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Contents

EN BANC [SBC Case No. 519.] PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR.,
respondent. July 31, 1997 ................................................................................................................... 2
SECOND DIVISION A.M. No. 1608 MAGDALENA T. ARCIGA complainant, vs. SEGUNDINO D.
MANIWANG respondent. August 14, 1981 ......................................................................................... 4
EN BANC JOSELANO GUEVARRA, Complainant, versus ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA, Respondent.
A.C. No. 7136 Promulgated: August 1, 2007 ....................................................................................... 8
SECOND DIVISION [A.C. No. 3319.] LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
June 8, 2000 ...................................................................................................................................... 19
EN BANC EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., Complainant, versus - ATTY. LEO J. PALMA, Respondent.
Adm. Case No. 2474 Promulgated: September 15, 2004 .................................................................. 27
Ventura v. Samson AC 9608 En Banc November 27, 2012 ................................................................ 33
EN BANC [A.C. No. 6148. FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, the Minors JURIS ALEXIS T. MACARRUBO
and GABRIEL ENRICO T. MACARRUBO as represented by their Mother/Guardian, FLORENCE TEVES
MACARRUBO, complainant, vs. ATTY. EDMUNDO L. MACARRUBO, respondent. February 27, 2004]
.......................................................................................................................................................... 39
EN BANC A.C. No. 6622 MIGUEL G. VILLATUYA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. BEDE S. TABALINGCOS,
Respondent. July 10, 2012 ................................................................................................................ 48
EN BANC A.C. No. 9401 JOCELYN DE LEON, Complainant, vs. ATTY. TYRONE PEDREA, Respondent.
October 22, 2013 .............................................................................................................................. 56
THIRD DIVISION CATHERINE JOIE P. VITUG A.C. No. 6313 Complainant, ATTY. DIOSDADO M.
RONGCAL, Respondent. Promulgated: September 7, 2006 .............................................................. 61
EN BANC [A.C. No. 6486. EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISPIN G. DANTES,
respondent. September 22, 2004] .................................................................................................... 70
EN BANC MAELOTISEA S. GARRIDO, Complainant,- versus - ATTYS. ANGEL E. GARRIDO and
ROMANA P. VALENCIA,Respondents.A.C. No. 6593 Promulgated: February 4, 2010 ....................... 74
THIRD DIVISION ELPIDIO P. TIONG, Complainant,- versus -ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO,
Respondent. A.C. No. 4428 Promulgated: December 12, 2011 ........................................................ 84
EN BANC In re CARLOS S. BASA Pedro Guevara for respondent. Attorney-General Feria for the
Government. December 7, 1920 ....................................................................................................... 87
EN BANC A.C. No. 10676, ATTY. ROY B. ECRAELA, Complainant, v. ATTY. IAN RAYMOND A.
PANGALANGAN, Respondent. September 08, 2015 ......................................................................... 88
EN BANC A.C. No. 5816, DR. ELMAR O. PEREZ, Complainant, v. ATTY. TRISTAN A. CATINDIG AND
ATTY. KAREN E. BAYDO, Respondents. March 10, 2015.................................................................... 99

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EN BANC CARRIE-ANNE SHALE EN CARLYLE S. REYES, Complainant, -versus -ATTY. RAMON F. NIEVA,
Respondent. A.C. No. 8560 Promulgated: September 6, 2016 ....................................................... 107
Advincula v. Advincula AC No. 9226 June 14, 2016 ......................................................................... 118

EN BANC [SBC Case No. 519.] PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO, JR.,
respondent. July 31, 1997

RESOLUTION
ROMERO, J.:

In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that respondent Simeon Barranco,
Jr. be denied admission to the legal profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on
the fourth attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Before he could take his oath,
however, complainant filed the instant petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts,
that a child out of wedlock was born to them and that respondent did not fulfill his repeated promises
to marry her.

The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F. Sevilla in June and July 1971.
Respondent and complainant were townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in
their teens, they were steadies. Respondent even acted as escort to complainant when she reigned as
Queen at the 1953 town fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual congress with respondent sometime
in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born on December 11, 1964.[1] It was after the
child was born, complainant alleged, that respondent first promised he would marry her after he passes
the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and respondent allegedly made more than twenty or
thirty promises of marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latters birthdays. Her trust in him
and their relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that respondent married another woman.
Hence, this petition.

Upon complainants motion, the Court authorized the taking of testimonies of witnesses by deposition in
1972. On February 18, 1974, respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing
complainants failure to comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking to be relieved from the duty to
take aforesaid testimonies by deposition. Complainant filed her comment stating that she had justifiable
reasons in failing to file the earlier comment required and that she remains interested in the resolution
of the present case. On June 18, 1974, the Court denied respondents motion to dismiss.

On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on the ground of abandonment
filed by respondent on September 17, 1979.[2] Respondents third motion to dismiss was noted in the
Courts Resolution dated September 15, 1982.[3] In 1988, respondent repeated his request, citing his
election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Janiuay, Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active

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participation in civic organizations and good standing in the community as well as the length of time this
case has been pending as reasons to allow him to take his oath as a lawyer.[4]

On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for failure of complainant to
prosecute the case for an unreasonable period of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the
lawyers oath upon payment of the required fees.[5]

Respondents hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when the Court, in response to
complainants opposition, resolved to cancel his scheduled oath-taking. On June 1, 1993, the Court
referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
recommendation.

The IBPs report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the case and that respondent be
allowed to take the lawyers oath.

We agree.

Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyers oath in 1971 because of the charges of gross
immorality made by complainant. To recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child with his
sweetheart, Patricia Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise to marry her after he
passes the bar examinations.

We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the permanent exclusion of
respondent from the legal profession. His engaging in premarital sexual relations with complainant and
promises to marry suggests a doubtful moral character on his part but the same does not constitute
grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained
of must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral. A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and
false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high
degree.[6] It is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of
respectable members of the community.[7]

We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang[8] quite relevant because mere intimacy between a man and a
woman, both of whom possess no impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit
on the part of respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to warrant the imposition of
disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a result of such relationship a child was born out of
wedlock.[9]

Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations were evidently consensual. We
do not find complainants assertions that she had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She
continued to see and be respondents girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son in 1964 and until
1971. All those years of amicable and intimate relations refute her allegations that she was forced to
have sexual congress with him. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued

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their relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily led astray. Unfortunately,
respondent chose to marry and settle permanently with another woman. We cannot castigate a man for
seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a sacred and perpetual bond which should be
entered into because of love, not for any other reason.

We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a woman scorned, bitter and
unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually,
sacrificing the profession he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming that his past
indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer
constitute sufficient punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no other indiscretion
attributed to him.[10] Respondent, who is now sixty-two years of age, should thus be allowed, albeit
belatedly, to take the lawyers oath.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to
take his oath as a lawyer upon payment of the proper fees.

SO ORDERED.

Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, and
Panganiban, JJ., concur. Narvasa, C.J., Hermosisima, Jr., and Torres, Jr., JJ., on leave

SECOND DIVISION A.M. No. 1608 MAGDALENA T. ARCIGA complainant, vs. SEGUNDINO D.
MANIWANG respondent. August 14, 1981

AQUINO, J.:

Magdalena T. Arciga in her complaint of February 24, 1976 asked for the disbarment of lawyer
Segundino D. Maniwang (admitted to the Bar in 1975 ) on the ground of grossly immoral conduct
because he refused to fulfill his promise of marriage to her. Their illicit relationship resulted in the birth
on September 4, 1973 of their child, Michael Dino Maniwang.

Magdalena and Segundino got acquainted sometime in October, 1970 at Cebu City. Magdalena was then
a medical technology student in the Cebu Institute of Medicine while Segundino was a law student in
the San Jose Recoletos College. They became sweethearts but when Magdalena refused to have a tryst
with Segundino in a motel in January, 1971, Segundino stopped visiting her.

Their paths crossed again during a Valentine's Day party in the following month. They renewed their
relationship. After they had dinner one night in March, 1971 and finding themselves alone (like Adam
and Eve) in her boarding house since the other boarders had gone on vacation, they had sexual
congress. When Segundino asked Magdalena why she had refused his earlier proposal to have sexual
intercourse with him, she jokingly said that she was in love with another man and that she had a child

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with still another man. Segundino remarked that even if that be the case, he did not mind because he
loved her very much.

Thereafter, they had repeated acts of cohabitation. Segundino started telling his acquaintances that he
and Magdalena were secretly married.

In 1972 Segundino transferred his residence to Padada, Davao del Sur. He continued his law studies in
Davao City. .Magdalena remained in Cebu. He sent to her letters and telegrams professing his love for
her (Exh. K to Z).

When Magdalena discovered in January, 1973 that she was pregnant, she and Segundino went to her
hometown, Ivisan, Capiz, to apprise Magdalena's parents that they were married although they were
not really so. Segundino convinced Magdalena's father to have the church wedding deferred until after
he had passed the bar examinations. He secured his birth certificate preparatory to applying for a
marriage license.

Segundino continued sending letters to Magdalena wherein he expressed his love and concern for the
baby in Magdalena's womb. He reassured her time and again that he would marry her once he passed
the bar examinations. He was not present when Magdalena gave birth to their child on September 4,
1973 in the Cebu Community Hospital. He went to Cebu in December, 1973 for the baptism of his child.

Segundino passed the bar examinations. The results were released on April 25, 1975. Several days after
his oath-taking, which Magdalena also attended, he stopped corresponding with Magdalena. Fearing
that there was something amiss, Magdalena went to Davao in July, 1975 to contact her lover. Segundino
told her that they could not get married for lack of money. She went back to Ivisan.

In December, 1975 she made another trip to Davao but failed to see Segundino who was then in
Malaybalay, Bukidnon. She followed him there only to be told that their marriage could not take place
because he had married Erlinda Ang on November 25, 1975. She was broken-hearted when she returned
to Davao.

Segundino followed her there and inflicted physical injuries upon her because she had a confrontation
with his wife, Erlinda Ang. She reported the assault to the commander of the Padada police station and
secured medical treatment in a hospital (Exh. I and J).

Segundino admits in his answer that he and Magdalena were lovers and that he is the father of the child
Michael. He also admits that he repeatedly promised to marry Magdalena and that he breached that
promise because of Magdalena's shady past. She had allegedly been accused in court of oral defamation
and had already an illegitimate child before Michael was born.

The Solicitor General recommends the dismissal of the case. In his opinion, respondent's cohabitation
with the complainant and his reneging on his promise of marriage do not warrant his disbarment.

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An applicant for admission to the bar should have good moral character. He is required to produce
before this Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no charges against him,
involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court.

If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession of
good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in
the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character (Royong vs. Oblena, 117
Phil. 865).

A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional
probity.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral
conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to
the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.

Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which
shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community" (7
C.J.S. 959).

Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became pregnant by reason of
intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of six children, disbarment of the attorney on the
ground of immoral conduct was justified (In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd 896).

There is an area where a lawyer's conduct may not be inconsonance with the canons of the moral code
but he is not subject to disciplinary action because his misbehavior or deviation from the path of
rectitude is not glaringly scandalous. It is in connection with a lawyer's behavior to the opposite sex
where the question of immorality usually arises. Whether a lawyer's sexual congress with a woman not
his wife or without the benefit of marriage should be characterized as "grossly immoral conduct," will
depend on the surrounding circumstances.

This Court in a decision rendered in 1925, when old-fashioned morality still prevailed, observed that
"the legislator well knows the frailty of the flesh and the ease with which a man, whose sense of dignity,
honor and morality is not well cultivated, falls into temptation when alone with one of the fair sex
toward whom he feels himself attracted. An occasion is so inducive to sin or crime that the saying "A fair
booty makes many a thief" or "An open door may tempt a saint" has become general." (People vs. De la
Cruz, 48 Phil. 533, 535).

Disbarment of a lawyer for grossly immoral conduct is illustrated in the following cases:

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(1) Where lawyer Arturo P. Lopez succeeded in having carnal knowledge of Virginia C. Almirez,
under promise of marriage, which he refused to fulfill, although they had already a marriage license and
despite the birth of a child in consequence of their sexual intercourse; he married another woman and
during Virginia's pregnancy, Lopez urged her to take pills to hasten the flow of her menstruation and he
tried to convince her to have an abortion to which she did not agree. (Almirez vs. Lopez, Administrative
Case No. 481, February 28, 1969, 27 SCRA 169. See Sarmiento vs. Cui, 100 Phil. 1102).

(2) Where lawyer Francisco Agustin made Anita Cabrera believe that they were married before
Leoncio V. Aglubat in the City Hall of Manila, and, after such fake marriage, they cohabited and she later
give birth to their child (Cabrera vs. Agustin, 106 Phil. 256).

(3) Where lawyer Jesus B. Toledo abandoned his lawful wife and cohabited with another women
who had borne him a child (Toledo vs. Toledo, 117 Phil. 768. As to disbarment for contracting a
bigamous marriage, see Villasanta vs. Peralta, 101 Phil. 313).

(4) The conduct of Abelardo Simbol in making a dupe of Concepcion Bolivar by living on her bounty
and allowing her to spend for his schooling and other personal necessities, while dangling before her the
mirage of a marriage, marrying another girl as soon as he had finished his studies, keeping his marriage a
secret while continuing to demand money from the complainant, and trying to sponge on her and
persuade her to resume their broken relationship after the latter's discovery of his perfidy are indicative
of a character not worthy of a member of the bar (Bolivar vs. Simbol, 123 Phil. 450).

(5) Where Flora Quingwa, a public school teacher, who was engaged to lawyer Armando Puno, was
prevailed upon by him to have sexual congress with him inside a hotel by telling her that it was alright to
have sexual intercourse because, anyway, they were going to get married. She used to give Puno money
upon his request. After she became pregnant and gave birth to a baby boy, Puno refused to marry her.
(Quingwa vs. Puno, Administrative Case No. 389, February 28, 1967, 19 SCRA 439).

(6) Where lawyer Anacleto Aspiras, a married man, misrepresenting that he was single and making
a promise of marriage, succeeded in having sexual intercourse with. Josefina Mortel. Aspiras faked a
marriage between Josefina and his own son Cesar. Aspiras wrote to Josefina: "You are alone in my life
till the end of my years in this world. I will bring you along with me before the altar of matrimony."
"Through thick and thin, for better or for worse, in life or in death, my Josephine you will always be the
first, middle and the last in my life." (Mortel vs. Aspiras, 100 Phil. 586).

(7) Where lawyer Ariston Oblena, who had been having adulterous relations for fifteen years with
Briccia Angeles, a married woman separated from her husband, seduced her eighteen-year-old niece
who became pregnant and begot a child. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865).

The instant case can easily be differentiated from the foregoing cases. This case is similar to the case of
Soberano vs. Villanueva, 116 Phil. 1206, where lawyer Eugenio V. Villanueva had sexual relations with

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Mercedes H. Soberano before his admission to the bar in 1954. They indulged in frequent sexual
intercourse. She wrote to him in 1950 and 1951 several letters making reference to their trysts in hotels.

On letter in 1951 contain expressions of such a highly sensual, tantalizing and vulgar nature as to render
them unquotable and to impart the firm conviction that, because of the close intimacy between the
complainant and the respondent, she felt no restraint whatsoever in writing to him with impudicity.

According to the complainant, two children were born as a consequence of her long intimacy with the
respondent. In 1955, she filed a complaint for disbarment against Villanueva.

This Court found that respondent's refusal to marry the complainant was not so corrupt nor
unprincipled as to warrant disbarment. (See Montana vs. Ruado, Administrative Case No. 507, February
24, 1975, 62 SCRA 382; Reyes vs. Wong, Administrative Case No. 547, January 29, 1975, 63 SCRA 667,
Viojan vs. Duran, 114 Phil. 322; Abaigar vs. Paz, Administrative Case No. 997, September 10, 1979,93
SCRA 91).

Considering the facts of this case and the aforecited precedents, the complaint for disbarment against
the respondent is hereby dismissed.

SO ORDERED.

Barredo, (Chairman) Concepcion, Jr., Fernandez and Guerrero, JJ., concur.

EN BANC JOSELANO GUEVARRA, Complainant, versus ATTY. JOSE EMMANUEL EALA,


Respondent. A.C. No. 7136 Promulgated: August 1, 2007

DECISION

PER CURIAM:
Joselano Guevarra (complainant) filed on March 4, 2002 a Complaint for Disbarment[1] before the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Bar Discipline (CBD) against Atty. Jose Emmanuel
M. Eala a.k.a. Noli Eala (respondent) for grossly immoral conduct and unmitigated violation of the
lawyers oath.

In his complaint, Guevarra gave the following account:


He first met respondent in January 2000 when his (complainants) then-fiancee Irene Moje (Irene)
introduced respondent to him as her friend who was married to Marianne (sometimes spelled Mary
Ann) Tantoco with whom he had three children.

After his marriage to Irene on October 7, 2000, complainant noticed that from January to March 2001,
Irene had been receiving from respondent cellphone calls, as well as messages some of which read I love
you, I miss you, or Meet you at Megamall.

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Complainant also noticed that Irene habitually went home very late at night or early in the morning of
the following day, and sometimes did not go home from work. When he asked about her whereabouts,
she replied that she slept at her parents house in Binangonan, Rizal or she was busy with her work.

In February or March 2001, complainant saw Irene and respondent together on two occasions. On the
second occasion, he confronted them following which Irene abandoned the conjugal house.

On April 22, 2001, complainant went uninvited to Irenes birthday celebration at which he saw her and
respondent celebrating with her family and friends. Out of embarrassment, anger and humiliation, he
left the venue immediately. Following that incident, Irene went to the conjugal house and hauled off all
her personal belongings, pieces of furniture, and her share of the household appliances.

Complainant later found, in the masters bedroom, a folded social card bearing the words I Love You on
its face, which card when unfolded contained a handwritten letter dated October 7, 2000, the day of his
wedding to Irene, reading:

My everdearest Irene,

By the time you open this, youll be moments away from walking down the aisle. I will say a prayer for
you that you may find meaning in what youre about to do.
Sometimes I wonder why we ever met. Is it only for me to find fleeting happiness but experience eternal
pain? Is it only for us to find a true love but then lose it again? Or is it because theres a bigger plan for
the two of us?
I hope that you have experienced true happiness with me. I have done everything humanly possible to
love you. And today, as you make your vows . . . I make my own vow to YOU!

I will love you for the rest of my life. I loved you from the first time I laid eyes on you, to the time we
spent together, up to the final moments of your single life. But more importantly, I will love you until the
life in me is gone and until we are together again.

Do not worry about me! I will be happy for you. I have enough memories of us to last me a lifetime.
Always remember though that in my heart, in my mind and in my soul, YOU WILL ALWAYS

. . . AND THE WONDERFUL THINGS YOU DO!

BE MINE . . . . AND MINE ALONE, and I WILL ALWAYS BE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE!

I LOVE YOU FOREVER, I LOVE YOU FOR ALWAYS. AS LONG AS IM LIVING MY TWEETIE YOULL BE![2]

Eternally yours,

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NOLI

Complainant soon saw respondents car and that of Irene constantly parked at No. 71-B 11th Street, New
Manila where, as he was to later learn sometime in April 2001, Irene was already residing. He also
learned still later that when his friends saw Irene on or about January 18, 2002 together with
respondent during a concert, she was pregnant.

In his ANSWER,[3] respondent admitted having sent the I LOVE YOU card on which the above-quoted
letter was handwritten. On paragraph 14 of the COMPLAINT reading:

14. Respondent and Irene were even FLAUNTING THEIR ADULTEROUS RELATIONSHIP as they attended
social functions together. For instance, in or about the third week of September 2001, the couple
attended the launch of the Wine All You Can promotion of French wines, held at the Mega Strip of SM
Megamall B at Mandaluyong City. Their attendance was reported in Section B of the Manila Standard
issue of 24 September 2001, on page 21. Respondent and Irene were photographed together; their
picture was captioned: Irene with Sportscaster Noli Eala. A photocopy of the report is attached as Annex
C.[4] (Italics and emphasis in the original; CAPITALIZATION of the phrase flaunting their adulterous
relationship supplied), respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:
4. Respondent specifically denies having ever flaunted an adulterous relationship with Irene as
alleged in paragraph 14 of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being that their relationship was low
profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families, and that Respondent, as
far as the general public was concerned, was still known to be legally married to Mary Anne Tantoco.[5]
(Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

On paragraph 15 of the COMPLAINT reading:

15. Respondents adulterous conduct with the complainants wife and his apparent abandoning or
neglecting of his own family, demonstrate his gross moral depravity, making him morally unfit to keep
his membership in the bar. He flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage, calling it a piece of
paper. Morally reprehensible was his writing the love letter to complainants bride on the very day of her
wedding, vowing to continue his love for her until we are together again, as now they are.[6]
(Underscoring supplied), respondent stated in his ANSWER as follows:

5. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 15 of the Complaint regarding his
adulterous relationship and that his acts demonstrate gross moral depravity thereby making him unfit to
keep his membership in the bar, the reason being that Respondents relationship with Irene was not
under scandalous circumstances and that as far as his relationship with his own family:

5.1 Respondent has maintained a civil, cordial and peaceful relationship with [his wife] Mary Anne as in
fact they still occasionally meet in public, even if Mary Anne is aware of Respondents special friendship
with Irene.

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xxxx

5.5 Respondent also denies that he has flaunted his aversion to the institution of marriage by calling the
institution of marriage a mere piece of paper because his reference [in his above-quoted handwritten
letter to Irene] to the marriage between Complainant and Irene as a piece of paper was merely with
respect to the formality of the marriage contract.[7] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Respondent admitted[8] paragraph 18 of the COMPLAINT reading:

18. The Rules of Court requires lawyers to support the Constitution and obey the laws. The Constitution
regards marriage as an inviolable social institution and is the foundation of the family (Article XV, Sec.
2).[9] And on paragraph 19 of the COMPLAINT reading:

19. Respondents grossly immoral conduct runs afoul of the Constitution and the laws he, as a lawyer,
has been sworn to uphold. In pursuing obsessively his illicit love for the complainants wife, he mocked
the institution of marriage, betrayed his own family, broke up the complainants marriage, commits
adultery with his wife, and degrades the legal profession.[10] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied),
respondent, in his ANSWER, stated:

7. Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the Complaint, the reason being that
under the circumstances the acts of Respondent with respect to his purely personal and low profile
special relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly
immoral conduct as would be a ground for disbarment pursuant to Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of
Court.[11] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

To respondents ANSWER, complainant filed a REPLY,[12] alleging that Irene gave birth to a girl and Irene
named respondent in the Certificate of Live Birth as the girls father. Complainant attached to the REPLY,
as Annex A, a copy of a Certificate of Live Birth[13] bearing Irenes signature and naming respondent as
the father of her daughter Samantha Irene Louise Moje who was born on February 14, 2002 at St. Lukes
Hospital.

Complainants REPLY merited a REJOINDER WITH MOTION TO DISMISS[14] dated January 10, 2003 from
respondent in which he denied having personal knowledge of the Certificate of Live Birth attached to
the complainants Reply.[15] Respondent moved to dismiss the complaint due to the pendency of a civil
case filed by complainant for the annulment of his marriage to Irene, and a criminal complaint for
adultery against respondent and Irene which was pending before the Quezon City Prosecutors Office.

During the investigation before the IBP-CBD, complainants Complaint-Affidavit and REPLY to ANSWER
were adopted as his testimony on direct examination.[16] Respondents counsel did not cross-examine
complainant.[17]

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After investigation, IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan, in a 12-page REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATION[18] dated October 26, 2004, found the charge against respondent sufficiently
proven.
The Commissioner thus recommended[19] that respondent be disbarred for violating Rule 1.01 of Canon
1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility reading:

Rule 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Underscoring
supplied), and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the same Code reading: Rule 7.03: A lawyer shall not engage in
conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private
life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession. (Underscoring supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors, however, annulled and set aside the Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner and accordingly dismissed the case for lack of merit, by Resolution dated January 28,
2006 briefly reading:

RESOLUTION NO. XVII-2006-06


CBD Case No. 02-936
Joselano C. Guevarra vs.
Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala
a.k.a. Noli Eala

RESOLVED to ANNUL and SET ASIDE, as it is hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE, the Recommendation of
the Investigating Commissioner, and to APPROVE the DISMISSAL of the above-entitled case for lack of
merit.[20] (Italics and emphasis in the original)

Hence, the present petition[21] of complainant before this Court, filed pursuant to Section 12 (c), Rule
139[22] of the Rules of Court.
The petition is impressed with merit.

Oddly enough, the IBP Board of Governors, in setting aside the Recommendation of the Investigating
Commissioner and dismissing the case for lack of merit, gave no reason therefor as its above-quoted 33-
word Resolution shows.

Respondent contends, in his Comment[23] on the present petition of complainant, that there is no
evidence against him.[24] The contention fails. As the IBP-CBD Investigating Commissioner observed:

While it may be true that the love letter dated October 7, 2000 (Exh. C) and the news item published in
the Manila Standard (Exh. D), even taken together do not sufficiently prove that respondent is carrying
on an adulterous relationship with complainants wife, there are other pieces of evidence on record
which support the accusation of complainant against respondent.

Page 12 of 122
It should be noted that in his Answer dated 17 October 2002, respondent through counsel made the
following statements to wit: Respondent specifically denies having [ever] flaunted an adulterous
relationship with Irene as alleged in paragraph [14] of the Complaint, the truth of the matter being [that]
their relationship was low profile and known only to immediate members of their respective families . . .
, and Respondent specifically denies the allegations in paragraph 19 of the complaint, the reason being
that under the circumstances the acts of the respondents with respect to his purely personal and low
profile relationship with Irene is neither under scandalous circumstances nor tantamount to grossly
immoral conduct . . .

These statements of respondent in his Answer are an admission that there is indeed a special
relationship between him and complainants wife, Irene, [which] taken together with the Certificate of
Live Birth of Samantha Louise Irene Moje (Annex H-1) sufficiently prove that there was indeed an illicit
relationship between respondent and Irene which resulted in the birth of the child Samantha. In the
Certificate of Live Birth of Samantha it should be noted that complainants wife Irene supplied the
information that respondent was the father of the child. Given the fact that the respondent admitted his
special relationship with Irene there is no reason to believe that Irene would lie or make any
misrepresentation regarding the paternity of the child. It should be underscored that respondent has
not categorically denied that he is the father of Samantha Louise Irene Moje.[25] (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

Indeed, from respondents ANSWER, he does not deny carrying on an adulterous relationship with Irene,
adultery being defined under Art. 333 of the Revised Penal Code as that committed by any married
woman who shall have sexual intercourse with a man not her husband and by the man who has carnal
knowledge of her, knowing her to be married, even if the marriage be subsequently declared void.[26]
(Italics supplied) What respondent denies is having flaunted such relationship, he maintaining that it was
low profile and known only to the immediate members of their respective families.

In other words, respondents denial is a negative pregnant,

a denial pregnant with the admission of the substantial facts in the pleading responded to which are not
squarely denied. It was in effect an admission of the averments it was directed at. Stated otherwise, a
negative pregnant is a form of negative expression which carries with it in affirmation or at least an
implication of some kind favorable to the adverse party. It is a denial pregnant with an admission of the
substantial facts alleged in the pleading. Where a fact is alleged with qualifying or modifying language
and the words of the allegation as so qualified or modified are literally denied, it has been held that the
qualifying circumstances alone are denied while the fact itself is admitted.[27] (Citations omitted;
emphasis and underscoring supplied)

A negative pregnant too is respondents denial of having personal knowledge of Irenes daughter
Samantha Louise Irene Mojes Certificate of Live Birth. In said certificate, Irene named respondent a
lawyer, 38 years old as the childs father. And the phrase NOT MARRIED is entered on the desired
information on DATE AND PLACE OF MARRIAGE. A comparison of the signature attributed to Irene in the

Page 13 of 122
certificate[28] with her signature on the Marriage Certificate[29] shows that they were affixed by one
and the same person. Notatu dignum is that, as the Investigating Commissioner noted, respondent
never denied being the father of the child.

Franklin A. Ricafort, the records custodian of St. Lukes Medical Center, in his January 29, 2003
Affidavit[30] which he identified at the witness stand, declared that Irene gave the information in the
Certificate of Live Birth that the childs father is Jose Emmanuel Masacaet Eala, who was 38 years old and
a lawyer.[31]

Without doubt, the adulterous relationship between respondent and Irene has been sufficiently proven
by more than clearly preponderant evidence that evidence adduced by one party which is more
conclusive and credible than that of the other party and, therefore, has greater weight than the
other[32] which is the quantum of evidence needed in an administrative case against a lawyer.

Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may
proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. . . . of proof for these types of cases differ. In a
criminal case, proof beyond reasonable doubt is necessary; in an administrative case for disbarment or
suspension, clearly preponderant evidence is all that is required.[33] (Emphasis supplied)

Respondent insists, however, that disbarment does not lie because his relationship with Irene was not,
under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court, reading:
SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. A member of the
bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing as an attorney for a party to a
case without authority so to do. The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.

The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a competent court or other
disciplinatory agency in a foreign jurisdiction where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a
ground for his disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the acts hereinabove
enumerated.

The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary agency shall be prima facie
evidence of the ground for disbarment or suspension (Emphasis and underscoring supplied), under
scandalous circumstances.[34]

The immediately-quoted Rule which provides the grounds for disbarment or suspension uses the phrase
grossly immoral conduct, not under scandalous circumstances. Sexual intercourse under scandalous
circumstances is, following Article 334 of the Revised Penal Code reading:

Page 14 of 122
ART. 334. Concubinage. - Any husband who shall keep a mistress in the conjugal dwelling, or, shall have
sexual intercourse, under scandalous circumstances, with a woman who is not his wife, or shall cohabit
with her in any other place, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium
periods.

x x x x,

an element of the crime of concubinage when a married man has sexual intercourse with a woman
elsewhere.

Whether a lawyers sexual congress with a woman not his wife or without the benefit of marriage should
be characterized as grossly immoral conduct depends on the surrounding circumstances.[35] The case at
bar involves a relationship between a married lawyer and a married woman who is not his wife. It is
immaterial whether the affair was carried out discreetly. Apropos is the following pronouncement of
this Court in Vitug v. Rongcal:[36]

On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with
complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not so corrupt and false as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree in order to merit disciplinary
sanction. We disagree.

xxxx

While it has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two
unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior, it is not so
with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity. Even if not all forms of extra-marital relations are
punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and immoral as
it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the
Constitution and affirmed by our laws.[37] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

And so is the pronouncement in Tucay v. Atty. Tucay:[38]

The Court need not delve into the question of whether or not the respondent did contract a bigamous
marriage . . . It is enough that the records of this administrative case substantiate the findings of the
Investigating Commissioner, as well as the IBP Board of Governors, i.e., that indeed respondent has
been carrying on an illicit affair with a married woman, a grossly immoral conduct and indicative of an
extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his profession. This detestable behavior renders him
regrettably unfit and undeserving of the treasured honor and privileges which his license confers upon
him.[39] (Underscoring supplied)

Page 15 of 122
Respondent in fact also violated the lawyers oath he took before admission to practice law which goes:

I _________, having been permitted to continue in the practice of law in the Philippines, do solemnly
swear that I recognize the supreme authority of the Republic of the Philippines; I will support its
Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities therein; I
will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; I will not wittingly or willingly promote or
sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no man for
money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge and
discretion with all good fidelity as well as to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this
voluntary obligation without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.
(Underscoring supplied)

Respondent admittedly is aware of Section 2 of Article XV (The Family) of the Constitution reading:

Section 2. Marriage, as an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be
protected by the State.

In this connection, the Family Code (Executive Order No. 209), which echoes this constitutional
provision, obligates the husband and the wife to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity,
and render mutual help and support.[40]

Furthermore, respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility which
proscribes a lawyer from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct, and Rule 7.03 of
Canon 7 of the same Code which proscribes a lawyer from engaging in any conduct that adversely
reflects on his fitness to practice law.

Clutching at straws, respondent, during the pendency of the investigation of the case before the IBP
Commissioner, filed a Manifestation[41] on March 22, 2005 informing the IBP-CBD that complainants
petition for nullity of his (complainants) marriage to Irene had been granted by Branch 106 of the
Quezon City Regional Trial Court, and that the criminal complaint for adultery complainant filed against
respondent and Irene based on the same set of facts alleged in the instant case, which was pending
review before the Department of Justice (DOJ), on petition of complainant, had been, on motion of
complainant, withdrawn.

The Secretary of Justices Resolution of January 16, 2004 granting complainants Motion to Withdraw
Petition for Review reads:

Considering that the instant motion was filed before the final resolution of the petition for review, we
are inclined to grant the same pursuant to Section 10 of Department Circular No. 70 dated July 3, 2000,
which provides that notwithstanding the perfection of the appeal, the petitioner may withdraw the

Page 16 of 122
same at any time before it is finally resolved, in which case the appealed resolution shall stand as though
no appeal has been taken.[42] (Emphasis supplied by complainant)

That the marriage between complainant and Irene was subsequently declared void ab initio is
immaterial. The acts complained of took place before the marriage was declared null and void.[43] As a
lawyer, respondent should be aware that a man and a woman deporting themselves as husband and
wife are presumed, unless proven otherwise, to have entered into a lawful contract of marriage.[44] In
carrying on an extra-marital affair with Irene prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage with
complainant was null and void, and despite respondent himself being married, he showed disrespect for
an institution held sacred by the law. And he betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer.

As for complainants withdrawal of his petition for review before the DOJ, respondent glaringly omitted
to state that before complainant filed his December 23, 2003 Motion to Withdraw his Petition for
Review, the DOJ had already promulgated a Resolution on September 22, 2003 reversing the dismissal
by the Quezon City Prosecutors Office of complainants complaint for adultery. In reversing the City
Prosecutors Resolution, DOJ Secretary Simeon Datumanong held:

Parenthetically the totality of evidence adduced by complainant would, in the fair estimation of the
Department, sufficiently establish all the elements of the offense of adultery on the part of both
respondents. Indeed, early on, respondent Moje conceded to complainant that she was going out on
dates with respondent Eala, and this she did when complainant confronted her about Ealas frequent
phone calls and text messages to her. Complainant also personally witnessed Moje and Eala having a
rendezvous on two occasions. Respondent Eala never denied the fact that he knew Moje to be married
to complainant[.] In fact, he (Eala) himself was married to another woman. Moreover, Mojes eventual
abandonment of their conjugal home, after complainant had once more confronted her about Eala, only
served to confirm the illicit relationship involving both respondents. This becomes all the more apparent
by Mojes subsequent relocation in No. 71-B, 11th Street, New Manila, Quezon City, which was a few
blocks away from the church where she had exchange marital vows with complainant.

It was in this place that the two lovers apparently cohabited. Especially since Ealas vehicle and that of
Mojes were always seen there. Moje herself admits that she came to live in the said address whereas
Eala asserts that that was where he held office. The happenstance that it was in that said address that
Eala and Moje had decided to hold office for the firm that both had formed smacks too much of a
coincidence. For one, the said address appears to be a residential house, for that was where Moje
stayed all throughout after her separation from complainant. It was both respondents love nest, to put
short; their illicit affair that was carried out there bore fruit a few months later when Moje gave birth to
a girl at the nearby hospital of St. Lukes Medical Center. What finally militates against the respondents is
the indubitable fact that in the certificate of birth of the girl, Moje furnished the information that Eala
was the father. This speaks all too eloquently of the unlawful and damning nature of the adulterous acts
of the respondents. Complainants supposed illegal procurement of the birth certificate is most certainly

Page 17 of 122
beside the point for both respondents Eala and Moje have not denied, in any categorical manner, that
Eala is the father of the child Samantha Irene Louise Moje.[45] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

It bears emphasis that adultery is a private offense which cannot be prosecuted de oficio and thus
leaves the DOJ no choice but to grant complainants motion to withdraw his petition for review. But even
if respondent and Irene were to be acquitted of adultery after trial, if the Information for adultery were
filed in court, the same would not have been a bar to the present administrative complaint.

Citing the ruling in Pangan v. Ramos,[46] viz:

x x x The acquittal of respondent Ramos [of] the criminal charge is not a bar to these [administrative]
proceedings. The standards of legal profession are not satisfied by conduct which merely enables one to
escape the penalties of x x x criminal law. Moreover, this Court, in disbarment proceedings is acting in an
entirely different capacity from that which courts assume in trying criminal case[47] (Italics in the
original),

this Court in Gatchalian Promotions Talents Pools, Inc. v. Atty. Naldoza,[48] held:

Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are distinct from and they may
proceed independently of civil and criminal cases.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. Resolution No. XVII-2006-06 passed on January 28, 2006 by the
Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE.

Respondent, Atty. Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, is DISBARRED for grossly immoral conduct, violation of his
oath of office, and violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of the records of respondent
in the Office of the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let copies of the Decision be
furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts.

This Decision takes effect immediately.

SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Page 18 of 122
SECOND DIVISION [A.C. No. 3319.] LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO,
respondent. June 8, 2000

DECISION

DE LEON, JR., J.:

Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris Bonifacio for allegedly carrying
on an immoral relationship with Carlos L. Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.

The relevant facts are:

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

Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent. Complainant then visited
respondent at her office in the later part of June 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos
Ui. Whereupon, respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and alleged, however,
that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui. Complainant believed the representations of
respondent and thought things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship
between her husband and respondent would come to an end.

However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship between her husband and
respondent continued, and that sometime in December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui,
had a second child. Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March 1989 and pleaded
with respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit
relationship persisted and complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been
employed by her husband in his company.

A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then filed on August 11, 1989 by the
complainant against respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, more
particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her
Answer,[2] respondent averred that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along to
be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had children by a Chinese woman in Amoy,
China, from whom he had long been estranged. She stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos
Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got married in Hawaii, USA in 1985[3]. Upon

Page 19 of 122
their return to Manila, respondent did not live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his
children in their Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let the children
gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage before they would live together.[4]

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

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

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

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

Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the "illicit relationship" between the
respondents allegedly discovered by the complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however
show that respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part of 1988 and/or the
early part of 1989.

It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of respondents started and was
discovered by complainant sometime in 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26
Potsdam Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they, admittedly, continued to live

Page 20 of 122
together at their conjugal home up to early (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left
the same.

From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the relationship, illicit as complainant
puts it, had been prima facie established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed to
even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the concept of husband and wife at
the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang house, proof of which is necessary and indispensable to at least
create probable cause for the offense charged. The statement alone of complainant, worse, a statement
only of a conclusion respecting the fact of cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence
thereto any better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).

It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support of their respective positions
on the matter support and bolster the foregoing conclusion/recommendation.

WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be dismissed for want of
evidence to establish probable cause for the offense charged.

RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.[8]

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

In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline, complainant filed a Motion to Cite
Respondent in Contempt of the Commission [10] wherein she charged respondent with making false
allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document which was altered and intercalated.
She alleged that in the Answer of respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred,
among others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and attached a Certificate of
Marriage to substantiate her averment. However, the Certificate of Marriage [11] duly certified by the
State Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State Department of Health, and duly
authenticated by the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of
marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was October 22, 1987, and not October
22, 1985 as claimed by respondent in her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false
allegation was because respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP that the birth of her first child
by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.[12] It is the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a
violation of Articles 183[13] and 184[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt of the
Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false allegations in her Answer and submitting an
altered/intercalated document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity which make
her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.

Page 21 of 122
In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in Contempt),[15] respondent averred that she did not
have the original copy of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of Carlos Ui,
and that she annexed such copy because she relied in good faith on what appeared on the copy of the
marriage certificate in her possession.

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

(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the requirement of good moral character
for the practice of the legal profession; and

(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted herself in an immoral
manner.[17]

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

On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that it was highly incredible for her
to have knowingly attached such marriage certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was
altered. Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to make it appear that her
marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and
Carlos Ui got married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the latter of her earlier
marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and
admitted that he was the person responsible for changing the date of the marriage certificate from 1987
to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter.

Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures of respondent with a child,
pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with
Plate No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and ground, and another picture
of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 and a picture of the house and the garage,[19] does not
prove that she acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according to her. The
pictures were taken by a photographer from a private security agency and who was not presented
during the hearings. Further, the respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in
I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui against respondent for lack of evidence
to establish probable cause for the offense charged [20] and the dismissal of the appeal by the
Department of Justice [21] to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any immoral or illegal act
because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, respondent claims that she entered the relationship

Page 22 of 122
with Carlos Ui in good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, or shameless,
nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with Carlos Ui whom she believed to be single, and,
that upon her discovery of his true civil status, she parted ways with him.

In the Memorandum [22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie Ui, she prayed for the
disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated that respondent committed immorality by having
intimate relations with a married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant
testified that respondents mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew complainant and her husband
since the late 1970s because they were clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch
Manager.[23] It was thus highly improbable that respondent, who was living with her parents as of
1986, would not have been informed by her own mother that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant
likewise averred that respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for submitting a
photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date.

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

Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar Discipline submitted its Report and
Recommendation, finding that:

In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted by Carlos Ui, the latter
represented himself to be single. The Commission does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the
light of contemporary human experience.

Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he represents himself to be single,
separated, or without any firm commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to
fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.

The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true civil status of Carlos Ui, she
left for the United States (in July of 1988). She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the
Philippines in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr. Carlos Ui and
respondent only talked to each other because of the children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time
did they live together.

Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act on the part of respondent that
can be considered as unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she
was more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion rather than condemnation.
Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her chance of having a normal and happy family life, a dream
cherished by every single girl.

Page 23 of 122
x..........................x..........................x"

Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution
dated December 13, 1997, the dispositive portion of which reads as follows:

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and APPROVED, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on
record and the applicable laws and rules, the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is
DISMISSED for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and willfully attaching to
her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a stern warning that a repetition of the same will
merit a more severe penalty."

We agree with the findings aforequoted.

The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right to enjoy the practice of the
legal profession simply by passing the bar examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to
the mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates of legal ethics. The
requisites for admission to the practice of law are:

a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;

b. a resident thereof;

c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;

d. a person of good moral character;

e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude, are filed or pending in court;

f. possess the required educational qualifications; and

g. pass the bar examinations.[25] (Italics supplied)

Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant
must possess good moral character. More importantly, possession of good moral character must be
continuous as a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise, the loss
thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has been held -

If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then the continued possession of
good moral character is also a requisite for retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in

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the bar may be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. (Royong vs. Oblena, 117
Phil. 865).

A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar should have moral integrity in addition to professional
probity.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is "grossly immoral
conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of
continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional behavior to
the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.

Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which
shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community." (7
C.J.S. 959).[26]

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

Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations of respondent are not only far
from simple, they will have a rippling effect on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should
be defined. Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used to be before. This
permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree
of social responsibility and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The facts of this
case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not have found herself in such a compromising
situation had she exercised prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis
personal background prior to her intimate involvement with him.

Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused respondents suspicion that something
was amiss in her relationship with Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance,
respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a woman from Amoy, China, yet it
appeared that she never exerted the slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed
unmarried. Also, despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived with respondent and their first
child, a circumstance that is simply incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui
was very open in courting her.

All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that respondent was imprudent in
managing her personal affairs. However, the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as
it was with what respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be considered immoral. For
immorality connotes conduct that shows indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of

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good and respectable members of the community.[27] Moreover, for such conduct to warrant
disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that is, it must be so corrupt and false as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[28]

We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not only required to refrain from
adulterous relationships x x x but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by
creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards."[29] Respondents act of immediately
distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true civil status belies just that alleged moral
indifference and proves that she had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of
the legal profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve no credit. After all, the
burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only if
she establishes her case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.[30] This, herein complainant
miserably failed to do.

On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by respondent to her Answer, we find
improbable to believe the averment of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the
Marriage Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as significant as a marriage
ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to
fathom how a bride, especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she got married.
Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and highly improbable.

Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained in an attachment to her
pleading, especially so when she has personal knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained
therein. In attaching such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good faith of
respondent on that point cannot stand.

It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality. The legal
profession exacts from its members nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of
the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of
the court demand no less than the highest degree of morality.

WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty. Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged
immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.

However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her Answer a photocopy of her Marriage
Certificate, with an altered or intercalated date thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe
sanction will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar offense in the future.

SO ORDERED.

Bellosillo, (Chairman and Acting C.J.), Mendoza, Quisumbing, and Buena, JJ., concur.

Page 26 of 122
EN BANC EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., Complainant, versus - ATTY. LEO J. PALMA,
Respondent. Adm. Case No. 2474 Promulgated: September 15, 2004

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain rigid standards of
mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a candidate to the bar, the Rules of Court not only
prescribe a test of academic preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral character.
These standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must continue to
adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or removal.[1]

Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. filed with this Court the instant complaint for disbarment against Atty. Leo J.
Palma, alleging as grounds deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, violation of his oath as a
lawyer and grossly immoral conduct.

The facts are undisputed:

Complainant and respondent met sometime in the 70s. Complainant was a client of Angara Concepcion
Regala & Cruz Law Offices (ACCRA) and respondent was the lawyer assigned to handle his cases. Owing
to his growing business concerns, complainant decided to hire respondent as his personal counsel.

Consequently, respondents relationship with complainants family became intimate. He traveled and
dined with them abroad.[2] He frequented their house and even tutored complainants 22-year old
daughter Maria Luisa Cojuangco (Lisa), then a student of AssumptionConvent.

On June 22, 1982, without the knowledge of complainants family, respondent married Lisa in Hongkong.
It was only the next
day that respondent informed complainant and assured him that everything is legal. Complainant was
shocked, knowing fully well that respondent is a married man and has three children. Upon
investigation, complainant found that respondent courted Lisa during their tutoring sessions.
Immediately, complainant sent his two sons to Hongkong to convince Lisa to go home to Manila and
discuss the matter with the family. Lisa was persuaded.

Complainant also came to know that: (a) on the date of the supposed marriage, respondent requested
from his (complainants) office an airplane ticket to and from Australia, with stop-over in Hong Kong; (b)
respondent misrepresented himself as bachelor before the Hong Kong authorities to facilitate his
marriage with Lisa; and (c) respondent was married to Elizabeth Hermosisima and has three children,
namely: Eugene Philippe, Elias Anton and Eduardo Lorenzo.
On August 24, 1982, complainant filed with the Court of First Instance, Branch XXVII, Pasay City a
petition[3] for declaration of

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nullity of the marriage between respondent and Lisa, docketed as Civil Case No. Pq-0401-P. In the
Decision[4] dated November 2, 1982, the CFI declared the marriage null and void ab initio.

Thereafter, complainant filed with this Court the instant complaint[5] for disbarment, imputing to
respondent the following acts:

a. In grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant and his family
and taking undue advantage of his tutoring sessions with Maria Luisa, respondent secretly courted her.
The great disparity in intelligence, education, age, experience and maturity between Maria Luisa and
respondent gave the latter an overwhelming moral ascendancy over Maria Luisa as to overcome her
scruples and apprehensions about respondents courtship and advances, considering that he is a married
man with three (3) children;

b. Respondent courted Maria Luisa with persistence and determination and even pursued her in her
travels abroad under false pretenses that he was traveling on official business for complainant. To break
down the final resistance of Maria Luisa and assuage her pangs of guilt, he made representations that
there was no legal impediment whatsoever to his marrying;

c. With his moral ascendancy over Maria Luisa and his misrepresentation that there was no legal
impediment or prohibition to his contracting a second marriage, respondent succeeded in inducing and
beguiling her into marrying him. Without complying with the requirements of Philippine law that he
should first obtain a judicial declaration of nullity of his marriage to Elizabeth H. Palma and that the
advice of Maria Luisas parents should first be obtained she being only twenty-two (22) years of age,
respondent succeeded in contracting marriage with her in Hongkong on June 22, 1982 by falsely
representing himself before the Hongkong authorities that he is a bachelor. x x x.

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss[6] on the ground of lack of cause of action. He contended that the
complaint fails to allege acts constituting deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct or violation of his
lawyers oath. There is no allegation that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack of skill or ignorance of
the law in serving complainants interest. Anent the charge of grossly immoral conduct, he stressed that
he married complainants daughter with utmost sincerity and good faith and that it is contrary to the
natural course of things for an immoral man to marry the woman he sincerely loves.

In the Resolution[7] dated March 2, 1983, we referred the case to the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG) for investigation, report and recommendation. Former Assistant Solicitor General Oswaldo D.
Agcaoili conducted the investigation.

Meanwhile, on December 28, 1983, the First Division of this Court issued in G.R. No. 64538[8] a
Resolution[9] (a) setting aside the CFI Decision dated November 2, 1982 in Civil Case No. Pq0401-P

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declaring the marriage between respondent and Lisa null and void ab initio; and (b) remanding the case
to the CFI for proper proceeding and determination. To this date, the records fail to disclose the
outcome of this case.

On March 19, 1984, respondent filed with the OSG an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings[10] on the
ground that the final outcome of Civil Case No. Pq0401-P poses a prejudicial question to the disbarment
proceeding. It was denied.

Respondent sought refuge in this Court through an Urgent Motion for Issuance of a Restraining
Order.[11] In the Resolution dated December 19, 1984, we enjoined the OSG from continuing the
investigation of the disbarment proceedings.[12]

Thereafter, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline.
On October 19, 1998, Commissioner Julio C. Elamparo issued the following order:

Considering the length of time that this case has remained pending and as a practical measure to ease
the backlog of this Commission, the parties shall within ten (10) days from notice, manifest whether or
not they are still interested in prosecuting this case or supervening events have transpired which render
this case moot and academic or otherwise, this case shall be deemed closed and terminated.[13]
In his Manifestation,[14] complainant manifested and confirmed his continuing interest in prosecuting
his complaint for disbarment against respondent.

On the other hand, respondent sought several postponements of hearing on the ground that he needed
more time to locate vital documents in support of his defense. The scheduled hearing of December 4,
2001 was reset for the last time on January 24, 2002, with a warning that should he fail to appear or
present deposition, the case will be deemed submitted for resolution.[15] Respondent again failed to
appear on January 24, 2002; hence, the case was considered submitted for resolution.[16]

On March 20, 2003, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan submitted a Report and
Recommendation finding respondent guilty of grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a
lawyer. She recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for a period of three
(3) years. Thus:

The main issue to be resolved in this case is whether or not respondent committed the following acts
which warrant his disbarment:

a) Grave abuse and betrayal of the trust and confidence reposed in him by complainant;

b) His misrepresentation that there was no legal impediment or prohibition to his contracting a
second marriage;

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c) The acts of respondent constitute deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct in office, grossly
immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer.

Respondent admits that he married Maria Luisa in Hongkong representing himself as a bachelor,
however, he claimed that the marriage certificate stated a condition no different from term spinster
with respect to Luisa.

There is no question that respondent as a lawyer well versed in the law knew fully well that in marrying
Maria Luisa he was entering into a bigamous marriage defined and penalized under Article 349 of the
Revised Penal Code. The respondent betrayed the trust reposed in him by complainant. He was treated
as part of the family and was allowed to tutor Maria Luisa.

For the foregoing reasons, it is submitted that respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and
violation of his oath as a lawyer, and it is recommended that respondent be suspended from the
practice of law for a period of three (3) years.

SO ORDERED.

The IBP Board of Governors adopted and approved the above Report and Recommendation, but it
reduced respondents penalty to only one (1) year suspension.

Except for the penalty, we affirm the IBPs Report and Recommendation.

At the outset, it must be stressed that the law profession does not prescribe a dichotomy of standards
among its members. There is no distinction as to whether the transgression is committed in the lawyers
professional capacity or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to
be an attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another.[17] Thus, not only his professional activities
but even his private life, insofar as the latter may reflect unfavorably upon the good name and prestige
of the profession and the courts, may at any time be the subject of inquiry on the part of the proper
authorities.[18]

Respondent claims that he had served complainant to the best of his ability. In fact, the complaint does
not allege that he acted with wanton recklessness, lack of skill and ignorance of the law.
While, complainant himself admitted that respondent was a good lawyer,[19] however, professional
competency alone does not make a lawyer a worthy member of the Bar. Good moral character is always
an indispensable requirement.

The ringing truth in this case is that respondent married Lisa while he has a subsisting marriage with
Elizabeth Hermosisima. The Certification[20] from the Local Civil Registrar of Cebu City shows that he
married Elizabeth on December 19, 1971 at Cardials Private Chapel, Cebu City. On the other hand, the
Certificate of Marriage[21] from the Deputy Registrar of Marriages, Hong Kong, proves respondents
subsequent marriage with Lisa on July 9, 1982. That Elizabeth was alive at the time of respondents

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second marriage was confirmed on the witness stand by Atty. Victor P. Lazatin, Elizabeths classmate and
family friend.[22]

Undoubtedly, respondents act constitutes grossly immoral conduct, a ground for disbarment under
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court. He exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of
morality required of him as a member of the Bar. In particular, he made a mockery of marriage which is
a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. His act of contracting a second marriage is contrary
to honesty, justice, decency and morality.[23]

This is not the first occasion that we censure immorality. Thus, we have somehow come up with a
common definition of what constitutes immoral conduct, i.e., that conduct which is willful, flagrant, or
shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members
of the community.[24] Measured against this definition, respondents act is manifestly immoral. First, he
abandoned his lawful wife and three children. Second, he lured an innocent young woman into marrying
him. And third, he misrepresented himself as a bachelor so he could contract marriage in a foreign land.

Our rulings in the following cases are relevant:

1) In Macarrubo vs. Macarrubo,[25] respondent entered into multiple marriages and then resorted to
legal remedies to sever them. There, we ruled that [S]uch pattern of misconduct by respondent
undermines the institutions of marriage and family, institutions that this society looks to for the rearing
of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. As such, there can be no other fate
that awaits respondent than to be disbarred.

(2) In Tucay vs. Tucay,[26] respondent contracted marriage with another married woman and left
complainant with whom he has been married for thirty years. We ruled that such acts constitute a
grossly immoral conduct and only indicative of an extremely low regard for the fundamental ethics of his
profession, warranting respondents disbarment.

(3) In Villasanta vs. Peralta,[27] respondent married complainant while his first wife was still alive, their
marriage still valid and subsisting. We held that the act of respondent of contracting the second
marriage is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality. Thus, lacking the good moral character
required by the Rules of Court, respondent was disqualified from being admitted to the bar.

(4) In Cabrera vs. Agustin,[28] respondent lured an innocent woman into a simulated marriage and
thereafter satisfied his lust. We held that respondent failed to maintain that degree of morality and
integrity, which at all times is expected of members of the bar. He is, therefore, disbarred from the
practice of law.

(5) In Toledo vs. Toledo,[29] respondent abandoned his wife, who supported him and spent for his law
education, and thereafter cohabited with another woman. We ruled that he failed to maintain the

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highest degree of morality expected and required of a member of the bar. For this, respondent was
disbarred.

(6) In Obusan vs. Obusan, Jr.,[30] respondent abandoned his lawful wife and child and resumed
cohabitation with his former paramour. Here, we ruled that abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal
relations with a former paramour, a married woman, constitute grossly immoral conduct warranting
disbarment.

The circumstances here speak of a clear case of betrayal of trust and abuse of confidence. It was
respondents closeness to the complainants family as well as the latters complete trust in him that made
possible his intimate relationship with Lisa. When his concern was supposed to be complainants legal
affairs only, he sneaked at the latters back and courted his daughter. Like the proverbial thief in the
night, he attacked when nobody was looking. Moreover, he availed of complainants resources by
securing a plane ticket from complainants office in order to marry the latters daughter in Hongkong. He
did this without complainants knowledge. Afterwards, he even had the temerity to assure complainant
that everything is legal. Clearly, respondent had crossed the limits of propriety and decency.

Respondent justified his conduct by professing he really loved Lisa and since he married her, he cannot
be charged with immorality. His reasoning shows a distorted mind and a brazen regard on the sanctity
of marriage. In such relationship, the man and the woman are obliged to live together, observe mutual
respect and fidelity.[31] How could respondent perform these obligations to Lisa when he was
previously married to Elizabeth? If he really loved her, then the noblest thing he could have done was to
walk away.

Respondents culpability is aggravated by the fact that Lisa was just a 22-year old college student of
Assumption Convent and was under psychological treatment for emotional immaturity.[32] Naturally,
she was an easy prey.

Anent respondents argument that since the validity of his marriage to Lisa has not yet been determined
by the court with finality, the same poses a prejudicial question to the present disbarment proceeding.
Suffice it to say that a subsequent judgment of annulment of marriage has no bearing to the instant
disbarment proceeding. As we held in In re Almacen,[33] a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither
purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the court into the conduct of its officers.
Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative of an administrative case
against him,[34] or if an affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course,[35] then
the judgment of annulment of respondents marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing
actually committed. So long as the quantum of proof --- clear preponderance of evidence --- in
disciplinary proceedings against members of the bar is met, then liability attaches.[36]

The interdict upon lawyers, as inscribed in Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, is that
they shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. This is founded on the
lawyers primordial duty to society as spelled out in Canon 1 which states:

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CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law
and legal processes.

It is not by coincidence that the drafters of our Code of Professional Responsibility ranked the above
responsibility first in the enumeration. They knew then that more than anybody else, it is the lawyers --
the disciples of law -- who are most obliged to venerate the law. As stated in Ex Parte Wall:[37]

Of all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn
servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them
underfoot and to ignore the very bonds of society, argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a
pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous elements of the body politic.

Corollarily, the above responsibility is enshrined in the Attorneys Oath which every lawyer in the country
has to take before he is allowed to practice.

In sum, respondent committed grossly immoral conduct and violation of his oath as a lawyer. The
penalty of one (1) year suspension recommended by the IBP is not commensurate to the gravity of his
offense. The bulk of jurisprudence supports the imposition of the extreme penalty of disbarment.

WHEREFORE, respondent Leo J. Palma is found GUILTY of grossly immoral conduct and violation of his
oath as a lawyer, and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law.

Let respondents name be stricken from the Roll of Attorneys immediately. Furnish the Bar Confidant,
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts throughout the country with copies of this Decision.

SO ORDERED.

HILARIO G. DAVIDE, JR.


Chief Justice

Ventura v. Samson AC 9608 En Banc November 27, 2012

DECISION PER CURIAM: The Court has often reminded members of the bar to live up to the standards
and norms of the legal profession by upholding the ideals and principles embodied in the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency,
but also of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing. Lawyers are at all times subject to the watchful
public eye and community approbation. Needless to state, those whose conduct both public and
private fail this scrutiny have to be disciplined and, after appropriate proceedings, accordingly
penalized.1 Complainant Maria Victoria B. Ventura filed on July 29, 2004 a Complaint2 for Disbarment or
Suspension before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Commission on Bar Discipline against

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respondent Atty. Danilo S. Samson for grossly immoral conduct. In her complaint, complainant alleged
that 2.

The herein Complainant MARIA VICTORIA B. VENTURA executed a Sworn Statement dated 19 April 2002
and a Supplemental Complaint dated 10 May 2002 stating therein that the crime of RAPE was
committed against her person sometime in December, 2001 and on 19 March 2002 when she was
merely thirteen (13) years of age by herein Respondent ATTY. DANILO S. SAMSON, then thirty eight (38)
years old, married to Teresita B. Samson, Filipino and resident of Barangay 5, San Francisco, Agusan Del
Sur, Philippines. 3. In his Counter-Affidavit, herein Respondent ATTY. DANILO S. SAMSON admitted
that sexual intercourse indeed transpired between the herein Complainant MARIA VICTORIA B.
VENTURA and himself. 4. After the conduct of preliminary investigation, the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor of Agusan Del Sur, Philippines issued a RESOLUTION dated 10 June 2002 dismissing the
charge of RAPE and finding the existence of probable cause for the crime of QUALIFIED SEDUCTION and
issued the corresponding INFORMATION for QUALIFIED SEDUCTION on 04 July 2002. 5. Thereafter, the
herein Complainant filed a MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION dated 26 August 2002 which was denied in
the RESOLUTION dated 02 October 2002 of the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Agusan Del Sur.
6. The aforesaid RESOLUTION dated 02 October 2002 was elevated to [the Department of Justice], by
way of a PETITION FOR REVIEW, and is pending resolution by the Department of Justice. x x x x 8. The
act/s committed by the herein Respondent Atty. Danilo S. Samson against the herein Complainant
MARIA VICTORIA B. VENTURA as hereinbefore stated clearly constitute grossly immoral conduct
under Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court of the Philippines which provides for a penalty of
DISBARMENT or SUSPENSION of an Attorney by the SUPREME COURT.

Complainant narrated in her Sworn Statement3 that sometime in December 2001, at around midnight,
she was sleeping in the maids room at respondents house when respondent entered and went on top
of her. Respondent kissed her lips, sucked her breast, and succeeded in having sexual intercourse with
her. She felt pain and found blood stain in her panty. She stated that another incident happened on
March 19, 2002 at respondents poultry farm in Alegria, San Francisco, Agusan del Sur. Respondent
asked her to go with him to the farm. He brought her to an old shanty where he sexually abused her.
Thereafter, respondent gave her five hundred pesos and warned her not to tell anyone what had
happened or he would kill her and her mother. In her Supplemental-Complaint,4 complainant averred
that respondent allowed her to sleep in his house after her mother agreed to let her stay there while
she studied at the Agusan National High School. She further stated that on the night she was sexually
abused, she was awakened when respondent went on top of her. She struggled to free herself and
shouted, but respondent covered her mouth and nobody could hear as nobody was in the house.
Complainant also claimed that on March 19, 2002, between 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 pm, respondent forced
her to ride a multi-cab. When they arrived at his poultry farm in Alegria, respondent dragged her to a
dilapidated shack. She resisted his advances but her efforts proved futile. Respondent alleged in his
Answer5 that 2. Respondent admits the allegations in paragraph 2 of the complaint to the effect that
Maria Victoria Ventura filed a complaint against him for Rape at the Provincial Prosecutors Office with
qualification that the said complaint for Rape was dismissed. Respondent, however, has no knowledge
or information as to the truth of the allegation that she was 13 years. x x x x 5. Respondent

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vehemently denies the truth of the allegations in paragraph 8 of the complaint to the effect that the acts
of respondent in having sex with complainant constitute grossly immoral conduct. The truth is that
[the] act of respondent in having sex with complainant was done [with] mutual agreement after
respondent gave money to complainant. Respondent respectfully submit[s] that his act of having sex
with complainant once does not constitute gross[ly] immoral conduct. There is no human law that
punishes a person who [has] sex with a woman with mutual agreement and complainant [accepts]
compensation therefore. Having sex with complainant once with just compensation does not amount to
immoral conduct. x x x x 6. The complaint is instigated by Corazon Ventura who was an employee at
the Law Office of respondent herein. The said Corazon Ventura entertained hatred and [had a grudge]
against the herein respondent who terminated her services due to misunderstanding. 7. The filing of
the Criminal Case against respondent as well as this Administrative Case is a well orchestrated and
planned act of Corazon Ventura as vengeance against respondent as a result of her separation from the
employment in the Law Office of the respondent. This claim is supported by the Affidavit of Natividad
Ruluna, the former Office Clerk at the Law Office of respondent. 8. To show that Corazon Ventura
desires to get back [at] respondent, she demanded from respondent to settle with her and demanded
the payment of the amount [of] P2,000,000.00[;] otherwise she will file a case against him in Court for
Rape and for disbarment. Respondent did not come across with Corazon Ventura, the latter made good
her threats and filed the criminal case for Rape. [sic] When the case [for] rape did not prosper because
the Prosecutor dropped the Rape Case, Corazon Ventura [sent word] to respondent that she is
amenable for the amount of P400,000.00. In effect, Corazon Ventura wanted to extort from respondent
so that she [can] get even with him and his wife for separating her from the employment; 9 .
Complainant is a woman of loose moral character. This is supported by the Affidavit of Patronio
Punayan, Jr. which is hereto attached as Annex 3. And Corazon Ventura can afford to utilize Maria
Victoria Ventura as her instrument in putting down the respondent herein because Maria Victoria
Ventura is not her biological daughter and she knows before hand that her ward has a questionable
reputation. The fact [that] Corazon Ventura is not the biological mother of Maria Victoria Ventura is
shown by the pre-trial order in Criminal Case No. 5414. x x x x Respondent has not violated any
grounds mentioned in this rule. Respondent respectfully submits that his having sex with complainant
with just compensation once does not amount to immoral conduct. For who among men will not yield to
temptation when a woman shall invite him for sex? Attached to respondents Answer is his Counter-
Affidavit6 which he submitted to the Provincial Prosecutor. He alleged therein that complainant usually
stayed late at night with her male friends when her mother was out of the house. He claimed that he
heard rumors that complainant had sexual affairs with different boys. Respondent narrated that on
March 19, 2002, he saw complainant with some of her classmates near their rented house. Complainant
told him that they wanted to go out to swim but they did not have money. When she asked if he could
spare some amount, he gave her money. He told her in jest that he wanted to see her that afternoon
and go to a place where they could be alone, and he was surprised when she agreed. He just thought
that for complainant, sex is a common thing despite her age. At around 5:00 p.m., he fetched
complainant at her house. She casually walked towards the car and boarded it. He told her that they will
not check in a lodging house because people might recognize him. Upon reaching his poultry farm,
respondent met his farm worker and asked him if he could use the latters hut. The farm worker agreed
and they went straight to the hut. Inside the farm workers hut, complainant did not hesitate in entering

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the room. Respondent did not notice any involuntariness on her part as she undressed herself. He
asserted that they had sexual intercourse based on their mutual understanding. Thereafter, the
complainant dressed up and walked back to the multi-cab where she waited for him. He told her not to
tell anyone about what had happened, to which she replied natural buang kay motug-an meaning,
shes not crazy as to tell anyone. He alleged that she accepted the money he gave because she needed
to buy some things but her mother did not give her any allowance. Respondent insisted that what
happened between them was the first and the last incident. He claimed that he was able to confirm that
complainant is no longer a virgin. It likewise appears that the Investigating Prosecutors found that
probable cause exists for respondent to stand trial for qualified seduction.7 The charge of rape,
however, was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

An Information was filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Agusan del 7 Id. at 119-122. Resolution
dated June 10, 2002. Decision 6 A.C. No. 9608 Sur, Branch 6, but complainant who was not satisfied with
the dismissal of the rape charge, filed a motion for reconsideration. When said motion was denied,
complainant filed a petition for review with the Department of Justice (DOJ). However, the DOJ
sustained the findings of the prosecutor. Then, on December 14, 2006, complainant and her mother
appeared before the public prosecutor and executed their respective Affidavits of Desistance.8
Complainant stated that what happened between respondent and her in March 2002 was based on
mutual understanding. Thus, she was withdrawing the complaint she filed against respondent before
the RTC as well as the one she filed before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline. Accordingly, the
criminal case against respondent was dismissed.9 In its Report and Recommendation10 dated October
10, 2007, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline recommended that respondent be suspended for a
period of one year from the practice of law for immorality with the warning that repetition of the same
or similar act will merit a more severe penalty. On November 10, 2007, the Board of Governors of the
IBP issued Resolution No. XVIII-2007-237, to wit: RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby
unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex
A; and, finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable
laws and rules, and considering that respondent is found guilty of immorality, the victim is a minor,
respondent and his wife was victims guardians and for being a married man, Atty. Danilo S. Samson is
hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for five (5) years with Stern Warning that repetition of the
same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.11 Complainant now moves to
reconsider the IBP Resolution. She argues that the penalty imposed by the IBP is not commensurate to
the gravity and depravity of the offense. She contends that respondent committed grossly immoral
conduct by forcing himself to have sexual intercourse with a young and innocent lass of 13 years of age.

He also took advantage of his moral ascendancy over complainant considering that she was then staying
at respondents residence. Moreover, there was a betrayal of the marital vow of fidelity considering that
respondent was a married man. She insists that this detestable behavior renders respondent unfit and
undeserving of the honor and privilege which his license confers upon him. Thus, complainant prays that
the penalty of disbarment be imposed.12 Meanwhile, respondent also filed a Motion for
Reconsideration13 of the IBP Resolution. He asserts that complainant has not presented any proof of

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her minority. Likewise, during the sexual encounter, complainant was not under their custody. He
contends that complainants mother even testified that her daughter stayed at respondents house only
until February 2002. He further stresses that because of his admission and remorse, and since this is the
first time he has been found administratively liable, he is entitled to a reduction of the penalty to one
year suspension from the practice of law. The pertinent provisions in the Code of Professional
Responsibility provide:

CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. x x x x

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR. x x x x Rule 7.03. - A lawyer shall
not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in
public or 12 Id. at 185-188. 13 Id. at 194-201. Decision 8 A.C. No. 9608 private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.

As we explained in Zaguirre v. Castillo, 14 the possession of good moral character is both a condition
precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant admission to the bar and to retain membership in
the legal profession. It is the bounden duty of members of the bar to observe the highest degree of
morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the Bar.15 Consequently, any errant behavior on the part
of a lawyer, be it in the lawyers public or private activities, which tends to show said lawyer deficient in
moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant suspension or disbarment.
Immoral conduct involves acts that are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral
indifference to the opinion of the upright and respectable members of the community.16 Immoral
conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be
reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as
to shock the communitys sense of decency.17 From the undisputed facts gathered from the evidence
and the admissions of respondent himself, we find that respondents act of engaging in sex with a young
lass, the daughter of his former employee, constitutes gross immoral conduct that warrants sanction.
Respondent not only admitted he had sexual intercourse with complainant but also showed no remorse
whatsoever when he asserted that he did nothing wrong because she allegedly agreed and he even gave
her money. Indeed, his act of having carnal knowledge of a woman other than his wife manifests his
disrespect for the laws on the sanctity of marriage and his own marital vow of fidelity.

Moreover, the fact that he procured the act by enticing a very young woman with money showed his
utmost moral depravity and low regard for the dignity of the human person and the ethics of his
profession. In Cordova v. Cordova, 18 we held that the moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a
member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral
standards of the community, conduct for instance, which makes a mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage. Respondent has violated the trust and confidence reposed on him by
complainant, then a 13-year-old minor,19 who for a time was under respondents care. Whether the

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sexual encounter between the respondent and complainant was or was not with the latters consent is
of no moment. Respondent clearly committed a disgraceful, grossly immoral and highly reprehensible
act. Such conduct is a transgression of the standards of morality required of the legal profession and
should be disciplined accordingly. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court expressly states that a
member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for,
among others, any deceit, grossly immoral conduct, or violation of the oath that he is required to take
before admission to the practice of law. It bears to stress that membership in the Bar is a privilege
burdened with conditions. As a privilege bestowed by law through the Supreme Court, membership in
the Bar can be withdrawn where circumstances concretely show the lawyers lack of the essential
qualifications required of lawyers.20 Likewise, it was held in Maligsa v. Cabanting21 that a lawyer may
be disbarred for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be
wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or unworthy to continue as an
officer of the court.

Similarly, in Dumadag v. Lumaya,22 the Court pronounced: The practice of law is a privilege burdened
with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree
of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the conditions required for
remaining a member of good standing of the bar and for enjoying the privilege to practice law. The fact
that complainant filed an Affidavit of Desistance during the pendency of this case is of no moment.
Complainants Affidavit of Desistance cannot have the effect of abating the instant proceedings in view
of the public service character of the practice of law and the nature of disbarment proceedings as a
public interest concern. A case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis and not meant to grant relief
to a complainant as in a civil case, but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its
undesirable members in order to protect the public and the courts.

A disbarment case is not an investigation into the acts of respondent but on his conduct as an officer of
the court and his fitness to continue as a member of the Bar.23 Illicit sexual relations have been
previously punished with disbarment, indefinite or definite suspension, depending on the
circumstances.24 In this case, respondents gross misbehavior and unrepentant demeanor clearly shows
a serious flaw in his character, his moral indifference to sexual exploitation of a minor, and his outright
defiance of established norms. All these could not but put the legal profession in disrepute and place the
integrity of the administration of justice in peril, hence the need for strict but appropriate disciplinary
action.25 The Court is mindful of the dictum that the power to disbar must be exercised with great
caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the
lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar. Thus, where a lesser penalty, such as
temporary suspension, could accomplis~ the end desired, disbarment should never be decreed.26
However, in the present case, the seriousness of the offense compels the Court to wield its power to
disbar as it appears to be the most appropriate penalty. 27

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Danilo S. Samson is hereby DISBARRED for Gross Immoral Conduct,
Violation of his oath of office, and Violation of Canon 1, Rule 1.01 and Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. Let a copy of this Decision, which is immediately executory, be made part of

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the records of respondent in the Office of the. Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines. And let
copies of the Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated to all courts. This
Decision takes effect immediately. SO ORDERED.

EN BANC [A.C. No. 6148. FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, the Minors JURIS ALEXIS T.
MACARRUBO and GABRIEL ENRICO T. MACARRUBO as represented by their
Mother/Guardian, FLORENCE TEVES MACARRUBO, complainant, vs. ATTY. EDMUNDO L.
MACARRUBO, respondent. February 27, 2004]

DECISION
PER CURIAM:

Florence Teves Macarrubo (complainant), by herself and on behalf of her two children, filed on June 6,
2000 a verified complaint[1] for disbarment against Atty. Edmundo L. Macarubbo (respondent) with the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), docketed as CBD Case No. 00-734-A, alleging that respondent
deceived her into marrying him despite his prior subsisting marriage with a certain Helen Esparza.

Detailing the circumstances surrounding respondents complained act, complainant averred that he
started courting her in April 1991, he representing himself as a bachelor; that they eventually contracted
marriage which was celebrated on two occasions administered by Rev. Rogelio J. Bolivar, the first on
December 18, 1991[2] in the latters Manila office, and the second on December 28, 1991[3] at the Asian
Institute of Tourism Hotel in Quezon City; and that although respondent admitted that he was married
to Helen Esparza on June 16, 1982, he succeeded in convincing complainant, her family and friends that
his previous marriage was void.

Complainant further averred that respondent entered into a third marriage with one Josephine T.
Constantino; and that he abandoned complainant and their children without providing them any regular
support up to the present time, leaving them in precarious living conditions.

Complainant submitted documentary evidence consisting of the marriage contract between respondent
and Helen Esparza[4] and that between her and respondent,[5] and photographs[6] of their
(complainant and respondent) nuptials and of captured moments in their life as a couple and a family.

Copy of the complaint could not be immediately served upon respondent owing to the difficulty of
locating him.[7]

Complainant later filed a Manifestation[8] before the IBP, furnishing therein respondents address where
he supposedly resided with his third wife Jo T. Constantino-Macarubbo. The IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline thereupon thrice[9] required respondent to file his Answer. He failed to do so, however, on
motion of complainant,[10] he was declared in default.[11] Complainant was thus allowed to present
evidence ex parte.

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The IBP Investigating Commissioner came out with a Report and Recommendation on January 22,
2001.[12]

By Resolution of May 26, 2001,[13] however, the IBP Board of Governors remanded the case to the
Investigating Commissioner to ensure proper notice or another opportunity to serve notice to the
respondent. Subsequently or on September 5, 2001, respondent filed a Manifestation/Ex Parte Motion
to Re-Open Proceedings[14] which was granted.[15]

By Comment of October 18, 2001,[16] respondent denied employing deception in his marriage to
complainant, insisting instead that complainant was fully aware of his prior subsisting marriage to Helen
Esparza, but that she dragged him against his will to a sham wedding to protect her and her familys
reputation since she was then three-months pregnant.

Respondent submitted in evidence the final and executory October 30, 2000 Decision of Branch IV of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tuguegarao City in Civil Case No. 5617, Edmundo L. Macarubbo v. Florence
J. Teves,[17] declaring his marriage to complainant void ab initio. He drew attention to the trial courts
findings on the basis of his evidence which was not controverted, that the marriage was indeed a sham
and make believe one, vitiated by fraud, deceit, force and intimidation, and further exacerbated by the
existence of a legal impediment and want of a valid marriage license.

Respondent also submitted a certification from the National Statistics Office that complainants name
does not appear in the National Index of Marriages for Bride;[18] another certification from the National
Statistics Office-Office of Civil Registrar General that it has no record of the December 28, 1991 marriage
of complainant and respondent;[19] and an attestation from the Office of the Municipal Civil Registrar
of Bacoor, Cavite that Marriage License No. 772176221 which was used in complainant and respondents
marriage is not on file in its records.[20]

Admitting having sired complainants two children, Juris Alexis and Gabriel Enrico, respondent denied
ever abandoning them.

In his Supplemental Comment,[21] respondent claimed that he left complainant and their two children
with her consent after explaining to her that the pain and shame of living in sin and ridicule was
unbearable.

To refute the charge that he had abandoned complainant and their two children, he presented copies of
fully paid educational plans[22] for the high school and college education of the children; a Philippine
National Bank check dated January 18, 1999 for P22,556.33 representing his payment of the final
amortization of his car which has been in complainants possession since 1997;[23] a copy of a petition of
complainant in a civil case filed against respondent with the Quezon City RTC, for judicial authorization
to sell certain properties of respondent, wherein she admitted that respondent issued three postdated
checks in the amount of P2,000.00 each for his childrens allowance covering the period October 1999 to
December 1999;[24] and copy of his August 9, 1999 letter to complainant demanding custody of his

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children, he having been barred from seeing them, as well as the return of his personal properties in
complainants possession.[25]

To disprove that he is of depraved moral character, respondent submitted certifications from the Office
of the Bar Confidant,[26] Office of the Ombudsman,[27] Department of Justice,[28] and the Philippine
National Police in his hometown in Enrile, Cagayan[29] that he has no cases of any nature pending with
them. And he too submitted letters from the Department of Interior and Local Government[30] and the
Metro Manila Development Authority[31] addressed to him to show that he is a civic-spirited person.

Finally, respondent, in his Supplemental Comment, raised the additional defenses that the judicial
decree of annulment of his marriage to complainant is res judicata upon the present administrative
case; that complainant is in estoppel for admitting her status as mere live-in partner to respondent in
her letter to Josephine T. Constantino;[32] and that she resorted to forum-shopping in bringing both this
administrative action and the civil case with the Quezon City RTC.

Stressing that he had always been the victim in his marital relations, respondent invoked the final and
executory August 21, 1998 Decision of Branch 158 of the Pasig City RTC in JDRC Case No. 4320, Edmundo
L. Macarubbo v. Helen C. Esparza,[33] declaring his first marriage void on the ground of his wifes
psychological incapacity.

After hearing during which both complainant and respondent took the witness stand, the Investigating
Commissioner rendered a Report and Recommendation[34] the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is recommended that respondent Atty. Edmundo L. Macarrubo be


SUSPENDED FOR THREE MONTHS for gross misconduct reflecting unfavorably on the moral norms of the
profession. Moreover, it must likewise be impressed on respondent that he should comply with the
moral and legal obligations incumbent upon him as a father of the children as a result of his relationship
with complainant. (Underscoring supplied)

The IBP Board of Governors subsequently passed Resolution No. XV-2003-351[35] which adopted and
approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.

The final disposition of the present administrative case is now before this Court.

It appears that respondent began his legal career in 1986 as Legal Officer of the Department of
Education, Culture and Sports after which he became Supervising Civil Service Attorney of the Civil
Service Commission.[36] He later became an Ombudsman Graft Investigation Officer, then a State
Prosecutor of the Department of Justice, before finally bowing out of public service after about 14 years
or in July 2000 to engage in private practice.[37]

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The rule that a lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional
or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, in probity and good
demeanor, thus rendering him unworthy to continue as an officer of the court[38] bears reiterating.

Upon the evidence on record, respondent is indeed guilty of gross misconduct in his private affairs
which warrant disciplinary action by this Court as the guardian of the purity and integrity of the legal
profession.

The incontrovertible facts show that while respondent had a subsisting marriage with Helen Esparza
with whom he had two children,[39] he entered into a second marriage with complainant.

While the marriage between complainant and respondent has been annulled by final judgment, this
does not cleanse his conduct of every tinge of impropriety. He and complainant started living as
husband and wife in December 1991 when his first marriage was still subsisting, as it was only on August
21, 1998 that such first marriage was annulled, rendering him liable for concubinage.[40] Such conduct
is inconsistent with the good moral character that is required for the continued right to practice law as a
member of the Philippine bar.[41] It imports moral turpitude and is a public assault upon the basic social
institution of marriage.[42]

Even assuming arguendo that respondent was coerced by complainant to marry her, the duress, by his
own admission as the following transcript of his testimony reflects, ceased after their wedding day,
respondent having freely cohabited with her and even begot a second child by her.

xxx

ATTY. PAGUIA [Complainants Counsel]

Q: Are you claiming that the complainant coerced you again to marry her?

A: Yes, I was.

Q: Did she use a gun to coerce you?

A: A lot of people appearing around and a lot of bad mouth from her, threats to sue me and to even kill
me by people around.

Q: So insofar as you are concerned the complainant committed a crime of coercion against yourself?

A: Yes.

Q: And is it correct for me to say that you did not file any case before the Prosecutors Office.

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A: I reported that matter to the police.

COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: In what way did M[s]. Florence Teves coerce you?

A: She placed me in a place where she could guard me and she treated (sic) to sue me, destroy my
career. And at the time of the marriage she sent people to fetch me from my place to be there. And
there are a lot of people with strange faces.

ATTY. PAGUIA

Q: How many days or hours did this coercion last?

A: Thats continuing.

Q: From what day to what day?

A: Its started when she said she was pregnant until the date of the alleged marriage.

Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission who got her pregnant at that time?

A: Although there was a carnal knowledge once.

Q: Of course you know that the complainant delivered the child after your marriage, is it not?

A: Yes, six months after because she was already pregnant three months during that time already.

Q: Can you tell the Honorable Commission what is the name of the child was (sic)?

A: Juris. I recognized the children. Theres no problem about that. I gave them educational plan, I gave
them support.

Q: After the first child you continued living with the complainant, is it not?

A: Intermittently I get out and then she would call pagkat may sakit yong bata so I have to go back.

Q: Of course it was your responsibility as father to the child to see the condition of the child?

A: Yes, thats why whenever she comes and tells me that the child is sick I go there.

Q: After your wedding with the complainant can you tell the Honorable Commission where you resided?

Page 43 of 122
COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: When you say where you resided, both of them?

ATTY. PAGUIA: Yes, Your Honor.

A: In the residence of Florence.

ATTY. PAGUIA

Q: How long did you live with the complainant after your wedding?

A: Intermittently again few months then I get out then when the child is sick I have to visit.

COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: When you say intermittently you dont stay there?

A: Not permanently.

ATTY. PAGUIA

Q: How often did you come home to the residence of the complainant?

A: Whenever she call that the child is sick.

Q: So you live (sic) with her up to what year?

A: Intermittently 1995.

Q: You mentioned that you have two children with the complainant?

A: Yes.

Q: Can you remember when your second child with the complainant was born?

A: I cannot remember.

Q: Do you know how old the second child with the complainant is?

A: I guess six or seven.

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Q: What is his name?

A: Mico.

Q: Who provided the support for these children from the time they were born up to the present?

A: When I was there I gave for their subsistence.

Q: Will you please tell the Commission how much was that?

A: I buy groceries for them and I gave also for their leisure and for their education.

Q: When you gave this support during the intermittently that you had with them?

A: Intermittently also.

A: Roughly, Compaero, can you tell the Honorable Commission from that time they were born to this
time how much you were giving them?

A: I cannot compute.

COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: What about on a monthly basis, do you recall?

A: I cannot compute although when I left with her consent in 1997 I left valuables in the amount of
P400,000.00.

Q: When you say with her consent, did you tell her that you are leaving?

A: Yes, Your Honor, she agreed because I said I can no longer bear living with sin.

x x x[43] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

The saying that photographs do not lie could not be any truer in those submitted in evidence by
complainant which show a typical happy family with respondent essaying out his role as a husband to
complainant and a father to their two kids. Respondent cannot thus take refuge in the earlier mentioned
finding in the decision of Tuguegarao City trial court in the annulment case he filed against complainant.
The decision, rendered in default of complainant, cannot serve as res judicata on the final resolution of
the present case. As this Court held in In re Almacen,[44] a disbarment case is sui generis for it is neither
purely civil nor purely criminal but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers.

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Thus, if the acquittal of a lawyer in a criminal action is not determinative of an administrative case
against him,[45] or if an affidavit of withdrawal of a disbarment case does not affect its course,[46] then
the judgment of annulment of respondents marriage does not also exonerate him from a wrongdoing
actually committed. So long as the quantum of proof clear preponderance of evidence in disciplinary
proceedings against members of the bar is met, then liability attaches.[47]

The disturbing fact that respondent was able to secure the annulment of his first two marriages and is in
the process of procuring the annulment of his third bears noting. Contrary to the finding of the
Investigating Commissioner, respondent, by his own admission, contracted a third marriage:

xxx

ATTY. PAGUIA

Q: After getting married to the complainant is it a fact that you entered into a third marriage to one
Josephine Constantino?

A: I think that is . . .

Q: I will reform, Your Honor. Do you know a person by the name of Josephine Constantino?

A: Yes

Q: What relation if any do you have with her?

A: I am separated to her since 2000.

COMMISSIONER CONCEPCION

Q: Were you married to Josephine Constantino?

A: Yes, but its in the process of annulment.

x x x[48] (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

In both his marriages to his first wife and to complainant, respondent claimed that he was made to
enter into the marital union against his will. That claim is an affront to the intelligence of the members
of this Court to distinguish fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. It is not easy to believe that a lawyer
like respondent could easily be cowered to enter into any marriage. One incident of a shotgun marriage
is believable, but two such in succession would tax ones credulity. And then, there is a third marriage to
Josephine T. Constantino which is again the subject of another annulment case. It would not come as a

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surprise if in that pending case, he would again put blame on his third wife in order to send the marriage
to oblivion.

Respondent here has exhibited the vice of entering into multiple marriages and then leaving them
behind by the mere expedient of resorting to legal remedies to sever them. The impact of respondents
conduct is incalculable upon his ex-wives as well as the children he had by them, their lives having been
dislocated beyond recall.

Respondents assertion that he has not failed to support his children by complainant is not totally
supported by the evidence on record. He may have secured educational plans for them and doled out
some sums of money in the past, but it appears that he has failed to provide them regular, monthly
support. In fact, he admitted that even before he left complainants residence in 1995, he was only giving
intermittent support to his children with her.[49]

Such pattern of misconduct by respondent undermines the institutions of marriage and family,
institutions that this society looks to for the rearing of our children, for the development of values
essential to the survival and well-being of our communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a
whole. This must be checked if not stopped.

As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be
perceived to be of good moral character and must lead a life in accordance with the highest moral
standards of the community.[50] The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar
to continue as such, including that which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of
marriage,[51] outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community.

In sum, respondent has breached the following precepts of the Code of Professional Responsibility:

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

CANON 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support
the activities of the Integrated Bar.

Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

There can then be no other fate that awaits respondent, as a consequence of his grossly immoral
conduct, than to be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law.[52] The penalty of 3 months
suspension recommended by the IBP is, not commensurate to the gravity of his conduct.

WHEREFORE, respondent Edmundo L. Macarubbo is found guilty of gross immorality and is hereby
DISBARRED from the practice of law. He is likewise ORDERED to show satisfactory evidence to the IBP

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Commission on Bar Discipline and to this Court that he is supporting or has made provisions for the
regular support of his two children by complainant.[53]

Let respondents name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys.

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Vitug, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-
Martinez, Corona, Carpio-Morales, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur. Puno, J., on leave.

EN BANC A.C. No. 6622 MIGUEL G. VILLATUYA, Complainant, vs. ATTY. BEDE S. TABALINGCOS,
Respondent. July 10, 2012

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

In this Complaint for disbarment filed on 06 December 2004 with the Office or the Bar Confidant,
complainant Manuel G. Villatuya (complainant) charges Atty. Bcde S. 'L1halingcos (resrondent) with
unlawful solicitation of cases, violation of the ('ode or Professional Responsibility for nonpayment of
fees to complainant, and gross immorality for marrying two other women while respondents first
marriage was subsisting.1

In a Resolution2 dated 26 January 2005, the Second Division of this Court required respondent to file a
Comment, which he did on 21 March 2005.3 The Complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation within sixty (60) days from receipt of the
record.4

On 23 June 2005, the Commission on Bar Discipline of the IBP (Commission) issued a Notice5 setting the
mandatory conference of the administrative case on 05 July 2005. During the conference, complainant
appeared, accompanied by his counsel and respondent. They submitted for resolution three issues to be
resolved by the Commission as follows:

1. Whether respondent violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by nonpayment of fees to


complainant

2. Whether respondent violated the rule against unlawful solicitation, and

3. Whether respondent is guilty of gross immoral conduct for having married thrice.6

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The Commission ordered the parties to submit their respective verified Position Papers. Respondent
filed his verified Position Paper,7 on 15 July 2005 while complainant submitted his on 01 August 2005.8

Complainants Accusations

Complainant averred that on February 2002, he was employed by respondent as a financial consultant
to assist the latter on technical and financial matters in the latters numerous petitions for corporate
rehabilitation filed with different courts. Complainant claimed that they had a verbal agreement
whereby he would be entitled to P 50,000 for every Stay Order issued by the court in the cases they
would handle, in addition to ten percent (10%) of the fees paid by their clients. He alleged that, from
February to December 2002, respondent was able to rake in millions of pesos from the corporate
rehabilitation cases they were working on together. Complainant also claimed that he was entitled to
the amount of P 900,000 for the 18 Stay Orders issued by the courts as a result of his work with
respondent, and a total of P 4,539,000 from the fees paid by their clients.9 Complainant appended to his
Complaint several annexes supporting the computation of the fees he believes are due him.

Complainant alleged that respondent engaged in unlawful solicitation of cases in violation of Section 27
of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Allegedly respondent set up two financial consultancy firms,
Jesi and Jane Management, Inc. and Christmel Business Link, Inc., and used them as fronts to advertise
his legal services and solicit cases. Complainant supported his allegations by attaching to his Position
Paper the Articles of Incorporation of Jesi and Jane,10 letter-proposals to clients signed by respondent
on various dates11 and proofs of payment made to the latter by their clients.12

On the third charge of gross immorality, complainant accused respondent of committing two counts of
bigamy for having married two other women while his first marriage was subsisting. He submitted a
Certification dated 13 July 2005 issued by the Office of the Civil Registrar General-National Statistics
Office (NSO) certifying that Bede S. Tabalingcos, herein respondent, contracted marriage thrice: first, on
15 July 1980 with Pilar M. Lozano, which took place in Dasmarinas, Cavite; the second time on 28
September 1987 with Ma. Rowena Garcia Pion in the City of Manila; and the third on 07 September
1989 with Mary Jane Elgincolin Paraiso in Ermita, Manila.13

Respondents Defense

In his defense, respondent denied the charges against him. He asserted that complainant was not an
employee of his law firm Tabalingcos and Associates Law Office14 but of Jesi and Jane Management,
Inc., where the former is a major stockholder.15 Respondent alleged that complainant was
unprofessional and incompetent in performing his job as a financial consultant, resulting in the latters
dismissal of many rehabilitation plans they presented in their court cases.16 Respondent also alleged
that there was no verbal agreement between them regarding the payment of fees and the sharing of
professional fees paid by his clients. He proffered documents showing that the salary of complainant
had been paid.17

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As to the charge of unlawful solicitation, respondent denied committing any. He contended that his law
firm had an agreement with Jesi and Jane Management, Inc., whereby the firm would handle the legal
aspect of the corporate rehabilitation case; and that the latter would attend to the financial aspect of
the case such as the preparation of the rehabilitation plans to be presented in court. To support this
contention, respondent attached to his Position Paper a Joint Venture Agreement dated 10 December
2005 entered into by Tabalingcos and Associates Law Offices and Jesi and Jane Management, Inc.;18 and
an Affidavit executed by Leoncio Balena, Vice-President for Operations of the said company.19

On the charge of gross immorality, respondent assailed the Affidavit submitted by William Genesis, a
dismissed messenger of Jesi and Jane Management, Inc., as having no probative value, since it had been
retracted by the affiant himself.20 Respondent did not specifically address the allegations regarding his
alleged bigamous marriages with two other women.

On 09 January 2006, complainant filed a Motion to Admit Copies of 3 Marriage Contracts.21 To the said
Motion, he attached the certified true copies of the Marriage Contracts referred to in the Certification
issued by the NSO.22 The appended Marriage Contracts matched the dates, places and names of the
contracting parties indicated in the earlier submitted NSO Certification of the three marriages entered
into by respondent. The first marriage contract submitted was a marriage that took place between
respondent and Pilar M. Lozano in Dasmarinas, Cavite, on 15 July 1980.23 The second marriage contract
was between respondent and Ma. Rowena G. Pion, and it took place at the Metropolitan Trial Court
Compound of Manila on 28 September 1987.24 The third Marriage Contract referred to a marriage
between respondent and Mary Jane E. Paraiso, and it took place on 7 September 1989 in Ermita, Manila.
In the second and third Marriage Contracts, respondent was described as single under the entry for civil
status.

On 16 January 2006, respondent submitted his Opposition to the Motion to Admit filed by complainant,
claiming that the document was not marked during the mandatory conference or submitted during the
hearing of the case.25 Thus, respondent was supposedly deprived of the opportunity to controvert
those documents.26 He disclosed that criminal cases for bigamy were filed against him by the
complainant before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Manila. Respondent further informed the
Commission that he had filed a Petition to Declare Null and Void the Marriage Contract with Rowena
Pion at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bian, Laguna, where it was docketed as Civil Case No. B-
3270.27 He also filed another Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage Contract with Pilar Lozano
at the RTC-Calamba, where it was docketed as Civil Case No. B-3271.28 In both petitions, he claimed
that he had recently discovered that there were Marriage Contracts in the records of the NSO bearing
his name and allegedly executed with Rowena Pion and Pilar Lozano on different occasions. He prayed
for their annulment, because they were purportedly null and void.

On 17 September 2007, in view of its reorganization, the Commission scheduled a clarificatory hearing
on 20 November 2007.29 While complainant manifested to the Commission that he would not attend
the hearing,30 respondent manifested his willingness to attend and moved for the suspension of the
resolution of the administrative case against the latter. Respondent cited two Petitions he had filed with

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the RTC, Laguna, seeking the nullification of the Marriage Contracts he discovered to be bearing his
name.31

On 10 November 2007, complainant submitted to the Commission duplicate original copies of two (2)
Informations filed with the RTC of Manila against respondent, entitled "People of the Philippines vs.
Atty. Bede S. Tabalingcos."32 The first criminal case, docketed as Criminal Case No. 07-257125, was for
bigamy for the marriage contracted by respondent with Ma. Rowena Garcia Pion while his marriage
with Pilar Lozano was still valid.33 The other one, docketed as Criminal Case No. 07-257126, charged
respondent with having committed bigamy for contracting marriage with Mary Jane Elgincolin Paraiso
while his marriage with Pilar Lozano was still subsisting.34 Each of the Informations recommended bail
in the amount of P24,000 for his provisional liberty as accused in the criminal cases.35

On 20 November 2007, only respondent attended the clarificatory hearing. In the same proceeding, the
Commission denied his Motion to suspend the proceedings pending the outcome of the petitions for
nullification he had filed with the RTCLaguna. Thus, the Commission resolved that the administrative
case against him be submitted for resolution.36

IBPs Report and Recommendation

On 27 February 2008, the Commission promulgated its Report and

Recommendation addressing the specific charges against respondent.37 The first charge, for dishonesty
for the nonpayment of certain shares in the fees, was dismissed for lack of merit. The Commission ruled
that the charge should have been filed with the proper courts since it was only empowered to
determine respondents administrative liability. On this matter, complainant failed to prove dishonesty
on the part of respondent.38 On the second charge, the Commission found respondent to have violated
the rule on the solicitation of client for having advertised his legal services and unlawfully solicited cases.
It recommended that he be reprimanded for the violation. It failed, though, to point out exactly the
specific provision he violated.39

As for the third charge, the Commission found respondent to be guilty of gross immorality for violating
Rules 1.01 and 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court. It found that complainant was able to prove through documentary evidence that respondent
committed bigamy twice by marrying two other women while the latters first marriage was
subsisting.40 Due to the gravity of the acts of respondent, the Commission recommended that he be
disbarred, and that his name be stricken off the roll of attorneys.41

On 15 April 2008, the IBP Board of Governors, through its Resolution No. XVIII-2008-154, adopted and
approved the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.42 On 01 August 2008,
respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration, arguing that the recommendation to disbar him was
premature. He contends that the Commission should have suspended the disbarment proceedings
pending the resolution of the separate cases he had filed for the annulment of the marriage contracts

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bearing his name as having entered into those contracts with other women. He further contends that
the evidence proffered by complainant to establish that the latter committed bigamy was not
substantial to merit the punishment of disbarment. Thus, respondent moved for the reconsideration of
the resolution to disbar him and likewise moved to archive the administrative proceedings pending the
outcome of the Petitions he separately filed with the RTC of Laguna for the annulment of Marriage
Contracts.43

On 26 June 2011, the IBP Board of Governors denied the Motions for Reconsideration and affirmed their
Resolution dated 15 April 2008 recommending respondents disbarment.44

The Courts Ruling

The Court affirms the recommendations of the IBP.

First Charge:

Dishonesty for nonpayment of share in the fees

While we affirm the IBPs dismissal of the first charge against respondent, we do not concur with the
rationale behind it.

The first charge of complainant against respondent for the nonpayment of the formers share in the
fees, if proven to be true is based on an agreement that is violative of Rule 9.0245 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility. A lawyer is proscribed by the Code to divide or agree to divide the fees for
legal services rendered with a person not licensed to practice law. Based on the allegations, respondent
had agreed to share with complainant the legal fees paid by clients that complainant solicited for the
respondent. Complainant, however, failed to proffer convincing evidence to prove the existence of that
agreement.

We ruled in Tan Tek Beng v. David46 that an agreement between a lawyer and a layperson to share the
fees collected from clients secured by the layperson is null and void, and that the lawyer involved may
be disciplined for unethical conduct. Considering that complainants allegations in this case had not
been proven, the IBP correctly dismissed the charge against respondent on this matter.

Second Charge:

Unlawful solicitation of clients

Complainant charged respondent with unlawfully soliciting clients and advertising legal services through
various business entities. Complainant submitted documentary evidence to prove that Jesi & Jane
Management Inc. and Christmel Business Link, Inc. were owned and used as fronts by respondent to
advertise the latters legal services and to solicit clients. In its Report, the IBP established the truth of

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these allegations and ruled that respondent had violated the rule on the solicitation of clients, but it
failed to point out the specific provision that was breached.

A review of the records reveals that respondent indeed used the business entities mentioned in the
report to solicit clients and to advertise his legal services, purporting to be specialized in corporate
rehabilitation cases. Based on the facts of the case, he violated Rule 2.0347 of the Code, which prohibits
lawyers from soliciting cases for the purpose of profit.

A lawyer is not prohibited from engaging in business or other lawful occupation. Impropriety arises,
though, when the business is of such a nature or is conducted in such a manner as to be inconsistent
with the lawyers duties as a member of the bar. This inconsistency arises when the business is one that
can readily lend itself to the procurement of professional employment for the lawyer; or that can be
used as a cloak for indirect solicitation on the lawyers behalf; or is of a nature that, if handled by a
lawyer, would be regarded as the practice of law.48

It is clear from the documentary evidence submitted by complainant that Jesi & Jane Management, Inc.,
which purports to be a financial and legal consultant, was indeed a vehicle used by respondent as a
means to procure professional employment; specifically for corporate rehabilitation cases. Annex "C"49
of the Complaint is a letterhead of Jesi & Jane

Management, Inc., which proposed an agreement for the engagement of legal services. The letter
clearly states that, should the prospective client agree to the proposed fees, respondent would render
legal services related to the formers loan obligation with a bank. This circumvention is considered
objectionable and violates the Code, because the letter is signed by respondent as President of Jesi &
Jane Management, Inc., and not as partner or associate of a law firm.

Rule 15.0850 of the Code mandates that the lawyer is mandated to inform the client whether the
former is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity. This duty is a must in those occupations related to
the practice of law. The reason is that certain ethical considerations governing the attorney-client
relationship may be operative in one and not in the other.51 In this case, it is confusing for the client if it
is not clear whether respondent is offering consultancy or legal services.

Considering, however, that complainant has not proven the degree of prevalence of this practice by
respondent, we affirm the recommendation to reprimand the latter for violating Rules 2.03 and 15.08 of
the Code.

Third Charge:

Bigamy

The third charge that respondent committed bigamy twice is a serious accusation. To substantiate this
allegation, complainant submitted NSO-certified copies of the Marriage Contracts entered into by

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respondent with three (3) different women. The latter objected to the introduction of these documents,
claiming that they were submitted after the administrative case had been submitted for resolution, thus
giving him no opportunity to controvert them.52 We are not persuaded by his argument.

We have consistently held that a disbarment case is sui generis. Its focus is on the qualification and
fitness of a lawyer to continue membership in the bar and not the procedural technicalities in filing the
case. Thus, we explained in Garrido v. Garrido:53

Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure such as the verification of pleadings and
prejudicial questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the filing of affidavits of desistance by
the complainant do not apply in the determination of a lawyer's qualifications and fitness for
membership in the Bar. We have so ruled in the past and we see no reason to depart from this ruling.
First, admission to the practice of law is a component of the administration of justice and is a matter of
public interest because it involves service to the public. The admission qualifications are also
qualifications for the continued enjoyment of the privilege to practice law. Second, lack of qualifications
or the violation of the standards for the practice of law, like criminal cases, is a matter of public concern
that the State may inquire into through this Court.

In disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant.1wphi1 For the court to
exercise its disciplinary powers, the case against the respondent must be established by convincing and
satisfactory proof.54 In this case, complainant submitted NSO-certified true copies to prove that
respondent entered into two marriages while the latters first marriage was still subsisting. While
respondent denied entering into the second and the third marriages, he resorted to vague assertions
tantamount to a negative pregnant. He did not dispute the authenticity of the NSO documents, but
denied that he contracted those two other marriages. He submitted copies of the two Petitions he had
filed separately with the RTC of Laguna one in Bian and the other in Calamba to declare the second
and the third Marriage Contracts null and void.55

We find him guilty of gross immorality under the Code.

We cannot give credence to the defense proffered by respondent. He has not disputed the authenticity
or impugned the genuineness of the NSO-certified copies of the Marriage Contracts presented by
complainant to prove the formers marriages to two other women aside from his wife. For purposes of
this disbarment proceeding, these Marriage Contracts bearing the name of respondent are competent
and convincing evidence proving that he committed bigamy, which renders him unfit to continue as a
member of the bar. The documents were certified by the NSO, which is the official repository of civil
registry records pertaining to the birth, marriage and death of a person. Having been issued by a
government agency, the NSO certification is accorded much evidentiary weight and carries with it a
presumption of regularity. In this case, respondent has not presented any competent evidence to rebut
those documents.

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According to the respondent, after the discovery of the second and the third marriages, he filed civil
actions to annul the Marriage Contracts. We perused the attached Petitions for Annulment and found
that his allegations therein treated the second and the third marriage contracts as ordinary agreements,
rather than as special contracts contemplated under the then Civil Code provisions on marriage. He did
not invoke any grounds in the Civil Code provisions on marriage, prior to its amendment by the Family
Code. Respondents regard for marriage contracts as ordinary agreements indicates either his wanton
disregard of the sanctity of marriage or his gross ignorance of the law on what course of action to take
to annul a marriage under the old Civil Code provisions.

What has been clearly established here is the fact that respondent entered into marriage twice while his
first marriage was still subsisting. In Bustamante-Alejandro v. Alejandro,56 we held thus:

We have in a number of cases disciplined members of the Bar whom we found guilty of misconduct
which demonstrated a lack of that good moral character required of them not only as a condition
precedent for their admission to the Bar but, likewise, for their continued membership therein. No
distinction has been made as to whether the misconduct was committed in the lawyers professional
capacity or in his private life. This is because a lawyer may not divide his personality so as to be an
attorney at one time and a mere citizen at another. He is expected to be competent, honorable and
reliable at all times since he who cannot apply and abide by the laws in his private affairs, can hardly be
expected to do so in his professional dealings nor lead others in doing so. Professional honesty and
honor are not to be expected as the accompaniment of dishonesty and dishonor in other relations. The
administration of justice, in which the lawyer plays an important role being an officer of the court,
demands a high degree of intellectual and moral competency on his part so that the courts and clients
may rightly repose confidence in him.

Respondent exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the
bar. He made a mockery of marriage, a sacred institution demanding respect and dignity.57 His acts of
committing bigamy twice constituted grossly immoral conduct and are grounds for disbarment under
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Revised Rules of Court.58

Thus, we adopt the recommendation of the IBP to disbar respondent and order that his name be
stricken from the Roll of Attorneys.

WHEREFORE, this Court resolves the following charges against Atty. Bede S. Tabalingcos as follows:

1. The charge of dishonesty is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

2. Respondent is REPRIMANDED for acts of illegal advertisement and solicitation.

3. Atty. Bede S. Tabalingcos is DISBARRED for engaging in bigamy, a grossly immoral conduct.

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Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of Atty. Bede S. Tabalingcos in the Office
of the Bar Confidant, and another copy furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out the name of Bede S. Tabalingcos from the Roll of Attorneys.

SO ORDERED.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO
Senior Associate Justice

EN BANC A.C. No. 9401 JOCELYN DE LEON, Complainant, vs. ATTY. TYRONE PEDREA,
Respondent. October 22, 2013

DECISION

BERSAMIN, J.:

A lawyer who commits overt acts of sexual harassment against a female client is guilty of reprehensible
conduct that is unbecoming of a member of the Bar and may be condignly punished with suspension
from the practice of law.

Antecedents

Jocelyn de Leon filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) a complaint for disbarment or
suspension from the practice of law against Atty. Tyrone Pedrea, a Public Attorney. She averred in her
complaint-affidavit that Atty. Pedrea had sexually harassed her as follows:

1. On January 30, 2006, at about 10:00 in the morning, I went to the Public Attorneys Office in
Paraaque City, in order to inquire from ATTY. TYRONE PEDREA about the status of my case for
support for my two minor children against my husband, which case is being handled by Atty. Pedrea;

2. At that time, said Atty. Pedrea was at a court hearing, so I waited at his office until he arrived at
about 11:45 a.m. Atty. Pedrea told me to go ahead to Tita Babes Restaurant so we could take our lunch
together and to talk about my said case;

3. While we were eating at the said restaurant, he asked me many personal matters rather than to
discuss my said case. But still, I answered him with respect, for he was my lawyer;

4. After we took our lunch, he told me to just go back on February 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. because
according to him, my said case was quite difficult, that he needed more time to study;

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5. Since Atty. Pedrea was also already going home then, he told me then to ride with him and he would
just drop me by the jeepney station;

6. Although I refused to ride with him, he persistently convinced me to get in the car, and so I acceded
to his request so as not to offend him;

7. Right after we left the parking lot and not yet too far from the City Hall, Atty. Pedrea immediately
held my left hand with his right hand, insisted me to get closer with him and laid me on his shoulder;

8. I immediately responded by saying "AYOKO HO!" But he persisted in trying to get hold of my hand and
he also tried very hard to inserting (sic) his finger into my firmly closed hand. Thus, I became very afraid
and at the same time offended for his lack of respect for me at that moment; 9. Despite my resistance,
he continued rubbing my left leg. I was then attempting to remove his hand on my leg, but he grabbed
my hand and forced it to put (sic) on his penis;

10. Because I was already really afraid at that moment, I continued to wrestle and struggle, and as I saw
that we were already approaching the 7-Eleven Store, the place where I was supposed to get off, Atty.
Pedrea made another move of pressing his finger against my private part;

11. I thereafter tried at all cost to unlock the cars door and told him categorically that I was getting off
the car. But because the traffic light was on green, he accelerated a bit more instead, but sensing my
insistence to get off, he stopped the car, and allowed me to get off. He then reminded me to see him on
February 1, 2006 at 10:00 a.m. for the continuation of hearing of my case;

12. That on February 1, 2006, I had to come for my case, but this time, I brought with me my five-year-
old child to avoid another incident. I was not able to see Atty. Pedrea then, so I just signed some
documents;1

In his answer, Atty. Pedrea averred that De Leons allegations were unsubstantiated; that entertaining
such a complaint would open the gates to those who had evil desires to destroy the names of good
lawyers; that the complaint was premature and should be dismissed on the ground of forum shopping
because De Leon had already charged him with acts of lasciviousness in the Paraaque City Prosecutors
Office; and that he had also filed a complaint for theft against De Leon.2

Attached to Atty. Pedreas answer were his counter-affidavit in the criminal case for acts of
lasciviousness and his complaint-affidavit for theft. In his counter affidavit, Atty. Pedrea admitted
giving a ride to De Leon, but he vehemently denied making sexual advances on her, insisting that she
had sat very close to him during the ride that even made it hard for him to shift gears, and that the ride
had lasted for only two to three minutes.3 He claimed that De Leon was allowing herself to be used by
his detractors in the Public Attorneys Office (PAO) after he had opposed the practice of certain PAO
staff members of charging indigent clients for every document that they prepared. In his complaint
affidavit for theft, he stated that he had another passenger in his car at the time he gave a ride to De

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Leon, who did not notice the presence of the other passenger because the ride lasted for only two to
three minutes; and that the other passenger was Emma Crespo, who executed her own affidavit
attesting that she had witnessed De Leons act of taking his (Pedrea) cellphone from the handbrake box
of the car.4

Only De Leon appeared during the hearing.5 Hence, Atty. Pedrea was deemed to have waived his right
to participate in the proceedings.6

Thereafter, the IBP Investigating Commissioner recommended the disbarment of Atty. Pedrea and the
striking off of his name from the Roll of Attorneys.7 Holding that a disbarment case was sui generis and
could proceed independently of the criminal case that was based on the same facts; and that the
proceedings herein need not wait until the criminal case for acts of lasciviousness brought against Atty.
Pedrea was finally resolved, the IBP Investigating Commissioner found that Atty. Pedrea had made
sexual advances on De Leon in violation of Rule 1.018 and Rule 7.039 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility.

In its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-83 dated September 19, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved with modification the report and recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner, and
imposed upon Atty. Pedrea suspension from the practice of law for three months.10

Atty. Pedrea filed a motion for reconsideration with the IBP,11 which adopted and approved
Resolution No. XX-2012-43 dated January 15, 2012, denying the motion and affirming with modification
its Resolution No. XVIII-2007-83 by increasing the period of suspension to six months.12

On February 28, 2012, the IBP Board of Governors transmitted to the Court Resolution No. XX-2012-43
and the records of the case for final approval.13

In the Resolution dated April 24, 2012, the Court noted the IBP Board of Governors notice of Resolution
No. XX-2012-43.14

Ruling

The report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner stated thusly:

There is no doubt that Complainant was able to prove her case against the Respondent. During the
clarificatory hearing, she was straightforward and spontaneous in answering the questions propounded
on her. Her account of the incident that happened on 30 January 2006 was consistent with the matters
she stated in her Complaint and Verified Position Paper.

On the other hand, Respondents defenses are not credible enough to rebut the claims of Complainant.
His defenses are replete with

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Decision 5 A.C. No. 9401 inconsistencies and his actuations in the entire proceedings show lack of
integrity in his dealings with both the Complainant and this Commission.

xxxx

We find no merit at all in the defenses put forth by Respondent. The Theft case filed by Respondent is a
mere afterthought on his part. We note that such criminal complaint hinged on a claim that there was
another person during that incident who allegedly saw Complainant stealing Respondents mobile
phone. Yet, in Respondents Position Paper and in his Counter-Affidavit to the Acts of Lasciviousness
case, which was executed after the institution of the criminal complaint for Theft, Respondent never
mentioned anything about a third person being present during the incident. If the presence of this third
person was crucial to prove his case against herein Complainant, there is no reason why this allegation
would be omitted in his Position Paper and Counter-Affidavit to at least support his defense.

Furthermore, Respondents contention that Complainant is being used by his detractors is self-serving.
His memo regarding the amount of RATA he receives is a relatively harmless query to a higher authority,
which could not possibly motivate his colleagues to prod other people to file cases against
Respondent.15

We adopt the findings and conclusions of the Investigating Commissioner, as sustained by the IBP Board
of Governors, for being substantiated by the evidence on record.

The records show that Atty. Pedrea rubbed the complainants right leg with his hand; tried to insert his
finger into her firmly closed hand; grabbed her hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area; and
pressed his finger against her private part. Given the circumstances in which he committed them, his
acts were not merely offensive and undesirable but repulsive, disgraceful and grossly immoral. They
constituted misconduct on the part of any lawyer. In this regard, it bears stressing that immoral conduct
is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to
a high degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the
communitys sense of decency.16

The possession of good moral character is both a condition precedent and a continuing requirement to
warrant admission to the Bar and to retain membership in the Legal Profession. Members of the Bar are
clearly duty- bound to observe the highest degree of morality and integrity in order to safeguard the
reputation of the Bar. Any errant behavior on the part of a lawyer that tends to expose a deficiency in
moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor, be it in the lawyers public or private activities, is
sufficient to warrant the lawyers suspension or disbarment.17 Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court, provides that a member of the Bar may be disbarred or suspended for grossly immoral conduct,
or violation of his oath as a lawyer. Towards that end, we have not been remiss in reminding members
of the Bar to live up to the standards and norms of the Legal Profession by upholding the ideals and
principles embodied in the Code of Professional Responsibility.

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Atty. Pedreas misconduct was aggravated by the fact that he was then a Public Attorney mandated to
provide free legal service to indigent litigants, and by the fact that De Leon was then such a client. He
also disregarded his oath as a public officer to serve others and to be accountable at all times, because
he thereby took advantage of her vulnerability as a client then in desperate need of his legal assistance.

Yet, even as we agree with the findings of the IBP, we consider the recommended penalty of suspension
for six months not commensurate with the gravity of the offensive acts committed.

Verily, the determination of the penalty to impose on an erring lawyer is within the Courts
discretion.1wphi1 The exercise of the discretion should neither be arbitrary nor despotic, nor
motivated by any animosity or prejudice towards the lawyer, but should instead be ever controlled by
the imperative need to scrupulously guard the purity and independence of the Bar and to exact from the
lawyer strict compliance with his duties to the Court, to his client, to his brethren in the profession, and
to the general public.18

In determining the appropriate penalty to be imposed on Atty. Pedrea, therefore, we take into
consideration judicial precedents on gross immoral conduct bearing on sexual matters. Although most
of the judicial precedents dealt with lawyers who engaged in extramarital affairs, or cohabited with
women other than their wives,19 they are nonetheless helpful in gauging the degree of immorality
committed by the respondent.

In Advincula v. Macabata,20 the Court held that the errant lawyers acts of turning his clients head
towards him and then kissing her on the lips were distasteful, but still ruled that such acts, albeit
offensive and undesirable, were not grossly immoral. Hence, the respondent lawyer was merely
reprimanded but reminded to be more prudent and cautious in his dealings with clients.

In Barrientos v. Daarol,21 the respondent lawyer was disbarred, but the severest penalty was imposed
not only because of his engaging in illicit sexual relations, but also because of his deceit. He had been
already married and was about 41 years old when he proposed marriage to a 20-year-old girl. He
succeeded in his seduction of her, and made her pregnant. He not only suggested that she abort the
pregnancy, but he also breached his promise to marry her, and, in the end, even deserted her and their
child.

In Delos Reyes v. Aznar,22 the Court adjudged the respondent lawyer, a married man with children,
highly immoral for having taken advantage of his position as the chairman of the College of Medicine of
his school in enticing the complainant, then a student in the college, to have carnal knowledge with him
under the threat that she would flunk in all her subjects should she refuse. The respondent was
disbarred for grossly immoral conduct.

Without diminishing the gravity of the complainants sad experience, however, we consider the acts
committed by Atty. Pedrea to be not of the same degree as the acts punished under the cited judicial
precedents. Neither did his acts approximate the act committed by the respondent lawyer in Calub v.

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Suller,23 whereby we disbarred the respondent lawyer for raping his neighbors wife notwithstanding
that his guilt was not proved beyond reasonable doubt in his criminal prosecution for the crime. We
further note that, unlike in Barrientos where there was deceit and in Delos Reyes where there were
threats and taking advantage of the respondent lawyers position, Atty. Pedrea did not employ any
scheme to satiate his lust, but, instead, he desisted upon the first signs of the complainants firm refusal
to give in to his advances.

In view of these considerations, the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for two years is
fitting and just.

WHEREFORE, the Court SUSPENDS ATTY. TYRONE PEDREA from the practice of law for two years
effective upon receipt of this decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar
acts will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines and to the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to all courts throughout the
country.

SO ORDERED.

LUCAS P. BERSAMIN
Associate Justice

THIRD DIVISION CATHERINE JOIE P. VITUG A.C. No. 6313 Complainant, ATTY. DIOSDADO M.
RONGCAL, Respondent. Promulgated: September 7, 2006

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

The allegations raised in this complaint for disbarment are more sordid, if not tawdry, from the usual. As
such, close scrutiny of these claims is called for. Disbarment and suspension of a lawyer, being the most
severe forms of disciplinary sanction, should be imposed with great caution and only in those cases
where the misconduct of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a member of the bar is established by
clear, convincing and satisfactory proof.[1]
Under consideration is the administrative complaint for disbarment filed by Catherine Joie P. Vitug
(complainant) against Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal (respondent). A classic case of he said, she said, the
parties conflicting versions of the facts as culled from the records are hereinafter presented.

Complainant narrates that she and respondent met sometime in December 2000 when she was looking
for a lawyer to assist her in suing Arnulfo Aquino (Aquino), the biological father of her minor daughter,
for support. Her former classmate who was then a Barangay Secretary referred her to respondent. After

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several meetings with complainant, respondent sent a demand letter[2] in her behalf to Aquino wherein
he asked for the continuance of the monthly child support Aquino used to give, plus no less than
P300,000.00 for the surgical operation their daughter would need for her congenital heart ailment.

At around this point, by complainants own admission, she and respondent started having a sexual
relationship. She narrates that this twist in the events began after respondent started calling on her
shortly after he had sent the demand letter in her behalf. Respondent allegedly started courting her,
giving her financial aid. Soon he had progressed to making sexual advances towards complainant, to the
accompaniment of sweet inducements such as the promise of a job, financial security for her daughter,
and his services as counsel for the prospective claim for support against Aquino. Complainant
acknowledges that she succumbed to these advances, assured by respondents claim that the lawyer was
free to marry her, as his own marriage had already been annulled.

On 9 February 2001, respondent allegedly convinced complainant to sign an Affidavit of Disclaimer[3]


(Affidavit) categorically stating that even as Aquino was denoted as the father in the birth certificate[4]
of her daughter, he was, in truth, not the real father. She was not allowed to read the contents of the
Affidavit, she claims. Respondent supposedly assured her that the document meant nothing, necessary
as it was the only way that Aquino would agree to give her daughter medical and educational support.
Respondent purportedly assured complainant that despite the Affidavit, she could still pursue a case
against Aquino in the future because the Affidavit is not a public document. Because she completely
trusted him at this point, she signed the document without even taking a glance at it.[5]

On 14 February 2001, respondent allegedly advised complainant that Aquino gave him P150,000.00 cash
and P58,000.00 in two (2) postdated checks to answer for the medical expenses of her daughter. Instead
of turning them over to her, respondent handed her his personal check[6] in the amount of P150,000.00
and promised to give her the balance of P58,000.00 soon thereafter. However, sometime in April or May
2001, respondent informed her that he could not give her the said amount because he used it for his
political campaign as he was then running for the position of Provincial Board Member of the 2nd
District of Pampanga.

Complainant maintains that inspite of their sexual relationship and the fact that respondent kept part of
the money intended for her daughter, he still failed in his promise to give her a job. Furthermore, he did
not file the case against Aquino and referred her instead to Atty. Federico S. Tolentino, Jr. (Atty.
Tolentino).

Sometime in 2002, assisted by Atty. Tolentino, complainant filed a criminal case for child abuse as well
as a civil case against Aquino. While the criminal case was dismissed, the civil case was decided on 30
August 2004 by virtue of a compromise agreement.[7] It was only when said cases were filed that she
finally understood the import of the Affidavit.

Complainant avers that respondent failed to protect her interest when he personally prepared the
Affidavit and caused her to sign the same, which obviously worked to her disadvantage. In making false

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promises that all her problems would be solved, aggravated by his assurance that his marriage had
already been annulled, respondent allegedly deceived her into yielding to his sexual desires. Taking
advantage of the trust and confidence she had in him as her counsel and paramour, her weak emotional
state, and dire financial need at that time, respondent was able to appropriate for himself money that
rightfully belonged to her daughter. She argues that respondents aforementioned acts constitute a
violation of his oath as a lawyer as well as the Code of Professional Responsibility (Code), particularly
Rule 1.01, Rule 1.02, Rule 16.01, Rule 16.02, and Canon 7.[8] Hence, she filed the instant complaint[9]
dated 2 February 2004.

Expectedly, respondent presents a different version. According to him, complainant needed a lawyer
who would file the aforementioned action for support. Complainants former high school classmate
Reinilda Bansil Morales, who was also his fellow barangay official, referred her to him. He admits
sending a demand letter to her former lover, Aquino, to ask support for the child.[10] Subsequently, he
and Aquino communicated through an emissary. He learned that because of Aquinos infidelity, his
relationship with his wife was strained so that in order to settle things the spouses were willing to give
complainant a lump sum provided she would execute an affidavit to the effect that Aquino is not the
father of her daughter.

Respondent relayed this proposal to complainant who asked for his advice. He then advised her to study
the proposal thoroughly and with a practical mindset. He also explained to her the pros and cons of
pursuing the case. After several days, she requested that he negotiate for an out-of-court settlement of
no less than P500,000.00. When Aquino rejected the amount, negotiations ensued until the amount was
lowered to P200,000.00. Aquino allegedly offered to issue four postdated checks in equal amounts
within four months. Complainant disagreed. Aquino then proposed to rediscount the checks at an
interest of 4% a month or a total of P12,000.00. The resulting amount was P188,000.00.

Complainant finally agreed to this arrangement and voluntarily signed the Affidavit that respondent
prepared, the same Affidavit adverted to by complainant. He denies forcing her to sign the document
and strongly refutes her allegation that she did not know what the Affidavit was for and that she signed
it without even reading it, as he gave her the draft before the actual payment was made. He notes that
complainant is a college graduate and a former bank employee who speaks and understands English. He
likewise vehemently denies pocketing P58,000.00 of the settlement proceeds. When complainant
allegedly signed the Affidavit, the emissary handed to her the sum of P150,000.00 in cash and she
allegedly told respondent that he could keep the remaining P38,000.00, not P58,000.00 as alleged in the
complaint. Although she did not say why, he assumed that it was for his attorneys fees.

As regards their illicit relationship, respondent admits of his sexual liaison with complainant. He,
however, denies luring her with sweet words and empty promises. According to him, it was more of a
chemistry of (sic) two consensual (sic) adults,[11] complainant then being in her thirties. He denies that
he tricked her into believing that his marriage was already annulled. Strangely, respondent devotes
considerable effort to demonstrate that complainant very well knew he was married when they
commenced what was to him, an extra-marital liaison. He points out that, first, they had met through his

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colleague, Ms. Morales, a friend and former high school classmate of hers. Second, they had allegedly
first met at his residence where she was actually introduced to his wife. Subsequently, complainant
called his residence several times and actually spoke to his wife, a circumstance so disturbing to
respondent that he had to beg complainant not to call him there. Third, he was the Punong Barangay
from 1994 to 2002, and was elected President of the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) and as such
was an ex-officio member of the Sangguniang Bayan of Guagua, Pampanga. He ran for the position of
Provincial Board Member in 2001. Thus, he was known in his locality and it was impossible for
complainant not to have known of his marital status especially that she lived no more than three (3)
kilometers away from his house and even actively helped him in his campaign.

Respondent further alleges that while the demand for support from Aquino was being worked out,
complainant moved to a rented house in Olongapo City because a suitor had promised her a job in the
Subic Naval Base. But months passed and the promised job never came so that she had to return to
Lubao, Pampanga. As the money she received from Aquino was about to be exhausted, she allegedly
started to pester respondent for financial assistance and urged him to file the Petition for Support
against Aquino. While respondent acceded to her pleas, he also advised her to look for the right
man[12] and to stop depending on him for financial assistance. He also informed her that he could not
assist her in filing the case, as he was the one who prepared and notarized the Affidavit. He, however,
referred her to Atty. Tolentino.

In August 2002, respondent finally ended his relationship with complainant, but still he agreed to give
her monthly financial assistance of P6,000.00 for six (6) months. Since then, they have ceased to meet
and have communicated only through an emissary or by cellphone. In 2003, complainant begged him to
continue the assistance until June when her alleged fianc from the United States would have arrived.
Respondent agreed. In July 2003, she again asked for financial assistance for the last time, which he
turned down. Since then he had stopped communicating to her.

Sometime in January 2004, complainant allegedly went to see a friend of respondent. She told him that
she was in need of P5,000.00 for a sari-sari store she was putting up and she wanted him to relay the
message to respondent. According to this friend, complainant showed him a prepared complaint against
respondent that she would file with the Supreme Court should the latter not accede to her request.
Sensing that he was being blackmailed, respondent ignored her demand. True enough, he alleges, she
filed the instant complaint.

On 21 July 2004, the case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation,
report and recommendation.[13] After the parties submitted their respective position papers and
supporting documents, the Investigating Commissioner rendered his Report and Recommendation[14]
dated 2 September 2005. After presenting the parties conflicting factual versions, the Investigating
Commissioner gave credence to that of complainant and concluded that respondent clearly violated the
Code, reporting in this wise, to wit:

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Respondent, through the above mentioned acts, clearly showed that he is wanting in good moral
character, putting in doubt his professional reputation as a member of the BAR and renders him unfit
and unworthy of the privileges which the law confers to him. From a lawyer, are (sic) expected those
qualities of truth-speaking, high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty and the strictest
observance of fiduciary responsibility all of which throughout the passage of time have been
compendiously described as MORAL CHARACTER.

Respondent, unfortunately took advantage and (sic) every opportunity to entice complainant to his
lascivious hungerness (sic). On several occasions[,] respondent kept on calling complainant and dropped
by her house and gave P2,000.00 as aid while waiting allegedly for the reply of (sic) their demand letter
for support. It signals the numerous visits and regular calls all because of [l]ewd design. He took
advantage of her seeming financial woes and emotional dependency.

xxxx

Without doubt, a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession justifies the impositions
(sic) of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment. x x x[15]

It was then recommended that respondent be suspended from the practice of law for six (6) months and
that he be ordered to return to complainant the amount of P58,000.00 within two months. The IBP
Board of Governors adopted and approved the said Report and Recommendation in a Resolution[16]
dated 17 December 2005, finding the same to be fully supported by the evidence on record and the
applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondents obviously taking advantage of the lawyer-client
relationship and the financial and emotional problem of his client and attempting to mislead the
Commission,[17] respondent was meted out the penalty of suspension for one (1) year with a stern
warning that a repetition of similar acts will merit severe sanctions. He was likewise ordered to return
P58,000.00 to complainant.

Respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with Motion to Set Case for Clarificatory Questioning[18]
(Motion) dated 9 March 2006 with the IBP and a Motion to Reopen/Remand Case for Clarificatory
Questioning dated 22 March 2006 with the Supreme Court. He reiterates his own version of the facts,
giving a more detailed account of the events that transpired between him and complainant. Altogether,
he portrays complainant as a shrewd and manipulative woman who depends on men for financial
support and who would stop at nothing to get what she wants. Arguing that the IBP based its Resolution
solely on complainants bare allegations that she failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence, he
posits the case should be re-opened for clarificatory questioning in order to determine who between
them is telling the truth.

In a Resolution[19] dated 27 April 2006, the IBP denied the Motion on the ground that it has no more
jurisdiction over the case as the matter had already been endorsed to the Supreme Court.

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While we find respondent liable, we adjudicate the matter differently from what the IBP has
recommended.

On the charge of immorality, respondent does not deny that he had an extra-marital affair with
complainant, albeit brief and discreet, and which act is not so corrupt and false as to constitute a
criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree[20] in order to merit disciplinary
sanction. We disagree.

One of the conditions prior to admission to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral
character. Said requirement persists as a continuing condition for the enjoyment of the privilege of law
practice, otherwise, the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege.[21] As officers of
the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good
moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community.[22]
The Court has held that to justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be
immoral, but grossly immoral.[23] A grossly immoral act is one that is so corrupt and false as to
constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[24] It
is a willful, flagrant, or shameless act that shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and
respectable members of the community.[25]

While it is has been held in disbarment cases that the mere fact of sexual relations between two
unmarried adults is not sufficient to warrant administrative sanction for such illicit behavior,[26] it is not
so with respect to betrayals of the marital vow of fidelity.[27] Even if not all forms of extra-marital
relations are punishable under penal law, sexual relations outside marriage is considered disgraceful and
immoral as it manifests deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected
by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws.[28]

By his own admission, respondent is obviously guilty of immorality in violation of Rule 1.01 of the Code
which states that a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. The
next question to consider is whether this act is aggravated by his alleged deceitful conduct in luring
complainant who was then in low spirits and in dire financial need in order to satisfy his carnal desires.
While the IBP concluded the question in the affirmative, we find otherwise.

Complainants allegations that she succumbed to respondents sexual advances due to his promises of
financial security and because of her need for legal assistance in filing a case against her former lover,
are insufficient to conclude that complainant deceived her into having sexual relations with her. Surely,
an educated woman like herself who was of sufficient age and discretion, being at that time in her
thirties, would not be easily fooled into sexual congress by promises of a job and of free legal assistance,
especially when there is no showing that she is suffering from any mental or physical disability as to
justify such recklessness and/or helplessness on her part.[29] Respondents numerous visits and regular
calls to complainant do not necessarily prove that he took advantage of her. At best, it proves that he
courted her despite being a married man, precisely the fact on which the finding of immorality is rooted.

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Moreover, the circumstance that he gave her P2,000.00 as aid does not induce belief that he fueled her
financial dependence as she never denied pleading with, if not badgering, him for financial support.

Neither does complainants allegation that respondent lied to her about his marital status inspire belief.
We find credence in respondents assertion that it was impossible for her not to have known of his
subsisting marriage. She herself admitted that they were introduced by her friend and former classmate,
Ms. Morales who was a fellow barangay official of respondent. She admitted that she knew his
residence phone number and that she had called him there. She also knew that respondent is an active
barangay official who even ran as Provincial Board Member in 2001. Curiously, she never refuted
respondents allegations that she had met and talked to his wife on several occasions, that she lived near
his residence, that she helped him in his campaign, or that she knew a lot of his friends, so as not to
have known of his marital status. Considering that she previously had an affair with Aquino, who was
also a married man, it would be unnatural for her to have just plunged into a sexual relationship with
respondent whom she had known for only a short time without verifying his background, if it were true
that she preferred to change [her] life for the better,[30] as alleged in her complaint. We believe that
her aforementioned allegations of deceit were not established by clear preponderant evidence required
in disbarment cases.[31] We are left with the most logical conclusion that she freely and wittingly
entered into an illicit and immoral relationship with respondent sans any misrepresentation or deceit on
his part.

Next, complainant charged respondent of taking advantage of his legal skills and moral control over her
to force her to sign the clearly disadvantageous Affidavit without letting her read it and without
explaining to her its repercussions. While acting as her counsel, she alleged that he likewise acted as
counsel for Aquino.

We find complainants assertions dubious. She was clearly in need of financial support from Aquino
especially that her daughter was suffering from a heart ailment. We cannot fathom how she could
abandon all cares to respondent who she had met for only a couple of months and thereby risk the
welfare of her child by signing without even reading a document she knew was related to the support
case she intended to file. The Affidavit consists of four short sentences contained in a single page. It is
unlikely she was not able to read it before she signed it.

Likewise obscure is her assertion that respondent did not fully explain to her the contents of the
Affidavit and the consequences of signing it. She alleged that respondent even urged her to use her
head as Arnulfo Aquino will not give the money for Alexandras medical and educational support if she
will not sign the said Affidavit of Disclaimer.[32] If her own allegation is to be believed, it shows that she
was aware of the on-going negotiation with Aquino for the settlement of her claim for which the latter
demanded the execution of the Affidavit. It also goes to show that she was pondering on whether to
sign the same. Furthermore, she does not deny being a college graduate or that she knows and
understands English. The Affidavit is written in short and simple sentences that are understandable even
to a layman. The inevitable conclusion is that she signed the Affidavit voluntarily and without any
coercion whatsoever on the part of respondent.

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The question remains as to whether his act of preparing and notarizing the Affidavit, a document
disadvantageous to his client, is a violation of the Code. We rule in the negative.

It was not unlawful for respondent to assist his client in entering into a settlement with Aquino after
explaining all available options to her. The law encourages the amicable settlement not only of pending
cases but also of disputes which might otherwise be filed in court.[33] Moreover, there is no showing
that he knew for sure that Aquino is the father of complainants daughter as paternity remains to be
proven. As complainant voluntarily and intelligently agreed to a settlement with Aquino, she cannot
later blame her counsel when she experiences a change of heart. Besides, the record is bereft of
evidence as to whether respondent also acted as Aquinos counsel in the settlement of the case. Again,
we only have complainants bare allegations that cannot be considered evidence.[34] Suspicion, no
matter how strong, is not enough. In the absence of contrary evidence, what will prevail is the
presumption that the respondent has regularly performed his duty in accordance with his oath.[35]

Complainant further charged respondent of misappropriating part of the money given by Aquino to her
daughter. Instead of turning over the whole amount, he allegedly issued to her his personal check in the
amount of P150,000.00 and pocketed the remaining P58,000.00 in violation of his fiduciary obligation to
her as her counsel.

The IBP did not make any categorical finding on this matter but simply ordered respondent to return the
amount of P58,000.00 to complainant. We feel a discussion is in order.

We note that there is no clear evidence as to how much Aquino actually gave in settlement of
complainants claim for support. The parties are in agreement that complainant received the amount of
P150,000.00. However, complainant insists that she should have received more as there were two
postdated checks amounting to P58,000.00 that respondent never turned over to her. Respondent
essentially agrees that the amount is in fact more than P150,000.00 but only P38,000.00 more and
complainant said he could have it and he assumed it was for his attorneys fees.

We scrutinized the records and found not a single evidence to prove that there existed two postdated
checks issued by Aquino in the amount of P58,000.00. On the other hand, respondent admits that there
is actually an amount of P38,000.00 but presented no evidence of an agreement for attorneys fees to
justify his presumption that he can keep the same. Curiously, there is on record a photocopy of a check
issued by respondent in favor of complainant for P150,000.00. It was only in his Motion for
Reconsideration where respondent belatedly proffers an explanation. He avers that he cannot recall
what the check was for but he supposes that complainant requested for it as she did not want to travel
all the way to Olongapo City with a huge sum of money.

We find the circumstances rather suspicious but evidence is wanting to sustain a finding in favor of
either party in this respect. We cannot and should not rule on mere conjectures. The IBP relied only on

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the written assertions of the parties, apparently finding no need to subject the veracity of the assertions
through the question and answer modality. With the inconclusive state of the evidence, a more
in-depth investigation is called for to ascertain in whose favor the substantial evidence level tilts. Hence,
we are constrained to remand the case to the IBP for further reception of evidence solely on this aspect.

We also are unable to grant complainants prayer for respondent to be made liable for the cost of her
childs DNA test absent proof that he misappropriated funds exclusively earmarked for the purpose.

Neither shall we entertain complainants claim for moral damages and attorneys fees. Suffice it to state
that an administrative case against a lawyer is sui generis, one that is distinct from a civil or a criminal
action.[36] It is an investigation by the Court into the fitness of a lawyer to remain in the legal profession
and be allowed the privileges as such. Its primary objective is to protect the Court and the public from
the misconduct of its officers with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and
the proper and honest administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this important
function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men and women in whom courts and clients may
repose confidence.[37] As such, it involves no private interest and affords no redress for private
grievance.[38] The complainant or the person who called the attention of the court to the lawyers
alleged misconduct is in no sense a party, and has generally no interest in the outcome except as all
good citizens may have in the proper administration of justice.[39]

Respondents misconduct is of considerable gravity. There is a string of cases where the Court meted out
the extreme penalty of disbarment on the ground of gross immorality where the respondent contracted
a bigamous marriage,[40] abandoned his family to cohabit with his paramour,[41] cohabited with a
married woman,[42] lured an innocent woman into marriage,[43] or was found to be a womanizer.[44]
The instant case can be easily differentiated from the foregoing cases.
We, therefore, heed the stern injunction on decreeing disbarment where any lesser penalty, such as
temporary suspension, would accomplish the end desired.[45] In Zaguirre v. Castillo,[46] respondent
was found to have sired a child with another woman who knew he was married. He therein sought
understanding from the Court pointing out the polygamous nature of men and that the illicit
relationship was a product of mutual lust and desire. Appalled at his reprehensible and amoral attitude,
the Court suspended him indefinitely. However, in Fr. Sinnott v. Judge Barte,[47] where respondent
judge consorted with a woman not his wife, but there was no conclusive evidence that he sired a child
with her, he was fined P10,000.00 for his conduct unbecoming a magistrate despite his retirement
during the pendency of the case.

We note that from the very beginning of this case, herein respondent had expressed remorse over his
indiscretion and had in fact ended the brief illicit relationship years ago. We take these as signs that his
is not a character of such severe depravity and thus should be taken as mitigating circumstances in his
favor.[48] Considering further that this is his first offense, we believe that a fine of P15,000.00 would
suffice. This, of course, is without prejudice to the outcome of the aspect of this case involving the
alleged misappropriation of funds of the client.

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, we find Atty. Diosdado M. Rongcal GUILTY of immorality and impose
on him a FINE of P15,000.00 with a stern warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the
future will be dealt with more severely.

The charge of misappropriation of funds of the client is REMANDED to the IBP for further investigation,
report and recommendation within ninety (90) days from receipt of this Decision.

Let a copy of this decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as an attorney and as a
member of the Bar, and furnished the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court
Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.

DANTE O. TINGA
Associate Justice

EN BANC [A.C. No. 6486. EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISPIN G. DANTES,
respondent. September 22, 2004]

DECISION
PER CURIAM:

Despite variations in the specific standards and provisions, one requirement remains constant in all the
jurisdictions where the practice of law is regulated: the candidate must demonstrate that he or she has
good moral character, and once he becomes a lawyer he should always behave in accordance with the
standard. In this jurisdiction too, good moral character is not only a condition precedent[1] to the
practice of law, but an unending requirement for all the members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is
found guilty of grossly immoral conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred.[2]

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

Complainant alleged that respondent is a philanderer. Respondent purportedly engaged in illicit


relationships with two women, one after the other, and had illegitimate children with them. From the
time respondents illicit affairs started, he failed to give regular support to complainant and their
children, thus forcing complainant to work abroad to provide for their childrens needs. Complainant
pointed out that these acts of respondent constitute a violation of his lawyers oath and his moral and
legal obligation to be a role model to the community.

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On July 4, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued an Order[4] requiring respondent to submit
his answer to the Affidavit-Complaint.

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

Respondent further alleged that he sent their children to the best school he could afford and provided
for their needs. He even bought two lots in Pampanga for his sons, Dandelo and Dante, and gave
complainant adequate financial support even after she had abandoned him in 1983.

Respondent asserted that complainant filed this case in order to force him to remit seventy percent
(70%) of his monthly salary to her.

Subsequently, the IBP conducted its investigation and hearings on the complaint. Complainant
presented her evidence, both oral and documentary,[6] to support the allegations in her Affidavit-
Complaint.

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

Three children were born to the couple, namely, Dandelo, Dante and Daisy, who were born on February
20, 1980,[8] October 14, 1981[9] and August 11, 1983,[10] respectively. Complainant narrated that their
relationship was marred by frequent quarrels because of respondents extra-marital affairs.[11]
Sometime in 1983, she brought their children to her mother in Pampanga to enable her to work because
respondent had failed to provide adequate support. From 1986 to 2001, complainant worked abroad as
a domestic helper.

Denying that there was a mutual agreement between her and respondent to live separately,
complainant asseverated that she was just compelled to work abroad to support their children. When
she returned to the Philippines, she learned that respondent was living with another woman.
Respondent, then bluntly told her, that he did not want to live with her anymore and that he preferred
his mistresses.

Complainant presented documentary evidence consisting of the birth certificates of Ray Darwin, Darling,
and Christian Dave,[12] all surnamed Dantes, and the affidavits of respondent and his paramour[13] to
prove the fact that respondent sired three illegitimate children out of his illicit affairs with two different

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women. Letters of complainants legitimate children likewise support the allegation that respondent is a
womanizer.[14]

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

Subsequently, on May 29, 2003, respondent submitted a Motion to Adopt Alternative Dispute
Resolution Mechanism. Respondents motion was denied because it was filed after the complainant had
already presented her evidence.[16] Respondent was given a final chance to present his evidence on
July 11, 2003. Instead of presenting evidence, respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration with
Motion to Dismiss, which was likewise denied for being a prohibited pleading under the Rules of
Procedure of the Commission on Bar Discipline. Respondent submitted his Position Paper on August 4,
2003.

In respondents Position Paper,[17] he reiterated the allegations in his Answer except that this time, he
argued that in view of the resolution of the complaint for support with alimony pendente lite[18] filed
against him by the complainant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City,[19] the instant
administrative case should be dismissed for lack of merit.

On July 7, 2004, the IBP submitted to us through the Office of the Bar Confidant its Report[20] and
Resolution No. XVI-2004-230 involving CBD Case No. 01-851.[21] The IBP recommended that the
respondent be suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.

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

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

Rule 1.01- A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Canon 7- A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and support
the activities of the Integrated Bar.

Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

The Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct. Immoral conduct has been defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or
shameless as to show indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community.[22] To be the basis of disciplinary action, the lawyers conduct must not only be immoral,

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but grossly immoral. That is, it must be so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to
be reprehensible to a high degree[23] or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances
as to shock the common sense of decency.[24]

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

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

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but also
throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored
fraternity.[27] They may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if
it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
probity or good demeanor.[28]

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

In Toledo vs. Toledo,[30] we disbarred respondent for abandoning his lawful wife and cohabiting with
another woman who had borne him a child. Likewise, in Obusan vs. Obusan,[31] we ruled that
abandoning ones wife and resuming carnal relations with a paramour fall within that conduct which is
willful, flagrant, or shameless, and which shows moral indifference to the opinion of the good and
respectable members of the community.

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

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The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in a clear case of misconduct that
seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of
the bar.[33] Where a lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the end desired,
disbarment should never be decreed.[34] However, in the present case, the seriousness of the offense
compels the Court to wield its power to disbar as it appears to be the most appropriate penalty.

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

SO ORDERED.

Davide, Jr., C.J., Puno, Panganiban, Quisumbing, Ynares-Santiago, Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio, Austria-
Martinez, Corona, Callejo, Sr., Azcuna, and Tinga, JJ., concur. Carpio-Morales, J., on official leave.

EN BANC MAELOTISEA S. GARRIDO, Complainant,- versus - ATTYS. ANGEL E. GARRIDO and


ROMANA P. VALENCIA,Respondents.A.C. No. 6593 Promulgated: February 4, 2010

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Maelotisea Sipin Garrido filed a complaint-affidavit[1] and a supplemental affidavit[2] for disbarment
against the respondents Atty. Angel E. Garrido (Atty. Garrido) and Atty. Romana P.Valencia (Atty.
Valencia) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Discipline charging them with
gross immorality. The complaint-affidavit states:

1. That I am the legal wife of Atty. Angel E. Garrido by virtue of our marriage on June 23, 1962 at San
Marcelino Church, Ermita, Manila which was solemnized by Msgr. Daniel Cortes x x x

2. That our marriage blossomed into having us blessed with six (6) children, namely, Mat Elizabeth,
Arnel Angelito, Madeleine Eloiza, Arnel Angelo, Arnel Victorino and Madonna Angeline, all surnamed
Garrido;

3. xxxx

4. That on May, 1991, during my light moments with our children, one of my daughters, Madeleine
confided to me that sometime on the later part of 1987, an unknown caller talked with her claiming that
the former is a child of my husband. I ignored it and dismissed it as a mere joke. But when May
Elizabeth, also one of my daughters told me that sometime on August 1990, she saw my husband

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strolling at the Robinsons Department Store at Ermita, Manila together with a woman and a child who
was later identified as Atty. Ramona Paguida Valencia and Angeli Ramona Valencia Garrido, respectively
xxx

5. xxxx

6. That I did not stop from unearthing the truth until I was able to secure the Certificate of Live Birth
of the child, stating among others that the said child is their daughter and that Atty. Angel Escobar
Garrido and Atty. Romana Paguida Valencia were married at Hongkong sometime on 1978.

7. That on June 1993, my husband left our conjugal home and joined Atty. Ramona Paguida Valencia
at their residence x x x

8. That since he left our conjugal home he failed and still failing to give us our needed financial
support to the prejudice of our children who stopped schooling because of financial constraints.

xxxx

That I am also filing a disbarment proceedings against his mistress as alleged in the same affidavit, Atty.
Romana P. Valencia considering that out of their immoral acts I suffered not only mental anguish but
also besmirch reputation, wounded feelings and sleepless nights; x x x

In his Counter-Affidavit,[3] Atty. Garrido denied Maelotiseas charges and imputations. By way of
defense, he alleged that Maelotisea was not his legal wife, as he was already married to Constancia
David (Constancia) when he married Maelotisea. He claimed he married Maelotisea after he and
Constancia parted ways. He further alleged that Maelotisea knew all his escapades and understood his
bad boy image before she married him in 1962. As he and Maelotisea grew apart over the years due to
financial problems, Atty. Garrido met Atty. Valencia. He became close to Atty. Valencia to whom he
confided his difficulties. Together, they resolved his personal problems and his financial difficulties with
his second family. Atty. Garrido denied that he failed to give financial support to his children with
Maelotisea, emphasizing that all his six (6) children were educated in private schools; all graduated from
college except for Arnel Victorino, who finished a special secondary course.[4] Atty. Garrido alleged that
Maelotisea had not been employed and had not practiced her profession for the past ten (10) years.

Atty. Garrido emphasized that all his marriages were contracted before he became a member of the bar
on May 11, 1979, with the third marriage contracted after the death of Constancia on December 26,
1977. Likewise, his children with Maelotisea were born before he became a lawyer.

In her Counter-Affidavit,[5] Atty. Valencia denied that she was the mistress of Atty. Garrido. She
explained that Maelotisea was not the legal wife of Atty. Garrido since the marriage between them was
void from the beginning due to the then existing marriage of Atty. Garrido with Constancia. Atty.

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Valencia claimed that Maelotisea knew of the romantic relationship between her and Atty. Garrido, as
they (Maelotisea and Atty. Valencia) met in 1978. Maelotisea kept silent about her relationship with
Atty. Garrido and had maintained this silence when she (Atty. Valencia) financially helped Atty. Garrido
build a house for his second family. Atty. Valencia alleged that Maelotisea was not a proper party to this
suit because of her silence; she kept silent when things were favorable and beneficial to her. Atty.
Valencia also alleged that Maelotisea had no cause of action against her.

In the course of the hearings, the parties filed the following motions before the IBP Commission on Bar
Discipline:

First, the respondents filed a Motion for Suspension of Proceedings[6] in view of the criminal complaint
for concubinage Maelotisea filed against them, and the Petition for Declaration of Nullity[7] (of
marriage) Atty. Garrido filed to nullify his marriage to Maelotisea. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
denied this motion for lack of merit.

Second, the respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss[8] the complaints after the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City declared the marriage between Atty. Garrido and Maelotisea an absolute nullity. Since
Maelotisea was never the legal wife of Atty. Garrido, the respondents argued that she had no
personality to file her complaints against them. The respondents also alleged that they had not
committed any immoral act since they married when Atty. Garrido was already a widower, and the acts
complained of were committed before his admission to the bar. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
also denied this motion.[9]

Third, Maelotisea filed a motion for the dismissal of the complaints she filed against the respondents,
arguing that she wanted to maintain friendly relations with Atty. Garrido, who is the father of her six (6)
children.[10] The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline likewise denied this motion.[11]

On April 13, 2004, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan (Investigating Commissioner San
Juan) submitted her Report and Recommendation for the respondents disbarment.[12] The Commission
on Bar Discipline of the IBP Board of Governors (IBP Board of Governors) approved and adopted this
recommendation with modification under Resolution No. XVI-2004-375 dated July 30, 2004. This
resolution in part states:

x x x finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, and considering that Atty. Garrido exhibited conduct which lacks the degree of morality required
as members of the bar, Atty. Angel E. Garrido is hereby DISBARRED for gross immorality. However, the
case against Atty. Romana P. Valencia is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit of the complaint.

Atty. Garrido moved to reconsider this resolution, but the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline denied his
motion under Resolution No. XVII-2007-038 dated January 18, 2007.

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Atty. Garrido now seeks relief with this Court through the present petition for review. He submits that
under the circumstances, he did not commit any gross immorality that would warrant his disbarment.
He also argues that the offenses charged have prescribed under the IBP rules.

Additionally, Atty. Garrido pleads that he be allowed on humanitarian considerations to retain his
profession; he is already in the twilight of his life, and has kept his promise to lead an upright and
irreproachable life notwithstanding his situation.

In compliance with our Resolution dated August 25, 2009, Atty. Alicia A. Risos-Vidal (Atty. Risos-Vidal),
Director of the Commission on Bar Discipline, filed her Comment on the petition. She recommends a
modification of the penalty from disbarment to reprimand, advancing the view that disbarment is very
harsh considering that the 77-year old Atty. Garrido took responsibility for his acts and tried to mend his
ways by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of his bigamous marriage. Atty. Risos-Vidal also notes
that no other administrative case has ever been filed against Atty. Garrido.

THE COURTS RULING

After due consideration, we resolve to adopt the findings of the IBP Board of Governors against Atty.
Garrido, and to reject its recommendation with respect to Atty. Valencia.

General Considerations

Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure such as the verification of pleadings and
prejudicial questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the filing of affidavits of desistance by
the complainant do not apply in the determination of a lawyers qualifications and fitness for
membership in the Bar.[13] We have so ruled in the past and we see no reason to depart from this
ruling.[14] First, admission to the practice of law is a component of the administration of justice and is a
matter of public interest because it involves service to the public.[15] The admission qualifications are
also qualifications for the continued enjoyment of the privilege to practice law. Second, lack of
qualifications or the violation of the standards for the practice of law, like criminal cases, is a matter of
public concern that the State may inquire into through this Court. In this sense, the complainant in a
disbarment case is not a direct party whose interest in the outcome of the charge is wholly his or her
own;[16] effectively, his or her participation is that of a witness who brought the matter to the attention
of the Court.

As applied to the present case, the time that elapsed between the immoral acts charged and the filing of
the complaint is not material in considering the qualification of Atty. Garrido when he applied for
admission to the practice of law, and his continuing qualification to be a member of the legal profession.
From this perspective, it is not important that the acts complained of were committed before Atty.
Garrido was admitted to the practice of law. As we explained in Zaguirre v. Castillo,[17] the possession
of good moral character is both a condition precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant
admission to the bar and to retain membership in the legal profession. Admission to the bar does not

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preclude a subsequent judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question concerning the mental
or moral fitness of the respondent before he became a lawyer.[18] Admission to the practice only
creates the rebuttable presumption that the applicant has all the qualifications to become a lawyer; this
may be refuted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary even after admission to the Bar.[19]

Parenthetically, Article VIII Section 5(5) of the Constitution recognizes the disciplinary authority of the
Court over the members of the Bar to be merely incidental to the Court's exclusive power to admit
applicants to the practice of law. Reinforcing the implementation of this constitutional authority is
Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which expressly states that a member of the bar may be
disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for, among others, any deceit,
grossly immoral conduct, or violation of the oath that he is required to take before admission to the
practice of law.
In light of the public service character of the practice of law and the nature of disbarment proceedings
as a public interest concern, Maelotiseas affidavit of desistance cannot have the effect of discontinuing
or abating the disbarment proceedings. As we have stated, Maelotisea is more of a witness than a
complainant in these proceedings. We note further that she filed her affidavits of withdrawal only after
she had presented her evidence; her evidence are now available for the Courts examination and
consideration, and their merits are not affected by her desistance. We cannot fail to note, too, that
Mealotisea filed her affidavit of desistance, not to disown or refute the evidence she had submitted, but
solely becuase of compassion (and, impliedly, out of concern for her personal financial interest in
continuing friendly relations with Atty. Garrido).

Immoral conduct involves acts that are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral
indifference to the opinion of the upright and respectable members of the community.[20] Immoral
conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be
reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as
to shock the communitys sense of decency.[21] We make these distinctions as the supreme penalty of
disbarment arising from conduct requires grossly immoral, not simply immoral, conduct.[22]

In several cases, we applied the above standard in considering lawyers who contracted an unlawful
second marriage or multiple marriages.

In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,[23] the respondent lawyer entered into multiple marriages and
subsequently used legal remedies to sever them. We ruled that the respondents pattern of misconduct
undermined the institutions of marriage and family institutions that this society looks up to for the
rearing of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our
communities, and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. In this light, no fate other than
disbarment awaited the wayward respondent.

In Villasanta v. Peralta,[24] the respondent lawyer married the complainant while his marriage with his
first wife was subsisting. We held that the respondents act of contracting the second marriage was

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contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality. The lack of good moral character required by the
Rules of Court disqualified the respondent from admission to the Bar.

Similar to Villasanta was the case of Conjuangco, Jr. v. Palma,[25] where the respondent secretly
contracted a second marriage with the daughter of his client in Hongkong. We found that the
respondent exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of members of the Bar. In
particular, he made a mockery of marriage a sacred institution that demands respect and dignity. We
also declared his act of contracting a second marriage contrary to honesty, justice, decency and
morality.

In this case, the undisputed facts gathered from the evidence and the admissions of Atty. Garrido
established a pattern of gross immoral conduct that warrants his disbarment. His conduct was not only
corrupt or unprincipled; it was reprehensible to the highest degree.

First, Atty. Garrido admitted that he left Constancia to pursue his law studies; thereafter and during the
marriage, he had romantic relationships with other women. He had the gall to represent to this Court
that the study of law was his reason for leaving his wife; marriage and the study of law are not mutually
exclusive.

Second, he misrepresented himself to Maelotisea as a bachelor, when in truth he was already married
to Constancia.[26] This was a misrepresentation given as an excuse to lure a woman into a prohibited
relationship.

Third, Atty. Garrido contracted his second marriage with Maelotisea notwithstanding the subsistence of
his first marriage. This was an open admission, not only of an illegal liaison, but of the commission of a
crime.

Fourth, Atty. Garrido engaged in an extra-marital affair with Atty. Valencia while his two marriages were
in place and without taking into consideration the moral and emotional implications of his actions on
the two women he took as wives and on his six (6) children by his second marriage.

Fifth, instead of making legal amends to validate his marriage with Maelotisea upon the death of
Constancia, Atty. Garrido married Atty. Valencia who bore him a daughter.

Sixth, Atty. Garrido misused his legal knowledge and convinced Atty. Valencia (who was not then a
lawyer) that he was free to marry, considering that his marriage with Maelotisea was not valid.

Seventh, as the evidence on record implies, Atty. Garrido married Atty. Valencia in Hongkong in an
apparent attempt to accord legitimacy to a union entered into while another marriage was in place.

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Eighth, after admission to the practice of law, Atty. Garrido simultaneously cohabited and had sexual
relations with two (2) women who at one point were both his wedded wives. He also led a double life
with two (2) families for a period of more than ten (10) years.

Lastly, Atty. Garrido petitioned for the nullity of his marriage to Maelotisea. Contrary to the position
advanced by Atty. Alicia A. Risos-Vidal, this was not an act of facing up to his responsibility or an act of
mending his ways. This was an attempt, using his legal knowledge, to escape liability for his past actions
by having his second marriage declared void after the present complaint was filed against him.

By his actions, Garrido committed multiple violations relating to the legal profession, specifically,
violations of the bar admission rules, of his lawyers oath, and of the ethical rules of the profession.

He did not possess the good moral character required of a lawyer at the time of his admission to the
Bar.[27] As a lawyer, he violated his lawyers oath,[28] Section 20(a) of Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court,[29] and Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,[30] all of which commonly require
him to obey the laws of the land. In marrying Maelotisea, he committed the crime of bigamy, as he
entered this second marriage while his first marriage with Constancia was subsisting. He openly
admitted his bigamy when he filed his petition to nullify his marriage to Maelotisea.

He violated ethical rules of the profession, specifically, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility, which commands that he shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct; Canon 7 of the same Code, which demands that [a] lawyer shall at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession; Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
provides that, [a] lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law,
nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the
legal profession.

As a lawyer, his community looked up to Atty. Garrido with the expectation and that he would set a
good example in promoting obedience to the Constitution and the laws. When he violated the law and
distorted it to cater to his own personal needs and selfish motives, he discredited the legal profession
and created the public impression that laws are mere tools of convenience that can be used, bended
and abused to satisfy personal whims and desires. In this case, he also used the law to free him from
unwanted relationships.

The Court has often reminded the members of the bar to live up to the standards and norms expected
of the legal profession by upholding the ideals and principles embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility.[31] Lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also
of morality, including honesty, integrity and fair dealing.[32] Lawyers are at all times subject to the
watchful public eye and community approbation.[33] Needless to state, those whose conduct both
public and private fail this scrutiny have to be disciplined and, after appropriate proceedings,
accordingly penalized.[34]

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Atty. Valencia

We agree with the findings of Investigating Commissioner San Juan that Atty. Valencia should be
administratively liable under the circumstances for gross immorality:

x x x The contention of respondent that they were not yet lawyers in March 27, 1978 when they got
married shall not afford them exemption from sanctions, for good moral character is required as a
condition precedent to admission to the Bar. Likewise there is no distinction whether the misconduct
was committed in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. Again, the claim that his
marriage to complainant was void ab initio shall not relieve respondents from responsibility x x x
Although the second marriage of the respondent was subsequently declared null and void the fact
remains that respondents exhibited conduct which lacks that degree of morality required of them as
members of the Bar.[35]

Moral character is not a subjective term but one that corresponds to objective reality.[36] To have good
moral character, a person must have the personal characteristics of being good. It is not enough that he
or she has a good reputation, i.e., the opinion generally entertained about a person or the estimate in
which he or she is held by the public in the place where she is known.[37] The requirement of good
moral character has four general purposes, namely: (1) to protect the public; (2) to protect the public
image of lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to protect errant lawyers from
themselves.[38] Each purpose is as important as the other.

Under the circumstances, we cannot overlook that prior to becoming a lawyer, Atty. Valencia already
knew that Atty. Garrido was a married man (either to Constancia or to Maelotisea), and that he already
had a family. As Atty. Garridos admitted confidante, she was under the moral duty to give him proper
advice; instead, she entered into a romantic relationship with him for about six (6) years during the
subsistence of his two marriages. In 1978, she married Atty. Garrido with the knowledge that he had an
outstanding second marriage. These circumstances, to our mind, support the conclusion that she lacked
good moral character; even without being a lawyer, a person possessed of high moral values, whose
confidential advice was sought by another with respect to the latters family problems, would not
aggravate the situation by entering into a romantic liaison with the person seeking advice, thereby
effectively alienating the other persons feelings and affection from his wife and family.

While Atty. Valencia contends that Atty. Garridos marriage with Maelotisea was null and void, the fact
remains that he took a man away from a woman who bore him six (6) children. Ordinary decency would
have required her to ward off Atty. Garridos advances, as he was a married man, in fact a twice-married
man with both marriages subsisting at that time; she should have said no to Atty. Garrido from the very
start. Instead, she continued her liaison with Atty. Garrido, driving him, upon the death of Constancia,
away from legitimizing his relationship with Maelotisea and their children. Worse than this, because of
Atty. Valencias presence and willingness, Atty. Garrido even left his second family and six children for a
third marriage with her. This scenario smacks of immorality even if viewed outside of the prism of law.

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We are not unmindful of Atty. Valencias expressed belief that Atty. Garridos second marriage to
Maelotisea was invalid; hence, she felt free to marry Atty. Garrido. While this may be correct in the strict
legal sense and was later on confirmed by the declaration of the nullity of Atty. Garridos marriage to
Maelotisea, we do not believe at all in the honesty of this expressed belief.

The records show that Atty. Valencia consented to be married in Hongkong, not within the country.
Given that this marriage transpired before the declaration of the nullity of Atty. Garridos second
marriage, we can only call this Hongkong marriage a clandestine marriage, contrary to the Filipino
tradition of celebrating a marriage together with family. Despite Atty. Valencias claim that she agreed to
marry Atty. Garrido only after he showed her proof of his capacity to enter into a subsequent valid
marriage, the celebration of their marriage in Hongkong[39] leads us to the opposite conclusion; they
wanted to marry in Hongkong for the added security of avoiding any charge of bigamy by entering into
the subsequent marriage outside Philippine jurisdiction. In this regard, we cannot help but note that
Atty. Valencia afterwards opted to retain and use her surname instead of using the surname of her
husband. Atty. Valencia, too, did not appear to mind that her husband did not live and cohabit with her
under one roof, but with his second wife and the family of this marriage. Apparently, Atty. Valencia did
not mind at all sharing her husband with another woman. This, to us, is a clear demonstration of Atty.
Valencias perverse sense of moral values.

Measured against the definition of gross immorality, we find Atty. Valencias actions grossly immoral.
Her actions were so corrupt as to approximate a criminal act, for she married a man who, in all
appearances, was married to another and with whom he has a family. Her actions were also
unprincipled and reprehensible to a high degree; as the confidante of Atty. Garrido, she preyed on his
vulnerability and engaged in a romantic relationship with him during the subsistence of his two previous
marriages. As already mentioned, Atty. Valencias conduct could not but be scandalous and revolting to
the point of shocking the communitys sense of decency; while she professed to be the lawfully wedded
wife, she helped the second family build a house prior to her marriage to Atty. Garrido, and did not
object to sharing her husband with the woman of his second marriage.

We find that Atty. Valencia violated Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as
her behavior demeaned the dignity of and discredited the legal profession. She simply failed in her duty
as a lawyer to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality.[40] In Barrientos v. Daarol,[41]
we held that lawyers, as officers of the court, must not only be of good moral character but must also be
seen to be of good moral character and must lead lives in accordance with the highest moral standards
of the community. Atty. Valencia failed to live up to these standards before she was admitted to the bar
and after she became a member of the legal profession.
Conclusion

Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. As a privilege bestowed by law through
the Supreme Court, membership in the Bar can be withdrawn where circumstances concretely show the
lawyers lack of the essential qualifications required of lawyers. We resolve to withdraw this privilege
from Atty. Angel E. Garrido and Atty. Rowena P. Valencia for this reason.

Page 82 of 122
In imposing the penalty of disbarment upon the respondents, we are aware that the power to disbar is
one to be exercised with great caution and only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affects the
standing and character of the lawyer as a legal professional and as an officer of the Court.[42]

We are convinced from the totality of the evidence on hand that the present case is one of them. The
records show the parties pattern of grave and immoral misconduct that demonstrates their lack of
mental and emotional fitness and moral character to qualify them for the responsibilities and duties
imposed on lawyers as professionals and as officers of the court.

While we are keenly aware of Atty. Garridos plea for compassion and his act of supporting his children
with Maelotisea after their separation, we cannot grant his plea. The extent of his demonstrated
violations of his oath, the Rules of Court and of the Code of Professional Responsibility overrides what
under other circumstances are commendable traits of character.

In like manner, Atty. Valencias behavior over a long period of time unequivocally demonstrates a basic
and serious flaw in her character, which we cannot simply brush aside without undermining the dignity
of the legal profession and without placing the integrity of the administration of justice into question.
She was not an on-looker victimized by the circumstances, but a willing and knowing full participant in a
love triangle whose incidents crossed into the illicit.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to:

(1) DISBAR Atty. Angel E. Garrido from the practice of law for gross immorality, violation of the Lawyers
Oath; and violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility; and

(2) DISBAR Atty. Romana P. Valencia from the practice of law for gross immorality, violation of Canon 7
and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.

Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of Atty. Angel E. Garrido and Atty.
Romana P. Valencia in the Office of the Bar Confidant, and another copy furnished the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines.

The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out the names of Angel E. Garrido and Rowena P. Valencia from
the Roll of Attorneys. SO ORDERED.

REYNATO S. PUNO
Chief Justice

Page 83 of 122
THIRD DIVISION ELPIDIO P. TIONG, Complainant,- versus -ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO,
Respondent. A.C. No. 4428 Promulgated: December 12, 2011

DECISION

PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:

Before the Court is an administrative complaint1 for disbarment filed by Elpidio P. Tiong against Atty.
George M. Florendo for gross immorality and grave misconduct.

The facts of the case are as follows:

Complainant Elpidio P. Tiong, an American Citizen, and his wife, Ma. Elena T. Tiong, are real estate
lessors in Baguio City. They are likewise engaged in the assembly and repair of motor vehicles in Paldit,
Sison, Pangasinan. In 1991, they engaged the services of respondent Atty. George M. Florendo not only
as legal counsel but also as administrator of their businesses whenever complainant would leave for the
United States of America (USA).

Sometime in 1993, complainant began to suspect that respondent and his wife were having an illicit
affair. His suspicion was confirmed in the afternoon of May 13, 1995 when, in their residence, he
chanced upon a telephone conversation between the two. Listening through the extension phone, he
heard respondent utter the words "I love you, I'll call you later". When confronted, his wife initially
denied any amorous involvement with respondent but eventually broke down and confessed to their
love affair that began in 1993. Respondent likewise admitted the relationship. Subsequently, at a
meeting initiated by respondent and held at the Salibao Restaurant in Burnham Park, Baguio City,
respondent and complainant's wife, Ma. Elena, confessed anew to their illicit affair before their
respective spouses.

On May 15, 1995, the parties met again at the Mandarin Restaurant in Baguio City and, in the presence
of a Notary Public, Atty. Liberato Tadeo, respondent and Ma. Elena executed and signed an affidavit2
attesting to their illicit relationship and seeking their respective spouses' forgiveness, as follows:

"WE, GEORGE M. FLORENDO, a resident of Baguio City and of legal age and MA. ELENA T. TIONG,
likewise a resident of Baguio City, of legal age, depose and state:

We committed adultery against our spouses from May 1993 to May 13, 1995 and we hereby ask
forgiveness and assure our spouses that this thing will never happen again with us or any other person.
We assure that we will no longer see each other nor have any communication directly or indirectly. We
shall comply with our duties as husband and wife to our spouses and assure that there will be no
violence against them. That any behaviour unbecoming a husband or wife henceforth shall give rise to
legal action against us; We shall never violate this assurance;

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We, the offended spouses Elizabeth F. Florendo and Elpidio Tiong forgive our spouses and assure them
that we will not institute any criminal or legal action against them because we have forgiven them. If
they violate this agreement we will institute legal action.

This document consists of four (4) typewritten copies and each party has been furnished a copy and this
document shall have no validity unless signed by all the parties.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have set out hands this 15th day of May 1995 at Baguio City, Philippines.

(SIGNED) (SIGNED)
GEORGE M. FLORENDO ELPIDIO TIONG

(SIGNED) (SIGNED)
MA. ELENA T. TIONG ELIZABETH F. FLORENDO"

Notwithstanding, complainant instituted the present suit for disbarment on May 23, 1995 charging
respondent of gross immorality and grave misconduct. In his Answer3, respondent admitted the
material allegations of the complaint but interposed the defense of pardon.

In the Resolution4 dated September 20, 1995, the Court resolved to refer the case to the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and decision.

Finding merit in the complaint, the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), through Commissioner
Agustinus V. Gonzaga, submitted its Report and Recommendation5 dated September 21, 2007 for the
suspension of respondent from the practice of law for one (1) year, which was adopted and approved by
the IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution6 dated October 19, 2007. Respondent's Motion for
Reconsideration7 therefrom was denied in the Resolution8 dated June 26, 2011.

Hence, the instant petition on the sole issue whether the pardon extended by complainant in the
Affidavit dated May 15, 1995 is sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the present disbarment case
against respondent for gross immoral conduct.

After due consideration, the Court resolves to adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD
except as to the penalty imposed.

The pertinent provisions in the Code of Professional Responsibility provide, thus:

"CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
xxxx

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CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.
xxxx

Rule 7.03. - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law,
nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession."
It has been consistently held by the Court that possession of good moral character is not only a
condition for admission to the Bar but is a continuing requirement to maintain one's good standing in
the legal profession. It is the bounden duty of law practitioners to observe the highest degree of
morality in order to safeguard the integrity of the Bar.9 Consequently, any errant behaviour on the part
of a lawyer, be it in his public or private activities, which tends to show him deficient in moral character,
honesty, probity or good demeanor, is sufficient to warrant his suspension or disbarment.

In this case, respondent admitted his illicit relationship with a married woman not his wife, and worse,
that of his client. Contrary to respondent's claim, their consortium cannot be classified as a mere
"moment of indiscretion"10 considering that it lasted for two (2) years and was only aborted when
complainant overheard their amorous phone conversation on March 13, 1995.

Respondent's act of having an affair with his client's wife manifested his disrespect for the laws on the
sanctity of marriage and his own marital vow of fidelity. It showed his utmost moral depravity and low
regard for the ethics of his profession.11 Likewise, he violated the trust and confidence reposed on him
by complainant which in itself is prohibited under Canon 1712 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
Undeniably, therefore, his illicit relationship with Ma. Elena amounts to a disgraceful and grossly
immoral conduct warranting disciplinary action from the Court.13 Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
Court provides that an attorney may be disbarred or suspended from his office by the Court for any
deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in office, grossly immoral conduct, among others.

Respondent, however, maintains that he cannot be sanctioned for his questioned conduct because he
and Ma. Elena had already been pardoned by their respective spouses in the May 15, 1995 Affidavit14.

The Court disagrees.

It bears to stress that a case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis and not meant to grant relief to
a complainant as in a civil case but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its
undesirable members in order to protect the public and the courts. It is not an investigation into the acts
of respondent as a husband but on his conduct as an officer of the Court and his fitness to continue as a
member of the Bar.15 Hence, the Affidavit dated March 15, 1995, which is akin to an affidavit of
desistance, cannot have the effect of abating the instant proceedings.16

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However, considering the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that a penalty of suspension from
the practice of law for six (6) months, instead of one (1) year as recommended by the IBP-CBD, is
adequate sanction for the grossly immoral conduct of respondent.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO is hereby found GUILTY of Gross Immorality and
is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon notice hereof, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more severely.

Let copies of this Decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as a member of the
Philippine Bar and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and
the Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

SO ORDERED.

EN BANC In re CARLOS S. BASA Pedro Guevara for respondent. Attorney-General Feria for the
Government. December 7, 1920

MALCOLM, J.:

The Attorney-General asks that an order issue for the disbarment of Attorney Carlos S. Basa.

Carlos S. Basa is a young man about 29 years of age, admitted to the bars of California and the Philippine
Islands. Recently he was charged in the Court of Fist Instance of the city of Manila with the crime of
abduction with consent, was found guilt in a decision rendered by the Honorable M.V. del Rosario,
Judge of First Instance, and was sentenced to be imprisoned for a period of two years, eleven months
and eleven days of prision correccional. On appeal, this decision was affirmed in a judgment handed
down by the second division of the Supreme Court. 1

The Code of Civil Procedure, section 21, provides that "A member of the bar may be removed or
suspended from his office of lawyer by the Supreme Court by reason of his conviction of a crime
involving moral turpitude . . ." The sole question presented, therefore, is whether the crime of abduction
with consent, as punished by article 446 of the Penal Code, involves moral turpitude.

"Moral turpitude," it has been said, "includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty,
modesty, or good morals." (Bouvier's Law Dictionary, cited by numerous courts.) Although no decision
can be found which has decided the exact question, it cannot admit of doubt that crimes of this
character involve moral turpitude. The inherent nature of the act is such that it is against good morals
and the accepted rule of right conduct. (In re Hopkins [1909], 54 Wash., 569; Pollard vs. Lyon [1875], 91
U.S., 225; 5 Ops. Atty.-Gen. P. I., 46, 185; decisions of the Supreme Court of Spain of November 30, 1876
and June 15, 1895.)

Page 87 of 122
When we come next, as we must, to determine the exact action which should be taken by the court, we
do so regretfully and reluctantly. On the one hand, the violation of the criminal law by the respondent
attorney cannot be lightly passed over. On the other hand, we are willing to strain the limits of our
compassion to the uttermost in order that so promising a career may not be utterly ruined.

It is the order of the court that beginning with the day when Carlos S. Basa shall be discharged from
prison, he be suspended from his office of lawyer for one year. So ordered.lawphi1.net

Mapa, C.J., Araullo, Street, Avancea and Villamor, JJ., concur.

EN BANC A.C. No. 10676, ATTY. ROY B. ECRAELA, Complainant, v. ATTY. IAN RAYMOND A.
PANGALANGAN, Respondent. September 08, 2015

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

The Case

Before the Court is a Petition for Disbarment1 filed by Atty. Roy B. Ecraela with the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) on April 12, 2007 against Atty. Ian Raymond A.
Pangalangan for his illicit relations, chronic womanizing, abuse of authority as an educator, and "other
unscrupulous activities" which cause "undue embarrassment to the legal profession." Complainant
claims that respondent's actions involve deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct and grossly immoral
conduct in violation of the Lawyer's Oath.

The Facts

Complainant and respondent were best friends and both graduated from the University of the
Philippines (UP) College of Law in 1990, where they were part of a peer group or barkada with several of
their classmates. After passing the bar examinations and being admitted as members of the Bar in 1991,
they were both registered with the IBP Quezon City.

Respondent was formerly married to Sheila P. Jardiolin (Jardiolin) with whom he has three (3) children.
Complainant avers that while married to Jardiolin, respondent had a series of adulterous and illicit
relations with married and unmarried women between the years 1990 to 2007. These alleged illicit
relations involved:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

AAA,2 who is the spouse of a colleague in the UP College of Law, from 1990 to 1992, which complainant
had personal knowledge of such illicit relations;

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BBB, sometime during the period from 1992 to 1994 or from 1994 to 1996, despite being already
married to Jardiolin;

CCC, despite being married to Jardiolin and while also being romantically involved with DDD;

DDD, sometime during the period from 2000 to 2002, despite still being married to Jardiolin and while
still being romantically involved with CCC;

EEE, who is related to complainant, sometime during the period from May 2004 until the filing of the
Petition, while still being romantically involved with CCC.3

Complainant claims that respondent, with malice and without remorse, deceived CCC and DDD by
representing himself to be a bachelor, thereby convincing the two women to start a love affair with him,
when in truth, he was then still married to Jardiolin.4cralawrednad

Aside from these illicit affairs, complainant avers that sometime during the period of 1998 to 2000,
respondent, as a lawyer of the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), represented the
interest of Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) in cancellation proceedings filed by MIAA
against Kendrick Development Corporation (KDC). However, despite being a public officer and a
government counsel, respondent conspired with Atty. Abraham Espejo, legal counsel of KDC, and
assisted KDC in its case, thereby sabotaging MIAA's case, and, in effect, that of the Philippine
Government.3cralawrednad

Complainant further claims that respondent even attempted to bribe then Solicitor Rolando Martin of
the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in exchange for the latter's cooperation in the dismissal of the
cancellation proceedings in favor of KDC. In return for his "earnest efforts" in assisting KDC in its case,
respondent was allegedly rewarded with a Toyota Corolla XL with plate number ULS-835 by Atty. Espejo.
The vehicle was seen several times by respondent's classmates and officemates being driven and parked
by respondent in his own home and in the OGCC premises itself.6cralawrednad

In connection with his involvement in the MIAA case, complainant claims that respondent was
summoned in a Senate inquiry concerning rampant faking of land titles in the Philippines, which
included an investigation of the alleged spurious land titles of KDC. In Senate Committee Final Report
No. 367, the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice & Human Rights Committees recommended that
respondent be investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) for graft
and corruption, as well as disbarment or disciplinary sanction by this Court for grave misconduct or
violation of the Revised Penal Code.7cralawrednad

It was further alleged that, during the pendency of the Senate Inquiry, respondent even attempted to
conceal the evidence by requesting complainant's parents, spouses Marcelo F. Ecraela and Visitacion B.
Ecraela, to have the Toyota Corolla XL parked in their residence in Cainta, Rizal, for an indefinite period

Page 89 of 122
of time. Respondent's request, however, was refused by the spouses when they learned that the vehicle
was the subject of the Senate Inquiry.8cralawrednad

It appears from the documents presented by complainant that the Ombudsman issued a Resolution
finding probable cause against respondent, and an Information was thereafter filed with the
Sandiganbayan for violation of Section 3 (b) of Republic Act No. (RA) 3019.9cralawrednad

Complainant also claims that respondent abused his authority as an educator in Manuel L. Quezon
University, San Sebastian College, College of St. Benilde, and Maryknoll College, where respondent
induced his male students to engage in "nocturnal preoccupations" and entertained the romantic
gestures of his female students in exchange for passing grades.10cralawrednad

The Petition was docketed as CBD Case No. 07-1973.

In an Order11 dated April 16, 2007, the Director for Bar Discipline, Honorable Rogelio A. Vinluan,
required respondent to file his verified answer.

In his undated Answer,12 respondent opted not to present any counter-statement of facts in support of
his defense. Instead, respondent simply argued that the petition suffers from procedural and
substantive infirmities, claiming that petitioner failed to substantiate the allegations or charges against
him. Respondent pointed out that Annex "J" of the Petition entitled "Arguments in Support of the
Disbarment" lacked formal requirements, and thus, should be treated as a mere scrap of paper.
Respondent also asserts that the e-mail messages attached to the petition were inadmissible for having
been obtained in violation of the Rules on Electronic Evidence.13 He claims that the identities of the
owners of the e-mail messages, as well as the allegations of illicit relations and abuse of authority, were
not properly established. Respondent further argues that the statements of complainant's witnesses
were merely self-serving and deserved scant consideration.

Complainant filed a Comment (to the Respondent's Answer),14 stating that the allegations in the
complaint were deemed admitted by reason of respondent's failure to make specific or even general
denials of such in his Answer.

In his Reply (to the Comment filed by Complainant),15 respondent simply denied all of complainant's
accusations in the petition, allegedly for "lack of knowledge and information sufficient to form a belief
as to the truth or falsity thereof."16cralawrednad

On August 3, 2007, 1BP-CBD Investigating Commissioner Leland R. Villadolid, Jr. (Commissioner


Villadolid) set the case for mandatory conference on August 28, 2007,17 which respondent failed to
attend. It appears that respondent filed a Motion to Cancel Hearing,18 praying for the resetting of the
mandatory conference allegedly due to a previously scheduled hearing on the same date. Respondent's
motion was opposed by complainant and eventually denied by Commissioner Villadolid in his Order19
dated August 28, 2007. In the same order, complainant's Manifestation20 praying that subpoenas be

Page 90 of 122
issued to several persons who shall be complainant's hostile witnesses was granted by Commissioner
Villadolid. Accordingly, the case was scheduled for the presentation of complainant's witnesses on
September 11, 2007 and the respective subpoenas21 were issued.

A day before the scheduled hearing, the IBP-CBD received respondent's Motion for Reconsideration,22
praying that the Order dated August 28, 2007 be set aside and that the hearing be reset to sometime
during the third week of October. In said motion, respondent informed the IBP-CBD that he has viral
conjunctivitis or more commonly known as "sore eyes" and has been ordered by the doctor to rest for at
least one to two weeks while his eyes are being treated. Attached to his motion were photocopies of
two medical certificates, stating that a certain R. Pangalangan was suffering from sore eyes.

During the scheduled hearing on September 11, 2007, complainant opposed petitioner's motion,
arguing that based on his personal verification with the court personnel of Branch 77 of Metropolitan
Trial Court (MTC) of Parafiaque City, there was no case calendared for hearing on the date of the
previous setting. Complainant also argued that this is another ploy of respondent to delay the
proceedings because he knew that complainant worked overseas and was only in the country for a
limited period of time. Finding merit in complainant's opposition, respondent's motion was denied and
complainant was allowed to present his witnesses.23cralawrednad

Complainant presented his witnesses, as follows: Assistant Solicitor General Karl Miranda (ASG
Miranda), Ms. Laarni Morallos (Ms. Morallos), Atty. Glenda T. Litong (Atty. Litong), Atty. Emelyn W.
Corpus (Atty. Corpus), Mr. Marcelo Ecraela, and Mrs. Visitacion Ecraela.

ASG Miranda testified on his participation in the KDC case as reflected in the Senate Blue Ribbon
Committee Report, as well as on his recollection that the Senate Report had recommended the
disbarment of respondent.

Ms. Morallos, Atty. Litong, and Atty. Corpus were presented to establish that the email messages
submitted by complainant indeed originated from respondent based on their familiarity with
respondent, particularly, the email messages which contained references to his daughter, his
relationship with complainant, and respondent's high blood pressure.

Atty. Litong further testified that respondent personally introduced DDD to her as his girlfriend and that
sometime in 2002 or 2003, she saw respondent with another girl in Glorietta despite still being married
to his wife. Atty. Litong also recalled encountering respondent at a party sometime in 2007 where he
was with CCC, whom she perceived to be respondent's girlfriend at that time. She also confirmed that
respondent had, in more than one occasion, brought with him his students during their drinking sessions
and had even one student driving for him.

For her testimony, Atty. Corpus corroborated Atty. Litong's statements about respondent's
preoccupations with his students. Atty. Corpus also testified that DDD called her at her office sometime
in 2000 or 2001 to inform her that the latter had broken up with respondent upon learning that he was

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actually married. Atty. Corpus surmised based on her telephone conversation with DDD that respondent
did not tell the latter his actual marital status. Aside from this, Atty. Corpus also recalled that during
complainant's farewell party in February 2007, respondent introduced CCC as his girlfriend of six years,
or since the year 2000 or 2001.

To expedite the hearing, the spouses Ecraela were made to affirm the execution of their affidavits since
their testimonies were based on the affidavits that complainant included in his petition.

Once complainant's presentation of witnesses was concluded, the mandatory conference/hearing was
terminated and the parties were directed to submit their respective verified position papers with
supporting documentary evidence within thirty (30) days from receipt of the transcript of stenographic
notes. After which, the case was considered submitted for report and recommendation.

On September 18, 2007, the IBP-CBD received complainant's Manifestation (with Comments),24
pertaining to respondent's Motion to Cancel Hearing and praying for the IBP-CBD to formally request for
records from Branch 77 of MTC, Paranaque City to verify respondent's claim that he had a hearing in
said court during the first scheduled mandatory conference. On the same date, the IBP-CBD also
received complainant's Compliance (with Comments),25cralawred submitting the certified photo copies
of the Senate Committee Final Report No. 367, the Resolution dated January 22, 2001 of the
Ombudsman, and the Information dated June 30, 2003 filed with the Sandiganbayan.

On January 8, 2008, the IBP-CBD received complainant's Position Paper.26 Complainant thereafter filed
two Manifestations,27 asserting that respondent is already barred from submitting his verified position
paper and that any decision or judgment would have to be based solely on complainant's Verified
Position Paper.28cralawrednad

Findings of the IBP Investigating Commissioner

After the case was submitted for report and recommendation, Commissioner Villadolid rendered a
Report,29 finding that there is more than sufficient evidence establishing respondent's gross misconduct
affecting his standing and moral character as an officer of the court and member of the bar.

On the issue of respondent's alleged violations of the Revised Penal Code30 and/or RA 301931 as
reflected in the Senate Report, the Ombudsman's Resolution, and the Information, Commissioner
Villadolid found that despite respondent's denials, complainant was able to present certified true copies
of the relevant documents which support his allegations in the petition.

As for the alleged illicit affairs of respondent, Commissioner Villadolid discredited complainant's
assertion that respondent is guilty of gross immoral conduct for his alleged adulterous relations with
EEE. Based on the Report, complainant was not able to discharge the burden of proving the authenticity
of the email messages pertaining to this adulterous affair; thus, they were deemed inadmissible.
However, Commissioner Villadolid found merit in complainant's claim that respondent committed

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grossly immoral conduct by having illicit relations with DDD, CCC, and BBB, all while still married to
Jardiolin, to wit:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

4.21 In engaging in such illicit relationships, Respondent disregarded the sanctity of marriage and the
marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws, which as a lawyer he swore under
oath to protect. The 1987 Constitution, specifically Article XV. Section 2 thereof clearly provides that
marriage, an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the
state.

xxxx

4.23 Moreover. Respondent violated Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
immoral or deceitful conduct" nor shall a lawyer "engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
to practice law. nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in scandalous manner to the
discredit of the legal profession".32

Accordingly, the IBP-CBD reached and gave the following conclusion and
recommendation:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

V. Conclusion/Recommendations

5.1 In view of the foregoing, and considering that there is more than sufficient evidence establishing
Respondent's gross misconduct affecting his standing and moral character as an officer of the court and
member of the bar. this Commissioner respectfully recommends that Respondent be suspended from
the practice of law for a period of two (2) years with a STERN WARNING that Respondent should reform
his conduct in a manner consistent with the norms prescribed by the Canons of Professional
Responsibility."33

Findings of the IBP Board of Governors

On March 20, 2013, the Board of Governors of the IBP issued a Resolution34 adopting and approving,
with modification, the Report and Recommendation of Commissioner Villadolid. As modified, the Board
of Governors disbarred respondent, thus:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

RESOLUTION NO. XX-2013-280


CBD Case No. 07-1973
Atty. Roy B. Ecraela vs.
Atty. Ian Raymundo A. Pangalangan
RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A", and finding the recommendation fully supported

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by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules and considering Respondent's violations of
Article XV of the 1987 Constitution, Section 2, Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, and the Lawyer's Oath, Atty. Ian Raymundo A. Pangalangan is hereby
DISBARRED and his name Ordered Stricken Off from the Roll of Attorneys.

On July 9, 2013, the IBP received respondent's Motion for Reconsideration35 dated July 3, 2013, to
which complainant was required to submit his comment.36cralawrednad

For his part, complainant filed a Motion for Reconsideration (of the IBP-CBD Report dated June 28,
2012)37 dated August 17, 2013. Similarly, respondent was required to comment on complainant's
motion in an Order38 dated August 27, 2013. On the same date, complainant filed his Comment and/or
Opposition (to the Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration).39cralawrednad

Subsequently, respondent filed a Comment on/Opposition to the Motion for Reconsideration with
Leave40 dated September 12, 2013, as well as a Reply to the Comment and/or Opposition41 dated
September 20, 2013.

On May 3, 2014, the Board of Governors of the IBP passed a resolution denying respondent's motion for
reconsideration.42 Thereafter, the Director for Bar Discipline forwarded the records of this case to this
Court on November 11, 2014.43cralawrednad

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether the respondent committed gross immoral conduct, which would
warrant his disbarment.

The Court's Ruling

After a thorough examination of the records, the Court agrees with the Board of Governors' resolution
finding that Atty. Pangalangan's grossly immoral conduct was fully supported by the evidences offered.

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND
PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.

Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

xxxx

CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL
PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED BAR.

Page 94 of 122
Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

The practice of law is a privilege given to those who possess and continue to possess the legal
qualifications for the profession.44 Good moral character is not only required for admission to the Bar,
but must also be retained in order to maintain one's good standing in this exclusive and honored
fraternity.45

We are not unmindful of the serious consequences of disbarment or suspension proceedings against a
member of the Bar. Thus, the Court has consistently held that clearly preponderant evidence is
necessary to justify the imposition of administrative penalties on a member of the Bar. This, We
explained in Aba v. De Guzman, Jr.:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or
has greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as
worthy of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Under Section 1 of Rule 133. in
determining whether or not there is preponderance of evidence, the court may consider the following:
(a) all the facts and circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses' manner of testifying, their intelligence,
their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to
which they testify, the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses' interest or want
of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and
(d) the number of witnesses, although it docs not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the
greater number.

When the evidence of the parties are evenly balanced or there is doubt on which side the evidence
preponderates, the decision should be against the party with the burden of proof according to the
equipoise doctrine.

To summarize, the Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment proceedings against
lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon the
complainant to prove the allegations in his complaint. The evidence required in suspension or
disbarment proceedings is preponderance of evidence. In case the evidence of the parties are equally
balanced, the equipoise doctrine mandates a decision in favor of the respondent.46

The IBP-CBD Report sufficiently showed by preponderant evidence the grounds by which respondent
has been found committing gross immorality in the conduct of his personal affairs.

This Court has, in numerous occasions, revoked the licenses of lawyers who were proven to have not
only failed to retain good moral character in their professional and personal lives, but have also made a
mockery of the institution of marriage by maintaining illicit affairs.

Page 95 of 122
In Guevarra v. Eala, respondent Atty. Eala was disbarred because he showed disrespect for an institution
held sacred by the law, by having an extramarital affair with the wife of the complainant. In doing so, he
betrayed his unfitness to be a lawyer.47cralawrednad

A year later, Atty. Arnobit met the same fate as Atty. Eala when the Court revoked his privilege to
practice law after his philandering ways was proven by preponderant evidence in Arnobit v. Arnobit.48
We ruled:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen
to be of good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the
community. A member of the bar and an officer of the court is not only required to refrain from
adulterous relationships or keeping a mistress but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing
the public by creating the impression that he is flouting those moral standards.

xxxx

The fact that respondent's philandering ways are far removed from the exercise of his profession would
not save the day for him. For a lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct which, albeit
unrelated to the actual practice of his profession, would show him to be unfit for the office and
unworthy of the privileges with which his license and the law invest him. To borrow from Orbe v. Adaza,
"[t]he grounds expressed in Section 27, Rule 138. of the Rules of Court are not limitative and are broad
enough to. cover any misconduct x x x of a lawyer in his professional or private capacity." To reiterate,
possession of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to the practice of law, but a
continuing qualification for all members of the bar.49

Similarly, in the more recent case of Dr. Elmar O. Perez v. Atty. Tristan Catindig,50 the Court disbarred
respondent Atty. Catindig for blatantly and purposefully disregarding our laws on marriage by resorting
to various legal strategies to render a facade of validity to his invalid second marriage, despite the
existence of his first marriage. We said:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes
conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for instance,
which makes 'a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage.'" In various cases, the Court has
held that disbarment is warranted when a lawyer abandons his lawful wife and maintains an illicit
relationship with another woman who has borne him a child.51 (emphasis ours.)

In the present case, complainant alleged that respondent carried on several adulterous and illicit
relations with both married and unmarried women between the years 1990 to 2007, including
complainant's own wife. Through documentary evidences in the form of email messages, as well as the
corroborating testimonies of the witnesses presented, complainant was able to establish respondent's
illicit relations with DDD and CCC by preponderant evidence.

Page 96 of 122
Respondent's main defense against the alleged illicit relations was that the same were not sufficiently
established. In his answer, respondent simply argued that complainant's petition contains self-serving
averments not supported by evidence. Respondent did not specifically deny complainant's allegations
and, instead, questioned the admissibility of the supporting documents. Due to respondent's own failure
to attend the hearings and even submit his own position paper, the existence of respondent's illicit
relations with DDD and CCC remain uncontroverted.

The IBP-CBD Report was correct when it found that respondent violated Article XV, Section 2 of the 1987
Constitution, to wit:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

4.21 In engaging in such illicit relationships, Respondent disregarded the sanctity of marriage and the
marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws, which as a lawyer he swore under
oath to protect. The 1987 Constitution, specifically Article XV, Section 2 thereof clearly provides that
marriage, an inviolable social institution, is the foundation of the family and shall be protected by the
State.52 (emphasis in the original.)

Aside from respondent's illicit relations, We agree with Commissioner Villadolid's findings that
respondent violated Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as well as Rule 10.01 and Rule
10.03 thereof.

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

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.

xxx

Rule 10.03 - A lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to defeat the ends
of justice.

In the Petition, complainant alleged that respondent was the subject of a Senate Inquiry and had a
pending case for graft and corruption against him with the Sandiganbayan, to
wit:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

13. Respondent has been recommended by the Senate Blue Ribbon and Justice & Human Rights
Committees to be investigated and prosecuted by the Ombudsman, the same as contained in their
"Committee Final Report No. 367" herein attached as Annex D;

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14. Respondent has also been recommended by the above- mentioned committees to suffer the penalty
of disbarment, among others, as evidenced by the herein attached Annex D-1, and it is believed that a
case for graft and corruption against him is still pending with the Sandiganbayan.''53

Instead of refuting these claims, respondent merely pointed out in his Answer that complainant failed to
adduce additional evidence that a case had been filed against him, and that complainant's statements
were merely self-serving averments not substantiated by any evidence. In his Reply, respondent even
specifically denied complainant's averments for "lack of knowledge and information sufficient to form a
belief as to the truth or falsity thereof."

We agree with Commissioner Villadolid's findings in the IBP-CBD Report, viz:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

4.8 It (sic) is thus indisputable that Respondent's pretensions in his Answer were made in attempt to
mislead this Commission. Respondent could have easily admitted or denied said allegations or explained
the same, as he (sic) clearly had knowledge thereof, however, he (sic) chose to take advantage of
Complainant" s position of being not present in the country and not being able to acquire the necessary
documents, skirt the issue, and mislead the Commission. In doing so, he has violated Canon 10 of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith
to the court" as well as Rule 10.01 and Rule 10.03 thereof which states that "a lawyer should do no
falsehood nor consent to the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled
by any artifice" and that "a lawyer shall observe the rules of procedure and shall not misuse them to
defeat the ends of justice."

4.9 Courts [as well as this Commission] are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from
the lawyers appearing and pleading before them. Respondent, through his actuations, has been lacking
in the candor required of him not only as a member of the Bar but also as an officer of the Court. In view
of the foregoing, the Commission finds that Respondent has violated Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, for which he should be disciplined.54 (emphasis in the original.)

In denying complainant's allegations, respondent had no other intention but to mislead the IBP, which
intention was more so established because complainant was able to submit supporting documents in
the form of certified true copies of the Senate Report, the Ombudsman's Resolution, and Information.

We also agree with Commissioner Villadolid's finding that respondent violated the lawyer's oath which
he took before admission to the Bar, which states:ChanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

I,__________ , do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines; [will
support its Constitution and obey laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted authorities
therein; 1 will do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any court; I will not wittingly nor willingly
promote or sue any groundless, false or unlawful suit, or give aid nor consent to the same; I will delay no
man for money or malice, and will conduct myself as a lawyer according to the best of my knowledge

Page 98 of 122
and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to my clients; and I impose upon myself this
voluntary obligations without any menial reservation or purpose of evasion. So help me God.

In all, Atty. Pangalangan displayed deplorable arrogance by making a mockery out of the institution of
marriage, and taking advantage of his legal skills by attacking the Petition through technicalities and
refusing to participate in the proceedings. His actions showed that he lacked the degree of morality
required of him as a member of the bar, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment.

WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing, the Court resolves to ADOPT the resolution of the IBP
Board of Governors approving and adopting, with modification, the Report and Recommendation of the
Investigating Commissioner. Accordingly, respondent Atty. Ian Raymond A. Pangalangan is found GUILTY
of gross immorality and of violating Section 2 of Article XV of the 1987 Constitution, Canon 1 and Rule
1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03, and Rule 10.01 of Canon 10 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, and
the Lawyer's Oath and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law.

Let a copy of this Decision be entered into the personal records of Atty. Ian Raymond A. Pangalangan
with the Office of the Bar Confidant and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys.
Likewise, let copies of this Decision be furnished to all chapters of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
and circulated by the Court Administrator to all the courts in the country for their information and
guidance.

This Decision takes effect immediately.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C.J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama,
Jr., Perez, Mendoza, Perlas-Bernabe, Leonen, and Jardeleza, JJ., concur.ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary

EN BANC A.C. No. 5816, DR. ELMAR O. PEREZ, Complainant, v. ATTY. TRISTAN A. CATINDIG
AND ATTY. KAREN E. BAYDO, Respondents. March 10, 2015

DECISION

PER CURIAM:

Before the Court is an administrative complaint1 for disbarment filed by Dr. Elmar O. Perez (Dr. Perez)
with the Office of the Bar Confidant on August 27, 2002 against Atty. Tristan A. Catindig (Atty. Catindig)
and Atty. Karen E. Baydo (Atty. Baydo) (respondents) for gross immorality and violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility.

The Facts

Page 99 of 122
In her complaint, Dr. Perez alleged that she and Atty. Catindig had been friends since the mid-1960s
when they were both students at the University of the Philippines, but they lost touch after their
graduation. Sometime in 1983, the paths of Atty. Catindig and Dr. Perez again crossed. It was at that
time that Atty. Catindig started to court Dr. Perez.2chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig admitted to Dr. Perez that he was already wed to Lily Corazon Gomez (Gomez), having
married the latter on May 18, 1968 at the Central Methodist Church in Ermita, Manila, which was
followed by a Catholic wedding at the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes in Quezon City.3 Atty. Catindig
however claimed that he only married Gomez because he got her pregnant; that he was afraid that
Gomez would make a scandal out of her pregnancy should he refuse to marry her, which could have
jeopardized his scholarship in the Harvard Law School.4chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig told Dr. Perez that he was in the process of obtaining a divorce in a foreign country to
dissolve his marriage to Gomez, and that he would eventually marry her once the divorce had been
decreed. Consequently, sometime in 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez obtained a divorce decree from
the Dominican Republic. Dr. Perez claimed that Atty. Catindig assured her that the said divorce decree
was lawful and valid and that there was no longer any impediment to their
marriage.5chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Thus, on July 14, 1984, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the State of Virginia in the United States of
America (USA). Their union was blessed with a child whom they named Tristan Jegar Josef
Frederic.6chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Years later, Dr. Perez came to know that her marriage to Atty. Catindig is a nullity since the divorce
decree that was obtained from the Dominican Republic by the latter and Gomez is not recognized by
Philippine laws. When she confronted Atty. Catindig about it, the latter allegedly assured Dr. Perez that
he would legalize their union once he obtains a declaration of nullity of his marriage to Gomez under the
laws of the Philippines. He also promised to legally adopt their son.7chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Sometime in 1997, Dr. Perez reminded Atty. Catindig of his promise to legalize their union by filing a
petition to nullify his marriage to Gomez. Atty. Catindig told her that he would still have to get the
consent of Gomez to the said petition.8chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Sometime in 2001, Dr. Perez alleged that she received an anonymous letter9 in the mail informing her of
Atty. Catindigs scandalous affair with Atty. Baydo, and that sometime later, she came upon a love
letter10 written and signed by Atty. Catindig for Atty. Baydo dated April 25, 2001. In the said letter, Atty.
Catindig professed his love to Atty. Baydo, promising to marry her once his impediment is removed.
Apparently, five months into their relationship, Atty. Baydo requested Atty. Catindig to put a halt to
their affair until such time that he is able to obtain the annulment of his marriage. On August 13, 2001,
Atty. Catindig filed a petition to declare the nullity of his marriage to
Gomez.11chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Page 100 of 122


On October 31, 2001, Atty. Catindig abandoned Dr. Perez and their son; he moved to an upscale
condominium in Salcedo Village, Makati City where Atty. Baydo was frequently
seen.12chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

In a Resolution13 dated October 9, 2002, the Court directed the respondents to file their respective
comments, which they separately did on November 25, 2002.14chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig, in his Comment,15 admitted that he married Gomez on May 18, 1968. He claimed,
however, that immediately after the wedding, Gomez showed signs that she was incapable of complying
with her marital obligations, as she had serious intimacy problems; and that while their union was
blessed with four children, their relationship simply deteriorated.

Eventually, their irreconcilable differences led to their de facto separation in 1984. They then consulted
Atty. Wilhelmina Joven (Atty. Joven), a mutual friend, on how the agreement to separate and live apart
could be implemented. Atty. Joven suggested that the couple adopt a property regime of complete
separation of property. She likewise advised the couple to obtain a divorce decree from the Dominican
Republic for whatever value it may have and comfort it may provide them.16chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Thus, on April 27, 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez each executed a Special Power of Attorney addressed
to a Judge of the First Civil Court of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, appointing an attorney-in-fact to
institute a divorce action under its laws. Atty. Catindig likewise admitted that a divorce by mutual
consent was ratified by the Dominican Republic court on June 12, 1984. Further, Atty. Catindig and
Gomez filed a Joint Petition for Dissolution of Conjugal Partnership before the Regional Trial Court of
Makati City, Branch 133, which was granted on June 23, 1984.17chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew of the foregoing, including the fact that the divorce decreed
by the Dominican Republic court does not have any effect in the Philippines. Notwithstanding that she
knew that the marriage of Atty. Catindig and Gomez still subsisted, Dr. Perez demanded that Atty.
Catindig marry her. Thus, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in July 1984 in the
USA.18chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew that their marriage was not valid since his previous marriage
to Gomez was still subsisting, and that he only married Dr. Perez because he loved her and that he was
afraid of losing her if he did not. He merely desired to lend a modicum of legitimacy to their
relationship.19chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindig claimed that his relationship with Dr. Perez turned sour. Eventually, he left their home in
October 2001 to prevent any acrimony from developing.20chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

He denied that Atty. Baydo was the reason that he left Dr. Perez, claiming that his relationship with Dr.
Perez started to fall apart as early as 1997. He asserted that Atty. Baydo joined his law firm only in
September 1999; and that while he was attracted to her, Atty. Baydo did not reciprocate and in fact

Page 101 of 122


rejected him. He likewise pointed out that Atty. Baydo resigned from his firm in January
2001.21chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

For her part, Atty. Baydo denied that she had an affair with Atty. Catindig. She claimed that Atty.
Catindig began courting her while she was employed in his firm. She however rejected Atty. Catindigs
romantic overtures; she told him that she could not reciprocate his feelings since he was married and
that he was too old for her. She said that despite being turned down, Atty. Catindig still pursued her,
which was the reason why she resigned from his law firm.22chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On January 29, 2003, the Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for
investigation, report and recommendation within 90 days from notice.23chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

On June 2, 2003, the IBPs Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) issued an Order24 setting the mandatory
conference of the administrative case on July 4, 2003, which was later reset to August 29, 2003. During
the conference, the parties manifested that they were already submitting the case for resolution based
on the pleadings already submitted. Thereupon, the IBP-CBD directed the parties to submit their
respective position papers within 10 days from notice. Respondents Atty. Catindig and Atty. Baydo filed
their position papers on October 17, 200325 and October 20, 2003,26 respectively. Dr. Perez filed her
position paper27 on October 24, 2003.

Findings of the IBP Investigating Commissioner

On May 6, 2011, after due proceedings, the Investigating Commissioner of the IBP-CBD issued a Report
and Recommendation,28 which recommended the disbarment of Atty. Catindig for gross immorality,
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. The
Investigating Commissioner pointed out that Atty. Catindigs act of marrying Dr. Perez despite knowing
fully well that his previous marriage to Gomez still subsisted was a grossly immoral and illegal conduct,
which warrants the ultimate penalty of disbarment. The Investigating Commissioner further opined
that:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
In this case, the undisputed facts gathered from the evidence and the admissions of Atty. Catindig
established a pattern of grossly immoral conduct that warrants fustigation and his disbarment. His
conduct was not only corrupt or unprincipled; it was reprehensible to the highest degree.

There is no dichotomy of morality. A lawyer and a professor of law, both in his official and personal
conduct, must display exemplary behavior. Respondents bigamous marriage and his proclivity for
extramarital adventurism have definitely caused damage to the legal and teaching professions. How can
he hold his head up high and expect his students, his peers and the community to look up to him as a
model worthy of emulation when he failed to follow the tenets of morality? In contracting a second
marriage notwithstanding knowing fully well that he has a prior valid subsisting marriage, Atty. Catindig
has made a mockery of an otherwise inviolable institution, a serious outrage to the generally accepted
moral standards of the community.29

Page 102 of 122


On the other hand, the Investigating Commissioner recommended that the charge against Atty. Baydo
be dismissed for dearth of evidence; Dr. Perez failed to present clear and preponderant evidence in
support of the alleged affair between the respondents.

Findings of the IBP Board of Governors

On December 10, 2011, the IBP Board of Governors issued a Resolution,30 which adopted and approved
the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner.

Atty. Catindig sought a reconsideration31 of the December 10, 2011 Resolution of the IBP Board of
Governors, claiming that the Investigating Commissioner erred in relying solely on Dr. Perezs
uncorroborated allegations. He pointed out that, under Section 1 of Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court, a
complaint for disbarment must be supported by affidavits of persons having knowledge of the facts
therein alleged and/or by such documents as may substantiate said facts. He said that despite the
absence of any corroborating testimony, the Investigating Commissioner gave credence to Dr. Perez
testimony.

He also claimed that he had absolutely no intention of committing any felony; that he never concealed
the status of his marriage from anyone. In fact, Atty. Catindig asserted that he had always been
transparent with both Gomez and Dr. Perez.

The IBP Board of Governors, in its Resolution32 dated December 29, 2012, denied Atty. Catindigs
motion for reconsideration.

The Issue

The issue in this case is whether the respondents committed gross immorality, which would warrant
their disbarment.

Ruling of the Court

After a thorough perusal of the respective allegations of the parties and the circumstances of this case,
the Court agrees with the findings and recommendations of the Investigating Commissioner and the IBP
Board of Governors.

The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary


Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

Canon 7 A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support
the activities of the Integrated Bar.

Page 103 of 122


Rule 7.03 A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.cralawred
In Arnobit v. Atty. Arnobit,33 the Court held:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
[T]he requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general public is
concerned, than the possession of legal learning. Good moral character is not only a condition
precedent for admission to the legal profession, but it must also remain intact in order to maintain ones
good standing in that exclusive and honored fraternity. Good moral character is more than just the
absence of bad character. Such character expresses itself in the will to do the unpleasant thing if it is
right and the resolve not to do the pleasant thing if it is wrong. This must be so because vast interests
are committed to his care; he is the recipient of unbounded trust and confidence; he deals with his
clients property, reputation, his life, his all.34 (Citation omitted)
In this regard, Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that a lawyer may be removed or
suspended from the practice of law, inter alia, for grossly immoral conduct.
Thus:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
Sec. 27. Attorneys removed or suspended by Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of the bar
may be removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
take before the admission to practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a superior
court, or for corruptly or willful appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do.
The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
brokers, constitutes malpractice. (Emphasis ours)
A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or deficiency in his
moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.35 Immoral conduct involves acts that are willful,
flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral indifference to the opinion of the upright and respectable
members of the community. Immoral conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal
act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed under such
scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the communitys sense of decency. The Court makes
these distinctions, as the supreme penalty of disbarment arising from conduct requires grossly immoral,
not simply immoral, conduct.36chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Contracting a marriage during the subsistence of a previous one amounts to a grossly immoral conduct.

The facts gathered from the evidence adduced by the parties and, ironically, from Atty. Catindigs own
admission, indeed establish a pattern of conduct that is grossly immoral; it is not only corrupt and
unprincipled, but reprehensible to a high degree.

Atty. Catindig was validly married to Gomez twice a wedding in the Central Methodist Church in 1968,
which was then followed by a Catholic wedding. In 1983, Atty. Catindig started pursuing Dr. Perez when
their paths crossed again. Curiously, 15 years into his first marriage and four children after, Atty.

Page 104 of 122


Catindig claimed that his first marriage was then already falling apart due to Gomez serious intimacy
problems.

A year after pursuing Dr. Perez, Atty. Catindig had a de facto separation from Gomez, dissolved their
conjugal partnership of gains, obtained a divorce decree from a court in the Dominican Republic, and
married Dr. Perez in the USA all in the same year. Atty. Catindig was so enchanted with Dr. Perez at that
time that he moved heaven and earth just so he could marry her right away a marriage that has at
least a semblance of legality.

From his own admission, Atty. Catindig knew that the divorce decree he obtained from the court in the
Dominican Republic was not recognized in our jurisdiction as he and Gomez were both Filipino citizens
at that time. He knew that he was still validly married to Gomez; that he cannot marry anew unless his
previous marriage be properly declared a nullity. Otherwise, his subsequent marriage would be void.
This notwithstanding, he still married Dr. Perez. The foregoing circumstances seriously taint Atty.
Catindigs sense of social propriety and moral values. It is a blatant and purposeful disregard of our laws
on marriage.

It has also not escaped the attention of the Court that Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the USA.
Considering that Atty. Catindig knew that his previous marriage remained valid, the logical conclusion is
that he wanted to marry Dr. Perez in the USA for the added security of avoiding any charge of bigamy by
entering into the subsequent marriage outside Philippine jurisdiction.

Moreover, assuming arguendo that Atty. Catindigs claim is true, it matters not that Dr. Perez knew that
their marriage is a nullity. The fact still remains that he resorted to various legal strategies in order to
render a faade of validity to his otherwise invalid marriage to Dr. Perez. Such act is, at the very least, so
unprincipled that it is reprehensible to the highest degree.

Further, after 17 years of cohabiting with Dr. Perez, and despite the various legal actions he resorted to
in order to give their union a semblance of validity, Atty. Catindig left her and their son. It was only at
that time that he finally decided to properly seek the nullity of his first marriage to Gomez. Apparently,
he was then already entranced with the much younger Atty. Baydo, an associate lawyer employed by his
firm.

While the fact that Atty. Catindig decided to separate from Dr. Perez to pursue Atty. Baydo, in itself,
cannot be considered a grossly immoral conduct, such fact forms part of the pattern showing his
propensity towards immoral conduct. Lest it be misunderstood, the Courts finding of gross immoral
conduct is hinged not on Atty. Catindigs desertion of Dr. Perez, but on his contracting of a subsequent
marriage during the subsistence of his previous marriage to Gomez.

The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such includes
conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community, conduct for instance,
which makes a mockery of the inviolable social institution of marriage.37 In various cases, the Court

Page 105 of 122


has held that disbarment is warranted when a lawyer abandons his lawful wife and maintains an illicit
relationship with another woman who has borne him a child.38chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

Atty. Catindigs subsequent marriage during the subsistence of his previous one definitely manifests a
deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the marital vows protected by the Constitution and
affirmed by our laws. By his own admission, Atty. Catindig made a mockery out of the institution of
marriage, taking advantage of his legal skills in the process. He exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree
of morality required of him as a member of the bar, which thus warrant the penalty of disbarment.

The Court is not unmindful of the rule that the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution,
and only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of the lawyer as
an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar. Where a lesser penalty, such as temporary
suspension, could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should never be decreed. Nevertheless, in
this case, the seriousness of the offense compels the Court to wield its power to disbar, as it appears to
be the most appropriate penalty.

Atty. Catindigs claim that Dr. Perezs allegations against him are not credible since they are
uncorroborated and not supported by affidavits contrary to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Rules of Court,
deserves scant consideration. Verily, Atty. Catindig himself admitted in his pleadings that he indeed
married Dr. Perez in 1984 while his previous marriage with Gomez still subsisted. Indubitably, such
admission provides ample basis for the Court to render disciplinary sanction against him.

There is insufficient evidence to prove the affair between the respondents.

The Court likewise agrees with the Investigating Commissioner that there is a dearth of evidence to
prove the claimed amorous relationship between the respondents. As it is, the evidence that was
presented by Dr. Perez to prove her claim was mere allegation, an anonymous letter informing her that
the respondents were indeed having an affair and the purported love letter to Atty. Baydo that was
signed by Atty. Catindig.

The Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment proceedings against lawyers, the
lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof rests upon the complainant to
prove the allegations in his complaint. The evidence required in suspension or disbarment proceedings
is preponderance of evidence.39chanroblesvirtuallawlibrary

The presentation of the anonymous letter that was received by Dr. Perez only proves that the latter
indeed received a letter informing her of the alleged relations between the respondents; it does not
prove the veracity of the allegations therein. Similarly, the supposed love letter, if at all, only proves that
Atty. Catindig wrote Atty. Baydo a letter professing his love for her. It does not prove that Atty. Baydo is
indeed in a relationship with Atty. Catindig.

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WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing disquisitions, the Court resolves to ADOPT the
recommendations of the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines. Atty.
Tristan A. Catindig is found GUILTY of gross immorality and of violating the Lawyers Oath and Rule 1.01,
Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and is hereby DISBARRED from the
practice of law.

Let a copy of this Decision be entered into the records of Atty. Tristan A. Catindig in the Office of the Bar
Confidant and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Likewise, copies of this
Decision shall be furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and circulated by the Court
Administrator to all appellate and trial courts.

The charge of gross immorality against Atty. Karen E. Baydo is hereby DISMISSED for lack of evidence.

This Decision takes effect immediately.

SO ORDERED.

Sereno, C. J., Carpio, Velasco, Jr., Leonardo-De Castro, Brion, Peralta, Bersamin, Del Castillo, Villarama,
Jr., Perez, Mendoza, Reyes, Perlas-Bernabe, and Leonen, JJ., concur.

EN BANC CARRIE-ANNE SHALE EN CARLYLE S. REYES, Complainant, -versus -ATTY. RAMON F.


NIEVA, Respondent. A.C. No. 8560 Promulgated: September 6, 2016

DECISION PERLAS-BERNABE, J.: For the Court's resolution is the Complaint1 dated March 3, 2010 filed by
complainant Carrie-Anne Shaleen Carlyle S. Reyes (complainant) against respondent Atty. Ramon F.
Nieva (respondent), praying that the latter be disbarred for sexually harassing her.

The Facts

Complainant alleged that she has been working at the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)
as an Administrative Aide on a Job Order basis since October 2004. Sometime in January 2009, she was
re-assigned at the CAAP Office of the Board Secretary under the supervision of respondent, who was
then acting as CAAP Acting Board Secretary. During complainant's stint under respondent, she would
notice that during office hours, respondent would often watch ''pampagana" videos saved in his office
laptop, all of which turned out to be pornographic films. Complainant also averred that whenever
respondent got close to her, he would hold her hand and would sometimes give it a kiss. During these
instances, complainant would remove her hands and tell him to desist. According to complainant,
respondent even offered her a cellular phone together with the necessary load to serve as means for
their private communication, but she refused the said offer, insisting that she already has her own
cellular phone and does not need another one. 2 Complainant also narrated that at about 5 o'clock in
the afternoon of April 1, 2009, respondent texted her to wait for him at the office. Fearing that

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respondent might take advantage of her, complainant convinced two (2) of her officemates to
accompany her until respondent arrived. Upon respondent's arrival and seeing that complainant had
companions, he just told complainant and the other two (2) office staff to lock the door when they
leave. 3 Complainant further recounted that on the following day, April 2, 2009, respondent called her
on her cellular phone, asked if she received his text message, and told her he would tell her something
upon his arrival at the office. At about 9:30 in the morning of even date, respondent asked complainant
to encode a memorandum he was about to dictate. Suddenly, respondent placed his hand on
complainant's waist area near her breast and started caressing the latter's torso. Complainant
immediately moved away from respondent and told him "sumosobra na ho kayo sir." Instead of asking
for an apology, respondent told complainant he was willing to give her P2,000.00 a month from his own
pocket and even gave her a note stating ''just bet (between) you and me, x x x kahit na si mommy,"
referring to complainant's mother who was also working at CAAP. At around past 11 o'clock in the
morning of the same day, while complainant and respondent were left alone in the office, respondent
suddenly closed the door, grabbed complainant's arm, and uttered "let's seal it with a kiss," then
attempted to kiss complainant.

This prompted complainant to thwart respondent's advances with her left arm, raised her voice in order
to invite help, and exclaimed "wag naman kayo ganyan sir, yung asawa nyo magagalit, sir may asawa
ako." After respondent let her go, complainant immediately left the office to ask assistance from her
former supervisor who advised her to file an administrative case 4 against respondent before the CAAP
Committee on Decorum and Investigation (CODI).5 Finally, complainant alleged that after her ordeal
with respondent, she was traumatized and was even diagnosed by a psychiatrist to be suffering from
post-traumatic stress disorder with recurrent major depression. 6 Eventually, complainant filed the
instant complaint. In his defense,7 respondent denied all of complainant's allegations. He maintained
that as a 79-year old retiree who only took a position at the CAAP on a consultancy basis, it was very
unlikely for him to do the acts imputed against him, especially in a very small office space allotted for
him and his staff.

In this regard, he referred to his Counter-Affidavit8 submitted before the CODI, wherein he explained,
inter alia, that: (a) while he indeed watches "interesting shows" in his office laptop, he never invited
anyone, including complainant, to watch with him and that he would even close his laptop whenever
someone comes near him; 9 ( b) he never held and kissed complainant's hand because if he had done
so, he would have been easily noticed by complainant's co-staffers;10 (c) he did offer her a cellular
phone, but this was supposed to be an office phone which should not be used for personal purposes,
and thus, could not be given any sexual meaning; 11 (d) he did tell complainant to wait for him in the
afternoon of April 1, 2009, but only for the purpose of having an available encoder should he need one
for any urgent matter that would arise; 12 and ( e) he would not do the acts he allegedly committed on
April 2, 2009 as there were other people in the office and that those people can attest in his favor. 13
Respondent then pointed out that the administrative case filed against him before the CODI was already
dismissed for lack of basis and that complainant was only being used by other CAAP employees who
were agitated by the reforms he helped implement upon his assumption as CAAP consultant and
eventually as Acting Corporate Board Secretary.

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The IBP's Report and Recommendation

In a Report and Recommendation 15 dated August 14, 2012, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
Investigating Commissioner recommended the dismissal of the instant administrative complaint against
respondent.16 He found that complainant failed to substantiate her allegations against respondent, as
opposed to respondent's defenses which are ably supported by evidence. Citing respondent's evidence,
the Investigating Commissioner opined that since the CAAP Office of the Board Secretary was very small,
it is implausible that a startling occurrence such as an attempted sexual molestation would not be
noticed by not only the other occupants of said office area, but also by those occupying the office
adjacent to it, i.e., the CAAP Operations Center, which is separated only by glass panels.

Further, the Investigating Commissioner drew attention to the investigation conducted by the CODI
showing that the collective sworn statements of the witnesses point to the eventual conclusion that
none of the alleged acts of misconduct attributed to respondent really occurred. 17 In a Resolution18
dated May 10, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors (IBP Board) unanimously reversed the aforesaid Report
and Recommendation. As such, respondent was found guilty of committing sexual advances, and
accordingly, recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for three (3) months. In view
of respondent's Motion for Reconsideration, 19 the IBP Board referred the case to the IBP Commission
on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) for study, evaluation, and submission of an Executive Summary to the IBP
Board.20 In the Director's Report21 dated July 8, 2014, the IBP-CBD National Director recommended
that the current IBP Board adhere to the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner
as it is supported by the evidence on record; on the other hand, the reversal made by the previous IBP
Board is bereft of any factual and legal bases, and should therefore, be set aside. In this light, the
current IBP Board issued a Resolution22 dated August 10, 2014 setting aside the previous IBP Board's
Resolution, and accordingly, dismissed the administrative complaint against respondent.

The Issue Before the Court

The essential issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held administratively liable for
violating the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). The Court's Ruling Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the CPR
provides: CANON 1 - A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote
respect for law and legal processes. Rule 1.01 -A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral
or deceitful conduct. The provision instructs that "[a]s officers of the court, lawyers are bound to
maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also of morality, honesty, integrity, and fair
dealing."23 In similar light, Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the CPR states: CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times
uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
xx xx Rule 7.03 -A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the
legal profession. Good moral character is a trait that every practicing lawyer is required to possess. It
may be defined as "what a person really is, as distinguished from good reputation, or from the opinion
generally entertained of him, or the estimate in which he is held by the public in the place where he is

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known. Moral character is not a subjective term but one which c01Tesponds to objective reality."24
Such requirement has four (4) ostensible purposes, namely: (a) to protect the public; ( b) to protect the
public image of lawyers; ( c) to protect prospective clients; and ( d) to protect errant lawyers from
themselves.

In Valdez v. Dabon,26 the Court emphasized that a lawyer's continued possession of good moral
character is a requisite condition to remain a member of the Bar, viz.: Lawyers have been repeatedly
reminded by the Court that possession of good moral character is both a condition precedent and a
continuing requirement to warrant admission to the Bar and to retain membership in the legal
profession. This proceeds from the lawyer's bounden duty to observe the highest degree of morality in
order to safeguard the Bar's integrity, and the legal profession exacts from its members nothing less.
Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive
of malpractice. Their exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest degree of
morality. The Court explained in Arnobit v. Atty. Arnobit that "as officers of the court, lawyers must not
only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading
lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. A member of the bar and an
officer of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping a mistress
but must also behave himself so as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the impression that he is
flouting those moral standards." Consequently, any errant behavior of the lawyer, be it in his public or
private activities, which tends to show deficiency in moral character, honesty, probity or good
demeanor, is sufficient to warrant suspension or disbarment. 27 (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Verily, lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon admission to the Bar but
also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain their good standing in this exclusive and honored
fraternity. They may be suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it
pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral character, honesty,
probity or good demeanor. 28 After due consideration, the Court reverses the findings and
recommendations of the IBP, and finds respondent administratively liable for violations of the CPR, as
will be explained hereunder. To recapitulate, the IBP found that as compared to complainant's
purposedly bare and uncorroborated allegations, respondent's evidence point to the conclusion that
none of the alleged sexual advances made by respondent against complainant actually occurred. As
such, it absolved respondent from any administrative liability.

In support of such finding, the IBP largely relied on the following: (a) the five (5) photographs29
respondent submitted to the CODI to show that respondent's office space was so small that any
commotion caused by a sexual harassment attempt would have been easily noticed by the other
occupants thereof;30 and (b) the investigation conducted by the CODI per the Transcript31 submitted
by respondent where the witnesses said that they did not notice anything out of the ordinary on April 2,
2009, the date when respondent's alleged sexual advances against complainant were committed. 32
However, the foregoing evidence, taken as a whole, did not actually refute complainant's allegation that
at around past 11 o'clock in the morning of April 2, 2009, respondent closed the door, grabbed
complainant's right arm, uttered the words "let's seal it with a kiss" and attempted to kiss complainant
despite the latter's resistance. A careful perusal of the aforesaid Transcript shows that at around past 11

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o'clock in the morning of April 2, 2009, there was a time that complainant and respondent were indeed
left alone in the office:

Mr. Mendoza: Ngayon, puwede mo bang idescribe sa amin nung 9:30 to 11 :00 sinu-sino kayo doon?
Witness 1: Tatlo (3) lang kami sir po dun. Si Ma'am Carrie Anne [complainant], si sir Nieva [respondent]
tsaka aka po.

Mr. Mendoza: So ikaw fang ang witness, ang taong naroon 9:30 to 11?

Witness 1: Yes sir. xx xx

Mr. Mendoza: Saan kayo kumakain ng lunch?

Witness 1: Sa loob po kami nagf uf unch.

Mr. Mendoza: Pag nag-order ng pagkain minsan may natitira pa bang iba?

Witness 1: !tong po yung dafawa yung natira nung umalis po aka. Um ... pagbalik ko po wafa na po si
Ma'am Caan [complainant] si Ma'am Amy nafang po ang nandoon.

Mr. Mendoza: So siya [complainant] nafang at tsaka si Atty. Nieva [respondent] ang naiwan doon sa
room? Eh nasaan na yung ibang OJT pa?

Witness 1: Tatlo fang po kasi kami nun sir, nasa Land Bank po yung dafawa.

Mr. Mendoza: So nasa Land Bank sila. So totoong may nangyari na naiwan silang dalawa [complainant
and respondent] na time na silang dalawa fang ang naiwan sa kuwarto?

Witness 1: Opo nung mga quarter to 12 siguro po nun.

Mr. Mendoza: Jiang beses na may nangyayaring ganun na silang naiiwan doon sa kuwarto?

Witness 1: Yun fang po kasi yung natatandaan ko po sir na time na naiwan sila eh. xx xx

Mr. Abesamis: Umalis ka sa room para bumili ng pagkain nandoon si Atty. Nieva [respondent]?

Witness 1: Andoon pa po silang dalawa [complainant and respondent]. Pero tapos na po silang magtype
nun fas nag decide na maglunch na eh.

Mr. Abesamis: Saan? Sino ang naiwan?

Witness 1: Dalawa pa fang sila sir pagbalik ko tatlo na sila pero wala naman po si Ma'am Caan
[complainant]. Nung umalis po aka si sir Nieva [respondent] tsaka si Ma'am Caan yung nandoon then
pagbalik ko po wala na si Ma'am Caan, si sir Nieva tsaka silang dalawa na po yung nandoon.

Mr. Abesamis: Ok. So wala na silang kasamang iba?

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Witness 1: Opo. 33 The same Transcript also reveals that the CODI interviewed the occupants of the
adjacent office, i.e., the CAAP Operations Center, which, according to the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, was only separated from complainant and respondent's office, i.e. the CAAP Office of the
Board Secretary, by glass panels.
Pertinent parts of the interview read:

Mr. Borja: Nung oras ng mga alas onse (11) pagitan ng alas onse (11) hanggang alas dose (12), nasaan ka
joy [Witness 4]?

Witness 4: Andun po sa ORCC [CAAP Operations Center].

Mr. Borja: Si ano naman Donna [Witness 5] ganun din? Kasi sinasabi dito noong bandang ganung oras
past eleven (11) parang nag-advance yata si Atty. Nieva [respondent] kay Ms. Reyes (Caan)
[complainant] ngayon nung chinachansingan siya parang ganun ang dating eh "I raised up my voice also,
so that the OPCEN personnel will hear of the alann" may narinig ba kayo na sumigaw siya?

Witness 4: Eh kasi sir wala pong braket yun yung time na ano yung RPCC 764 so nag-cocoordinate kami
...

Mr. Borja: Ano yung 764?

Witness 4: Yung sa Tuguegarao yung nawawala siya so may alerfa tapos ditressfa so intransi po kami ...
opo ...

Mr. Borja: So busing-busy ka sa telepono?

Witness 4: Opo lahat kami.

Mr. Borja: Pati ikaw?

Witness 5: Opo.

Mr. Borja: Sinong walang ginagawa nun?

Witness 4: Wala kasi kanya-kanya kami ng coordination lahat kami nasa telepono.

Mr. Borja: Kaya kapag kumakalampag yung pader [sa] kabila hindi niyo maririnig?

Witness 4: Hindi siguro sir kasi kung nakasara din sila ng pinto tapos kanya-kanya kaming may kausap sa
telepono eh.

Mr. Borja: Kung hindi kayo nakikipag-usap ngayon wala kayong ginagawa, narinig niyo ang usapan doon
sa kabila.

Witness 5: Yes sir. Atty. Gloria: Lalo na pag malakas.

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Mr. Borja: Pag malakas pero therein normal voice fang level.

Witness 4: Kasi minsan malakas din yung radio nila eh. Kung minsan kasi sir may mga music sila. Eto sir
yung time na kinuha ... Dami nila eh ... Lumabas nakita naming mga ano mga 10:45 na yan nabasa sir.

Mr. Borja: Pero ang pinag-uusapan natin lagpas ng alas onse (11) ha bago mag-alas dose (12) ang pinaka
latest message mo dito 02103106, 11 :06. So between 11 :06 to 12 wala kayong ...

Witness 4: Kasi nakikipag-coordination talaga kami kahit ... kami fang nandoon sa telepono.

Mr. Borja: Written pero voice coordination niyo sa telepono kayo? Witness 4: Tsaka naka log-in sa log
book. xx xx

Mr. Abesamis: Ma'am Joy [Witness 4] sabi niyo kanina naririnig niyo si sir [respondent] sa kabila kung
wala kayong kausap lalong-lalo na kapag malakas yung salita?

Witness 4: Opo. Mr. Abesamis: So ibig sabihin kahit hindi malakas may possibility na maririnig niyo yung
usapan kung walang radio? Siguro if intelligible or knowledgeable pero maririnig mo sa kabila? Witness
4: Kung mahina o normal yung usapan?

Mr. Abesamis: Normal na usapan, conversation.

Witness 4: Hindi siguro pag sarado sila.

Mr. Abesamis: Pero kung halimbawa sisigaw?

Witness 4: Maririnig siguro kasi kapag nagdidictate si Attorney [respondent] minsan naririnig namin.

Mr. Mendoza: Maski sarado yung pinto?

Witness 4: Ah opo.

Mr. Mendoza: Naririnig?

Witness 4: Kung malakas.

Mr. Mendoza: Ah kung malakas?

Witness 4: Opo.

Mr. Abesamis: So wala kayong naririnig man Zang kahit isang word na malakas doon sa kanila during the
time na nangyari ito?

Witness 4: Nung time na iyan wala kasi kaming maalala ...

Mr. Abesamis: Walang possibility na narinig niyo pero mas busy kayo sa telephone operation.

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Witness 4: Busy kami.

Mr. Abesamis: Hindi makikilatis yung ano ...

Witness 4: Kasi may time na sumigaw na babae nga pero kala fang namin ah ...

Mr. Abesamis: Nung date na iyon o hindi?

Witness 4: Hindi, hindi pa sigurado eh kasi ...

Mr. Abesamis: Hindi yung date bang iyon ang sinasabi mo?

Witness 4: Hindi kasi busy talaga kami sa coordination nung ano eh nung time na iyon. Nasabay kasi eh
nung time na iyon hinahanap pa namin yung requirement.

Mr. Mendoza: Pero bago yung bago mag April 2, meron ba kayo na tuligan na nag-aanuhan ng ganun,
nagrereklamo tungkol kay Atty. Nieva [respondent], wala? May narinig kayong movie na parang
sounding na porno ganun?

Witness 4: Wala music Zang talaga sir.

Mr. Mendoza: So music. Witness 4: Kung minsan kasi binubuksan nila yung door pag mainit yung
kuwarto nila.

Mr. Borja: At that time hindi bukas iyon?

Witness 4: Kami ano eh may cover ng ano cartolina na white.

Mr. Borja: Makakatestify kang kayo sa audio eh, kasi wala kayong nakikita".

The above-cited excerpts of the Transcript show that at around past 11 o'clock in the morning of April 2,
2009, complainant and respondent were left alone in the CAAP Office of the Board Secretary as
complainant's officemates were all out on errands. In this regard, it was error on the part of the IBP to
hastily conclude from the testimonies of complainant's officemates who were interviewed by the CODI
that nothing out of the ordinary happened. Surely, they were not in a position to confirm or refute
complainant's allegations as they were not physically in the office so as to make a credible testimony as
to the events that transpired therein during that time.

Neither can the testimonies of those in the CAAP Operations Center be used to conclude that
respondent did not do anything to complainant, considering that they themselves admitted that they
were all on the telephone, busy with their coordinating duties. They likewise clarified that while their
office is indeed separated from the CAAP Office of the Board Secretary only by glass panels, they could
not see what was happening there as they covered the glass panels with white cartolina. In light of their
preoccupation from their official duties as well as the fact that the glass panels were covered, it is very

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unlikely for them to have noticed any commotion happening in the adjacent CAAP Office of the Board
Secretary. Furthermore, the IBP should have taken the testimonies of the witnesses in the CODI
proceedings with a grain of salt. It bears noting that all those interviewed in the CODI proceedings were
job order and regular employees of the CAAP. Naturally, they would be cautious in giving any
unfavorable statements against a high-ranking official of the CAAP -such as respondent who was the
Acting Board Secretary at that time -lest they earn the ire of such official and put their career in
jeopardy.

Thus, the IBP erred in concluding that such Transcript shows that respondent did not perform the acts
complained of. On the contrary, said Transcript proves that there was indeed a period of time where
complainant and respondent were left alone in the CAAP Office of the Board Secretary which gave
respondent a window of opportunity to carry out his acts constituting sexual harassment against
complainant. More importantly, records reveal that complainant's allegations are adequately supported
by a Certificate of Psychiatric Evaluation35 dated April 13, 2009 stating that the onset of her psychiatric
problems -diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder with recurrent major depression -started after
suffering the alleged sexual molestation at the hands of respondent. Moreover, complainant's plight
was ably supported by other CAAP employees36 as well as a retired Brigadier General of the Armed
Forces of the Philippines37 through various letters to authorities seeking justice for complainant.
Perceptibly, complainant would not seek help from such supporters, and risk their integrity in the
process, if none of her allegations were true. Besides, there is no evidence to establish that complainant
was impelled by any improper motive against respondent or that she had reasons to fabricate her
allegations against him. Therefore, absent any competent proof to the contrary, the Court finds that
complainant's story of the April 2, 2009 incident was not moved by any ill-will and was untainted by
bias; and hence, worthy of belief and credence. 38 In this regard, it should be mentioned that
respondent's averment that complainant was only being used by other CAAP employees to get back at
him for implementing reforms within the CAAP was plainly unsubstantiated, and thus, a mere self-
serving assertion that deserves no weight in law.39 In addition, the Court notes that respondent never
refuted complainant's allegation that he would regularly watch ''pampagana" movies in his office-issued
laptop. In fact, respondent readily admitted that he indeed watches "interesting shows" while in the
office, albeit insisting that he only does so by himself, and that he would immediately close his laptop
whenever anyone would pass by or go near his table. As confirmed in the Transcript 40 of the
investigation conducted by the CODI, these "pampagana" movies and "interesting shows" turned out to
be pornographic materials, which respondent even asks his male staff to regularly play for him as he is
not well-versed in using computers.41 Without a doubt, it has been established that respondent
habitually watches pornographic materials in his office-issued laptop while inside the office premises,
during office hours, and with the knowledge and full view of his staff.

Obviously, the Court cannot countenance such audacious display of depravity on respondent's part not
only because his obscene habit tarnishes the reputation of the government agency he works for -the
CAAP where he was engaged at that time as Acting Corporate Secretary -but also because it shrouds the
legal profession in a negative light. As a lawyer in the government service, respondent is expected to
perform and discharge his duties with the highest degree of excellence, professionalism, intelligence,

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and skill, and with utmost devotion and dedication to duty.42 However, his aforesaid habit miserably
fails to showcase these standards, and instead, displays sheer unprofessionalism and utter lack of
respect to the government position he was entrusted to hold. His flimsy excuse that he only does so by
himself and that he would immediately close his laptop whenever anyone would pass by or come near
his table is of no moment, because the lewdness of his actions, within the setting of this case, remains.
The legal profession -much more an engagement in the public service -should always be held in high
esteem, and those who belong within its ranks should be unwavering exemplars of integrity and
professionalism. As keepers of the public faith, lawyers, such as respondent, are burdened with a high
degree of social responsibility and, hence, must handle their personal affairs with greater caution.
Indeed, those who have taken the oath to assist in the dispensation of justice should be more possessed
of the consciousness and the will to overcome the weakness of the flesh, as respondent in this case. 43
In the Investigating Commissioner's Report and Recommendation adopted by the IBP Board of
Governors, the quantum of proof by which the charges against respondent were assessed was
preponderance of evidence. Preponderance of evidence "means evidence which is of greater weight, or
more convincing than that which is offered in opposition to it."44 Generally, under Rule 133 of the
Revised Rules on Evidence, this evidentiary threshold applies to civil cases: SECTION 1. Preponderance of
evidence, how determined. -In civil the party having the burden of proof must establish his case by a
preponderance of evidence. In determining where the preponderance or superior weight of evidence on
the issues involved lies, the court may consider all the facts and circumstances of the case, the
witnesses' manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and opportunity of knowing the facts to
which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, the probability or improbability of
their testimony, their interest or want of interest, and also their personal credibility so far as the same
may legitimately appear upon the trial. The court may also consider the number of witnesses, though
the preponderance is not necessarily with the greater number.

Nonetheless, in non-civil cases such as De Zuzuarregui, Jr. v. Soguilon 45 cited by the IBP Investigating
Commissioner, the Court had pronounced that the burden of proof by preponderance of evidence in
disbarment proceedings is upon the complainant. 46 These rulings appear to conflict with other
jurisprudence on the matter which contrarily hold that substantial evidence is the quantum of proof to
be applied in administrative cases against lawyers. 47 The latter standard was applied in administrative
cases such as Foster v. Agtang,48 wherein the Court had, in fact, illumined that: The quantum of
evidence required in civil cases is different from the quantum of evidence required in administrative
cases. In civil cases, preponderance of evidence is required. Preponderance of evidence is "a phrase
which, in the last analysis, means probability of the truth. It is evidence which is more convincing to the
court as worthier of belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto." In administrative cases, only
substantial evidence is needed. Substantial evidence, which is more than a mere scintilla but is such
relevant evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion, would suffice
to hold one administratively liable.49 (Emphasis supplied; citations omitted) Similarly, in Pena v.
Paterno,50 it was held: Section 5, in [comparison with] Sections 1 [(Preponderance of evidence, how
proved)] and 2 [(Proof beyond reasonable doubt)], Rule 133, Rules of Court states that in administrative
cases, only substantial evidence is required, not proof beyond reasonable doubt as in criminal cases, or
preponderance of evidence as in civil cases. Substantial evidence is that amount of relevant evidence

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which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a conclusion.51 (Emphasis supplied;
citations omitted) Based on a survey of cases, the recent ruling on the matter is Cabas v. Sususco,52
which was promulgated just this June 15, 2016. In the said case, it was pronounced that: In
administrative proceedings, the quantum of proof necessary for a finding of guilt is substantial evidence,
i.e., that amount of relevant evidence that a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a
conclusion.

Further, the complainant has the burden of proving by substantial evidence the allegations in his
complaint. The basic rule is that mere allegation is not evidence and is not equivalent to proof. Charges
based on mere suspicion and speculation likewise cannot be given credence. "53 (Emphasis supplied)
Accordingly, this more recent pronouncement ought to control and therefore, quell any further
confusion on the proper evidentiary threshold to be applied in administrative cases against lawyers.
Besides, the evidentiary threshold of substantial evidence -as opposed to preponderance of evidence -is
more in keeping with the primordial purpose of and essential considerations attending this type of
cases. As case law elucidates, "[ d]isciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely
civil nor purely criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but is rather an investigation by
the Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no
sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. It may be
initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for
determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such.
Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to
account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the
legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of
members who by their misconduct have proved themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the
duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no
occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor."54 With the proper application of the substantial
evidence threshold having been clarified, the Court finds that the present charges against respondent
have been adequately proven by this standard. Complainant has established her claims through relevant
evidence as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion -that is, that
respondent had harassed her and committed despicable acts which are clear ethical violations of the
CPR.

In fine, respondent should be held administratively liable and therefore, penalized. Jurisprudence
provides that in similar administrative cases where the lawyer exhibited immoral conduct, the Court
meted penalties ranging from reprimand to disbarment. In Advincula v. Macabata, 55 the lawyer was
reprimanded for his distasteful act of suddenly turning the head of his female client towards him and
kissing her on the lips. In De Leon v. Pedrena, 56 the lawyer was suspended from the practice of law for
a period of two (2) years for rubbing the female complainant's right leg with his hand, trying to insert his
finger into her firmly closed hand, grabbing her hand and forcibly placed it on his crotch area, and
pressing his finger against her private part. While in Guevarra v. Eala57 and Valdez v. Dahan, 58 the
Court meted the extreme penalty of disbarment on the erring lawyers who engaged in extramarital
affairs. Here, respondent exhibited his immoral behavior through his habitual watching of pornographic

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materials while in the office and his acts of sexual harassment against complainant. Considering the
circumstances of this case, the Court deems it proper to impose upon respondent the penalty of
suspension from the practice of law for a period of two (2) years.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Ramon F. Nieva is found GUILTY of violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1, and Rule
7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, he is hereby SUSPENDED from the
practice of law for a period of two (2) years, effective upon the finality of this Decision, with a STERN
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more severely. Let copies of this
Decision be served on the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts
in the country for their information and guidance and be attached to respondent's personal record as
attorney. SO ORDERED

Advincula v. Advincula AC No. 9226 June 14, 2016

Complaint for disbarment dated June 16, 2006 brought to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
against Atty. Leonardo C. Advincula (Atty. Advincula) by no less than his wife, Dr. Ma. Cecilia Clarissa C.
Advincula (Dr. Advincula).

In her complaint,1 Dr. Advincula has averred that Atty. Advincula committed unlawful and immoral
acts;2 that while Atty. Advincula was still married to her, he had extra-marital sexual relations with Ma.
Judith Ortiz Gonzaga (Ms. Gonzaga);3 that the extra-marital relations bore a child in the name of Ma.
Alexandria Gonzaga Advincula (Alexandria);4 that Atty. Advincula failed to give financial support to their
own children, namely: Ma. Samantha Paulina, Ma. Andrea Lana, and Jose Leandro, despite his having
sufficient financial resources;5 that he admitted in the affidavit of late registration of birth of Alexandria
that he had contracted another marriage with Ms. Gonzaga;6 that even should Atty. Advincula prove
that his declaration in the affidavit of late registration of birth was motivated by some reason other than
the fact that he truly entered into a subsequent marriage with Ms. Gonzaga, then making such a
declaration was in itself still unlawful; 7 that siring a child with a woman other than his lawful wife was
conduct way below the standards of morality required of every lawyer;8 that contracting a subsequent
marriage while the first marriage had not been dissolved was also an unlawful conduct;9 that making a
false declaration before a notary public was an unlawful conduct punishable under the Revised Penal
Code;10 and that the failure of Atty. Advincula to provide proper support to his children showed his
moral character to be below the standards set by law for every lawyer.11 Dr. Advincula prayed that Atty.
Advincula be disbarred.12 In his answer, 13 Atty. Advincula denied the accusations. He asserted that
during the subsistence of his marriage with Dr. Advincula but prior to the birth of their youngest Jose
Leandro, their marital relationship had deteriorated; that they could not agree on various matters
concerning their family, religion, friends, and respective careers; that Dr. Advincula abandoned the
rented family home with the two children to live with her parents; that despite their separation, he
regularly gave financial suppmi to Dr. Advincula and their children; that during their separation, he got
into a brief relationship with Ms. Gonzaga; and that he did not contract a second marriage with Ms.
Gonzaga.

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Atty. Advincula further acknowledged that as a result of the relationship with Ms. Gonzaga, a child was
born and named Alexandra; 15 that in consideration of his moral obligation as a father, he gave support
to Alexandra; 16 that he only learned that the birth of Alexandra had been subsequently registered after
the child was already enrolled in school; 17 that it was Ms. Gonzaga who informed him that she had the
birth certificate of Alexandria altered by a fixer in order to enroll the child; 18 that he strived to reunite
his legitimate family, resulting in a reconciliation that begot their third child, Jose Leandro; that Dr.
Advincula once again decided to live with her parents, bringing all of their children along; that
nevertheless, he continued to provide financial support to his family and visited the children regularly;
that Dr. Advincula intimated to him that she had planned to take up nursing in order to work as a nurse
abroad because her medical practice here was not lucrative; that he supported his wife's nursing school
expenses; 19 that Dr. Advincula left for the United States of America (USA) to work as a nurse;20 that
the custody of their children was not entrusted to him but he agreed to such arrangement to avoid
further division of the family;21 that during the same period he was also busy with his law studies;22
that Dr. Advincula proposed that he and their children migrate to the USA but he opposed the proposal
because he would not be able to practice his profession there;23 that Dr. Advincula stated that if he did
not want to join her, then she would just get the children to live with her;24 that when Dr. Advincula
came home for a vacation he was not able to accompany her due to his extremely busy schedule as
Chief Legal Staff of the General Prosecution Division of the National Bureau of Investigation;25 and that
when they finally met arguments flared out, during which she threatened to file a disbarment suit
against him in order to force him to allow her to bring their children to the USA.26 Atty. Advincula
prayed that the disbarment case be dismissed for utter lack of merit.27

Findings and Recommendations of the IBP-CBD After exhaustive hearings, Commissioner Angeli to C.
Inocencio of the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) rendered the following findings and
observations, and recommended the following sanctions, to wit: FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS

Based on Rule 1.01, Canon 1, Code of Professional Responsibility for Lawyers comes this provisions (sic):
"A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." This means that
members of the bar ought to possess good moral character. Remember we must (sic) that the practice
of law is a mere privilege. The moment that a lawyer no longer has the required qualifications foremost
of which is the presence of that character earlier mentioned, the Honorable Supreme Court may revoke
the said practice. No doubt, Respondent Leanardo (sic) C. Advincula, probably due to the weakness of
the flesh, had a romance outside of marriage (sic) with Ma. Judith Ortiz Gonzaga. This he admitted. From
such affair came a child named Ma. Alexandria. He supported her as a moral obligation. How, then, must
we categorize his acts? It cannot be denied that he had committed an adulterous and immoral act. Was
his conduct grossly immoral? Before answering that, let us recall what the highest Court of the Land
defined as immoral conduct: "that conduct which is willful, flagrant or shameless and which shows a
moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable members of the community."28 xx xx It is
the Commissioner's view that what he did pales when compared to Respondent Leo Palma's case earlier
cited.

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In that case, the Honorable Supreme Court stressed that Atty. Palma had made a mockery of marriage, a
sacred institution demanding respect and dignity. The highest Court of the Land intoned in the same
case: "But what respondent forgot is that he has also duties to his wife. As a husband, he is obliged to
live with her; observe mutual love, respect and fidelity; and render help and support." Deemed
favorable to Respondent's cause were the various exhibits he presented evidencing the fact that he
supported their children financially. Such conduct could not illustrate him as having championed a
grossly immoral conduct. Another factor to consider is this: Complainant should share part of the blame
why their marriage soured. Their constant quarrels while together would indicate that harmony
between them was out of the question.

The possibility appears great that she might have displayed a temper that ignited the flame of discord
between them. Just the same, however, while this Commissioner would not recommend the supreme
penalty of disbarment for to deprive him of such honored station in life would result in irreparable injury
and must require proof of the highest degree pursuant to the Honorable Supreme Court's ruling in
Angeles vs. Figueroa, 470 SCRA 186 (2005), he must be sanctioned. And the proof adduced is not of the
highest degree.

VI. RECOMMENDATION In the light of the foregoing disquisition, having, in effect, Respondent's own
admission of having committed an extra-marital affair and fathering a child, it is respectfully
recommended that he be suspended from the practice of law for at least one month with the additional
admonition that should he repeat the same, a more severe penalty would be imposed. It would be
unjust to impose upon him the extreme penalty of disbarment. What he did was not grossly immoral. 29
The IBP Board of Governors unanimously adopted the findings and recommendations of the
Investigating Commissioner with slight modification of the penalty, thus: RESOLVED to ADOPT and
APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with modification, the Report and
Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
Resolution as Annex "A" and finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and
the applicable laws and rules, and considering respondent's admission of engaging in a simple
immorality and also taking into account the condonation of his extra-marital affair by his wife, Atty.
Leonardo C. Advincula is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of Jaw for two (2) months.30 Atty.
Advincula accepted the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors as final and executory, and manifested
in his compliance dated February 26, 2013, as follows: 1. That on 28 November 2011 this Honorable
Court issued a resolution suspending the undersigned Attorney from the practice of law for two (2)
months under "A.C. No. 9226 (formerly CBD Case No. 06-1749) (Ma. Cecilia Clarissa C. Advincula vs. Atty.
Leonardo C. Advincula)

That on 30 October 2012 in faithful compliance with the above order, the undersigned attorney applied
for Leave for two (2) months starting November up to December thereby refraining himself from the
practice of law as Legal Officer on the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) xx x 3. That the undersigned
Attorney would like to notify this Honorable Court of his compliance with the above resolution/order so
that he may be able to practice his law profession again.31 Ruling of the Court The good moral conduct
or character must be possessed by lawyers at the time of their application for admission to the Bar, and

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must be maintained until retirement from the practice of law. In this regard, the Code of Professional
Responsibility states:

Rule 1.0 I - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. xx
xx CANON 7 - A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession, and
support the activities of the Integrated Bar. xx xx
Rule 7.03 -A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
profession.

Accordingly, it is expected that every lawyer, being an officer of the Court, must not only be in fact of
good moral character, but must also be seen to be of good moral character and leading lives in
accordance with the highest moral standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar
and officer of the Court is required not only to refrain from adulterous relationships or keeping
mistresses but also to conduct himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its
basic ideals, whoever is enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but should
also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of good moral character is of
much greater import, as far as the general public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning.

Immoral conduct has been described as conduct that is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show
indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the community. To be the basis of
disciplinary action, such conduct must not only be immoral, but grossly immoral, that is, it must be so
corrupt as to virtually constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree
or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the common sense of
decency.33 On different occasions, we have disbarred or suspended lawyers for immorality based on
the surrounding circumstances of each case. In Bustamante-Alejandro v. Alejandro,34 the extreme
penalty of disbarment was imposed on the respondent who had abandoned his wife and maintained an
illicit affair with another woman. Likewise, disbarment was the penalty for a lawyer who carried on an
extra-marital affair with a married woman prior to the judicial declaration that her marriage was null
and void, while he himself was also married.35 In another case we have suspended for two years, a
married attorney who had sired a child with a former client.36 In Samaniego v. Ferrer,37 suspension of
six months from the practice of law was meted on the philandering lawyer.

Yet, we cannot sanction Atty. Advincula with the same gravity. Although his siring the child with a
woman other than his legitimate wife constituted immorality, he committed the immoral conduct when
he was not yet a lawyer. The degree of his immoral conduct was not as grave than if he had committed
the immorality when already a member of the Philippine Bar. Even so, he cannot escape administrative
liability. Taking all the circumstances of this case into proper context, the Court considers suspension
from the practice of law for three months to be condign and appropriate. <. As a last note, Atty.
Advincula manifested in his compliance dated February 26, 2013 that he had immediately accepted the
resolution of the IBP Board of Governors suspending him from the practice of law for two months as

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final and executory; that he had then gone on leave from work in the NBI for two months starting in
November and lasting until the end of December, 2012; and that such leave from work involved
refraining from performing his duties as a Legal Officer of the NBI. The manifestation of compliance is
unacceptable.

A lawyer like him ought to know that it is only the Court that wields the power to discipline lawyers. The
IBP Board of Governors did not possess such power, rendering its recommendation against him
incapable of finality. It is the Court's final determination of his liability as a lawyer that is the reckoning
point for the service of sanctions and penalties. As such, his supposed compliance with the
recommended two-month suspension could not be satisfied by his going on leave from his work at the
NBI. Moreover, his being a government employee necessitates that his suspension from the practice of
law should include his suspension from office. A leave of absence will not suffice. This is so considering
that his position mandated him to be a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing. The suspension
from the practice of law will not be a penalty if it does not negate his continuance in office for the
period of the suspension. If the rule is different, this exercise of reprobation of an erring lawyer by the
Court is rendered inutile and becomes a mockery because he can continue to receive his salaries and
other benefits by simply going on leave for the duration of his suspension from the practice of law.

WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS AND DECLARES ATTY. LEONARDO C. ADVINCULA GUILTY of immorality;
and SUSPENDS him from the practice of law for a period of THREE MONTHS EFFECTIVE UPON NOTICE
HEREOF, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe penalty shall be imposed should he commit the
same offense or a similar offense; DIRECTS ATTY. ADVINCULA to report the date of his receipt of the
Decision to this Court; and ORDERS the Chief of the Personnel Division of the National Bureau of
Investigation to implement the suspension from office of ATTY. ADVINCULA and to report on his
compliance in order to determine the date of commencement of his suspension from the practice of
law.

Let a copy of this Decision be made part of the records of the respondent in the Office of the Bar
Confidant; and furnished to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Civil Service Commission for
their information and guidance. SO ORDERED.

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