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Thursday, March 03, 2005

canons 18-22
[A.C. No. 1372. June 27, 2002]
SPOUSES LIRIO U. RABANAL AND CAYETANO D. RABANAL, complainants, vs. ATTY.
FAUSTINO F. TUGADE, respondent.
DECISION
MENDOZA, J.:
This is an administrative complaint filed by complainant spouses Cayetano and Lirio
Rabanal against Atty. Faustino F. Tugade. It is alleged that respondent, as counsel for
complainant Cayetano Rabanal, did not file the appellants brief in the Court of
Appeals, as a result of which the appeal filed by Cayetano was dismissed and the
decision of the then Circuit Criminal Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan became final and
executory.
It appears that complainant Cayetano Rabanal was one of the accused-appellants in
Criminal Case No. CCC-I-150, entitled People of the Philippines v. Marcelino Rabanal
y Ibaez, et al., of the Criminal Circuit Court of Tuguegarao, Cagayan.[1][1] He was
found guilty of homicide and the case was appealed to the Court of Appeals.
Complainant terminated the services of his previous counsel and engaged the
services of respondent Atty. Faustino F. Tugade as new counsel to prosecute the
appeal.[1][2] However, despite the extension of time granted to him totalling 60
days, Atty. Tugade failed to file the appellants brief, resulting in the dismissal of the
appeal.[1][3] Cayetano filed a motion for reconsideration, but his motion was
denied.[1][4] Complainants alleged that they paid P1,000.00 to respondent as
attorneys fees and, in addition, the amount of P1,400.00 for the preparation of the
appellants brief.[1][5] Complainants sought the suspension from the practice of law
or the disbarment of respondent attorney.[1][6]
In his comment dated October 24, 1974, respondent said he did not want to accept
complainants case due to his busy schedule, but that he was nonetheless prevailed
upon by the latter, who is his kababayan, to sign the appellants brief to be filed in
the case.[1][7] Cayetano gave the transcripts of stenographic notes (TSN)
pertaining to the case to respondent, and the sum of P600.00 as litigation expenses,
after which respondent asked another lawyer to prepare the appellants brief.
However, on May 11, 1974, Cayetano informed respondent that the Court of
Appeals had dismissed his appeal for failure of counsel to file an appellants brief.
Respondent alleged he then entered his appearance as counsel for Cayetano and
filed a motion for reconsideration with the Court of Appeals, for which he was paid
P800.00.[1][8] The motion was, however, denied and Cayetano served sentence
from 1974 to 1979, when he was released on conditional pardon.[1][9]
In a resolution, dated November 4, 1974, the Court referred the administrative case
against respondent to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation,
report, and recommendation.[1][10] The OSG conducted hearings on February 5,
1976 and November 27, 1976, during which the spouses Rabanal testified in
support of their complaint.[1][11] On January 24, 1979, Cayetano was released from

the New Bilibid Prisons on conditional pardon.[1][12] A few years later, the
Committee on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) assumed
jurisdiction over the administrative case.[1][13] After each of the complainants had
testified, the IBP Commissioner set the hearing for reception of respondents
evidence on June 26, 1992 with warning that the case would be considered
submitted for resolution if respondent failed to present his evidence.[1][14] Three
notices of the hearing sent by registered mail to respondent were, however,
returned unclaimed.[1][15] Accordingly, the IBP Hearing Commissioner, upon
motion of complainant Lirio Rabanal, considered the case submitted for resolution.
[1][16] On May 8, 1993, the IBP Board of Governors recommended to the Court the
suspension of respondent from the practice of law for at least one (1) year.[1][17]
On July 15, 1993, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline transmitted the records of
the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant (OBC). Later, however, the transcripts of
stenographic notes (TSN) were lost.[1][18] In any case, on May 20, 2002, the Office
of the Bar Confidant (OBC) adopted the findings of the IBP and recommended the
suspension of respondent from the practice of law for one (1) year.[1][19]
After a review of the records of this case, the Court finds no basis for reversing the
findings and recommendation of the IBP and the OBC. Their recommendation is
affirmed with the modification that the penalty imposed is reduced from one (1)
year to six (6) months.
Respondent claims that he was not the counsel of complainant Cayetano Rabanal
prior to the filing of a motion for reconsideration before the Court of Appeals and he
could not be held responsible for the dismissal of complainants appeal for failure of
counsel to file the appellants brief. We disagree.
The absence of a written contract does not preclude a finding that there was a
professional relationship which merits attorneys fees for professional services
rendered. A written contract is not an essential element in the employment of an
attorney; the contract may be express or implied. To establish the relation, it is
sufficient that the advice and assistance of an attorney is sought and received in
any matter pertinent to his profession.[1][20] Thus, in Villafuerte v. Cortez,[1][21]
the Court held that the admission of respondent lawyer that he received payment
from complainant is sufficient evidence to establish a lawyer-client relationship. In
this case, complainant sought and received legal advice from respondent Tugade,
who admitted that he agreed to sign the appellants brief to be filed and that he
received P600.00 from complainant spouses. It is therefore clear that a lawyer-client
relationship existed between the two.
It is immaterial that respondent Tugade assisted Cayetano in the case as a mere
friend or kababayan of the latter. In Junio v. Grupo,[1][22] respondent also denied
the existence of a lawyer-client relationship, stating that complainant was a close
personal friend whom he helped in a personal capacity. Nonetheless, it was held:
To constitute professional employment it is not essential that the client should have
employed the attorney professionally on any previous occasion. . . It is not
necessary that any retainer should have been paid, promised, or charged for:
neither is it material that the attorney consulted did not afterward undertake the

case about which the consultation was had. If a person, in respect to his business
affairs or troubles of any kind, consults with his attorney in his professional capacity
with the view to obtaining professional advice or assistance, and the attorney
voluntarily permits or acquiesces in such consultation, then the professional
employment must be regarded as established. . . .
In this case, Cayetano consulted respondent Tugade in his professional capacity in
order to obtain advice concerning his appeal. Respondent agreed, as shown by his
acceptance of the payment to him, his receipt of the TSNs of the case, and the fact
that he signed the appellants brief. His claim that he merely accepted payment but
that he asked another lawyer to prepare the brief is an obvious subterfuge. He has
not even named the lawyer assuming that the latter is real. It is hard to see why
respondent should personally accept payment and the transcripts of stenographic
notes from complainant if he did not intend to prepare the appellants brief.
Moreover, the fact that respondent filed a motion for reconsideration after the
dismissal of the appeal only confirms that he was indeed Cayetanos lawyer.
The records clearly show that respondent Atty. Faustino F. Tugade was remiss in the
performance of his duties as counsel of complainant Cayetano Rabanal. He was
given by the Court of Appeals an extension of time totalling 60 days within which to
file the appellants brief, but he failed to file the same. He thus violated the Code of
Professional Responsibility which provides:
RULE 12.03. A lawyer shall not, after obtaining extensions of time to file
pleadings, memoranda or briefs, let the period lapse without submitting the same or
offering an explanation for his failure to do so.
RULE 18.03. A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him, and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
What this Court said in another case is fitting:
Once he agrees to take up the cause of a client, the lawyer owes fidelity to such
cause and must always be mindful of the trust and confidence reposed in him. He
must serve the client with competence and diligence, and champion the latters
cause with wholehearted fidelity, care, and devotion. Elsewise stated, he owes
entire devotion to the interest of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and
defense of his clients rights, and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability to
the end that nothing be taken or withheld from his client, save by the rules of law,
legally applied. This simply means that his client is entitled to the benefit of any and
every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land and he may
expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense. If much is demanded
from an attorney, it is because the entrusted privilege to practice law carries with it
the correlative duties not only to the client but also to the court, to the bar, and to
the public. A lawyer who performs his duty with diligence and candor not only
protects the interest of his client; he also serves the ends of justice, does honor to
the bar, and helps maintain the respect of the community to the legal profession.[1]
[23]
Indeed, a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client. He should be mindful of the
trust and confidence reposed in him, remembering always that his actions or

omissions are binding on his clients. In this case, the failure of respondent to file the
appellants brief resulted in the dismissal of the appeal. As a consequence, the
decision in the trial court finding complainant guilty of homicide became final and
executory and he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. As has been held:
An attorney is bound to protect his clients interest to the best of his ability and with
utmost diligence. (Del Rosario vs. Court of Appeals, 114 SCRA 159) A failure to file
brief for his client certainly constitutes inexcusable negligence on his part. (People
vs. Villar, 46 SCRA 107) The respondent has indeed committed a serious lapse in the
duty owed by him to his client as well as to the Court not to delay litigation and to
aid in the speedy administration of justice. (People vs. Daban, 43 SCRA 185; People
vs. Estocada, 43 SCRA 515).[1][24]
It should likewise be noted that respondent failed to notify the IBP of his change of
address, thus delaying the resolution of this case. Service of notice and other
pleadings, which must be furnished to the parties, must be made at the last address
on record. If the parties are represented by counsel, such notices shall be sent
instead to the counsels last given address on record in the absence of a proper and
adequate notice of a change of address, unless service upon the party himself is
ordered.[1][25]
In Resurreccion v. Sayson,[1][26] the Court attributed the delay in the resolution of
an administrative case to respondent lawyer, after finding that The 27-year delay
in the resolution of this case was, to a large extent, caused by his failure to appear
before the Office of the Solicitor General and to inform the IBP of his change of
address, a failure that also indicated his lack of regard for the very serious charges
brought against him. Similarly, respondent Tugade likewise showed a disregard of
the charge against him, and the IBP properly made its recommendation solely on
the basis of complainants testimonies and the documentary evidence.
In Galen v. Paguirigan,[1][27] the Court, taking into account that it was a first
offense, suspended for a period of six (6) months a lawyer who failed to file a brief.
Atty. Faustino Tugade showed lack of due care for his clients interest and willful
neglect of his duties as an officer of the court, thus warranting the imposition of the
same penalty on him.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Faustino F. Tugade is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for six (6) months effective upon finality hereof
with WARNING that a repetition of the same negligent act charged in this complaint
will be dealt with even more severely.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 5085. February 6, 2003]
PABLITO SANTOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. ALVARO BERNABE LAZARO, respondent.
RESOLUTION
BELLOSILLO, J.:
Atty. Alvaro Bernabe Lazaro, a member of the Philippine Bar and respondent herein,
is charged administratively with "inexcusable neglect of duties as a lawyer to a
client-relative."[1][1] According to complainant Pablito Santos, the charge arose

from respondents failure to file a memorandum/brief resulting in his being


deprived of his rights over a parcel of land located at F. Varona St., Tondo, Manila.
Complainant also alleged other matters indicative of further misconduct, such as
respondents repeated demands for unconscionable amounts of money despite
awareness of complainants grinding poverty.
Specifically, complainant averred that he was a defendant in an ejectment case filed
by a certain Alfredo dela Rosa in representation of his minor children Mila Nelia,
Ofelia, Rochelle and Allan, all surnamed dela Rosa, before the Metropolitan Trial
Court of Manila.[1][2] The complaint was for complainants ejectment from a parcel
of land at F. Varona St., Tondo, Manila, after he refused to pay rent.
Subsequently, respondent entered his appearance as counsel for herein
complainant, as defendant in the MeTC, after he paid respondent an acceptance fee
of P20,000.00. Complainant further alleged that while the case was pending thereat
respondent demanded and was paid another P30,000.00. However, judgment was
rendered ordering complainant to vacate the premises and to pay plaintiffs therein
P87,000.00 as back rentals.
Feeling aggrieved, complainant appealed to the Regional Trial Court of Manila.[1][3]
For the appeal, complainant gave respondent another P30,000.00 for his
professional services. After the MeTC rendered judgment ordering complainants
immediate eviction from the premises, the National Housing Authority awarded him
the property and a transfer certificate of title was issued in his favor.[1][4]
On the part of the plaintiffs in the MeTC, they moved for the immediate execution of
the judgment being appealed from. On 17 March 1997 the Regional Trial Court
issued an Order directing defendant-appellant Pablito Santos to file his
memorandum/brief within thirty (30) days from receipt thereof.
Several months later, respondent was reproached by the RTC for not complying with
its 17 March 1997 Order. Respondent had to plead that he be given another chance
to file his appellants memorandum as his attention was focused on matters
pertaining on (sic) the submission of pleadings thereafter needed to be filed in reply
to Plaintiffs manifestation and motion. His arguments however were not sustained.
On 18 August 1997 the RTC granted the motion for a writ of execution upon finding
that defendant therein, complainant herein, did not put up a supersedeas bond to
stay the execution of the judgment. In its Order, the RTC also disregarded
complainants opposition to resolve the motion and considered counsels excuse for
not filing his memorandum as a feeble attempt to extricate himself (herein
respondent Lazaro) from his blunder which is not excusable.[1][5]
Respondent denied the charges against him. He argued that his failure to file the
memorandum/brief was not deliberate as he is morally and legally convinced
that he may be able to present his clients valid cause or claim over the disputed
property in a hearing called for the purpose. He alleged that he could have orally
argued complainants case before the trial court had he been given the opportunity
to do so. According to him, complainant rudely terminated his services even before
he could explain his legal strategy for winning the appeal. Moreover, complainants
allegation that he milked him dry was far from the truth since complainant actually

gave him only P10,000.00 contrary to their agreement that he would be


remunerated with P30,000.00 for his legal services. Lastly, respondent claimed that
complainant tried to extort P200,000.00 from him in exchange for the withdrawal of
his disbarment complaint against him.[1][6]
This Court referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
investigation, report and recommendation.[1][7] On 5 August 2002 the IBP
submitted its Report finding respondent guilty of negligence and recommending
that he be suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months.[1][8]
In justifying its recommendation, the IBP completely relied on the findings of the
trial court From the facts obtaining and the evidence presented, we find the Order dated 18
August 1997 of the Honorable Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Manila,
Branch 31, says it all with regard to the inexcusable negligence committed by
respondent in handling the case of complainant, to wit:
The record reveals that defendants counsel failed to file any motion for extension
to file his memorandum/brief. This being the case, defendants counsel was of the
thinking that he could get out of his predicament by pleading that his attention was
focused on matters pertaining on the submission of pleadings thereafter needed to
be filed in reply to plaintiffs manifestation and motion, thus his failure to file
defendants memorandum/brief. However, this is farthest from the truth because he
already knew on March 31, 1997 that he was required to file his memorandum/brief
not later than thirty (30) days from that date. The foregoing narration does not
speak well of the stance taken by defendants counsel.[1][9]
A thorough and exhaustive study of the complaint as well as the comment thereto
argues strongly for the adoption and approval of the IBP Report. Indeed,
complainant would not have undergone the travails of losing his property had
respondent exercised the ordinary diligence of a member of the Bar.
Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides that
negligence of lawyers in connection with legal matters entrusted to them for
handling shall render them liable. It is a basic postulate in legal ethics that when a
lawyer takes a clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in
protecting his rights. The failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention
expected of a good father of a family makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust
reposed upon him by his client and makes him answerable to him, to the courts and
to society.
The acts of respondent in this case violate the most elementary principles of
professional ethics. By neglecting to file the memorandum/brief, respondent set
off a chain of events which eventually ended in the demolition of a 34-meter
structure which complainant and four other families call home.[1][10] His
explanation that his attention was focused on matters pertaining on (sic) the
submission of pleadings thereafter needed to be filed in reply to plaintiffs
manifestation and motion is too ludicrous to be believed. His stance, to quote the
trial court, was but a feeble attempt to extricate himself from his blunder which is
not excusable.

Respondents failure to exercise due diligence in attending to the interest of


complainant caused the latter material prejudice. As a lawyer, respondent was
wanting in the exercise of reasonable care demanded of every member of the Bar;
his measure of diligence is several notches below the standard required of his office.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Alvaro Bernabe Lazaro is found GUILTY of negligence
in protecting the interest of his client, complainant Pablito Santos, in Civil Case No.
97-82452, of the RTC of Manila, and is accordingly SUSPENDED from the practice of
law, not for six (6) months as recommended by the Commission on Bar Discipline of
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, but for one (1) year effective from date of his
receipt of this Resolution.
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of Atty. Alvaro
Bernabe Lazaro in the Bar Confidants Office, another copy furnished the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines, and copies thereof circulated in all the courts of the country.
Respondent Atty. Alvaro Bernabe Lazaro is DIRECTED to inform this Court and the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines of the date of his receipt of this Resolution.
SO ORDERED.

[A.C. No. 5246. March 20, 2003]


EDGAR O. PEREA, complainant, vs. ATTY. RUBEN ALMADRO, respondent.
RESOLUTION
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
Before the Court is a complaint for disbarment filed by Edgar O. Perea against Atty.
Ruben Almadro for gross neglect of his duties as lawyer of herein complainant.
Complainant narrates: Respondent was his counsel before the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City (Branch 99) where he (complainant Perea) is being charged with the
crime of Frustrated Homicide. On February 26, 1996, the said RTC issued an order
granting Atty. Almadros motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence within ten
(10) days from said date. All the while, complainant thought that respondent filed
said demurrer and the case against him dismissed. It was only sometime in 1999
that complainant learned that Atty. Almadro failed to file any demurrer. The trial
court ordered the herein complainant to present evidence in his defense. Later, a
warrant was issued for his arrest prompting him to surrender to the court and post
bail. Complainant suffered financially and emotionally due to respondents neglect
of his duties. Respondent has not attended any of his hearings which led
complainant to plead with respondent to withdraw formally as his counsel so he
could hire another lawyer. Because of Atty. Almadros neglect, complainant is now
facing the loss of his freedom and livelihood.[1][1]
Respondent filed three motions for extension of time to file comment.[1][2] On
November 13, 2000, the Court resolved to grant the said motions with a warning
that no further extensions shall be granted.[1][3] On November 17, 2000,

respondent, through the law firm Sua and Alambra, filed a Manifestation and Motion
that respondent has not yet received a copy of the complaint hence it asked the
Court to order the complainant to furnish them a copy.[1][4]
On December 20, 2000, respondent through said law firm submitted an Answer[1]
[5] to the complaint, contending that: two days after the RTC granted the
manifestation of defense to file motion for leave to file demurrer to evidence, he
had finished the draft of the motion and the accompanying pleading which he
stored in a magnetic computer diskette intended for editing prior to its submission
in court; a few days before the deadline, herein respondent tried to retrieve the
draft from the diskette but said drafts were nowhere to be found despite efforts to
retrieve them; this led him to believe that the drafts must have been finalized and
the edited versions accordingly filed since it is his practice to expunge from the
diskette drafts that were already finalized and acted upon; meanwhile, the presiding
judge of the RTC retired, as a consequence, actions on pending cases were held in
abeyance; moreover, communications with the herein complainant had become
rarer; thereafter, towards the end of 1997 up to the next five months of 1998,
respondent was preoccupied with the congressional elections in Biliran where he ran
and subsequently lost; then he was offered a position at the Philippine Stock
Exchange as head of the Compliance and Surveillance Division which he accepted;
his time and attention was spent in the performance of his demanding job at the
PSE as well as in the preparation of his testimony before the Senate Blue Ribbon
Committee in connection with the BW scam; anent the case of herein
complainant, he offered on several occasions to withdraw as one of the defense
counsel of the complainant even to the extent of offering to return his acceptance
fee which the latter however refused;[1][6] it is not true that complainant pleaded
with respondent to withdraw as his counsel, the truth being that it was complainant
who refused to let go of respondent as his counsel; also, while he is a counsel of
complainant in the criminal case before the RTC, he was merely a collaborating
counsel, the lead counsel being Atty. Solomon Villanueva;[1][7] finally, he was
actually mulling over the possible procedural steps to take with regard to
complainants case when he received instead, a copy of the present complaint.[1]
[8]
On February 28, 2001, the Court issued a Resolution[1][9] referring the case to the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and recommendation.
On June 13, 2001, the IBP through Commissioner Renato G. Cunanan submitted its
report, pertinent portions of which are quoted verbatim:
We are not convinced about the truth of respondents affirmative allegations. It is
clear that he as well as his counsels are lying. First off, the manifestation with
motion filed by respondents counsels, Sua and Alambra is incredibly unbelievable.
In fact, to be blunt about it, respondents counsels were clearly lying when they
manifested that the respondent has yet to receive a copy of the complaint... This
is an outrageous lie. The respondents three (3) motions never once mentioned that
he had not received copy of the complaint. In fact, in his second motion for further
extension of time to file comment, Atty. Almadro CLEARLY stated in the second

paragraph thereof that:


He is in the process of reviewing an initial draft of said comment and will need said
period of ten (10) days to complete and finalize the draft.
From the afore-quoted portion of Mr. Almadros manifestation and motion, it is
obvious he already had a copy of the complaint. The manifestation and motion filed
on his behalf by Attys. Sua and Alambra with the Honorable Supreme Court is a
brazen and deliberate misrepresentation which deserves an uncompromising and
vigorous condemnation.
The respondent claims he is in solo practice. How then can he honestly claim that
when he could not find the draft of his demurrer in the magnetic computer diskette
where he allegedly stored it, he was led to believe that the drafts must have been
finalized and the edited versions thereof accordingly filed. This allegation is pure
unadulterated garbage. All Mr. Almadro had to do was check his case folder to see if
a demurrer had indeed been filed. As a solo practitioner like this representation, we
can only surmise that logically, nothing happens or goes down in Mr. Almadros
office without his knowledge and indispensable participation. If so, how could he
have been led to believe anything? To be sure, he would have read and signed the
demurrer before it was accordingly filed. Being a solo practitioner no one else
could have signed that demurrer. And does Mr. Almadro expect anyone to believe
that after finishing the draft (in his computer) he would not even bother to print a
hard copy for him to read, edit and correct without having to do so from his
computer monitor?
Incidentally, this representation verified the records of the complainants criminal
case before RTC-Branch 99, Quezon City. We came upon an Order of the incumbent
presiding judge declaring the respondent herein in contempt of court for repeatedly
failing to submit an explanation as ordered by the court.
The undersigned is convinced that Atty. Ruben L. Almadros actuations reveal not
only serious neglect or indifference to his duties as a lawyer but more gravely his
open disrespect for the court and the authority it represents.
We wish to put on record our extreme DISPLEASURE at the behavior of respondent
Atty. Ruben L. Almadro. We strongly recommend that respondent be suspended
from the practice of law for two (2) years and that he be fined Ten Thousand
(PhP10,000.00) Pesos. We likewise recommend strongly that Attys. Sua and Alambra
be ordered to explain why they should not be held in contempt for deliberately
foisting a deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation on the Honorable Supreme
Court by declaring that their client had not received a copy of the complaint when
such was not true. By their misrepresentation the afore-named counsels have
exhibited contemptible disrespect not only for the Court but also the authority it
represents.[1][10]
The report was adopted and approved by the Board of Governors of the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline with some modifications thus:
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the aboveentitled 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, with modification, and considering that Atty. Ruben L.
Almadros actuations reveal not only serious neglect or indifference to his duties as
a lawyer but more gravely his open disrespect for the court and the authority it
represent. Respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one (1)
year and FINED for Ten Thousand (P 10,000.00) Pesos. Likewise, Atty. Sua and Atty.
Alambra are ordered to explain why they should not be held in contempt for
deliberately foisting a deliberate falsehood and misrepresentation.[1][11]
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration on September 11, 2002, this time in
his own behalf, of the above quoted IBP Board Resolution.[1][12] This was denied on
October 19, 2002.[1][13]
We are in full accord with the findings and recommendation of the IBP.
As clearly stated in the Code of Professional Responsibility CANON 18 --- A lawyer shall serve his client with competence and diligence.
Rule 18.03 --- A lawyer shall not neglect a legal matter entrusted to him and his
negligence in connection therewith shall render him liable.
Rule 18.04 --- A lawyer shall keep the client informed of the status of his case and
shall respond within a reasonable time to the clients request for information.
It is plain from the records that respondent lawyer failed to submit a demurrer to
evidence for which he had earlier asked permission from the trial court and which
his client, herein complainant was relying on. More than that, he failed to contact
his client and to apprise the latter about the developments of the case leaving
complainant completely surprised and without any protection when years later, he
received summons from the trial court asking him to present evidence in his
defense and, not long after, the trial court issued a warrant for his arrest.
In the recent case of Sps. Galen et al. vs. Atty. Paguirigan[1][14] the Court is
explicit in its pronouncement that:
An attorney is bound to protect his clients interest to the best of his ability and
with utmost diligence. A failure to file brief for his client certainly constitutes
inexcusable negligence on his part. The respondent has indeed committed a serious
lapse in the duty owed by him to his client as well as to the Court not to delay
litigation and to aid in the speedy administration of justice.
xxx xxx xxx
A lawyer is expected to be familiar with these rudiments of law and procedure and
anyone who acquires his service is entitled to not just competent service but also
whole-hearted devotion to his clients cause. It is the duty of a lawyer to serve his
client with competence and diligence and he should exert his best efforts to protect
within the bounds of law the interest of his client. A lawyer should never neglect a
legal matter entrusted to him, otherwise his negligence in fulfilling his duty will
render him liable for disciplinary action.[1][15]
In other cases, the Court also held that while a lawyer may decline a person to
become his client for valid reasons, once he agrees to take up the cause of a client,
he begins to owe fidelity to such cause and must always be mindful of the trust and
confidence reposed in him. As a lawyer, he must serve the client with competence

and diligence, and champion the latters cause with wholehearted fidelity, care and
devotion. Indeed, he owes entire devotion to the interest of his client, warm zeal in
the maintenance and defense of his clients rights, and the exertion of his utmost
learning and ability to the end that nothing be taken or withheld from his client,
save by the rules of law legally applied.[1][16] His client is entitled to the benefit of
any and every remedy and defense that is authorized by the law of the land and he
may expect his lawyer to assert every such remedy or defense.[1][17]
Respondents negligence is compounded by his attempt to have this tribunal
believe the story of how his draft, stored in a magnetic diskette, mysteriously
disappeared and how the absence of such file in his diskette led him to believe that
the same was already filed in court. In his Answer, he even tried to depict himself as
a conscientious lawyer by stating that he was actually mulling on the procedural
steps he would undertake regarding complainants case when instead he received a
copy of this complaint for disbarment. Such story, as observed by the IBP, is not
only outrageous but is contemptuous as it makes a mockery of the Court.
Again, the Code of Professional Responsibility is explicit on this matter:
CANON 10--- A lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the court.
Rule 10.01 ---A lawyer shall not do any falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in
court; nor shall he mislead or allow the court to be misled by any artifice.
In Benguet Electric Cooperative, Inc. vs Atty. Flores,[1][18] the Court, aside
from citing Canon 10 above stated that a lawyer must be a disciple of truth.
Indeed, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is for a lawyer as an officer of
the court to observe honesty at all times, especially before the courts.
Respondent would have this Court believe a very preposterous story of how his draft
disappeared, all the time avoiding the simple fact that he failed to submit the
necessary pleading before the trial court. Such behavior cannot be countenanced
and deserves stern penalty therefor.
The act of the IBP in requiring Atty. Kenton Sua and Atty. Alan Alambra to show
cause why they should not be held in contempt of court for deliberate falsehood and
misrepresentation in the preparation of the Answer for herein respondent is
appropriate. Records reveal that both Attys. Sua and Alambra have filed their joint
Explanation.[1][19]
WHEREFORE, finding respondent Atty. Ruben Almadro guilty of serious neglect of his
duties as a lawyer and of open disrespect for the court and the authority it
represents, as embodied in Canon 18, Rules 18.03 and 18.04 and Canon 10, Rule
10.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, he is SUSPENDED from the practice
of law for one (1) year and FINED in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00)
Pesos, with a WARNING that any or similar acts of dishonesty would be dealt with
more severely.
Let a copy of the Resolution be attached to the personal records of Atty. Alambra in
the Office of the Bar Confidant and copies be furnished the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) and all the courts in the country for their information and guidance.
Let the records of herein case be remanded to the Office of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines for further action on the contempt proceedings against Atty. Kenton Sua

and Atty. Alan Alambra.


SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 5162 March 20, 2003
EMILIANO COURT TOWNHOUSES HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, complainant,
vs.ATTY. MICHAEL DIONEDA, respondent.
BELLOSILLO, J.:
A LAWYER OWES FIDELITY to the cause of his client mindful always of the trust and
confidence reposed in him.1 An attorney-at-law must serve his client with
competence and diligence at all times,2 and never neglect a legal matter entrusted
to him,3 for it is his sworn duty to delay no man for money or malice and to conduct
himself in a proper manner not just to his client, but also to the court, the legal
profession and society at large.
This is an administrative complaint for disbarment filed by the EMILIANO COURT
TOWNHOUSES HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION (ECTHA) against ATTY. MICHAEL
DIONEDA.
On 29 September 1997 ECTHA and respondent Dioneda entered into a Retainers
Agreement wherein respondent lawyer agreed to handle the case of the
complainant against LVF Realty, Mr. Tinsay and BPI Family Savings Bank by way of
filing a Complaint-in-Intervention in the Regional Trial Court of Valenzuela, Metro
Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 4890-V-96, for P20,000.00 as attorneys fees and
P1,000.00 as appearance fee per hearing.4 It was further agreed that respondent
lawyer would update the complaint and work on the development of the case.5
In its Complaint ECTHA alleged that Atty. Dioneda, after receiving the amount of
P20,000.00, did nothing for the development of the case and to update the
complaint on the status of ECTHAs intended Complaint-in-Intervention. Due to the
insistence of the members of the Association, Mr. Fernando Garcia, ECTHA
President, was compelled to check the records of the case in the Regional Trial Court
of Valenzuela, Branch 75, and secured a certification from the Branch Clerk of Court
dated 5 July 1999 that there was no motion for intervention filed in the case.6
On behalf of ECTHA Mr. Garcia repeatedly made oral demands for respondent to
return the amount of P20,000.00 because he did not do anything to protect the
rights and interests of the Association. Respondent Dioneda only made oral
promises to pay, and in August 1999 he could no longer be contacted and the
personnel in his office simply made excuses to Mr. Garcia.7
Through Mr. Garcia ECTHA referred the matter to Atty. Antonio L. Umali, who
contacted respondent by telephone. Still, no response was made by respondent. On
18 August 1999 a letter dated 17 August 1999 was sent to Dioneda, but again there
was no response.8
In his Comment filed before this Court, respondent Dioneda admitted that he and
ECTHA entered into a Retainers Agreement; however, he averred that the
Agreement did not cover only the Complaint-in-Intervention as adverted to by the
complainant. It also included the case before the Housing and Land Use Regulatory
Board (HLURB) that the complainant filed against the developer of Emiliano Court

Townhouses who refused to release to the members of the ECTHA their respective
Deeds of Sale.
At the time his legal services were engaged, Atty. Dioneda alleged that there was
already a decision in favor of the complainant. Thereafter, respondent entered his
appearance and filed a Motion for Execution with the HLURB. According to
respondent Mr. Garcia would go with him and follow up the issuance of the Writ of
Execution with the HLURB National Office. Respondent Dioneda further alleged that
he wanted to pursue the Writ of Execution since he would attach it to the Complaintin-Intervention, and that this was explained to the members of ECTHA. Respondent
claimed that there was delay in the filing of the Complaint-in-Intervention because
there was delay in the issuance by the HLURB of the Writ of Execution.
Respondent further averred that Mr. Garcia would call him at his residence and
"spew invectives" at him. There would be no day that Mr. Garcia would not call
respondent and hurl expletives at him and his parents. Respondent denied the
allegation that ECTHA had made several demands on him and that he promised to
pay sometime August 1999.
After receiving the demand letter of ECTHA respondent immediately called up the
residence of Mr. Garcia and informed him that he could get the money and the
records of the case at his office. However, respondent informed ECTHA that a
portion of the amount to be returned would be deducted as a reasonable fee for the
efforts exerted by him. According to respondent, no representative of the
complainant showed up at his law office.
Respondent Dioneda denied the charge that he never attended to the case of the
complainant and that he did nothing to protect the interest of its members. He
asserted that there was no intention on his part to defraud them.
The matter was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation.
Hearings were set on at least five (5) separate dates. Despite due notice,
respondent never attended the IBP administrative hearings. Thus the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline allowed the presentation of complainants evidence
ex-parte against respondent on the 14 December 2001 hearing.9
On 13 February 2002 the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP), through the designated Commissioner, recommended that
respondent be found guilty of violating the Code of Professional Responsibility,
specifically Canons 17 and 18.10 The IBP held that the act of receiving professional
fees and thereafter failing to render the corresponding legal service is a violation of
the Canons. The penalty of three (3) months suspension from the practice of law
and an order for Dioneda to return the amount of P20,000.00 to his client in the
interest of justice were recommended. On 29 June 2002, Resolution No. XV-2002252 was passed by the IBP Board of Governors adopting and approving the report
and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.
The sole issue in this case is whether Atty. Dioneda violated Canons 17 and 18 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility. Admittedly respondent received the amount
of P20,000.00 as acceptance fee for handling a case to be filed in behalf of ECTHA.
Despite receipt of the aforementioned fee, respondent allegedly failed to render the

corresponding legal services to the complainant.


We agree with the Report of IBP Commissioner Wilfredo E.J.E. Reyes as approved
and adopted by the IBP Board of Governors.
The Complaint-in-Intervention was never filed and despite the pronouncement of
respondent that he would return the attorneys fees to complainant, he never did.
The issuance of the Writ of Execution in the HLURB should never have been a
requirement imposed by respondent before a Complaint-in-Intervention could be
filed.
Before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, respondent Dioneda did not attend a
single hearing to defend himself. Despite due notice, he did not attend the hearings
scheduled on 19 March, 9 May, 20 June, 8 August and 14 December 2001. The
parties were ordered to submit their respective position papers in the Order of 9
May 2001 of the CBD-IBP. Respondent never complied with the Order.
Respondents lamentable attitude towards his clients case is clearly evident from
his apparent disinterest in his own case for disbarment. Dioneda never bothered to
present evidence in his defense. He disregarded all notices sent to him by the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline, which were personally served at his office address.
He never appeared before the Commission despite several opportunities to do so
and explain his side.
It is reasonable to conclude that under the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, respondent
committed an infringement of ethical standards. The act of receiving money as
acceptance fee for legal services in handling the case of complainant ECTHA against
LVF Realty, Mr. Tinsay and BPI Family Bank and subsequently failing to render such
service is a clear violation of Canons 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility. Not only that. The acts of inexcusable negligence in legal matters
entrusted to him and disloyalty to his client constitute major breaches of
respondents oath as a lawyer.11 These acts that are inimical to his clients interests
render respondent liable.
A member of the legal profession owes his client entire devotion to his genuine
interest, warm zeal in the maintenance and defense of his rights and the exertion of
his utmost learning and ability.12 Public interest demands that an attorney exert his
best efforts and ability to preserve his clients cause, for the unwavering loyalty
displayed to his client likewise serves the ends of justice. Verily, the entrusted
privilege to practice law carries with it the corresponding duties not only to the
client but also to the court, to the bar and to the public. A lawyers inability to
properly discharge his duty to his client may also mean a violation of his correlative
obligations to the court, to his profession and to the general public.
The duty of a lawyer to safeguard his clients interests commences from his retainer
until his effective discharge from the case or the final disposition of the entire
subject matter of litigation. Acceptance of money from a client establishes an
attorney-client relationship and gives rise to the duty of fidelity to the clients cause.
The canons of the legal profession require that once an attorney agrees to handle a
case, he should undertake the task with zeal, care and utmost devotion. Indeed,
respondent neglected a legal matter entrusted to him by failing to file the

Complaint-in-Intervention he undertook to handle, thus making him liable under


Rule 18.03 of Canon 18.
In Santos v. Lazaro this Court recognized Rule 18.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility as a basic postulate in legal ethics stating that when a lawyer takes a
clients cause, he covenants that he will exercise due diligence in protecting his
rights.13 The failure to exercise that degree of vigilance and attention expected of a
good father of a family makes such lawyer unworthy of the trust reposed in him by
his client and makes him answerable not just to his client but also to the legal
profession, the courts and society.14
However, the recommended penalty by the IBP is not commensurate to the acts
complained of. Jurisprudence shows that heavier sanctions have been imposed for
ethical violations of this nature, taking into consideration the gravity of the offense
and the necessity of preserving the integrity of the legal profession.
Following the latest rulings of this Court on disciplinary proceedings against erring
attorneys, those found guilty of the same or similar acts were suspended for not
less than six (6) months from the practice of law.
The facts of Sencio v. Calvadores bear a striking similarity to the present case.15
The respondent lawyer in Sencio did not return the money to the complainant after
a demand therefor was made following his failure to file the case. This Court took to
task the respondents attitude of not answering the complaint and in deliberately
disregarding the orders and notices of the IBP on many occasions, holding that this
attitude showed a character or disposition which stains the nobility of the legal
profession as he chose not to appear at the scheduled hearings despite due notice
and warnings given.16 The IBP-appointed Commissioner had no other recourse but
to receive the evidence of the complainant ex-parte.17
Accordingly, the respondent in Sencio was found guilty of violation of the lawyers
oath, malpractice and gross misconduct, suspended for six (6) months, and ordered
to return to his client the amount of P12,000.00 with interest at 12% per annum
from the date of the promulgation of the resolution until the return of the amount.18
This Court in Garcia v. Manuel suspended the respondent lawyer from the practice
of law for six (6) months and ordered him to render an accounting of all monies he
received from the complainant.19 The counselor-at-law was found guilty of gross
misconduct, especially for ineffectively handling the case of his client and failing to
return the money given by that same client.
In Rabanal v. Tugade20 and Galen v. Paguirigan,21 the respondent lawyers who
failed to file a brief to the detriment of their respective clients were suspended by
this Court for six (6) months on the first offense.
The respondent attorney in Aromin v. Boncavil was found to have violated Canons
15, 17 and 18 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.22 He was suspended for six
(6) months and warned that a repetition of a similar offense would be dealt with
more severely.
As to the amount of Atty. Dionedas compensation for his legal services, the general
rule as to the conclusiveness of a valid written contract fixing attorneys fees cannot
find application in the case at bar. This is due largely to the complainants request

for a full refund of the attorneys fees given, and the respondents counter-proposal
that a portion of the amount be deducted as a reasonable fee for the efforts exerted
by him. In a situation where both parties are deemed to have impliedly disregarded
the contract and placed themselves in the position as though there was no express
stipulation as to the attorneys fees, the lawyers compensation shall be determined
on the basis of quantum meruit.23
Despite this settled principle of law on the compensation of an attorney for legal
services, we rule against respondent lawyer in the present case.
To deserve compensation for his legal services based on quantum meruit,
respondent Dioneda must prove by substantial evidence that he is entitled to a
reasonable fee for his efforts in pursuing the complainants case with the Court
taking into account certain factors in fixing the amount of his fees.24 However, due
to respondents conspicuous absence at the administrative hearings for his
disbarment set by the IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline on at least five (5)
different occasions, and the apparent lack of findings of fact to support the position
of respondent, evidence required to establish attorneys fees was never adduced.
For having missed several opportunities to present evidence in his favor without any
satisfactory explanation as to his non-appearance, we are constrained to deny him
compensation for his legal services on the basis of quantum meruit due to the lack
of any factual basis to determine the value of his work as complainants counsel.
Finally, Rivera v. Corral25 reiterates the purpose of administrative cases against
lawyers in this manner The primary objective of administrative cases against lawyers is not only to punish
and discipline the erring individual lawyers but also to safeguard the administration
of justice by protecting the courts and the public from the misconduct of lawyers,
and to remove from the legal profession persons whose utter disregard of their
lawyer's oath has proven them unfit to continue discharging the trust reposed in
them as members of the bar. A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for
misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be
wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to
continue as an officer of the court.
It must be stressed that the power to discipline advocates of the law should be
exercised with extreme care, primarily on the notion of preserving the nobility of the
law as a profession rather than on the incidental purpose of vindicating the rights of
private parties against erring lawyers. The indispensable duty of this Court as the
guardian of the bench and bar remains that of maintaining the peoples respect for
the rule of law and the efficient administration of justice, while at the same time
restoring the communitys faith in the legal profession.
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Michael Dioneda is SUSPENDED from the practice of
law for six (6) months, which shall take effect from the date of notice of receipt of
the finality of this Decision, with a WARNING that repetition of the same or similar
acts will merit a more severe penalty, and is ORDERED to RETURN to complainant
Emiliano Court Townhouses Homeowners Association the amount of Twenty
Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00), with interest of twelve percent (12%) per annum

from the date of promulgation of this Decision until the full amount as directed, is
returned.
Let copy of this Decision be furnished all courts of the land, the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant, and entered into respondents
personal records as an attorney and as a member of the Philippine Bar.
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 3923 March 30, 1993
CONCORDIA B. GARCIA, complainant, vs.ATTY. CRISANTO L. FRANCISCO, respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:
In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on October 6, 1992, Concordia B. Garcia
seeks the disbarment of Atty. Crisanto L. Francisco.
On March 9, 1964, Concordia B. Garcia and her husband Godofredo, the Dionisio
spouses, and Felisa and Magdalena Baetiong leased a parcel of land to Sotero
Baluyot Lee for a period of 25 years beginning May 1, 1964. Despite repeated verbal
and written demands, Lee refused to vacate after the expiration of the lease. Lee
claimed that he had an option to extend the lease for another 5 years and the right
of pre-emption over the property.
In this disbarment case, the complainant claims that Lee's counsel, respondent
Francisco, commenced various suits before different courts to thwart Garcia's right
to regain her property and that all these proceedings weredecided against Lee. The
proceedings stemmed from the said lease contract and involved the same issues
and parties, thus violating the proscription against forum-shopping.
Respondent, in his comment, says that he asserted in defense of his client's rights
only such remedies as were authorized by law.
The tangle of recourses employed by Francisco is narrated as follows:
1. On March 29, 1989, Lee, through Francisco, filed a complaint against Garcia and
the other lessors for specific performance and reconveyance with damages in the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. This was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-89-2118.
On June 9, 1989, Garcia filed a motion to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of
failure to state a cause of action, laches and prescription. The case was dismissed
by Judge Felimon Mendoza on August 10, 1989.
2. On May 29, 1989, Garcia and the other lessors filed a complaint for unlawful
detainer against Lee in the Metropolitan Trial Court of Quezon City. This was
docketed as Civil Case No. 1455. Through Francisco, Lee filed an answer alleging as
special and affirmative defense the pendency of Civil Case No. Q-89-2118 in the
Regional Trial Court of Quezon City. On September 5, 1989, Judge Marcelino Bautista
issued a resolution rejecting this allegation on the ground that the issues before the
two courts were separate and different.
3. On October 24, 1989, Lee, through Francisco, filed with the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City a petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary injunction
against Judge Bautista, Garcia and the other lessors. This was docketed as Civil
Case No. Q-89-3833. In filing this petition, Francisco knew or should have known

that it violated the Rule on Summary Procedure prohibiting the filing of petitions for
certiorari, mandamus or prohibition against any interlocutory order issued by the
court.
Francisco claims that what he appealed to the Regional Trial Court in Civil Case No.
Q-89-3833 was the denial of his prayer for dismissal of Civil Case No. 1455. This is
not true. Civil Case Q-89-3833 was clearly a special civil action and not an appeal.
On November 13, 1989, Judge Abraham Vera issued an order enjoining Judge
Bautista from proceeding with the trial of the unlawful detainer case. Upon motion
of the complainant, however, the injunction was set aside and Civil Case No. Q-893833 was dismissed on January 9, 1990. Lee did not appeal.
4. On April 6, 1990, Lee, through Francisco, filed a petition for certiorari and
prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction with the Court of Appeals against
Judge Vera, Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors. Docketed as CA G.R. Sp No.
20476, the petition assailed the January 9, 1990 order of Judge Vera dismissing Civil
Case No. Q-89-3833. On May 31, 1989, the petition was denied.
5. On June 14, 1990, Judge Singzon decided Civil Case No. 1455 in favor of
complainant Garcia and the other lessors. Lee did not appeal. Instead, on June 21,
1990, through Francisco again, he filed a petition against Judge Singzon and the
other lessors for certiorari and annulment of the decision in Civil Case No. 1455 and
damages with prayer for issuance of preliminary injunction. This was docketed as
Civil Case No. 90-5852 in the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 98,
presided by Judge Cesar C. Peralejo.
In Francisco's comment before us, he alleges that Civil Case No.Q-90-5852 is an
appeal from the unlawful detainer case. Again, he lies. Civil Case No. Q-90-5852 was
a special civil action and not an appeal.
On July 2, 1990, Garcia's group filed an Omnibus Motion to Dismiss Civil Case No.
90-5852. On July 13, 1990, Judge Peralejo issued an order enjoining Judge Singzon
from enforcing the decision in that case. Garcia attacked this order in a petition for
certiorari and prohibition with prayer for preliminary injunction docketed as CA Sp.
No. 22392. The petition was granted by the Court of Appeals on September 19,
1991, on the ground that the judgment in the unlawful detainer case had become
final and executory as of June 30, 1990.
6. On September 24, 1991, Garcia filed a motion for execution in the unlawful
detainer case. On September 27, 1991, Lee, through Francisco, filed a motion to
inhibit Judge Singzon and to defer the hearing of the motion. A writ of execution was
nonetheless issued by Judge Singzon on October 8, 1991.
7. Two days later, Lee, through Francisco, filed with the Supreme Court a petition for
certiorari with preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order against the
Court of Appeals, Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors. This Court denied the
petition on January 27, 1992, and reconsideration on April 8, 1992.
8. Finally, Lee, still through Francisco, filed a petition for certiorari with preliminary
injunction against Judge Singzon, Garcia and the other lessors in the Regional Trial
Court of Quezon City to set aside and declare the writs of execution in Civil Case No.
1455. This was dismissed on August 4, 1992, and Lee, through Francisco, filed a

motion for reconsideration. According to Francisco, he was relieved as counsel while


this motion was pending.
A lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client but not at the expense of truth and
the administration of justice.
The cause of the respondent's client is obviously without merit. The respondent was
aware of this fact when he wilfully resorted to the gambits summarized above,
continuously seeking relief that was consistently denied, as he should have
expected. He thereby added to the already clogged dockets of the courts and
wasted their valuable time. He also caused much inconvenience and expense to the
complainant, who was obliged to defend herself against his every move.
By grossly abusing his right of recourse to the courts for the purpose of arguing a
cause that had been repeatedly rebuffed, he was disdaining the obligation of the
lawyer to maintain only such actions or proceedings as appear to him to be just and
such defenses only as he believes to be honestly debatable under the law. By
violating his oath not to delay any man for money or malice, he has besmirched the
name of an honorable profession and has proved himself unworthy of the trust
reposed in him by law as an officer of the Court.
Atty. Crisanto L. Francisco took his oath as a lawyer on March 2, 1956. Considering
his age and experience in the practice of the law, he should have known better than
to trifle with it and to use it as an instrument for the harassment of the complainant
and the misuse of judicial processes. For this serious transgression of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, he deserves to be sanctioned, not only as punishment
for his misconduct but also as a warning to other lawyers who may be influenced by
his example.
Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED for ONE YEAR from the practice of law and
from the enjoyment of all the rights and privileges appurtenant to membership in
the Philippine bar.
Let a copy of this Resolution be served immediately on the respondent and
circularized to all courts and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.
SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 3283 July 13, 1995
RODOLFO MILLARE, petitioner, vs.ATTY. EUSTAQUIO Z. MONTERO, respondent.
QUIASON, J.:
This is a complaint for disbarment. Pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 1, Rule 139-B
of the Revised Rules of Court, this Court resolved to refer it to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
On April 15, 1994, the IBP Board of Governors rendered a decision, finding
respondent guilty of malpractice and recommending that he be suspended from the
practice of law.
I
Pacifica Millare, the mother of the complainant, obtained a favorable judgment from
the Municipal Trial Court, Bangued, Abra (MTC) which ordered Elsa Dy Co to vacate
the premises subject of the ejectment case (Civil Case No. 844). Co, through

respondent as counsel, appealed the decision to the Regional Trial Court, Branch 11,
Bangued, Abra (RTC). She neither filed a supersedeas bond nor paid the rentals
adjudged by the MTC. The RTC affirmed in toto the decision of the MTC.
The Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed Co's appeal from the decision of the RTC for
failure to comply with Section 22 of B.P. Blg. 129 and Section 22(b) of the Interim
Rules and Guidelines (CA-G.R. CV No. 11404). According to the CA, Co should have
filed a petition for review and not an ordinary appeal (Rollo, Vol. I, p. 22).
The judgment of the MTC became final and executory on November 19, 1986.
On January 2, 1987, a Manifestation and Motion was filed by respondent as counsel
for Co in CA-G.R. CV No. 11404, arguing that the decisions of the MTC and the RTC
were null and void for being contrary to law, justice and equity for allowing the
lessor to increase by 300% the rentals for an old house. Respondent, admitting his
mistake in filing an ordinary appeal instead of a petition for review, prayed that he
be allowed to file an action for annulment.
On February 23, 1987, the CA gave due course to respondent's Manifestation and
Motion and let the records remain with it. However, on November 10, 1987, the said
court ordered the records in CA-G.R. CV No. 11404 to be remanded to the court a
quo.
On March 9, 1987, respondent filed with the CA a Petition for Annulment of
Decisions and/or Reformation or Novation of Decisions of the MTC and the RTC (CAG.R. SP No. 11690), insisting that the decisions were not in accordance with existing
laws and policies. On December 17, 1987, the CA dismissed the petition for
annulment or novation explaining that
. . . , aside from the reliefs provided in these two sections (Secs. 1 & 2, Rule 38),
there is no other means whereby the defeated party may procure final and
executory judgment to be set aside with a view to the renewal of the litigation,
unless (a) the judgment is void for want of jurisdiction or lack of due process of law,
or (b) it has been obtained by fraud, . . . . There is no allegation in the present
complaint to the effect that the judgments in the former cases were secured
through fraud (Rollo, Vol. I, p. 35; Emphasis supplied).
On January 15, 1988, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration and
Motion to Set Motion for Reconsideration for Oral Arguments of the CA decision. The
CA denied the motion. Again, respondent requested the CA to set his Motion For
Oral Arguments on April 14, 1988.
In a resolution dated February 12, 1988, the CA denied the Motion for Oral
Argument and in a resolution dated October 18, 1988, denied the motion for
reconsideration of the February 12 Resolution.
Respondent then filed a Petition for Review on Certiorari with this Court (G.R. No.
86084) questioning the decisions of the MTC and the RTC in favor of petitioner's
mother. In a Resolution dated January 4, 1989, we denied the petition for having
been filed and paid late on December 12, 1988 and November 12, 1988,
respectively. A motion for reconsideration from such resolution was likewise denied
with finality.
Respondent filed a Motion for the Issuance of a Prohibitory or Restraining Order

(dated July 6, 1988) in CA-G.R. SP No. 11690.


On April 12, 1988, the mother of complainant filed a Motion for Execution of the
judgment in Civil Case No. 844. Respondent filed an Opposition to the Motion for
Execution on the ground that the case was still pending review by the CA in CA-G.R.
SP No. 11690 and therefore the motion for execution was premature. On August 23,
1988, the MTC ordered the issuance of a writ of execution. Respondent filed a
motion for reconsideration, which was denied. The RTC affirmed the order for the
issuance of the writ of execution. Thus, a writ of execution was issued on October
18, 1988.
On October 26, 1988, respondent filed a special civil action (SP CV No. 624) with the
RTC, Branch 1, Bangued, Abra for certiorari, prohibition, mandamus with preliminary
injunction against the MTC, Provincial Sheriff and complainant's mother, seeking to
annul the writ of execution issued in MTC Civil Case No. 844 and RTC Civil Case No.
344. Respondent alleged that the order granting the writ of execution was issued
with grave abuse of discret
amounting to lack of jurisdiction since a petition to annul the decisions (CA-G.R. SP
No. 11690) was still pending with the CA.
On October 28, 1988, the provincial sheriff, Romulo V. Paredes, deferred the
implementation of the writ of execution until the petition filed in SP CV No. 624 for
certiorari was resolved. The CA denied in SP CV No. 624 respondent's Urgent Motion
to Set Aside and Declare Null and Void the Writ of Execution.
From the decision of the RTC, Branch 1, Abra in SP CV No. 624 denying the Petition
for Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus with Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order,
respondent again filed an Appeal and/or Review by Certiorari, Etc. with the CA (CAG.R. SP No. 17040).
II
We have no reason to reverse the findings of the IBP Board of Governors.
Under Canon 19 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to
represent his client "within the bounds of the law." The Code enjoins a lawyer to
employ only fair and honest means to attain the lawful objectives of his client (Rule
19.01) and warns him not to allow his client to dictate the procedure in handling the
case (Rule 19.03). In short, a lawyer is not a gun for hire.
Advocacy, within the bounds of the law, permits the attorney to use any arguable
construction of the law or rules which is favorable to his client. But the lawyer is not
allowed to knowingly advance a claim or defense that is unwarranted under existing
law. He cannot prosecute patently frivolous and meritless appeals or institute clearly
groundless actions (Annotated Code of Professional Responsibility 310 [1979]).
Professional rules impose limits on a lawyer's zeal and hedge it with necessary

restrictions and qualifications (Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics 579-582 [1986]).


Under Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, a lawyer is required to
exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice. Implementing said Canon are the following rules:
Rule 12.02. A lawyer shall not file multiple actions arising from the same cause.
xxx xxx xxx
Rule 12.04. A lawyer shall not unduly delay a case, impede the execution of a
judgment or misuse court processes.
It is unethical for a lawyer to abuse or wrongfully use the judicial process, like the
filing of dilatory motions, repetitious litigation and frivolous appeals for the sole
purpose of frustrating and delaying the execution of a judgment (Edelstein, The
Ethics of Dilatory Motions Practice: Time for Change, 44 Fordham L. Rev. 1069
[1976]; Overmeyer v. Fidelista and Deposit Co., 554 F. 2d 539, 543 [2d Cir. 1971]).
The rights of respondent's client in Civil Case No. 844 of the MTC were fully
protected and her defenses were properly ventilated when he filed the appeal from
the MTC to the RTC. But respondent thereafter resorted to devious and underhanded
means to delay the execution of the judgment rendered by the MTC adverse to his
client. The said decision became executory even pending its appeal with the RTC
because of the failure of Co to file a supersedeas bond and to pay the monthly
rentals as they fell due. Furthermore, his petition for annulment of the decisions of
the MTC and RTC which he filed with the CA (CA-G.R. No. 11690) was defective and
dilatory. According to the CA, there was no allegation therein that the courts had no
jurisdiction, that his client was denied due process, or "that the judgments in the
former cases were secured through fraud."
As ruled in Regidor v. Court of Appeals, 219 SCRA 530 (1993):
A judgment can be annulled only on two grounds: (a) that the judgment is void for
want of jurisdiction or for lack of due process of law, or (b) that it has been obtained
by fraud. . . . (at p. 534).
Moreover, when the CA ordered that the records of the case be remanded,
respondent knew very well that the decision of the MTC was already ripe for
execution.
This Court, in People of Paombong, Bulacan v. Court of Appeals, 218 SCRA 423
(1993), ruled:
. . . [w]hen the judgment of a superior court is remanded to the trial court for
execution, the function of the trial court is ministerial only; the trial court is merely
obliged with becoming modesty to enforce that judgment and has no jurisdiction

either to modify in any way or to reverse the same. . . . (at p. 430).


(See also Valenzona v. Court of Appeals, 226 SCRA 306 [1993] and Garbo v. Court of
Appeals, 226 SCRA 250 [1993]).
Respondent filed a total of six appeals, complaints or petitions to frustrate the
execution of the MTC judgment in Civil Case No. 844, to wit:
(1) Civil Case No. 344 Appeal from the decision rendered in Civil Case No. 844 of
the Municipal Trial Court, Bangued, Abra, with the Regional Trial Court, Abra;
(2) CA-G.R. CV No. 11404 Appeal from the decision of the Regional Trial Court,
Abra;
(3) CA-G.R. SP No. 11690 An Action For the Annulment of Decisions And/Or
Reformation or Novation of Decisions filed with the Court of Appeals;
(4) G.R. No. 86084 Petition For Review On Certiorari filed with the Supreme Court;
(5) CA-G.R. SP No. 17040 Appeal And/Or Review By Certiorari, Etc. filed also with
the Court of Appeals; and,
(6) SP Civil Action No. 624 Petition For Certiorari, Prohibition, Mandamus with
Preliminary Issuance of Prohibitory Order filed with the Regional Trial Court, Branch
1, Bangued, Abra.
Judging from the number of actions filed by respondent to forestall the execution of
the same judgment, respondent is also guilty of forum shopping.
In Villanueva v. Adre 172 SCRA 876 (1989), the Court explained that forum shopping
exists when, by reason of an adverse decision in one forum, defendant ventures to
another for a more favorable resolution of his case. In the case of Gabriel v. Court of
Appeals, 72 SCRA 272 (1976), this Court explained that:
Such filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Court's processes and
improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of
justice and will be punished as contempt of court. Needless to add, the lawyer who
filed such multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the execution of
a final and executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for
incompetence (for not knowing any better) or for willful violation of his duties as an
attorney to act with all good fidelity to the courts and to maintain only such actions
as appear to him to be just and are consistent with truth and honor (at p. 275).
By having wilfully and knowingly abused his rights of recourse in his efforts to get a
favorable judgment, which efforts were all rebuffed, respondent violated the duty of
a member of the Bar to institute actions only which are just and put up such
defenses as he perceives to be truly contestable under the laws (Garcia v. Francisco,
220 SCRA 512 [1993]). As correctly noted by the Committee on Bar Discipline "in

filing a number of pleadings, actions and petitioner, respondent 'has made a


mockery of the judicial processes' and disregarded canons of professional ethics in
intentionally frustrating the rights of a litigant in whose favor a judgment in the case
was rendered, thus, 'abused procedural rules to defeat ends of substantial justice'"
(Report and Recommendation, IBP Committee on Bar Discipline, p. 2).
WHEREFORE, respondent is SUSPENDED for one year.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 90983 September 27, 1991
LAW FIRM OF RAYMUNDO A. ARMOVIT, petitionervs.COURT OF APPEALS, JUDGE
GENARO C. GINES, Presiding Judge of Branch XXVI, Regional Trial Court, First Judicial
Region, San Fernando, La Union, and BENGSON COMMERCIAL BUILDING, INC.,
respondents.
Raymundo A. Armovit and Rafael R. Armovit for petitioner.
Pacifico C. Yadao for private respondent.
SARMIENTO, J.:p
Before the Court is Atty. Raymundo Armovit's claim for attorney's fees against the
private respondent.
It appears that Atty. Armovit was engaged as counsel for the private respondent in a
complaint to have an extrajudicial foreclosure of certain properties by the
Government Service Insurance System declared null and void; that the parties
allegedly agreed that the private respondent shall pay P15,000.00 as initial
compensation and twenty percent in contingent fees; that after trial, the defunct
Court of First Instance rendered judgment annulling foreclosure and ordering the
Government Service Insurance System to restructure the private respondent's loan;
that thereafter, the System appealed; the on appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed
the decision of lower court; and that the Appellate Court's judgment has since
attained finality.
It also appears that when Atty. Armovit sought execution with the court a quo, he
was informed by Romualdo Bengson president of the respondent corporation, that
the firm has retained the services of Atty. Pacifico Yadao. He was also informed that
the company would pay him the agreed compensation and that Atty. Yadao's fees
were covered by a separate agreement. The private respondent, however, later
ignored his billings and over the phone, directed him allegedly not to take part in
the execution proceedings. Forthwith, he sought the entry of an attorney's lien in
the records of the case. The lower court allegedly refused to make the entry and on

the contrary issued an order ordering the Philippine National Bank to "release to the
custody of Mr. Romualdo F. Bengzon and/or Atty Pacifico Yadao" 1 the sum of
P2,760,000.00 (ordered by the Court of Appeals as rentals payable by the
Government Service Insurance System).
Atty. Armovit then moved, apparently for the hearing of hi motion to recognize
attorney's lien, and thereafter, the trial court. issued an order in the tenor as
follows:
When this case was called for hearing on the petition to record attorney's charging
lien, Attys. Armovit and Aglipay appeared for the petitioners.
Atty. Armovit informed the Court that they are withdrawing the petition considering
that they are in the process of amicably settling their differences with the plaintiff,
which manifestation was confirmed by Atty. Yadao as well as the plaintiffs,
Romualdo Bengson and Brenda Bengson, who are present today.
In view of this development, the petition to record attorney charging lien, the same
being in order and not contrary to law, moral and public policy, as prayed for by
Attys. Armovit and Aglipay, it hereby withdrawn. The parties, therefore are hereby
directed to co ply faithfully with their respective obligations.
SO ORDERED. 2
However, upon the turnover of the money to the private respondent, Mrs. Brenda
Bengson (wife of Romualdo Bengzon delivered to Atty. Armovit the sum of
P300,000.00 only. Armovit protested and demanded the amount of P552,000.0
twenty percent of P2,760,000.00), for which Mrs. Bengzon made assurances that he
will be paid the balance.
On November 4, 1988, however, Atty. Armovit received a order emanating from the
trial court in the tenor as follows:
During the hearing on the petition to record attorney's charge lien on October 11,
1988, Attys. Armovit and Aglipay withdrew their petition to record attorney's
charging lien, which was duly approve petition to recordby the Court, after which
the Court directed the parties to comp faithfully with their respective obligations.
In compliance with the Order of this Court, the plaintiff submitted a pleading
denominated as compliance alleging that petition (Atty. Armovit) has already
received from the plaintiff the sum P300,000.00, Philippine Currency, as and by way
of attorney's fees With the receipt by the petitioner from the plaintiff of this amount,
the latter has faithfully complied with its obligation.
WHEREFORE, the Order of this Court dated October 11, 1988 approving the
withdrawal of the petition to record attorney's charging lien, on motion of the

petitioner, is now final.


SO ORDERED. 3
Reconsideration having been denied, Atty. Armovit went the Court of Appeals on a
petition for certiorari and prohibition.
On August 25, 1989, the Court of Appeals 4 rendered judgment dismissing the
petition. Reconsideration having been likewise denied by the Appellate Court, Atty.
Armovit instituted the instant appeal.
Shortly thereafter, we required the private respondent comment.
The private respondent did not materially traverse Atty. Armorvit's chronicle of
events but added: that the private respondent hired the petitioner after the
Government Service Insurance System had answered and that it was Atty. Benjam
Bernardino who prepared the complaint; that for his appearances, Atty. Armovit was
paid a total of P108,000.00, not to mention "beach resort accommodations"; 5 that
Atty. Armovit did not inform the private respondent that the court had rendered
judgment which they would have appealed; that they lost an appeal on account of
Atty. Armovit's indiscretion; that the forthwith engaged the services of another
lawyer, Atty. Yadao; and that it was the latter who prepared the brief in the Court
Appeals (on GSIS's appeal).
The private respondent also alleged that it opposed Atty. Armovit's effort to record
his attorney's lien on grounds of allege nullity of the retainer agreement, Atty.
Armovit's negligence and because of excessive fees demanded.
The private respondent also insisted that the retainer agreement was signed by only
one of seven directors, and it could no bind the corporation. Atty. Armovit, in any
event, had also been allegedly more than sufficiently compensated.
The private respondent alleged that Atty. Armovit had bee paid P300,000.00 an
amount approved by the court, and an amount he accepted and for which he is
allegedly estoppel from claiming a higher amount. The order of the court has the
effect of res judicata, the private respondent claimed, as well as a compromise
agreement which is immediately executory.
The disposition of the Court of Appeals was that since the receipt evidencing
payment to Atty. Armovit of the sum P300,000.00 "was without any qualification as
'advance' 'partial' or 'incomplete'," 6 the intention of the parties was that was full
payment. The Appellate Court also noted Atty. Armorvit's withdrawal of his motion
to record attorney's lien and figured that Atty. Armovit was satisfied with the
payment P300,000,00.
The only issue is whether or not Atty. Armovit is entitled to the sum of P252,000.00

more, in addition to the sum P300,000.00 already paid him by the private
respondent.There is no question that the parties had agreed on a compensation as
follows:
a) P15,000.00 by way of acceptance and study fee, payable within five (5) days
from date;
b) 20% contingent fee computed on the value to be recovered b favorable judgment
in the cases; and
c) the execution and signing of a final retainer agreement complete with all
necessary details. 7
(While the parties' agreement speaks of "a final retain agreement" 8 to be executed
later, it does not appear that the parties did enter into a "final" agreement
thereafter.)
The private respondent's version however is that while it may be true that the
agreed compensation was twenty percent of all recoveries, the parties later agreed
on a compromise sum approved allegedly by the trial court, per its Order of October
11, 1988.
The Court is inclined to believe that Atty. Armovit never agreed on the compromise
sum of P300,000.00. It is true that he did agree to withdraw his motion to annotate
attorney's lien, but because the parties were "in the process of amicably settling
their differences" 9 and not because Atty. Armovit had agreed to accept a lower
amount as full payment. There is nothing, on top of that, Atty. Armovit's
manifestation that would suggest that he was accepting the sum of P300,00.00 as
agreed final payment, other than the fact that an agreement was supposedly
certain. We quote:
ATTY. ARMOVIT:
Your Honor, we would like to manifest in Court that we served notice to the counsel
of the plaintiff, Bengson Commercial Building, a copy of the petition to record
attorney's charging lien, and together with the president of the corporation, Mr.
Romualdo Bengson, and his wife, Mrs. Brenda Bengson, we have discussed the
problem and we all agreed upon is an earnest one at this time, this representation is
withdrawing his petition to record charging lien.
ATTY. YADAO:
No objection, Your Honor, because we have to agree with Atty. Armovit. I am in full
accord with this. 10
There is nothing there that would indicate Atty. Armovit's willingness to accept, in
fact, a lower figure in consideration of his withdrawal of his request to enter

attorney's lien. What the Court takes his statement to mean is that he was
withdrawing his request on the certainty that the private respondent would pay him
the money, presumably, under more becoming circumstances.
The Court does not therefore see how the private respondent can hold Atty. Armovit
to have been in estoppel.
The fact that Atty. Armovit did not, after all, accept the sum of P300,000.00 as final
compensation is indeed indicated by the behavior of the private respondent,
through Mrs. Romualdo Bengson, when she assured Atty. Armovit that the balance
was forthcoming. 11 According to Mrs. Bengson, she wished the rest of the
Bengsons to witness the final payment and when the occasion was present, wished
for a postponement on account of "All Saints Day." 12
The parties never therefore amended their original agreement, and what appears to
the Court is a clear effort on the part of a client, with the apparent approval of the
trial court, to renege on a valid agreement with its lawyer.
The Court believes that the trial court, in accepting the private respondent's
"compliance" as a final payment of Atty. Armovit's fees, was guilty of a grave abuse
of discretion. The private respondent had nothing with which to comply, and the
parties, as manifested by Atty. Armovit, were "in the process [merely] of amicably
settling their differences." 13
It is apparent furthermore that the trial judge himself was out to deny Atty. Armovit
the agreed compensation. In his order of October 4, 1988, he commanded:
The PNB is hereby ordered and directed to release to the custody of Mr. Romualdo F.
Bengson and /or Atty. Pacifico Yadao, counsel for the plaintiff, the sum of Two Million
Seven Hundred Sixty Thousand Pesos (P2,760,000.00), Philippine Currency for the
satisfaction of the rentals of the Bengson Building against the GSIS. 14
in spite of the fact that Atty. Armovit had remained the private respondent's counsel
of record. It is fundamental that unless a lawyer has been validly discharged, his
authority to act for his client continues and should be recognized by the court. 15
The fact that the receipt evidencing payment by the private respondent of the
amount of P300,000.00 "was without any qualification as 'advance' or 'partial' or
'incomplete'," 16 as the Court of Appeals noted and the Court of Appeals took to
mean "full payment", will not weaken Atty. Armovit's demand for the balance. There
is nothing in the receipt that will suggest that will suggest that it was full payment
either, and the fact that Atty. Armovit accepted it does not mean that he was
satisfied that it was final payment. The fact of the matter is that the private
respondent had assured him that the balance was forthcoming.

The private respondent can not justifiably downplay Atty. Armovit as negligent (for
failing to appeal) or his demand for fees excessive (that he had been paid enough).
Atty. Armovit, after all, succeeded in obtaining a favorable decision for his client, an
although his prayer for various damages were denied, he secceeded in obtaining a
substantial award (P1,900,00.00 in unpaid rentals) for his client. On appeal, the
Court of Appeals sustained his theory. It should be noted that the private
respondent had in fact stood to lose substantial properties on foreclosure Atty.
Armovit not only restored to the private respondent its foreclosured properties, he
succeeded in having the private respondent's loans restructed and the Government
Service Insurance System pay rentals. No client can ask a better result from a
lawyer.
Obviously, the private respondent's effort to downgrade Atty. Armovit's performance
is a wild, if not cheap, shot of a client out to evade its obligations to its lawyer. The
fact that Atty. Armovit may have been paid substantially (in initial fees) while the
case was dragging is no justification for denying him the full amount under their
agreement. It has been held that initial fees and fees paid in the progress of
litigation are independent of the contingent fees. 17
That the retainer agreement was never approved by the board of the corporation is
also a poor excuse because the fact of the matter is that the private respondent did
deliver to Atty. Armovit the sum of P300,000.00 in partial payment, and the private
respondent can not now deny him the balance bay alleging lack of authority of the
Bengson spouses.
Contingent fees are valid in this jurisdiction. 18 It is true that attorney's fees must at
all times be reasonable; 19 however, we do not find Atty. Armovit's claim for "twenty
percent of all recoveries" to be unreasonable. In the case of Aro v. Naawa, 20
decided in 1969, this Court awarded the agreed fees amid the efforts of the client to
deny him fees by terminating his services. In parallel vein, we are upholding Atty.
Armovit's claim for P252,000.00 more pursuant to the contingent fee agreement
amid the private respondent's own endeavours to evade its obligations.
Several times, we have come down hard on erring practitioners. We will not
however be slow either, in coming to the rescue of aggrieved brother-lawyers in
protecting the integrity of the bar from unscrupulous litigants.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is GRANTED. The private respondent
is ORDERED to pay the petitioner the sum of P252,000.00. Costs against the private
respondent.
IT IS SO ORDERED.

A.M. No. 2490 February 7, 1991


FULGENCIO A. NGAYAN, TOMASA K. NGAYAN and BELLA AURORA NGAYAN,
complainants, vs.ATTY. FAUSTINO F. TUGADE, respondent.
RESOLUTION
PER CURIAM:p
This case refers to disciplinary proceedings initiated by the herein complainants
Fulgencio A. Ngayan, Tomasa K. Ngayan and Bella Aurora Ngayan in a lettercomplaint dated November 16, 1982 against respondent lawyer for violation of subparagraphs (e) and (f) of Section 20, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court of the
Philippines.
It appears that respondent lawyer was formerly a counsel for complainants either as
defense counsel or private prosecutor in the following cases:
(a) People v. Fulgencio A. Ngayan, City Court of Manila, Branch Criminal Case No.
053773-CR for light threat;
(b) People v. Tomasa Ngayan and Bella Aurora Ngayan, City Court of Manila, Branch
VIII, Criminal Case No. 053594-CR, for unjust vexation;
(c) People v. Bella Aurora Ngayan, City Court of Manila, Branch II, Criminal Case No.
053599-CR, for grave threats;
(d) People v. Roberto Leonido, City Court of Manila, Branch XIV, Criminal Case No.
053649-CR, for trespass to dwelling; and People v. Nestor Campo, Branch XIV,
Criminal Case No. 053650-CR, for threats;
(e) Fulgencio A. Ngayan and Tomasa K. Ngayan v. Rowena Soriano and Robert
Leonido for grave threats and trespass; Fulgencio A. Ngayan and Tomasa K. Ngayan
v. Rowena Soriano, for grave defamation, Office of the City Fiscal of Manila before
Assistant City Fiscal Elmer K. Calledo, I.S. No. 82-8564. (pp. 1-2, Rollo)
The factual antecedents of this case are as follows:
Complainants alleged that they asked respondent to prepare an affidavit to be used
as basis for a complaint to be filed against Mrs. Rowena Soriano and Robert Leonido
as a consequence of the latter's unauthorized entry into complainants' dwelling.
Without thoroughly reading the same, Mrs. Tomasa A. Ngayan allegedly signed it
because she was rushed to do the same. After signing, Mrs. Ngayan noted a
paragraph which did not mention that Robert Leonido was with Rowena Soriano
when both suddenly barged into complainants' residence. Mrs. Ngayan allegedly
told respondent about his omission and in front of her, respondent crossed out the
paragraph she complained about and promised to make another affidavit. In the

meantime, complainants filed motions to discharge the respondent as their counsel.


Complainants allegedly made a follow up after discharging respondent and found
that the name of Robert Leonido was not included in the charge. Since the omission
was remedied by their new counsel and the case was subsequently filed in court,
the adverse parties filed a motion for reinvestigation and attached thereto the first
affidavit of complainants which was crossed out. Complainants averred that the
motion was filed by Atty. Apolo P. Gaminda, a former classmate of respondent. They
further said that respondent was also a lawyer of the brother of Robert Leonido in
an insurance company. Complainants further alleged that the motion for
reinvestigation was set for hearing before Assistant City Fiscal Milagros F. GarciaBeza where respondent himself executed and submitted an affidavit as exhibit for
Robert Leonido and Rowena Soriano controverting the affidavit of complainants
notwithstanding the fact that he prepared the latter's affidavit when he was still
their counsel.
They further alleged that before he executed and submitted his affidavit,
respondent sent a personal letter to Fiscal Beza denouncing complainants and
stating that he is filing criminal and civil cases against them.
Complainants charged respondent for violation of paragraphs (e) and (f) of Section
20, Rule 138, Rules of Court, which provide:
(e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to himself, to preserve
the secrets of his client, and to accept no compensation in connection with his
client's business except from him or with his knowledge and approval;
(f) To abstain from all offensive personality and to advance no fact prejudicial to the
honor or reputation of a party or witnesses, unless required by the justice of the
cause with which he is charged;
Complainants claim that paragraph (e) above was violated by respondent when the
affidavit he prepared for complainants but subsequently crossed-out was submitted
as evidence against complainants in the motion for reinvestigation. As to paragraph
(f), complainants averred that respondent violated it when he sent a letter to the
fiscal saying that his name was being adversely affected by the false affidavits of
complainants and for that reason, respondent was contemplating to file a criminal
and civil action for damages against them.
In a resolution of the Second Division of this Court dated January 19, 1983,
respondent was required to answer the complaint against him but respondent
failed. Thus, on May 25, 1983, for failure of the respondent to file an answer, this
Court resolved to refer this case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and

recommendation. Thereupon, the Solicitor General set the complaint for hearing on
September 26, 1983, October 17 and 18,1983 and November 24,1983, all of which
dates, respondent was duly notified. However, respondent never appeared on any
date. Accordingly, the Solicitor General made findings of facts based on the
aforesaid claims of complainants and said:
Consistent with respondent's failure to file an answer to the complaint herein filed
against him, he also did not appear, despite due notice on the four occasions when
the hearing of the present complaint was set at the Office of the Solicitor General.
Neither has respondent shown concern or interest about the status of the complaint
filed against him. The inaction of respondent to the resolutions of this Honorable
Court requiring him to file his Answer to the Complaint filed against him and his
subsequent failure to attend the hearings on the said complaint indicate that
respondent has not obeyed the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities and
he has not conducted himself as a lawyer according to the best of his knowledge
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to his clients (Sec. 3,
Rule 138, Rules of Court). Further, lawyers are particularly called upon to obey court
orders and processes. They should stand foremost in complying with the court's
directives or instructions being themselves officers of the court (p. 75, Legal Ethics,
Ruben Agpalo, 2nd Ed.). This lack of concern shown by respondent regarding the
matter that involved the very foundation of his right to engage in the practice of law
would show how much less he would regard the interest of Ms clients. 1
He thus recommended that the respondent lawyer be disbarred and his name
dropped from attorney's roll. In this report, he averred that the conduct of
respondent as above-shown constitutes unprofessional conduct and an outright
violation of the provisions of Section 3 and paragraphs (e) and (f) of Section 20 of
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and for
the court to exercise its disciplinary powers, the case against the respondent must
be established by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof (Santos v. Dichoso, Adm.
Case No. 1825, August 22, 1978, 84 SCRA 622).
In the case at bar, complainants claim that respondent furnished the adverse
parties in a certain criminal case with a copy of their discarded affidavit, thus
enabling them to use it as evidence against complainants. This actuation
constitutes betrayal of trust and confidence of his former clients in violation of
paragraph (e), Section 20, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Inasmuch as respondent
failed to answer the complaint filed against him and despite due notice on four

occasions, he consistently did not appear on the scheduled hearing set by the Office
of the Solicitor General, this claim remained uncontroverted. Besides, We tend to
believe the said claim of complainants when it is taken together with their other
claim that respondent's actuations from the beginning tend to show that he was
partial to the adverse parties as he even tried to dissuade complainants from filing
charges against Robert Leonido. This partiality could be explained by the fact that
respondent is the former classmate of Atty. Apolo P. Gaminda, the adverse parties'
counsel and the fact that respondent is the lawyer of the brother of Robert Leonido
in an insurance company.
Respondent's act of executing and submitting an affidavit as exhibit for Robert
Leonido and Rowena Soriano advancing facts prejudicial to the case of his former
clients such as the fact that the crime charged in complainants' affidavit had
prescribed and that he was asked to prepare an affidavit to make the offense more
grave so as to prevent the offense from prescribing demonstrates clearly an act of
offensive personality against complainants, violative of the first part of paragraph
(f), Section 20, Rule 138, Rules of Court. Likewise, respondent's act of joining the
adverse parties in celebrating their victory over the dismissal of the case against
them shows not only his bias against the complainants but also constitutes a
degrading act on the part of a lawyer. It was meant only to titillate the anger of
complainants.
Additionally, respondent's failure to answer the complaint against him and his
failure to appear at the investigation are evidence of his flouting resistance to lawful
orders of the court and illustrate his despiciency for his oath of office in violation of
Section 3, Rule 138, Rules of Court.
We have fully scrutinized and evaluated the records of this case and We cannot but
find that strong and unassailable reasons exist to render it Our irremissible duty to
impose a disciplinary sanction on respondent. But We feel that disbarment is too
harsh considering the circumstances of the case. We hold that suspension from the
practice of law for a period of one (1) year should be imposed on respondent for the
aforestated misconduct.
ACCORDINGLY, respondent Faustino F. Tugade is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of one (1) year, effective from receipt of this resolution.
Let a copy of this resolution be furnished to the Bar Confidant and the Integrated
Bar of the Philippines and spread on the personal records of respondent.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 1890. August 7, 2002]

FEDERICO C. SUNTAY, complainant, vs. ATTY. RAFAEL G. SUNTAY, respondent.


DECISION
BELLOSILLO, J.:
This Complaint for disbarment was filed by Federico C. Suntay against his nephew,
Atty. Rafael G. Suntay, alleging that respondent was his legal counsel, adviser and
confidant who was privy to all his legal, financial and political affairs from 1956 to
1964. However, since they parted ways because of politics and respondent's
overweening political ambitions in 1964, respondent had been filing complaints and
cases against complainant, making use of confidential information gained while
their attorney-client relationship existed, and otherwise harassing him at every turn.
Complainant enumerated the following cases filed by respondent to harass him: (a)
Civil Case No. 4306-M[1][1] for injunction and damages in 1975, "Carlos Panganiban
v. Dr. Federico Suntay," where respondent appeared as counsel for the plaintiff
involving fishponds which respondent had previously helped to administer; (b) Civil
Case No. 4726-M,[1][2] "Narciso Lopez v. Federico Suntay," in 1970 where
respondent appeared as counsel for the plaintiff to determine the real contract
between the parties likewise involving the two (2) fishponds which respondent had
previously helped to administer; (c) Civil Case No. 112764,[1][3] "Magno Dinglasan
v. Federico Suntay," for damages where respondent appeared as counsel for the
plaintiff; and, (d) I.S. No. 77-1523, "Magno Dinglasan v. Federico Suntay," for false
testimony and grave oral defamation before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of
Bulacan involving complainant's same testimony subject of the complaint for
damages in Civil Case No. 112764.
In addition, complainant alleged that respondent relentlessly pursued a case against
him for violation of PD No. 296[1][4] for the alleged disappearance of two (2) creeks
traversing complainant's fishpond in Bulacan covered by TCT No. T-15674.
Complainant alleged that respondent's possession and examination of the TCT and
the blueprint plan of the property while he was still counsel for complainant
provided him with the information that there used to be two (2) creeks traversing
the fishpond, and that since respondent helped in the administration of the
fishpond, he also came to know that the two (2) creeks had disappeared.
Required to answer the charges respondent filed a "Motion to Order Complainant to
Specify His Charges" alleging that complainant failed to specify the alleged
"confidential information or intelligence" gained by him while the attorney-client
relationship existed but which he allegedly used against complainant when the
relationship terminated. Complainant filed his Comments thereon as required in our

Resolution of 26 July 1978. Thereafter this case was referred to the Office of the
Solicitor General (OSG) for investigation, report, and recommendation in our
Resolution dated 23 October 1978.
After almost four (4) years the OSG submitted its Report and Recommendation
dated 14 October 1982 enumerating the following findings against respondent, to
wit:
The evidence presented by complainant which was largely unrebutted by
respondent establish two counts of malpractice against respondent, one count of
violating the confidentiality of client-lawyer relationship and one count of engaging
in unethical conduct.
1. Respondent committed malpractice when he represented Magno Dinglasan in the
case for false testimony and grave oral defamation filed by Magno Dinglasan
against complainant before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan (I.S. No. 771523).
The case stemmed from the testimony given by complainant on December 21,
1976, before the Court of First Instance of Bulacan in Civil Case No. 3930-M. When
asked why Magno Dinglasan had testified against him in that case, complainant
stated that he once declined the demand of Magno Dinglasan, a former official of
the Bureau of Internal Revenue, for P150,000.00 as consideration for the destruction
of complainants record in the Bureau.
On account of that testimony, Magno Dinglasan charged complainant on July 29,
1977 with the crime of false testimony and grave oral defamation (Exhibits G and G1). During the preliminary investigation of the case by the Office of the Provincial
Fiscal of Bulacan, respondent acted as counsel for Magno Dinglasan. When the case
was dismissed by the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan and it was elevated to
the Ministry of Justice on appeal, respondent continued to be the lawyer of Magno
Dinglasan.
Complainant testified in this disbarment proceeding that he consulted respondent,
who was then his counsel, about the demand made in 1957 or 1958 by Magno
Dinglasan for P150,000.00 as consideration for the destruction of complainants
record in the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Respondents advice was for complainant
to disregard the demand as it was improper. Later, when Magno Dinglasan reduced
the amount to P50,000.00, complainant again consulted respondent. Respondent
likewise advised complainant not to heed the demand (pp. 61-62, tsn, May 21,
1981).
Respondents representation of Magno Dinglasan in I.S. No. 77-1523 constitutes

malpractice (Section 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court) for respondent was previously the
lawyer of complainant and respondent was consulted by complainant regarding the
very matter which was the subject of the case. By serving as the lawyer of Magno
Dinglasan, in I.S. No. 77-1523, respondent thus represented an interest which
conflicted with the interest of his former client.
2. Respondent again committed malpractice when he served as lawyer of Magno
Dinglasan in Civil Case No. 112764 before the Court of First Instance of Manila.
Civil Case No. 112764 was an action for damages filed by Magno Dinglasan against
complainant based, among others, on the same testimony that complainant gave
on December 21, 1976 before the Court of First Instance of Bulacan in Civil Case No.
3930-M.
For the same reasons set forth above, respondents representation of Magno
Dinglasan in Civil Case No. 112764 constitutes malpractice as thereby he
represented conflicting interests.
3. In filing a charge against complainant for alleged illegal destruction of dikes,
respondent violated the confidentiality of information obtained out of a client-lawyer
relationship.
In his capacity as lawyer of complainant from 1956 to 1964, respondent had the
following functions:
Witness
A: He was my lawyer from 1956 from the time he passed the bar up to sometime in
1964 and my legal adviser on political matters and legal matters.
ATTY. AQUINO:
Q: As your lawyer from 1956 to 1964, will you kindly inform the Honorable Hearing
Officer what was the nature of the work of Atty. Suntay?
A: He handled my cases on the titling of our properties. He served as my legal
counsel in the Hagonoy Rural Bank of which my family is the majority stockholders.
He used to help me manage my fishpond. He is our legal adviser on legal matters.
He is our confidant. We have no secrets between us. He has complete access in our
papers (tsn, May 21, 1981)
Complainant owned several fishponds in Bulacan, among them, the fishpond
covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-15674. This fishpond was previously
traversed by two creeks, Sapang Malalim and Sapang Caluang. The existence of the
creeks is shown by the certificate of title and the blue print plan of the fishpond. In
the certificate of title, the fishpond is bounded on the north and northeast by
Sapang Caluang and on the west by Sapang Malalim (please see Exhibit 6).

In a letter dated March 17, 1973, respondent reported the disappearance of the two
creeks to the authorities. The Chief State Prosecutor referred the letter to the Office
of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan. The Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan
required the Public Works to conduct a re-survey. (Exhibit 6).
In 1974, the Ministry of Public Works conducted a relocation survey of the fishpond.
The relocation survey disclosed that there were no more creeks traversing the
fishpond. Sapang Malalim and Sapang Caluang had disappeared.
Respondent was requested to file a formal complaint with supporting affidavits, for
violation of Presidential Decree No. 296. Respondent did so and the complaint was
docketed as I.S. No. 74-193. (Exhibit 6)
From the foregoing facts, it is clear that respondent made use of the information he
gained while he was the lawyer of complainant as basis for his complaint for the
building of illegal dikes. His possession and examination of Transfer Certificate of
Title No. T-15674 and the blueprint plan provided him the information that there
used to be two creeks traversing the fishpond covered by the title. Since he helped
in the administration of the fishpond, he also came to know that the two creeks had
disappeared. Thus, he gained the data which became the basis of his complaint
when he was a lawyer and part administrator of complainant. Under the
circumstances, there is a violation of professional confidence.
4. The evidence also establishes the commission of unethical conduct by
respondent for serving as lawyer of Panganiban and Lopez x x x and for himself
filing criminal charges against complainant which were later dismissed. The cases
wherein respondent served as lawyer for the adversary of complainant or filed by
respondent himself against complainant are the following:
1. Carlos Panganiban v. Federico Suntay, Civil Case No. 4306-M, CFI, Branch VII,
Malolos, Bulacan;
2. Narciso Lopez v. Federico Suntay, Civil Case No. 4726-M, CFI, Branch II, Malolos,
Bulacan;
3. Magno Dinglasan v. Federico Suntay, I.S. No. 77-1523, Office of the Provincial
Fiscal of Bulacan;
4. Magno Dinglasan v. Federico Suntay, Civil Case No. 112764, CFI, Branch XX,
Manila; and
5. Rafael G. Suntay and Magno Dinglasan v. Federico C. Suntay, I.S. No. 74-193,
Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan, for violation of P.D. 296.
While there may be validity to respondents contention that it is not improper for a
lawyer to file a case against a former client, especially when the professional

relationship had ended several years before, yet under the over-all circumstances of
the case at bar it can not be said that respondent acted ethically. Complainant was
not a mere client of respondent. He is an uncle and a political benefactor. The
parties for whom respondent filed cases against complainant were former friends or
associates of complainant whom respondent met when he was serving as the
lawyer and general adviser of complainant. The cases filed by respondent were
about properties which respondent had something to do with as counsel and
administrator of complainant.
xxxx
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, undersigned respectfully submit that the evidence
establishes commission by respondent of malpractice for violating the
confidentiality of client-lawyer relationship and engaging in unethical conduct x x x
x[1][5]
Resolution of this case was delayed despite receipt of the foregoing Report and
Recommendation in view of the Omnibus Motion to Remand Case to the Office of
the Solicitor General; Motion to Disqualify Solicitor Rogelio Dancel to Act on this
Case and Motion to Suspend Period to File Answer dated 18 January 1983 filed by
respondent principally accusing handling Solicitor Dancel of having given
unwarranted advantage and preference to the complainant in the investigation of
the case.
After several pleadings on the issue were filed by both respondent and Solicitor
Rogelio Dancel, the Court in its Resolution dated 22 August 1983 denied
respondent's motion to disqualify Solicitor Dancel and required the OSG to proceed
with the investigation of this case. However, no further proceedings were conducted
by the OSG until the records of the case together with other cases were turned over
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on 19 May 1988.
After almost three (3) years from the time the records of this case were turned over
to it, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline submitted to this Court on 11 May 2001
Resolution No. XIV-2001-169 adopting and approving the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner finding respondent guilty as
charged. The IBP recommended that respondent Atty. Suntay be suspended from
the practice of law for two (2) years for immoral conduct. In so recommending the
Investigating Commissioner adopted in toto the findings of the OSG in its Report
and Recommendation dated 14 October 1982. In our Resolution of 5 September
2001 we noted the foregoing IBP Resolution. However, in view of the penalty
involved, this case was referred to the Court En Banc for final action pursuant to our

Resolution dated 18 January 2000, Sec. 2, par. (b), in A.M. No. 99-12-08-SC.[1][6]
After a review of the records of this case, the Court finds the IBP Recommendation
to be well taken. As found by both the OSG and the IBP Investigating Commissioner,
respondent Atty. Rafael G. Suntay acted as counsel for clients in cases involving
subject matters regarding which he had either been previously consulted by
complainant or which he had previously helped complainant to administer as the
latter's counsel and confidant from 1956 to 1964. Thus in Civil Cases Nos. 4306-M
and 4726-M respondent acted as counsel for estranged business associates of
complainant, namely, Carlos Panganiban and Narciso Lopez, the subject matter of
which were the two (2) fishponds which respondent had previously helped to
administer.
On the other hand, I.S. No. 77-1523 for false testimony and grave oral defamation
before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Bulacan, and Civil Case No. 112764 for
damages before the then Court of First Instance of Manila, were filed in behalf of
Magno Dinglasan, a former Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) official, regarding
whose alleged demand for P150,000.00 from complainant in exchange for the
destruction of the latter's record in the BIR, respondent had previously advised
complainant to disregard. Civil Case No. 117624 and I.S. No. 77-1523 were precisely
filed against complainant because the latter had previously testified on the alleged
demand made by Dinglasan. Although respondent denied that there was ever such
a demand made by Dinglasan, the point is that his word on the matter, i.e., whether
there was in fact such a demand, would carry much weight against complainant
considering that he was the latter's counsel in 1957 or 1958 when the alleged
demand was made. In addition, respondent initiated the prosecution of complainant
in I.S. No. 74-193 for violation of P.D. No. 296[1][7] for the disappearance of the two
(2) creeks, namely, Sapang Malalim and Sapang Caluang, previously traversing
complainant's fishpond in Bulacan covered by TCT No. T-15674 by using information
obtained while he was in possession of the certificate of title and the blueprint plan
of the property.
As the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
Rule 21.01. - A lawyer shall not reveal the confidences or secrets of his client
except:
a) When authorized by the client after acquainting him of the consequences of the
disclosure;
b) When required by law;
c) When necessary to collect his fees or to defend himself, his employees or

associates or by judicial action.


Rule 21.01. - A lawyer shall not, to the disadvantage of his client, use information
acquired in the course of employment, nor shall he use the same to his own
advantage or that of a third person, unless the client with full knowledge of the
circumstances consents thereto.
A lawyer shall preserve the confidences and secrets of his clients even after
termination of the attorney-client relation.[1][8] As his defense to the charges,
respondent averred that complainant failed to specify the alleged confidential
information used against him. Such a defense is unavailing to help respondent's
cause for as succinctly explained in Hilado v. David - [1][9]
Communications between attorney and client are, in a great number of litigations, a
complicated affair, consisting of entangled relevant and irrelevant, secret and well
known facts. In the complexity of what is said in the course of the dealings between
an attorney and a client, inquiry of the nature suggested would lead to the
revelation, in advance of the trial, of other matters that might only further prejudice
the complainants cause. And the theory would be productive of other unsalutary
results. To make the passing of confidential communication a condition precedent,
i.e., to make the employment conditioned on the scope and character of the
knowledge acquired by an attorney in determining his right to change sides, would
not enhance the freedom of litigants, which is to be sedulously fostered, to consult
with lawyers upon what they believe are their rights in litigation. The condition
would of necessity call for an investigation of what information the attorney has
received and in what way it is or it is not in conflict with his new position. Litigants
would in consequence be wary in going to an attorney, lest by an unfortunate turn
of the proceeding, if an investigation be held, the court should accept the attorneys
inaccurate version of the facts that came to him x x x x
Hence, the necessity of setting down the existence of the bare relationship of
attorney and client as the yardstick for testing incompatibility of interests. This stern
rule is designed not alone to prevent the dishonest practitioner from fraudulent
conduct, but as well to protect the honest lawyer from unfounded suspicion of
unprofessional practice x x x x It is founded on principles of public policy, on good
taste x x x x [T]he question is not necessarily one of the rights of the parties, but as
to whether the attorney has adhered to proper professional standard. With these
thoughts in mind, it behooves attorneys, like Caesars wife, not only to keep
inviolate the clients confidence, but also to avoid the appearance of treachery and
double-dealing. Only thus can litigants be encouraged to entrust their secrets to

their attorneys which is of paramount importance in the administration of justice.


WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, IBP Resolution No. XIV-2001-169 dated 29
April 2001 is adopted and approved. For violating the confidentiality of lawyer-client
relationship and for unethical conduct, respondent Atty. Rafael G. Suntay is
SUSPENDED from the practice of law for two (2) years effective upon the finality
hereof.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts throughout the country.
SO ORDERED.
[A.C. No. 4215. May 21, 2001]
FELICISIMO M. MONTANO, complainant, vs. INTEGRATED BAR of the PHILIPPINES
AND Atty. JUAN S. DEALCA, respondents.
RESOLUTION
KAPUNAN, J.:
In a verified complaint filed before this Court on March 9, 1994, complainant
Felicisimo M. Montano charged Atty. Juan Dealca with misconduct and prays that he
be sternly dealt wit administratively. The complaint[1][1] is summarized as
follows:
1. On November 14, 1992, the complainant hired the services of Atty. Juan S. Dealca
as his counsel in collaboration with Atty. Ronando L. Gerona in a case pending
before the Court of Appeals docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 37467 wherein the
complainant was the plaintiff-appellant.
2. The parties agreed upon attorneys fees in the amount of P15,000.00, fifty
percent (50%) of which was payable upon acceptance of the case and the remaining
balance upon the termination of the case. Accordingly, complainant paid respondent
the amount of P7,500.00 representing 50% of the attorneys fee.
3. Thereafter, even before the respondent counsel had prepared the appellants
brief and contrary to their agreement that the remaining balance be payable after
the termination of the case, Atty. Dealca demanded an additional payment from
complainant. Complainant obliged by paying the amount of P4,000.00.
4. Prior to the filing of the appellants brief, respondent counsel again demand
payment of the remaining balance of 3,500.00. When complainant was unable to do
so, respondent lawyer withdrew his appearance as complainants counsel without
his prior knowledge and/or conformity. Returning the case folder to the complainant,
respondent counsel attached a Note dated February 28, 1993,[1][2] stating:
28 February 1994

Pepe and Del Montano,


For breaking your promise, since you do not want to fulfill your end of the bargain,
heres your reward:
Henceforth, you lawyer for yourselves. Here are your papers.
Johnny
Complainant claimed that such conduct by respondent counsel exceeded the ethical
standards of the law profession and prays that the latter be sternly dealt with
administratively. Complainant later on filed motions praying for the imposition of the
maximum penalty of disbarment.
After respondent counsel filed his comment on the complaint, the Court in the
Resolution of August 1, 1994, referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.
The Investigating Commissioner found respondent counsel guilty of unprofessional
conduct and recommended that he be severely reprimanded. However, in a
Resolution[1][3] by the IBP Board of Governors on July 26, 1997, it was resolved that
the penalty recommended by the Investigating Commissioner meted to respondent
by amended to three (3) months suspension from the practice of law for having
been found guilty of misconduct, which eroded the public confidence regarding his
duty as a lawyer.
Respondent counsel sought reconsideration of the aforementioned resolution of the
IBP, alleging that the latter misapprehended the facts and that, in any case, he did
not deserve the penalty imposed. The true facts, according to him, are the
following:
1. Complainant is being represented by Atty. Ronando L. Gerona in his case on
appeal;
2. Due to the ailment of Atty. Geronas daughter, he could not prepare and submit
complainants appellants brief on time;
3. Complainant went to the respondent to do just that, i.e., prepare and submit his
appellants brief on time at the agreed fee of P15,000.00, 50% down and 50% upon
its completion;
4. Working overtime, respondent was able to finish the appellants brief ahead of its
deadline, so he advised the complainant about its completion with the request that
the remaining balance of P7,500.00 be paid. Complainant paid P4,000.00 only,
promising to pay the P3,500.00 tomorrow or on later particular date. Please
take note that, at this juncture, there was already a breach of the agreement on
complainants part.

5. When that tomorrow or on a later particular date came, respondent, thru a


messenger, requested the complainant to pay the P3,500.00 as promised but word
was sent that he will again pay tomorrow or on later date. This promise-nonpayment cycle went on repeatedly until the last day of the filing of the brief. Please
take note again that it was not the respondent but the complainant who sets the
date when he will pay, yet fails to pay as promised;
6. Even without being paid completely, respondent, of his own free will and accord,
filed complainants brief on time;
7. After the brief was filed, respondent tried to collect from the complainant the
remaining balance of P3,500.00, but the latter made himself scarce. As the records
would show, such P3,500.00 remains unpaid until now;
8. Sensing that something was amiss, respondent sent the February 28, 1993 note
and case folder to the complainant, hoping that the latter would see personally the
former about it to settle the matter between them;
9. However, instead of seeing the respondent, complainant filed this case;
10. Respondent was constrained to file his withdrawal with the Court of Appeals
because of this case to avoid further misunderstanding since he was the one who
signed the appellants brief although Atty. Gerona was his counsel of record. Such
withdrawal was accordingly granted by the appellate court;
xxx xxx xxx.[1][4]
Respondent counsel further averred that complainants refusal to pay the agreed
lawyers fees, measly as it was, was deliberate and in bad faith; hence, his
withdrawal as counsel was just, ethical and proper. Respondent counsel concluded
that not only was the penalty of suspension harsh for his act of merely trying to
collect payment for his services rendered, but it indirectly would punish his family
since he was the sole breadwinner with children in school and his wife terminally ill
with cancer.
In its Resolution No. XIII-97-129 dated October 25, 1997, the IBP denied Atty.
Dealcas motion for reconsideration, to wit:
xxx
RESOLVED TO DENY Atty. Dealcas Motion For Reconsideration of the Boards
Decision in the above-entitled case there being no substantive reason to reverse the
finding therein. Moreover, the motion is improperly laid the remedy of the
respondent is to file the appropriate pleading with the Supreme Court within fifteen
(15) days from receipt of notice of said Decision pursuant to Sec. 12 [c] of Rule 139B.[1][5]

On December 10, 1997, this Court noted the following pleadings filed in the present
complaint,
(a) notice and a copy of Resolution No. XII-97-154 dated July 26, 1997 of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines amending the recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner of reprimand to three (3) months suspension of respondent from the
practice of law for having been found guilty of misconduct which eroded the public
confidence regarding his duty as a lawyer;
(b) complainants motion for praying for the imposition of the maximum penalty of
disbarment;
(c) motion dated September 15, 1997 of respondent for reconsideration of the
aforesaid resolution of July 26, 1997;
(d) comment/opposition of respondent praying that the motion for the imposition of
the maximum penalty be denied;
(e) comment of complainant praying that the penalty of three (3) months
suspension for the practice of law as recommended by the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines pursuant to Resolution No. XII-97-154 be raised to a heavier penalty;
(f) comment/manifestation/opposition of complainant praying that the respondent
be disbarred; and
(g) rejoinder of respondent praying that this case be dismissed for being baseless.
[1][6]
and referred the same to the IBP for evaluation and report.
In compliance therewith, on March 28, 1998, the IBP issued Resolution No. XIII-98-42
referring the above-entitled case to Commissioner Vibar for evaluation, report and
recommendation in view of the Motion for Reconsideration granted by the Supreme
Court.
The Investigating Commissioner, after referring the case, recommended that his
original recommendation of the imposition of the penalty of reprimand be
maintained, noting that respondent counsel had served the IBP well as President of
the Sorsogon Chapter.[1][7] Accordingly, on February 23, 1999, the IBP Board of
Governors, issued the following resolution:
RESOLUTION NO. XIII-99-48
xxx
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the
Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the aboveentitled 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 Motion for Reconsideration be granted and that the
penalty of REPRIMAND earlier recommended by the Investigating Commissioner be
imposed on Atty. Juan S. Dealca.[1][8]
Complainant asked the IBP to reconsider the foregoing resolution but the motion
was denied.[1][9]
On April 10, 2000, complainant filed with this Court a petition for review on
certiorari in connection with Administrative Case No. 4215 against the IBP and
respondent counsel averring that the IBP Board of Governors committed grave
abuse of discretion when it overturned its earlier resolution and granted respondent
counsels motion for reconsideration on February 23, 1999. He claimed that the
earlier resolution denying the motion for reconsideration issued on October 25,
1997 had already become final and executory; hence, any further action or motion
subsequent to such final and executory judgment shall be null and void.
When the Court issued the resolution of December 10, 1997 treating the several
pleadings filed in the present complaint, it should be noted that the IBP resolution
denying respondents motion for reconsideration (Resolution No. XIII-97-129) dated
October 25, 1997, for some reason, had not yet reached this Court. As of that date,
the only IBP resolution attached to the records of the case was Resolution No. XII97-54 amending the administrative sanction from reprimand to three months
suspension. Hence, at the time the pleadings were referred back to the IBP in the
same resolution, the Court was not aware that the IBP had already disposed of the
motion for reconsideration filed by respondent counsel.
Thus, when the IBP was informed of the said Court resolution, it construed the same
as granting Atty. Dealcas motion for reconsideration and as an order for IBP to
conduct a re-evaluation of the case. The IBP assumed that its resolution of October
25, 1997 was already considered by this Court when it referred the case back to the
IBP. It failed to notice that its resolution denying the motion for reconsideration was
not among those pleadings and resolution referred back to it.
Hence, on the strength of this Courts resolution which it had inadvertently
misconstrued, the IBP conducted a re-evaluation of the case and came up with the
assailed resolution now sought to be reversed. The Court holds that the error is not
attributable to the IBP. It is regrettable that the procedural infirmity alleged by
complainant actually arose from a mere oversight which was attributable to neither
party.
Going into the merits, we affirm the findings made by the IBP that complainant
engaged the services of respondent lawyer only for the preparation and submission

of the appellants brief and the attorneys fees was payable upon the completion
and submission of the appellants brief and not upon the termination of the case.
There is sufficient evidence which indicates complainants willingness to pay the
attorneys fees. As agreed upon, complainant paid half of the fees in the amount of
P7,500.00 upon acceptance of the case. And while the remaining balance was not
yet due as it was agreed to be paid only upon the completion and submission of the
brief, complainant nonetheless delivered to respondent lawyer P4,000.00 as the
latter demanded. This, notwithstanding, Atty. Dealca withdrew his appearance
simply because of complainants failure to pay the remaining balance of P3,500.00,
which does not appear to be deliberate. The situation was aggravated by
respondent counsels note to complainant withdrawing as counsel which was
couched in impolite and insulting language.[1][10]
Given the above circumstances, was Atty. Dealcas conduct just and proper?
We find Atty. Dealcas conduct unbecoming of a member of the legal profession.
Under Canon 22 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, lawyer shall withdraw his
services only for good cause and upon notice appropriate in the circumstances.
Although he may withdraw his services when the client deliberately fails to pay the
fees for the services,[1][11] under the circumstances of the present case, Atty.
Dealcas withdrawal was unjustified as complainant did not deliberately fail to pay
him the attorneys fees. In fact, complainant exerted honest efforts to fulfill his
obligation. Respondents contemptuous conduct does not speak well of a member of
the bar considering that the amount owing to him was only P3,500.00. Rule 20.4 of
Canon 20, mandates that a lawyer shall avoid controversies with clients concerning
his compensation and shall resort to judicial action only to prevent imposition,
injustice or fraud. Sadly, for not so large a sum owed to him by complainant,
respondent lawyer failed to act in accordance with the demands of the Code.
The Court, however, does not agree with complainants contention that the
maximum penalty of disbarment should be imposed on respondent lawyer. The
power to disbar must be exercised with great caution. Only in a clear case of
misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an
officer of the Court and member of the bar will disbarment be imposed as a penalty.
It should never be decreed where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension,
would accomplish the end desired.[1][12] In the present case, reprimand is deemed
sufficient.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent Atty. Juan S. Dealca is
REPRIMANDED with a warning that repetition of the same act will be dealt with more

severely.
SO ORDERED.
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