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Deans

Circle 2016
University of Santo Tomas
Digested by: DC 2016 Members
Editors:
Tricia Lacuesta
Lorenzo Gayya
Cristopher Reyes
Macky Siazon
Janine Arenas
Ninna Bonsol
Lloyd Javier

LEGAL
ETHICS
Supreme Court decisions penned by Associate Justice
Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.

Legal and Judicial Ethics (Cases Penned by J. Deans Circle


Velasco) 2016

Table of Contents
Legal Ethics .......................................................................................................................................................................... 1
Duties and Responsibilities of a Lawyer ......................................................................................................... 1
To Society ................................................................................................................................................................... 1
To the Legal Profession ....................................................................................................................................... 5
To the Courts ............................................................................................................................................................ 6
To the Clients ..........................................................................................................................................................11
Notarial Practice ........................................................................................................................................................14
Judicial Ethics ...................................................................................................................................................................16
Discipline of the Members of the Judiciary ..................................................................................................16
Disqualification of Judges and Justices ...........................................................................................................22
Powers and Duties of Courts and Judicial Officers ...................................................................................25
Court Records and General Duties of Clerks and Stenographers .....................................................26
Retirement of Members of the Judiciary .......................................................................................................27

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LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS
Duties and responsibilities of a lawyer
To society
CORAZON T. NEVADA v. ATTY. RODOLFO D. CASUGA
A.C. No. 7591, March 20, 2012, Velasco, Jr., J.
There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or definite rule of
action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or persistent violation
of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules.
Facts:
Atty. Rodolfo represented himself as an administrator of Mt. Crest Hotel before a certain
Jung Jong Chul, for purposes of leasing an office space at the hotel. A lease contract was entered
between Atty. Rodolfo and Jung without the knowledge of Corazon, the principal stockholder of the
family corporation which owns Mt. Crest Hotel. Notably, Atty. Rodolfo signed over the printed name
of one of the principal stockholders and even notarized the document himself. Atty. Rodolfo also
received the sum of P90,000.00 as rental deposit.
In the course of their dealings, Corazon also delivered jewelries worth P300,000.00 and a
Rolex watch worth P12,000.00 to Atty. Rodolfo for purposes of selling them. Despite repeated
demands, Atty. Rodolfo failed to deliver either the proceeds of the sale or the items themselves.
The IBP-CBD and the IBP Board of Governors found Atty. Rodolfo guilty of gross misconduct,
violation of the notarial law, and misappropriation of funds and property of the client.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Rodolfo is guilty of (1) gross misconduct, (2) violation of the notarial
law, and (3) misappropriation.
Ruling:
(1) YES. There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or
definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or
persistent violation of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules. Here, Atty. Rodolfo took
advantage of his apparent close relationship with Corazon by misrepresenting himself to be
authorized to enter into a contract of lease, and even receiving the benefits of the said contract. Atty.
Rodolfos acts therefore constitute gross misconduct.
(2) YES. The notarial law disqualifies a notary public from performing a notarial act if he or
she is a party to the instrument or document that is to be notarized. In this case, Atty. Rodolfo
became a party to the contract of lease when he affixed his signature above the printed name of one
of the principal stockholders without any qualification. When he notarized the same contract, he
went against the function of a Notary Public to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement.
(3) YES. Rule 16.03 of the CPR demands that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
properties of his client that may come into his possession. Having been tasked to sell such valuables,

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Atty. Rodolfo was duty-bound to return them upon demand. Sure enough, the absence of a lawyerclient relationship between Atty. Casuga and Corazon does not exonerate the former. Both the CPR
and case law penalize not only malpractice and dishonesty in the profession, but also gross
misconduct not connected with the professional duties of the lawyer.

VICTORIA C. HEENAN v. ATTY. ERLINA ESPEJO


A.C. NO. 10050, December 3, 2013, Velasco, Jr., J.
A lawyer may be disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his profession but also
for gross misconduct outside of his professional capacity.
Facts:
Respondent borrowed from petitioner two hundred fifty thousand pesos (PhP 250,000) to
secure the payment of the loan. Atty. Espejo (respondent) simultaneously issued and turned over to
Victoria a check dated February 2, 2009 for two hundred seventy-five thousand pesos (PhP 275,000)
covering the loan amount and agreed interest. On due date, the check was dishonoured. When
respondent still refused to pay, petitioner filed a criminal complaint against her for violation of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22 and Estafa. However, respondent disregarded the notices and subpoenas issued by
the Quezon City Prosecutors Office which she personally received and continued to ignore
petitioners demands. Petitioner thereafter filed the instant administrative case against respondent
before the CBD.
Issue:
Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to
the courts and to their clients. The fact that Atty. Espejo obtained the loan and issued the worthless
checks in her private capacity and not as an attorney of Victoria is of no moment. As the Court has
held in several cases, a lawyer may be disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his
profession but also for gross misconduct outside of his professional capacity. While the Court may
not ordinarily discipline a lawyer for misconduct committed in his non-professional or private
capacity, the Court may be justified in suspending or removing him as an attorney where his
misconduct outside of the lawyers professional dealings is so gross in character as to show him
morally unfit and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer.
Further, the misconduct of Atty. Espejo is aggravated by her unjustified refusal to obey the
orders of the IBP directing her to file an answer to the complaint of Victoria and to appear at the
scheduled mandatory conference. This constitutes blatant disrespect for the IBP which amounts to
conduct unbecoming a lawyer.
Undoubtedly, Atty. Espejos issuance of worthless checks and her blatant refusal to heed the
directives of the Quezon City Prosecutors Office and the IBP contravene Canon 1, Rule 1.01; Canon 7,
Rule 7.03; and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

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SPS. AMADOR and ROSITA TEJADA v. ATTY. ANTONIUTTI K. PALAA
A.C. No. 7434, August 23, 2007, Velasco, Jr., J
The nature of the office of a lawyer requires that s/he shall be of good moral character. This
qualification is not only a condition precedent to the admission to the legal profession, but its continued
possession is essential to maintain ones good standing in the profession.
Facts:
A disbarment case was initiated by petitioners-spouses Tejada before the IBP against Atty.
Antoniutti K. Palaa for his continued refusal to settle his long overdue loan obligation. It was alleged
that Atty. Palaa borrowed money from the petitioners in the amount of P100,000 so that he may have
the Torrens title of a parcel of land owned by him reconstituted. The parties executed a written
agreement stipulating that after Atty. Palaa has already reconstituted such Torrens title, he will
deliver the same to the petitioners as security for the amount financed and that he will pay P70,000
by way of interest on top of the P100,000 borrowed by him. Atty. Palaa assured the petitioners that
he will comply with his obligations within 3 months from the execution of said written agreement.
However, he failed to fulfill the same. Legal demands had already been made to Atty. Palaa but to no
avail. Moreover, he failed to participate in the proceedings before the Commission on Bar Discipline
of the IBP despite notice. Hence, the IBP Board of Governors recommended that he be suspended
from the practice of law for 3 months.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Palaa is guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.
Ruling:
YES. The Court found that the complainants could not have been defrauded without the
representations of respondent. He knew that his representations were false since the filing fee for a
petition for reconstitution in 2001 was only P3,145, and other expenses including the publication of
the filing of the petition could not have cost more than P20,000. It is clear that he employed deceit in
convincing complainants to part with their hard earned money and the latter could not have been
easily swayed to lend the money were it not for his misrepresentations and failed promises as a
member of the bar. He also failed to pay his just and legal obligation.
His disobedience to the directives of the IBP in failing to participate in the proceedings
before it is in reality a gross and blatant disrespect to the Court. Failing in this duty as a member of
the bar which is being supervised by the Court under the Constitution, the SC found that a heavier
sanction should fall on respondent. Thus, penalty is increased to 6 months suspension from the
practice of law.

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To the legal profession
a.) Upholding the dignity and integrity of the profession
VICTORIA C. HEENAN v. ATTY. ERLINA ESPEJO
A.C. NO. 10050, December 3, 2013, Velasco, Jr., J.
A lawyer may be disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his profession but also
for gross misconduct outside of his professional capacity.
Facts:
Respondent borrowed from petitioner two hundred fifty thousand pesos (PhP 250,000) to
secure the payment of the loan. Atty. Espejo (respondent) simultaneously issued and turned over to
Victoria a check dated February 2, 2009 for two hundred seventy-five thousand pesos (PhP 275,000)
covering the loan amount and agreed interest. On due date, the check was dishonoured. When
respondent still refused to pay, petitioner filed a criminal complaint against her for violation of Batas
Pambansa Blg. 22 and Estafa. However, respondent disregarded the notices and subpoenas issued by
the Quezon City Prosecutors Office which she personally received and continued to ignore
petitioners demands. Petitioner thereafter filed the instant administrative case against respondent
before the CBD.
Issue:
Whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. Verily, lawyers must at all times faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to
the courts and to their clients. The fact that Atty. Espejo obtained the loan and issued the worthless
checks in her private capacity and not as an attorney of Victoria is of no moment. As the Court has
held in several cases, a lawyer may be disciplined not only for malpractice and dishonesty in his
profession but also for gross misconduct outside of his professional capacity. While the Court may
not ordinarily discipline a lawyer for misconduct committed in his non-professional or private
capacity, the Court may be justified in suspending or removing him as an attorney where his
misconduct outside of the lawyers professional dealings is so gross in character as to show him
morally unfit and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer.
Further, the misconduct of Atty. Espejo is aggravated by her unjustified refusal to obey the
orders of the IBP directing her to file an answer to the complaint of Victoria and to appear at the
scheduled mandatory conference. This constitutes blatant disrespect for the IBP which amounts to
conduct unbecoming a lawyer.
Undoubtedly, Atty. Espejos issuance of worthless checks and her blatant refusal to heed the
directives of the Quezon City Prosecutors Office and the IBP contravene Canon 1, Rule 1.01; Canon 7,
Rule 7.03; and Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

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b.) Courtesy, fairness and candor towards professional colleagues
ANTERO J. POBRE v. SEN. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO
A.C. No. 7399, August 25, 2009, Velasco, Jr., J.
Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound
to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court and to maintain the respect due its members.
Facts:
In a complaint filed by Antero J. Pobre, he alleged that the speech delivered by Senator
Miriam Defensor-Santiago on the Senate floor reflected total disrespect towards then Chief Justice
Artemio Panganiban and the other members of the Court and constituted direct contempt of court. As
such, Pobre asks that disbarment proceedings or other disciplinary actions be taken against the lady
senator. For her part, Senator Santiago averred that those statements were covered by the
constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity as the statement is aimed to expose an unjust
act of the JBC which calls for future remedial legislation.
Issue:
1.
2.

Whether or not the privilege speech delivered by Senator Santiago is actionable.


Whether or not Senator Santiago violated the provision of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

Ruling:
1.

NO. Senator Santiagos privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary


proceeding under the Rules of Court.

2.

YES. The lady senator clearly violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and
officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this
Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of
public faith and are burdened with the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher
than their brethren in private practice. Senator Santiago should have known, as any
perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the
integrity of the courts.

To the courts
a) Candor, fairness and good faith towards the courts
ANTONIO CONLU v. ATTY. IRENEO AREDONIA, JR.
A.C. No. 4955, September 12, 2011, Velasco, Jr., J.
The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights of the client in a state of
uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal constitutes inexcusable
negligence.
Facts:

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Conlu was the defendant in a civil case for quieting of title and recovery of a parcel of land
before the RTC of Silay, Negros Occidental. He hired Atty. Aredonia, Jr. to represent him in the case.
The RTC rendered judgment adverse to Conlu. Therefrom, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. appealed to the CA, the
recourse being docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. The CA, per its resolution, eventually dismissed
the appeal for non-filing of the appellants brief within the reglementary period. Antonio only got
wind of the dismissal from his wife who verified the status of the case when she happened to be in
Manila.
When confronted about the dismissal, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. promised to seek reconsideration,
which he did, but which the CA later denied for belated filing of the motion. In that motion, Atty.
Aredonia, Jr. averred that he only received the disputed February 10, 1997 CA resolution on April 25,
1997, adding in this regard that the person in the law office who initially received the copy of the
resolution was not authorized. Conlu got the records of the case back and personally filed another
motion for reconsideration on October 13, 1997, which the CA again denied. Conlus petition for
certiorari before the SC was also dismissed.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Aredonia, Jr. should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. It must be remembered that a retained counsel is expected to serve the client with
competence and diligence. This duty includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the
counsels care and giving the client sound legal advice, but also properly representing the client in
court, attending scheduled hearings, preparing and filing required pleadings, prosecuting the
handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the client
or the court to prod him or her to do so. The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights
of the client in a state of uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal
constitutes inexcusable negligence. This default translates to a violation of the injunction of Canon
18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
As if his lack of candor in his professional relationship with Conlu was not abhorrent enough,
Atty. Aredonia, Jr. tried to mislead the appellate court about the receipt of a copy of its February 10,
1997 Resolution dismissing the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. He denied personally receiving such
copy, but the CA found and declared that he himself received said copy. The CA arrived at this
conclusion thru the process of comparing Atty. Aredonia, Jr.s signature appearing in the pleadings
with that in the registry return card. Both signatures belong to one and the same person. Needless to
stress, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. had under the premises indulged in deliberate falsehood, contrary to the
self-explanatory prescriptions of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01.
The Court cannot write finis to this case without delving into and addressing Atty. Aredonia,
Jr.s defiant stance against the Court as demonstrated by his repetitive disregard of its resolution to
file his comment on the basic complaint. After requesting and securing no less than three (3)
extensions of time to file his comment, he simply closed, so to speak, communication lines. And when
ordered to give an explanation through a show-cause directive for not complying, he asked for and
was granted a 30-day extension but the required comment never came. When the Court eventually
directed the NBI to arrest him, he just left his last known address and could not be located.
Manifestly, he has fallen short of the diligence required of every member of the Bar. The pertinent
Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility which he also violated is Canon 12.

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b) Respect for courts and judicial officers
ANTERO J. POBRE v. SEN. MIRIAM DEFENSOR-SANTIAGO
A.C. No. 7399, August 25, 2009, Velasco, Jr., J.
Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound
to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court and to maintain the respect due its members.
Facts:
In a complaint filed by Antero J. Pobre, he alleged that the speech delivered by Senator
Miriam Defensor-Santiago on the Senate floor reflected total disrespect towards then Chief Justice
Artemio Panganiban and the other members of the Court and constituted direct contempt of court. As
such, Pobre asks that disbarment proceedings or other disciplinary actions be taken against the lady
senator. For her part, Senator Santiago averred that those statements were covered by the
constitutional provision on parliamentary immunity as the statement is aimed to expose an unjust
act of the JBC which calls for future remedial legislation.
Issue:
1.
2.

Whether or not the privilege speech delivered by Senator Santiago is actionable.


Whether or not Senator Santiago violated the provision of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

Ruling:
1.

NO. Senator Santiagos privilege speech is not actionable criminally or in a disciplinary


proceeding under the Rules of Court.

2.

YES. The lady senator clearly violated Canon 8, Rule 8.01 and Canon 11 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Needless to stress, Senator Santiago, as a member of the Bar and
officer of the court, like any other, is duty-bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this
Court and to maintain the respect due its members. Lawyers in public service are keepers of
public faith and are burdened with the higher degree of social responsibility, perhaps higher
than their brethren in private practice. Senator Santiago should have known, as any
perceptive individual, the impact her statements would make on the peoples faith in the
integrity of the courts.

c) Assistance in the speedy and efficient administration of justice


ANTONIO CONLU v. ATTY. IRENEO AREDONIA, JR.
A.C. No. 4955, September 12, 2011, Velasco, Jr., J.
The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights of the client in a state of
uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal constitutes inexcusable
negligence.
Facts:
Conlu was the defendant in a civil case for quieting of title and recovery of a parcel of land
before the RTC of Silay, Negros Occidental. He hired Atty. Aredonia, Jr. to represent him in the case.
The RTC rendered judgment adverse to Conlu. Therefrom, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. appealed to the CA, the

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recourse being docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. The CA, per its resolution, eventually dismissed
the appeal for non-filing of the appellants brief within the reglementary period. Antonio only got
wind of the dismissal from his wife who verified the status of the case when she happened to be in
Manila.
When confronted about the dismissal, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. promised to seek reconsideration,
which he did, but which the CA later denied for belated filing of the motion. In that motion, Atty.
Aredonia, Jr. averred that he only received the disputed February 10, 1997 CA resolution on April 25,
1997, adding in this regard that the person in the law office who initially received the copy of the
resolution was not authorized. Conlu got the records of the case back and personally filed another
motion for reconsideration on October 13, 1997, which the CA again denied. Conlus petition for
certiorari before the SC was also dismissed.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Aredonia, Jr. should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. It must be remembered that a retained counsel is expected to serve the client with
competence and diligence. This duty includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the
counsels care and giving the client sound legal advice, but also properly representing the client in
court, attending scheduled hearings, preparing and filing required pleadings, prosecuting the
handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the client
or the court to prod him or her to do so. The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights
of the client in a state of uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal
constitutes inexcusable negligence. This default translates to a violation of the injunction of Canon
18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
As if his lack of candor in his professional relationship with Conlu was not abhorrent enough,
Atty. Aredonia, Jr. tried to mislead the appellate court about the receipt of a copy of its February 10,
1997 Resolution dismissing the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. He denied personally receiving such
copy, but the CA found and declared that he himself received said copy. The CA arrived at this
conclusion thru the process of comparing Atty. Aredonia, Jr.s signature appearing in the pleadings
with that in the registry return card. Both signatures belong to one and the same person. Needless to
stress, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. had under the premises indulged in deliberate falsehood, contrary to the
self-explanatory prescriptions of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01.
The Court cannot write finis to this case without delving into and addressing Atty. Aredonia,
Jr.s defiant stance against the Court as demonstrated by his repetitive disregard of its resolution to
file his comment on the basic complaint. After requesting and securing no less than three (3)
extensions of time to file his comment, he simply closed, so to speak, communication lines. And when
ordered to give an explanation through a show-cause directive for not complying, he asked for and
was granted a 30-day extension but the required comment never came. When the Court eventually
directed the NBI to arrest him, he just left his last known address and could not be located.
Manifestly, he has fallen short of the diligence required of every member of the Bar. The pertinent
Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility which he also violated is Canon 12.

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d) Reliance on merits of his cause and avoidance of any impropriety which tends to influence or gives
the appearance of influence upon the courts
ERLINDA I. BILDNER and MAXIMO K. ILUSORIO v. ERLINDA K. ILUSORIO, RAMON K. ILUSORIO,
MARIETTA K. ILUSORIO, SHEREEN K. ILUSORIO, CECILIA A. BISUA, and ATTY. MANUEL R.
SINGSON
G.R. No. 157384, June 5, 2009, Velasco, Jr., J.
The highly immoral implication of a lawyer approaching a judge evincing a willingness to
discuss, in private, a matter related to a case pending in that judges sala cannot be over-emphasized. A
Lawyer shall refrain from any impropriety which tends to influence or gives the appearance of
influencing the court.
Facts:
Petitioners filed a disbarment charge against Atty. Manuel Singson on the grounds of
attempted bribery and serious misconduct. The documentary evidence submitted provide (1) the
transcript of the stenographic notes of the May 31, 2000 hearing in the sala of Judge Reyes in Civil
Case 4537-R when the judge made it of record about the attempt to bribe; (2) the affidavit of Judge
Reyes dated December 23, 2004 narrating in some detail how and thru whom the attempt to bribe
adverted to was made; and (3) the affidavit of Atty. Sevilla who admitted having been approached by
Atty. Singson to intercede for his case pending with Judge Reyes. Significantly, Atty. Singson admitted
having made phone calls to Judge Reyes, either in his residence or office in Baguio City during the
period material. However, he said that he was merely following up the status of a temporary
restraining order applied for and sometimes asking for the resetting of hearings.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Singson should be disbarred.
Ruling:
NO. Matters touching on case status could and should be done through the court staff, and
resetting is usually accomplished thru proper written motion or in open court. The highly immoral
implication of a lawyer approaching a judge evincing a willingness to discuss, in private, a matter
related to a case pending in that judges sala cannot be over-emphasized. The fact that Atty. Singson
did talk on different occasions to Judge Reyes, initially through a mutual friend, Atty. Sevilla, is
determinative that Atty. Singson was indeed trying to influence the judge to rule in his clients favor.
Canon 13 of the Code of Professional Responsibility enjoins a lawyer to refrain from any impropriety
which tends to influence or gives the appearance of influencing the court. The possibility of an
attempted bribery is not far from reality considering Atty. Singsons persistent phone calls. However
heeding the injunction against decreeing disbarment where a lesser sanction would suffice to
accomplish the desired end, a suspension for one year from the practice of law was found to be
appropriate.

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To the clients
ATTY. RICARDO M. SALOMON, JR. v. ATTY. JOSELITO FRIAL
A.C. No. 7820, September 12, 2008, Velasco, J.
A lawyer is first and foremost an officer of the court. As such, he is expected to respect the
courts order and processes.
Facts:
Atty. Frial was the counsel of Lucy Lo in a case against Atty. Salomon. A writ of attachment
was issued in favor of Lo for Salomons Volvo and Nissan Sentra. In a complaint for disbarment, Atty.
Salomon alleged that instead of depositing the attached cars in the court premises, the attaching
sheriff of Manila turned them over to Atty. Frial. On several occasions, the Nissan Sentra was spotted
being used by unauthorized individuals. It was seen in front of a battery shop in Quezon City, in a
Shell station in Manresa, and another Shell station near Kamias St., Quezon City. It was also spotted
being driven by bondsman Liquigan with Atty. Frials consent. Atty. Frial also allegedly withheld
information as to the whereabouts of the Volvo. It turned out that the car was totally destroyed by
fire in front of Atty. Frials house and the latter failed to inform the court about such. The IBP
Commission concluded that Atty. Frial failed to observe the diligence required of him as custodian of
the cars and recommended his suspension from the practice of law for one year.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Frial failed to observe the diligence required as custodian.
Ruling:
YES. He is guilty of grave misconduct arising from his violation of Canon 16 of the CPR which
provides that money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property coming into the
profession of the lawyer should be reported and accounted for promptly and should not under any
circumstances be commingled with his own or be used by him.
A lawyer is first and foremost an officer of the court. As such, he is expected to respect the
courts order and processes. Atty. Frial miserably fell short of his duties as such officer. He trifled with
the writ of attachment the court issued. Atty. Frial was remiss in his obligation of taking good care of
the attached cars. He also allowed the use of the Nissan Sentra car by persons who had no business
using it. He did not inform the court or at least the sheriff of the destruction of the Volvo car. What is
worse is that he took custody of them without so much as informing the court, let alone securing, its
authority.
For his negligence and unauthorized possession of the cars, the Court found Atty. Frial guilty
of infidelity in the custody of the attached cars and grave misconduct. We must mention, at this
juncture, that the victorious parties in the case are not without legal recourse in recovering the
Volvo's value from Atty. Frial should they desire to do so.

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CORAZON T. NEVADA v. ATTY. RODOLFO D. CASUGA
A.C. No. 7591, March 20, 2012, Velasco, Jr., J.
There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or definite rule of
action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or persistent violation
of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules.
Facts:
Atty. Rodolfo represented himself as an administrator of Mt. Crest Hotel before a certain
Jung Jong Chul, for purposes of leasing an office space at the hotel. A lease contract was entered
between Atty. Rodolfo and Jung without the knowledge of Corazon, the principal stockholder of the
family corporation which owns Mt. Crest Hotel. Notably, Atty. Rodolfo signed over the printed name
of one of the principal stockholders and even notarized the document himself. Atty. Rodolfo also
received the sum of P90,000.00 as rental deposit.
In the course of their dealings, Corazon also delivered jewelries worth P300,000.00 and a
Rolex watch worth P12,000.00 to Atty. Rodolfo for purposes of selling them. Despite repeated
demands, Atty. Rodolfo failed to deliver either the proceeds of the sale or the items themselves.
The IBP-CBD and the IBP Board of Governors found Atty. Rodolfo guilty of gross misconduct,
violation of the notarial law, and misappropriation of funds and property of the client.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Rodolfo is guilty of (1) gross misconduct, (2) violation of the notarial
law, and (3) misappropriation.
Ruling:
(1) YES. There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or
definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or
persistent violation of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules. Here, Atty. Rodolfo took
advantage of his apparent close relationship with Corazon by misrepresenting himself to be
authorized to enter into a contract of lease, and even receiving the benefits of the said contract. Atty.
Rodolfos acts therefore constitute gross misconduct.
(2) YES. The notarial law disqualifies a notary public from performing a notarial act if he or
she is a party to the instrument or document that is to be notarized. In this case, Atty. Rodolfo
became a party to the contract of lease when he affixed his signature above the printed name of one
of the principal stockholders without any qualification. When he notarized the same contract, he
went against the function of a Notary Public to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement.
(3) YES. Rule 16.03 of the CPR demands that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
properties of his client that may come into his possession. Having been tasked to sell such valuables,
Atty. Rodolfo was duty-bound to return them upon demand. Sure enough, the absence of a lawyerclient relationship between Atty. Casuga and Corazon does not exonerate the former. Both the CPR
and case law penalize not only malpractice and dishonesty in the profession, but also gross
misconduct not connected with the professional duties of the lawyer.

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a.) Competence and diligence
ANTONIO CONLU v. ATTY. IRENEO AREDONIA, JR.
A.C. No. 4955, September 12, 2011, Velasco, Jr., J.
The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights of the client in a state of
uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal constitutes inexcusable
negligence.
Facts:
Conlu was the defendant in a civil case for quieting of title and recovery of a parcel of land
before the RTC of Silay, Negros Occidental. He hired Atty. Aredonia, Jr. to represent him in the case.
The RTC rendered judgment adverse to Conlu. Therefrom, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. appealed to the CA, the
recourse being docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. The CA, per its resolution, eventually dismissed
the appeal for non-filing of the appellants brief within the reglementary period. Antonio only got
wind of the dismissal from his wife who verified the status of the case when she happened to be in
Manila.
When confronted about the dismissal, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. promised to seek reconsideration,
which he did, but which the CA later denied for belated filing of the motion. In that motion, Atty.
Aredonia, Jr. averred that he only received the disputed February 10, 1997 CA resolution on April 25,
1997, adding in this regard that the person in the law office who initially received the copy of the
resolution was not authorized. Conlu got the records of the case back and personally filed another
motion for reconsideration on October 13, 1997, which the CA again denied. Conlus petition for
certiorari before the SC was also dismissed.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Aredonia, Jr. should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. It must be remembered that a retained counsel is expected to serve the client with
competence and diligence. This duty includes not merely reviewing the cases entrusted to the
counsels care and giving the client sound legal advice, but also properly representing the client in
court, attending scheduled hearings, preparing and filing required pleadings, prosecuting the
handled cases with reasonable dispatch, and urging their termination without waiting for the client
or the court to prod him or her to do so. The lawyer should not be sitting idly by and leave the rights
of the client in a state of uncertainty. The failure to file a brief resulting in the dismissal of an appeal
constitutes inexcusable negligence. This default translates to a violation of the injunction of Canon
18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
As if his lack of candor in his professional relationship with Conlu was not abhorrent enough,
Atty. Aredonia, Jr. tried to mislead the appellate court about the receipt of a copy of its February 10,
1997 Resolution dismissing the appeal in CA-G.R. CV No. 50075. He denied personally receiving such
copy, but the CA found and declared that he himself received said copy. The CA arrived at this
conclusion thru the process of comparing Atty. Aredonia, Jr.s signature appearing in the pleadings
with that in the registry return card. Both signatures belong to one and the same person. Needless to
stress, Atty. Aredonia, Jr. had under the premises indulged in deliberate falsehood, contrary to the
self-explanatory prescriptions of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 10, Rule 10.01.

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The Court cannot write finis to this case without delving into and addressing Atty. Aredonia,
Jr.s defiant stance against the Court as demonstrated by his repetitive disregard of its resolution to
file his comment on the basic complaint. After requesting and securing no less than three (3)
extensions of time to file his comment, he simply closed, so to speak, communication lines. And when
ordered to give an explanation through a show-cause directive for not complying, he asked for and
was granted a 30-day extension but the required comment never came. When the Court eventually
directed the NBI to arrest him, he just left his last known address and could not be located.
Manifestly, he has fallen short of the diligence required of every member of the Bar. The pertinent
Canon of the Code of Professional Responsibility which he also violated is Canon 12.

Notarial Practice (A. M. No. 02-8-13-SC, as amended)


CORAZON T. NEVADA v. ATTY. RODOLFO D. CASUGA
A.C. No. 7591, March 20, 2012, Velasco, Jr., J.
There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or definite rule of
action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or persistent violation
of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules.
Facts:
Atty. Rodolfo represented himself as an administrator of Mt. Crest Hotel before a certain
Jung Jong Chul, for purposes of leasing an office space at the hotel. A lease contract was entered
between Atty. Rodolfo and Jung without the knowledge of Corazon, the principal stockholder of the
family corporation which owns Mt. Crest Hotel. Notably, Atty. Rodolfo signed over the printed name
of one of the principal stockholders and even notarized the document himself. Atty. Rodolfo also
received the sum of P90,000.00 as rental deposit.
In the course of their dealings, Corazon also delivered jewelries worth P300,000.00 and a
Rolex watch worth P12,000.00 to Atty. Rodolfo for purposes of selling them. Despite repeated
demands, Atty. Rodolfo failed to deliver either the proceeds of the sale or the items themselves.
The IBP-CBD and the IBP Board of Governors found Atty. Rodolfo guilty of gross misconduct,
violation of the notarial law, and misappropriation of funds and property of the client.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Rodolfo is guilty of (1) gross misconduct, (2) violation of the notarial
law, and (3) misappropriation.
Ruling:
(1) YES. There is gross misconduct when there is a transgression of some established or
definite rule of action, more particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence, or the corrupt or
persistent violation of the law or disregard of well-known legal rules. Here, Atty. Rodolfo took
advantage of his apparent close relationship with Corazon by misrepresenting himself to be
authorized to enter into a contract of lease, and even receiving the benefits of the said contract. Atty.
Rodolfos acts therefore constitute gross misconduct.
(2) YES. The notarial law disqualifies a notary public from performing a notarial act if he or
she is a party to the instrument or document that is to be notarized. In this case, Atty. Rodolfo
became a party to the contract of lease when he affixed his signature above the printed name of one

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of the principal stockholders without any qualification. When he notarized the same contract, he
went against the function of a Notary Public to guard against any illegal or immoral arrangement.
(3) YES. Rule 16.03 of the CPR demands that a lawyer shall hold in trust all moneys and
properties of his client that may come into his possession. Having been tasked to sell such valuables,
Atty. Rodolfo was duty-bound to return them upon demand. Sure enough, the absence of a lawyerclient relationship between Atty. Casuga and Corazon does not exonerate the former. Both the CPR
and case law penalize not only malpractice and dishonesty in the profession, but also gross
misconduct not connected with the professional duties of the lawyer.

DOLORES L. DELA CRUZ, MILAGROS L. PRINCIPE, NARCISA L. FAUSTINO, JORGE V. LEGASPI and
JUANITO V. LEGASPI v. ATTY. JOSE R. DIMAANO, JR.
A.C. No. 7781, September 12, 2008, Velasco, Jr., J.
Notaries public should refrain from affixing their signature and notarial seal on a document
unless the persons who signed it are the same individuals who executed and personally appeared before
the notaries public to attest to the truth of what are stated therein.
Facts:
In a complaint for disbarment, Dela Cruz, et. al. alleged that Atty. Dimaano notarized an
Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate with Waiver of Rights where their signatures were forged, they did
not appear and acknowledge the same before Atty. Dimaano as notarizing officer, and the community
tax certificates in the document were not theirs. This document enabled their sister, Zenaida
Navarro, to sell the property to the DPWH. Atty. Dimaano admitted that he notarized the document,
relying in good faith on Navarros assurance that the signatures and tax certificates were correct. The
Commission on Bar Discipline found that Atty. Dimaano violated the Notarial Law.
Issue:
Whether or not Atty. Dimaano violated the Notarial Law.
Ruling:
YES, Atty. Dimaano violated the Notarial Law. Notaries public should refrain from affixing
their signature and notarial seal on a document unless the persons who signed it are the same
individuals who executed and personally appeared before the notaries public to attest to the truth of
what are stated therein. Without the appearance of the person who actually executed the document
in question, notaries public would be unable to verify the genuineness of the signature of the
acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the partys free act or deed. Furthermore,
notaries public are required by the Notarial Law to certify that the party to the instrument has
acknowledged and presented before the notaries public the proper residence certificate (or
exemption from the residence certificate) and to enter its number, place, and date of issue as part of
certification.
The 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice now requires a party to the instrument to present
competent evidence of identity: (a) at least one current identification document issued by an official
agency bearing the photograph and signature of the individual; (b) the oath or affirmation of one
credible witness not privy to the instrument, document or transaction who is personally known to
the notary public and who personally knows the individual, or of two credible witnesses neither of
whom is privy to the instrument, document or transaction who each personally knows the individual
and shows to the notary public documentary identification. For failing to meet such requirements,

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Atty. Dimaanos notarial commission was revoked. He was disqualified from being commission for 2
years and was suspended from the practice of law for 1 year.

JUDICIAL ETHICS
Discipline of members of the Judiciary
RICKY GARAY, et al. v. JUDGE NICASIO BARTOLOME
A.M. No. MTJ-08-1703, June 17, 2008, Velasco, Jr., J.
Judges are not common individuals whose gross errors men forgive and time forgets. For when
they display an utter lack of familiarity with the rules, they erode the confidence of the public in the
competence of our courts. Such lack is gross ignorance of the law. Verily, failure to follow basic legal
commands and rules constitutes gross ignorance of the law, of which no one is excused, and surely is not
an embodiment of a judge.
Facts:
Complainants are the accused in a criminal case wherein they were charged with qualified
theft of bus starters and different tools amounting to P187,000. Judge Nicasio Bartolome, the MTC
judge handling the case, issued a warrant of arrest against them and detained them in the provincial
jail. In the clarificatory hearing conducted during the preliminary investigation, only Garay attended.
Three (3) months after, Judge Bartolome issued the disputed resolution subject of this case.
In this administrative complaint filed by the complainants before the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA), the latter found that a criminal case for qualified theft involving P187,000 falls
clearly within the jurisdiction of the RTC, not the MTC. The OCA found Judge Bartolome guilty of
violating Sections 3 and 5, Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure. Moreover, note that
Judge Bartolome issued the Order submitting the cases for resolution on September 23, 2005. It was
only on December 27, 2005, more than three (3) months after, when he issued the Joint Resolution
ordering the return of the cases to the provincial prosecutor for further preliminary investigation.
Section 5 of the rules requires that Judge Bartolome submit his resolution of the case within ten (10)
days after the preliminary investigation and transmit the resolution of the case to the provincial or
city prosecutor. There is no question that Judge Bartolome took inordinate delay of three (3) months
in submitting his resolution of the preliminary investigation. Section 5 also requires that Judge
Bartolome state the findings of facts and the law supporting his action which he did not.
Issue:
Whether or not Judge Bartolome should be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES. As can be gleaned from his Joint Resolution, Judge Bartolome made no determination
on whether or not there was sufficient ground to hold complainants for trial. He did not recommend
the dismissal of the criminal complaints nor the filing of the appropriate informations against
complainants. Neither did he state the law upon which he based his order. Judge Bartolome's failure
to follow the procedures outlined in Secs. 3 and 5 of Rule 112 of the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure is a clear indication of his gross ignorance of the rules on preliminary investigation, and
his delay of more than three (3) months in resolving the investigation only to order that it be re-

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investigated specially when the accused are detention prisoners deserves serious sanction from the
Court.
When a judge shows utter unfamiliarity with fundamental rules and procedures, he
contributes to the erosion of public confidence in the judicial system. Ignorance of the law is a
mainspring of injustice. When judges show professional incompetence, and are ignorant of basic and
fundamental rules, they are guilty of gross ignorance of the law and procedures, a serious charge
under Sec. 8, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court. Sec. 11(A) of Rule 140 punishes the offense.

JOSEFINA NAGUIAT v. JUDGE MARIO B. CAPELLAN, PRESIDING JUDGE, MTCC, BR. 1, MALOLOS
CITY, BULACAN
A.M. No. MTJ-11-1782 [Formerly OCA IPI No. 05-1807-MTJ], March 23, 2011, Velasco, Jr., J.
In ejectment cases, the first duty of a judge is to examine the allegations in the complaint and
the evidence appended to it, and to dismiss the case outright on any of the grounds apparent for the
dismissal of a civil action. If there is a ground for dismissal existing and apparent upon the filing of the
complaint, and yet the judge allowed the case to unnecessarily drag on, the judge is guilty of undue
delay in rendering a decision.
Facts:
Judge Capellan was administratively charged with Delay in Rendering Judgment relative to
an ejectment case. He dismissed the said case on the ground that the plaintiffs representative lacked
the personality to file the case because his authority, as reflected in the corporate secretary's
certificate appended to the complaint, was for another case. As alleged, it took the respondent judge
six years to resolve, on technicality, a case governed by the rule on summary procedure.
Issue:
Whether respondent judge is guilty of undue delay in rendering a decision or order.
Ruling:
YES. Under the Rule on Summary Procedure, the first duty of the respondent upon the filing
of the case for ejectment was to examine the allegations in the complaint and the evidence appended
to it, and to dismiss the case outright on any of the grounds apparent for the dismissal of a civil
action. In this case, the ground for dismissing the Civil Case existed and was apparent upon the filing
of the basic complaint. The representatives lack of personality was reflected in the corporate
secretary's certificate appended to the complaint. Yet, respondent judge allowed the case to
unnecessarily drag on for more than five years. Further, respondent having allowed several and
doubtless unnecessary postponements which contributed to the delay in the resolution of what was
otherwise a simple case. Undue delay in rendering a decision or order constitutes a less serious
offense for which respondent is subjected to a fine.

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RE: LETTER-COMPLAINT OF ATTY. ARIEL SAMSON C. CAYETUNA, ET AL., ALL EMPLOYEES OF
ASSOCIATE JUSTICE MICHAEL P. ELBINIAS against ASSOCIATE JUSTICE MICHAEL P. ELBINIAS,
CA - Mindanao Station
A.M. OCA IPI No. 08-127-CA-J, January 11, 2011, Velasco, Jr., J.
Sec. 1 Rule 140 of the Rules of Court provides for the ways on how to institute administrative
proceedings against judges. Under this rule there are three ways: first, motu proprio by the Supreme
Court; second, upon verified complaint with affidavits of persons having personal knowledge of the facts
alleged therein or by documents which may substantiate said allegations; or third, upon an anonymous
complaint supported by public records of indubitable integrity.
Facts:
The present case was brought about by a letter-complaint filed by a litigant in the case
entitled Algabre v. RTC, Branch 15, Davao City, which was raffled to Justice Elbinias as ponente. Justice
Elbinias assigned complainant Atty. Cayetuna to draft the letter-reply explaining what transpired
with the case. Justice Elbinias likewise asked Atty. Cayetuna to sign the letter-reply and explained to
him that he would simply note it. Atty. Cayetuna, however, refused to sign the letter-reply. This
earned the ire of Justice Elbinias who peremptorily terminated Atty. Cayetunas employment with the
CA.
Subsequently, Atty. Cayetuna, together with the other complainants, filed the instant
unverified complaint against Justice Elbinias charging the latter with Gross Inefficiency; Bribe
Solicitation; Drinking Liquor in Office Premises; Personal Use of Government Property and
Resources; Falsification of a Favored Employees Daily Time Record; Disrespect Towards fellow
Justices; Oppression through Intemperate, Oppressive and Threatening Language; and Grave Abuse
of Authority. For his part, Justice Elbinias merely denied the allegations against him and likewise
assailed the fact that the complaint filed against him was not verified as well as the fact that the
Omnibus reply and manifestation of the complainants were not under oath.
Issue:
Whether or not the fact that the complaint filed against Justice Elbinias was not verified is
fatal to the case of the complainants.
Ruling:
YES. Both the letter-complaints of April 30, 2008 and June 18, 2008 are unverified, while the
June 3, 2010 Omnibus Reply and Manifestation of complainants is not under oath. It must be noted
that most of the complainants are lawyers, and are presumed and ought to know the formal
requirement of verification for administrative complaints as stated under Section 1, Rule 140 of the
Rules of Court.
Indeed, complainants not only failed to execute a verified complaint but also never
submitted their affidavits showing personal knowledge of the allegations embodied in their lettercomplaints. To cover this procedural deficiency, they assert that the Court properly recognized their
letter-complaints as an anonymous complaint, relying on Sinsuat v. Hidalgo.
In Sinsuat, the Court took cognizance of the unverified motion and subsequent letters of
complainants submitted to the Office of the Court Administrator since the unverified complaint was
properly considered as an anonymous complaint and the material allegations were not only admitted
by respondent judge but are also verifiable from public records of indubitable integrity, i.e., records
of the trial court, as aptly found by the CA.

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This is not the case in this instant. Complainants reliance on Sinsuat is misplaced. For one,
even a passing perusal of the Comment and Supplemental Comment does not show respondent
Justice Elbinias admitting the allegations in the letter-complaints. For another, the averments and
material allegations of complainants are neither verifiable from public records of indubitable
integrity nor supported or substantiated by other competent evidence submitted by complainants.
The formal faux pas of complainants could have been remedied by the submission under
oath of their subsequent pleadings, particularly the Omnibus Reply, where they traversed the points
and defenses raised by respondent vis--vis their allegations. They could have appended thereto their
respective affidavits attesting to their personal knowledge of the facts of their material allegations.
But, as it is, complainants chose not to place their Omnibus Reply under oath, much less submitted
their affidavits. Verily, after receiving copies of respondents Comment and Supplemental Comment,
they had ample opportunity but chose not to correct the deficiencies of their complaints while
submitting the instant case for resolution based on the pleadings filed sans their affidavits.

PROSEC. JORGE D. BACULI v. JUDGE MEDEL ARNALDO B. BELEN, RTC, BR. 36, CALAMBA CITY,
LAGUNA
A.M. No. RTJ-09-2179, September 24, 2012, Velasco, Jr., J.
In administrative cases against judges, it is the complainants duty to substantiate his
allegations with evidence.
Facts:
Prosec. Baculi filed an information for qualified theft against Capacete but Judge Belen
dismissed the case. In the Motion for Reconsideration, Prosec. Baculi stated: The dismissal of the
information by the court was motivated by hatred, ill-will, and prejudice against Asst. State
Prosecutor II Jorge Baculi, the Investigating Prosecutor at the Preliminary Investigation. Judge Belen
found Baculi guilty of direct contempt and indirect contempt for the contemptuous nature of
pleadings Baculi filed in his sala. In both direct and indirect contempt proceedings, Prosec. Baculi
filed manifestations and motions to postpone or cancel hearings. Prosec. Baculi then filed two
administrative complaints against Judge Belen for gross ignorance of law, gross misconduct and
issuance of fraudulent and unjust orders. Baculi argues that he was not formally charged and that no
notice of hearing was conducted to afford him the opportunity to air his side.
Issue:
Whether or not Judge Belen should be held administrative liable for holding Prosec. Baculi in
contempt.
Ruling:
NO, Judge Belen is not administratively liable. Aside from his bare allegations, the
complainant has not presented any credible evidence to support his allegations against Judge Belen.
The fact that Judge Belen had initiated contempt proceedings against him, and in fact convicted him
in such contempt proceedings, does not by itself amount to ill motives on the part of Judge Belen. The
initiation of the contempt proceedings stemmed from the acts of the complainant himself. His
unsupported claim that the prior libel case he filed against Judge Belen created animosity between
them is not sufficient to prove his claim of evil motives on the part of Judge Belen.

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The complainant has also failed to adduce evidence in support of his claim of evil or corrupt
motives on the part of the judge. That, and the fact that the subject decisions are already final and
executory, leads the Court to conclude that no administrative liability can arise on the part of Judge
Belen, if the contempt proceedings that he conducted followed the required procedure under Rule 71
of the Rules of Court.
Baculi was also afforded the opportunity to present his defense but he failed to do so. Baculi
blatantly refused to answer the charges of indirect contempt initiated against him. Instead, he filed
numerous motions and manifestations to postpone or cancel the hearings. Instead of answering the
charges however, Baculi filed several motions, reiterating his argument that Judge Belen should be
subject to disciplinary proceedings. Not once in his submissions did he controvert the charges
against him, opting instead to merely harp on his contention that Judge Belen harbored a personal
resentment against him. However, the Court had already adjudged Judge Belen guilty of grave abuse
of authority and gross ignorance of law in a previous administrative case, which warranted his
dismissal from service

GEOFFREY BECKETT v. JUDGE OLEGARIO R. SARMIENTO, JR., Regional Trial Court, Branch 24,
Cebu City
A.M. No. RTJ-12-2326, January 30, 2013, Velasco, Jr., J.
Gross ignorance of the law on the part of a judge presupposes an appalling lack of familiarity
with simple rules of law or procedures and well-established jurisprudence which tends to erode the
public trust in the competence and fairness of the court which he personifies.
Facts:
Geoffrey Beckett (Beckett), an Australian national, was previously married to Eltesa Densing
Beckett (Eltesa), a Filipina. Out of the marriage was born, Geoffrey Beckett, Jr. (Geoffrey, Jr.). Eltesa
filed a case against Beckett for violation of RA 7610, followed by a suit for the declaration of nullity of
their marriage. Both cases ended in the sala of Judge Olegario Sarmiento, Jr. (Judge Sarmiento). Judge
Sarmiento rendered judgment based on a compromise agreement in which Eltesa and Beckett
agreed, to cause the dismissal of all pending civil and criminal cases against each other and that
Beckett shall have full and permanent custody over Geoffrey, Jr., then 5 years old, subject to the
visitorial rights of Eltesa.
In 2007, Beckett obtained a divorce from Eltesa in Australia. In the 2010 visit, Beckett
consented to have Geoffrey, Jr. stay with Eltesa even after the holidays, provided she return the child
on January 9, 2011. January 9 came and went but Geoffrey, Jr. remained with Eltesa, prompting
Beckett to file a petition for the issuance of a writ of habeas corpus. Beckett said that while waiting
for the pre-trial conference to for the petition, he saw one Helen Sy, purportedly a close friend of
Eltesa, enter Judge Sarmientos chambers. Then, during the conference itself, Eltesa moved for
reconsideration of the courts order, praying that it be set aside insofar as it directed her to return
the custody of Geoffrey, Jr. to Beckett. However, instead of enforcing said order and/or waiting for
Becketts comment, Judge Sarmiento, in open court, issued another order giving Eltesa provisional
custody over Geoffrey, Jr.
Beckett filed the instant complaint and alleges that Judge Sarmiento is liable for (1) gross
ignorance of the law for granting Eltesa provisional custody over Geoffrey Jr.; and (2) partiality by
committing acts of serious misconduct and irregularities in the performance of official duties, such as
but not limited to allowing one Helen Sy to enter his chambers before hearing. Beckett predicates his
charge of dereliction and neglect of duty on respondents alleged failure to resolve his motion for
reconsideration of the order giving provisional custody of his child to his mother.

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In his answer, Judge Sarmiento denied Becketts allegations of partiality and of being biased
against the latter, particularly describing his order granting Eltesa provisional custody as proper.
Judge Sarmiento stated that Beckett did not cry "bias" when he approved the compromise agreement
and when he later urged Beckett to commence habeas corpus proceedings.
The OCA regards the complaint meritorious insofar as the charges for gross ignorance of the
law is concerned given that respondent judge issued his order granting provisional custody in favor
of Eltesa despite the existence of the judicial compromise. The OCA recommended that respondent
judge be adjudged liable for gross ignorance of the law and fined with stern warning.
Issue:
Whether or not Judge Sarmiento is guilty of gross ignorance of the law.
Ruling:
NO. Gross ignorance of the law on the part of a judge presupposes an appalling lack of
familiarity with simple rules of law or procedures and well-established jurisprudence which tends to
erode the public trust in the competence and fairness of the court which he personifies. Not to know
the law as basic, almost elementary, as the Rules of Court, or acting in disregard of established rule of
law as if he were not aware of the same constitutes gross ignorance whence no one is excused,
especially an RTC judge.
Respondent judge, in granting provisional custody over Geoffrey, Jr. in favor of his mother,
Eltesa, did not disregard the res judicata rule. The more appropriate description of the legal situation
engendered by the March 15, 2011 Order issued amidst the persistent plea of the child not to be
returned to his father, is that respondent judge exhibited fidelity to jurisprudential command to
accord primacy to the welfare and interest of a minor child. As it were, the matter of custody, to
borrow from Espiritu v. Court of Appeals," is not permanent and unalterable and can always be reexamined and adjusted." And as aptly observed in a separate opinion in Dacasin v. Dacasin, a custody
agreement can never be regarded as "permanent and unbending," the simple reason being that the
situation of the parents and even of the child can change, such that sticking to the agreed
arrangement would no longer be to the latters best interest. In a very real sense, then, a judgment
involving the custody of a minor child cannot be accorded the force and effect of res judicata.

OFFICE OF THE COURT ADMINISTRATOR v. HON. LEODEGARIO C. QUILATAN


A.M. No. MTJ-09-1745, September 27, 2010, Velasco, Jr., J.
No less than the 1987 Constitution, specifically Section 15(1), Article VIII, mandates lower
courts to decide or resolve all cases or matters within three (3) months from their date of submission. In
relation to this mandate, the Code of Judicial Conduct directs judges to dispose of their business
promptly and decide cases within the required period. The Court, in Administrative Circular No. 3-99
dated January 15, 1999, likewise requires judges to scrupulously observe the periods provided in the
Constitution. Failure to decide cases within the reglementary period, without strong and justifiable
reason, constitutes gross inefficiency warranting the imposition of an administrative sanction on the
defaulting judge.
Facts:
Judge Leodegario C. Quilatan requested for a certificate of clearance with the Office of the
Court Administrator (OCA) in support of his application for compulsory retirement benefits under

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Republic Act No. 910, as amended, effective July 21, 2003. However, the monthly report cases for
2009 revealed that he had left forty-eight (48) cases (all criminal) submitted for decision at the time
of his retirement. Of the said number, thirty-four (34) cases were already beyond the reglementary
period to decide and no reason or explanation is indicated in the monthly report for this occurrence.
Thus, the OCA found Judge Quilatan liable for gross inefficiency for failure to decide the 34 cases
submitted for decision within the required period. The OCA recommended that the case be redocketed as a regular administrative matter and that the erring judge be fined fifty thousand pesos
(PhP 50,000). Acting on the said recommendation, the Court re-docketed the case as a regular
administrative matter and required Judge Quilatan to manifest whether he would submit the case for
resolution based on the pleadings filed. Judge Quilatan failed to file a manifestation; thus, he is
deemed to have waived the filing of his manifestation.
Issue:
Whether or not Judge Quilatan is guilty of gross inefficiency for failure to decide the 34 cases
submitted for decision within the required period.
Ruling:
YES. The Court has repeatedly emphasized the need for judges to resolve their cases with
dispatch. Delay does not only constitute a serious violation of the parties constitutional right to
speedy disposition of cases, it also erodes the faith and confidence of the people in the judiciary,
lowers its standards, and brings it into disrepute. Without doubt, Judge Quilatan violated his
mandate when he failed to decide 34 cases within three (3) months from their submission, for which
he should be administratively sanctioned.
Under the Revised Rules of Court, undue delay in rendering a decision is a less serious
offense punishable by suspension from office without salary and other benefits for not less than one
(1) month nor more than three (3) months, or a fine of more than PhP 10,000 but not exceeding PhP
20,000.
Since Judge Quilatan failed to decide 34 cases, a fine of PhP 50,000 is proper in line with
prevailing jurisprudence.

Disqualification of Justices and Judges (Rule 137)


JIMMY T. GO v. ALBERTO T. LOOYUKO
G.R. No. 147923, October 26, 2007, Velasco Jr. J.
Grounds raised outside the five (5) mandatory disqualification of judges enumerated in the first
paragraph of Sec. 1 of Rule 137 are properly addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court judge
hearing a case as pertinently provided for in the second paragraph of Sec. 1, Rule 137.
Facts:
Jimmy Go (Go), herein petitioner, filed a criminal case for estafa against Alberto Looyuko
(Looyuko), herein respondent, alleging that the latter misappropriated the stock certificates
belonging to Go by converting the said shares of stocks for his own (Looyukos) personal benefit by
causing the transfer of the aforementioned stock certificates to Looyukos name after receiving the
aforementioned stock certificates in trust from Go. Thereafter, during the pendency of the criminal
case, the prosecution on behalf of Go, wanted to present certain witnesses to strengthen the case of

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the prosecution. However, the trial court felt no need for the testimonies of the aforementioned
witnesses. This prompted Go to file an administrative complaint against Judge Nemesio Felix (Judge
Felix) for partiality.
The CA dismissed the complaint of Go. It rationalized that Judge Felix had the discretion to
inhibit himself from the case unless the ground for his inhibition is that which calls for mandatory
inhibition of the same, and in this case no such ground exists. Hence this petition.
Issue:
Whether or not there is a valid ground for the inhibition of Judge Felix.
Ruling:
NONE, there was no manifest partiality. Indeed, the adverse rulings on the denial of the
proposed testimonies of the prosecutions witnesses are judicial in nature. Absent proof that the trial
court judge had acted in a wanton, whimsical or oppressive manner or for an illegal consideration,
and similar reasons, in giving undue advantage to respondent, inhibition is not a remedy to oust the
judge from sitting on the case.
Second, the other two (2) grounds raised by petitioner are also baseless. It is an age old rule
in civil cases that one who alleges a fact has the burden of proving it and a mere allegation is not
evidence.
Verily, the assailed orders were issued with judicial discretion and no administrative liability
attaches absent showing of illegal consideration or giving undue advantage to a party, and much less
can the Court compel the trial court judge to inhibit himself absent valid grounds therefor.
Lastly, since the grounds raised by petitioner in his motion to inhibit are not among those
expressly mentioned in Section 1, Rule 137 of the Revised Rules of Court, the decision to inhibit
himself lies within the sound discretion of Judge Felix. Grounds raised outside the five (5) mandatory
disqualification of judges enumerated in the first paragraph of Sec. 1 of Rule 137 are properly
addressed to the sound discretion of the trial court judge hearing a case as pertinently provided for
in the second paragraph of Sec. 1, Rule 137.

JOHNWELL W. TIGGANGAY v. JUDGE MARCELINO K. WACAS, Regional Trial Court, Branch 25,
Tabuk City, Kalinga
A.M. OCA IPI No. 09-3243-RTJ, April 1, 2013, Velasco, Jr., J.
Affinity is defined as the relation which one spouse because of marriage has to blood relatives
of the other. There is no relationship by affinity between two persons if they are not in-laws of each
other. In such cases, the judge who is alleged to be related to the person involved in the case handled by
the former is not disqualified under Sec. 1 of Rule 137 to hear the election case.
Facts:
Johnwell W. Tiggangay (Tiggangay) ran for mayor of Tanudan, Kalinga in May 2007 election
but lost to Rhustom L. Dagadag (Dagadag). Tigganay filed an electoral protest with the RTC of Tabuk
City, Kalinga which was raffled to Judge Marcelino K. Wacas (Judge Wacas). Judge Wacas rendered a
decision declaring that Tinggangay lost in the election and which was affirmed by the COMELEC.
Tinggangay filed a verified letter-complaint charging Judge Marcelino K. Wacas (Judge Wacas) with

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Impropriety and Partiality for not inhibiting himself in the case alleging that Judge Wacas is
Dagadags second cousin by affinity, the formers aunt is married to an uncle of Dagadag. Judge Wacas
denied being related by affinity to Dagadag, adding that Tiggangay made the allegation on the basis of
"some reliable sources," not from his personal knowledge. Judge Wacas maintained that Tiggangay
never moved for his inhibition during the entire proceedings.
Acting on the recommendation of the Court Administrator, the Court referred the matter to
the Court of Appeals (CA), through Associate Justice Socorro B. Inting (Justice Inting), for
investigation and report with appropriate recommendations. Justice Inting transmitted to the Court
her Report, recommending the dismissal of the instant complaint for lack of substantial evidence.
Issue:
Whether or not the alleged affinity between Judge Wacas and Dagadag will result in the
automatic disqualification of Judge Wacas to hear the case.
Ruling:
NO. In administrative proceedings, the burden of proof that respondent committed the acts
complained of rests on the complainant. In the instant case, Tiggangay failed to present substantial
evidence to prove his allegations. One who alleges a fact has the burden of proof and mere allegation
is not evidence.
The supposed relationship between Judge Wacas and Dagadag, unsubstantiated as it were by
the required substantial relevant evidence, remains a mere allegation of Tiggangay. Tiggangay tried
to assert that Judge Wacas and Dagadag are related within the sixth degree by affinity in that the aunt
of Judge Wacas is married to the uncle of Dagadag. The fact, however, is that no substantial evidence
was presented to prove the relationship angle.
Granting arguendo that the aunt of Judge Wacas is married to the uncle of Dagadag, such
reality is not a ground for the mandatory inhibition of a Judge as required under Sec. 1of Rule 137,
Revised Rules of Procedure, since there is actually no relation of affinity between Judge Wacas and
Dagadag. Indeed, "there is no affinity between the blood relatives of one spouse and the blood
relatives of the other. A husband is related by affinity to his wifes brother, but not to the wife of his
wifes brother. There is no affinity between the husbands brother and the wifes sister.
In the instant case, considering that Judge Wacas is related to his aunt by consanguinity in
the third degree, it follows by virtue of the marriage of his aunt to the uncle of Dagadag that Judge
Wacas is the nephew-in-law of the uncle of Dagadag, i.e., a relationship by affinity in the third degree.
Nonetheless, Judge Wacas is not related by affinity to the blood relatives of the uncle of Dagadag as
they are not his in-laws and, thus, are not related in any way to Dagadag. In like manner, Dagadag is
the nephew-in-law of the aunt of Judge Wacas but is not related by affinity to the blood relatives of
Judge Wacas aunt, like Judge Wacas. In short, there is no relationship by affinity between Judge
Wacas and Dagadag as they are not in-laws of each other. Thus, Judge Wacas is not disqualified under
Sec. 1 of Rule 137 to hear the election case.

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Powers and Duties of Courts and Judicial Officers (Rule 135)
ATTY. VIRGILIO P. ALCONERA v. ALFREDO T. PALLANAN
A.M. No. P-12-3069, January 20, 2014, Velasco, Jr., J.
Public servants must exhibit at all times the highest sense of honesty and dedication to duty. By
the very nature of their duties and responsibilities, they must faithfully adhere to, hold sacred and
render inviolate the constitutional principle that a public office is a public trust; that all public officers
and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility,
integrity, loyalty and efficiency.
Facts:
Complainant was the counsel for Morito Rafols, the defendant in an unlawful detainer case.
After trial, the MTCC ruled against Rafols and his co-defendants. Therefrom, Rafols, through
complainant, appealed the case to the RTC. Pending appeal, the court issued an order granting the
motion for execution in the unlawful detainer case. Complainant sought reconsideration but the
motion was denied. Upon the implementation of the writ of execution, an argument took place
between complainant and respondent. The former claims that he has a pending motion for
reconsideration on the issuance of the writ of execution, but the latter said that the motion has
already been denied. Since no Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) has been issued enjoining the
implementation, respondent claimed that he is legally mandated to perform his ministerial duty of
enforcing the writ. Complainant countered that he has not yet received a copy of the denial of the
motion, rendering the execution premature. Nevertheless, respondent still pushed through with the
execution of the judgment and in enforcing, allegedly uttered words degrading to the reputation of
the complainant. He then filed a Complaint-Affidavit against the respondent sheriff for grave
misconduct.
Issue:
Whether or not respondent can be held administratively liable.
Ruling:
YES, the respondent should be penalized for discourtesy in the performance of his official
duties. As a public officer and a trustee for the public, it is the ever existing responsibility of
respondent to demonstrate courtesy and civility in his official actuations with the public. Public
service requires integrity and discipline. At all times, employees of the judiciary are expected to
accord respect to the person and the rights of another, even a co-employee. Their every act and word
should be characterized by prudence, restraint, courtesy and dignity. Government service is peopleoriented; high-strung and belligerent behavior has no place therein.
Based on the transcript of the altercation, it is readily apparent that respondent has indeed
been remiss in this duty of observing courtesy in serving the public. He should have exercised
restraint in dealing with the complainant instead of allowing the quarrel to escalate into a hostile
encounter. The balm of a clean conscience should have been sufficient to relieve any hurt or harm
respondent felt from complainant's criticisms in the performance of his duties. On the contrary,
respondent's demeanour tarnished the image not only of his office but that of the judiciary as a
whole, exposing him to disciplinary measure.

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Court Records and General Duties of Clerks and Stenographer (Rule 136)
JUDGE PELAGIA DALMACIO-JOAQUIN v. NICOMEDES C. DELA CRUZ, Process Server, MTCC, San
Jose Del Monte, Bulacan,
A.M. No. P-07-2321, April 24, 2009, Velasco, Jr., J.
Verbally abusing co-employees and appearing at his place of work drunk can only be regarded
as simple misconduct since it has no direct relation to the performance of his official duties.
Facts:
After complainant judge left her office a few minutes before 5:00 p.m., security guard
reported to her that process server Dela Cruz allegedly arrived in the office, apparently drunk, and
hurled invectives while pointing his fingers at other employees present. Afterwards, respondent
attempted to punch one of them.
After hearing the report, respondent was summoned into the complainants office where he
denied the contents of the said report. Respondent admitted taking alcoholic drink but denied being
drunk at that time. When the employees involved in the incident confronted respondent, he called
them liars and left the complainants chambers without a word. Giving his version of the incident in
question, he alleged that he was just having an argument with his co-employees, adding that he
raised his voice merely to stress a point. A sanction of 1-year suspension without pay on the ground
that respondents inculpatory acts constituting gross insubordination and misconduct was proposed.
Issue:
Whether or not the respondent was guilty of gross insubordination and misconduct.
Ruling:
YES. Insubordination is the refusal to obey some order, which a superior officer is entitled to
give. The respondent deported in a manner reflecting lack of restraint and disrespect towards his
superior. And if this was not enough, he rudely and unceremoniously walked out of the meeting. He
even had the audacity to ignore complainants requests for him to return to the meeting. Worse, after
hiding in the comfort room of the clerk, he went home without so much as seeking leave from the
judge. Without a doubt, respondents actions amount to gross insubordination, not to mention gross
disobedience and disrespect to the judicial authority and the position of complainant judge.
On the other hand, respondents act can only be regarded as simple misconduct since it has
no direct relation to the performance of his official duties. Respondent committed misconduct when
he verbally abused his co-employees and appeared at his place of work drunk. Drinking during office
hours may constitute misconduct and is prohibited under the Civil Service Rules. Drinking
undermines efficiency and is counter-productive. It generates an unwholesome consequence on a
public servant. And when the culprit is an employee of the court, the image of the judiciary as a whole
cannot but be affected.

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RETIREMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY
In Re: Expiration of Fixed Term of Office of Atty. Saaduddin A. Alauya, Office of the
Jurisconsult, Zamboanga City
A.M. No. 11238-Ret, August 18, 2015, Velasco, Jr., J.
Retirement laws are liberally construed and administered in favor of the persons intended to be
benefited, and all doubts are resolved in favor of the retiree to achieve their humanitarian purpose.
Facts:
On August 12, 1996, then President Fidel V. Ramos appointed Atty. Alauya as Jurisconsult in
Islamic Law for a term of seven (7) years. His term of office expired on August 20, 2003. Atty. Alauya
had rendered government service in various government posts prior to his appointment as
jurisconsult. As of August 20, 2003, Atty. Alauya who was then 65 years old, had already rendered 33
years of government service behind him, the last seven (7) of which served as Jurisconsult. He filed
an application for retirement to retire under the provisions of RA 910. In terms then of the
requirements on age and length of service in government, Atty. Alauya was qualified to retire under
Section 1 of that law, as amended. The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA), recommended the
denial of Atty. Alauyas application to so retire under that law on the postulate that Sec. 1 of RA 910
applies only to justices or Judges. Before Atty. Alauyas retirement papers, as Jurisconsult, could be
completely processed, however, the Court en banc, conferred upon him the rank and privileges of a
Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge effective October 1996. In a letter, Atty. Alauya reminded the Court
that he was allowed to and did retire on August 21, 2003 under RA 910 and thus was entitled to a
lifetime monthly pension after August 2008, or five years after his retirement. In a Resolution, the
Court denied Atty. Alauyas above request. From the above adverse action, as subsequently
reiterated, Atty. Alauya repeatedly sought reconsideration. Premised on the Courts previous denial
resolutions, the OCA at first urged the denial of the desired reconsideration, but later changed its
earlier stance and recommended the approval of Atty. Alauyas request for a lifetime monthly
pension.
Issue:
Whether or not the term privileges of a judge of the RTC also include in context lifetime
monthly pension.
Ruling:
YES. Time and again, the Court has followed the practice of liberal treatment in passing upon
retirement issues and claims, particularly of judges and justices, obviously in keeping with the
beneficial intendment of retirement laws which is to reward satisfactory past services and at the
same time provide the retiree with the means to support himself and his family in his remaining
years. On several occasions, this Court has liberally interpreted retirement laws in keeping with its
purpose. In Government Service Insurance System v. De Leon: Retirement laws, in particular, are
liberally construed in favor of the retiree because their objective is to provide for the retirees
sustenance and, hopefully, even comfort, when he no longer has the capability to earn a livelihood.
The liberal approach aims to achieve the humanitarian purposes of the law in order that efficiency,
security, and well-being of government employees may be enhanced. Indeed, retirement laws are
liberally construed and administered in favor of the persons intended to be benefited, and all doubts
are resolved in favor of the retiree to achieve their humanitarian purpose. Upon the foregoing
perspective, the term privileges of an RTC judge and the conferment thereof must be considered as
covering the retirement benefits under RA 910, meaning a lump-sum payment of five years salary
and a monthly pension until death after the 5-year period.

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