity. For purposes of this action therefore,
the properties registered in the name of the corporation should still be considered as
properties of complainant and her daughter. The respondent merely held them in trust
for complainant (now an ailing 83-year-old) and her daughter. The properties conveyed
fraudulently and/or without the requisite authority should be deemed as never to have
been transferred, sold or mortgaged at all. Respondent shall be liable, in his personal
capacity, to third parties who may have contracted with him in good faith.
Based on the aforementioned findings, this Court believes that the gravity of
respondents offenses cannot be adequately matched by mere suspension as
recommended by the IBP. Instead, his wrongdoings deserve the severe penalty of
disbarment, without prejudice to his criminal and civil liabilities for his dishonest acts.
WHEREFORE, respondent Attorney Jesus T. Balicanta is hereby DISBARRED. The
Clerk of Court is directed to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys.
SO ORDERED.

[A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000]

LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.


DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for
allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant,
Leslie Ui.
The relevant facts are:
55
56

On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the Our Lady of
Lourdes Church in Quezon City57 and as a result of their marital union, they had four
(4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime
in December 1987, however, complainant found out that her husband, Carlos Ui, was
carrying on an illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot
a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at No. 527 San
Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City. Respondent who is a graduate
of the College of Law of the University of the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine
Bar in 1982.
[1]

Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant


then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced
herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted to her that she
has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however, that everything was over between her
and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought
things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship between her
husband and respondent would come to an end.
However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband
and respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her
husband, Carlos Ui, had a second child. Complainant then met again with respondent
sometime in March 1989 and pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit
relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and
complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been employed by her
husband in his company.
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August
11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the
Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter,
Commission) on the ground of immorality, more particularly, for carrying on an illicit
relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,58 respondent
averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to be a
bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese
woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during
one of their trips abroad, Carlos Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact
got married in Hawaii, USA in 198559 . Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not
live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in their Greenhills
[2]

[3]

57
58
59

residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let the children gradually to
know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.60
[4]

In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and she would only
return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law practice and renew legal ties.
During one of her trips to Manila sometime in June 1988, respondent was surprised
when she was confronted by a woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of
Carlos Ui. Hurt and desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui,
respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and returned only in
March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20, 1989, a few days after she reported
to work with the law firm61 she was connected with, the woman who represented
herself to be the wife of Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos
Ui has been communicating with her.
[5]

It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not illicit because
they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent discovered Carlos
Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties with him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui
never lived with her in Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills,
San Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house which
belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said house was built
exclusively from her parents funds.62 By way of counterclaim, respondent sought moral
damages in the amount of Ten Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant
for having filed the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against
respondent.
[6]

In her Reply63 dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that respondent
knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to complainant and had children with her
even at the start of her relationship with Carlos Ui, and that the reason respondent went
abroad was to give birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui.
[7]

During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, complainant also
charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with the crime of Concubinage before
the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same
was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against respondent reads:

60
61
62
63

Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the


"illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the
complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that
respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part
of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989.
It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of
respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in
1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam
Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they, admittedly,
continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of
1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the
relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie established
by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed to even prima
facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the concept of
husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof
of which is necessary and indispensable to at least create probable cause
for the offense charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a
statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not
make the complainants evidence thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs.
Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).
It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of
their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the foregoing
conclusion/recommendation.
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant
complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause
for the offense charged.
RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.64

[8]

Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal to the
Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed 65 on the ground of insufficiency of
evidence to prove her allegation that respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as
husband and wife at 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
[9]

In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a
Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the Commission 66 wherein she charged
respondent with making false allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting
[10]

64
65

document which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of
respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among others, that she
was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of Marriage to
substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage 67 duly certified by the
State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department of
Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii,
USA revealed that the date of marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris
Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in
her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false allegation was because
respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child by Carlos
Ui was within the wedlock.68 It is the contention of complainant that such act
constitutes a violation of Articles 18369 and 18470 of the Revised Penal Code, and
also contempt of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false
allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated document are indicative
of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make her unworthy to be a member of
the Philippine Bar.
[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt), 71 respondent averred


that she did not have the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was
in the possession of Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy because she relied in
good faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in her possession.
[15]

Respondent filed her Memorandum 72 on February 22, 1995 and raised the lone issue
of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral manner for which she
deserves to be barred from the practice of law. Respondent averred that the complaint
should be dismissed on two (2) grounds, namely:
[16]

66
67
68
69
70
71
72

(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the


requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal
profession; and
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent
conducted herself in an immoral manner.73
[17]

In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who was the victim
in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know that Carlos Ui was already
married, and that upon learning of this fact, respondent immediately cut-off all her ties
with Carlos Ui. She stated that there was no reason for her to doubt at that time that the
civil status of Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with her,
and he was so open in his courtship.74
[18]

On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly
incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer
had she known that the same was altered. Respondent reiterated that there was no
compelling reason for her to make it appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place
either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got
married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier
marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui
who testified and admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of
the marriage certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to
rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter.
Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent
with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a
picture of a light colored car with Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and
portion of the house and ground, and another picture of the same car bearing Plate No.
PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage, 75 does not prove that she acted in
an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The pictures were
taken by a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial
Fiscal of Pasig in I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui
against respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense
charged 76 and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department of Justice 77 to bolster
her argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act because of her
[19]

[20]

73
74
75
76

[21]

relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship
with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful,
flagrant, or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos
Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery of his true civil status,
she parted ways with him.
In the Memorandum 78 filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed
for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed
immorality by having intimate relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of
two (2) children. Complainant testified that respondents mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio,
personally knew complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were
clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager.79 It was thus highly
improbable that respondent, who was living with her parents as of 1986, would not have
been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant
likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for
submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date.
[22]

[23]

In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum 80 , respondent stated that complainant


miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her disbarment. Respondent insists
that contrary to the allegations of complainant, there is no showing that respondent had
knowledge of the fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her
mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such information was
made known to respondent.
[24]

Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted
its Report and Recommendation, finding that:
In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by
Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission
does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary
human experience.
Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents
himself to be single, separated, or without any firm commitment to another
woman. The reason therefor is not hard to fathom. By their very nature,
single women prefer single men.
77
78
79
80

The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true
civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988).
She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines
in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr.
Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the
children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act
on the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or
disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was
more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion
rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her
chance of having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by
every single girl.
x..........................x..........................x"
Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a
Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads
as follows:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED for
lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and
willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a
stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe
penalty."
We agree with the findings aforequoted.
The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the
practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege
that can be revoked, subject to the mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his
oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the practice of law
are:
a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
b. a resident thereof;
c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;

d. a person of good moral character;


e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral
turpitude, are filed or pending in court;
f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
g. pass the bar examinations.81 (Italics supplied)
[25]

Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that
an applicant must possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good
moral character must be continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege
of law practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such
privilege. It has been held If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the
continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for
retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may
be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character.
(Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).
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).82
[26]

In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when she met Carlos
Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent fell in love with him and they
got married and as a result of such marriage, she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon
her knowledge of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, she left him.
81
82

Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent
are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms
of our legal practitioners should be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today
is a far cry from what it used to be before. This permissiveness notwithstanding,
lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social
responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts
of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in
such a compromising situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in
finding out more about Carlos Uis personal background prior to her intimate
involvement with him.
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents
suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to
ask probing questions. For instance, respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui
had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she never exerted
the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed unmarried. Also,
despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first
child, a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondents
allegation that Carlos Ui was very open in courting her.
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was
imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her
relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was with what respondent believed was a valid
marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that shows
indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and respectable
members of the community.83 Moreover, for such conduct to warrant disciplinary
action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree. 84
[27]

[28]

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to
refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid
scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral
standards."85 Respondents act of immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon
discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves
that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the legal
profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all,
the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its
[29]

83
84
85

disciplinary powers only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
evidence.86 This, herein complainant miserably failed to do.
[30]

On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her


Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely
relied on the photocopy of the Marriage Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui.
For an event as significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall
the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride, especially a
lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married. Simply stated, it
is contrary to human experience and highly improbable.
Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an
attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts
and circumstances contained therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate with an
intercalated date, the defense of good faith of respondent on that point cannot stand.
It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of
morality. The legal profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called
upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of
malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the
highest degree of morality.
WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio,
for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.
However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a
photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a
STERN WARNING that a more severe sanction will be imposed on her for any
repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC

[A.C. No. 3405. June 29, 1998]

86

JULIETA B. NARAG, complainant, vs. ATTY. DOMINADOR M. NARAG,


respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:

Good moral character is a continuing qualification required of every member of the


bar. Thus, when a lawyer fails to meet the exacting standard of moral integrity, the
Supreme Court may withdraw his or her privilege to practice law.
On November 13, 1989, Mrs. Julieta B. Narag filed an administrative complaint xxiv[1]
for disbarment against her husband, Atty. Dominador M. Narag, whom she accused of
having violated Canons 1 and 6, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Ethics for Lawyers. xxv[2]
The complainant narrated:
The St. Louis College of Tuguegarao engaged the services of Atty. Dominador M.
Narag in the early seventies as a full-time college instructor in the College of Arts and
Sciences and as a professor in the Graduate School. In 1984, Ms. Gina Espita, 17 years
old and a first year college student, enrolled in subjects handled by Atty. Narag. Exerting
his influence as her teacher, and as a prominent member of the legal profession and
then member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Tuguegarao, Atty. Narag courted Ms. Espita,
gradually lessening her resistance until the student acceded to his wishes.
They then maintained an illicit relationship known in various circles in the
community, but which they managed to keep from me. It therefore came as a terrible
embar[r]assment to me, with unspeakable grief and pain when my husband abandoned
us, his family, to live with Ms. Espita, in utterly scandalous circumstances.
It appears that Atty. Narag used his power and influence as a member of the
Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Cagayan to cause the employment of Ms. Espita at the
Department of Trade and Industry Central Office at Makati, Metro Manila. Out of
gratitude perhaps, for this gesture, Ms. Espita agreed to live with Atty. Narag, her sense
of right[e]ousness and morals completely corrupted by a member of the Bar.
It is now a common knowledge in the community that Atty. Dominador M. Narag has
abandoned us, his family, to live with a 22-year-old woman, who was his former student
in the tertiary level[.]xxvi[3]

This Court, in a Resolution dated December 18, 1989, referred the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation. xxvii[4]
On June 26, 1990, the office of then Chief Justice Marcelo B. Fernan received from
complainant another letter seeking the dismissal of the administrative complaint. She
alleged therein that (1) she fabricated the allegations in her complaint to humiliate and
spite her husband; (2) all the love letters between the respondent and Gina Espita were
forgeries; and (3) she was suffering from emotional confusion arising from extreme
jealousy. The truth, she stated, was that her husband had remained a faithful and
responsible family man. She further asserted that he had neither entered into an
amorous relationship with one Gina Espita nor abandoned his family.xxviii[5] Supporting
her letter were an Affidavit of Desistance xxix[6] and a Motion to Dismiss, xxx[7] attached as

Annexes A and B, which she filed before the IBP commission on bar discipline. xxxi[8] In
a Decision dated October 8, 1991, the IBP Board of Governors xxxii[9] dismissed the
complaint of Mrs. Narag for failure to prosecute.xxxiii[10]
The case took an unexpected turn when, on November 25, 1991, this Court xxxiv[11]
received another letterxxxv[12] from the complainant, with her seven children xxxvi[13] as cosignatories, again appealing for the disbarment of her husband. She explained that she
had earlier dropped the case against him because of his continuous threats against
her.xxxvii[14]
In his Comment on the complainants letter of November 11, 1991, filed in
compliance with this Courts Resolution issued on July 6, 1992, xxxviii[15] respondent prayed
that the decision of the Board of Governors be affirmed. Denying that he had
threatened, harassed or intimidated his wife, he alleged that she had voluntarily
executed her Affidavit of Desistance xxxix[16] and Motion to Dismiss,xl[17] even appearing
before the investigating officer, Commissioner Racela, to testify under oath that she
prepared the Motion to Dismiss and Affidavit of Desistance on her own free will and
affirmed the contents thereof.
In addition, he professed his love for his wife and his children and denied
abandoning his family to live with his paramour. However, he described his wife as a
person emotionally disturbed, viz.:
What is pitiable here is the fact that Complainant is an incurably jealous and
possessive woman, and every time the streak of jealousy rears its head, she fires off
letters or complaints against her husband in every conceivable forum, all without basis,
and purely on impulse, just to satisfy the consuming demands of her loving jealousy.
Then, as is her nature, a few hours afterwards, when her jealousy cools off, she repents
and feels sorry for her acts against the Respondent. Thus, when she wrote the Letter of
November 11, 1991, she was then in the grips of one of her bouts of jealousy.xli[18]

On August 24, 1992, this Court issued another Resolution referring the Comment of
respondent to the IBP.xlii[19] In the hearing before IBP Commissioner Plaridel C. Jose,
respondent alleged the following:xliii[20]
2.Your Respondent comes from very poor parents who have left him not even a
square meter of land, but gave him the best legacy in life: a purposeful and meaningful
education. Complainant comes from what she claims to be very rich parents who value
material possession more than education and the higher and nobler aspirations in life.
Complainant abhors the poor.
3.
Your Respondent has a loving upbringing, nurtured in the gentle ways of love,
forgiveness, humility, and concern for the poor. Complainant was reared and raised in
an entirely different environment. Her value system is the very opposite.
4.
Your Respondent loves his family very dearly, and has done all he could in
thirty-eight (38) years of marriage to protect and preserve his family. He gave his family
sustenance, a comfortable home, love, education, companionship, and most of all, a
good and respected name. He was always gentle and compassionate to his wife and
children. Even in the most trying times, he remained calm and never inflicted violence
on them. His children are all now full-fledged professionals, mature, and gainfully
employed. x x x

xxx

xxx

xxx

Your Respondent subscribes to the sanctity of marriage as a social institution.


On the other hand, consumed by insane and unbearable jealousy, Complainant has
been systematically and unceasingly destroying the very foundations of their marriage
and their family. Their marriage has become a torture chamber in which Your
Respondent has been incessantly BEATEN, BATTERED, BRUTALIZED, TORTURED,
ABUSED, and HUMILIATED, physically, mentally, and emotionally, by the Complainant,
in public and at home. Their marriage has become a nightmare.
For thirty-eight years, your Respondent suffered in silence and bore the pain of his
misfortune with dignity and with almost infinite patience, if only to preserve their family
and their marriage. But this is not to be. The Complainant never mellowed and never
became gentl[e], loving, and understanding. In fact, she became more fierce and
predatory.
Hence, at this point in time, the light at the tunnel for Your Respondent does not
seem in sight. The darkness continues to shroud the marital and familial landscape.
Your Respondent has to undergo a catharsis, a liberation from enslavement.
Paraphrasing Dorfman in Death and the Maiden, can the torturer and the tortured coexist and live together?
Hence, faced with an absolutely uncomprehending and uncompromising mind
whose only obsession now is to destroy, destroy, and destroy, Your Respondent, with
perpetual regret and with great sorrow, filed a Petition for Annulment of Marriage, Spl.
Proc. No. 566, RTC, Branch III, Tuguegarao, Cagayan. x x x.
5.
Complainant is a violent husband-beater, vitriolic and unbending. But your
Respondent never revealed these destructive qualities to other people. He preserved
the good name and dignity of his wife. This is in compliance with the marital vow to
love, honor or obey your spouse, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health. . .
Even in this case, Your Respondent never revealed anything derogatory to his wife. It is
only now that he is constrained to reveal all these things to defend himself.
On the other hand, for no reason at all, except a jealous rage, Complainant tells
everyone, everywhere, that her husband is worthless, good-for-nothing, evil and
immoral. She goes to colleges and universities, professional organizations, religious
societies, and all other sectors of the community to tell them how evil, bad and immoral
her husband is. She tells them not to hire him as professor, as Counsel, or any other
capacity because her husband is evil, bad, and immoral. Is this love? Since when did
love become an instrument to destroy a mans dearest possession in life - his good
name, reputation and dignity?
Because of Complainants virulent disinformation campaign against her husband,
employing every unethical and immoral means to attain his ends, Your Respondent has
been irreparably and irreversibly disgraced, shamed, and humiliated. Your Respondent
is not a scandalous man. It is he who has been mercilessly scandalized and crucified
by the Complainant.xliv[21]

To prove the alleged propensity of his wife to file false charges, respondent
presented as evidence the following list of the complaints she had filed against him and
Gina Espita:

3.1Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty x x x


3.2 Complaint for Immorality/Neglect of Duty, DILG, Adm. Case No. P-5-90. x x x
3.3 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutors Office of Cagayan. I.S
No. 89-114. x x x
3.4 Complaint for Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices and concubinage.
OMBUDSMAN Case No. 1-92-0083. x x x
3.5 Complaint for Civil Support. RTC, Tuguegarao, Civil Case No. 4061.
DISMISSED.
3.6 Complaint for Concubinage. Provincial Prosecutors Office of Cagayan. I.S.
No. 92-109. DISMISSED. (x x x). Complainant filed Motion for
Reconsideration. DENIED. (x x x).
3.7 Complaint for Disbarment (x x x) with S[upreme] C[ourt]. Withdrawn (x x x).
DISMISSED by IBP Board of Governors (x x x). Re-instituted (x x x).
3.8 Complaint for Disbarment, again (x x x). Adm. Case No. 3405. Pending.
3.9 Complaint for Concubinage, again (x x x). Third MCTC, Tumauini, Isabela.
Pending. x x xxlv[22]

In his desperate effort to exculpate himself, he averred:


I.That all the alleged love letters and envelopes (x x x), picture (x x x) are
inadmissible in evidence as enunciated by the Supreme Court in Cecilia Zulueta
vs. Court of Appeals, et. al., G.R. No. 107383, February 20, 1996. (x x x).

xxx

xxx

xxx

II.
That respondent is totally innocent of the charges: He never courted Gina
Espita in the Saint Louis College of Tuguegarao.
He never caused the
employment of said woman in the DTI. He never had or is having any illicit
relationship with her anywhere, at any time. He never lived with her as husband
and wife anywhere at any time, be it in Centro Tumauini or any of its barangays, or
in any other place. He never begot a child or children with her. Finally, respondent
submits that all the other allegations of Mrs. Narag are false and fabricated, x x x

xxx

xxx

xxx

III. Respondent never abandoned his family[.] Mrs. Narag and her two sons
forcibly drove respondent Narag out of the conjugal home. After that, Atty. Narag
tried to return to the conjugal home many times with the help of mutual friends to
save the marriage and the family from collapse. He tried several times to reconcile
with Mrs. Narag. In fact, in one of the hearings of the disbarment case, he offered
to return home and to reconcile with Mrs. Narag. But Mrs. Narag refused all these
efforts of respondent Narag. x x x
IV. Complainant Julieta B. Narag is an unbearably jealous,
scandalous, virulent and merciless wife since the beginning of
incessantly beat, battered, brutalized, tortured, abuse[d],
humiliated respondent Atty. Narag, physically, mentally,
psychologically, x x x.

violent, vindictive,
the marriage, who
scandalized, and
emotionally, and

V.
Complainant Julieta Narags claim in her counter-manifestation dated March
28, 1996, to the effect that the affidavit of Dominador B. Narag, Jr., dated February
27, 1996 was obtained through force and intimidation, is not true. Dominador, Jr.,
executed his affidavit freely, voluntarily, and absolutely without force or intimidation,
as shown by the transcript of stenographic notes of the testimonies of Respondent

Atty. Narag and Tuguegarao MTC Judge Dominador Garcia during the trial of
Criminal Case No. 12439, People vs. Dominador M. Narag, et. al., before the
Tuguegarao MTC on May 3, 1996. x x x.

xxx

xxx

xxx

VI. Respondent Atty. Narag is now an old man - a senior citizen of 63 years sickly, abandoned, disgraced, weakened and debilitated by progressively
degenerative gout and arthritis, and hardly able to earn his own keep. His very
physical, medical, psychological, and economic conditions render him unfit and
unable to do the things attributed to him by the complainant. Please see the
attached medical certificates, x x x, among many other similar certificates touching
on the same ailments. Respondent is also suffering from hypertension.xlvi[23]

On July 18, 1997, the investigating officer submitted his report, xlvii[24] recommending
the indefinite suspension of Atty. Narag from the practice of law. The material portions
of said report read as follows:
Culled from the voluminous documentary and testimonial evidence submitted by
the contending parties, two (2) issues are relevant for the disposition of the case,
namely:
a)Whether there was indeed a commission of alleged abandonment of
respondents own family and [whether he was] living with his paramour,
Gina Espita;
b)
Whether the denial under oath that his illegitimate children with
Gina Espita (Aurelle Dominic and Kyle Dominador) as appearing on
paragraph 1(g) of respondents Comment vis-a-vis his handwritten love
letters, the due execution and contents of which, although he objected to
their admissibility for being allegedly forgeries, were never denied by him
on the witness stand much less presented and offered proof to support
otherwise.
Except for the testimonies of respondents witnesses whose testimonies tend to
depict the complaining wife, Mrs. Narag, as an incurably jealous wife and possessive
woman suffering everytime with streaks of jealousy, respondent did not present himself
on the witness stand to testify and be cross-examined on his sworn comment; much
less did he present his alleged paramour, Gina Espita, to disprove the adulterous
relationship between him and their having begotten their illegitimate children, namely:
Aurelle Dominic N. Espita and Kyle Dominador N. Espita. Worse, respondents denial
that he is the father of the two is a ground for disciplinary sanction (Morcayda v. Naz,
125 SCRA 467).
Viewed from all the evidence presented, we find the respondent subject to
disciplinary action as a member of the legal profession.xlviii[25]

In its Resolutionxlix[26] issued on August 23, 1997, the IBP adopted and approved the
investigating commissioners recommendation for the indefinite suspension of the
respondent.l[27] Subsequently, the complainant sought the disbarment of her husband in
a Manifestation/Comment she filed on October 20, 1997. The IBP granted this stiffer
penalty and, in its Resolution dated November 30, 1997, denied respondents Motion for
Reconsideration.

After a careful scrutiny of the records of the proceedings and the evidence
presented by the parties, we find that the conduct of respondent warrants the imposition
of the penalty of disbarment.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 1.01--A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
CANON 7-- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
Rule 7.03-- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life,
behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

Thus, good moral character is not only a condition precedent li[28] to the practice of
law, but a continuing qualification for all members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is
found guilty of gross immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. lii[29]
Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or
shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of
the community.liii[30] Furthermore, such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly
immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled
as to be reprehensible to a high degree liv[31] or committed under such scandalous or
revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.lv[32]
We explained in Barrientos vs. Daarollvi[33] that, as officers of the court, lawyers must
not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral
character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only
required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must
also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he
is flouting those moral standards.
Respondent Narag is accused of gross immorality for abandoning his family in order
to live with Gina Espita. The burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court
will exercise its disciplinary power only if she establishes her case by clear, convincing
and satisfactory evidence.lvii[34]
Presented by complainant as witnesses, aside from herself, lviii[35] were: Charlie
Espita,lix[36] Magdalena Bautista,lx[37] Bienvenido Eugenio,lxi[38] Alice Carag,lxii[39] Dr. Jervis B.
Narag,lxiii[40] Dominador Narag, Jr.,lxiv[41] and Nieves F. Reyes.lxv[42]
Charlie Espita, brother of the alleged paramour Gina Espita, corroborated
complainants charge against respondent in these categorical statements he gave to the
investigating officer:
QMr. Witness, do you know Atty. Narag?
A

Yes, Your Honor, he is the live-in partner of my sister, Gina Espita.

If Atty. Narag is here, can you point [to] him?

Yes, sir.
(Witness pointed to the respondent, Atty. Dominador Narag)

Why do you know Atty. Narag?

ATTY. NARAG:
Already answered. He said I am the live-in partner.
CONTINUATION OF THE DIRECT
A

Because he is the live-in partner of my sister and that they are now living together as
husband and wife and that they already have two children, Aurelle Dominic and Kyle
Dominador.

xxx

xxx

x x x

lxvi[43]

During cross-examination conducted by the respondent himself, Charlie Espita


repeated his account that his sister Gina was living with the respondent, with whom she
had two children:
QMr. Espita, you claim that Atty. Narag is now living with your sister as husband and wife.
You claim that?
A

Yes, sir.

Why do you say that?

Because at present you are living together as husband and wife and you have already
two children and I know that that is really an immoral act which you cannot just allow me
to follow since my moral values dont allow me that my sister is living with a married man
like you.

How do you know that Atty. Narag is living with your sister? Did you see them in the
house?

Yes, si[r].

xxx

xxx

xxx

You said also that Atty. Narag and your sister have two children, Aurelle Dominic and
Kyle Dominador, is it not?

Yes, sir.

How do you know that they are the children of Atty. Narag?

Because you are staying together in that house and you have left your family.lxvii[44]

In addition, Charlie Espita admitted (1) that it was he who handed to Mrs. Narag the
love letters respondent had sent to his sister, and (2) that Atty. Narag tried to dissuade
him from appearing at the disbarment proceedings. lxviii[45]
Witness Bienvenido Eugenio strengthened the testimony of Charlie Espita in this
wise:
QMr. Witness, do you know the respondent in this case?
A

I know him very well, sir.

Could you please tell us why do you know him?

Because he was always going to the house of my son-in-law by the name of Charlie
Espita.

xxx

xxx

xxx

Mr. Eugenio, do you know the residence of Atty. Dominador M. Narag?

At that time, he [was] residing in the house of Reynaldo Angubong, sir.

And this is located where?

Centro Tamauini, Isabela, sir.

And you specifically, categorically state under oath that this is the residence of Atty.
Narag?

Yes, sir.

xxx

xxx

xxx

And under oath this is where Atty. Narag and Gina Espita are allegedly living as
husband and wife, is it not?

Yes, sir.lxix[46]

Witness Nieves Reyes, a neighbor and friend of the estranged couple, testified that
she learned from the Narag children -- Randy, Bong and Rowena -- that their father left
his family, that she and her husband prodded the complainant to accept the respondent
back, that the Narag couple again separated when the respondent went back to his
woman, and that Atty. Narag had maltreated his wife. lxx[47]
On the strength of the testimony of her witnesses, the complainant was able to
establish that respondent abandoned his family and lived with another woman. Absent
any evidence showing that these witnesses had an ill motive to testify falsely against the
respondent, their testimonies are deemed worthy of belief.
Further, the complainant presented as evidence the love letters that respondent had
sent to Gina. In these letters, respondent clearly manifested his love for Gina and her
two children, whom he acknowledged as his own.
In addition, complainant also
submitted as evidence the cards that she herself had received from him. Guided by the
rule that handwriting may be proved through a comparison of one set of writings with
those admitted or treated by the respondent as genuine, we affirm that the two sets of
evidence were written by one and the same person. lxxi[48] Besides, respondent did not
present any evidence to prove that the love letters were not really written by him; he
merely denied that he wrote them.
While the burden of proof is upon the complainant, respondent has the duty not only
to himself but also to the court to show that he is morally fit to remain a member of the
bar. Mere denial does not suffice. Thus, when his moral character is assailed, such
that his right to continue practicing his cherished profession is imperiled, he must meet
the charges squarely and present evidence, to the satisfaction of the investigating body
and this Court, that he is morally fit to have his name in the Roll of Attorneys. lxxii[49] This
he failed to do.

Respondent adamantly denies abandoning his family to live with Gina Espita. At
the same time, he depicts his wife as a violent husband-beater, vitriolic and
unbending, and as an insanely and pathologically jealous woman, whose only
obsession was to destroy, destroy and destroy him as shown by her filing of a series of
allegedly unfounded charges against him (and Gina Espita). To prove his allegation, he
presented ninety-eight (98) pieces of documentary evidence lxxiii[50] and ten (10)
witnesses.lxxiv[51]
We note, however, that the testimonies of the witnesses of respondent did not
establish the fact that he maintained that moral integrity required by the profession that
would render him fit to continue practicing law. Neither did their testimonies destroy the
fact, as proven by the complainant, that he had abandoned his family and lived with
Gina Espita, with whom he had two children. Some of them testified on matters which
they had no actual knowledge of, but merely relied on information from either
respondent himself or other people, while others were presented to impeach the good
character of his wife.
Respondent may have provided well for his family -- they enjoyed a comfortable life
and his children finished their education. He may have also established himself as a
successful lawyer and a seasoned politician. But these accomplishments are not
sufficient to show his moral fitness to continue being a member of the noble profession
of law.
We remind respondent that parents have not only rights but also duties e.g., to
support, educate and instruct their children according to right precepts and good
example; and to give them love, companionship and understanding, as well as moral
and spiritual guidance.lxxv[52] As a husband, he is also obliged to live with his wife; to
observe mutual love, respect and fidelity; and to render help and support. lxxvi[53]
Respondent himself admitted that his work required him to be often away from
home. But the evidence shows that he was away not only because of his work;
instead, he abandoned his family to live with his paramour, who bore him two children.
It would appear, then, that he was hardly in a position to be a good husband or a good
father. His children, who grew up mostly under the care of their mother, must have
scarcely felt the warmth of their fathers love.
Respondents son, Jervis B. Narag, showed his resentment towards his fathers
moral frailties in his testimony:
QMy question is this, is there any sin so grievous that it cannot be forgiven, is there a fault
that is so serious that it is incapable of forgiveness?
A

That depends upon the sin or fault, sir, but if the sin or fault is with the emotional part of
myself, I suppose I cannot forgive a person although I am a God-fearing person, but I
h[av]e to give the person a lesson in order for him or her to at least realize his mistakes,
sir.

xxx

xxx

xxx

COMR. JOSE:
I think it sounds like this. Assuming for the sake of argument that your father is the

worst, hardened criminal on earth, would you send him to jail and have him disbarred?
That is the question.
CONTINUATION.
A

With the reputation that he had removed from us, I suppose he has to be given a lesson.
At this point in time, I might just forgive him if he will have to experience all the pains that
we have also suffered for quite sometime.

Dr. Narag, your father gave you life, his blood runs in your veins, his flesh is your flesh,
his bones are your bones and you now disown him because he is the worst man on
earth, is that what you are saying.

Sort of, sir.

You are now telling that as far [as] you are concerned because your father has sinned,
you have no more father, am I correct?

Long before, sir, I did not feel much from my father even when I was still a kid because
my father is not always staying with us at home. So, how can you say that? Yes, he
gave me life, why not? But for sure, sir, you did not give me love.lxxvii[54]

Another son, Dominador Narag, Jr., narrated before the investigating officer the
trauma he went through:
QIn connection with that affidavit, Mr. Witness, which contains the fact that your father is
maintaining a paramour, could you please tell this Honorable Commission the effect on
you?
A

This has a very strong effect on me and this includes my brothers and sisters, especially
my married life, sir. And it also affected my children so much, that I and my wife ha[ve]
parted ways. It hurts to say that I and my wife parted ways. This is one reason that
affected us.

Will you please tell us specifically why you and your wife parted ways?

Because my wife wa[s] ashamed of what happened to my family and that she could not
face the people, our community, especially because my wife belongs to a well-known
family in our community.

How about the effect on your brothers and sisters? Please tell us what are those.

Well, sir, this has also affected the health of my elder sister because she knows so well
that my mother suffered so much and she kept on thinking about my mother.

xxx xxx

xxx

Why did your wife leave you?

The truth is because of the things that had happened in our family, Your Honor.

In your wifes family?

In our family, sir.

And what do you mean by that?

What I meant by that is my father had an illicit relationship and that my father went to the
extent of scolding my wife and calling my wife a puta in provincial government, which

my mother-in-law hated him so much for this, which really affected us. And then my wife
knew for a fact that my father has an illicit relationship with Gina Espita, whom he bore
two children by the name of Aurelle Dominic and Kyle Dominador, which I could prove
and I stand firm to this, Your Honor.lxxviii[55]

Although respondent piously claims adherence to the sanctity of marriage, his acts
prove otherwise. A husband is not merely a man who has contracted marriage. Rather,
he is a partner who has solemnly sworn to love and respect his wife and remain faithful
to her until death.
We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordovalxxix[56] The moral delinquency that
affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that
outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for
instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage.
In Toledo vs. Toledo,lxxx[57] the respondent was disbarred from the practice of law,
when he abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another woman who had borne
him a child.
Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan,lxxxi[58] the respondent was disbarred after the
complainant proved that he had abandoned her and maintained an adulterous
relationship with a married woman. This Court declared that respondent failed to
maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the bar.
In the present case, the complainant was able to establish, by clear and convincing
evidence, that respondent had breached the high and exacting moral standards set for
members of the law profession. As held in Maligsa vs. Cabanting,lxxxii[59] a lawyer may
be disbarred for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which
shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court.
WHEREFORE, Dominador M. Narag is hereby DISBARRED and his name is
ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Decision be in the
personal record of Respondent Narag; and furnished to all courts of the land, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Bar Confidant.
SO ORDERED.

EN BANC
A.C. No. 376

April 30, 1963

JOSEFINA ROYONG, complainant,


vs.
ATTY. ARISTON OBLENA, respondent.

BARRERA, J.:
In a verified complaint filed with this Court on January 14, 1959, complainant Josefina Royong
charged the respondent Ariston J. Oblena, a member of the Philippine Bar, with rape allegedly
committed on her person in the manner described therein. Upon requirement of this Court, the
respondent filed his answer denying all the allegations in the complaint and praying that he be not
disbarred. On February 3, 1959, this Court referred the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.
On July 10, 1961, the Solicitor General submitted his report on the case with the recommendation
that the respondent "be permanently removed from his office lawyer and his name be stricken from
the roll of attorneys". The pertinent part of the report reads as follows:
The complainant testified that after lunch on August 5, 1958, Cecilia Angeles, her foster
mother, left her alone in their house and went down to the pig sty to feed the pigs. At about
1:00 p.m., while she" (complainant) was ironing clothes on the second floor of the house the
respondent entered and read a newspaper at her back. Suddenly he covered her mouth with
one hand and with the other hand dragged her to one of the bedrooms of the house and
forced her to lie down on the floor. She did not shout for help because he threatened her and
her family with death. He next undressed as she lay on the floor, then had sexual intercourse
with her after he removed her panties and gave her hard blows on the thigh with his fist to
subdue her resistance. After the sexual intercourse, he warned her not to report him to her
foster parents, otherwise, he would kill her and all the members of her family. She resumed
ironing clothes after he left until 5:00 o'clock that afternoon when she joined her foster
mother on the first floor of the house. As a result of the sexual intercourse she became
pregnant and gave birth to a baby on June 2, 1959 (pp. 4-8, 21, 23, 26, 27, t.s.n., hearing of
Aug. 5, 1959).
She admitted that had she shouted for help she would have been heard by the neighbors
that she did not report the outrage to anyone because of the threat made by the respondent;
that she still frequented the respondent's house after August 5, 1959, sometimes when he
was alone, ran errands for him, cooked his coffee, and received his mail for him. Once, on
November 14, 1958, when respondent was sick of influenza, she was left alone with him in
his house while her aunt Briccia Angeles left for Manila to buy medicine (pp. 11, 14-18, 24,
t.s.n., hearing of August 5, 1959).
The respondent on the witness stand denied that he raped the complainant (p. 3, t.s.n.,
hearing of March 25 1960). He testified that after lunch on August 5, 1958, he went to the
Commission Of Civil Service to follow up his appointment as technical assistant in the office
of the mayor of Makati, Rizal, and read the record of the administrative case against
Buenaventura Perez (pp. 23, 24, 34, t.s.n., hearing of March 25, 1960, Exhs. 1 and 2).
The respondent, however, admitted that he had illicit relations with the complainant from
January, 1957 to December, 1958, when their clandestine affair was discovered by the
complainant's foster parents, but to avoid criminal liability for seduction, according to him, he
limited himself to kissing and embracing her and sucking her tongue before she completed

her eighteenth birthday. They had their first sexual intercourse on May 11, 1958, after she
had reached eighteen, and the second one week later, on May 18. The last intercourse took
place before Christmas in December, 1958. In all, they had sexual intercourse about fifty
times, mostly in her house and sometimes in his house whenever they had the opportunity.
He intended to marry her when she could legally contract marriage without her foster
parents' intervention, 'in case occasion will permit ... because we cannot ask permission to
marry, for her foster parents will object and even my common-law wife, will object.' After the
discovery of their relationship by the complainant's foster parents, he confessed the affair to
Briccia, explaining that he wanted to have a child, something she (Briccia) could not give
him. (pp. 14-16, 19-25, t.s.n., hearing of March 25, 1960).
xxx

xxx

xxx

FINDINGS AND COMMENT


There is no controversy that the respondent had carnal knowledge of the complainant. The
complainant claims she surrendered to him under circumstances of violence and
intimidation, but the undersigned are convinced that the sexual intercourse was performed
not once but repeatedly and with her consent. From her behaviour before and after the
alleged rape, she appears to have been more a sweetheart than of the victim of an outrage
involving her honor ....
But the foregoing observations notwithstanding, the undersigned cannot in conscience
recommend respondent's exoneration. The respondent tempted Briccia Angeles to live
maritally with him not long after she and her husband parted, and it is not improbable that the
spouses never reconciled because of him. His own evidence shows that, tiring of her after
more than fifteen years of adulterous relationship with her and on the convenient excuse that
she, Briccia Angeles, could not bear a child, he seduced Josefina Andalis, then 17 or 18
years of age, resulting in her pregnancy and the birth of a child, on June 2, 1959. The
seduction was accomplished with grave abuse of confidence and by means of promises of
marriage which he knew he could not fulfill without grievous injury to the woman who forsook
her husband so that he, respondent, could have all of her. He also took advantage of his
moral influence over her. From childhood, Josefina Andalis, treated him as an uncle and
called him 'tata' (uncle), undoubtedly because he is the paramour of a sister of her mother.
Considering her age (she was 17 or 18 years old then), it is not difficult to see why she could
not resist him.
The evidence further shows that on July 22, 1954, the respondent filed a sworn petition
dated May 22, 1954 alleging "that he is a person of good moral character" (Par. 3) and
praying that the Supreme Court permit him "to take the bar examinations to be given on the
first Saturday of August, 1954, or at any time as the Court may fix.."
But he was not then the person of good moral character he represented himself to be. From
1942 to the present, he has continuously lived an adulterous life with Briccia Angeles whose
husband is still alive, knowing that his concubine is a married woman and that her marriage
still subsists. This fact permanently disqualified him from taking the bar examinations, and

had it been known to the Supreme Court in 1954, he would not have been permitted to take
the bar examinations that year or thereafter, or to take his oath of office as a lawyer. As he
was then permanently disqualified from admission to the Philippine Bar by reason of his
adulterous relations with a married woman, it is submitted that the same misconduct should
be sufficient ground for his permanent disbarment, unless we recognize a double standard of
morality, one for membership to the Philippine Bar and another for disbarment from the office
of a lawyer.
xxx

xxx

xxx

RECOMMENDATION
Wherefore, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after due hearing, respondent
Ariston J. Oblena be permanently removed from his office as a lawyer and his name be
stricken from the roll of attorneys.
In view of his own findings as a result of his investigation, that even if respondent did not commit the
alleged rape nevertheless he was guilty of other misconduct, the Solicitor General formulated
another complaint which he appended to his report, charging the respondent of falsely and
deliberately alleging in his application for admission to the bar that he is a person of good moral
character; of living adulterously with Briccia Angeles at the same time maintaining illicit relations with
the complainant Josefina Royong, niece of Briccia, thus rendering him unworthy of public confidence
and unfit and unsafe to manage the legal business of others, and praying that this Court render
judgment ordering "the permanent removal of the respondent ... from his office as a lawyer and the
cancellation of his name from the roll of attorneys."
In his answer to this formal complaint, respondent alleged the special defense that "the complaint
does not merit action", since the causes of action in the said complaint are different and foreign from
the original cause of action for rape and that "the complaint lacks the necessary formalities called for
in Sec. 1, Rule 128 of the Rules of Court." Respondent prayed that after due notice and hearing for
additional evidence, the complaint be dismissed.
On September 13, 1961, this Court designated the Court Investigators to receive the additional
evidence. Accordingly the case was set for hearing of which the parties were duly notified. On
September 29, 1961, respondent asked leave to submit a memorandum which was granted, and on
October 9, 1961 the same was filed, alleging the following: 1) That the charge of rape has not been
proven; 2) That no act of seduction was committed by the respondent; 3) That no act of perjury or
fraudulent concealment was committed by the respondent when he filed his petition for admission to
the bar; and 4) That the respondent is not morally unfit to be a member of the bar.
Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and
approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove
their case not covered by this stipulation of facts.
1wph1.t

At the hearing on November 16, 1961, respondent presented his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles,
who testified as follows:

... Respondent is her common-law husband (t.s.n. 23). She first met respondent on
December 16, 1941 at Cavinti, Laguna (t.s.n. 23). She and her sister Cecilia AngelesRoyong were evacuated to Cavinti by the Red Cross (t.s.n. 23). She was already married (to
Teodoro Arines) at the time (t.s.n. 24). She and Arines are from Iriga, Camarines Sur (t.s.n.
24). Respondent and one Mr. Flores registered them (t.s.n. 24) as evacuees. When Mr.
Flores asked her about her status she told him she was 'single' (t.s.n. 25). She and her
sister, Cecilia, were then told to stay at respondent's house, respondent courted her (t.s.n.
26). Respondent asked her if she was married and she told him 'we will talk about that later
on' (t.s.n. 26). She told respondent she was married (to Arines) when she and respondent
were already living together as 'husband and wife', in 1942( t.s.n. 26). Respondent asked her
to marry him, when they were living as husband and wife (t.s.n. 27). Her sister Cecilia left
Cavinti 2 months after their arrival thereat, but she did not go with her because she and
respondent 'had already a good understanding'(sexual relations) [t.s.n. 27]. Later, she left
Cavinti and went to her hometown in Iriga, Camarines Sur, because respondent was already
reluctant to live with her and he told her it was better for her to go home to Iriga (t.s.n. 25).
Arriving at Iriga, she met her legitimate husband (Arines), who told her he had already a wife,
named Conching Guevara (t.s.n. 28-29). She then went back to Cavinti (in 1943), with her
father, and lived with respondent (t.s.n. 29). Respondent eventually agreed that she live with
him (t.s.n. 35); in fact, she is still presently living with respondent (t.s.n. 35) [Report of Court
Investigators, March 6, 1962, pp. 5-6]."
Thereafter, respondent requested permission to submit an affidavit at a later date, which request
was also granted. The affidavit was filed on December 16, 1961, the respondent averring, among
others, the following:.
... That he never committed any act or crime of seduction against the complainant, because
the latter was born on February 19, 1940, and his first sexual intercourse with her took place
on May 11, 1958, when she was already above 18 years of age; that he had been living with
his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, for almost 20 years, but from the time he began
courting her, he 'had no intention to alienate' her love for her husband, Arines, or to commit
the crime of adultery; that he courted Briccia on October 16, 1941, and was shortly thereafter
accepted by her; that on February 21, 1942, he found Briccia alone in his house, who told
him that her sister, Cecilia, had gone to Pagsanjan with the other evacuees; that from said
date (February 21), to the present, he and Briccia had been living together as common-law
husband and wife; that 2 or 3 weeks thereafter, he asked Briccia to marry him, but she
confessed she was already married, and maybe her husband (Arines) was still living in Iriga;
that he could not then drive Briccia away, because she was a stranger in the place, nor could
he urge her to join her sister Cecilia, as the latter had left Pagsanjan; that in 1943 she told
Briccia to separate from him and to return to Iriga, and urged her never to see him again;
that contrary to his expectations, Briccia returned to Cavinti 3 months thereafter; that Briccia
strongly insisted to live with him again, telling him that she cannot separate from him
anymore, as he was ashamed; that Briccia's father told him that Briccia's husband (Arines)
had agreed not to molest them as in fact he (Arines) was already living with another woman;
that he had 'no choice but to live with her' (Briccia) again; that when he filed his petition to
take the bar examinations in 1954, he 'did not have the slightest intention to hide' from this
Court the fact of his 'open cohabitation with a married woman' (Briccia Angeles); that he did

not state said fact in his petition, because he did not see in the form of the petition being
used in 1954 that the fact must be stated; and that since his birth, he thought and believed
he was a man of good moral character, and it was only from the Solicitor General that he first
learned he was not so; and that he did not commit perjury or fraudulent concealment when
he filed his petition to take the bar examinations in 1954." (Report of the Court Investigators,
pp. 6-8, March 6, 1962).
After hearing, the investigators submitted a report with the finding that: 1) Respondent used his
knowledge of the law to take advantage by having illicit relations with complainant, knowing as he
did, that by committing immoral acts on her, he was free from any criminal liability; and 2)
Respondent committed gross immorality by continuously cohabiting with a married woman even
after he became a lawyer in 1955 to the present; and 3) That respondent falsified the truth as to his
moral character in his petition to take the 1954 bar examinations, being then immorally (adulterously)
in cohabitation with his common-law wife, Briccia Angeles, a married woman. The investigators also
recommended that the respondent be disbarred or alternatively, be suspended from the practice of
law for a period of one year.
Upon the submission of this report, a copy of which was served on respondent, through his counsel
of record, the case was set for hearing before the Court on April 30, 1962. Respondent asked leave
to file his memorandum in lieu of oral argument. This was granted and the corresponding
memorandum was duly filed.
It is an admitted and uncontroverted fact that the respondent had sexual relations with the
complainant several times, and as a consequence she bore him a child on June 2, 1959; and that he
likewise continuously cohabited with Briccia Angeles, in an adulterous manner, from 1942 up to the
present.
The main point in issue is thus limited illicit relations with the complainant Josefina Royong the and
the open cohabitation with Briccia Angeles, a married woman, are sufficient grounds to cause the
respondent's disbarment.
It is argued by the respondent that he is not liable for disbarment notwithstanding his illicit relations
with the complainant and his open cohabitation with Briccia Angeles, a married woman, because he
has not been convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude. It is true that the respondent has not
been convicted of rape, seduction, or adultery on this count, and that the grounds upon which the
disbarment proceedings is based are not among those enumerated by Section 25, Rule 127 of the
Rules of Court for which a lawyer may be disbarred. But it has already been held that this
enumeration is not exclusive and that the power of the courts to exclude unfit and unworthy
members of the profession is inherent; it is a necessary incident to the proper administration of
justice; it may be exercised without any special statutory authority, and in all proper cases unless
positively prohibited by statute; and the power may be exercised in any manner that will give the
party be disbarred a fair trial and a fair opportunity to be heard. (1 Francisco, Rules of Court [1958
ed.] 698, citing In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567). Although it is a well settled rule that the legislature (or the
Supreme Court by virtue of its rule-making power) may provide that certain acts or conduct shall
require disbarment, the accepted doctrine is that statutes and rules merely regulate the power to
disbar instead of creating it, and that such statutes (or rules) do not restrict the general powers of the

court over attorneys, who are its officers, and that they may be removed for other than statutory
grounds (7 C.J.S. 734). In the United States, where from our system of legal ethics is derived, "the
continued possession of a fair private and professional character or a good moral character is a
requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the practice of law for one who has been admitted,
and its loss requires suspension or disbarment even though the statutes do not specify that as a
ground of disbarment". The moral turpitude for which an attorney may be disbarred may consist of
misconduct in either his professional or non-professional activities (5 Am. Jur. 417). The tendency of
the decisions of this Court has been toward the conclusion that a member of the bar may be
removed or suspended from office as a lawyer for other than statutory grounds. Indeed, the rule is
so phrased as to be broad enough to cover practically any misconduct of a lawyer (In Re Pelaez, 44
Phil. 567). In the case at bar, the moral depravity of the respondent is most apparent. His pretension
that before complainant completed her eighteenth birthday, he refrained from having sexual
intercourse with her, so as not to incur criminal liability, as he himself declared and that he limited
himself merely to kissing and embracing her and sucking her tongue, indicates a scheming mind,
which together with his knowledge of the law, he took advantage of, for his lurid purpose.
Moreover, his act becomes more despicable considering that the complainant was the niece of his
common-law wife and that he enjoyed a moral ascendancy over her who looked up to him as her
uncle. As the Solicitor General observed: "He also took advantage of his moral influence over her.
From childhood, Josefina Andalis (Royong), treated him as an uncle and called him 'tata' (uncle),
undoubtedly because he is the paramour of a sister of her mother. Considering her age (she was 17
or 18 years old then), her inexperience and his moral ascendency over her, it is not difficult to see
why she could not resist him." Furthermore, the blunt admission of his illicit relations with the
complainant reveals the respondent to be a person who would suffer no moral compunction for his
acts if the same could be done without fear of criminal liability. He has, by these acts, proven himself
to be devoid of the moral integrity expected of a member of the bar.
The respondent's misconduct, although unrelated to his office, may constitute sufficient grounds for
disbarment. This is a principle we have followed since the ruling in In Re Pelaez, 44 Phil. 567, where
this Court quoted with approval the following portion of the decision of the Supreme Court of Kansas
in the case of Peyton's Appeal (12 Kan. 398, 404), to wit:.
The nature of the office, the trust relation which exists between attorney and client, as well as
between court and attorney, and the statutory rule prescribing the qualifications of attorneys,
uniformly require that an attorney be a person of good moral character. If that qualification is
a condition precedent to a license or privilege to enter upon the practice of the law, it would
seem to be equally essential during the continuance of the practice and the exercise of the
privilege. So it is held that an attorney will be removed not only for malpractice and
dishonesty in his profession, but also for gross misconduct not connected with his
professional duties, which shows him to be unfit for the office and unworthy of the privileges
which his license and the law confer upon him. (Emphasis supplied).
Respondent's conduct though unrelated to his office and in no way directly bearing on his
profession, has nevertheless rendered him unfit and unworthy of the privileges of a lawyer. We
cannot give sanction to his acts. For us to do so would be as the Solicitor General puts it
recognizing "a double standard of morality, one for membership to the Philippine Bar, and another for

disbarment from the office of the lawyer." If we concede that respondent's adulterous relations and
his simultaneous seduction of his paramour's niece did not and do not disqualify him from continuing
with his office of lawyer, this Court would in effect be requiring moral integrity as an essential
prerequisite for admission to the bar, only to later on tolerate and close its eyes to the moral
depravity and character degeneration of the members of the bar.
The decisions relied upon by the respondent in justifying his stand that even if he admittedly
committed fornication, this is no ground for disbarment, are not controlling. Fornication, if committed
under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as have proven in this case, as to shock common
sense of decency, certainly may justify positive action by the Court in protecting the prestige of the
noble profession of the law. The reasons advanced by the respondent why he continued his
adulterous relations with Briccia Angeles, in that she helped him in some way finish his law studies,
and that his "sense of propriety and Christian charity" did not allow him to abandon her after his
admission to the bar after almost 13 years of cohabitation, are hardly an excuse for his moral
dereliction. The means he employed, as he stated, in order to extricate himself from the predicament
he found himself in, by courting the complainant and maintaining sexual relations with her makes his
conduct more revolting. An immoral act cannot justify another immoral act. The noblest means he
could have employed was to have married the complainant as he was then free to do so. But to
continue maintaining adulterous relations with a married woman and simultaneously maintaining
promiscuous relations with the latter's niece is moral perversion that can not be condoned.
Respondent's conduct therefore renders him unfit and unworthy for the privileges of the legal
profession. As good character is an essential qualification for admission of an attorney to practice,
he may be removed therefrom whenever he ceases to possess such character (7 C.J.S. 735).
The respondent further maintains that the Solicitor General exceeded his authority in filing the
present complaint against him for seduction, adultery and perjury, as it charges an offense or
offenses different from those originally charged in the complaint of January 14, 1959 for rape, and
cites as authority Sections 4 and 5 of Rule 128 of the Rules of Court, which state:.
SEC. 4. Report of the Solicitor General. Based upon the evidence adduced at the hearing,
if the Solicitor General finds no sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall
submit a report to the Supreme Court containing his findings of fact and conclusion,
whereupon the respondent shall be exonerated unless the court orders differently.
SEC. 5. Complaint of the Solicitor General. Answer of the respondent. If the Solicitor
General finds sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the
corresponding complaint, accompanied with all the evidence introduced in his investigation,
with the Supreme Court, and the respondent shall be served by the clerk of the Supreme
Court with a copy of the complaint with direction to answer the same within fifteen days.
The contention is devoid of merit. Nothing in the language of the foregoing rules requires the
Solicitor General to charge in his complaint the same offense charged in the complaint originally filed
by the complainant for disbarment. Precisely, the law provides that should the Solicitor General find
sufficient grounds to proceed against the respondent, he shall file the corresponding complaint,
accompanied by the evidence introduced in his investigation. The Solicitor General therefore is at

liberty to file any case against the respondent he may be justified by the evidence adduced during
the investigation..
The respondent also maintains that he did not falsify his petition to take the bar examinations in
1954 since according to his own opinion and estimation of himself at that time, he was a person of
good moral character. This contention is clearly erroneous. One's own approximation of himself is
not a gauge to his moral character. Moral character is not a subjective term, but one which
corresponds to objective reality. Moral character is what a person really is, and not what he or other
people think he is. As former Chief Justice Moran observed: An applicant for license to practice law
is required to show good moral character, or what he really is, as distinguished from good reputation,
or from the opinion generally entertained of him, the estimate in which he is held by the public in the
place where he is known. As has been said, ante the standard of personal and professional integrity
which should be applied to persons admitted to practice law is not satisfied by such conduct as
merely enables them to escape the penalties of criminal law. Good moral character includes at least
common honesty (3 Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, [1957 ed.] 626, citing In Re Weinstein,
42 P. [2d] 744 B.L.D., Cooper v. Greeley. 1 Den. [N.Y.] 3447; In Re Del Rosario, 52 Phil. 399; and
People v. Macauley, 82 N.E. 612). Respondent, therefore, did not possess a good moral character at
the time he applied for admission to the bar. He lived an adulterous life with Briccia Angeles, and the
fact that people who knew him seemed to have acquiesced to his status, did not render him a
person of good moral character. It is of no moment that his immoral state was discovered then or
now as he is clearly not fit to remain a member of the bar.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby entered striking the name of herein respondent, Ariston J.
Oblena, from the roll of attorneys.

[A.C. No. 6486. September 22, 2004]

EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISPIN G. DANTES,


respondent.
DECISION
PER CURIAM:

Despite variations in the specific standards and provisions, one requirement


remains constant in all the jurisdictions where the practice of law is regulated: the
candidate must demonstrate that he or she has good moral character, and once he
becomes a lawyer he should always behave in accordance with the standard. In this

jurisdiction too, good moral character is not only a condition precedent 87 to the practice
of law, but an unending requirement for all the members of the bar. Hence, when a
lawyer is found guilty of grossly immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. 88
[1]

[2]

In an Affidavit-Complaint89 dated June 6, 2001, filed with the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), Emma T. Dantes, sought the disbarment of her husband, Atty. Crispin
G. Dantes on the ground of immorality, abandonment, and violation of professional
ethics and law. The case was docketed as CBD Case No. 01-851.
[3]

Complainant alleged that respondent is a philanderer. Respondent purportedly


engaged in illicit relationships with two women, one after the other, and had illegitimate
children with them. From the time respondents illicit affairs started, he failed to give
regular support to complainant and their children, thus forcing complainant to work
abroad to provide for their childrens needs. Complainant pointed out that these acts of
respondent constitute a violation of his lawyers oath and his moral and legal obligation
to be a role model to the community.
On July 4, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an Order90 requiring
respondent to submit his answer to the Affidavit-Complaint.
[4]

Respondent submitted his Answer91 on November 19, 2001. Though admitting the
fact of marriage with the complainant and the birth of their children, respondent alleged
that they have mutually agreed to separate eighteen (18) years before after complainant
had abandoned him in their Balintawak residence and fled to San Fernando,
Pampanga. Respondent claimed that when complainant returned after eighteen years,
she insisted that she be accommodated in the place where he and their children were
residing. Thus, he was forced to live alone in a rented apartment.
[5]

Respondent further alleged that he sent their children to the best school he could
afford and provided for their needs. He even bought two lots in Pampanga for his sons,
Dandelo and Dante, and gave complainant adequate financial support even after she
had abandoned him in 1983.
Respondent asserted that complainant filed this case in order to force him to remit
seventy percent (70%) of his monthly salary to her.
Subsequently, the IBP conducted its investigation and hearings on the complaint.
87
88
89
90
91

Complainant presented her evidence, both oral and documentary, 92 to support the
allegations in her Affidavit-Complaint.
[6]

From the evidence presented by the complainant, it was established that on


January 19, 1979, complainant and respondent were married 93 and lived with the
latters mother in Balintawak. At that time, respondent was just a fourth year law
student. To make ends meet, complainant engaged in the buy and sell business and
relied on dole-outs from the respondents mother.
[7]

Three children were born to the couple, namely, Dandelo, Dante and Daisy, who
were born on February 20, 1980, 94 October 14, 198195 and August 11, 1983,96
respectively. Complainant narrated that their relationship was marred by frequent
quarrels because of respondents extra-marital affairs. 97 Sometime in 1983, she
brought their children to her mother in Pampanga to enable her to work because
respondent had failed to provide adequate support. From 1986 to 2001, complainant
worked abroad as a domestic helper.
[8]

[9]

[10]

[11]

Denying that there was a mutual agreement between her and respondent to live
separately, complainant asseverated that she was just compelled to work abroad to
support their children. When she returned to the Philippines, she learned that
respondent was living with another woman. Respondent, then bluntly told her, that he
did not want to live with her anymore and that he preferred his mistresses.
Complainant presented documentary evidence consisting of the birth certificates of
Ray Darwin, Darling, and Christian Dave, 98 all surnamed Dantes, and the affidavits of
respondent and his paramour 99 to prove the fact that respondent sired three
illegitimate children out of his illicit affairs with two different women. Letters of
complainants legitimate children likewise support the allegation that respondent is a
[12]

[13]

92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99

womanizer.100

[14]

In an Order dated April 17, 2002, respondent was deemed to have waived his right
to cross-examine complainant, after he failed to appear during the scheduled hearings
despite due notice.
He, however, submitted his Comment/Opposition to the
Complainants Formal Offer of Evidence with Motion to Exclude the Evidence from the
Records of the Proceedings101 on August 1, 2002.
[15]

Subsequently, on May 29, 2003, respondent submitted a Motion to Adopt


Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. Respondents motion was denied because it
was filed after the complainant had already presented her evidence. 102 Respondent
was given a final chance to present his evidence on July 11, 2003. Instead of
presenting evidence, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to
Dismiss, which was likewise denied for being a prohibited pleading under the Rules of
Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline. Respondent submitted his Position
Paper on August 4, 2003.
[16]

In respondents Position Paper,103 he reiterated the allegations in his Answer


except that this time, he argued that in view of the resolution of the complaint for
support with alimony pendente lite104 filed against him by the complainant before the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City,105 the instant administrative case should be
dismissed for lack of merit.
[17]

[18]

[19]

On July 7, 2004, the IBP submitted to us through the Office of the Bar Confidant its
Report106 and Resolution No. XVI-2004-230 involving CBD Case No. 01-851. 107 The
IBP recommended that the respondent be suspended indefinitely from the practice of
law.
[20]

Except for the penalty, we find the above recommendation well-taken.


100
101
102
103
104
105
106
107

[21]

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:


Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
profession, and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

The Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful,


dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Immoral conduct has been defined as that
conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show indifference to the opinion
of good and respectable members of the community.108 To be the basis of disciplinary
action, the lawyers conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. That is, it
must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be
reprehensible to a high degree 109 or committed under such scandalous or revolting
circumstances as to shock the common sense of decency.110
[22]

[23]

[24]

In Barrientos vs. Daarol,111 we ruled that as officers of the court, lawyers must not
only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral
character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only
required to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping mistresses but must also so
behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable
profession and attain its basic ideals, those enrolled in its ranks should not only master
its tenets and principles but should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them.
The requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the
general public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning.
[25]

It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has three
ostensible purposes, namely: (i) to protect the public; (ii) to protect the public image of
lawyers; and (iii) to protect prospective clients. A writer added a fourth: to protect errant
lawyers from themselves.112
[26]

108
109
110
111
112

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to
the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in
this exclusive and honored fraternity.113 They may be suspended from the practice of
law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long
as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. 114
[27]

[28]

Undoubtedly, respondents acts of engaging in illicit relationships with two different


women during the subsistence of his marriage to the complainant constitutes grossly
immoral conduct warranting the imposition appropriate sanctions. Complainants
testimony, taken in conjunction with the documentary evidence, sufficiently established
respondents commission of marital infidelity and immorality. Evidently, respondent had
breached the high and exacting moral standards set for members of the law profession.
He has made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution demanding respect
and dignity.115
[29]

In Toledo vs. Toledo,116 we disbarred respondent for abandoning his lawful wife
and cohabiting with another woman who had borne him a child. Likewise, in Obusan
vs. Obusan,117 we ruled that abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal relations with
a paramour fall within that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which
shows moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the
community.
[30]

[31]

We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova,118 that moral delinquency which
affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such, includes conduct that
outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community as exemplified by
behavior which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage.
[32]

The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in a clear case
of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an
officer of the Court and as a member of the bar.119 Where a lesser penalty, such as
temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should never be
[33]

113
114
115
116
117
118
119

decreed.120 However, in the present case, the seriousness of the offense compels the
Court to wield its power to disbar as it appears to be the most appropriate penalty.
[34]

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing Atty. Crispin G. Dantes is hereby


DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a
copy of this Decision be entered in the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and
notice of the same be served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office
of the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
SO ORDERED.

120

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