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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN

INTRODUCTION Appears in court not to represent any particular party


A. Definition of Terms but only to assist the court.
a. Legal Ethics is the embodiment of all principles of h. Amicus Curiae par excellence bar associations who
morality and refinement that should govern the conduct appear in court as amici curiae or friends of the court.
of every member of the bar. Acts merely as a consultant to guide the court in a
-broadly defined as the living of the spirit of the doubtful question or issue pending before it.
profession, which limits yet uplifts it as a livelihood. i. Bar refers to the legal profession.
(Agpalo 2009) j. Bench refers to the judiciary.
-branch of moral science which treats of the duties k. Lawyer this is the general term for a person trained in
which an attorney owes to the court, to his client, to his the law and authorized to advice and represent others
colleagues in the profession and to the public. in legal matters
l. Attorneys-At-Lawthat class of persons who are
b. Terms use to describe a member of the legal profession licensed officers of the courts empowered to appear,
a. Lawyer, Attorney, Attorney-at-law-one skilled in prosecute and defend, and upon whom peculiar duties,
law responsibilities and liabilities are developed by law as a
b. Practicing Lawyer consequence.
c. Trial Lawyer m. Attorney in fact- simply an agent whose authority is
d. Advocate- a person learned in the law and duly strictly limited by the instrument appointing him. His
admitted to practice, who advises a client and authority is provided in a special power of attorney or
pleads for him in court general power of attorney or letter of attorney. He is not
e. Barrister-a person entitled to practice as an necessarily a lawyer.
advocate or counsel in superior courts in England n. Bar Associationan association of members of the legal
f. Counsel or Counselor-an advocate or leader, a profession like the IBP where membership is integrated
member of the legal profession. or compulsory.
g. Proctor, Solicitor-a person prosecuting or o. House Counselone who acts as attorney for business
defending suits in courts of chancery (7 CJS 702- though carried as an employee of that business and not
703) as an independent lawyer.
h. Spanish: Abogado p. Lead Counsel the counsel on either side of a litigated
i. Filipino: Manananggol action who is charged with the principal management
The term refers to that class of persons who by license are officers of the and direction of a partys case, as distinguished from
court empowered to appear, prosecute, and defend. A person who is a his juniors or subordinates.
member of the Philippine Bar who, by warrant of another, practices law, q. Practicing Lawyerone engaged in the practice of law
or acts professionally in legal formalities. who by license are officers of the court and who
Those who passed the Sharia Bar not entitled to be called Attorneys are empowered to appear, prosecute and defend a
unless admitted to the Philippine Bar. clients cause.
c. Counsel de parte: An attorney retained by a party
r. Pro se: is a Latin phrase meaning "for oneself" or "on
litigant, usually for a fee, to prosecute or defend his
one's own behalf". This status is sometimes known as
cause in court.
propria persona (abbreviated to "proper"). In England
Implies freedom of choice either on the attorney or the
and Wales the comparable status is that of "litigant in
litigant.
person".
d. Counsel de oficio: Attorney appointed by the court.
B. Power to regulate practice of law
To defend an indigent defendant in a criminal action.
Art VIII, Sec 5(5) 1987 Constitution: Promulgate rules
To represent a destitute party.
concerning the protection and enforcement of constitutional
e. Attorney of record: Attorney whose name, together with
rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all courts, the
his address, is entered in the record of the case as the
admission to the practice of law, the integrated bar, and legal
designated counsel of the party litigant.
assistance to the underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a
To whom judicial notices are sent.
simplified and inexpensive procedure for the speedy
f. A lawyer of counsel is an experienced lawyer, who
disposition of cases, shall be uniform for all courts of the same
is usually a retired member of judiciary employed by law
grade, and shall not diminish, increase, or modify substantive
firms as consultant.
rights. Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-judicial
g. Amicus Curiae is: An experienced and impartial
bodies shall remain effective unless disapproved by the
attorney invited by the court to appear and help in the
Supreme Court.
disposition of issues submitted to it.
It implies friendly intervention of counsel to call the
C. Duties of Attorneys: Rule 138, Sec 20 : It is the duty of
attention of the court to some matters of law or facts
an attorney:
which might otherwise escape its notice and in regard
(a) To maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines
to which it might go wrong.
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and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the


Philippines.

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(b) To observe and maintain the respect due to the courts of underprivileged. Such rules shall provide a
justice and judicial officers; simplified and inexpensive procedure for the
(c) To counsel or maintain such actions or proceedings only speedy disposition of cases, shall be uniform for
as appear to him to be just, and such defenses only as he all courts of the same grade, and shall not
believes to be honestly debatable under the law. diminish, increase, or modify substantive rights.
(d) To employ, for the purpose of maintaining the causes Rules of procedure of special courts and quasi-
confided to him, such means only as are consistent with truth judicial bodies shall remain effective unless
and honor, and never seek to mislead the judge or any judicial
disapproved by the Supreme Court.
officer by an artifice or false statement of fact or law;
b. Congress: Art XII Sec 14 (2) 1987 Constitution:
(e) To maintain inviolate the confidence, and at every peril to
The practice of all professions in the Philippines
himself, to preserve the secrets of his client, and to accept no
compensation in connection with his client's business except shall be limited to Filipino citizens, save in cases
from him or with his knowledge and approval; prescribed by law.
(f) To abstain from all offensive personality and to advance Art XIII Sec 10 1987 Constitution: All courts
no fact prejudicial to the honor or reputation of a party or existing at the time of the ratification of this
witness, unless required by the justice of the cause with which Constitution shall continue to exercise their
he is charged; jurisdiction, until otherwise provided by law. The
(g) Not to encourage either the commencement or the provisions of the existing Rules of Court, judiciary
continuance of an action or proceeding, or delay any man's acts, and procedural laws not inconsistent with
cause, from any corrupt motive or interest; this Constitution shall remain operative unless
(h) Never to reject, for any consideration personal to himself, amended or repealed by the Supreme Court or the
the cause of the defenseless or oppressed; Congress.
(i) In the defense of a person accused of crime, by all fair and
honorable means, regardless of his personal opinion as to the
JUDICIAL CONTROL
guilt of the accused, to present every defense that the law
a. Admission to practice is a judicial function-inherent
permits, to the end that no person may be deprived of life or
power of the SC provided by the Constitution
liberty, but by due process of law.
D. Four Fold Duties of a Lawyer The power to admit applicants to the practice of law is judicial in
i. Duty to the society: A lawyer should not violate his nature and involves the exercise of judicial discretion.
responsibility to society, exemplar for righteousness, ready to Traditionally exercised by the Supreme Court as an inherent part
render to legal aid, foster social reforms, guardian of due of its judicial power.
process, aware of special role in the solution of special Rationale comes from the nature of a judicial function and the role
problems and be always ready to lend assistance to the study played by attorneys in the administration of justice.
and solution of social problems. The admission to the practice of law requires:
ii. Duty to the legal profession: A lawyer must show candor, 1. Previously established Rules and Principles. (By
fairness, courtesy and truthfulness, avoid encroachment in Constitutional mandate, a primary responsibility of the
the business of other lawyers and uphold the honor of legal Supreme Court)
profession 2. Concrete Facts, past or present, affecting determinate
iii. Duty to the courts: A lawyer must defend against criticism, individuals. (Brought about by the applicant for admission to
uphold authority and dignity, obey order and processes, and the bar)
assist in the administration of justice. 3. A Decision as to whether the facts are governed by rules
iv. Duty to the client: A lawyer must give his entire devotion to and principles. (Involves judicial adjudication which
his clients interest. essentially a function of the court)
E. Practice of Law is a Profession and not a Business: A To enable the court to properly discharge its responsibility for the
profession as a group of men and women pursuing a learned efficient and impartial administration and to elevate and maintain
art as a common calling in the spirit of public service. the standard of the legal profession requires that it must have the
i. 3 ELEMENTS primary duty to decide:
- Organization A. Who may be admitted to the bar as one of its officers
- Learning B. What are the causes for disciplinary action against him
- Spirit of public service C. Whether he should be disciplined, suspended,
ii. Purpose: public service not economic or not profit disbarred, or reinstated
LEGAL PROFESSION Any legislative or executive judgment substituting that of the
A. State Regulation Supreme Court in the admission to the practice of law or
a. Supreme Court: Art VIII, Sec 5(5) 1987 suspension, debarment, reinstatement infringes upon and
Constitution: Promulgate rules concerning the constitutes as an invalid exercise of the legislative or executive
protection and enforcement of constitutional power.
rights, pleading, practice, and procedure in all b. Legislative power to repeal, alter or supplement
courts, the admission to the practice of law, the The 1935 and 1973 Constitutions provide that the Supreme Court
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integrated bar, and legal assistance to the shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning the admission

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to the practice of law but may be repealed, altered, or 1. Exercises regulatory power over law schools or certifies as
supplemented by the Batasang Pambansa. to the satisfactory completion of the prescribed courses of
The 1987 Constitution deleted such provision. law study by an applicant for admission to the bar
The legislature may, however, enact laws with respect to the first examination.
requisite for the admission to the bar (Previously established Rules 2. Assumes some responsibility for the quality of instruction
and training required of an applicant for membership in the
and Principles) that applicants should observe.
bar.
A. The legislature may pass a law for additional
d. Supreme court incidental powers (Incidental to its
qualifications for candidates for admission to the
primary authority to decide who may be admitted to the
practice or filling up deficiencies in the requirements for
bar):
admission to the bar.
1. Fixing minimum standards of instruction for all law schools
B. Such law may not, however, be given retroactive effect
to observe.
so as to entitle a person, not otherwise qualified, to be 2. Setting up of the necessary administrative
admitted. machinery to determine compliance therewith.
C. Such law will not preclude the Supreme Court from 3. By way of sanction, refusal to admit to the bar exams law
fixing other qualifications and requirements. graduates from schools failing to meet those standards. May
Reason: Legislature has no power to grant a layman the privilege be implemented through accreditation
to practice law nor control the Supreme Court in its responsibility B. What Constitute Practice of Law
to decide who may be admitted. G.R. No. 100113 September 3, 1991
The Legislature, in the exercise of its POLICE POWER may, RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,
however, enact laws regulating the practice of law to protect the vs.
public and promote the public welfare. CHRISTIAN MONSOD, HON. JOVITO R. SALONGA, COMMISSION
A. A law declaring illegal and punishable the ON APPOINTMENT, and HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his
unauthorized practice of law. capacity as Secretary of Budget and Management, respondents.
B. Require further examination for any attorney desiring to Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.
practice before any quasi-judicial or administrative Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for
agency. petitioner.
Whatever law may be passes is merely in aid of the judicial power
to regulate. PARAS, J.:p
But the legislature MAY NOT pass a law that will control the We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While
Supreme Court in the performance of its function to decide who ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court's decision in this case
may enjoy the privilege of practicing law and any law of that kind is would indubitably have a profound effect on the political aspect of our
unconstitutional as an invalid exercise of legislative power. national existence.
RA 972 (the Bar Flunkers Act) aims to admit to the Bar, those The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:
candidates who suffered from insufficiency of reading materials There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and
and inadequate preparation. By its declared objective, the law six Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines
is contrary to public interest because it qualifies 1,094 law and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five years of age,
graduates who confessedly had inadequate preparation for the holders of a college degree, and must not have been candidates for any
practice of the profession, as was exactly found by this Tribunal elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a
in the aforesaid examinations. An adequate legal preparation is majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the
one of the vital requisites for the practice of law that should be Philippine Bar who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least
developed constantly and maintained firmly. ten years. (Emphasis supplied)
c. Executive power in relation to practice The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of
The Chief Executive cannot, by executive order, admit a person to the 1973 Constitution which similarly provides:
the practice of law nor can he, by treaty with another country, There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a
modify the rules on the admission to the bar. Chairman and eight Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens
A treaty, cannot be so interpreted as to entitle a holder of a law of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at least thirty-five
degree obtained in another country to practice law in this country years of age and holders of a college degree. However, a majority
without complying with the requirements of existing law. thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar
Accordingly, a Filipino citizen who obtained a law degree in who have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.'
another country is not entitled to be admitted to the Philippine (Emphasis supplied)
Bar without complying with the requirements. Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what
Prescribing standards for law schools constitutes practice of law as a legal qualification to an appointive office.
CHED acts as an agency or in aid of the Supreme Court in the Black defines "practice of law" as:
exercise of its primary authority to determine who may be admitted The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of
to practice since such authority is by Constitutional mandate and legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his
rests and remains exclusively with the high tribunal. consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting
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CHED merely: in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings,

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and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all
conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all
giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] ,
all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law. An attorney p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313,
engages in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179
out to be-an attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours)
attorney, counseling clients in legal matters, negotiating with opposing The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation
counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and collecting fees for briefing for new lawyers (1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the
services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.) practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy, counselling and
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land public service.
Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in
A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he: the profession. If what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a
... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, kind usual for attorneys engaging in the active practice of their
firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the law, or profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment such
appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in proceedings as this he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the statute.
pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee, board, (Barr v. Cardell, 155 NW 312)
body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
settle controversies and there, in such representative capacity performs application of law, legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience.
any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are
their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one who, in a characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give
representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as notice or render any kind of service, which device or service requires the
to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or use in any degree of legal knowledge or skill." (111 ALR 23)
acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged in the The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that
practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S. Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. it has adopted a liberal interpretation of the term "practice of law."
2d 895, 340 Mo. 852) MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation
This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 which I forgot to do during our review of the provisions on the
Phil. 173,176-177) stated: Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to make a very brief statement?
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Jamir).
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident The Commissioner will please proceed.
to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the
proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in Commission on Audit. Among others, the qualifications provided for by
addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken Section I is that "They must be Members of the Philippine Bar" I am
for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, quoting from the provision "who have been engaged in the practice
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance of law for at least ten years".
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding
creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and members of the Bar who are now employed in the COA or Commission
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and on Audit, we would like to make the clarification that this provision on
guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the qualifications regarding members of the Bar does not necessarily refer
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done or involve actual practice of law outside the COA We have to interpret
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of this to mean that as long as the lawyers who are employed in the COA
facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied) are using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their respective work
Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work within COA, then they are qualified to be considered for appointment as
performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to members or commissioners, even chairman, of the Commission on
proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal Audit.
advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional
of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust Commissions and Agencies and we deem it important to take it up on
relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no the floor so that this interpretation may be made available whenever this
direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to provision on the qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar
become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high engaging in the practice of law for at least ten years is taken up.
degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.
customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is
relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, equivalent to the requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the
so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn Article on the Commission on Audit?
between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is
in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments auditing, will necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work. And,
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in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these therefore, lawyers who are employed in COA now would have the
manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of
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necessary qualifications in accordance with the Provision on as the planner, the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t]
qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And, need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in medicine, surgery should be
therefore, the answer is yes. avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
equivalent to the practice of law. In the course of a working day the average general practitioner will
MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer. engage in a number of legal tasks, each involving different legal
MR. OPLE. Thank you. doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients, and
... ( Emphasis supplied) other interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in
Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among specialized practice will usually perform at least some legal services
others, that the Chairman and two Commissioners of the Commission on outside their specialty. And even within a narrow specialty such as tax
Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants with not less practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-
than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who giving to an importantly different one such as representing a client before
have been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. an administrative agency. (Wolfram, supra, p. 687).
(emphasis supplied) By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is
Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many one of the relatively rare types a litigator who specializes in this work to
ways synonymous with the word "lawyer." Today, although many the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will require the lawyer to
lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that the majority have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client
of lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in counselling, advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And
Law Careers [VGM Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15). increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of evaluation and mediation
At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as are both effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).
commonly understood, means "an individual or organization engaged in Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work
the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.). Lawyers who practice that is constrained in very important ways, at least theoretically, so as to
alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called remove from it some of the salient features of adversarial litigation. Of
"firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the these special roles, the most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some
partners. Some firms may be organized as professional corporations and lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client
the members called shareholders. In either case, the members of the and by the way in which the lawyer is organized into a social unit to
firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or perform that work. The most common of these roles are those of
more inexperienced salaried attorneys called "associates." (Ibid.). corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).
The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below
practice is essentially tautologous, unhelpful in defining the practice of quoted are emerging trends in corporate law practice, a departure from
law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W. Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics the traditional concept of practice of law.
[West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law is We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary
defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly transformation in corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional
understood to be the practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut groups, in particular those members participating in various legal-policy
Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870 [1958] [quoting decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the major emerging
Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.
Because lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires
and governmental realm, such a definition would obviously be too global an accurate understanding of the nature and implications of the
to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.). corporate law research function accompanied by an accelerating rate of
The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the information accumulation. The recognition of the need for such improved
most publicly familiar role for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and
the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in courtrooms, and a "contingency planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of
large percentage spend their entire practice without litigating a case. traditional procedures in many decisional contexts.
(Ibid., p. 593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the
litigating lawyer's role colors much of both the public image and the self sorting and weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of
perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.). major trends, the necessity of estimating the consequences of given
In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects courses of action, and the need for fast decision and response in
history, not reality. (Ibid.). Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated
SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the importance of a lawyer concepts of information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data
as a business counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still processing, and electronic computing equipment. Understandably, an
uninformed laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally improved decisional structure must stress the predictive component of
tries cases before the courts. The members of the bench and bar and the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional context
the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most developed or a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses
societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices of action in terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom.
than in the courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do both litigation Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in
and non-litigation work also know that in most cases they find themselves predicting and projecting the trends of the law, the subject of corporate
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spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as business finance law has received relatively little organized and formalized
counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education.
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Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has lawyer is one who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
become a vital necessity. Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the
trained primarily in the law can be improved through an early introduction arm," so to speak. No longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching
to multi-variable decisional context and the various approaches for method of confining the subject study to the Corporation Code and the
handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a master's or Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining modern
doctorate degree in business administration or management, functioning management issues.
at the legal policy level of decision-making now have some appreciation Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3)
for the concepts and analytical techniques of other professions which are types of learning: (1) acquisition of insights into current advances which
currently engaged in similar types of complex decision-making. are of particular significance to the corporate counsel; (2) an introduction
Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate counsel's
require the services of an astute attorney because of the complex legal management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and
implications that arise from each and every necessary step in securing management of the legal function itself.
and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star, "Corporate These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with
Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4). a shared area linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial
In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred jurisprudence," it forms a unifying theme for the corporate counsel's total
to as the "abogado de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning learning.
big money and with a clientele composed of the tycoons and magnates Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the
of business and industry. counsel's role. For that matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the
Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could globalization process, including the resulting strategic repositioning that
not explain what it is that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the need to
of attorneys employed by a single corporation will vary with the size and think about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of
type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large corporations farm the nation-state is being reduced as firms deal both with global
out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in- multinational entities and simultaneously with sub-national governmental
house counsel only for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public entities but with
large enough to handle most legal problems in-house. each other often with those who are competitors in other arenas.
A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within
the legal affairs of a corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may the corporation is rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has
include, inter alia: corporate legal research, tax laws research, acting out gained a new role as a stakeholder in some cases participating in the
as corporate secretary (in board meetings), appearances in both courts organization and operations of governance through participation on
and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and Exchange boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns
Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with develop alongside existing legal institutions and laws are perceived as
the law. barriers. These trends are complicated as corporations organize for
At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than global operations. ( Emphasis supplied)
the legal affairs of the business of the corporation he is representing. The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental
These include such matters as determining policy and becoming policies toward the promotion and management of technology. New
involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.) collaborative arrangements for promoting specific technologies or
In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry that
from the action, or not understanding how one's work actually fits into the differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of
work of the orgarnization. This can be frustrating to someone who needs seeking to influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to be
to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a corporate lawyer is learned from other countries. In Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are
sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running examples of collaborative efforts between governmental and business
of the business. Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied)
Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate
a multinational corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the Counsel comprises a distinct group within the managerial structure of all
few opportunities available to corporate lawyers to enter the international kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of both long-term and temporary
law field. After all, international law is practiced in a relatively small groups within organizations has been found to be related to indentifiable
number of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively
country is perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by revising their knowledge of the environment coordinating work with
corporate lawyers. In most cases, however, the overseas jobs go to outsiders, promoting team achievements within the organization. In
experienced attorneys while the younger attorneys do their "international general, such external activities are better predictors of team
practice" in law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice," May performance than internal group processes.
25,1990, p. 4). In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate
This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of lawyer vis-a-vis the managerial mettle of corporations are challenged.
finance. To borrow the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Current research is seeking ways both to anticipate effective managerial
Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who fails to spot problems, a procedures and to understand relationships of financial liability and
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good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of professional security:
apropos: Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate Finance
an effective tool for new managerial thinking regarding both planning and law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).
pressing immediate problems. An understanding of the role of feedback Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C.
loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users to simulate all Aquino to the position of Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received
sorts of systematic problems physical, economic, managerial, social, by the Secretariat of the Commission on Appointments on April 25, 1991.
and psychological. New programming techniques now make the system Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does not
dynamics principles more accessible to managers including corporate possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice
counsels. (Emphasis supplied) of law for at least ten years.
Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the
involving complexity and uncertainty. In the context of a law department, nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18,
it can be used to appraise the settlement value of litigation, aid in 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he assumed office as
negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in Chairman of the COMELEC.
managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied) Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on
Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models Appointments of Monsod's nomination, petitioner as a citizen and
can be used directly by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition praying
All integrated set of such tools provide coherent and effective negotiation that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as
support, including hands-on on instruction in these techniques. A Chairman of the Commission on Elections be declared null and void.
simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed
the point. the bar examinations of 1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a
[Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines since its
function, concern three pointed areas of consideration, thus: inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license
Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that fees as lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)
comprise a major part of the general counsel's responsibilities. They After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the
differ from those of remedial law. Preventive lawyering is concerned with bar, Atty. Monsod worked in the law office of his father. During his stint
minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights for such in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as an operations
legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved
considered and made. getting acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans
Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are and coordinating legal, economic, and project work of the Bank. Upon
undertaken those activities of the firm to which legal consequences returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the Meralco Group,
attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this nation's evolving served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and
economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive subsequently of a business conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered
in a global, interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" services to various companies as a legal and economic consultant or
is not adequate today to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to chief executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National
make a global economy work. Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being
Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The knowledgeable in election law. He appeared for NAMFREL in its
general counsel has emerged in the last decade as one of the most accreditation hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy,
vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The corporate counsel hear Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the
responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including Bishops Businessmen's Conference for Human Development, has
structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the farmer and urban
an increasingly diversified body of employees, managing expanded poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative action
liability exposure, creating new and varied interactions with public for the agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod
decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or by also made use of his legal knowledge as a member of the Davide
decisions. Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted numerous hearings
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987),
is not enough to make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give and Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for
him a full sense of how the legal system shapes corporate activities. And which he was cited by the President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia
even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the understanding of all of the Muoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to reconcile government
law's effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain functions with individual freedoms and public accountability and the
a working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to party-list system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) (
grasp not only the basic legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem Emphasis supplied)
corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate Counsel," April 10, 1991, Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod
p. 4). used to be a member.
The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team,
than a passing knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their and which is adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies
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work. Yet, many would admit to ignorance of vast tracts of the financial that arise during a negotiation. Besides top officials of the Borrower
concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal counsel), the
Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea
LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be
in negotiating the contracts) who comprise the members of the team. performed by the officer in which it is vested according to his best lights,
(Guillermo V. Soliven, "Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing the only condition being that the appointee should possess the
Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central Bank of the Philippines, qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot
Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied) be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who should
After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays have been preferred. This is a political question involving considerations
down the law as far as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of wisdom which only the appointing authority can decide. (emphasis
of any Loan Agreement can be compartmentalized into five (5) supplied)
fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's representation; (3) No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil
conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p. Service Commission, 171 SCRA 744) where it stated:
13). It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and
In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring all the other legal requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no
program. For aside from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and alternative but to attest to the appointment in accordance with the Civil
legal advising, they score national development policies as key factors Service Law. The Commission has no authority to revoke an
in maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed from the work appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a
paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations," particular position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a
submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United substitute of its choice. To do so would be an encroachment on the
States Agency for International Development, during the Session on Law discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An appointment is
for the Development of Nations at the Abidjan World Conference in Ivory essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested,
Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law Center on August subject to the only condition that the appointee should possess the
26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied) qualifications required by law. ( Emphasis supplied)
Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar,
renegotiation policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in consists of four (4) stages: (1) nomination; (2) confirmation by the
legislation and agreement drafting and in renegotiation. Necessarily, a Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in the
sovereign lawyer may work with an international business specialist or Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of its
an economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt certificate of confirmation, the President issues the permanent
restructuring contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking, posting of bond, etc.
language that they should be carefully drafted and signed only with the . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law
advise of competent counsel in conjunction with the guidance of on Public Officers, p. 200)
adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the
of the Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. nomination of Monsod as Chairman of the Commission on Elections is
Graduate School of Law, 1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied) mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of the Constitution
A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is which provides:
the set of terms and conditions which determines the contractual The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the
remedies for a failure to perform one or more elements of the contract. President with the consent of the Commission on Appointments for a
A good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both term of seven years without reappointment. Of those first appointed,
parties, but must also state the recourse open to either party when the three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five
other fails to discharge an obligation. For a complete debt restructuring years, and the last Members for three years, without reappointment.
represents a devotion to that principle which in the ultimate analysis is Appointment to any vacancy shall be only for the unexpired term of the
sine qua non for foreign loan agreements-an adherence to the rule of law predecessor. In no case shall any Member be appointed or designated
in domestic and international affairs of whose kind U.S. Supreme Court in a temporary or acting capacity.
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that
they beat no drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush his definition of the practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion
are not the equal of quiet genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J. of law practice, as distinguished from the modern concept of the practice
Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign Investments," Integrated Bar of law, which modern connotation is exactly what was intended by the
of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and Fourth eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's
Quarters, 1977, p. 265). definition would require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of practised two or three times a week and would outlaw say, law practice
law". particularly the modern concept of law practice, and taking into once or twice a year for ten consecutive years. Clearly, this is far from
consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers of the the constitutional intent.
Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer- Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states
economist, a lawyer-manager, a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a that in my written opinion, I made use of a definition of law practice which
lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both the rich really means nothing because the definition says that law practice " . . .
and the poor verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement that is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the
he has been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. definition but only by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that
Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 the definition of law practice by "traditional areas of law practice is
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SCRA 327, the Court said: essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the phrase
itself that is being defined.
Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea
LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers RUTHIE LIM-SANTIAGO, Complainant,
almost all situations, most individuals, in making use of the law, or in vs.
advising others on what the law means, are actually practicing law. In ATTY. CARLOS B. SAGUCIO, Respondent.
that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. DECISION
Monsod is a lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been CARPIO, J.:
practicing law for over ten years. This is different from the acts of persons The Case
practicing law, without first becoming lawyers. This is a disbarment complaint against Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio for
Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an violating Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for
elected President of the Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one defying the prohibition against private practice of law while working as
or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt. For one thing, how government prosecutor.
can an action or petition be brought against the President? And even The Facts
assuming that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be Ruthie Lim-Santiago ("complainant") is the daughter of Alfonso Lim and
entertained since he is the incumbent President? Special Administratrix of his estate. 1Alfonso Lim is a stockholder and the
We now proceed: former President of Taggat Industries, Inc. 2
The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio ("respondent") was the former Personnel
hearings on Monsod's confirmation, implicitly determined that he Manager and Retained Counsel of Taggat Industries, Inc. 3 until his
possessed the necessary qualifications as required by law. The appointment as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Tuguegarao,
judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an Cagayan in 1992. 4
acknowledged power is beyond judicial interference except only upon a Taggat Industries, Inc. ("Taggat") is a domestic corporation engaged in
clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess the operation of timber concessions from the government. The
of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such Presidential Commission on Good Government sequestered it sometime
grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with in 1986, 5 and its operations ceased in 1997. 6
the Commission's judgment. In the instant case, there is no occasion for Sometime in July 1997, 21 employees of Taggat ("Taggat employees")
the exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no abuse, much less filed a criminal complaint entitled "Jesus Tagorda, Jr. et al. v. Ruthie Lim-
a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of Santiago," docketed as I.S. No. 97-240 ("criminal complaint"). 7 Taggat
jurisdiction and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has employees alleged that complainant, who took over the management
been clearly shown. and control of Taggat after the death of her father, withheld payment of
Additionally, consider the following: their salaries and wages without valid cause from 1 April 1996 to 15 July
(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the 1997. 8
President, may the Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in Respondent, as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, was assigned to
effect confirm the appointment? Clearly, the answer is in the negative. conduct the preliminary investigation. 9 He resolved the criminal
(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the complaint by recommending the filing of 651 Informations 10 for violation
Commission has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear. of Article 288 11 in relation to Article 116 12 of the Labor Code of the
(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S. Philippines. 13
Congress) decides to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be Complainant now charges respondent with the following violations:
incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would still reverse the U.S. 1. Rule 15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility
Senate. Complainant contends that respondent is guilty of representing
Finally, one significant legal maxim is: conflicting interests. Respondent, being the former Personnel Manager
We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth and Retained Counsel of Taggat, knew the operations of Taggat very
life. well. Respondent should have inhibited himself from hearing,
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator investigating and deciding the case filed by Taggat
of Judea asked Delilah (who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing employees. 14Furthermore, complainant claims that respondent
Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that instigated the filing of the cases and even harassed and threatened
No blade shall touch his skin; Taggat employees to accede and sign an affidavit to support the
No blood shall flow from his veins. complaint. 15
When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator 2. Engaging in the private practice of law while working as a government
placed an iron rod burning white-hot two or three inches away from in prosecutor
front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon hearing of what had Complainant also contends that respondent is guilty of engaging in the
happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside herself with anger, and private practice of law while working as a government prosecutor.
fuming with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his Complainant presented evidence to prove that respondent
word. The procurator calmly replied: "Did any blade touch his skin? Did received P10,000 as retainers fee for the months of January and
any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying on the February 1995, 16 another P10,000 for the months of April and May
letter, not the spirit of the agreement. 1995, 17 and P5,000 for the month of April 1996. 18
In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED. Complainant seeks the disbarment of respondent for violating Rule 15.03
of the Code of Professional Responsibility and for defying the prohibition
A.C. No. 6705 March 31, 2006 against private practice of law while working as government prosecutor.
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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Respondent refutes complainants allegations and counters that The IBPs Report and Recommendation
complainant was merely aggrieved by the resolution of the criminal The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Investigating Commissioner Ma.
complaint which was adverse and contrary to her expectation. 19 Carmina M. Alejandro-Abbas ("IBP Commissioner Abbas") heard the
Respondent claims that when the criminal complaint was filed, case 36 and allowed the parties to submit their respective
respondent had resigned from Taggat for more than five memoranda. 37 Due to IBP Commissioner Abbas resignation, the case
years. 20 Respondent asserts that he no longer owed his undivided was reassigned to Commissioner Dennis A.B. Funa ("IBP Commissioner
loyalty to Taggat. 21 Respondent argues that it was his sworn duty to Funa"). 38
conduct the necessary preliminary investigation. 22 Respondent After the parties filed their memoranda and motion to resolve the case,
contends that complainant failed to establish lack of impartiality when he the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVI-2004-479 ("IBP
performed his duty. 23 Respondent points out that complainant did not Resolution") dated 4 November 2004 adopting with modification 39 IBP
file a motion to inhibit respondent from hearing the criminal Commissioner Funas Report and Recommendation ("Report") finding
complaint 24 but instead complainant voluntarily executed and filed her respondent guilty of conflict of interests, failure to safeguard a former
counter-affidavit without mental reservation. 25 clients interest, and violating the prohibition against the private practice
Respondent states that complainants reason in not filing a motion to of law while being a government prosecutor. The IBP Board of Governors
inhibit was her impression that respondent would exonerate her from the recommended the imposition of a penalty of three years suspension from
charges filed as gleaned from complainants statement during the the practice of law. The Report reads:
hearing conducted on 12 February 1999: Now the issue here is whether being a former lawyer of Taggat conflicts
xxx with his role as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor in deciding I.S. No. 97-
Q. (Atty. Dabu). What do you mean you didnt think he would do it, 240. A determination of this issue will require the test of whether the
Madam Witness? matter in I.S. No. 97-240 will conflict with his former position of Personnel
A. Because he is supposed to be my fathers friend and he was working Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat.
with my Dad and he was supposed to be trusted by my father. And he I.S. No. 97-240 was filed for "Violation of Labor Code" (see Resolution
came to me and told me he gonna help me. x x x. 26 of the Provincial Prosecutors Office, Annex "B" of Complaint). Herein
Respondent also asserts that no conflicting interests exist because he Complainant, Ruthie Lim-Santiago, was being accused as having
was not representing Taggat employees or complainant. Respondent the "management and control" of Taggat (p. 2, Resolution of the Prov.
claims he was merely performing his official duty as Assistant Provincial Pros. Office, supra).
Prosecutor. 27Respondent argues that complainant failed to establish Clearly, as a former Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of Taggat,
that respondents act was tainted with personal interest, malice and bad herein Respondent undoubtedly handled the personnel and labor
faith. 28 concerns of Taggat. Respondent, undoubtedly dealt with and related
Respondent denies complainants allegations that he instigated the filing with the employees of Taggat. Therefore, Respondent
of the cases, threatened and harassed Taggat employees. Respondent undoubtedly dealt with and related with complainants in I.S. No. 97-240.
claims that this accusation is bereft of proof because complainant failed The issues, therefore, in I.S. No. 97-240, are very much familiar with
to mention the names of the employees or present them for cross- Respondent. While the issues of unpaid salaries pertain to the periods
examination. 29 1996-1997, the mechanics and personalities in that case are very much
Respondent does not dispute his receipt, after his appointment as familiar with Respondent.
government prosecutor, of retainer fees from complainant but claims that A lawyer owes something to a former client. Herein Respondent owes to
it Taggat, a former client, the duty to "maintain inviolate the clients
was only on a case-to-case basis and it ceased in 1996. 30 Respondent confidence or to refrain from doing anything which will injuriously affect
contends that the fees were paid for his consultancy services and not for him in any matter in which he previously represented him" (Natam v.
representation. Respondent submits that consultation is not the same as Capule, 91 Phil. 640; p. 231, Agpalo, Legal Ethics, 4th ed.)
representation and that rendering consultancy services is not Respondent argues that as Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, he does not
prohibited. 31 Respondent, in his Reply-Memorandum, states: represent any client or any interest except justice. It should not be
x x x [I]f ever Taggat paid him certain amounts, these were paid forgotten, however, that a lawyer has an immutable duty to a former
voluntarily by Taggat without the respondents asking, intended as token client with respect to matters that he previously handled for that former
consultancy fees on a case-to-case basis and not as or for retainer fees. client. In this case, matters relating to personnel, labor policies, and labor
These payments do not at all show or translate as a specie of conflict of relations that he previously handled as Personnel Manager and Legal
interest. Moreover, these consultations had no relation to, or connection Counsel of Taggat. I.S. No. 97-240 was for "Violation of the Labor
with, the above-mentioned labor complaints filed by former Taggat Code." Here lies the conflict. Perhaps it would have been different had
employees. 32 I.S. No. 97-240 not been labor-related, or if Respondent had not been a
Respondent insists that complainants evidence failed to prove that when Personnel Manager concurrently as Legal Counsel. But as it is, I.S. No.
the criminal complaint was filed with the Office of the Provincial 97-240 is labor-related and Respondent was a former Personnel
Prosecutor of Cagayan, respondent was still the retained counsel or Manager of Taggat.
legal consultant. 33 xxxx
While this disbarment case was pending, the Resolution and Order While Respondent ceased his relations with Taggat in 1992 and the
issued by respondent to file 651 Informations against complainant was unpaid salaries being sought in I.S. No. 97-240 were of the years 1996
reversed and set aside by Regional State Prosecutor of Cagayan and 1997, the employees and management involved are the very
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Rodolfo B. Cadelina last 4 January 1999. 34 Hence, the criminal personalities he dealt with as Personnel Manager and Legal Counsel of
complaint was dismissed. 35 Taggat. Respondent dealt with these persons in his fiduciary relations
Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea
LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
with Taggat. Moreover, he was an employee of the corporation and part employment. 49 In essence, what a lawyer owes his former client is to
of its management. maintain inviolate the clients confidence or to refrain from doing anything
xxxx which will injuriously affect him in any matter in which he previously
As to the propriety of receiving "Retainer Fees" or "consultancy fees" represented him. 50
from herein Complainant while being an Assistant Provincial Prosecutor, In the present case, we find no conflict of interests when respondent
and for rendering legal consultancy work while being an Assistant handled the preliminary investigation of the criminal complaint filed by
Provincial Prosecutor, this matter had long been settled. Government Taggat employees in 1997. The issue in the criminal complaint pertains
prosecutors are prohibited to engage in the private practice of law (see to non-payment of wages that occurred from 1 April 1996 to 15 July 1997.
Legal and Judicial Ethics, Ernesto Pineda, 1994 ed., p. 20; People v. Clearly, respondent was no longer connected with Taggat during that
Villanueva, 14 SCRA 109; Aquino v. Blanco 70 Phil. 647). The act of period since he resigned sometime in 1992.
being a legal consultant is a practice of law. To engage in the practice of In order to charge respondent for representing conflicting interests,
law is to do any of those acts that are characteristic of the legal evidence must be presented to prove that respondent used against
profession (In re: David, 93 Phil. 461). It covers any activity, in or out of Taggat, his former client, any confidential information acquired through
court, which required the application of law, legal principles, practice or his previous employment. The only established participation respondent
procedures and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience (PLA had with respect to the criminal complaint is that he was the one who
v. Agrava, 105 Phil. 173; People v. Villanueva, 14 SCRA 111; Cayetano conducted the preliminary investigation. On that basis alone, it does not
v. Monsod, 201 SCRA 210). necessarily follow that respondent used any confidential information from
Respondent clearly violated this prohibition. his previous employment with complainant or Taggat in resolving the
As for the secondary accusations of harassing certain employees of criminal complaint.
Taggat and instigating the filing of criminal complaints, we find the The fact alone that respondent was the former Personnel Manager and
evidence insufficient. Retained Counsel of Taggat and the case he resolved as government
Accordingly, Respondent should be found guilty of conflict of interest, prosecutor was labor-related is not a sufficient basis to charge
failure to safeguard a former clients interest, and violating the prohibition respondent for representing conflicting interests. A lawyers immutable
against the private practice of law while being a government duty to a former client does not cover transactions that occurred beyond
prosecutor. 40 the lawyers employment with the client. The intent of the law is to impose
The IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to the Court as upon the lawyer the duty to protect the clients interests only on matters
provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B 41 of the Rules of Court. that he previously handled for the former client and not for matters that
The Ruling of the Court arose after the lawyer-client relationship has terminated.
The Court exonerates respondent from the charge of violation of Rule Further, complainant failed to present a single iota of evidence to prove
15.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility ("Code"). However, the her allegations. Thus, respondent is not guilty of violating Rule 15.03 of
Court finds respondent liable for violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the the Code.
Code of Professional Responsibility against unlawful Respondent engaged in the private practice of law while working as a
conduct. 42 Respondent committed unlawful conduct when he violated government prosecutor
Section 7(b)(2) of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public The Court has defined the practice of law broadly as
Officials and Employees or Republic Act No. 6713 ("RA 6713"). x x x any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law,
Canon 6 provides that the Code "shall apply to lawyers in government legal procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the
service in the discharge of their official duties." 43 A government lawyer practice of law is to perform those acts which are characteristics of the
is thus bound by the prohibition "not [to] represent conflicting profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render any kind
interests." 44However, this rule is subject to certain limitations. The of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal
prohibition to represent conflicting interests does not apply when no knowledge or skill." 51
conflict of interest exists, when a written consent of all concerned is given "Private practice of law" contemplates a succession of acts of the same
after a full disclosure of the facts or when no true attorney-client nature habitually or customarily holding ones self to the public as a
relationship exists. 45 Moreover, considering the serious consequence of lawyer. 52
the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, clear Respondent argues that he only rendered consultancy services to
preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of the Taggat intermittently and he was not a retained counsel of Taggat from
administrative penalty. 46 1995 to 1996 as alleged. This argument is without merit because the law
Respondent is also mandated under Rule 1.01 of Canon 1 not to engage does not distinguish between consultancy services and retainer
in "unlawful x x x conduct." Unlawful conduct includes violation of the agreement. For as long as respondent performed acts that are usually
statutory prohibition on a government employee to "engage in the private rendered by lawyers with the use of their legal knowledge, the same falls
practice of [his] profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, within the ambit of the term "practice of law."
provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with [his] Nonetheless, respondent admitted that he rendered his legal services to
official functions." 47 complainant while working as a government prosecutor. Even the
Complainants evidence failed to substantiate the claim that respondent receipts he signed stated that the payments by Taggat were for
represented conflicting interests "Retainers fee." 53 Thus, as correctly pointed out by complainant,
In Quiambao v. Bamba, 48 the Court enumerated various tests to respondent clearly violated the prohibition in RA 6713.
determine conflict of interests. One test of inconsistency of interests is However, violations of RA 6713 are not subject to disciplinary action
Page 11

whether the lawyer will be asked to use against his former client any under the Code of Professional Responsibility unless the violations also
confidential information acquired through their connection or previous constitute infractions of specific provisions of the Code of Professional
Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea
LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Responsibility. Certainly, the IBP has no jurisdiction to investigate been appointed to the position of Assistant Provincial Fiscal or City Fiscal
violations of RA 6713 the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for and therein qualified, by operation of law, he ceased to engage in private
Public Officials and Employees unless the acts involved also law practice." Counsel then argued that the JP Court in entertaining the
transgress provisions of the Code of Professional Responsibility. appearance of City Attorney Fule in the case is a violation of the above
Here, respondents violation of RA 6713 also constitutes a violation of ruling. On December 17, 1960 the JP issued an order sustaining the
Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which mandates that "[a] lawyer shall not engage legality of the appearance of City Attorney Fule.
in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct." Respondents Under date of January 4, 1961, counsel for the accused presented a
"Motion to Inhibit Fiscal Fule from Acting as Private Prosecutor in this
admission that he received from Taggat fees for legal services while
Case," this time invoking Section 32, Rule 27, now Sec. 35, Rule 138,
serving as a government prosecutor is an unlawful conduct, which
Revised Rules of Court, which bars certain attorneys from practicing.
constitutes a violation of Rule 1.01.
Counsel claims that City Attorney Fule falls under this limitation. The JP
Respondent admitted that complainant also charged him with unlawful Court ruled on the motion by upholding the right of Fule to appear and
conduct when respondent stated in his Demurrer to Evidence: further stating that he (Fule) was not actually enagaged in private law
In this instant case, the complainant prays that the respondent be practice. This Order was appealed to the CFI of Laguna, presided by the
permanently and indefinitely suspended or disbarred from the practice of Hon. Hilarion U. Jarencio, which rendered judgment on December 20,
the law profession and his name removed from the Roll of Attorneys on 1961, the pertinent portions of which read:
the following grounds: The present case is one for malicious mischief. There being no
xxxx reservation by the offended party of the civil liability, the civil action was
d) that respondent manifested gross misconduct and gross violation of deemed impliedly instituted with the criminal action. The offended party
his oath of office and in his dealings with the public. 54 had, therefore, the right to intervene in the case and be represented by
On the Appropriate Penalty on Respondent a legal counsel because of her interest in the civil liability of the accused.
The appropriate penalty on an errant lawyer depends on the exercise of Sec. 31, Rule 127 of the Rules of Court provides that in the court of a
sound judicial discretion based on the surrounding facts. 55 justice of the peace a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the
aid of an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the
Under Civil Service Law and rules, the penalty for government
aid of an attorney. Assistant City Attorney Fule appeared in the Justice
employees engaging in unauthorized private practice of profession is
of the Peace Court as an agent or friend of the offended party. It does
suspension for six months and one day to one year. 56 We find this
not appear that he was being paid for his services or that his appearance
penalty appropriate for respondents violation in this case of Rule 1.01, was in a professional capacity. As Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo
Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. he had no control or intervention whatsoever in the prosecution of crimes
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Carlos B. Sagucio GUILTY of committed in the municipality of Alaminos, Laguna, because the
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional prosecution of criminal cases coming from Alaminos are handled by the
Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent Atty. Carlos B. Office of the Provincial Fiscal and not by the City Attorney of San Pablo.
Sagucio from the practice of law for SIX MONTHS effective upon finality There could be no possible conflict in the duties of Assistant City Attorney
of this Decision. Fule as Assistant City Attorney of San Pablo and as private prosecutor
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant in this criminal case. On the other hand, as already pointed out, the
to be appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the offended party in this criminal case had a right to be represented by an
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all agent or a friend to protect her rights in the civil action which was
courts in the country for their information and guidance. impliedly instituted together with the criminal action.
In view of the foregoing, this Court holds that Asst. City Attorney Ariston
D. Fule may appear before the Justice of the Peace Court of Alaminos,
G.R. No. L-19450 May 27, 1965 Laguna as private prosecutor in this criminal case as an agent or a friend
THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee, of the offended party.
vs. WHEREFORE, the appeal from the order of the Justice of the Peace
SIMPLICIO VILLANUEVA, defendant-appellant. Court of Alaminos, Laguna, allowing the apprearance of Ariston D. Fule
Office of the Solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee. as private prosecutor is dismissed, without costs.
Magno T. Buese for defendant-appellant. The above decision is the subject of the instant proceeding.
PAREDES, J.: The appeal should be dismissed, for patently being without merits.
Aside from the considerations advanced by the learned trial judge,
On September 4, 1959, the Chief of Police of Alaminos, Laguna, charged heretofore reproduced, and which we consider plausible, the fallacy of
Simplicio Villanueva with the Crime of Malicious Mischief before the the theory of defense counsel lies in his confused interpretation of
Justice of the Peace Court of said municipality. Said accused was Section 32 of Rule 127 (now Sec. 35, Rule 138, Revised Rules), which
represented by counsel de officio but later on replaced by counsel de provides that "no judge or other official or employee of the superior courts
parte. The complainant in the same case was represented by City or of the office of the Solicitor General, shall engage in private practice
Attorney Ariston Fule of San Pablo City, having entered his appearance as a member of the bar or give professional advice to clients." He claims
as private prosecutor, after securing the permission of the Secretary of that City Attorney Fule, in appearing as private prosecutor in the case
Justice. The condition of his appearance as such, was that every time he was engaging in private practice. We believe that the isolated
would appear at the trial of the case, he would be considered on official appearance of City Attorney Fule did not constitute private practice within
leave of absence, and that he would not receive any payment for his the meaning and contemplation of the Rules. Practice is more than an
services. The appearance of City Attorney Fule as private prosecutor isolated appearance, for it consists in frequent or customary actions, a
was questioned by the counsel for the accused, invoking the case of
Page 12

succession of acts of the same kind. In other words, it is frequent habitual


Aquino, et al. vs. Blanco, et al., exercise (State vs. Cotner, 127, p. 1, 87 Kan. 864, 42 LRA, M.S. 768).
L-1532, Nov. 28, 1947, wherein it was ruled that "when an attorney had
Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea
LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Practice of law to fall within the prohibition of statute has been interpreted No applicant shall be admitted to the bar
as customarily or habitually holding one's self out to the public, as examinations unless he has satisfactorily
customarily and demanding payment for such services (State vs. Bryan, completed the following courses in a law school or
4 S.E. 522, 98 N.C. 644, 647). The appearance as counsel on one university duly recognized by the government: civil
occasion is not conclusive as determinative of engagement in the private law, commercial law, remedial law, criminal law,
practice of law. The following observation of the Solicitor General is public and private international law, political law,
noteworthy: labor and social legislation, medical jurisprudence,
Essentially, the word private practice of law implies that one must have
taxation and legal ethics.
presented himself to be in the active and continued practice of the legal
C. Citizenship: Art XII Sec 14(2) Const: The practice of all
profession and that his professional services are available to the public
professions in the Philippines shall be limited to Filipino
for a compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in consideration of
his said services. citizens, save in cases prescribed by law.
For one thing, it has never been refuted that City Attorney Fule had been D. Bar Examinations :
given permission by his immediate superior, the Secretary of Justice, to Rule 138 Sec 7-16 ROC
represent the complainant in the case at bar, who is a relative. Section 7. Time for filing proof of qualifications. All
CONFORMABLY WITH ALL THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed applicants for admission shall file with the clerk of the Supreme
from should be, as it is hereby affirmed, in all respects, with costs against Court the evidence required by section 2 of this rule at least fifteen
appellant. (15) days before the beginning of the examination. If not embraced
within section 3 and 4 of this rule they shall also file within the same
C. Essential Criteria Of Engaging In The Practice Of Law period the affidavit and certificate required by section 5, and if
1. Habituality- implies customarily or habitually holding oneself embraced within sections 3 and 4 they shall exhibit a license
out to the public as a lawyer evidencing the fact of their admission to practice, satisfactory
2. Compensation- implies that one must have evidence that the same has not been revoked, and certificates as
presented himself to be in the active practice and that his to their professional standing. Applicants shall also file at the same
professional services are available to the public for time their own affidavits as to their age, residence, and citizenship.
compensation, as a source of his livelihood or in Section 8. Notice of Applications. Notice of applications
consideration of his said services. for admission shall be published by the clerk of the Supreme Court
in newspapers published in Pilipino, English and Spanish, for at
3. Application of law, legal principle, practice, or procedure
least ten (10) days before the beginning of the examination.
which calls for legal knowledge, training and
Section 9. Examination; subjects. Applicants, not
experience.
otherwise provided for in sections 3 and 4 of this rule, shall be
4. Attorney-client relationship subjected to examinations in the following subjects: Civil Law;
III. REQUIREMENTS FOR ADMISSION TO THE PRACTICE OF LAW Labor and Social Legislation; Mercantile Law; Criminal Law;
A. Legal Education Political Law (Constitutional Law, Public Corporations, and Public
B. Educational Qualification Officers); International Law (Private and Public); Taxation;
a. Pre-Law: Rule 138 Sec 6 ROC: No applicant for Remedial Law (Civil Procedure, Criminal Procedure, and
admission to the bar examination shall be Evidence); Legal Ethics and Practical Exercises (in Pleadings and
admitted unless he presents a certificate that he Conveyancing).
has satisfied the Secretary of Education that, Section 10. Bar examination, by questions and answers,
before he began the study of law, he had pursued and in writing. Persons taking the examination shall not bring
and satisfactorily completed in an authorized and papers, books or notes into the examination rooms. The questions
recognized university or college, requiring for shall be the same for all examinees and a copy thereof, in English
admission thereto the completion of a four-year or Spanish, shall be given to each examinee. Examinees shall
high school course, the course of study prescribed answer the questions personally without help from anyone.
Upon verified application made by an examinee stating that his
therein for a bachelor's degree in arts or sciences
penmanship is so poor that it will be difficult to read his answers
with any of the following subjects as major or field
without much loss of time, the Supreme Court may allow such
of concentration: political science, logic, english,
examinee to use a typewriter in answering the questions. Only
spanish, history and economics. noiseless typewriters shall be allowed to be used.
b. Law Proper: Rule 138 Sec 5 ROC: All applicants The committee of bar examiner shall take such precautions as are
for admission other than those referred to in the necessary to prevent the substitution of papers or commission of
two preceding section shall, before being admitted other frauds. Examinees shall not place their names on the
to the examination, satisfactorily show that they examination papers. No oral examination shall be given.
have regularly studied law for four years, and Section 11. Annual examination. Examinations for
successfully completed all prescribed courses, in admission to the bar of the Philippines shall take place annually in
a law school or university, officially approved and the City of Manila. They shall be held in four days to be disignated
recognized by the Secretary of Education. The by the chairman of the committee on bar examiners. The subjects
affidavit of the candidate, accompanied by a shall be distributed as follows: First day: Political and International
certificate from the university or school of law, Law (morning) and Labor and Social Legislation (afternoon);
Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon); Third
Page 13

shall be filed as evidence of such facts, and further


day: Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law (afternoon);
evidence may be required by the court.

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Fourth day: Remedial Law (morning) and legal Ethics and Practical Time for filing proof of qualifications.All applicants for admission
Exercises (afternoon). shall file with the clerk of the Supreme Court a duly accomplished
Section 12. Committee of examiners. Examinations shall application form together with supporting documents concerning
be conducted by a committee of bar examiners to be appointed by his qualifications at least 15 days before the beginning of the
the Supreme Court. This committee shall be composed of a Justice examination.
of the Supreme Court, who shall act as chairman, and who shall be
Applicants shall also file at the same time their own affidavits as to
designated by the court to serve for one year, and eight members
their age, residence, and citizenship. (Rule 138, Sec. 7)
of the bar of the Philippines, who shall hold office for a period of
one year. The names of the members of this committee shall be Notice of applications.Notice of applications for admission shall
published in each volume of the official reports. be published by the clerk of the Supreme Court in newspapers
Section 13. Disciplinary measures. No candidate shall published in Pilipino, English and Spanish, for at least 10 days
endeavor to influence any member of the committee, and during before the beginning of the examination. (Rule 138, sec. 8)
examination the candidates shall not communicate with each other American lawyers in active practice of law in the Philippines
nor shall they give or receive any assistance. The candidate who before July 4, 1946 or a Filipino citizen enrolled as attorney in
violates this provisions, or any other provision of this rule, shall be the United States before July 4, 1946, who desires admission
barred from the examination, and the same to count as a failure without examination should:
against him, and further disciplinary action, including permanent 1. File a petition with the Court along with his
disqualification, may be taken in the discretion of the court. 2. License to practice
Section 14. Passing average. In order that a candidate 3. Evidence that it has not been revoked
may be deemed to have passed his examinations successfully, he 4. Certificates of professional standing.
must have obtained a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects,
Disclosure of involvement in any criminal case
without falling below 50 per cent in any subjects. In determining the
Applicant must show that no charges against him involving moral
average, the subjects in the examination shall be given the
turpitude have been filed or pending in court in the Philippines (Rule
following relative weights: Civil Law, 15 per cent; Labor and Social
Legislation, 10 per cent; Mercantile Law, 15 per cent; Criminal Law; 138, Sec 2, Rules of Court)
10 per cent: Political and International Law, 15 per cent; Taxation, To enable the court to resolve whether a particular crime involves
10 per cent; Remedial Law, 20 per cent; Legal Ethics and Practical moral turpitude, applicant must disclose any crime of which he has
Exercises, 5 per cent. been charged.
Section 15. Report of the committee; filing of examination If what has been concealed does not involve moral turpitude, it is
papers. Not later than February 15th after the examination, or the fact of concealment and not the commission of the crime itself
as soon thereafter as may be practicable, the committee shall file that makes him morally unfit.
its report on the result of such examination. The examination Burden of proof to show qualifications
papers and notes of the committee shall be filed with the clerk and Applicant assumes the burden of proof to establish his
may there be examined by the parties in interest, after the court qualifications to the satisfaction of the court.
has approved the report.
After having presented prima facie evidence of his qualifications,
Section 16. Failing candidates to take review course.
any one objecting to his admission may offer contrary evidence to
Candidates who have failed the bar examinations for three times
overcome such prima facie showing. Burden of proof shifts to the
shall be disqualified from taking another examination unless they
show the satisfaction of the court that they have enrolled in and complainant.
passed regular fourth year review classes as well as attended a Written examinations
pre-bar review course in a recognized law school. Annual examination: Examinations for admission to the bar of the
The professors of the individual review subjects attended by the Philippines shall take place annually in the City of Manila. They shall be
candidates under this rule shall certify under oath that the held in four days to be designated by the chairman of the committee on
candidates have regularly attended classes and passed the bar examiners.
subjects under the same conditions as ordinary students and the The subjects shall be distributed as follows:
ratings obtained by them in the particular subject. 1. First day: Political and International Law (morning) and Labor
Procedure for Admission: and Social Legislation (afternoon);
Bar Examination Committee 2. Second day: Civil Law (morning) and Taxation (afternoon);
Examinations shall be conducted by a committee of bar 3. Third day: Mercantile Law (morning) and Criminal Law
examiners to be appointed by the Supreme Court. This (afternoon);
committee shall be composed of: 4. Fourth day: Remedial Law (morning) and legal Ethics and
1. A Justice of the Supreme Court, as chairman and designated Practical Exercises (afternoon).
by the court to serve for one year. The questions shall be the same for all examinees.
2. Eight (8) members of the Philippine bar, who shall serve Examinees shall answer the questions personally without help from
as examiners in the 8 bar subjects and hold office for a period anyone.
of one year. Upon verified application made by an examinee stating that his
3. Bar Confidant as liaison officer between the Court and penmanship is so poor that it will be difficult to read his answers
Chairman and the Committee members. Also a deputy clerk without much loss of time, the Supreme Court may allow such
of court. examinee to use a noiseless typewriter.
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Application and supporting documents Restrictions to insure integrity in examination

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
1. An examinee is prohibited from bringing papers, books faster and easier for everyone concerned. (In Re: Argosino, 270
or notes into the examination room. SCRA 26)
2. He is not to communicate with the other examinees during the By taking the lawyers oath, a lawyer becomes the guardian of truth
exam. and the rule of law and an indispensable instrument in the fair and
3. He is not to influence any member of the committee on bar impartial administration of justice. Good moral character includes
exams. at least common honesty. Deception and other fraudulent acts are
4. To keep the examinees identity a secret and thus avoid not merely unacceptable practices that are disgraceful and
any influence to bear upon the examiner in the valuation of dishonorable, they reveal a basic moral flaw. (Olbes vs.
his answers: Deciembre, 457 SCRA 341)
a. The exam papers shall be identified by Issuance of Certificate
numbers. After taking oath, the Supreme Court admits him as a member of
b. The name of the examinee is written in a piece of the bar for all courts of the Philippines.
paper and sealed in an envelope. An order be entered that a certificate of such record be given him
5. Any candidate who violates any of the rules concerning the by the clerk of court.
conduct of examination will be barred from taking such and Such certificate is his license to practice law.
the same will be counted as a failure against him. Thereafter, he signs the roll of attorneys, which is the official record
The conduct of the bar exams involves public interest. containing the names and signatures of those who are authorized
Any charge of anomaly requires prompt action from the Court to to practice law.
prevent erosion of public faith in the bar and in the court. Payment of IBP dues and privilege tax
Correction and revaluation of grades Membership by every attorney in the IBP is compulsory.
The bar examiners correct the examination papers and submit the Obligation to support it financially.
grades and corrected papers to the bar confidant. o Every member of the Integrated Bar shall pay such
The bar confidant tallies the individual grades of every examinee, annual dues as the Board of Governors shall
computes the general average, and prepares a comparative determine with the approval of the Supreme Court.
data showing the percentage of passing and failing in relation Default in payment for 6 months shall warrant
to a certain average. suspension.
Results are submitted to the Examination Committee and o Default in such payment for 1 year shall be a
to the Court. ground for removal of the name of the delinquent
Any request for revaluation of the answers and the grades member from the Roll of Attorneys.
given should be made by the examinee addressed to the Court. o However, no action involving suspension or removal
Administration of Oath from the roll shall be effective without final approval of
Qualified applicants shall take and subscribe to the Oath of Office the Supreme Court.
as a Lawyer. Conditions sine qua non to the privilege to practice law and to the
A prerequisite to the admission of practice of law and may retention of his name in the roll of attorneys :
only be taken before the Supreme Court. 1. Continued membership
The court may deny the petition to take the lawyers oath for: 2. Regularly paying membership dues and other lawful
o Grave misconduct; assessments that it may levy.
o Pending complaint against the applicant A lawyer must comply with the requirement regarding
LAWYERS OATH (MEMORIZE!!) payment of membership even though his practice is limited.
I , do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the The exemption from payment of individual income taxes for senior
Republic of the Philippines; I will support and defend its Constitution and citizens does not include payment of IBP membership dues.
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted DONNA MARIE S. AGUIRRE, Complainant, B. M. No. 1036 June 10,
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood nor consent to its commission; 2003
I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or -versus-
unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will not delay any EDWIN L. RANA,
mans cause for money or malice and will conduct myself as a lawyer Respondent.
according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good DECISION
fidelity as well to the court as to my clients; and I will impose upon
myself this obligation voluntarily, without any mental reservation or CARPIO, J.:
purpose of evasion. .
So help me God. The Case
The lawyers oath is not a mere ceremony or formality for Before one is admitted to the Philippine Bar, he must possess the
practicing law. Every lawyer should at all times weigh his actions requisite moral integrity for membership in the legal profession.
according to the sworn promises he makes when taking the Possession of moral integrity is of greater importance than possession
lawyers oath. If all lawyers conducted themselves strictly of legal learning. The practice of law is a privilege bestowed only on the
according to the lawyers oath and the Code of Professional morally fit. A bar candidate who is morally unfit cannot practice law even
Page 15

responsibility, the administration of justice will undoubtedly fairer, if he passes the bar examinations. chan robles virtual law library

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The Facts
On 22 June 2001, complainant filed her Reply to respondents Comment
Respondent Edwin L. Rana ("respondent") was among those who and refuted the claim of respondent that his appearance before the
passed the 2000 Bar Examinations. MBEC was only to extend specific assistance to Bunan. Complainant
alleges that on 19 May 2001 Emily Estipona-Hao ("Estipona-Hao") filed
On 21 May 2001, one day before the scheduled mass oath-taking of a petition for proclamation as the winning candidate for mayor.
successful bar examinees as members of the Philippine Bar, Respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao in this petition. When
complainant Donna Marie Aguirre ("complainant") filed against respondent appeared as counsel before the MBEC, complainant
respondent a Petition for Denial of Admission to the Bar. Complainant questioned his appearance on two grounds: (1) respondent had not
charged respondent with unauthorized practice of law, grave taken his oath as a lawyer; and (2) he was an employee of the
misconduct, violation of law, and grave misrepresentation. government. chan robles virtual law library

The Court allowed respondent to take his oath as a member of the Bar Respondent filed a Reply (Re: Reply to Respondents Comment)
during the scheduled oath-taking on 22 May 2001 at the Philippine reiterating his claim that the instant administrative case is "motivated
International Convention Center. However, the Court ruled that mainly by political vendetta."
respondent could not sign the Roll of Attorneys pending the resolution of
the charge against him. Thus, respondent took the lawyers oath on the On 17 July 2001, the Court referred the case to the Office of the Bar
scheduled date but has not signed the Roll of Attorneys up to now. Confidant ("OBC") for evaluation, report and recommendation.

Complainant charges respondent for unauthorized practice of law and OBCs Report and Recommendation
grave misconduct. Complainant alleges that respondent, while not yet a
lawyer, appeared as counsel for a candidate in the May 2001 elections The OBC found that respondent indeed appeared before the MBEC as
before the Municipal Board of Election Canvassers ("MBEC") of counsel for Bunan in the May 2001 elections. The minutes of the MBEC
Mandaon, Masbate. Complainant further alleges that respondent filed proceedings show that respondent actively participated in the
with the MBEC a pleading dated 19 May 2001 entitled Formal Objection proceedings. The OBC likewise found that respondent appeared in the
to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in Some Precincts for the MBEC proceedings even before he took the lawyers oath on 22 May
Office of Vice-Mayor. In this pleading, respondent represented himself 2001. The OBC believes that respondents misconduct casts a serious
as "counsel for and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, George doubt on his moral fitness to be a member of the Bar. The OBC also
Bunan," and signed the pleading as counsel for George Bunan believes that respondents unauthorized practice of law is a ground to
("Bunan"). deny his admission to the practice of law. The OBC, therefore,
recommends that respondent be denied admission to the Philippine Bar.
On the charge of violation of law, complainant claims that respondent is
a municipal government employee, being a secretary of the On the other charges, OBC stated that complainant failed to cite a law
Sangguniang Bayan of Mandaon, Masbate. As such, respondent is not which respondent allegedly violated when he appeared as counsel for
allowed by law to act as counsel for a client in any court or administrative Bunan while he was a government employee. Respondent resigned as
body. secretary and his resignation was accepted. Likewise, respondent was
authorized by Bunan to represent him before the MBEC.
On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, complainant
accuses respondent of acting as counsel for vice mayoralty candidate The Courts Ruling
George Bunan ("Bunan") without the latter engaging respondents
services. Complainant claims that respondent filed the pleading as a We agree with the findings and conclusions of the OBC that respondent
ploy to prevent the proclamation of the winning vice mayoralty candidate. engaged in the unauthorized practice of law and thus does not deserve
admission to the Philippine Bar.
On 22 May 2001, the Court issued a resolution allowing respondent to
take the lawyers oath but disallowed him from signing the Roll of Respondent took his oath as lawyer on 22 May 2001. However, the
Attorneys until he is cleared of the charges against him. In the same records show that respondent appeared as counsel for Bunan prior to 22
resolution, the Court required respondent to comment on the complaint May 2001, before respondent took the lawyers oath. In the pleading
against him. entitled Formal Objection to the Inclusion in the Canvassing of Votes in
Some Precincts for the Office of Vice-Mayor dated 19 May 2001,
In his Comment, respondent admits that Bunan sought his "specific respondent signed as "counsel for George Bunan." In the first paragraph
assistance" to represent him before the MBEC. Respondent claims that of the same pleading respondent stated that he was the "(U)ndersigned
"he decided to assist and advice Bunan, not as a lawyer but as a person Counsel for, and in behalf of Vice Mayoralty Candidate, GEORGE T.
who knows the law." Respondent admits signing the 19 May 2001 BUNAN." Bunan himself wrote the MBEC on 14 May 2001 that he had
pleading that objected to the inclusion of certain votes in the canvassing. "authorized Atty. Edwin L. Rana as his counsel to represent him" before
He explains, however, that he did not sign the pleading as a lawyer or the MBEC and similar bodies. chan robles virtual law library
represented himself as an "attorney" in the pleading.
On 14 May 2001, mayoralty candidate Emily Estipona-Hao also
On his employment as secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan, respondent "retained" respondent as her counsel. On the same date, 14 May 2001,
claims that he submitted his resignation on 11 May 2001 which was Erly D. Hao informed the MBEC that "Atty. Edwin L. Rana has been
allegedly accepted on the same date. He submitted a copy of the authorized by REFORMA LM-PPC as the legal counsel of the party and
Certification of Receipt of Revocable Resignation dated 28 May 2001 the candidate of the said party." Respondent himself wrote the MBEC
signed by Vice-Mayor Napoleon Relox. Respondent further claims that on 14 May 2001 that he was entering his "appearance as counsel for
the complaint is politically motivated considering that complainant is the Mayoralty Candidate Emily Estipona-Hao and for the REFORMA LM-
daughter of Silvestre Aguirre, the losing candidate for mayor of PPC." On 19 May 2001, respondent signed as counsel for Estipona-Hao
Page 16

Mandaon, Masbate. Respondent prays that the complaint be dismissed in the petition filed before the MBEC praying for the proclamation of
for lack of merit and that he be allowed to sign the Roll of Attorneys. Estipona-Hao as the winning candidate for mayor of Mandaon, Masbate.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
On the charge of violation of law, complainant contends that the law does
All these happened even before respondent took the lawyers oath. not allow respondent to act as counsel for a private client in any court or
Clearly, respondent engaged in the practice of law without being a administrative body since respondent is the secretary of the
member of the Philippine Bar. Sangguniang Bayan.

In Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava,[1] the Court elucidated Respondent tendered his resignation as secretary of the Sangguniang
that: Bayan prior to the acts complained of as constituting unauthorized
The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in practice of law. In his letter dated 11 May 2001 addressed to Napoleon
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident Relox, vice- mayor and presiding officer of the Sangguniang Bayan,
to actions and special proceedings, the management of such actions and respondent stated that he was resigning "effective upon your
proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in acceptance."[10] Vice-Mayor Relox accepted respondents resignation
addition, conveyancing. In general, all advice to clients, and all action effective 11 May 2001.[11] Thus, the evidence does not support the
taken for them in matters connected with the law, incorporation services, charge that respondent acted as counsel for a client while serving as
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance secretary of the Sangguniang Bayan.
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a
creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and On the charge of grave misconduct and misrepresentation, evidence
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and shows that Bunan indeed authorized respondent to represent him as his
guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the counsel before the MBEC and similar bodies. While there was no
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done misrepresentation, respondent nonetheless had no authority to practice
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of law. chan robles virtual law library
facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jur. p. 262, 263). [Italics supplied] x x x
chan robles virtual law library WHEREFORE, respondent Edwin L. Rana is DENIED admission to the
In Cayetano v. Monsod,[2] the Court held that "practice of law" means Philippine Bar.
any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the SO ORDERED.
practice of law is to perform acts which are usually performed by
members of the legal profession. Generally, to practice law is to render E. Good Moral Character
any kind of service which requires the use of legal knowledge or skill. Continued possession of good moral character after
admission is a requirement for enjoyment of privilege to practice.
Verily, respondent was engaged in the practice of law when he appeared
in the proceedings before the MBEC and filed various pleadings, without Moral character is what a person really is as distinguished from
license to do so. Evidence clearly supports the charge of unauthorized good reputation or opinion generally entertained of him.
practice of law. Respondent called himself "counsel" knowing fully well Includes at least common honesty.
that he was not a member of the Bar. Having held himself out as Opposite of immorality, which is the indifference to the moral norms
"counsel" knowing that he had no authority to practice law, respondent of society.
has shown moral unfitness to be a member of the Philippine Bar.[3]
This requirement aims to maintain and uphold the high moral
The right to practice law is not a natural or constitutional right but is a standard and the dignity of the legal profession.
privilege. It is limited to persons of good moral character with special A.C. No. 5095 November 28, 2007
qualifications duly ascertained and certified. The exercise of this FATHER RANHILIO C. AQUINO, LINA M. GARAN, ESTRELLA C.
privilege presupposes possession of integrity, legal knowledge, LOZADA, POLICARPIO L. MABBORANG, DEXTER R. MUNAR,
educational attainment, and even public trust[4] since a lawyer is an MONICO U. TENEDRO, ANDY R. QUEBRAL, NESTOR T. RIVERA,
officer of the court. A bar candidate does not acquire the right to EDUARDO C. RICAMORA, ARTHUR G. IBAEZ, AURELIO C.
practice law simply by passing the bar examinations. The practice of law CALDEZ and DENU A. AGATEP, complainants,
is a privilege that can be withheld even from one who has passed the bar vs.
examinations, if the person seeking admission had practiced law without ATTY. EDWIN PASCUA, respondent.
a license.[5] DECISION
SANDOVAL-GUTIERREZ, J.:
The regulation of the practice of law is unquestionably strict. In Beltran,
Jr. v. Abad,[6] a candidate passed the bar examinations but had not For our resolution is the letter-complaint dated August 3, 1999 of Father
taken his oath and signed the Roll of Attorneys. He was held in contempt Ranhilio C. Aquino, then Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial
of court for practicing law even before his admission to the Bar. Under Academy, joined by Lina M. Garan and the other above-named
Section 3 (e) of Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a person who engages in complainants, against Atty. Edwin Pascua, a Notary Public in Cagayan.
the unauthorized practice of law is liable for indirect contempt of court.[7] In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified
chan robles virtual law library two documents committed as follows:
(1) He made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of
True, respondent here passed the 2000 Bar Examinations and took the one Joseph B. Acorda entering the same as "Doc. No. 1213, Page No.
lawyers oath. However, it is the signing in the Roll of Attorneys that 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998".
finally makes one a full-fledged lawyer. The fact that respondent passed (2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-
the bar examinations is immaterial. Passing the bar is not the only a Complaint" of one Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as "Doc. No.
qualification to become an attorney-at-law.[8] Respondent should know 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.
that two essential requisites for becoming a lawyer still had to be Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty.
performed, namely: his lawyers oath to be administered by this Court Angel Beltran, Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified
and his signature in the Roll of Attorneys.[9] that none of the above entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty.
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Pascua; that the last entry therein was Document No. 1200 executed on

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
December 28, 1998; and that, therefore, he could not have notarized A member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which
Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998. might lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the
In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity of the legal profession (Maligsa
Pascua admitted having notarized the two documents on December 10, v. Cabanting, 272 SCRA 409).
1998, but they were not entered in his Notarial Register due to the As a lawyer commissioned to be a notary public, Atty. Pascua is
oversight of his legal secretary, Lyn Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was mandated to subscribe to the sacred duties appertaining to his office,
attached to his comment. such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public
The affidavit-complaints referred to in the notarized documents were filed interest.
by Atty. Pascua with the Civil Service Commission. Impleaded as A member of the Bar may be disciplined or disbarred for any misconduct
respondents therein were Lina M. Garan and the other above-named in his professional or private capacity. The Court has invariably imposed
complainants. They filed with this Court a "Motion to Join the Complaint a penalty for notaries public who were found guilty of dishonesty or
and Reply to Respondent's Comment." They maintain that Atty. Pascua's misconduct in the performance of their duties.
omission was not due to inadvertence but a clear case of falsification.1 In Villarin v. Sabate, Jr. (325 SCRA 123), respondent lawyer was
On November 16, 1999, we granted their motion.2 suspended from his Commission as Notary Public for a period of one
Thereafter, we referred the case to the Office of the Bar Confidant for year for notarizing a document without affiants appearing before him,
investigation, report and recommendation. and for notarizing the same instrument of which he was one of the
On April 21, 2003, the Office of the Bar Confidant issued its Report and signatories. The Court held that respondent lawyer failed to exercise due
Recommendation partly reproduced as follows: diligence in upholding his duties as a notary public.
A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face. In Arrieta v. Llosa (282 SCRA 248), respondent lawyer who certified
For this reason, notaries public must observe the utmost care to comply under oath a Deed of Absolute Sale knowing that some of the vendors
with the formalities and the basic requirement in the performance of their were dead was suspended from the practice of law for a period of six (6)
duties (Realino v. Villamor, 87 SCRA 318). months, with a warning that another infraction would be dealt with more
Under the notarial law, "the notary public shall enter in such register, in severely. In said case, the Court did not impose the supreme penalty of
chronological order, the nature of each instrument executed, sworn to, disbarment, it being the respondent's first offense.
or acknowledged before him, the person executing, swearing to, or In Maligsa v. Cabanting (272 SCRA 409), respondent lawyer was
acknowledging the instrument, xxx xxx. The notary shall give to each disbarred from the practice of law, after being found guilty of notarizing
instrument executed, sworn to, or acknowledged before him a number a fictitious or spurious document. The Court considered the seriousness
corresponding to the one in his register, and shall also state on the of the offense and his previous misconduct for which he was suspended
instrument the page or pages of his register on which the same is for six months from the practice of law.
recorded. No blank line shall be left between entries" (Sec. 246, Article It appearing that this is the first offense of Atty. Pascua, a suspension
V, Title IV, Chapter II of the Revised Administrative Code). from the practice of law for a period of six (6) months may be considered
Failure of the notary to make the proper entry or entries in his notarial enough penalty for him as a lawyer. Considering that his offense is also
register touching his notarial acts in the manner required by law is a a ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be
ground for revocation of his commission (Sec. 249, Article VI). imposed upon him.
In the instant case, there is no question that the subject documents PREMISES CONSIDERED, it is most respectfully recommended that the
allegedly notarized by Atty. Pascua were not recorded in his notarial notarial commission of Atty. EDWIN V. PASCUA, if still existing, be
register. REVOKED and that he be SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a
Atty. Pascua claims that the omission was not intentional but due to period of six (6) months."3
oversight of his staff. Whichever is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape After a close review of the records of this case, we resolve to adopt the
liability. His failure to enter into his notarial register the documents that findings of facts and conclusion of law by the Office of the Bar Confidant.
he admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty on his part as a notary We find Atty. Pascua guilty of misconduct in the performance of his
public and he is bound by the acts of his staff. duties for failing to register in his Notarial Register the affidavit-
The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true. complaints of Joseph B. Acorda and Remigio B. Domingo.
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he "Misconduct" generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct
notarized on December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. motivated by a premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.4 The
On the other hand, the two affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on term, however, does not necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.5
December 10, 1998 are Document Nos. 1213 and 1214, respectively, The penalty to be imposed for such act of misconduct committed by a
under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the other lawyer is addressed to the sound discretion of the Court. In Arrieta v.
complainants are, therefore, correct in maintaining that Atty. Pascua Llosa,6 wherein Atty. Joel A. Llosa notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale
falsely assigned fictitious numbers to the questioned affidavit- knowing that some of the vendors were already dead, this Court held
complaints, a clear dishonesty on his part not only as a Notary Public, that such wrongful act "constitutes misconduct" and thus imposed upon
but also as a member of the Bar. him the penalty of suspension from the practice of law for six months,
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of this being his first administrative offense. Also, in Vda. de Rosales v.
inadvertence by Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which Ramos,7 we revoked the notarial commission of Atty. Mario G. Ramos
is hardly credible since the latter cannot be considered a disinterested and suspended him from the practice of law for six months for violating
witness or party. the Notarial Law in not registering in his notarial book the Deed of
Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. Absolute Sale he notarized. In Mondejar v. Rubia,8 however, a lesser
No. 1213) was submitted only when Domingo's affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) penalty ofone month suspension from the practice of law was imposed
was withdrawn in the administrative case filed by Atty. Pascua against on Atty. Vivian G. Rubia for making a false declaration in the document
Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This circumstance lends credence to the she notarized.
submission of herein complainants that Atty. Pascua ante-dated another In the present case, considering that this is Atty. Pascua's first offense,
affidavit-complaint making it appear as notarized on December 10, 1998 we believe that the imposition of a three-month suspension from the
and entered as Document No. 1213. It may not be sheer coincidence practice of law upon him is in order. Likewise, since his offense is a
then that both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered ground for revocation of notarial commission, the same should also be
Page 18

as 1213 and 1214. imposed upon him.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct Needless to stress, a public office is a position of trust and public service
and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a demands of every government official or employee, no matter how lowly
STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be his position may be, the highest degree of responsibility and integrity and
dealt with more severely. His notarial commission, if still existing, is he must remain accountable to the people. Moreover, his failure to
ordered REVOKED. adduce evidence in support of his defense is a tacit admission of his guilt.
SO ORDERED. Let this be a final reminder to him that the government is serious enough
to [weed out] misfits in the government service, and it will not be
JBC No. 013 August 22, 2007 irresolute to impose the severest sanction regardless of personalities
Re: Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the involved. Accordingly, respondents continuance in office becomes
Administrative Case Filed Against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, in His untenable.
Capacity as the then Asst. Regional Director of the National Police WHEREFORE, and as recommended by the NAPOLCOM, Assistant
Commission, Regional Office XI, Davao City. Regional Director Jaime Vega Quitain is hereby DISMISSED from the
DECISION service, with forfeiture of pay and benefits, effective upon receipt of a
copy hereof.
PER CURIAM: Done in the City of Manila, this 10th day of April in the year of our Lord,
Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the nineteen hundred and ninety-five.
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City on May 17, 2003.1 (Sgd. by President Fidel V. Ramos)
Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) By the President:
received confidential information that administrative and criminal (Sgd.)
charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as then TEOFISTO T. GUINGONA, JR.
Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Executive Secretary7
Regional Office 11, Davao City, as a result of which he was dismissed In a letter8 dated October 22, 2003 addressed to DCA Lock, Judge
from the service per Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 183 dated April 10, Quitain denied having committed any misrepresentation before the JBC.
1995. He alleged that during his interview, the members thereof only inquired
In the Personal Data Sheet (PDS)2 submitted to the Judicial and Bar about the status of the criminal cases filed by the NAPOLCOM before
Council (JBC) on November 26, 2001, Judge Quitain declared that there the Sandiganbayan, and not about the administrative case
were five criminal cases (Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439, 22812, simultaneously filed against him. He also alleged that he never received
22813, and 22814) filed against him before the Sandiganbayan, which from the Office of the President an official copy of A.O. No. 183
were all dismissed. No administrative case was disclosed by Judge dismissing him from the service.
Qutain in his PDS. Thereafter, DCA Lock directed Judge Quitain to explain within ten (10)
To confirm the veracity of the information, then Deputy Court days from notice why he did not include in his PDS, which was sworn to
Administrator (DCA) Christopher O. Lock (now Court Administrator) before a notary public on November 22, 2001, the administrative case
requested from the Sandiganbayan certified copies of the Order(s) filed against him, and the fact of his dismissal from the service.9
dismissing the criminal cases.3On even date, letters4 were sent to the In his letters10 dated March 13, 2004 and June 17, 2004, respondent
NAPOLCOM requesting for certified true copies of documents relative to explained that during the investigation of his administrative case by the
the administrative complaints filed against Judge Quitain, particularly NAPOLCOM Ad Hoc Committee, one of its members suggested to him
A.O. No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 dismissing him from the service. that if he resigns from the government service, he will no longer be
Likewise, DCA Lock required Judge Quitain to explain the alleged prosecuted; that following such suggestion, he tendered his irrevocable
misrepresentation and deception he committed before the JBC.5 resignation from NAPOLCOM on June 1, 199311 which was immediately
In a letter6 dated November 28, 2003, the NAPOLCOM furnished the accepted by the Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local
Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) a copy of A.O. No. 183 showing Governments; that he did not disclose the case in his PDS because he
that respondent Judge was indeed dismissed from the service for Grave was of the "honest belief" that he had no more pending administrative
Misconduct for falsifying or altering the amounts reflected in case by reason of his resignation; that his resignation "amounted to an
disbursement vouchers in support of his claim for reimbursement of automatic dismissal" of his administrative case considering that "the
expenses. A.O. 183 partly reads: issues raised therein became moot and academic"; and that had he
THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES known that he would be dismissed from the service, he should not have
ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 183 applied for the position of a judge since he knew he would never be
DISMISSING FROM THE SERVICE ASSISTANT REGIONAL appointed.
DIRECTOR JAIME VEGA QUITAIN, NATIONAL POLICE Finding reasonable ground to hold him administratively liable, then Court
COMMISSION, REGIONAL OFFICE NO. 11 Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a member of this Court)
This refers to the administrative complaint against Jaime Vega Quitain, and then DCA Lock submitted a Memorandum12 dated September 3,
Assistant Regional Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), 2004 to then Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., which states:
Regional Office No. 11, Davao City, for Grave Misconduct (Violation of In order that this Office may thoroughly and properly evaluate the matter,
Art. 48, in relation to Arts. 171 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code and we deemed it necessary to go over the records of the subject
Art. IX of the Civil Service Law) filed by the NAPOLCOM. administrative case against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, particularly the
xxxx matter that pertains to Administrative Order No. 183 dated 10 April 1995.
After circumspect study, I am in complete accord with the above findings On 15 May 2004, we examined the records of said administrative case
and recommendation of the NAPOLCOM. on file with the NAPOLCOM, Legal Affairs Service, and secured certified
It was established that the falsification could not have been [true] copies of pertinent documents.
consummated without respondents direct participation, as it was upon After careful perusal of the documents and records available, including
his direction and approval that disbursement vouchers were prepared the letters-explanations of Judge Jaime V. Quitain, this Office finds that
showing the falsified amount. The subsequent endorsement and there are reasonable grounds to hold him administratively liable.
encashment of the check by respondent only shows his complete An examination of the Personal Data Sheet submitted by Judge Quitain
disregard for the truth which per se constitutes misconduct and with the Judicial and Bar Council, which was subscribed and sworn to
Page 19

dishonesty of the highest order. By any standard, respondent had before Notary Public Bibiano M. Bustamante of Davao City on 22
manifestly shown that he is unfit to discharge the functions of his office. November 2001, reveals that he concealed material facts and even

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
committed perjury in having answered "yes" to Question No. 24, but Quitain[,] who is running for a council seat, expressed confidence that he
without disclosing the fact that he was dismissed from the government would soon be vindicated in court against the group that plotted his
service. Question No. 24 and his answer thereto are hereunder quoted ouster from office: He said his only appeal was for Interior and Local
as follows: Government Secretary Rafael Alunan to grant him his day in court to
24. Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or otherwise answer the charges.
imposed a sanction for the violation of any law, decree, ordinance or "Whoever was behind all of these things, I have long forgiven them,"
regulation by any court, tribunal or any other government office, agency Quitain said.
or instrumentality in the Philippines or in any foreign country or found "Just give me the chance to clear my name because this is the only
guilty of an administrative offense or imposed any administrative legacy that I can give my children," Quitain said.
sanction? [ / ] Yes [ ] No. If your answer is "Yes" to any of the questions, While the records of the subject administrative case on file with the
give particulars. NAPOLCOM Office does not bear proof of receipt of Administrative
But all dismissed (acquitted) Order No. 183 by Judge Quitain, the same does not necessarily mean
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 18438, 18439 that he is totally unaware of said Administrative Order. As shown by the
Date of [Dismissal] August 2, 1995 above-quoted newspaper clippings, Judge Quitain even aired his appeal
Sandiganbayan Criminal Cases Nos. 22812, 22813, 22814 and protest to said Administrative Order.
Date of [Dismissal] July 17, 2000 xxxx
As borne out by the records, Judge Quitain deliberately did not disclose Judge Quitain asseverated that he should not have applied with the JBC
the fact that he was dismissed from the government service. At the time had he known that he was administratively charged and was
he filled up and submitted his Personal Data Sheet with the Judicial and consequently dismissed from the service since he will not be considered.
Bar Council, he had full knowledge of the subject administrative case, as But this may be the reason why he deliberately concealed said fact. His
well as Administrative Order No. 183 dismissing him from the claim that he did not declare the administrative case in his Personal Data
government service. Based on the certified documents secured from the Sheet because of his honest belief that there is no administrative or
Office of the NAPOLCOM, the following data were gathered: criminal case that would be filed against him by reason of his resignation
1. In compliance with the "Summons" dated 19 March 1993, signed by and the assurance made by the NAPOLCOM that no administrative case
Commissioner Alexis C. Canonizado, Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee of will be filed, does not hold water. It is rather absurd for him to state that
the NAPOLCOM, Judge Jaime V. Quitain, through Atty. Pedro S. his resignation from the NAPOLCOM amounts to an automatic dismissal
Castillo, filed his Answer (dated 29 March 1993) to the administrative of whatever administrative case filed against him because when he
complaint lodged against him by the Napolcom; resigned and relinquished his position, the issues raised therein became
2. On 30 March 1993, Judge Quitain received a copy of the "Notice of moot and academic. He claims that he did not bother to follow up the
Hearing" of even date, signed by Mr. Canonizado, in connection with the formal dismissal of the administrative case because of said belief. All
formal hearing of the subject administrative case scheduled on 30 April these are but futile attempts to exonerate himself from administrative
1993; culpability in concealing facts relevant and material to his application in
3. Administrative Order No. 183, dismissing Judge Quitain from the the Judiciary. As a member of the Bar, he should know that his
service, was dated 10 April 1995. On 18 April 1995, newspaper items resignation from the NAPOLCOM would not obliterate any administrative
relative to the dismissal of Judge Quitain were separately published in liability he may have incurred[,] much less, would it result to the
the Mindanao Daily Mirror and in the Mindanao Times, the contents of automatic dismissal of the administrative case filed against him. The
which read as follows: acceptance of his resignation is definitely without prejudice to the
Mindanao Times: continuation of the administrative case filed against him. If such would
Dismissed NAPOLCOM chief airs appeal be the case, anyone charged administratively could easily escape from
Former National Police Commission (Napolcom) acting regional director administrative sanctions by the simple expedient of resigning from the
Jaime Quitain yesterday appealed for understanding to those allegedly service. Had it been true that Judge Quitain honestly believes that his
behind his ouster from his post two years ago. Quitain, who was one of resignation amounts to the automatic dismissal of his administrative
the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept unabashedly as he case, the least he could have done was to personally verify the status
read his prepared statement on his dismissal from government service. thereof. He should not have relied on the alleged assurance made by the
Quitain claimed that after Secretary Luis Santos resigned from the NAPOLCOM.
Department of Interior and Local Governments in 1991, a series of On the strength of his misrepresentation, Judge Quitain misled the
administrative charges were hurled against him by some regional Judicial and Bar Council by making it appear that he had a clean record
employees. and was qualified to join the Judiciary. His prior dismissal from the
"I was dismissed from the Napolcom Office without due process," Quitain government service is a blot on his record, which has gone [worse] and
said. has spread even more because of his concealment of it. Had he not
He also said he had no idea as to who the people (sic) are behind the concealed said vital fact, it could have been taken into consideration
alleged smear campaign leveled against him. when the Council acted on his application. His act of dishonesty renders
"Whoever is behind all this, I have long forgiven you. My only appeal to him unfit to join the Judiciary, much less remain sitting as a judge. It even
you, give me my day in court, give me the chance to clear my name, the appears that he was dismissed by the NAPOLCOM for misconduct and
only legacy that I can leave to my children," Quitain said in his statement. dishonesty.
"It is my constitutional right to be present in all proceedings of the Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case
administrative case," he also said. against respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that
Quitain was appointed Assistant Regional Director of Napolcom in 1991 he be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to
by then President Corazon Aquino upon the recommendation of any position in the government, including government-owned or
Secretary Santos. He was later designated Napolcom acting regional controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits
director for Region XI. except accrued leave credits.
Mindanao Daily Mirror: Respondent was required to Comment.13
Quitain vows to clear name In compliance with the Courts Resolution respondent filed his
Former assistant regional director Jaime Quitain of the National Police Comment14 contending that before he filed his application for RTC
Page 20

Commission (Napolcom) vowed yesterday to clear his name in court Judge with the JBC, he had no knowledge that he was administratively
from charges of tampering with an official receipt.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
dismissed from the NAPOLCOM service as the case was "secretly heard probity. These are qualifications specifically required of appointees to the
and decided." He averred that: Judiciary by Sec. 7(3), Article VIII of the Constitution.17
1. Being a religious lay head and eventually the Pastoral Head of the In this case, Judge Quitain failed to disclose that he was administratively
Redemptorist Eucharistic Lay Ministry in Davao City and the surrounding charged and dismissed from the service for grave misconduct per A.O.
provinces, he was recruited as one of the political followers of then Mayor No. 183 dated April 10, 1995 by no less than the former President of the
Luis T. Santos of Davao City, who later became the Secretary of the Philippines. He insists that on November 26, 2001 or before he filed with
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and was the JBC his verified PDS in support of his application for RTC Judge, he
instrumental in his appointment as Assistant Regional Director of the had no knowledge of A.O. No. 183; and that he was denied due process.
National Police Commission, Region XI; He further argues that since all the criminal cases filed against him were
2. After Secretary Luis T. Santos was replaced as DILG Secretary, the dismissed on August 2, 1995 and July 17, 2000, and considering the fact
political followers of his successor, who were the same followers that he resigned from office, his administrative case had become moot
involved in the chain of corruption prevalent in their department, began and academic.
quietly pressing for his (Quitain) resignation as Assistant Regional Respondents contentions utterly lack merit.
Director; No amount of explanation or justification can erase the fact that Judge
3. Finding difficulty in attacking his honesty and personal integrity, his Quitain was dismissed from the service and that he deliberately withheld
detractors went to the extent of filing criminal charges against him; this information. His insistence that he had no knowledge of A.O. No.
4. Before these criminal charges were scheduled for trial, he was being 183 is belied by the newspaper items published relative to his dismissal.
convinced to resign in exchange for the dismissal of said criminal It bears emphasis that in the Mindanao Times dated April 18, 1995,18
charges, but when he refused to do so, he was unjustifiably detailed or Judge Quitain stated in one of his interviews that "I was dismissed from
"exiled" at the DILG central office in Manila; the (Napolcom) office without due process." It also reads: "Quitain, who
5. Upon his "exile" in Manila for several months, he realized that even was one of the guests in yesterdays Kapehan sa Dabaw, wept
his immediate superiors cooperated with his detractors in instigating for unabashedly as he read his prepared statement on his dismissal from
his removal. Hence, upon advice of his relatives, friends and the heads the government service." Neither can we give credence to the contention
of their pastoral congregation, he resigned from his position in that he was denied due process. The documents submitted by the
NAPOLCOM on condition that all pending cases filed against him, NAPOLCOM to the OCA reveal that Commissioner Alexis C.
consisting of criminal cases only, shall be dismissed, as in fact they were Canonizado, Chairman Ad Hoc Committee, sent him summons on March
dismissed; 19, 1993 informing him that an administrative complaint had been filed
6. From then on he was never formally aware of any administrative case against him and required him to file an answer.19 Then on March 29,
filed against him. Hence, when he submitted his Personal Data Sheet 1993, respondent, through his counsel, Atty. Pedro Castillo, filed an
before the Judicial and Bar Council in support of his application as RTC Answer.20 In administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is
judge, he made the following answer in Question No. 23: simply an opportunity to be heard, or an opportunity to explain ones side
23. Is there any pending civil, criminal, or administrative (including or opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling
disbarment) case or complaint filed against you pending before any complained of. Where opportunity to be heard either through oral
court, prosecution office, any other office, agency or instrumentality of arguments or through pleadings is accorded, there is no denial of due
the government, or the Integrated Bar of the Philippines? process.21 Furthermore, as we have earlier mentioned and which Judge
He could only give a negative answer since there was no pending Quitain ought to know, cessation from office by his resignation does not
administrative case filed against him that he knows; warrant the dismissal of the administrative complaint filed against him
7. Had he known that there was an administrative case filed against him while he was still in the service nor does it render said administrative
he would have desisted from applying as a judge and would have given case moot and academic.22Judge Quitain was removed from office after
his full attention to the said administrative case, if only to avoid ensuing investigation and was found guilty of grave misconduct. His dismissal
embarrassment; and from the service is a clear proof of his lack of the required qualifications
8. The filing of the administrative case against him as well as the to be a member of the Bench.
proceedings had thereon and the decision rendered therein, without his More importantly, it is clear that Judge Quitain deliberately misled the
knowledge, could have probably occurred during his "exile period" when JBC in his bid to gain an exalted position in the Judiciary. In Office of the
he was detailed indefinitely in Manila. The proceedings had in the said Court Administrator v. Estacion, Jr.,23 this Court stressed:
administrative case are null and void since he was denied due process. x x x The important consideration is that he had a duty to inform the
Respondents Comment was submitted to the OCA for evaluation, report appointing authority and this Court of the pending criminal charges
and recommendation.15 against him to enable them to determine on the basis of his record,
OCA submitted its Memorandum16 dated August 11, 2005 stating eligibility for the position he was seeking. He did not discharge that duty.
therein that it was adopting its earlier findings contained in its His record did not contain the important information in question because
Memorandum dated September 3, 2004. Based on the documents he deliberately withheld and thus effectively hid it. His lack of candor is
presented, it can not be denied that at the time Judge Quitain applied as as obvious as his reason for the suppression of such a vital fact, which
an RTC judge, he had full knowledge of A.O. No. 183 dismissing him he knew would have been taken into account against him if it had been
from government service. Considering that Judge Quitains explanations disclosed."
in his Comment are but mere reiterations of his allegations in the Thus, we find respondent guilty of dishonesty. "Dishonesty" means
previous letters to the OCA, the OCA maintained its recommendation "disposition to lie, cheat or defraud; unworthiness; lack of integrity."24
that Judge Quitain be dismissed from the service with prejudice to his Section 8(2), Rule 14025 of the Rules of Court classifies dishonesty as
reappointment to any position in the government, including government- a serious charge. Section 11, same Rules, provides the following
owned or controlled corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement sanctions:
benefits except accrued leave credits. SEC. 11. Sanctions. A. If the respondent is guilty of a serious charge,
The Court fully agrees with the disquisition and the recommendation of any of the following sanctions may be imposed:
the OCA. 1. Dismissal from the service, forfeiture of all or part of the benefits as
It behooves every prospective appointee to the Judiciary to apprise the the Court may determine, and disqualification from reinstatement or
appointing authority of every matter bearing on his fitness for judicial appointment to any public office, including government-owned or
Page 21

office, including such circumstances as may reflect on his integrity and controlled corporations. Provided, however, That the forfeiture of
benefits shall in no case include accrued leave credits;

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2. Suspension from office without salary and other benefits for more than RESOLUTION
three (3) but not exceeding six (6) months; or NACHURA, J.:
3. A fine of not less than P20,000.00 but not exceeding P40,000.00.
In Re: Inquiry on the Appointment of Judge Enrique A. Cube,26 we held: Before the Court is a petition for review of Administrative Case No. 2984
By his concealment of his previous dismissal from the public service, with plea for reinstatement in the practice of law filed by Ismael F. Mejia
which the Judicial and Bar Council would have taken into consideration (Mejia) who is already seventy-one years old and barred from the
in acting on his application, Judge Cube committed an act of dishonesty practice of law for fifteen years.
that rendered him unfit to be appointed to, and to remain now in, the The antecedent facts that led to Mejias disbarment are as follows.
Judiciary he has tarnished with his falsehood. On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained
WHEREFORE, Judge Enrique A. Cube of the Metropolitan Trial Court of attorney, Ismael F. Mejia, of the following administrative offenses:
Manila is DISMISSED with prejudice to his reappointment to any position 1) misappropriating and converting to his personal use:
in the government, including government-owned or controlled a) part of the sum of P27,710.00 entrusted to him for payment of real
corporations, and with forfeiture of all retirement benefits. This decision estate taxes on property belonging to Bernardo, situated in a subdivision
is immediately executory. known as Valle Verde I; and
We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part b) part of another sum of P40,000.00 entrusted to him for payment of
of all those who are in the service of the Judiciary.27 We have often taxes and expenses in connection with the registration of title of Bernardo
stressed that the conduct required of court personnel, from the presiding to another property in a subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
judge to the lowliest clerk of court, must always be beyond reproach and 2) falsification of certain documents, to wit:
circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility as to let them be a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985, purportedly
free from any suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn, and executed in his favor by Bernardo (Annex P, par. 51, complainants
will never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all affidavit dates October 4, 1989);
those involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48, id.); and
norm of public accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the spouses Tomas
the faith of the people in the Judiciary.28lavvphil and Remedios Pastor, in Bernardos favor (Annex Q, par. 52, id.);
Considering the foregoing, Judge Quitain is hereby found guilty of grave 3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in
misconduct. He deserves the supreme penalty of dismissal. payment of a loan obtained from Bernardo in the amount of P50,000.00,
However, on August 9, 2007, the Court received a letter from Judge and thereafter, replacing said check with others known also to be
Quitain addressed to the Chief Justice stating that he is tendering his insufficiently funded.1
irrevocable resignation effective immediately as Presiding Judge of the On July 29, 1992, the Supreme Court En Banc rendered a Decision Per
Regional Trial Court, Branch 10, Davao City. Acting on said letter, "the Curiam, the dispositive portion of which reads:
Court Resolved to accept the irrevocable resignation of Judge Jaime V. WHEREFORE, the Court DECLARES the [sic] respondent, Atty. Ismael
Quitain effective August 15, 2007, without prejudice to the decision of F. Mejia, guilty of all the charges against him and hereby imposes on him
the administrative case."29 the penalty of DISBARMENT. Pending finality of this judgment, and
Verily, the resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court effective immediately, Atty. Ismael F. Mejia is hereby SUSPENDED from
without prejudice does not render moot and academic the instant the practice of law. Let a copy of this Decision be spread in his record in
administrative case. The jurisdiction that the Court had at the time of the the Bar Confidants Office, and notice thereof furnished the Integrated
filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by the mere fact that the Bar of the Philippines, as well as the Court Administrator who is
respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent acceptance DIRECTED to inform all the Courts concerned of this Decision.
without prejudice by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the SO ORDERED.
pendency of this case. The Court retains its authority to pronounce the On June 1, 1999, Mejia filed a Petition praying that he be allowed to
respondent official innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A reengage in the practice of law. On July 6, 1999, the Supreme Court En
contrary rule would be fraught with injustice and pregnant with dreadful Banc issued a Resolution denying the petition for reinstatement.
and dangerous implications.30Indeed, if innocent, the respondent official On January 23, 2007, Mejia filed the present petition for review of
merits vindication of his name and integrity as he leaves the government Administrative Case No. 2984 with a plea for reinstatement in the
which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to receive practice of law. No comment or opposition was filed against the petition.2
the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to
the situation.31 a great extent on the sound discretion of the Court. The action will
WHEREFORE, in view of our finding that JUDGE JAIME V. QUITAIN is depend on whether or not the Court decides that the public interest in
guilty of grave misconduct which would have warranted his dismissal the orderly and impartial administration of justice will continue to be
from the service had he not resigned during the pendency of this case, preserved even with the applicants reentry as a counselor at law. The
he is hereby meted the penalty of a fine of P40,000.00. It appearing that applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court
he has yet to apply for his retirement benefits and other privileges, if any, that he is a person of good moral character, a fit and proper person to
the Court likewise ORDERS the FORFEITURE of all benefits, except practice law. The Court will take into consideration the applicants
earned leave credits which Judge Quitain may be entitled to, and he is character and standing prior to the disbarment, the nature and character
PERPETUALLY DISQUALIFIED from reinstatement and appointment to of the charge/s for which he was disbarred, his conduct subsequent to
any branch, instrumentality or agency of the government, including the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed between the disbarment
government-owned and/or controlled corporations. and the application for reinstatement.3
This Decision is immediately executory. In the petition, Mejia acknowledged his indiscretions in the law
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to Judge Jaime V. Quitains 201 profession.1avvphi1 Fifteen years had already elapsed since Mejias
File. name was dropped from the Roll of Attorneys. At the age of seventy-one,
SO ORDERED. he is begging for forgiveness and pleading for reinstatement. According
to him, he has long repented and he has suffered enough. Through his
Adm. Case No. 2984 August 31, 2007 reinstatement, he wants to leave a legacy to his children and redeem the
RODOLFO M. BERNARDO, Complainant, indignity that they have suffered due to his disbarment.
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vs. After his disbarment, he put up the Mejia Law Journal, a publication
ATTY. ISMAEL F. MEJIA, Respondent. containing his religious and social writings. He also organized a religious

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
organization and named it "El Cristo Movement and Crusade on Miracle 2) respondent's alleged violation of the so-called "rotation rule"
of Heart and Mind." enunciated in Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (in
The Court is inclined to grant the present petition. Fifteen years has the Matter: 1989 IBP Elections).
passed since Mejia was punished with the severe penalty of disbarment. Complainant averred that the respondent, in appropriating for his own
Although the Court does not lightly take the bases for Mejias disbarment, benefit funds due his client, was found to have performed an act
it also cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced constituting moral turpitude by the Hearing Referee Bill Dozier, Hearing
years. While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which Department San Francisco, State Bar of California in Administrative
he has endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in Case No. 86-0-18429. Complainant alleged that the respondent was
allowing a petition for reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the then forced to resign or surrender his license to practice law in the said
rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his disbarment in 1992, no other state in order to evade the recommended three (3) year suspension.
transgression has been attributed to him, and he has shown remorse. Complainant asserted that the respondent lacks the moral competence
Obviously, he has learned his lesson from this experience, and his necessary to lead the country's most noble profession.
punishment has lasted long enough. Thus, while the Court is ever Complainant, likewise, contended that the respondent violated the so-
mindful of its duty to discipline its erring officers, it also knows how to called "rotation rule" provided for in Administrative Matter No. 491 when
show compassion when the penalty imposed has already served its he transferred to IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter. He claimed that the
purpose. After all, penalties, such as disbarment, are imposed not to respondent failed to meet the requirements outlined in the IBP By-Laws
punish but to correct offenders. pertaining to transfer of Chapter Membership. He surmised that the
We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a respondent's transfer was intended only for the purpose of becoming the
privilege burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of next IBP National President. Complainant prayed that the respondent be
mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful enjoined from assuming office as IBP National President.
compliance with the rules of the legal profession are the continuing Meanwhile, in his Comment dated 2 May 2005, respondent stated that
requirements for enjoying the privilege to practice law.4 the issues raised in above-mentioned Complaint were the very issues
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition for reinstatement in raised in an earlier administrative case filed by the same complainant
the Roll of Attorneys by Ismael F. Mejia is hereby GRANTED. against him. In fact, according to him, the said issues were already
SO ORDERED. extensively discussed and categorically ruled upon by this Court in its
Decision dated 11 December 2005 in Administrative Case No. 6052 (In
A.C. No. 6697 July 25, 2006 Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard De Vera). Respondent prayed
ZOILO ANTONIO VELEZ, complainant, that the instant administrative complaint be dismissed following the
vs. principle of res judicata.
ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA, respondent. On 15 June 2005, both parties appeared before the Office of the Bar
x-------------------------x Confidant for presentation of evidence in support of their respective
Bar Matter No. 1227 July 25, 2006 allegations.
RE: OATH-TAKING OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE VERA, INCOMING Subsequently, in a Memorandum dated 20 June 2005, complainant
PRESIDENT OF THE INTEGRATED BAR OF THE PHILIPPINES. maintained that there is substantial evidence showing respondent's
x-------------------------x moral baseness, vileness and depravity, which could be used as a basis
A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC July 25, 2006 for his disbarment. Complainant stressed that the respondent never
IN THE MATTER OF THE REMOVAL OF ATTY. LEONARD S. DE denied that he used his client's money. Complainant argued that the
VERA FROM THE IBP BOARD OF GOVERNORS AS EXECUTIVE respondent failed to present evidence that the Supreme Court of
VICE PRESIDENT AND GOVERNOR. California accepted the latter's resignation and even if such was
IN THE MATTER OF THE LETTER-COMPLAINT OF ATTY. LEONARD accepted, complainant posited that this should not absolve the
S. DE VERA DATED MAY 18, 2005 TO FORTHWITH respondent from liability.
DENY/DISAPPROVE THE IBP RESOLUTION UNJUSTLY, Moreover, complainant added that the principle of res judicata would not
ILLEGALLY, ARBITRARILY, AND ABRUPTLY REMOVING HIM apply in the case at bar. He asserted that the first administrative case
FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE IBP FOR ABSOLUTE filed against the respondent was one for his disqualification. x x x.
LACK OF BASIS AND FOR FLAGRANT DENIAL OF DUE PROCESS. Bar Matter No. 1227
A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC
DECISION As earlier adverted to, Bar Matter No. 1227 refers to Atty. de Vera's letter-
Per Curiam: request to this Court to schedule his oath taking as IBP National
Before Us are three consolidated cases revolving around Integrated Bar President. A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC, on the other hand, is a letter-report
of the Philippines (IBP) Governor and Executive Vice-President (EVP) dated 19 May 2005 of IBP National President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz (IBP
Atty. Leonard de Vera. The first pertains to a disbarment case President Cadiz) furnishing this Court with the IBP's Resolution, dated
questioning Atty. de Vera's moral fitness to remain as a member of the 13 May 2005, removing Atty. De Vera as member of the IBP Board and
Philippine Bar, the second refers to Atty. de Vera's letter-request to as IBP EVP, for committing acts inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP in
schedule his oath taking as IBP National President, and the third case general.2
concerns the validity of his removal as Governor and EVP of the IBP by The controversy in Bar Matter No. 1227 and A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC arose
the IBP Board. The resolution of these cases will determine the national from the regular meeting of the IBP Board of Governors held on 14
presidency of the IBP for the term 2005-2007. January 2005. In said meeting, by 2/3 vote (6 voting in favor and 2
A.C. No. 6697 against), the IBP Board approved the withdrawal of the Petition filed
The Office of the Bar Confidant, which this Court tasked to make an before this Court docketed as "Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Jose
investigation, report and recommendation on subject case,1 summarized Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. Senate of the Philippines, et al. Petition for
the antecedents thereof as follows: Certiorari and Prohibition with Prayer for the Issuance of Temporary
In a Complaint dated 11 April 2005, complainant Zoilo Antonio Velez Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary Injunction, SC-R165108." The
moved for the suspension and/or disbarment of respondent Atty. Petition was intended to question the legality and/or constitutionality of
Leonard de Vera based on the following grounds: Republic Act No. 9227, authorizing the increase in the salaries of judges
Page 23

1) respondent's alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension and justices, and to increase filing fees.3
order rendered against him by the State Bar of California; and

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The two IBP Governors who opposed the said Resolution approving the On 18 May 2005, Atty. de Vera aired his sentiments to this Court by
withdrawal of the above-described Petition were herein respondent writing the then Hon. Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr. a letter
Governor and EVP de Vera and Governor Carlos L. Valdez.4 captioned as "Urgent Plea to Correct a Glaring Injustice of the IBP Board
On 19 January 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed this Court of the of Governors; Vehement Protest to the Board Resolution Abruptly
decision taken by the IBP Board to withdraw the afore-mentioned Removing Atty. Leonard de Vera from the Board of Governors in Patent
Petition. Attached to his letter was a copy of the IBP Board's 14 January Violation of Due Process; Petition to Deny/Disapprove the Completely
2005 Resolution.5 Unjustified and Highly Arbitrary Resolution Precipitately Ousting Atty. de
On 15 April 2005, Bar Matter No. 1227, pertaining to Atty. de Vera's Vera from the Board of Governors in Less Than Twenty Four (24) Hours
request for oathtaking as National President, was filed. The same was from Notice and Judgment Without Formal Investigation."12
subsequently consolidated with A.C. No. 6697, the disbarment case filed In the said letter, Atty. de Vera strongly and categorically denied having
against Atty. de Vera.6 committed acts inimical to the IBP and its Board. He alleged that on the
On 22 April 2005, a plenary session was held at the 10th National IBP basis of an unverified letter-complaint filed by IBP Governor Rivera, the
Convention at the CAP-Camp John Hay Convention Center, Baguio City. IBP Board voted to expel him posthaste, without just cause and in
It was at this forum where Atty. de Vera allegedly made some untruthful complete disregard of even the minimum standards of due process.
statements, innuendos and blatant lies in connection with the IBP Pertinent portions of his letter read:
Board's Resolution to withdraw the Petition questioning the legality of It is evident that the Board of Governors has committed a grave and
Republic Act No. 9227.7 serious injustice against me especially when, as the incumbent
On 10 May 2005, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order Executive Vice President of the IBP, I am scheduled to assume my
(TRO) enjoining Atty. de Vera from assuming office as IBP National position as National President of the IBP on July 1, 2005. x x x
President.8 I was denied the very basic rights of due process recognized by the
On 12 May 2005, IBP Gov. Romulo A. Rivera wrote IBP National Supreme Court even in administrative cases:
President Cadiz a letter wherein he prayed for the removal of Atty. de 1. The denial of the right to answer the charges formally or in writing. The
Vera as member of the IBP Board for having committed acts which were complaint against me was in writing.
inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP.9 2. The denial of the right to answer the charges within a reasonable
On 13 May 2005, in the 20th Regular Meeting of the Board held at the period of time after receipt of the complaint.
Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City, the IBP Board, by 2/3 vote, resolved to 3. The denial of the right to a fair hearing.
remove Atty. de Vera as member of the IBP Board of Governors and as 4. The denial of the right to confront the accuser and the witnesses
IBP Executive Vice President.10 Quoted hereunder is the dispositive against me. I challenged Gov. Rivera to testify under oath so I could
portion of said Resolution: question him. He refused. I offered to testify under oath so I could be
NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, AS IT IS HEREBY questioned. My request was denied.
RESOLVED, that Governor Leonard S. de Vera is REMOVED as a 5. The denial of my right to present witnesses on my behalf.
member of the IBP Board of Governors and Executive Vice President for 6. The denial of my right to an impartial judge. Governor Rivera was my
committing acts inimical to the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP, to accuser, prosecutor, and judge all at the same time.
wit: 7. Gov. Rivera's prejudgment of my case becomes even more evident
1. For making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies in public because when his motion to expel me was lost in a 5-3 votes (due to his
about the Supreme Court and members of the IBP Board of Governors, inhibition to vote), Gov. Rivera asked for another round of voting so he
during the Plenary Session of the IBP 10th National Convention of can vote to support his own complaint and motion to expel me.13
Lawyers, held at CAP-Camp John Hay Convention Center on 22 April (Emphasis and underscoring in original.)
2005, making it appear that the decision of the IBP Board of Governors On 27 May 2005, the IBP Board responded to the 18 May 2005 letter of
to withdraw the PETITION docketed as "Integrated Bar of the Atty. de Vera.14 In their Reply, the IBP Board explained to this Court that
Philippines, Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, et al. vs. The Senate of the their decision to remove Atty. de Vera was based on valid grounds and
Philippines, et al., Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition With Prayer for was intended to protect itself from a recalcitrant member. Among the
the Issuance of A Temporary Restraining Order or Writ of Preliminary grounds cited and elucidated by the IBP Board were the following:
Injunction, S.C.-R. 165108", was due to influence and pressure from the (i) Atty. de Vera engaged himself in a negative media campaign and
Supreme Court of the Philippines; solicited resolutions from IBP Chapters to condemn the IBP Board of
2. For making said untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies that Governors for its decision to withdraw the Petition, all with the end in
brought the IBP Board of Governors and the IBP as a whole in public view of compelling or coercing the IBP Board of Governors to reconsider
contempt and disrepute; the decision to withdraw the Petition.
3. For violating Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for (ii) Atty. de Vera embarrassed, humiliated and maligned the IBP Board
Lawyers which mandates that "A lawyer shall observe and maintain the of Governors and the IBP National President in public or during the
respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on Plenary Session at the 10th National Convention of Lawyers.
similar conduct by others", by making untruthful statements, innuendos (iii) Rather than pacify the already agitated 'solicited' speakers (at the
and blatant lies during the Plenary Session of the IBP 10th National plenary session), Atty. de Vera "fanned the fire", so to speak, and went
Convention of Lawyers in Baguio City; to the extent of making untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant lies
4. For instigating and provoking some IBP chapters to embarrass and about the Supreme Court and some members of the IBP Board of
humiliate the IBP Board of Governors in order to coerce and compel the Governors. He deliberately and intentionally did so to provoke the
latter to pursue the aforesaid PETITION; members of the IBP Board of Governors to engage him in an
5. For falsely accusing the IBP National President, Jose Anselmo I. acrimonious public debate and expose the IBP Board of Governors to
Cadiz, during the Plenary Session of the 10th National Convention in public ridicule.
Baguio City of withholding from him a copy of Supreme Court Resolution, (iv) Atty. de Vera uttered untruthful statements, innuendos and blatant
dated 25 January 2005, granting the withdrawal of the PETITION, lies, e.g., that some of the members of the IBP Board of Governors voted
thereby creating the wrong impression that the IBP National President in favor of the withdrawal of the petition (without mentioning names)
deliberately prevented him from taking the appropriate remedies with because "nakakahiya kasi sa Supreme Court, nakakaawa kasi ang
respect thereto, thus compromising the reputation and integrity of the Supreme Court, kasi may mga kaibigan tayo sa Court." He made it
Page 24

IBP National President and the IBP as a whole.11 appear that the IBP Board of Governors approved the resolution,

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withdrawing the petition, due to "influence" or "pressure" from the Governors shall elect an Acting President to hold office for the unexpired
Supreme Court.15 portion of the term or during the period of disability.
The IBP Board explained that Atty. de Vera's actuation during the Unless otherwise provided in these By-Laws, all other officers and
Plenary Session was "the last straw that broke the camel's back." He employees appointed by the President with the consent of the Board
committed acts inimical to the interest of the IBP Board and the IBP; shall hold office at the pleasure of the Board or for such term as the
hence, the IBP Board decided to remove him. Board may fix.24
On 3 June 2005, Atty. de Vera furnished the Court with copies of To bolster his position, Atty. de Vera stressed that when both the
resolutions and a position paper coming from various IBP Chapters all President and the EVP die, resign, are removed, or are disabled, the IBP
condemning his expulsion from the IBP Board and as IBP EVP.16 By-Laws only provides for the election of an Acting President and that no
On 15 June 2005, IBP President Cadiz informed Chief Justice Davide mention for an election for EVP was made. Thus, when such election for
that in a special meeting of the IBP Board held at the EDSA Shangri-la EVP occurs, such is contrary to the express provision of the IBP By-
Plaza on 13 June 2005, the IBP Board took note of the vacancy in the Laws.
position of the IBP EVP brought about by Atty. de Vera's removal. In his Atty. de Vera also argued that even if he were validly removed as IBP
stead, IBP Governor Pura Angelica Y. Santiago was formally elected and EVP, his replacement should come from Eastern Mindanao and not from
declared as IBP EVP.17 any other region, due to the Rotation Rule embodied in par. 2, Section
On 17 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested against the election of Atty. 47, Article VII of the IBP By-Laws.
Santiago.18 On 20 June 2005, Atty. Santiago voluntarily relinquished the In response to Atty. de Vera's averments, the 2003-2005 IBP Board,
EVP position through a letter addressed to the IBP Board.19 Thus, on through its counsel, submitted a Reply dated 27 January 2006 and
25 June 2005, during its last regular meeting, the IBP Board elected a clarified as follows:
new EVP in the person of IBP Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar to (i) The IBP Board of Governors is vested with sufficient power and
replace Atty. Santiago. authority to protect itself from an intractable member by virtue of Article
On 28 June 2005, IBP National President Cadiz, through a letter VI, Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws;
addressed to Chief Justice Davide, reported to this Court Atty. Salazar's (ii) Atty. de Vera was removed as a member of the IBP Board and as IBP
election.20 IBP National President Cadiz also requested, among other EVP not because of his disagreement with the IBP Board's position but
things, that Atty. Salazar's election be approved and that he be allowed because of the various acts that he committed which the IBP Board
to assume as National President in the event that Atty. de Vera is determined to be inimical to the IBP Board and the IBP as a whole;
disbarred or suspended from the practice of law or should his removal (iii) Atty. de Vera cannot exculpate himself from liability by invoking his
from the 2003-2005 Board of Governors and as EVP is approved by this constitutional right to Free Speech because, as a member of the Bar, it
Court.21 Also on 28 June 2005, Atty. de Vera protested the election of is his sworn duty to observe and maintain the respect due to the courts
Atty. Salazar.22 and to judicial officers and to insist on similar conduct by others;
In his Extended Comment23 dated 25 July 2005, Atty. de Vera (iv) The IBP Board, in effecting the removal of Atty. de Vera, observed
maintained that there was absolutely no factual or legal basis to sustain the fundamental principles of due process. As the records would bear,
the motion to remove him from the IBP Board because he violated no Atty. de Vera was duly notified of the Regular Meeting of the IBP Board
law. He argued that if the basis for his removal as EVP was based on held on 13 May 2004; was furnished a copy of Governor Rivera's Letter-
the same grounds as his removal from the IBP Board, then his removal Complaint the day before the said meeting; was furnished a copy of the
as EVP was likewise executed without due notice and without the least said Meeting's Agenda; and was allowed to personally defend himself
compliance with the minimum standards of due process of law. and his accuser, Gov. Rivera;
Atty. de Vera strongly averred that, contrary to the utterly false and (v) Atty. de Vera was validly removed because the required number of
malicious charges filed against him, the speakers at the Plenary Session votes under Section 44 of the IBP By-Laws to remove Atty. de Vera as a
of the Baguio Convention, although undeniably impassioned and member of the IBP Board and as IBP EVP was duly complied with;
articulate, were respectful in their language and exhortations, not once (vi) Atty. de Vera's replacement as IBP EVP need not come from Eastern
undermining the stature of the IBP in general and the IBP Board of Mindanao Region because: (a) the rotation rule under Article VII, Section
Governors in particular. He posited that speaking in disagreement with 47, par. 2 of the IBP By-Laws had already been complied with when Atty.
the Resolution of the Board during the Convention's Plenary Session is de Vera, who hails from Eastern Mindanao, was elected IBP EVP; and
not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member of the IBP (b) the rotation rule need not be enforced if the same will not be
Board of Governors; and the decision to remove him only shows that the practicable, possible, feasible, doable or viable; and, finally, that
right to freedom of speech or the right to dissent is not recognized by the (vii) Atty. Salazar was validly elected as IBP EVP and, thus, should now
incumbent IBP Board. be allowed to take his oath as IBP National President.25
Anent the charges that he accused the National President of withholding The Court's Ruling
a copy of this Court's Resolution granting the withdrawal of the Petition AC No. 6697
questioning the legality of Republic Act No. 9227, Atty. de Vera avowed In his Memorandum26 dated 20 June 2005, complainant tendered the
that he made no such remarks. As regards the election of a new IBP following issues for the consideration of the Court:
EVP, Atty. de Vera contended that the said election was illegal as it was I.
contrary to the provisions of the IBP By-Laws concerning national WHETHER OR NOT RESPONDENT ATTORNEY LEONARD S.
officers, to wit: DEVERA (sic) COMMITED MALPRACTICE WHICH AMOUNTED TO
Section. 49. Term of office. - The President and the Executive Vice MORAL T[U]RPITUDE IN THE STATE BAR OF CALIFORNIA AND IN
President shall hold office for a term of two years from July 1 following THE PHILIPPINES, IN THE COURSE OF HIS PRACTICE OF LAW.
their election until 30 June of their second year in office and until their II.
successors shall have been duly chosen and qualified. WHETHER OR NOT THE OATH OF OFFICE AS LAWYER IS
In the event the President is absent or unable to act, his functions and ATTACHED TO THE PERSON OF ATTORNEY LEONARD S. DEVERA
duties shall be performed by the Executive Vice President, and in the (sic) WHEREVER HE MAY GO AND NOT NECESSARILY BOUND BY
event of death, resignation, or removal of the President, the Executive THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION OF THE PHILIPPINES.
Vice President shall serve as Acting President for the unexpired portion III.
of the term. In the event of death, resignation, removal or disability of WHETHER OR NOT THERE IS SUBSTANTIAL EVIDENCE TO PROVE
Page 25

both the President and the Executive Vice President, the Board of THE MORAL T[U]RPITUDE, AS BASIS FOR DISBARMENT OF
RESPONDENT IN AN ADMINISTRATIVE PROCEEDING.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
IV. The same is provided in Section 29-2 of the IBP By-Laws. In fact, under
WHETHER OR NOT RES JUDICATA APPLIES IN THIS CASE, DUE this Section, transfer of IBP membership is allowed as long as the lawyer
TO ADMIN. CASE NO. [6052]27 complies with the conditions set forth therein, thus:
The disposition of the first three related issues hinges on the resolution xxx
of the fourth issue. Consequently, we will start with the last issue. The only condition required under the foregoing rule is that the transfer
A.C. No. 6052 is not a bar to the filing of the present administrative case. must be made not less than three months prior to the election of officers
In disposing of the question of res judicata, the Bar Confidant opined: in the chapter to which the lawyer wishes to transfer.
To reiterate, the instant case for suspension and/or disbarment against In the case at bar, respondent De Vera requested the transfer of his IBP
respondent Leonard De Vera is grounded on the following: membership to Agusan del Sur on 1 August 2001. One month thereafter,
1) respondent's alleged misrepresentation in concealing the suspension IBP National Secretary Jaime M. Vibar wrote a letter addressed to Atty.
order rendered against him by the State Bar in California; and Amador Z. Tolentino, Jr., Secretary of IBP PPLM Chapter and Atty.
2) respondent's alleged violation of the so-called "rotation rule" Lyndon J. Romero, Secretary of IBP Agusan del Sur Chapter, informing
enunciated in Administrative Matter No. 491 dated 06 October 1989 (In them of respondent de Vera's transfer and advising them to make the
the Matter: 1989 IBP Elections). necessary notation in their respective records. This letter is a substantial
It appears that the complainant already raised the said issues in an compliance with the certification mentioned in Section 29-2 as
earlier administrative case against the respondent. Verily, these issues aforequoted. Note that de Vera's transfer was made effective sometime
were already argued upon by the parties in their respective pleadings, between 1 August 2001 and 3 September 2001. On 27 February 2003,
and discussed and ruled upon by this Court in its Decision dated 11 the elections of the IBP Chapter Officers were simultaneously held all
December 2003 in Administrative Matter No. 6052 (In Re: Petition to over the Philippines, as mandated by Section 29.a of the IBP By-Laws
Disqualify Atty. Leonard de Vera). which provides that elections of Chapter Officers and Directors shall be
As such, with respect to the first issue, this Court held that: held on the last Saturday of February of every other year. Between 3
"As for the administrative complaint filed against him by one of his clients September 2001 and 27 February 2003, seventeen months had elapsed.
when he was practicing law in California, which in turn compelled him to This makes respondent de Vera's transfer valid as it was done more than
surrender his California license to practice law, he maintains that it three months ahead of the chapter elections held on 27 February 2003.
cannot serve as basis for determining his moral qualification (or lack of In the case of Romulo G. Dinsay vs. Atty. Leopoldo D. Cioco
it) to run for the position he is aspiring for. He explains that there is as (Administrative Case No. 2995, 27 November 1996), this Court declared
yet no final judgment finding him guilty of the administrative charge, as that:
the records relied upon by the petitioners are mere preliminary findings "The doctrine of res judicata applies only to judicial or quasi-judicial
of a hearing referee which are recommendatory findings of an IBP proceedings and not to the exercise of the [Court's] administrative
Commissioner on Bar Discipline which are subject to the review of and powers."
the final decision of the Supreme Court. He also stresses that the In the said case, respondent Clerk of Court Cioco was dismissed from
complainant in the California administrative case has retracted the service for grave misconduct highly prejudicial to the service for
accusation that he misappropriated the complainant's money, but surreptitiously substituting the bid price in a Certificate of Sale from
unfortunately the retraction was not considered by the investigating P3,263,182.67 to only P730,000.00. Thereafter a complaint for
officer. xxx" disbarment was filed against the respondent on the basis of the same
"On the administrative complaint that was filed against respondent De incident. Respondent, interposing res judicata, argued that he may no
Vera while he was still practicing law in California, he explained that no longer be charged on the basis of the same incident. This Court held that
final judgment was rendered by the California Supreme Court finding him while the respondent is in effect being indicted twice for the same
guilty of the charge. He surrendered his license to protest the misconduct, this does not amount to double jeopardy as both
discrimination he suffered at the hands of the investigator and he found proceedings are admittedly administrative in nature. This Court qualified
it impractical to pursue the case to the end. We find these explanations that, in the first case, the respondent was proceeded against as an erring
satisfactory in the absence of contrary proof. It is a basic rule on evidence court personnel under the Court's supervisory power over courts while,
that he who alleges a fact has the burden to prove the same. In this case, in the second case, he was disciplined as a lawyer under the Court's
the petitioners have not shown how the administrative complaint affects plenary authority over membersof the legal profession.
respondent De Vera's moral fitness to run for governor. In subsequent decisions of this Court, however, it appears that res
On the other hand, as regards the second issue: judicata still applies in administrative cases. Thus, in the case of Atty.
"Petitioners contend that respondent de Vera is disqualified for the post Eduardo C. De Vera vs. Judge William Layague (Administrastive Matter
because he is not really from Eastern Mindanao. His place of residence No. RTJ-93-986), this Court ruled that:
is in Paraaque and he was originally a member of the PPLM IBP "While double jeopardy does not lie in administrative cases, it would be
Chapter. He only changed his IBP Chapter membership to pave the way contrary to equity and substantial justice to penalize respondent judge a
for his ultimate goal of attaining the highest IBP post, which is the second time for an act which he had already answered for.";
national presidency. Petitioners aver that in changing his IBP Likewise, in the recent case of Executive Judge Henry B. Basilia vs.
membership, respondent De Vera violated the domicile rule. Judge Amado L. Becamon, Lolita Delos Reyes and Eddie Delos Reyes
The contention has no merit. Under the last paragraph of Section 19, (Administrative Matter No. MTJ-02-1404, 14 December 2004), this Court
Article II, a lawyer included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court held that:
can register with the particular IBP Chapter of his preference or choice, "Applying the principle of res judicata or bar by prior judgment, the
thus: present administrative case becomes dismissible.
xxx xxx
It is clearly stated in the aforequoted section of the By-Laws that it is not Under the said doctrine, a matter that has been adjudicated by a court of
automatic that a lawyer will become a member of the chapter where his competent jurisdiction must be deemed to have been finally and
place of residence or work is located. He has the discretion to choose conclusively settled if it arises in any subsequent litigation between the
the particular chapter where he wishes to gain membership. Only when same parties and for the same cause. It provides that
he does not register his preference that he will become a member of the [a] final judgment on the merits rendered by a court of competent
Chapter of the place where he resides or maintains office. The only jurisdiction is conclusive as to the rights of the parties and their privies;
Page 26

proscription in registering one's preference is that a lawyer cannot be a and constitutes an absolute bar to subsequent actions involving the
member of more than one chapter at the same time. same claim, demand, or cause of action. Res judicata is based on the

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
ground that the party to be affected, or some other with whom he is in There is nothing in the By-Laws which explicitly provides that one must
privity, has litigated the same matter in the former action in a court of be morally fit before he can run for IBP governorship. For one, this is so
competent jurisdiction, and should not be permitted to litigate it again. because the determination of moral fitness of a candidate lies in the
This principle frees the parties from undergoing all over again the rigors individual judgment of the members of the House of Delegates. Indeed,
of unnecessary suits and repetitious trials. At the same time, it prevents based on each member's standard of morality, he is free to nominate and
the clogging of court dockets. Equally important, res judicata stabilizes elect any member, so long as the latter possesses the basic
rights and promotes the rule of law." requirements under the law. For another, basically the disqualification of
In the instant administrative case, it is clear that the issues raised by the a candidate involving lack of moral fitness should emanate from his
complainant had already been resolved by this Court in an earlier disbarment or suspension from the practice of law by this Court, or
administrative case. The complainant's contention that the principle ofres conviction by final judgment of an offense which involves moral
judicata would not apply in the case at bar as the first administrative case turpitude.30
was one for disqualification while the instant administrative complaint is What this simply means is that absent a final judgment by the Supreme
one for suspension and/or disbarment should be given least credence. It Court in a proper case declaring otherwise, every lawyer aspiring to hold
is worthy to note that while the instant administrative complaint is the position of IBP Regional Director is presumed morally fit. Any person
denominated as one for suspension and/or disbarment, it prayed neither who begs to disagree will not be able to find a receptive audience in the
the suspension nor the disbarment of the respondent but instead merely IBP through a petition for disqualification but must first file the necessary
sought to enjoin the respondent from assuming office as IBP National disbarment or suspension proceeding against the lawyer concerned.
President.28 And this is precisely what complainant has chosen to do in the instant
Contrary to the findings of the Bar Confidant, Adm. Case No. 6052 case. As his petition is sufficient in form and substance, we have given it
entitled, "In Re: Petition to Disqualify Atty. Leonard de Vera, on Legal due course pursuant to Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. And, considering
and Moral Grounds, From Being Elected IBP Governor for Eastern that this case is not barred by the prior judgment in Adm. Case No. 6052,
Mindanao in the May 31 IBP Election" and promulgated on 11 December the only issue left for consideration is whether or not Atty. de Vera can
2003 does not constitute a bar to the filing of Adm. Case No. 6697. be suspended or disbarred under the facts of the case and the evidence
Although the parties in the present administrative case and in Adm. Case submitted by complainant.
No. 6052 are identical, their capacities in these cases and the issues The recommendation of the hearing officer of the State Bar of California,
presented therein are not the same, thereby barring the application ofres standing alone, is not proof of malpractice.
judicata. In the case of the Suspension From The Practice of Law In The Territory
In order that the principle of res judicata may be made to apply, four of Guam of Atty. Leon G. Maquera,31we were confronted with the
essential conditions must concur, namely: (1) the judgment sought to bar question of whether or not a member of the Philippine Bar, who is
the new action must be final; (2) the decision must have been rendered concomitantly an attorney in a foreign jurisdiction and who was
by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the parties; (3) suspended from the practice of law in said foreign jurisdiction, can be
the disposition of the case must be a judgment or order on the merits, sanctioned as member of the Philippine Bar for the same infraction
and (4) there must be between the first and second action identity of committed in the foreign jurisdiction.
parties, identity of subject matter, and identity of causes of action.29 In We take the issue in Atty. Maquera one notch higher in the case of Atty.
the absence of any one of these elements, Atty. de Vera cannot argue de Vera who was admitted to the practice of law in a foreign jurisdiction
res judicata in his favor. (State Bar of California, U.S.A.) and against whom charges were filed in
It is noteworthy that the two administrative cases involve different subject connection with his practice in said jurisdiction. However, unlike the case
matters and causes of action. In Adm. Case No. 6052, the subject matter of Atty. Maquera, no final judgment for suspension or disbarment was
was the qualification of Atty. de Vera to run as a candidate for the position meted against Atty. de Vera despite a recommendation of suspension of
of IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present administrative three years as he surrendered his license to practice law before his case
complaint, the subject matter is his privilege to practice law. In the first could be taken up by the Supreme Court of California.
administrative case, complainants' cause of action was Atty. de Vera's In Maquera, we emphasized that the judgment of suspension against a
alleged violation or circumvention of the IBP By-laws. In the present Filipino lawyer in a foreign jurisdiction does not automatically result in his
administrative case, the primary cause of action is Atty. de Vera's alleged suspension or disbarment in the Philippines as the acts giving rise to his
violation of lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. suspension are not grounds for disbarment and suspension in this
Finally, the two administrative cases do not seek the same relief. In the jurisdiction. Judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer may
first case, the complainants sought to prevent Atty. de Vera from transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in the Philippines only if
assuming his post as IBP Governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present the basis of the foreign court's action includes any of the grounds for
case, as clarified by complainant in his Memorandum, what is being disbarment or suspension in this jurisdiction. We likewise held that the
principally sought is Atty. de Vera's suspension or disbarment. judgment of the foreign court merely constitutes prima facie evidence of
The distinctions between the two cases are far from trivial. The previous unethical acts as lawyer.
case was resolved on the basis of the parties' rights and obligations The Maquera ruling is consistent with Rule 39, Section 48, of the Rules
under the IBP By-laws. We held therein that Atty. de Vera cannot be of Court which provides:
disqualified from running as Regional Governor as there is nothing in the Sec. 48. Effect of foreign judgments or final orders. - The effect of a
present IBP By-laws that sanctions the disqualification of candidates for judgment or final order of a tribunal of a foreign country, having
IBP governors. Consequently, we stressed that the petition had no firm jurisdiction to render the judgment or final order is as follows:
ground to stand on. Likewise, we held that the complainants therein were xxxx
not the proper parties to bring the suit as the IBP By-laws prescribes that (b) In case of a judgment or final order against a person, the judgment
only nominees - which the complainants were not - can file with the IBP or final order is presumptive evidence of a right as between the parties
President a written protest against the candidate. The Court's statement, and their successors in interest by a subsequent title.
therefore, that Atty. de Vera cannot be disqualified on the ground that he In either case, the judgment or final order may be repelled by evidence
was not morally fit was mere obiter dictum. Precisely, the IBP By-laws of a want of jurisdiction, want of notice to the party, collusion, fraud, or
do not allow for pre-election disqualification proceedings; hence, Atty. de clear mistake of law or fact.
Vera cannot be disqualified on the basis of the administrative findings of In Philippine Aluminum Wheels, Inc. v. Fasgi Enterprises, Inc.,32 we
Page 27

a hearing officer of the State Bar of California suspending him from the explained that "[a] foreign judgment is presumed to be valid and binding
practice of law for three years. We held in that case that in the country from which it comes, until a contrary showing, on the basis

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
of a presumption of regularity of proceedings and the giving of due notice Willis) gave him authority to use the same and that, unfortunately, the
in the foreign forum." hearing officer did not consider this explanation notwithstanding the fact
In herein case, considering that there is technically no foreign judgment that the elder Willis testified under oath that he "expected de Vera might
to speak of, the recommendation by the hearing officer of the State Bar use the money for a few days."
of California does not constitute prima facie evidence of unethical By insisting that he was authorized by his client's father and attorney-in-
behavior by Atty. de Vera. Complainant must prove by substantial fact to use the funds, Atty. de Vera has impliedly admitted the use of the
evidence the facts upon which the recommendation by the hearing Willis funds for his own personal use.
officer was based. If he is successful in this, he must then prove that In fact, Atty. de Vera did not deny complainant's allegation in the latter's
these acts are likewise unethical under Philippine law. memorandum that he (de Vera) received US$12,000.00 intended for his
There is substantial evidence of malpractice on the part of Atty. de Vera client and that he deposited said amount in his personal account and not
independent of the recommendation of suspension by the hearing officer in a separate trust account and that, finally, he spent the amount for
of the State Bar of California personal purposes.42
Section 27 of Rule 138 of our Rules of Court states: At this point, it bears stressing that in cases filed before administrative
SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court; and quasi-judicial bodies, a fact may be deemed established if it is
grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended supported by substantial evidence or that amount of relevant evidence
from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, which a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to justify a
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conclusion.43 It means such evidence which affords a substantial basis
conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral from which the fact in issue can be reasonably inferred.44
turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take Beyond doubt, the unauthorized use by a lawyer of his client's funds is
before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience of any lawful highly unethical. Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or wilfully appearing as an emphatic about this, thus:
attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of CANON 16. A LAWYER SHALL HOLD IN TRUST ALL MONEYS AND
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or PROPERTIES OF HIS CLIENT THAT MAY COME TO HIS
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice. POSSESSION.
The disbarment or suspension of a member of the Philippine Bar by a Rule 16.01. A lawyer shall account for all money or property collected or
competent court or other disciplinary agency in a foreign jurisdiction received for or from the client.
where he has also been admitted as an attorney is a ground for his Rule 16.02. A lawyer shall keep the funds of each client separate and
disbarment or suspension if the basis of such action includes any of the apart from his own and those of others kept by him.
acts hereinabove enumerated. In Espiritu v. Ulep45 we held that
The judgment, resolution or order of the foreign court or disciplinary The relation between attorney and client is highly fiduciary in nature.
agency shall be prima facie evidence of the ground for disbarment or Being such, it requires utmost good faith, loyalty, fidelity and
suspension.33 disinterestedness on the part of the attorney. Its fiduciary nature is
Disciplinary action against a lawyer is intended to protect the court and intended for the protection of the client.
the public from the misconduct of officers of the court and to protect the The Code of Professional Responsibility mandates every lawyer to hold
administration of justice by requiring that those who exercise this in trust all money and properties of his client that may come into his
important function shall be competent, honorable and reliable men in possession. Accordingly, he shall account for all money or property
whom courts and clients may repose confidence.34 The statutory collected or received for or from the client. Even more specific is the
enunciation of the grounds for disbarment on suspension is not to be Canon of Professional Ethics:
taken as a limitation on the general power of courts to suspend or disbar The lawyer should refrain from any action whereby for his personal
a lawyer. The inherent power of the court over its officers cannot be benefit or gain he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed
restricted.35 in him by his client.
Malpractice ordinarily refers to any malfeasance or dereliction of duty Money of the client or collected for the client or other trust property
committed by a lawyer. Section 27 gives a special and technical meaning coming into the possession of the lawyer should be reported and
to the term "Malpractice."36 That meaning is in consonance with the accounted for promptly and should not under any circumstances be
elementary notion that the practice of law is a profession, not a commingled with his own or be used by him.
business.37 Consequently, a lawyer's failure to return upon demand the funds or
Unprofessional conduct in an attorney is that which violates the rules on property held by him on behalf of his client gives rise to the presumption
ethical code of his profession or which is unbecoming a member of that that he has appropriated the same for his own use to the prejudice of,
profession.38 and in violation of the trust reposed in him by, his client. It is a gross
Now, the undisputed facts: violation of general morality as well as of professional ethics; it impairs
1. An administrative case against Atty. de Vera was filed before the State the public confidence in the legal profession and deserves punishment.
Bar of California, docketed then as Adm. Case No. 86-0-18429. It arose Lawyers who misappropriate the funds entrusted to them are in gross
from an insurance case Atty. de Vera handled involving Julius Willis, III violation of professional ethics and are guilty of betrayal of public
who figured in an automobile accident in 1986. Atty. de Vera was confidence in the legal profession. Those who are guilty of such infraction
authorized by the elder Willis (father of Julius who was given authority may be disbarred or suspended indefinitely from the practice of law.
by the son to control the case because the latter was then studying in (Emphases supplied.)
San Diego California) for the release of the funds in settlement of the In herein case, as it is admitted by Atty. de Vera himself that he used his
case. Atty. de Vera received a check in settlement of the case which he client's money for personal use, he has unwittingly sealed his own fate
then deposited to his personal account;39 since this admission constitutes more than substantial evidence of
2. The Hearing referee in the said administrative case recommended that malpractice. Consequently, Atty. de Vera now has the burden of
Atty. de Vera be suspended from the practice of law for three years;40 rebutting the evidence which he himself supplied.
and In his defense, Atty. de Vera claims that he was duly authorized by the
3. Atty. de Vera resigned from the California Bar which resignation was elder Willis to use the funds intended for the latter's son. Atty. de Vera
accepted by the Supreme Court of California.41 also points out that he had restituted the full amount of US$12,000.00
Page 28

Atty. de Vera vehemently insists that the foregoing facts do not prove even before the filing of the administrative case against him in the State
that he misappropriated his client's funds as the latter's father (the elder Bar of California.46

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Aside from these self-serving statements, however, we cannot find Lawyer's Oath do not prohibit nor punish lawyers from aspiring to be IBP
anywhere in the records of this case proof that indeed Atty. de Vera was National President and from doing perfectly legal acts in accomplishing
duly authorized to use the funds of his client. In Radjaie v. Atty. such goal.
Alovera47 we declared that Bar Matter No. 1227
When the integrity of a member of the bar is challenged, it is not enough Administrative Matter No. 05-5-15-SC
that he denies the charges against him; he must meet the issue and To resolve Bar Matter No. 1227 and Administrative Matter No. 05-5- 15-
overcome the evidence against him. He must show proof that he still SC, the following issues must be addressed:
maintains that degree of morality and integrity which at all times is I. Whether the IBP Board of Governors acted with grave abuse of
expected of him. discretion in removing Atty. de Vera as Governor and EVP of the IBP on
Atty. de Vera cannot rely on the statement made by the hearing officer 13 May 2005.
that the elder Willis had indeed testified that he "expected de Vera might i. Whether the IBP Board of Governors complied with administrative due
use the money for a few days." As Atty. de Vera had vigorously objected process in removing Atty. de Vera.
to the admissibility of the document containing this statement, he is now ii. Whether the IBP removed Atty. De Vera for just and valid cause.
estopped from relying thereon. Besides, that the elder Willis "expected II. Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP of the IBP on
de Vera might use the money for a few days" was not so much an 25 June 2005, and can consequently assume the Presidency of the IBP
acknowledgment of consent to the use by Atty. de Vera of his client's for the term 2005-2007.
funds as it was an acceptance of the probability that Atty. de Vera might, The IBP Board observed due process in its removal of Atty. de Vera as
indeed, use his client's funds, which by itself did not speak well of the IBP Governor
character of Atty. de Vera or the way such character was perceived. We start the discussion with the veritable fact that the IBP Board is
In the instant case, the act of Atty. de Vera in holding on to his client's vested with the power to remove any of its members pursuant to Section
money without the latter's acquiescence is conduct indicative of lack of 44, Article VI of the IBP By-Laws, which states:
integrity and propriety. It is clear that Atty. de Vera, by depositing the Sec. 44. Removal of members. If the Board of Governors should
check in his own account and using the same for his own benefit is guilty determine after proper inquiry that any of its members, elective or
of deceit, malpractice, gross misconduct and unethical behavior. He otherwise, has for any reason become unable to perform his duties, the
caused dishonor, not only to himself but to the noble profession to which Board, by resolution of the Majority of the remaining members, may
he belongs. For, it cannot be denied that the respect of litigants to the declare his position vacant, subject to the approval of the Supreme
profession is inexorably diminished whenever a member of the Court.
profession betrays their trust and confidence.48 Respondent violated his Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for
oath to conduct himself with all good fidelity to his client. cause, including three consecutive absences from Board meetings
Nevertheless, we do not agree with complainant's plea to disbar without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted by two-thirds of the
respondent from the practice of law. The power to disbar must be remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the Supreme
exercised with great caution.49 Where any lesser penalty can Court.
accomplish the end desired, disbarment should not be decreed. In case of any vacancy in the office of Governor for whatever cause, the
In Mortera v. Pagatpatan,50 we imposed upon Atty. Pagatpatan two delegates from the region shall by majority vote, elect a successor from
years suspension from his practice of law for depositing the funds meant among the members of the Chapter to which the resigned governor is a
for his client to his personal account without the latter's knowledge. In member to serve as governor for the unexpired portion of the term.
Reyes v. Maglaya;51 Castillo v. Taguines;52 Espiritu v. Atty. Cabredo (Emphasis supplied)
IV,53 the respondents were meted one year suspension each for failing Under the aforementioned section, a member of the IBP Board may be
to remit to their clients monies in the amounts of P1,500.00; P500.00, removed for cause by resolution adopted by two-thirds (2/3) of the
and P51,161.00, respectively, received by them for their clients without remaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of this Court.
the latter's permission. In Dumadag v. Atty. Lumaya,54 we indefinitely In the main, Atty. de Vera questions his removal from the Board of
suspended respondent for failure to remit to his client the amount of the Governors on procedural and substantive grounds. He argues that he
measly sum of P4,344.00 representing the amount received pursuant to was denied "very basic rights of due process recognized by the
a writ of execution. Considering the amount involved here Honorable Court even in administrative cases" like the right to answer
US$12,000.00, we believe that the penalty of suspension for two (2) formally or in writing and within reasonable time, the right to present
years is appropriate. witnesses in his behalf, the right to a fair hearing. Atty. de Vera protests
Transferring IBP membership to a chapter where the lawyer is not a the fact that he was not able to cross-examine the complainant, IBP Gov.
resident of is not a ground for his suspension or disbarment Romulo H. Rivera (Atty. Rivera) and that Atty. Rivera voted as well for
Complainant insists that Atty. de Vera's transfer of membership from the his expulsion which made him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the
Pasay, Paraaque, Las Pias and Muntinlupa (PPLM) Chapter to the same time. Atty. de Vera emphasized the fact that Atty. Rivera initially
Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter is a circumvention of the rotation rule as it inhibited himself from voting on his own motion. However, when his
was made for the sole purpose of becoming IBP National President. inhibition resulted in the defeat of his motion as the necessary 2/3 votes
Complainant stresses that Atty. de Vera is not a resident of Agusan del could not be mustered, Atty. Rivera asked for another round of voting so
Sur nor does he hold office therein. he could vote to support his own motion.
In Adm. Case No. 6052, we held that Atty. de Vera's act of transferring The IBP Board counters that since its members were present during the
to another IBP Chapter is not a ground for his disqualification for the post plenary session, and personally witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera's
of IBP Governor as the same is allowed under Section 19 of the IBP By- actuations, an evidentiary or formal hearing was no longer necessary.
Laws with the qualification only that the transfer be made not less than Since they all witnessed and heard Atty. de Vera, it was enough that he
three months immediately preceding any chapter election. was given an opportunity to refute and answer all the charges imputed
As it was perfectly within Atty. de Vera's right to transfer his membership, against him. They emphasized that Atty. de Vera was given a copy of
it cannot be said that he is guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. And the complaint and that he was present at the Board Meeting on 13 May
while one may incessantly argue that a legal act may not necessarily be 2005 wherein the letter-complaint against him was part of the agenda.
ethical, in herein case, we do not see anything wrong in transferring to Therein, he was given the opportunity to be heard and that, in fact, Atty.
an IBP chapter that -- based on the rotation rule will produce the next de Vera did argue his case.
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IBP EVP who will automatically succeed to the National Presidency for We are in agreement with the IBP Board.
the next term. Our Code of Professional Responsibility as well as the

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
First, it needs stressing that the constitutional provision on due process be unable to resolve said motion impartially. This being the case, the
safeguards life, liberty and property.55 It cannot be said that the position votes of Attys. Rivera and de Vera should be stricken-off which means
of EVP of the IBP is property within the constitutional sense especially that only the votes of the seven remaining members are to be counted.
since there is no right to security of tenure over said position as, in fact, Of the seven remaining members, five voted for expulsion while two
all that is required to remove any member of the board of governors for voted against it which still adds up to the 2/3 vote requirement for
cause is a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members of the expulsion.
board. The IBP Board removed Atty. de Vera as IBP Governor for just and valid
Secondly, even if the right of due process could be rightfully invoked, still, cause
in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process is simply the All the concerned parties to this case agree that what constitutes cause
opportunity to explain one's side.56 At the outset, it is here emphasized for the removal of an IBP Governor has not been defined by Section 44
that the term "due process of law" as used in the Constitution has no of the IBP By-Laws albeit it includes three consecutive absences from
fixed meaning for all purposes due "to the very nature of the doctrine Board meetings without justifiable excuse. Thus, the IBP Board argues
which, asserting a fundamental principle of justice rather than a specific that it is vested with sufficient power and authority to protect itself from
rule of law, is not susceptible of more than one general statement."57 an intractable member whose removal was caused not by his
The phrase is so elusive of exact apprehension,58 because it depends disagreement with the IBP Board but due to various acts committed by
on circumstances and varies with the subject matter and the necessities him which the IBP Board considered as inimical to the IBP Board in
of the situation.59 particular and the IBP in general.
Due process of law in administrative cases is not identical with "judicial Atty. de Vera, on the other hand, insists that speaking in disagreement
process" for a trial in court is not always essential to due process. While with the Resolution of the Board during the Convention's Plenary
a day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in Session is not a valid cause to remove or expel a duly-elected member
administrative proceedings since they rest upon different principles. The of the IBP Board of Governors and the decision to remove him only
due process clause guarantees no particular form of procedure and its shows that the right to freedom of speech or the right to dissent is not
requirements are not technical. Thus, in certain proceedings of recognized by the IBP Board.
administrative character, the right to a notice or hearing are not essential After weighing the arguments of the parties and in keeping with the
to due process of law. The constitutional requirement of due process is fundamental objective of the IBP to discharge its public responsibility
met by a fair hearing before a regularly established administrative more effectively, we hereby find that Atty. de Vera's removal from the
agency or tribunal. It is not essential that hearings be had before the IBP Board was not capricious or arbitrary.
making of a determination if thereafter, there is available trial and tribunal Indubitably, conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity,
before which all objections and defenses to the making of such if not animosity, are inherent in the internal life of an organization, but
determination may be raised and considered. One adequate hearing is especially of the IBP since lawyers are said to disagree before they
all that due process requires. What is required for "hearing" may differ as agree.
the functions of the administrative bodies differ.60 However, the effectiveness of the IBP, like any other organization, is
The right to cross-examine is not an indispensable aspect of due diluted if the conflicts are brought outside its governing body for then
process.61 Nor is an actual hearing always essential62 especially under there would be the impression that the IBP, which speaks through the
the factual milieu of this case where the members of the IBP Board -- Board of Governors, does not and cannot speak for its members in an
upon whose shoulders the determination of the cause for removal of an authoritative fashion. It would accordingly diminish the IBP's prestige and
IBP governor is placed subject to the approval of the Supreme Court repute with the lawyers as well as with the general public.
all witnessed Atty. de Vera's actuations in the IBP National Convention As a means of self-preservation, internecine conflicts must thus be
in question. adjusted within the governing board itself so as to free it from the
It is undisputed that Atty. de Vera received a copy of the complaint stresses that invariably arise when internal cleavages are made public.
against him and that he was present when the matter was taken up. From The doctrine of majority rule is almost universally used as a mechanism
the transcript of the stenographic notes of the 13 May 2005 meeting for adjusting and resolving conflicts and disagreements within the group
wherein Atty. de Vera was removed, it is patent that Atty. de Vera was after the members have been given an opportunity to be heard. While it
given fair opportunity to defend himself against the accusations made by does not efface conflicts, nonetheless, once a decision on a contentious
Atty. Rivera. matter is reached by a majority vote, the dissenting minority is bound
Atty. de Vera, however, additionally questions the fact that Atty. Rivera, thereby so that the board can speak with one voice, for those elected to
who authored the complaint against him, also voted for his expulsion the governing board are deemed to implicitly contract that the will of the
making him accuser, prosecutor and judge at the same time. Atty. de majority shall govern in matters within the authority of the board.63
Vera likewise laments the fact that Atty. Rivera initially inhibited himself The IBP Board, therefore, was well within its right in removing Atty. de
from voting but when this resulted in the defeat of his motion for lack of Vera as the latter's actuations during the 10th National IBP Convention
the necessary 2/3 vote, he agreed to another round of voting and that, were detrimental to the role of the IBP Board as the governing body of
this time, he voted in favor of his motion. the IBP. When the IBP Board is not seen by the bar and the public as a
For the record, of the nine governors comprising the IBP Board, six voted cohesive unit, it cannot effectively perform its duty of helping the
for Atty. de Vera's expulsion (including Atty. Rivera) while 3 voted against Supreme Court enforce the code of legal ethics and the standards of
it (including Atty. de Vera). legal practice as well as improve the administration of justice.
Section 44 (second paragraph) of the IBP By-Laws provides: In view of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, the
Any member of the Board, elective or otherwise, may be removed for expulsion of a member of the board who insists on bringing to the public
cause, including three consecutive absences from Board meetings his disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by the majority after
without justifiable excuse, by resolution adopted by two-thirds of due discussion, cannot be faulted. The effectiveness of the board as a
theremaining members of the Board, subject to the approval of the governing body will be negated if its pronouncements are resisted in
Supreme Court. (Emphasis supplied.) public by a board member.
Under the rules, a resolution for expulsion of an IBP Governor is done Indeed, when a member of a governing body cannot accept the voice of
via a resolution adopted by 2/3 of the remaining members. The phrase the majority, he should resign therefrom so that he could criticize in public
"remaining members" refers to the members exclusive of the the majority opinion/decision to his heart's content; otherwise, he
Page 30

complainant member and the respondent member. The reason therefore subjects himself to disciplinary action by the body.
is that such members are interested parties and are thus presumed to

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso Article VI, Section 41(g) of the IBP By-Laws expressly grants to the
facto meant his removal as EVP as well Board the authority to fill vacancies, however arising, in the IBP positions,
The removal of Atty. de Vera as member of the Board of Governors ipso subject to the provisions of Section 8 of the Integration Rule,68 and
facto meant his removal as EVP as well. Section 47, Article VII of the By- Section 11 (Vacancies),69 Section 44 (Removal of members),70 Section
Laws of the IBP provides: 47 (National officers),71 Section 48 (other officers),72 and Section 49
SEC. 47. National Officers. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines shall (Terms of Office)73 of the By-Laws. The IBP Board has specific and
have a President and Executive Vice President to be chosen by the sufficient guidelines in its Rules and By-Laws on how to fill-in the
Board of Governors from among nine (9) regional governors, as much vacancies after the removal of Atty. de Vera. We have faith and
as practicable, on a rotation basis. x x x confidence in the intellectual, emotional and ethical competencies of the
Thus, to be EVP of the IBP, one must necessarily be a member of IBP remaining members of the 2005-2007 Board in dealing with the situation
Board of Governors. Atty. de Vera's removal from the Board of within the bounds of the IBP Rules and By-Laws.
Governors, automatically disqualified him from acting as IBP EVP. To The election by the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors of a new EVP,
insist otherwise would be contrary to Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws. who will assume the Presidency for the term 2005-2007, was well within
The Court will not interfere with the Resolution of the IBP Board to the authority and prerogative granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws,
remove Atty. de Vera since it was rendered without grave abuse of particularly Article VII, Section 47, which provides that "[t]he EVP shall
discretion automatically become President for the next succeeding term." The
While it is true that the Supreme Court has been granted an extensive phrase "for the next succeeding term" necessarily implies that the EVP
power of supervision over the IBP,64 it is axiomatic that such power that should succeed Atty. Cadiz as IBP President for the next succeeding
should be exercised prudently. The power of supervision of the Supreme term (i.e., 2005-2007) should come from the members of the 2003-2005
Court over the IBP should not preclude the IBP from exercising its IBP Board of Governors. Hence, in A.M. No. 05-7-19-SC, we restrained
reasonable discretion especially in the administration of its internal now IBP EVP Feliciano Bautista from assuming the position of Acting
affairs governed by the provisions of its By-Laws. The IBP By-Laws were President because we have yet to resolve the question as to who shall
precisely drafted and promulgated so as to define the powers and succeed Atty. Cadiz from the 2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors.
functions of the IBP and its officers, establish its organizational structure, Accordingly, the elections of Governor Santiago on 13 June 2005 as IBP
and govern relations and transactions among its officers and members. EVP, and thereafter, Governor Salazar on 25 June 2005, as the new IBP
With these By-Laws in place, the Supreme Court could be assured that EVP, upon the relinquishment of Gov. Santiago of the position, were
the IBP shall be able to carry on its day-to-day affairs, without the Court's valid.
interference. Neither can this Court give credence to the argument of Atty. De Vera
It should be noted that the general charge of the affairs and activities of that, assuming his removal as IBP Governor and EVP was valid, his
the IBP has been vested in the Board of Governors. The members of the replacement as IBP EVP should come from Eastern Mindanao Region
Board are elective and representative of each of the nine regions of the pursuant to the rotation rule set forth in Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP
IBP as delineated in its By-Laws.65 The Board acts as a collegiate body By-Laws.
and decides in accordance with the will of the majority. The foregoing According to Article VII, Section 47, of the IBP By-Laws, the EVP shall
rules serve to negate the possibility of the IBP Board acting on the basis be chosen by the Board of Governors from among the nine Regional
of personal interest or malice of its individual members. Hence, the Governors, as much as practicable, on a rotation basis. This is based on
actions and resolutions of the IBP Board deserve to be accorded the our pronouncements in Bar Matter 491, wherein we ruled:
disputable presumption66 of validity, which shall continue, until and "ORDER
unless it is overcome by substantial evidence and actually declared xxxx
invalid by the Supreme Court. In the absence of any allegation and 3. The former system of having the IBP President and Executive Vice-
substantial proof that the IBP Board has acted without or in excess of its President elected by the Board of Governors (composed of the
authority or with grave abuse of discretion, we shall not be persuaded to governors of the nine [9] IBP regions) from among themselves (as
overturn and set aside the Board's action or resolution. provided in Sec. 47, Art. VII, Original IBP By-Laws) should be restored.
There is no question that the IBP Board has the authority to remove its The right of automatic succession by the Executive Vice-President to the
members as provided in Article VI, Section 4467 of the IBP By-Laws. presidency upon the expiration of their two-year term (which was
Issue arises only as to whether the IBP Board abused its authority and abolished by this Court's resolution dated July 9, 1985 in Bar Matter No.
discretion in resolving to remove Atty. de Vera from his post as an IBP 287) should be as it is hereby restored.
Governor and EVP. As has been previously established herein, Atty. de 4. At the end of the President's two-year term, the Executive Vice-
Vera's removal from the IBP Board was in accordance with due process President shall automatically succeed to the office of president. The
and the IBP Board acted well within the authority and discretion granted incoming board of governors shall then elect an Executive Vice-
to it by its By-Laws. There being no grave abuse of discretion on the part President from among themselves. The position of Executive Vice-
of the IBP Board, we find no reason to interfere in the Board's resolution President shall be rotated among the nine (9) IBP regions. One who has
to remove Atty. de Vera. served as president may not run for election as Executive Vice-President
The election of Atty. Salazar by the IBP Board as IBP EVP in in a succeeding election until after the rotation of the presidency among
replacement of Atty. De Vera was conducted in accordance with the the nine (9) regions shall have been completed; whereupon, the rotation
authority granted to the Board by the IBP By-Laws shall begin anew.
In the same manner, we find no reason to disturb the action taken by the xxxx
2003-2005 IBP Board of Governors in holding a special election to fill-in (Emphasis Supplied)"
the vacant post resulting from the removal of Atty. de Vera as EVP of the In Bar Matter 491, it is clear that it is the position of IBP EVP which is
IBP since the same is a purely internal matter, done without grave abuse actually rotated among the nine Regional Governors. The rotation with
of discretion, and implemented without violating the Rules and By-Laws respect to the Presidency is merely a result of the automatic succession
of the IBP. rule of the IBP EVP to the Presidency. Thus, the rotation rule pertains in
With the removal of Atty. de Vera from the Board, by virtue of the IBP particular to the position of IBP EVP, while the automatic succession rule
Board Resolution dated 13 May 2005, he was also removed from his pertains to the Presidency. The rotation with respect to the Presidency
post as EVP; thus, there was a resultant vacancy in the position of IBP is but a consequence of the automatic succession rule provided in
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EVP. Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws.

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
In the case at bar, the rotation rule was duly complied with since upon Governor and Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the
the election of Atty. De Vera as IBP EVP, each of the nine IBP regions Philippines, the said Resolution having been rendered without grave
had already produced an EVP and, thus, the rotation was completed. It abuse of discretion;
is only unfortunate that the supervening event of Atty. de Vera's removal 3) AFFIRM the election by the Board of Governors of Atty. Jose Vicente
as IBP Governor and EVP rendered it impossible for him to assume the B. Salazar as Executive Vice President of the Integrated Bar of the
IBP Presidency. The fact remains, however, that the rotation rule had Philippines for the remainder of the term 2003-2005, such having been
been completed despite the non-assumption by Atty. de Vera to the IBP conducted in accordance with its By-Laws and absent any showing of
Presidency. grave abuse of discretion; and
Moreover, the application of the rotation rule is not a license to disregard 4) DIRECT Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar to immediately take his oath of
the spirit and purpose of the automatic succession rule, but should be office and assume the Presidency of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
applied in harmony with the latter. The automatic succession rule affords for the term 2005-2007 in accordance with the automatic succession rule
the IBP leadership transition seamless and enables the new IBP National in Article VII, Section 47 of the IBP By-Laws, upon receipt of this
President to attend to pressing and urgent matters without having to Resolution.
expend valuable time for the usual adjustment and leadership SO ORDERED.
consolidation period. The time that an IBP EVP spends assisting a sitting
IBP President on matters national in scope is in fact a valuable and A. Law Student Practice Rule RULE 138-A ROC
indispensable preparation for the eventual succession. It should also be Section 1. Conditions for student practice. A law student who has
pointed out that this wisdom is further underscored by the fact that an successfully completed his 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed
IBP EVP is elected from among the members of the IBP Board of law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal
Governors, who are serving in a national capacity, and not from the education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
members at large. It is intrinsic in the IBP By-Laws that one who is to
compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial
assume the highest position in the IBP must have been exposed to the
court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by
demands and responsibilities of national leadership.
It would therefore be consistent with the purpose and spirit of the the legal clinic of the law school.
automatic succession rule for Governor Salazar to assume the post of Section 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized
IBP President. By electing the replacement EVP from among the by this rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member
members of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors, the IBP benefits from of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by the law school.
the experience of the IBP EVP of 2003-2005 in this case, Governor Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be
Salazar who would have served in a national capacity prior to his filed, must be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the
assumption of the highest position. legal clinic.
It will also be inconsistent with the purpose and spirit of the automatic Section 3. Privileged communications. The Rules safeguarding
succession rule if the EVP for the term 2003-2005 will be elected privileged communications between attorney and client shall apply to
exclusively by the members of the House of Delegates of the Eastern similar communications made to or received by the law student, acting
Mindanao region. This Court notes that the removal of Atty. De Vera in for the legal clinic.
13 May 2005 was about a month before the expiration of the term of
Section 4. Standards of conduct and supervision. The law student
office of the 2003-2005 Board of Governors. Hence, the replacement
Governor would not have been able to serve in a national capacity for shall comply with the standards of professional conduct governing
two years prior to assuming the IBP Presidency. members of the Bar. Failure of an attorney to provide adequate
In any case, Section 47 of the IBP Rules uses the phrase "as much as supervision of student practice may be a ground for disciplinary action.
practicable" to clearly indicate that the rotation rule is not a rigid and (Circular No. 19, dated December 19, 1986).
inflexible rule as to bar exceptions in compelling and exceptional G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007
circumstances. FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner,
It is in view of the foregoing that the argument advanced by Atty. De Vera vs.
that the IBP national presidency should be assumed by a nominee from ALBERTO MINA, HON. ELEUTERIO F. GUERRERO and HON.
Eastern Mindanao region from where he comes, can not hold water. It ZENAIDA LAGUILLES, Respondents.
would go against the intent of the IBP By-Laws for such a nominee would
be bereft of the wealth of experience and the perspective that only one DECISION
who is honed in service while serving in a national post in the IBP would AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ, J.:
have. Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of
We therefore rule that the IBP Board of Governors acted in accordance Court, grounded on pure questions of law, with Prayer for Preliminary
with the IBP By-Laws, in electing Atty. Salazar as IBP EVP and in Injunction assailing the Resolution dated May 3, 2002 promulgated by
ensuring a succession in the leadership of the IBP. Had the Board of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116, Pasay City, in Civil Case
Governors not done so, there would have been no one qualified to No. 02-0137, which denied the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction
assume the Presidency of the IBP on 1 July 2005, pursuant to Section against the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC), Branch 45, Pasay City, in
47 of the IBP By-Laws. Criminal Case No. 00-1705;1 and the RTCs Order dated June 5, 2002
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, we rule as follows: denying the Motion for Reconsideration. No writ of preliminary injunction
1) SUSPEND Atty. Leonard de Vera in A.C. No. 6697 from the practice was issued by this Court.
of law for TWO (2) YEARS, effective from the finality of this Resolution. The antecedents:
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to the personal record of Atty. On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before the
Leonard de Vera and copies furnished the Integrated Bar of the MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private prosecutor, in Criminal
Philippines and the Office of the Court Administrator for dissemination to Case No. 00-1705 for Grave Threats, where his father, Mariano Cruz, is
all courts; the complaining witness.
2) DISMISS the letter-complaint of Atty. Leonard de Vera, dated 18 May The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his
2005, in A.M. No. 05-5-15-SC, praying for the disapproval of the appearance as private prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule
Page 32

Resolution, dated 13 May 2005, of the Board of Governors of the 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court En Banc in
Integrated Bar of the Philippines removing him from his posts as Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr.2 that a non-lawyer may appear before

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
the inferior courts as an agent or friend of a party litigant. The petitioner ABEYANCE TRIAL, WHEN WHAT WAS DENIED BY THE
furthermore avers that his appearance was with the prior conformity of RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS THE ISSUANCE OF THE
the public prosecutor and a written authority of Mariano Cruz appointing WRIT OF PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION and WHEN THE
him to be his agent in the prosecution of the said criminal case. RESPONDENT REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS YET TO DECIDE ON
However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied THE MERITS OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI;
permission for petitioner to appear as private prosecutor on the ground IV.
that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in conjunction THE RESPONDENT COURT[s] ARE CLEARLY IGNORING THE LAW
with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should WHEN THEY PATENTLY REFUSED TO HEED TO [sic] THE CLEAR
take precedence over the ruling of the Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; MANDATE OF THE LAPUT, CANTIMBUHAN AND BULACAN CASES,
and set the case for continuation of trial.3 AS WELL AS BAR MATTER NO. 730, PROVIDING FOR THE
On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion for APPEARANCE OF NON-LAWYERS BEFORE THE LOWER COURTS
Reconsideration seeking to reverse the February 1, 2002 Order alleging (MTCS).4
that Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule, does not have the This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if
effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule 138, for the authority to interpret warranted by the nature of the issues reviewed, may take cognizance of
the rule is the source itself of the rule, which is the Supreme Court alone. petitions filed directly before it.5
In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification, and
Reconsideration. implementation of Section 34, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Bar Matter
On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition for No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student practice and Rule 138-A
Certiorari and Mandamus with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of the Court in Cantimbuhan, the
Temporary Restraining Order against the private respondent and the Court takes cognizance of herein petition.
public respondent MeTC. The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear
After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain public before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party litigant.
respondent MeTC Judge from proceeding with Criminal Case No. 00- The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as
1705 pending the Certiorari proceedings, the RTC, in a Resolution dated encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, prohibits the petitioner,
May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the issuance of an injunctive writ on the as a law student, from entering his appearance in behalf of his father,
ground that the crime of Grave Threats, the subject of Criminal Case No. the private complainant in the criminal case without the supervision of an
00-1705, is one that can be prosecuted de oficio, there being no claim attorney duly accredited by the law school.
for civil indemnity, and that therefore, the intervention of a private Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides:
prosecutor is not legally tenable. RULE 138-A
On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for LAW STUDENT PRACTICE RULE
Reconsideration. The petitioner argues that nowhere does the law Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. A law student who has
provide that the crime of Grave Threats has no civil aspect. And last, successfully completed his 3rd year of the regular four-year prescribed
petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which expressly law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's clinical legal
provides for the appearance of a non-lawyer before the inferior courts, education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without
as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even without the supervision of a compensation in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial
member of the bar. court, tribunal, board or officer, to represent indigent clients accepted by
Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration the legal clinic of the law school.
before the RTC, the petitioner filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration Sec. 2. Appearance. The appearance of the law student authorized by
dated June 7, 2002 with the MeTC seeking the reversal of the March 4, this rule, shall be under the direct supervision and control of a member
2002 Denial Order of the said court, on the strength of Bar Matter No. of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by the law school.
730, and a Motion to Hold In Abeyance the Trial dated June 10, 2002 of Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be
Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the outcome of the certiorari filed, must be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the
proceedings before the RTC. legal clinic.
On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioners However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730, the
Motion for Reconsideration. Court En Banc clarified:
Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an
petitioners Second Motion for Reconsideration and his Motion to Hold in inferior court, where the issues and procedure are relatively simple. In
Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had already denied the inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal capacity without
Entry of Appearance of petitioner before the MeTC. the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:
On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a justice of the
Petition and assigns the following errors: peace, a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an
I. agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an
the respondent regional trial court abused its discretion when it resolved attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally
to deny the prayer for the writ of injunction of the herein petitioner despite or by aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or
petitioner having established the necessity of granting the writ; by a duly authorized member of the bar.
II. Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or
THE RESPONDENT TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION, friend of a party without the supervision of a member of the bar.7
TANTAMOUNT TO IGNORANCE OF THE LAW, WHEN IT RESOLVED (Emphasis supplied)
TO DENY THE PRAYER FOR THE WRIT OF PRELIMINARY The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730
INJUNCTION AND THE SUBSEQUENT MOTION FOR is subsequently changed to "In the court of a municipality" as it now
RECONSIDERATION OF THE HEREIN PETITIONER ON THE BASIS appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus:8
THAT [GRAVE] THREATS HAS NO CIVIL ASPECT, FOR THE SAID SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. In the Court of a
BASIS OF DENIAL IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW; municipality a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of
III. an agent or friend appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of
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THE RESPONDENT METROPOLITAN TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation
DISCRETION WHEN IT DENIED THE MOTION TO HOLD IN

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
personally or by aid of an attorney and his appearance must be either according to the best of my knowledge and discretion with all good
personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied) fidelity as well to the court as to my clients; and I will impose upon
which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry of myself this obligation voluntarily, without any mental reservation or
Appearance with the MeTC on September 25, 2000. No real distinction purpose of evasion.
exists for under Section 6, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court, the term So help me God.
"Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall include Metropolitan B.M. No. 712 March 19, 1997
Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and RE: PETITION OF AL ARGOSINO TO TAKE THE LAWYERS OATH
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts. RESOLUTION
There is really no problem as to the application of Section 34 of Rule 138
and Rule 138-A. In the former, the appearance of a non-lawyer, as an PADILLA, J.:
agent or friend of a party litigant, is expressly allowed, while the latter Petitioner Al Caparros Argosino passed the bar examinations held in
rule provides for conditions when a law student, not as an agent or a 1993. The Court however deferred his oath-taking due to his previous
friend of a party litigant, may appear before the courts. conviction for Reckless Imprudence Resulting In Homicide.
Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule 138. The criminal case which resulted in petitioner's conviction, arose from
The court a quo must have been confused by the fact that petitioner the death of a neophyte during fraternity initiation rites sometime in
referred to himself as a law student in his entry of appearance. Rule 138- September 1991. Petitioner and seven (7) other accused initially entered
A should not have been used by the courts a quo in denying permission pleas of not guilty to homicide charges. The eight (8) accused later
to act as private prosecutor against petitioner for the simple reason that withdrew their initial pleas and upon re-arraignment all pleaded guilty to
Rule 138-A is not the basis for the petitioners appearance. reckless imprudence resulting in homicide.
Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts On the basis of such pleas, the trial court rendered judgment dated 11
by a non-lawyer is allowed, irrespective of whether or not he is a law February 1993 imposing on each of the accused a sentence of
student. As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by virtue of Section imprisonment of from two (2) years four (4) months :and one (1) day to
34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a friend of a four (4) years.
party litigant, without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior courts. On 18 June 1993, the trial court granted herein petitioner's application
Petitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its very for probation.
nature, no civil liability may flow from the crime of Grave Threats, and, On 11 April 1994, the trial court issued an order approving a report dated
for this reason, the intervention of a private prosecutor is not possible. 6 April 1994 submitted by the Probation Officer recommending
It is clear from the RTC Decision that no such conclusion had been petitioner's discharge from probation.
intended by the RTC. In denying the issuance of the injunctive court, the On 14 April 1994, petitioner filed before this Court a petition to be allowed
RTC stated in its Decision that there was no claim for civil liability by the to take the lawyer's oath based on the order of his discharge from
private complainant for damages, and that the records of the case do not probation.
provide for a claim for indemnity; and that therefore, petitioners On 13 July 1995, the Court through then Senior Associate Justice
appearance as private prosecutor appears to be legally untenable. Florentino P. Feliciano issued a resolution requiring petitioner Al C.
Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally Argosino to submit to the Court evidence that he may now be regarded
liable for a felony is also civilly liable except in instances when no actual as complying with the requirement of good moral character imposed
damage results from an offense, such as espionage, violation of upon those seeking admission to the bar.
neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against popular In compliance with the above resolution, petitioner submitted no less
representation.9 The basic rule applies in the instant case, such that than fifteen (15) certifications/letters executed by among others two (2)
when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for the recovery of civil senators, five (5) trial court judges, and six (6) members of religious
liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with orders. Petitioner likewise submitted evidence that a scholarship
criminal action, unless the offended party waives the civil action, foundation had been established in honor of Raul Camaligan, the hazing
reserves the right to institute it separately or institutes the civil action prior victim, through joint efforts of the latter's family and the eight (8) accused
to the criminal action.10 in the criminal case.
The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, On 26 September 1995, the Court required Atty. Gilbert Camaligan,
nor prior institution of the civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it father of Raul, to comment on petitioner's prayer to be allowed to take
follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats is deemed the lawyer's oath.
instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private prosecutor may In his comment dated 4 December 1995, Atty. Camaligan states that:
rightfully intervene to prosecute the civil aspect. a. He still believes that the infliction of severe physical injuries which led
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and to the death of his son was deliberate rather than accidental. The offense
Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 116, Pasay City are therefore was not only homicide but murder since the accused took
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Metropolitan Trial Court, Branch 45, advantage of the neophyte's helplessness implying abuse of confidence,
Pasay City is DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner taking advantage of superior strength and treachery.
in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 as a private prosecutor under the direct b. He consented to the accused's plea of guilt to the lesser offense of
control and supervision of the public prosecutor. reckless imprudence resulting in homicide only out of pity for the mothers
No pronouncement as to costs. of the accused and a pregnant wife of one of the accused who went to
SO ORDERED. their house on Christmas day 1991 and Maundy Thursday 1992, literally
on their knees, crying and begging for forgiveness and compassion.
G. Lawyers Oath They also told him that the father of one of the accused had died of a
I , do solemnly swear that I will maintain allegiance to the heart attack upon learning of his son's involvement in the incident.
Republic of the Philippines; I will support and defend its Constitution and c. As a Christian, he has forgiven petitioner and his co-accused for the
obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted death of his son. However, as a loving father who had lost a son whom
authorities therein; I will do no falsehood nor consent to its commission; he had hoped would succeed him in his law practice, he still feels the
I will not wittingly or willingly promote or sue any groundless, false or pain of an untimely demise and the stigma of the gruesome manner of
his death.
Page 34

unlawful suit nor give aid nor consent to the same; I will not delay any
mans cause for money or malice and will conduct myself as a lawyer

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
d. He is not in a position to say whether petitioner is now morally fit for In the Matter of the IBP Membership Dues Delinquency of Atty.
admission to the bar. He therefore submits the matter to the sound MARCIAL A. EDILLON (IBP Administrative Case No. MDD - 1).
discretion of the Court.
The practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the SYNOPSIS
strict intellectual and moral qualifications required of lawyers who are
instruments in the effective and efficient administration of justice. It is the For respondent's stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues to the
sworn duty of this Court not only to "weed out" lawyers who have become Integrated Bar of the Philippines since the latter's constitution,
a disgrace to the noble profession of the law but, also of equal notwithstanding due notice, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar
importance, to prevent "misfits" from taking the lawyer's oath, thereby of the Philippines unanimously adopted and submitted to the Supreme
further tarnishing the public image of lawyers which in recent years has Court a resolution recommending the removal of respondent's name
undoubtedly become less than irreproachable. from its Roll of Attorneys, pursuant to Par. 2, Sec. 24, Art. III of the By-
The resolution of the issue before us required weighing and reweighing Laws of the IBP.
of the reasons for allowing or disallowing petitioner's admission to the Respondent, although conceding the propriety and necessity of the
practice of law. The senseless beatings inflicted upon Raul Camaligan integration of the Bar of the Philippines, questions the all-encompassing,
constituted evident absence of that moral fitness required for admission all-inclusive scope of membership therein and the obligation to pay
to the bar since they were totally irresponsible, irrelevant and uncalled membership dues arguing that the provisions therein (Section 1 and 9 of
for. the Court Rule 139-A) constitute an invasion of his constitutional right in
In the 13 July 1995 resolution in this case we stated: the sense that he is being compelled, as a precondition to maintaining
. . . participation in the prolonged and mindless physical behavior, [which] his status as a lawyer in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and
makes impossible a finding that the participant [herein petitioner] was to pay the corresponding dues, and that as a consequence of this
then possessed of good moral character. 1 compelled financial support of the said organization to which he is
In the same resolution, however, we stated that the Court is prepared to admittedly personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to
consider de novo the question of whether petitioner has purged himself liberty and property guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Respondent
of the obvious deficiency in moral character referred to above. likewise questions the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to strike his
Before anything else, the Court understands and shares the sentiment name from the Roll of Attorneys, contending that this matter is not among
of Atty. Gilbert Camaligan. The death of one's child is, for a parent, a the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is of an administrative nature
most traumatic experience. The suffering becomes even more pertaining to an administrative body.
pronounced and profound in cases where the death is due to causes The Supreme Court unanimously held that all legislation directing the
other than natural or accidental but due to the reckless imprudence of integration of the Bar are valid exercise of the police power over an
third parties. The feeling then becomes a struggle between grief and important profession; that to compel a lawyer to be a member of the IBP
anger directed at the cause of death. is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate; that the
Atty. Camaligan's statement before the Court- manifesting his having requirement to pay membership fees is imposed as a regulatory
forgiven the accused is no less than praiseworthy and commendable. It measure designed to raise funds for carrying out the objectives and
is exceptional for a parent, given the circumstances in this case, to find purposes of integration; that the penalty provisions for non-payment are
room for forgiveness. not void as unreasonable or arbitrary; that the Supreme Court's
However, Atty. Camaligan admits that he is still not in a position to state jurisdiction and power to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of
if petitioner is now morally fit to be a lawyer. Attorneys is expressly provided by Art.X, Section 5(5) of the Constitution
After a very careful evaluation of this case, we resolve to allow petitioner and held as an inherent judicial function by a host of decided cases; and
Al Caparros Argosino to take the lawyer's oath, sign the Roll of Attorneys that the provisions of Rules of Court 139-A ordaining the integration of
and practice the legal profession with the following admonition: the Bar of the Philippines and the IBP By-Laws complained of are neither
In allowing Mr. Argosino to take the lawyer's oath, the Court recognizes unconstitutional nor illegal.
that Mr. Argosino is not inherently of bad moral fiber. On the contrary, Respondent disbarred and his name ordered stricken from the Roll of
the various certifications show that he is a devout Catholic with a genuine Attorneys.
concern for civic duties and public service.
The Court is persuaded that Mr. Argosino has exerted all efforts to atone SYLLABUS
for the death of Raul Camaligan. We are prepared to give him the benefit 1.ATTORNEYS; BAR INTEGRATION; NATURE AND PURPOSE. An
of the doubt, taking judicial notice of the general tendency of youth to be "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must
rash, temerarious and uncalculating. belong, as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual
We stress to Mr. Argosino that the lawyer's oath is NOT a mere lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the
ceremony or formality for practicing law. Every lawyer should at ALL Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded
TIMES weigh his actions according to the sworn promises he makes an opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as
when taking the lawyer's oath. If all lawyers conducted themselves well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or
strictly according to the lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional under the direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an official national
Responsibility, the administration of justice will undoubtedly be faster, body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are,
fairer and easier for everyone concerned. therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the
The Court sincerely hopes that Mr. Argosino will continue with the Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for
assistance he has been giving to his community. As a lawyer he will now the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a
be in a better position to render legal and other services to the more code of professional ethics or professional responsibility breach of which
unfortunate members of society. constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper
PREMISES CONSIDERED, petitioner Al Caparros Argosino is hereby cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the
ALLOWED to take the lawyer's oath on a date to be set by the Court, to offending member.
sign the Roll of Attorneys and, thereafter, to practice the legal profession. 2. ID.; ID.; INTEGRATION OF THE BAR, A VALID EXERCISE OF
SO ORDERED. POLICE POWER; PRACTICE OF LAW NOT A VESTED RIGHT BUT A
PRIVILEGE. All legislation directing the integration of the Bar have
Page 35

H. Membership to IBP been uniformly and universally sustained as a valid exercise of the police
[A.C. No. 1928. August 3, 1978.] power over an important profession. The practice of law is not a vested

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
right but a privilege, a privilege moreover clothed with public interest power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the admission to the
because a lawyer owes substantial duties not only to his client, but also practice of law and the integration of the Philippine Bar (Article X, Section
to his brethren in the profession, to the courts, and to the nation, and 5 of the 1973 Constitution) from requiring members of a privileged class,
takes part in one of the most important functions of the State the such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the
administration of justice as an officer of the Court. The practice of law expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite
being clothed with public interest, the holder of this privilege must submit apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure,
to a degree of control for the common good, to the extent of the interest designed to raise funds for carrying out the objectives and purposes of
he has created. The expression "affected with a public interest" is the integration.
equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police power" 8. ID.; ID.; ID.; PENALTY PROVISIONS, NOT VOID. If the power to
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; LEGISLATION TO EFFECT THE INTEGRATION OF THE impose the fee as a regulatory measure is recognize, then a penalty
PHILIPPINE BAR. The Congress in enacting Republic Act No. 6397, designed to enforce its payment, which penalty may be avoided
approved on September 17, 1971, authorizing the Supreme Court to altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or arbitrary. The
"adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the Philippine Bar under practice of law is not a property right but a mere privilege, and as such
such conditions as it shall see fit," it did so in the exercise of the must bow to the inherent regulatory power of the Court to exact
paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is to "raise the compliance with the lawyer s public responsibilities.
standards of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, 9. ID.;
and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively," POWER TO PASS UPON FITNESS TO REMAIN A MEMBER OF THE
the Supreme Court in ordaining the integration of the Bar through its BAR VESTED IN THE SUPREME COURT. The matters of admission,
Resolution promulgated on January 9, 1973, and the President of the suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers and their
Philippines in decreeing the constitution of the IBP into a body corporate regulation and supervision have been and are indisputably recognized
through Presidential Decree No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted as inherent judicial functions and responsibilities. The power of the
by fundamental considerations of public welfare and motivated by a Supreme Court to regulate the conduct and qualifications of its officers
desire to meet the demands of pressing public necessity. does not depend upon constitutional or statutory grounds. It has
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; IMPOSITION OF RESTRAINTS JUSTIFIED. The limitations no less real because they are inherent. The very burden of
State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with and the duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be misused or
regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and prostituted.
property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure 10. ID.; ID.;
the general prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus, CASE AT BAR. The provisions of Rule 139-A of the Rules of Court
31 Phil. 218), for, as the Latin maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme ordaining the integration of the Bar of the Philippines and the By-Laws of
lex." The public welfare is the supreme law. To this fundamental principle the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is neither unconstitutional nor illegal,
of government the rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty is a and a lawyer's stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues to the
blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to Integrated Bar of the Philippines, notwithstanding due notice, in violation
prevail over authority because then society will fall into anarchy of said Rule and By-Laws, is a ground for disbarment and striking out of
(Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the his name from the Roll of Attorneys of the Court.
State to restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals
from some freedom. RESOLUTION
5. ID.; ID.; CONSTITUTION VESTS SUPREME COURT WITH CASTRO, C.J p:
PLENARY POWER IN ALL CASES REGARDING ADMISSION TO AND The respondent Marcial A. Edillon is a duly licensed practicing attorney
SUPERVISION OF THE PRACTICE OF LAW. Even without the in the Philippines.
enabling Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the language On November 29, 1975, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP for
of the provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power short) Board of Governors unanimously adopted Resolution No. 75-65 in
"to promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all Administrative Case No. MDD-1 (In the Matter of the Membership Dues
courts, and the admission to the practice of law, "(Sec. 5[5], Art. X, 1973 Delinquency of Atty. Marcial A. Edillon) recommending to the Court the
Costitution) it at once becomes indubitable that this constitutional removal of the name of the respondent from its Roll of Attorneys for
declaration vests the Supreme Court with plenary power in all cases "stubborn refusal to pay his membership dues" to the IBP since the
regarding the admission to and supervision of the practice of law. latter's constitution notwithstanding due notice.
6. ID.; ID.; COMPULSORY MEMBERSHIP THEREIN NOT VIOLATIVE On January 21, 1976, the IBP, through its then President Liliano B. Neri,
OF A LAWYER'S CONSTITUTIONAL FREEDOM TO ASSOCIATE. submitted the said resolution to the Court for consideration and approval,
To compel a lawyer to be a member of the Integrated Bar is not violative pursuant to paragraph 2, Section 24, Article III of the By-Laws of the IBP,
of his constitutional freedom to associate. Integration does not make a which reads:
lawyer a member of any group of which he is not already a member. He ". . . . Should the delinquency further continue until the following June 29,
becomes a member of the Bar when he passed the Bar examinations. the Board shall promptly inquire into the cause or causes of the
All that integration actually does is to provide an official national continued delinquency and take whatever action it shall deem
organization for the well-defined but unorganized and incohesive group appropriate, including a recommendation to the Supreme Court for the
of which every lawyer is already a member. Bar integration does not removal of the delinquent member's name from the Roll of Attorneys.
compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He is free to attend or not Notice of the action taken shall be sent by registered mail to the member
attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter or vote or refuse to and to the Secretary of the Chapter concerned."
vote in its elections as he chooses. The only compulsion to which he is On January 27, 1976, the Court required the respondent to comment on
subjected is the payment of annual dues. The Supreme Court, in order the resolution and letter adverted to above; he submitted his comment
to further the State's legitimate interest in elevating the quality of on February 23, 1976, reiterating his refusal to pay the membership fees
professional legal services, may require that the cost of improving the due from him.
profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects and beneficiaries of On March 2, 1976, the Court required the IBP President and the IBP
the regulatory program the lawyers. Board of Governors to reply to Edillon's comment: on March 24, 1976,
7. ID.; ID.; PAYMENT OF MEMBERSHIP FEE; A REGULATORY they submitted a joint reply.
Page 36

MEASURE NOT PROHIBITED BY LAW. There is nothing in the Thereafter, the case was set for hearing on June 3, 1976. After the
Constitution that prohibits the Supreme Court, under its constitutional hearing, the parties were required to submit memoranda in amplification

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
of their oral arguments. The matter was thenceforth submitted for lawyers themselves, membership in which is voluntary. Integration of the
resolution. Bar is essentially a process by which every member of the Bar is afforded
At the threshold, a painstaking scrutiny of the respondent's pleadings an opportunity to do his share in carrying out the objectives of the Bar as
would show that the propriety and necessity of the integration of the Bar well as obliged to bear his portion of its responsibilities. Organized by or
of the Philippines are in essence conceded. The respondent, however, under the direction of the State, an integrated Bar is an official national
objects to particular features of Rule of Court 139-A (hereinafter referred body of which all lawyers are required to be members. They are,
to as the Court Rule) 1 in accordance with which the Bar of the therefore, subject to all the rules prescribed for the governance of the
Philippines was integrated and to the provisions of par. 2, Section 24, Bar, including the requirement of payment of a reasonable annual fee for
Article III of the IBP By-Laws (hereinabove cited). the effective discharge of the purposes of the Bar, and adherence to a
The authority of the IBP Board of Governors to recommend to the code of professional ethics or professional responsibility breach of which
Supreme Court the removal of a delinquent member's name from the constitutes sufficient reason for investigation by the Bar and, upon proper
Roll of Attorneys is found in par. 2 Section 24, Article III of the IBP By- cause appearing, a recommendation for discipline or disbarment of the
Laws (supra), whereas the authority of the Court to issue the order offending member. 2
applied for is found in Section 10 of the Court Rule, which reads: The integration of the Philippine Bar was obviously dictated by overriding
"SEC. 10. Effect of considerations of public interest and public welfare to such an extent as
non-payment of dues. Subject to the provisions of Section 12 of this more than constitutionally and legally justifies the restrictions that
Rule, default in the payment of annual dues for six months shall warrant integration imposes upon the personal interests and personal
suspension of membership in the Integrated Bar, and default in such convenience of individual lawyers. 3
payment for one year shall be a ground for the removal of the name of Apropos to the above, it must be stressed that all legislation directing the
the delinquent member from the Roll of Attorneys." integration of the Bar have been uniformly and universally sustained as
The all-encompassing, all-inclusive scope of membership in the IBP is a valid exercise of the police power over an important profession. The
stated in these words of the Court Rule: LLphil practice of law is not a vested right but a privilege, a privilege moreover
"SECTION 1. Organization. There is hereby organized an official clothed with public interest because a lawyer owes substantial duties not
national body to be known as the 'Integrated Bar of the Philippines,' only to his client, but also to his brethren in the profession, to the courts,
composed of all persons whose names now appear or may hereafter be and to the nation, and takes part in one of the most important functions
included in the Roll of Attorneys of the Supreme Court." of the State the administration of justice as an officer of the Court.
The obligation to pay membership dues is couched in the following words 4 The practice of law being clothed with public interest, the holder of this
of the Court Rule: privilege must submit to a degree of control for the common good, to the
"SEC. 9. Membership dues. Every member of the Integrated Bar shall extent of the interest he has created. As the U. S. Supreme Court through
pay such annual dues as the Board of Governors shall determine with Mr. Justice Roberts explained, the expression "affected with a public
the approval of the Supreme Court. . . . ." interest" is the equivalent of "subject to the exercise of the police power"
The core of the respondent's arguments is that the above provisions (Nebbia vs. New York, 291 U.S. 502).
constitute an invasion of his constitutional rights in the sense that he is When, therefore, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 6397 5 authorizing
being compelled, as a pre-condition to maintaining his status as a lawyer the Supreme Court to "adopt rules of court to effect the integration of the
in good standing, to be a member of the IBP and to pay the Philippine Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit," it did so in the
corresponding dues, and that as a consequence of this compelled exercise of the paramount police power of the State. The Act's avowal is
financial support of the said organization to which he is admittedly to "raise the standards of the legal profession, improve the administration
personally antagonistic, he is being deprived of the rights to liberty and of justice, and enable the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more
property guaranteed to him by the Constitution. Hence, the respondent effectivity." Hence, the Congress in enacting such Act, the Court in
concludes, the above provisions of the Court Rule and of the IBP By- ordaining the integration of the Bar through its Resolution promulgated
Laws are void and of no legal force and effect. on January 9, 1973, and the President of the Philippines in decreeing the
The respondent similarly questions the jurisdiction of the Court to strike constitution of the IBP into a body corporate through Presidential Decree
his name from the Roll of Attorneys, contending that the said matter is No. 181 dated May 4, 1973, were prompted by fundamental
not among the justiciable cases triable by the Court but is rather of an considerations of public welfare and motivated by a desire to meet the
"administrative nature pertaining to an administrative body." demands of pressing public necessity.
The case at bar is not the first one that has reached the Court relating to The State, in order to promote the general welfare, may interfere with
constitutional issues that inevitably and inextricably come up to the and regulate personal liberty, property and occupations. Persons and
surface whenever attempts are made to regulate the practice of law, property may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to secure
define the conditions of such practice, or revoke the license granted for the general prosperity and welfare of the State (U.S. vs. Gomez Jesus,
the exercise of the legal profession. 31 Phil. 218), for, as the Latin maxim goes, "Salus populi est supreme
The matters here complained of are the very same issues raised in a lex." The public welfare is the supreme law. To this fundamental principle
previous case before the Court, entitled "Administrative Case No. 526, of government the rights of individuals are subordinated. Liberty is a
In the Matter of the Petition for the Integration of the Bar of the blessing without which life is a misery, but liberty should not be made to
Philippines, Roman Ozaeta, et al., Petitioners." The Court exhaustively prevail over authority because then society will fall into anarchy
considered all these matters in that case in its Resolution ordaining the (Calalang vs. Williams, 70 Phil. 726). It is an undoubted power of the
integration of the Bar of the Philippines, promulgated on January 9, 1973. State to restrain some individuals from all freedom, and all individuals
The Court there made the unanimous pronouncement that it was. from some freedom.
". . . . fully convinced, after a thoroughgoing conscientious study of all the But the most compelling argument sustaining the constitutionality and
arguments adduced in Adm. Case No. 526 and the authoritative validity of Bar integration in the Philippines is the explicit unequivocal
materials and the mass of factual data contained in the exhaustive grant of precise power to the Supreme Court by Section 5 (5) of Article
Report of the Commission on Bar Integration, that the integration of the X of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines, which reads:
Philippine Bar is 'perfectly constitutional and legally unobjectionable' . . "Sec. 5. The Supreme Court shall have the following powers: xxx xxx
." xxx "(5) Promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice, and procedure
Be that as it may, we now restate briefly the posture of the Court. in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law and the integration
Page 37

An "Integrated Bar" is a State-organized Bar, to which every lawyer must of the Bar . . .",
belong, as distinguished from bar associations organized by individual and Section 1 of Republic Act No. 6397, which reads:

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
"SECTION 1. Within two years from the approval of this Act, the Supreme State, and under the necessary powers granted to the Court to
Court may adopt rules of Court to effect the integration of the Philippine perpetuate its existence, the respondent's right to practice law before the
Bar under such conditions as it shall see fit in order to raise the standards courts of this country should be and is a matter subject to regulation and
of the legal profession, improve the administration of justice, and enable inquiry. And, if the power to impose the fee as a regulatory measure is
the Bar to discharge its public responsibility more effectively." recognize, then a penalty designed to enforce its payment, which penalty
Quite apart from the above, let it be stated that even without the enabling may be avoided altogether by payment, is not void as unreasonable or
Act (Republic Act No. 6397), and looking solely to the language of the arbitrary.
provision of the Constitution granting the Supreme Court the power "to But we must here emphasize that the practice of law is not a property
promulgate rules concerning pleading, practice and procedure in all right but a mere privilege, and as such must bow to the inherent
courts, and the admission to the practice of law, " it at once becomes regulatory power of the Court to exact compliance with the lawyer s
indubitable that this constitutional declaration vests the Supreme Court public responsibilities.
with plenary power in all cases regarding the admission to and 4. Relative to the issue of the power and/or jurisdiction of the Supreme
supervision of the practice of law. Court to strike the name of a lawyer from its Roll of Attorneys, it is
Thus, when the respondent Edillon entered upon the legal profession, sufficient to state that the matters of admission, suspension, disbarment
his practice of law and his exercise of the said profession, which affect and reinstatement of lawyers and their regulation and supervision have
the society at large, were (and are) subject to the power of the body been and are indisputably recognized as inherent judicial functions and
politic to require him to conform to such regulations as might be responsibilities, and the authorities holding such are legion.
established by the proper authorities for the common good, even to the In In Re Sparks (267 Ky. 93, 101 S.W. (2d) 194), in which the report of
extent of interfering with some of his liberties. If he did not wish to submit the Board of Bar Commissioners in a disbarment proceeding was
himself to such reasonable interference and regulation, he should not confirmed and disbarment ordered, the court, sustaining the Bar
have clothed the public with an interest in his concerns. Integration Act of Kentucky, said: The power to regulate the conduct and
On this score alone, the case for the respondent must already fall. qualifications of its officers does not depend upon constitutional or
The issues being of constitutional dimension, however, we now concisely statutory grounds. It is a power which is inherent in this court as a court
deal with them seriatim. prLL appropriate, indeed necessary, to the proper administration of justice
1. The first objection posed by the respondent is that the Court is without . . . the argument that this is an arbitrary power which the court is
power to compel him to become a member of the Integrated Bar of the arrogating to itself or accepting from the legislative likewise
Philippines, hence, Section 1 of the Court Rule is unconstitutional for it misconceives the nature of the duty. It has limitations no less real
impinges on his constitutional right of freedom to associate (and not to because they are inherent. It is an unpleasant task to sit in judgment
associate). Our answer is: To compel a lawyer to be a member of the upon a brother member of the Bar, particularly where, as here, the facts
Integrated Bar is not violative of his constitutional freedom to associate. are disputed. It is a grave responsibility, to be assumed only with a
6 determination to uphold the ideals and traditions of an honorable
Integration does not make a lawyer a member of any group of which he profession and to protect the public from overreaching and fraud. The
is not already a member. He became a member of the Bar when he very burden of the duty is itself a guaranty that the power will not be
passed the Bar examinations. All that integration actually does is to misused or prostituted. . ."
provide an official national organization for the well-defined but The Court's jurisdiction was greatly reinforced by our 1973 Constitution
unorganized and incohesive group of which every lawyer is already a when it explicitly granted to the Court the power to "promulgate rules
member. concerning pleading, practice . . . and the admission to the practice of
Bar integration does not compel the lawyer to associate with anyone. He law and the integration of the Bar . . ." (Article X, Sec. 5(5) the power to
is free to attend or not attend the meetings of his Integrated Bar Chapter pass upon the fitness of the respondent to remain a member of the legal
or vote or refuse to vote in its elections as he chooses. The only profession is indeed undoubtedly vested in the Court.
compulsion to which he is subjected is the payment of annual dues. The We thus reach the conclusion that the provisions of Rule of Court 139-A
Supreme Court, in order to further the State's legitimate interest in and of the By-Laws of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines complained
elevating the quality of professional legal services, may require that the of are neither unconstitutional nor illegal. cdll
cost of improving the profession in this fashion be shared by the subjects WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is the unanimous sense of the
and beneficiaries of the regulatory program the lawyers. Court that the respondent Marcial A. Edillon should be as he is hereby
Assuming that the questioned provision does in a sense compel a lawyer disbarred, and his name is hereby ordered stricken from the Roll of
to be a member of the Integrated Bar, such compulsion is justified as an Attorneys of the Court.
exercise of the police power of the state.
2. The second issue posed by the respondent is that the provision of the IV. CODE OF PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Court Rule requiring payment of a membership fee is void. We see THE LAWYER AND SOCIETY
nothing in the Constitution that prohibits the Court, under its CANON 1: PROMOTE AND RESPECT, LAW AND LEGAL PROCESS
constitutional power and duty to promulgate rules concerning the A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE
admission to the practice of law and the integration of the Philippine Bar LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW OF AND
(Article X, Section 5 of the 1973 Constitution) which power the LEGAL PROCESSES.
respondent acknowledges from requiring members of a privileged
[G.R. Nos. 79690-707. October 7, 1988.]
class, such as lawyers are, to pay a reasonable fee toward defraying the
expenses of regulation of the profession to which they belong. It is quite
apparent that the fee is indeed imposed as a regulatory measure, ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE
designed to raise funds for carrying out the objectives and purposes of SANDIGANBAYAN and HONORABLE RAUL M. GONZALES, claiming
integration. to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987
3. The respondent further argues that the enforcement of the penalty Constitution, respondents.
provisions would amount to a deprivation of property without due process
and hence infringes on one of his constitutional rights. Whether the [G.R. Nos. 80578. October 7, 1988.]
practice of law is a property right, in the sense of its being one that
Page 38

entitles the holder of a license to practice a profession, we do not here


pause to consider at length, as it clear that under the police power of the

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
ENRIQUE A. ZALDIVAR, petitioner, vs. HON. RAUL M. GONZALES, corruption be filed against petitioner Zaldivar and five (5) other
claiming to be and acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 individuals. Once again, petitioner raised the argument of the
Constitution, respondent. Tanodbayan's lack of authority under the 1987 Constitution to file such
criminal cases and to investigate the same. Petitioner also moved for the
DECISION consolidation of that petition with G.R. No. 79690-707.
In a Resolution dated 24 November 1987, 4 this Court, without giving
PER CURIAM p: due course to the second petition: (1) required respondent Gonzales to
The following are the subjects of this Resolution: submit Gonzalez to submit a comment thereon: and (2) issued a
1) a Motion, dated 9 February 1988, to Cite in Contempt filed by temporary restraining order "ordering respondent Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez
a petitioner Enrique A. Zaldivar against public respondent Special to CEASE and DESIST from further acting in TBP Case No. 87-01394 .
Prosecutor (formerly Tanodbayan) Raul M. Gonzales, in connection with . . and particularly, from filing the criminal information consequent thereof
G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578, and 2) a Resolution of this and from conducting preliminary investigation therein." In a separate
Court dated 2 May 1988 requiring respondent Hon. Raul Gonzalez to resolution of the same date, 5 G.R. Nos. 79690-707 and G.R. No. 80578
show cause why he should not be punished for contempt and/or were ordered consolidated by the Court.
subjected to administrative sanctions for making certain public In the meantime, however, on 20 November 1987 or four (4) days prior
statements. to issuance by this Court of a temporary restraining order in G.R. No.
I 80578, the Office of the Tanodbayan instituted Criminal Case No. 12570
The pertinent facts are as follows: 6 with the Sandiganbayan, which issued on 23 November 1987 an Order
Petitioner Zaldivar is one of several defendants in Criminal Cases Nos. of Arrest 7 for petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in Criminal Case
12159-12161 and 12163-12177 (for violation of the Anti-Graft and No. 12570. Upon Motion 8 of petitioner Zaldivar, this Court issued the
Corrupt Practices Act) pending before the Sandiganbayan. The Office of following Resolution on 8 December 1987.
the Tanodbayan conducted the preliminary investigation and filed the "G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and
criminal informations in those cases (originally TBP Case No. 86-00778). Sandiganbayan). The motion filed by the Solicitor General for
On 10 September 1987, petitioner filed with this Court a Petition for respondents for extensions of thirty (30) days from the expiration of the
Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus (G.R. Nos. 79690-707) naming as original period within which to file comment on the petition for certiorari
respondents both the Sandiganbayan and Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez. and prohibition with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction or
Among other things, petitioner assailed: (1) the 5 February 1987 restraining order is GRANTED.
Resolution 1 of the Tanodbayan" recommending the filing of criminal Acting on the manifestation with motion to treat the Sandiganbayan as
informations against petitioner Zaldivar and his co-accused in TBP Case party-respondent, the Court Resolved to (a) Consider IMPLEADED the
No. 86-00778; and (2) the 1 September 1987 Resolution 2 of the Sandiganbayan as party respondent; and (b) In pursuance of and
Sandiganbayan in Criminal Case Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163-12177 supplementing the Temporary Restraining Order of November 24, 1987
denying his Motion to Quash the criminal informations filed in those ordering respondent Hon Raul M. Gonzalez to CEASE and DESIST from
cases by the "Tanodbayan." In this respect, petitioner alleged that further acting TBP No. 87-01304 entitled, "Commission on Audit vs. Gov.
respondent Gonzales, as Tanodbayan and under the provisions of the Enrique Zaldivar, et al., and particularly, from filing the criminal
1987 Constitution, was no longer vested with power and authority information consequent thereof and from conducting preliminary
independently to investigate and to institute criminal cases for graft and investigation therein" ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER
corruption against public officials and employees, and hence that the effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court,
informations filed in Criminal Cases Nos. 12159-12161 and 12163- ordering respondents Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez and Sandiganbayan to
12177 were all null and void. CEASE and DESIST from further acting in Criminal case No. 12570,
On 11 September 1987, this Court issued a Resolution, which read: entitled, "People of the Philippines vs. Enrique M. Zaldivar, et al.' and
"G.R. Nos. 79690-707 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. The Honorable from enforcing the order of arrest issued by the Sandiganbayan in said
Sandiganbayan and Honorable Raul M. Gonzalez, Claiming To Be and case."
Acting as Tanodbayan-Ombudsman under the 1987 Constitution). The Solicitor general filed a Comment 9 on the petition in G.R. No.
Acting on the special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus 80578, and we required the petitioner to submit a Reply 10 thereto.
under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, with urgent motion for preliminary On 9 February 1988, petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a Motion to
injunction, the Court Resolved, without giving due course to the petition, Cite in Contempt 11 directed at respondent Gonzalez. The Motion cited
to require the respondents to COMMENT thereon, within ten (10) days as bases the acts of respondent Gonzalez in: (1) having caused the filing
from notice. of the information against petitioner in Criminal case No. 12570 before
The Court further Resolved to ISSUE a TEMPORARY RESTRAINING the Sandiganbayan; and (2) issuing certain allegedly contemptuous
ORDER, effective immediately and continuing until further orders from statements to the media in relation to the proceedings in G.R. No. 80578.
this Court, ordering respondent Sandiganbayan to CEASE and DESIST In respect of the latter, petitioner annexed to his Motion a photocopy of
from hearing and trying Criminal cases Nos. 12159 to 12161 and 12163 a news article, reproduced here in toto, which appeared in the 30
to 12177 insofar as petitioner Enrique Zaldivar is concerned and from November 1987 issue of the "Philippine daily Globe."
hearing and resolving the Special Prosecutor's motion to suspend dated Tanod Scores SC for Quashing Graft Case
September 3, 1987." TANODBAYAN Justice Raul M. Gonzalez said yesterday the Supreme
The parties later filed their respective pleadings. Court order stopping him from investigating graft cases involving Antique
Petitioner Zaldivar filed with the Court a second Petition for Certiorari and Gov. Enrique Zaldivar "can aggravate the thought that affluent persons
Prohibition (G.R. No. 80578) on 19 November 1987, initially naming only can prevent the progress of a trial.'
Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez as respondent. The Petition assailed the 24 'What I am afraid of (with the issuance of the order) is that it appears that
Page 39

September 1987 Resolution 3 of the "Tanodbayan" in TBP Case No. 87- while rich and influential persons get favorable actions from the Supreme
01304 recommending that additional criminal charges for graft and

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Court, it is difficult for an ordinary litigant to get his petition to be given 2. That he "was approached and asked to 'refrain' from
due course.' Gonzales told the Daily Globe in an exclusive interview. investigating the COA report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme
Gonzalez said the high tribunal's order 'heightens the people's Court because 'it will embarrass the Court; '" and
apprehension over the justice system in this country, especially because 3. That "(i)n several instances, the undersigned respondent was
the people have been thinking that only the small fry can get it while big called over the phone be a leading member of the Court and was asked
fishes go scot-free.' to dismiss the cases against (two Members of the Court)."
Gonzalez was reacting to an order issued by the tribunal last week after Respondent Gonzalez also attached three (3) handwritten notes 15
Zaldivar petitioned the court to stop the Tanodbayan from investigating which he claimed were sent by "some members of this Honorable Court,
graft cases filed against him. interceding for cases pending before this office (i. e., the Tanodbayan)."
Zaldivar had charged that Gonzalez was biased in his investigations He either released his Motion for Reconsideration with facsimiles of said
because the latter wanted to help promote the political fortunes of a notes to the press or repeated to the press the above extraneous
friend from Antique, lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan. statements: the metropolitan papers for the next several days carried
Acting on Zaldivar's petition, the high court stopped Gonzalez from long reports on those statements and variations and embellishments
investigating a graft charge against the governor, and from instituting any thereof.
complaint the Sandiganbayan. On 2 May 1988, the Court issued the following Resolution in the
'While President Aquino had been prodding me to prosecute graft cases Consolidated Petitions:
even if they involve the high and mighty, the Supreme Court had been "G.R. No. 79690-707 (Enrique Zaldivar vs. The Hon. Sandiganbayan, et
restraining me.' Gonzalez said. al.); G.R. No. 80578 (Enrique A. Zaldivar vs. Hon. Raul M. Gonzalez,
In accordance with the President's order, Gonzalez said he had filed graft etc.).
cases against two 'very powerful' officials of the Aquino government 1. Acting on the Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent
Commissioner Quintin Doromal of the Presidential Commission on Good Gonzalez under date of April 28, 1988, the Court Resolved to REQUIRE
Government and Secretary Jiamil I.M. Dialan of the Office of Muslim the petitioner to COMMENT thereon within ten (10) days from notice
Affairs and Cultural Communities. hereof.
'While I don't with to discuss the merits of the Zaldivar petition before the 2. It appearing that respondent Raul M. Gonzalez has made
Supreme Court, I am a little bit disturbed that (the order) can aggravate public statements to the media which not only deal with matters sub-
the thinking of some people that affluent persons can prevent the judice but also appear offensive to and disrespectful of the Court and its
progress of a trial,' he said. individual members and calculated, directly or indirectly, to bring the
He disclosed that he had a talk with the Chief Executive over the Court into disrepute, discredit and ridicule and to denigrate and degrade
weekend and that while she symphatizes with local officials who are the administration of justice, the Court Resolved to require respondent
charged in court during election time, 'she said that it might be a Gonzalez to explain in writing within ten (10) days from notice hereof,
disservice to the people and the voters who are entitled to know their why he should not be punished for contempt of court and/or subjected to
candidates.' administrative sanctions for making such public statements reported in
Gonzalez said that while some cases against local against local officials the media, among others, in the issues of the 'Daily Inquirer,' the
during election time could be mere harassment's suits, the Constitution 'Journal,' the 'Manila Time,' the 'Philippine Star,' the 'Manila Chronicle,'
makes it a right of every citizen to be informed of the character of the the 'Daily Globe' and the 'Manila Standard' of April 29 and 30, and May
candidate, who should be subject to scrutiny."(Italics supplied) 1, 1988, to wit:
Acting on petitioner's Motion to Cite in Contempt, the Court on 16 (a) That the Court resolution in question is merely 'an offshoot of
February 1988 required respondent Gonzalez "to COMMENT on the position he had taken that SC Justices cannot claim immunity from
aforesaid Motion within ten (10) days from notice." 12 suit or investigation by government prosecutors,' or motivated by a desire
On 27 April 1988 , the Court rendered its Decision 13 (per curiam) in the to stop him 'from investigating cases against some of their portages or
Consolidated Petitions. The dispositive portion thereof read: friends;'
"WHEREFORE, We hereby: (2) That no less than six of the members of the Court 'interceded
(1) GRANT the consolidated petitions filed by petitioner Zaldivar for and on behalf of persons with pending cases before the Tanodbayan,'
and hereby NULLIFY the criminal informations filed against him in the or sought 'to pressure him to render decisions favorable to their
Sandiganbayan; and colleagues and friends;'
(2) ORDER respondent Raul Gonzalez ro cease and desists (c) That attempts were made to influence him 'to go slow' on
from conducting investigations and filing criminal cases with the Zaldivar and 'not to be too hard on him,' and 'to refrain' from investigating
Sandiganbayan or otherwise exercising the powers and functions of the the Commission on Audit report on illegal disbursements in the Supreme
Ombudsman. Court because 'it will embarrass the Court;'
(d) That there were also attempts to cause the dismissal of cases
SO ORDERED." against two Associate Justices; and
A Motion for Reconsideration 14 was filed by respondent Gonzalez the (e) That the Court had dismissed judges 'without rhyme or
next day, 28 April 1988. In his Motion, respondent Gonzalez, after having reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due process.'
argued the legal merits of his position, made the following statements 3. It further appearing that three (3) affidavits relative to the
totally unrelated to any legal issue raised either in the Court's Decision purpose of and circumstances attendant upon the notes written to said
or in his own Motion: public respondent by three (3) members of the Court have since been
1. That he "ha(d) been approached twice by a leading member submitted to the Court and now form part of its official records, the Court
of the court . . . and he was asked to 'go slow' on Zaldivar and 'not to be further Resolved to require the Clerk of Court to ATTACH to this
too hard on him;'" Resolution copies of said sworn statements and the annexes thereto
Page 40

appended, and to DIRECT respondent Gonzalez also to comment


thereon within the same period of ten(10) days.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
4. It finally appearing that notice of the Resolution of February the Court including lawyers and all other persons connected in any
16, 1988 addressed to respondent Gonzalez was misdelivered and manner with a case before the Court. 33 The power to punish for
therefore not served on him, the Court Resolved to require the Clerk of contempt is "necessary for its own protection against an improper
Court to CAUSE SERVICE of said Resolution on the respondent and to interference with the due administration of justice, " "(it) is not dependent
REQUIRE the latter to comply therewith." upon the complaint of any of the parries litigant." 34
Respondent Gonzalez subsequently filed with this Court on 9 May 1988 There are, in other words, two (2) related powers which come into play
an Omnibus Motion for Extension and Inhibition 16 alleging, among other in cases like that before us here; the Court's inherent power to discipline
things: that the above quoted 2 May 1988 Resolution of the Court attorneys and the contempt power. The disciplinary authority of the Court
"appears to have overturned that presumption [of innocence] against over members of the Bar is broader that the power to punish for
him;" and that "he gravely doubts whether that 'cold neutrality [of an contempt. Contempt of court may be committed both by lawyers and
impartial judge]' is still available to him" there being allegedly "at least 4 non-lawyers, both in and out of court. Frequently, where the contemnor
members of this Tribunal who will not be able to sit in judgment with is a lawyer, the contumacious conduct also constitutes professional
substantial sobriety and neutrality." Respondent Gonzalez closed out his misconduct which calls into play the disciplinary authority of the Supreme
pleading with a prayer that the four (4) Members of the Court identified Court. 35 Where the respondent is a lawyer, however, the Supreme
and referred to there by him inhibit themselves in the deliberation and Court's disciplinary authority over lawyers may come into play whether
resolution of the Motion to Cite in Contempt. or not the misconduct with which the respondent is charged also
On 19 may 1988, 17 after receipt of respondent's Supplemental Motion constitutes contempt of court. The powers to punish for contempt of court
for Reconsideration, 18 this Court in an extended per curiam Resolution does not exhaust the scope of disciplinary authority of the Court over
19 denied the Motion and Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration. lawyers. 36 The disciplinary authority of the Court over members of the
That denial was made "final and immediately executory." Bar is but corollary to the Court's exclusive power of admission to the
Respondent Gonzalez has since then filed the following pleadings of Bar. A lawyers is not merely a professional but also an officer of the court
record: and as such, he is called upon to share in the task and responsibility of
1. Manifestation with Supplemental Motion to Inhibit, 20 dated dispensing justice and resolving disputes in society. Any act on his part
23 May 1988; which visibly tends to obstruct, pervert, or impede and degrade the
2. Motion to Transfer Administrative Proceedings to the administration of justice constitutes both professional misconduct calling
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, 21 dated 20 May 1988; for the exercise of disciplinary action against him and contumacious
3. Urgent Motion for Additional Extension of Time to File conduct warranting application of the contempt power.
Explanation Ex Abundante Cautelam, 22 dated 26 May 1988; It is sometimes asserted that in the exercise of the power to punish for
4. Urgent Ex-Parte Omnibus Motion contempt or to the disciplinary authority of the Court over members of
(a) For Extension of Time the Bar, the Court is acting as offended party, prosecutor and arbiter at
(b) For Inhibition, and one and the same time. Thus, in the present case, respondent Gonzalez
(c) For Transfer of Administrative Proceedings to the IBP, Under first sought to get some members of the Court to inhibit themselves in
Rule 139-B, 23 dated 4 June 1988 (with Annex "A;' 24 an anonymous the resolution of this case for alleged bias and prejudice against him. A
letter dated 27 May 1988 from the alleged Concerned Employees of the little later, he in effect asked the whole Court to inhibit itself from passing
Supreme Court" and addressed to respondent); upon the issues involved in this proceeding and to pass on responsibility
5. Ex-Parte Manifestation, 25 dated 7 June 1988; for this matter to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, upon the ground
6. Urgent Ex-Parte Motion for Reconsideration, 26 dated 6 June that respondent cannot expect due process from this Court, that the
1988; and Court has become incapable of judging him impartially and fairly.
7. Urgent Ex-Parte Manifestation with Motion 27 dated 23 Respondent Gonzalez misconceives the nature of the proceeding at bar
September 1988. as well as the function of the members of the Court in such proceeding.
In compliance with the 2 may 1988 Resolution of this Court quoted Respondent's contention is scarcely an original one. In In Re Almacen,
earlier, respondent Gonzalez submitted on 17 June 1988 an Answer with 37 then Associate (later Chief) Justice Fred Fruiz Castro had occasion
Explanation and Comment 28 offering respondent's legal arguments and to deal with this contention in the following lucid manner:
defenses against the contempt and disciplinary charges presently "xxx xxx xxx
pending before this Court. Attached to that pleading as Annex "A" thereof It is not accurate to say, nor is it an obstacle to the exercise of our
was respondent's own personal Explanation/Compliance. 29 A second authority in the premises, that, as Atty. Almacen would have it appear,
explanation called "Compliance," 30 with annexes, was also submitted the members of the Court are the 'complaints, prosecutors and judges'
by respondent on 22 July 1988. all rolled up into one in this instance. This is an utter misapprehension, if
II not a total distortion, not only of the nature of the proceeding at hand but
We begin be referring to the authority of the Supreme Court to discipline also of our role therein.
officers of the court and members of the court and members of the Bar. Accent should be laid on the fact that disciplinary proceedings like the
The Supreme Court, as regular and guardian of the legal profession, has present are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, this
plenary disciplinary authority over attorneys. The authority to discipline proceeding is not and does not involve a trial of an action or a suit,
lawyers stems from the Court's constitutional mandate to regulate but is rather an investigation by the Court into the conduct of its officers.
admission to the practice of law, which includes as well authority to Not being intended to inflict punishment, it is in no sense a criminal
regulate the practice itself of law. 31 Quite apart from this constitutional prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor
mandate, the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court over members there. It may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is its
of the Bar is an inherent power incidental to the proper administration of primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or
justice and essential to an orderly discharge of judicial functions. 32 not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileged as such.
Page 41

Moreover, the Supreme Court has inherent to punish for contempt, to Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls
control in the furtherance of justice the conduct of ministerial officers of upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal rendered its per curiam Decision dated 27 April 1988 in G.R. Nos. 79690-
profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging 707 and 80578. That decision according to respondent Gonzales, was
the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved issued as an act of retaliation by the Court against him for the position
themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and he had taken "that the (Supreme Court) Justices cannot claim immunity
responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. In such posture, from suit or investigation by government prosecutors," and in order to
there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor. stop respondent from investigating cases against "some of (the)
Undeniably, the members of the Court are, to a certain degree, aggrieved proteges or friends (of some Supreme Court Justices)." The Court
parties. Any tirade against the individual members thereof. But in the cannot, of course, and will not debate the correctness of its Decision of
exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court acts as an entity separate 27 April 1988 and of its Resolution dated 19 May 1988 (denying
and distinct from the individual personalities of its members. Consistently respondent Gonzalez' Motion for Reconsideration) in the consolidated
with the intrinsic nature of a collegiate court, the individual members act Zaldivar case. Respondent Gonzalez, and anyone else for that matter,
not as such individuals as a duly constituted court. The distinct is free intellectually to accept or not accept the reasoning of the Court
individualities are lost in the majesty of their office. So that, in a very real set out in its per curiam Decision and Resolution in the consolidated
sense, if there be any complainant in the case at bar, it can only by the Zaldivar cases. This should not, however, obscure the seriousness of the
Court itself, not the individual members thereof as well as the people assault thus undertaken by respondent against the Court and the
themselves whose rights, fortunes and properties, may, even lives, appalling implications of a such assault for the integrity of the system of
would be placed at grave hazard should the administration of justice be administration of justice in country. Respondent has said that the Court
threatened by the retention in the Bar of men unfit to discharge the rendered it Decision and Resolution without regard to the legal merits of
solemn responsibilities of membership in the legal fraternity. the Zaldivar cases and had used the judicial process to impose private
Finally, the power to exclude persons from the practice of law is but a punishment upon respondent for positions he had taken (unrelated to the
necessary incident of the power to admit persons to said practice. By Zaldivar cases) in carrying out his duties. It is very difficult to imagine a
constitutional precept, this power is vested exclusively in this Court. This more serious affront to, or greater outrage upon, the honor and dignity of
duty it cannot abdicate just as much as it cannot unilaterally renounce this Court that this. Respondent's statements is also totally baseless.
jurisdiction legally invested upon it. So that even if it be concede that the Respondent's statements were made in complete disregard of the fact
members collectively are in a sense the aggrieved parties, that fact alone that his continuing authority to act as Tanodbayan or Ombudsman after
does not and cannot disqualify them from the exercise of the power the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution, had been questioned before this
because public policy demands that they, acting as a Court, exercise the Court as early as 10 September 1987 in the Petition for Certiorari,
power in all cases which call for disciplinary action. The present is such Prohibition and Mandamus filed against him in these consolidated
a case. In the end, the imagined anomaly of the merger in one entity of Petitions, 40 that is more than seven (7) months before the Court
the personalities of complaint, prosecutor and judge is absolutely rendered its Decision. Respondent also ignores the fact that one day
inexistent. later, this Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order effective
xxx xxx xxx." 38 immediately Sandiganbayan to cease and desist from hearing the
It should not be necessary for the members of this Court expressly to criminal cases filed against petitioner Zaldivar by respondent Gonzalez
disclaim any bias or prejudice against the respondent that would prevent Respondent also disregards the fact that on 24 November 1987, upon
them from the acting in accordance with the exacting requirements of the filing of a second Petition for Certiorari for Prohibition by Mr. Zaldivar,
their oaths of office. It also appears to the Court that for all the members the Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order this time requirement
to inhibit themselves from sitting on this case is to abdicate the the respondent to cease and desist from further acting in TBP Case No.
responsibility with which the Constitution has burdened the. Reference 87-0934. Thus, the decision finally reached by this Court in April 1988 on
of complaints against attorneys either to the Integrated Bar of the the constitutional law issue pending before the Court for the preceding
Philippines or to the Solicitor General is not mandatory upon the eight (8) months, could scarcely have been invented as a reprisal simply
Supreme Court; such reference to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines against respondent.
or to the Solicitor General is certainly not an exclusive procedure under A second charge that respondent Gonzalez hurled against members of
the terms of Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, especially where the Supreme Court is that they have improperly "pressured" him render
the charge consists of acts done before the Supreme Court. There is no decisions favorable to their "colleagues and friends," including dismissal
need for further investigation of facts in the present case for it is not of "cases" against two (2) members of the Court. This particularly
substantially disputed by respondent Gonzalez that he uttered or wrote deplorable charge too is entirely baseless, as even a cursory
certain statements attributed to him. In any case, respondents had the examination of the contents of the handwritten notes of three (3)
amplest opportunity to present his defense; his defense is not that he did members of this Court addressed to respondent (which respondent
not make the statements ascribed to him but that those statements give attached to his Motion for Reconsideration of the Decision of this Court
rise to no liability on his party, having been made in the exercise of his of 27 April 1988 in the consolidated Petitions) will show. It is clear, and
freedom of speech. The issues which thus need to be resolved here are respondent Gonzalez does not pretend otherwise, that the subject
issues of law and of basic and the Court, not any other agency, is matters of the said notes had no relation at all to the issues in G.R. Nos.
compelled to resolve such issues. 79690-707 and 80578. This charge appears to have made in order to try
III to impart some substance (at least in the mind of respondent) to the first
It is necessary to become very explicit as to what respondent Gonzalez accusation made by respondent that the Court had deliberately rendered
was saying in his statements set out above. Respondent has not denied a wrong decision to get even with respondent who had, with great
making the above statements; indeed, he acknowledges that the fortitude, resisted "pressure" from some members of the Court. Once
newspaper reports of the statements attributed to him are substantially again, in total effect, the statements made by respondent appear
correct. 39 designed to cast the Court into gross disrepute, and to cause among the
Page 42

Respondent Gonzalez was in effect saying, firstly, that the Supreme general public scorn for and distrust in the Supreme Court and, more
Court deliberately rendered an erroneous or wrong decision when it generally, the judicial institutions of the Republic.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Respondent Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing (f) That "the Tribunal is determined to disbar [respondent]
him from prosecuting "rich and powerful persons," that the Court was in without due process" and that a specified Member of the court "has been
effect discriminating between the rich and powerful on the one hand and tasked to be the ponente, or at least prepare the decision."
the poor and defenseless upon the other, and allowing "rich and (Underscoring in the original)
powerful" accused persons to go "scot-free" while presumably allowing Thus, instead of explaining or seeking to mitigate his statements earlier
or affirming the conviction of poor and small offenders. This accusation made, respondent sought to heap still more opprobrium upon the Court,
can only be regarded as calculated to present the Court in an extremely accusing it of being incapable of judging his acts and statements justly
bad light. It may be seen as intended to foment hatred against the and according to law. Once again, he paints this Court as a body not only
Supreme Court; it is also suggestive of the divisive tactics of capable of acting without regard to due process but indeed determined
revolutionary class war. so to act. A grand design to hold up this Court to public scorn and
Respondents, finally, assailed the Court for having allegedly "dismissed disrespect as an unworthy tribunal, one obfuscated by passion and
judges 'without rhyme or reason' and disbarred lawyers 'without due anger at respondent, emerges once more. It is very difficult for members
process.'" The Court notes that this last attacks is not without relation to of this Court to understand how respondent Gonzalez could suppose that
the other statements made by respondent against the Court. The total judges on the highest tribunal of the land would be ready and willing to
picture that respondent clearly was trying to paint of the Court is that of violate their most solemn oath of office merely to gratify any imagined
an "unjudicial" institution able and willing to render "clearly erroneous" private feelings aroused by respondent. The universe of the Court
decisions by way of reprisal against its critics, as a body that acts revolves around the daily demands of law and justice and duty, not
arbitrarily and capriciously denying judges and lawyers due process of around respondent nor any other person or group of persons.
law. Once again, the purport of respondent's attack against the Court as Whether or not the statements made by respondent Gonzalez may
an institution unworthy of the people's faith and trusty, is unmistakable. reasonably be regarded by this Court as contumacious or as warranting
Had respondent undertaken to examine the records of the two(2) judges exercise of the disciplinary authority of this Court over members of the
and the attorney he later identified in one of his Explanations he would Bar, may best be assayed by examining samples of the kinds of
have discovered that the respondents in those administrative cases had statements which have been held in our jurisdiction as constituting
ample opportunity to explain their side and submit evidence in support contempt or otherwise warranting the exercise of the court's authority.
thereof. 41 He would have also found that there were both strong 1. In Montecillo v. Gica, 45 Atty. Quirino del Mar as counsel for
reasons for and an insistent rhyme in the disciplinary measures there Montecillo, who was accused in a slander case, moved to reconsider a
administered by the Court in the continuing effort to strengthen the decision of the Court of Appeals in favor of the complainant with a veiled
judiciary and upgrade the membership of the Bar. It is appropriate to threat that he should interpose his next appeal to the President of the
recall in this connection that due process as a constitutional precept does Philippines. In his Motion for Reconsideration, he referred to the
not, always and in all situations, require the trial-type proceeding, 42 that provisions of the Revised Penal Code on "knowingly rendering an unjust
the essence of due process is to be found in the reasonable opportunity judgment," and "judgment rendered through negligence" and implied that
to be heard and to submit any evidence one may have in support' of the Court of Appeals had allowed itself to be deceived. Atty. del Mar was
one's defense. 43 "To be heard" does not only mean verbal arguments held guilty of contempt of court by the Court of Appeals. He then sued
in court; one may be heard also through pleadings. Where opportunity to the three (3) justices of the Court of Appeals for damages before the
be heard, either through oral arguments or pleadings, is accorded, there Court of First Instance of Cebu, seeking to hold them liable for their
is no denial of procedural due process. 44 decision in the appealed slender case. This suit was terminated,
As noted earlier, respondent Gonzalez was required by the Court to however, by compromise agreement after Atty. del mar apologized to the
explain why he should not be punished for contempt and/or subjected to Court of Appeals and the justices concerned and agreed to pay moral
administrative discipline for making the statements adverted to above. In damages to the justice. Atty. del Mar some time later filed with this Court
his subsequent pleadings where asked the full Court to inhibit itself and a Petition for Review on Certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals
to transfer the administrative proceedings to the Integrated Bar of the in a slander case. This Court denied the Petition for review. Atty. del Mar
Philippines, respondent made, among others, the following allegations: then filed a Motion for reconsideration and addressed a letter to the Clerk
(a) That the Members of the Court "should inhibit [themselves] in of the Supreme Court asking for the names of the justices of this Court
the contempt and administrative charges against the respondent, in the who had voted in favor of and those who had voted against his Motion
light of the manifest prejudice and anger they hold against respondents for Reconsideration. After his Motion for Reconsideration was denied
as shown in the language of the resolution on the Motion for fore lack of merit, Atty. del Mar filed a Manifestation in this Court saying:
Reconsideration;' (b) That "the entire membership of the court has "I can at this time reveal to you that, had your Clerk of Court furnished
already lost that 'cold neutrality of an impartial judge' [to] be able to allow me with certified of the last two Resolutions of the supreme court
fairness and due process in the contempt citation as well as in the confirming the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case entitled
possible administrative charge;" Francisco M. Gica vs. Jorge Montecillo, I would have filed against the
(c) That "respondent honestly feels that this court as angry and Justices supporting the same, civil and criminal suits as i did to the
prejudiced as it is, respondent has no china man's chance to get fair justices of the Court of Appeals who, rewarding the abhorrent falsification
hearing in the contempt and possible administrative charges;" committed by Mr. Gica, reversed for him the decisions of the City Court
(d) That one must consider "the milieu before this Tribunal with, of First Instance of Cebu, not with a view to obtaining a favorable
perhaps passion and obfuscation running riot;" judgment therein but for the purpose of exposing to the people the
(e) That respondent, "after having been castigated with such corroding evils extant in our Government, so that they may well know
venom by the entire Court in its decision denying the Motion for them and work for their extermination." (60 SCRA at 240' italics supplied)
Reconsideration, does not have confidence in the impartiality of the Counsel was asked to explain why he should not be administratively
entire Court" and that he "finds it extremely difficult to believe that the dealt with for making the above statements. In his additional explanation,
Page 43

members of this Tribunal can still act with unbiased demeanor towards Atty. del mar made the following statements:
him; and

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". . . Graft, corruption and justice are rampant in and outside of the e. '. . . Never has any civilized democratic tribunal ruled that
Government. It is this state of things that convinced me that all human such a gimmick (referring to the "right to reject any and all bids") can be
efforts to correct and/or reform the said evils will be fruitless and as used by vulturous executives to cover and excuse losses to the public, a
stated in my manifestation to you. I have already decided to retire from government agency or just plain fraud . . . and it is thus difficult, in the
a life of militancy to a life of seclusion, leaving to God the filling-up light of our upbringing and schooling, even under may of the incumbent
deficiencies." (60 SCRA at 242) justices, that the Honorable supreme Court intends to create a decision
The Court suspended Atty. del mar, "until further orders," from the that in effect does precisely that in a most absolute manner.' (Second
practice of law saying: sentence, par. 7, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Sept. 10,
". . . Respondent is utilizing what exists in his mind as state of graft, 1968)." (31 SCRA at 6)
corruption and injustice allegedly rampant in and outside of the They were also asked to explain the statements made in their Motion to
government as justification for his contemptuous statements. In other inhibit filed on 21 September 1968 asking
words, he already assumed by his own contemptuous utterances that "Mr. Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion and Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro
because there is an alleged existence of rampant corruption, graft and to inhibit themselves from considering, judging and resolving the case or
injustice in and out of the government, We, by Our act in G.R. No. L- any issue or aspect thereof retroactive to January 11, 1967. The motion
36800, are among the corrupt , the grafters and those allegedly charges '[t]hat the brother of the Honorable Associate Justice Castro is
committing injustice. We are at a complete loss to follow respondent del a vice-president of the favored party who is the chief beneficiary of the
Mar's logic. . . false, erroneous and illegal decision dated January 31, 1968' and the ex-
xxx xxx xxx parte preliminary injunction rendered in the above entitled case, the latter
"To aged brethren of the bar it may appear belated to remind them that in effect prejudging and predetermining this case even before the joining
second only to the duty of maintaining allegiance to the Republic of the of an issue. As to the Chief Justice, the motion states '[t]hat the son of
Philippines and to support the Constitution and obey the laws of the the Honorable Chief Justice Roberto to Conception was given a
Philippines, is the duty of all attorneys to observe and maintain the significant appointment in the Philippine Government by the President a
respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers (Sec. 20 (b) Rule short time before the decision of July 31, 1968 was rendered in this case.'
138, Rules of court). But We do remind them of said duty to emphasize The appointment referred to was as secretary of the newly-created
to their younger brethren its paramount importance. A lawyer must Board of Investments. The motion presents a lengthy discourse on
always remember that he is an officer of the court exercising a high judicial ethics, makes a number of side comments projecting what is
privilege and serving in the noble mission of administering justice." claimed to be the patent wrongfulness of the July 31, 1968 decision. It
xxx xxx xxx enumerates 'incidents' which, according to the motion, brought about
As already stated, the decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A. G.R. No. respondent MacArthur's belief that 'unjudicial prejudice' had been
45604-R was based on its evaluation of the evidence on only one specific caused it and that there was 'unjudicial favoritism' in favor of 'petitioners,
issue. We in turn denied in G.R. No. L-368000 the petition for review on their appointing authority and a favored party directly benefited by the
certiorari of the decision because We found no reason for disturbing the said decision.'" (31 SCRA at 6-7)
appellate court's finding and conclusion. In both instances, both the Another attorney entered his appearance as new counsel for MacArthur
Court of Appeals and this Court exercised judicial discretion in a case and filed a fourth Motion for Reconsideration without leave of court,
under respective jurisdiction. The intemperate and imprudent act of which Motion contained the following paragraphs:]
respondent del Mar in resorting to veiled threats to make both Courts "4. The said decision is illegal because it was penned by the
reconsider their respective stand in the decision and the resolution that Honorable Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion when in fact he was
spelled disaster for his client cannot be anything but pure contumely for outside the borders of the Republic of the Philippines at the time of the
said tribunals. Oral Argument of the above-entitled case which condition is prohibited
It is manifest that respondent del mar has scant respect for the two by the new Rules of Court _ Section 1, Rule 51, and we quote" '
highest court of the hand when on the flimsy ground of alleged error in Justices; who may take part. . . . Only those members present when
deciding a case, he proceeded to challenge the integrity of both Courts any matter is submitted for oral argument will take part in its
by claiming that they knowingly rendered unjust judgment. In short, his consideration and adjudication . . .' This requirement is especially
allegation is that they acted with intent and malice, if not with gross significant in the present instance because the member who penned the
ignorance of the law, in disposing of the case of his client. decision was the very member who was absent for approximately four
xxx xxx xxx months or more. This provision also applies to the Honorable Justices
. . . To those who are in the practice of law and those who in the future Claudio Teehankee and Antonio Barredo.
will choose to enter this profession. We with to point to this case as a xxx xxx xxx
reminder for them to imprint in their hearts and minds that an attorney 6. That if the respondent MacArthur International Minerals
owes it to himself to respect the courts of justice and its officers as a Company abandons its quest for justice in the judiciary of the Philippine
fealty for the stability of our democratic institutions.: (60 SCRA at 242- Government, it will inevitably either raise the graft and corruption of
247; italic supplied) Philippine Government Officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965, required
2. In Surigao Mineral Reservation Board v. Cloribel, 46 four (4) by the Nickel law to determine the operator of the Surigao nickel
members of the bar, acting as counsels for MacArthur International deposits, the World Court on grounds of deprivation of justice and
Minerals Company were required by this Court to explain certain confiscation or property and/or to the United States Government either
statements made in MacArthur's third Motion for Reconsideration: its executive or judicial branches or both, on the grounds of confiscation
"d. ' . . .; and the Supreme Court has overlooked the applicable of respondent's proprietary vested rights by the Philippine Government
law due to the misrepresentation and obfuscation of the petitioners' without either compensation or due process of law and invoking the
counsel.' (Last sentence, par. 1, Third Motion for Reconsideration dated Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid and benefits
Page 44

Sept. 10, 1968). to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price premium,

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amounting to more than fifty million dollars annually, until restitution or Santiago a style that undermines and degrades the administration of
compensation is made." (31 SCRA at 10-11) justice. The stricture in Section 3 (d) of Rule 71 of the Rules against
Finding their explanations unsatisfactory, the Court, speaking through improper conduct tending to degrade the administration of justice is
Mr. Justice Sanchez, held three (3) attorneys guilty of contempt: thus transgressed. Atty. Santiago is guilty of contempt of court.
"1. We start with the case of Atty. Vicente L. Santiago. In his third xxx xxx xxx
motion for reconsideration, we indeed, find language that is not to be Third. The Motion contained an express threat to take the case to the
expected of an officer of the courts. He pictures petitioners as 'vulturous world Court and/or the United States government. It be member that
executives.' He speaks of this Court as a 'civilized, democratic tribunal,' respondent MacArthur at that time was still trying to overturn the decision
but by innuendo would suggest that it is not. of this Court of July 31, 1968. In doing so, unnecessary statements were
In his motion tom inhibit, his first paragraph categorizes our decision of injected. More specifically, the motion announced that MacArthur 'will
July 31, 1968 as 'false, erroneous and illegal' in a presumptuous manner. inevitably . . . raise the graft and corruption of [the] Philippine government
He then charges that the ex parte preliminary injunction we issued in this officials in the bidding of May 12, 1965 . . . to the world Court' and would
case prejudiced and predetermined the case even before the joining of invoke 'the Hickenlooper Amendment requiring the cutting off of all aid
an issue. He accuses in a reckless manner two justices of this Court for and benefits to the Philippine Government, including the sugar price
being interested in the decision of this case: Associate Justice Fred Ruiz premium, amount to more than fifty million dollars annually . . .'
Castro, because his brother is the vice president of the favored party who This is a clear attempt to influence or bend the mind of this Court to
is the chief beneficiary of the decision, and Chief Justice Roberto decide the case' in its favor. A notice of appeal to the World Court has
Concepcion, whose son was appointed secretary of the newly-created even been embodied in Meads' return. There is a gross inconsistency
Board of Investments, 'a significant appointment in the Philippine between the appeal and the move to reconsider the decision. An appeal
Government by the President, a shortime before the decision of July 31 from a decision presupposes that a party has already abandoned any
1968 was rendered.' In this backdrop, he proceeds to state that 'it would move to reconsider that decision. And yet, it would appear that the
seem that the principles thus established [the moral and ethical appeal to the World Court is being dangled as threat to effect a change
guidelines for inhibition of any judicial authority] by the Honorable of there decision of this Court. Such act has no aboveboard explanation.
Supreme Court should removed conditions have been known to create xxx xxx xxx
favoritism, only to conclude that there is no reason for a belief that the The dignity of the court, experience teaches, can never be protected
conditions obtaining in the case of the Chief Justice and justice Castro where infraction of ethics meets with complacency rather than
'would be less likely to engender favoritism and prejudice for or against punishment. The people should not be given cause to break faith with
a particular cause or party.' Implicit in this at least is that the Chief Justice the belief that a judge is the epitome of honor amongst men. To preserve
and Justice Castro are insensible to delicadeza, which could make their its dignity, a court of justice should not yield to the assaults of disrespect.
actuation suspect. He makes it plain in the motion that the Chief Justice Punctilio of honor, we prefer to think, is standard of behavior so desirable
and Justice Castro not only were not free from the appearance of in a lawyer pleading as cause before a court of justice." (31 SCRA at 13-
impropriety but did arouse suspicion that their relationship did affect their 23; italics supplied)
judgment. He appoints out that courts must be above suspicion at all 3. In In re Almacen, supra, Atty. Vicente Raul Almacen, in
times like Ceasar's wife, warns that loss of confidence for the Tribunal; protest against what he asserted was "a great injustice committed his
or a member thereof should not be allowed to happen in our country, client by the Supreme Court," filed a Petition to Surrender Lawyer's
'although the process has already begun.' Certificate of Title. He alleged that his client was deeply aggrieved by
xxx xxx xxx this Court's "unjust judgment," and had become "one of the sacrificial
What is disconcerting is that Atty. Santiago's accusations have no basis victims before the altar of hypocrisy," saying that "justice as administered
in fact and in law. The slur made is not limited to the Chief Justice and by the presents members of the Supreme Court [was] not only blind, but
Justice Castro. It sweepingly casts aspersion on the whole court. For, also deaf and dumb." Atty. Almacen vowed to argue the cause of his
inhibition is also asked if, we repeated, 'any other justices who have client "in the people's forum" so that "the people may know of this silent
received favors or benefits directly or indirectly from any of the petitioners injustice committed by this Court" and that "whatever mistakes, wrongs
or any members of any board-petitioner or their agents or principals, and injustices that were committed [may] never be repeated." Atty.
including the president.' The absurdity of this posture is at once apparent. Almacen released to the press the contents of his Petition and on 26
For one thing, the justices of this Court are appointed by the President September 1967, the "Manila Times" published statements attributed to
and in that sense may be considered to have each received a favor from him as follows:
the President. Should these justices inhibit themselves every time a case "Vicente Raul Almacen, in an unprecedented petition, said he did not
involving the Administration crops up? Such a thought may not certainly expose the tribunal's unconstitutional and obnoxious' practice of
be entertained. The consequence thereof would be to paralyze the arbitrarily denying petitions or appeals without any reason.
machinery of this Court. we would in fact, be wreaking havoc on the Because of the tribunal's 'short-cut justice.' Almacen deplored, his client
tripartite system of government operating in this country. Counsel is was condemned to pay P120, 000, without knowing why he least the
presumed to know this But why the unfounded charge? There is the not- case.
too-well concealed effort on the part of a losing litigant's attorney to xxx xxx xxx
downgrade this Court. There is no use continuing his law practice, Almacen said in this petition,
The mischief that system from all of the foregoing gross disrespect is 'where our Supreme Court is composed of men who are calloused to our
easy to discern. Such disrespect detracts much from the dignity of a court pleas of justice, who ignore without reason their own applicable
of justice. Decidedly not an expression of faith, councel's words are decisions and commit culpable violations of the Constitution with
intended to create an atmosphere of distrust, of disbelief. impunity.'
xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx xxx
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The precepts, the teachings, the injunctions just recited are not He expressed the hope that by divesting himself of his title by which he
unfamiliar to lawyers. And yet, this Court finds in the language of Atty. earns his living, the present members of the Supreme Court 'will become

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
responsible to all cases brought to, its attention without discrimination, Court. . . That such treats and disrespectful language contained in a
and will purge itself of those unconstitutional and obnoxious "lack of pleading filed in courts are constitutive of direct contempt has been
merit" or denied resolutions.'" (31 SCRA 1t 565-566; italics supplied) repeatedly decided(Salcedo vs. Hernandez, 61 Phil,. 724; People vs.
Atty. Almacen was required by this Court to show cause why disciplinary Venturanza, 52 Off. Gaz. 769; Medina vs. Rivera, 66 Phil. 151; De Joya
action should not be taken against hi. His explanation which in part read: vs. Court of First Instance of Rizal , L-9785, September 19, 1956; Sison
"xxx xxx xxx vs. Sandejas, L-9270, April 29, 1959; Lualhati vs. Albert, 57 Phil. 86).
The phrase, Justice is blind is symbolized in paintings that can be found What makes the present case more deplorable is that the guilty party is
in all courts and government offices. We have added only two more a member of the bar; for, as remarked in People vs. Carillo, 77 Phil. 580
symbols, that it is also deaf and dumb. Deaf in the sense that no
members of this Court has ever heard our cries for charity, generosity, 'Counsel should conduct himself towards the judges who try his cases
fairness, understanding, sympathy and for justice; dumb in the sense, with that courtesy all have a right to expect. As an officer of the court, it
that inspire of or beggings, supplications, and pleadings to give us is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily
reasons why our appeals has been DENIED, not one word was spoken that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper
or given . . . We refer to no human defect or ailment in the above administration of justice.'
statement. WE only described the impersonal state of things and nothing It is right and plausible that an attorney in defending the cause and rights
more. of his client, should do so with all the fervor and energy of which he is
xxx xxx xxx capable, but it is not, and ever will be so, for him to exercise said by
As we have sated, we have lost our faith and confidence in the members resorting to intimidation or proceeding without the propriety and respect
of this Court and for which reason we offered to surrender our lawyer's which the dignity of the courts require. (Salcedo vs. Hernandez, [In re
certificate, IN TRUST ONLY. Because what has been lost today may be Francisco], 61 Phil. 729)" (14 SCRA at 811-812; italics supplied)
regained tomorrow. As the offer was intended as our self-imposed 5. In In re Sotto, 48 a newspaper reporter, Mr. Angel Parazo,
sacrifice, then we alone may decide as to when we must end our self- invoking the Press Freedom Law, refused to divulge the source of the
sacrifice. If we have to choose between forcing ourselves to have faith news item which carried his by-line and was sent to jail for so refusing.
an confidence in the members of then Court but disregard our Atty. Vicente Sotto, a senator and author of said law, caused the
Constitution and to uphold the Constitution and be condemned by the publication of the following item in a number of daily newspapers in
members of this Court, there is no choice we must uphold the latter." (31 Manila:
SCRA at 572; italics supplied) "As author of the Press Freedom Law (Republic Act No. 53), interpreted
was found by the Court to be "undignified and cynical" and rejected. The by the Supreme Court in the case of Angel Parazo, reported of a local
Court indefinitely suspended Almacen from the practice of law holding daily, who now has suffer 30 days imprisonment, for his refusal to divulge
through Mr. Justice Fred Ruiz Castro, that Almacen had exceeded the the source of a news published in his paper, I regret to say that our high
boundaries of "fair criticism." Tribunal has not only erroneously interpreted said law, but that it is once
4. In Paragas v. Cruz, 47 counsel, whose Petition for Certiorari more putting in evidence the incompetency or narrow mindedness of the
was dismissed by this Court, made the following statements in his Motion majority of its members. In the wake of so many blunders and injustices
for Reconsideration: deliberately committed during these last years, I believe that the only
"The petitioner respectfully prays for a reconsideration of the resolution remedy to put an end to so much evil, is to change the members of the
of this Honorable Court dated April 20, 1965 on the ground that it supreme Court. To this effect, I announce that one of the first measures,
constitutes a violation of Section 14 of Rule 112 of the Rules of Court which I will introduce in the coming congressional sessions, will have as
promulgated by this very Hon. Supreme Court, and on the further ground its object the complete reorganization of the supreme Court. As it is now
that is likewise a violation of the most important right in the bill of Rights constituted, the Supreme Court of today constitutes a constant peril to
of the Constitution of the Philippines, a culpable violation which is a liberty and democracy. It need be said loudly,, very loudly, so that even
ground for impeachment. the deaf may hear: The supreme Court of today is a far cry from the
. . . The rule of law in a democracy should always be upheld and impregnable bulwark of justice of those memorable times of Cayetano
protected by all means, because the rule of law creates and preserves Arellano, Victorino Mapa, Manuel Araullo and other learned jurists who
peace and order and gives satisfaction and contentment to all were the honor and glory of the Philippine Judiciary." (82 Phil. at 597-
concerned. But when the laws and the rules are violated, the victims 598; italics supplied)
resort, sometimes, to armed force and to the ways of the cave-men! We In finding Atty. Sotto in contempt, despite his avowals of good faith his
do not want Verzosa and Reyes repeated again and again, killed in the invocation of the constitutional guarantee of free speech and in requiring
premises of the Supreme Court and in those of the City Hall of Manila. to show why he should not be disbarred, the Court, through Mr. Justice
Educated people should keep their temper under control at all times! But Feria, said
justice should be done to all concerned to perpetuate the very life of "To hurl the false charged that this Court been for the last years
Democracy on the face of the earth.'" (14 SCRA 1t 810; italics supplied) committing deliberately 'so many blunders and injustices,' that is to say,
The Court considered the above statements as derogatory to the dignity that it has been deciding in favor of one party knowing that the law and
of the Court and required counsel to show cause why administrative justice is on the part of the adverse party and not on the one in whose
action should not be taken against him. Counsel later explained that he favor the decision was rendered, in may cases decided during the last
had merely related factual events (i.e., the killing of Verzosa and Reyes) years, would tend necessarily to undermine the confidence of the people
and to express his desire to avoid repetition of such acts. The Court, in the honesty and integrity of the members of this Court, and
through Mr. Justice J.B.L. Reyes, found these explanations consequently to lower and degrade the administration of justice by this
unsatisfactory and the above statements contumacious: Court. The Supreme Court of the Philippine is, under the Constitution,
". . . The expressions contained in the motion fore reconsideration . . . the last bulwark to which the filipino people may repair to obtain relied
Page 46

are plainly contemptuous and disrespectful, and reference to the recent for their grievances or protection of their rights when these are trampled
killing of two employees is but a covert threat upon the members of the upon, and if the people lose their confidence in the honesty and integrity

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
of the members of this court and believe that they cannot expect justice Tiaong should follow in case he fails in his attempt, that they will resort
therefrom, they might be driven to take the law into their hands, and to the press for the purpose of denouncing, what he claim to be judicial
disorder and perhaps chaos might be the result. As a member of the bar outrage of which his client has been victim; and because he states in a
and an officer of the courts Atty. Vicente Sotto, like any other, is in duty threatening manner with the intention of predisposing the mind of the
bound to uphold the dignity and authority of this Court, to which he owes reader against the court, thus creating an atmosphere of prejudices
fidelity according to the oath he has taken as such attorney, and not to against it in order to make it odious in the public eye, that decisions of
promote distrust in the administration of justice. Respect to the courts the nature of that referred to in his motion to promote distrust in the
guarantees the stability of other institutions, without such guaranty would administration of justice an increase the proselytes of sakdalism, a
be resting on a very shaky foundation." (82 Phil. at 601-602; italics movement with seditious and revolutionary tendencies the activities of
supplied) which, as is of public knowledge, occurred in this country a few days ago.
6. In Salcedo v. Hernandez, 49 Atty. Vicente Francisco filed a This cannot mean otherwise than contempt of the dignity of the court and
Motion before the supreme Court which contained the following disrespect of the authority thereof on the part of Attorney Vicente J.
paragraph (in translation: Francisco, because he presumes that the court is so devoid of the sense
"We should like frankly and respectfully to make it of record that the of justice that, if he did not resort to intimidation, it would maintain its
resolution of this court, denying our motion for reconsideration is error notwithstanding the fact that it may be proven,, with good reasons,
absolutely erroneous and constitutes an outrage to the rights of the that it has acted erroneously.
petitioner Felipe Salcedo and a mockery of the popular will expressed at As a member of the bar and an officer of this court, Attorney Vicente J.
the polls in the municipality of Tiaong, Tayabas. We wish to exhaust all Francisco], as any attorney, is in duty bound to uphold its dignity and
the means within our power in order that this error may be corrected by authority and to defend its integrity, not only because it has conferred
the very court which has committed it, because we should now want upon him the high privilege, not a right (Malcolm, Legal ethics, 158 and
some citizen. particularly some voter of the municipality of Tiaong, 160), of being what he now is: a priest of justice (In re Thatcher, 80 Ohio
Tayabas, resort to the press publicly to denounce, as he has a right to St., Rep., 492, 669), but also because in so doing, he neither creates nor
do, the judicial outrage of which the herein petitioner has been the victim, promotes distrust in the administration of justice, and prevents anybody
and because it is pour utmost desire to safeguard the prestige of this from harboring and encouraging discontent which, in many cases, is the
honorable court and of each and very member thereof in the eyes of the source of disorder, thus undermining the foundation upon which rests
public. But, at the same time we wish to state sincerely that erroneous that bulwark called judicial power to which those who are aggrieved turn
decisions like these, which the affected party and his thousands of voters for protection and relief." (61 Phil. at 727-728; italics supplied)
will necessarily consider unjust, increase the proselytes of sakdalism' It should not be supposed that the six (6) cases above discussed exhaust
and make the public lose confidence in the administration of justice." (61 our case law on this matter. In the following cases, among others, the
Phil. at 726; italics supplied) supreme Court punished for contempt or administratively disciplined
When required by the Court to show cause why he should not be lawyers who had made statements not very different from those made in
declared in contempt, Atty. Francisco respondent by saying that it was the cases discussed above:
not contempt to tell the truth. examining the statement made above, the 1) In re Wenceslao Laureta, 148 SCRA 382 (1987);
Court held: 2) Borromeo v. Court of Appeals, 87 SCRA 67 (1978);
'. . . [they] disclose, in the opinion of this court, an inexcusable disrespect 3) Rheem of the Philippines v. Ferre, 20 SCRA 441 (1967);
of the authority of the court and an intentional contempt of its dignity, 4) Malolos v. Reyes, 1 SCRA 559 (1961);
because the court is thereby charged with no less than having proceeded 5) De Joya, et al. v. Court of First Instance of Rizal, Pasay City
in utter disregard of the laws, the rights of the parties, and of the Branch, 99 Phil. 907 (1956);
untoward consequences, or with having abused its power and mocked 6) People v. Venturanza, et al., 98 Phil. 211 (1956);
and flouted the rights of Attorney Vicente J. Francisco's client, because 7) In re Suzano A. Velasquez, per curiam Resolution
the acts of outraging and mocking from which the words 'outrage' and (unreported), Promulgated 29 April 1955;
mockery' used therein are derived, means exactly the same as all these, 8) Cornejo v. Tan, 85 Phil. 772 (1950);
according to the Dictionary of the Spanish Language published by the 9) People v. Carillo, 77 Phil. 572 (1946);
Spanish Academy (Dictionary of the Spanish Language, 15th ed., pages 10) Intestate Estate of Rosario Olba; Contempt Proceedings
132-513). against Antonio Franco, 67 Phil. 312 (1939); and
The insertion of the phrases in question in said motion of Attorney 11) Lualhati v. Albert, 57 Phil. 86 (1932).
Vicente J. Francisco, for may years a member of the Philippine bar, was Considering the kinds of statements of lawyers discussed above which
either justified nor in the least necessary, because in order to call the the Court has in the past penalized as contemptuous or as warranting
attention of the court in a special way to the essential points relied upon application of disciplinary sanctions, this Country is compelled to hold
in his argument and to emphasize the force thereof, the many reasons that the statements here made by respondent Gonzalez clearly
stated in his said motion were sufficient and the phrases in question were constitute contempt and call for the exercise of the disciplinary authority
superfluous. In order to appeal to reason and justice, it is highly improper of the Supreme Court. Respondent's statements, especially the charge
and amiss to make trouble and resort to, threats, as Attorney Vicente J. that the Court deliberately rendered an erroneous and unjust decisions
Francisco has done, because both means are annoying and good in the Consolidated Petitions, necessarily implying that the justices of this
practice can ever sanction them by reason of their natural tendency to Court betrayed their oath of office, merely to wreak vengeance upon the
disturb and hinder the free exercise of serene and impartial judgment, respondent here, constitute the grossest kind of disrespect for the Court.
particularly in judicial matters, in the consideration of question submitted Such statements ever clearly debase and degrade the supreme Court
for resolution. and, through the Court, the entire system of administration of justice in
There is no question that said paragraph of Attorney Vicente Francisco's the country. That respondent's baseless charges have had some impact
Page 47

motion contains a more or less veiled threat to the court because it is outside the internal world of subjective intent, is clearly demonstrated by
insinuated therein, after the author shows the course which the voters of the filing of a complaint for impeachment of thirteen (13) out of the then

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
fourteen (14) incumbent members of this Court, a complaint the Respondent Gonzalez claims to be and he is, of course, entitled to
centerpiece of which is a repetition of the appalling claim of respondent criticize the rulings of this court, to point out where he feels the Court
that this Court deliberately rendered a wrong decision as an act of may have lapsed into error. Once more, however, the right of criticism is
reprisal against the respondent. not unlimited. Its limits were marked out by Mr. Justice Castro in In re
IV Almacen which are worth noting:
The principal defense of respondent defense of respondent Gonzalez is "But it is the cardinal condition of all such criticism that it shall be bona
that he was merely exercising his constitutional right of free speech. He fide, and shall not spill over the walls of decency and propriety. A wide
also invokes the related doctrines of qualified privileged communications chasm exists between fair criticism, on the one hand, and abuse and
fair criticism in the public interest. slander of courts and the judges thereof, on the other. Intemperate and
Respondent Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free unfair criticism is a gross violation of the duty of respect to courts. It is
speech. No one seeks to deny him that right, least of all this Court. What such a misconduct that subjects a lawyer to disciplinary action."
respondent seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of The lawyer's duty to render respectful subordination to the courts is
expression, like all constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that essential to the orderly administration of justice. Hence, in the assertion
freedom of expression needs on occasion to be adjusted to and of their clients' right, lawyers even those gifted with superior intellect
accommodated with the requirements of equally important public are enjoined to rein up their tempers.
interest. One of these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of . . . "54 (Italics supplied)
the integrity and orderly functioning of the administration of justice. There The instant proceeding is not addressed to the fact that respondent has
is bo antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system criticized the Court; it is addressed rather to the nature of that criticism
of administering justice. For the protection and maintenance of freedom or comment and the manner in which it was carried out.
of expression itself can be secured only within the context of a Respondent Gonzalez disclaims an intent to attack and denigrate the
functioning and orderly system of dispensing justice, within the context, court. The subjectivities of the respondent are irrelevant so far as
in other words, of viable independent institutions for delivery of justice characterization of his conduct or misconduct is concerned. He will not,
which are accepted by the general community. As Mr. Justice Frankfurter however, be allowed to disclaim the natural and plain import of his words
put it: and acts. 55 It is, upon the other hand, not irrelevant to point out that
". . . A free press is not to be preferred to an independent judiciary, nor respondent offered no apology in his two (2) explanations and exhibited
an independent judiciary ro a free press. Neither has primacy over the no repentance. 56
other; both are indispensable to a free society. Respondent Gonzalez also defends himself contending that no injury to
The freedom of the press in itself presupposes an independent judiciary the judiciary has been shown, and points to the fact that this Court denied
through which that freedom may, if necessary, be vindicated. And one of his Motion for reconsideration of its per curiam Decision of 27 April 1988
the potent means for assuring judges their independence is a free press." and reiterated and amplified that Decision in its Resolution of 19 May
50 1988. In the first place, proof of actual damage sustained by a court or
Mr. Justice Malcolm of this Court expressed the same thought in the the judiciary in general is not essential for a finding of contempt or for the
following: application of the disciplinary authority of the Court. Insofar as the
"The Organic Act wisely guarantees freedom of speech and press. This Consolidated Petitions are concerned this Court after careful review of
constitutional right must be protected in its fullest extent. The Court has the bases of its 27 April 1988 Decision, denied respondent's Motion for
heretofore given evidence of its tolerant regard for charges under the reconsideration thereof and rejected the public pressures brought to bear
Libel Law which come dangerously close to its violation. We shall upon this Court by the respondent through his much publicized acts and
continue in this chosen path. The liberty of the citizens must be statements for which he is here being required to account. Obstructing
preserved in all of its completeness. But license or abuse of liberty of the the free and undisturbed resolution of a particular case is not the only
press and of the citizens should not be confused with liberty in its true species of injury that the Court has a right and a duty to prevent and
sense. As important as is the maintenance of unmuzzled press and the redress. What is at stake in cases of this kind is the integrity of the judicial
free exercise of the rights of the citizens is the maintenance of the institutions of the country in general and of the Supreme Court in
independence of the Judiciary. Respect for the Judiciary cannot be had particular. Damage to such institutions might not be quantifiable at a
if persons are privileged to scorn a resolution of the court adopted for given moment in time but damage there will surely by if acts like those of
good purposes, and if such persons are to be permitted by subterranean respondent Gonzalez are not effectively stopped and countered. The
means to diffuse inaccurate accounts of confidential proceedings to the level of trust and confidence of the general public in the courts, including
embarrassment of the parties and the courts." 51 (Italics supplied) the court of last resort, is not easily measured; but few will dispute that a
Only slightly (f at all ) less important is the public interest in the capacity high level of such trust and confidence is critical for the stability of
of the Court effectively to prevent and control professional misconduct democratic government.
on the part of lawyers who are, first and foremost, indispensable Respondent Gonzalez lastly suggest that punishment for contempt is not
participants in the task of rendering justice to every man. Some courts the proper remedy in this case and suggests that the members of this
have held, persuasively it appears to us, that a lawyer's right of free Court have recourse to libel suits against him. While the remedy of libel
expression may have to be more limited than that of a layman. 52 suits by individual members of this Court may well be available against
It is well to recall that respondent Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer respondent Gonzalez, such is by no means an exclusive remedy.
and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes duties Moreover, where as in the instant case, it is not only the individual
of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to this Court as the members of the Court but the Court itself as an institution that has been
embodiment and the repository of the judicial power in the government falsely attacked, libel suits cannot be an adequate remedy. 57
of the republic. The responsibility of the respondent "to uphold the dignity The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt
and authority of this Court" and "not to promote distrust in the of court in facie curiae and of gross misconduct as an officer of the court
Page 48

administration of justice "53 is heavier that of a private practicing lawyer. and member of the Bar.

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ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. A notary public is authorized to sign on behalf of a person who
Gonzalez from the practice of law indefinitely and until further others from is physically unable to sign or make a mark on an instrument
this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately. or document if:
Let copies of this Resolution be finished the Sandiganbayan, the 1. The notary public is directed by the person unable to sign or
Ombudsman, the Secretary of Justice, the Solicitor General and the make a mark to sign on his behalf;
Court of Appeals for their information and guidance. 2. The signature of the notary public is affixed in the presence
Fernan, C.J., Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, of two (2) disinterested and unaffected witnesses to the
Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortes, Grio-Aquino,
instrument or document;
Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
3. Both witnesses sign their own names;
Raul M. Gonzalez suspended from the practice of law indefinitely.
4. The notary public writes below his signature: Signature
2004 RULES ON NOTARIAL PRACTICE
A.M. No. 02-8-13-SC: Rules on Notarial Practice of 2004 affixed by notary in the presence of (names and addresses of
(August 1, 2004) person and two (2) witnesses), and
5. The notary public notarizes his signature by acknowledgment
Qualifications of a Notary Public or jurat (Rule IV, Section 1).
1. Must be citizen of the Philippines
2. Must be over twenty-one (21) years of age Prohibitions
3. Must be a resident in the Philippines for at least one (1) year General Rule: A notary public shall not perform a notarial act
and maintains a regular place of work or business in the city outside his regular place of work or business.
or province where the commission is to be issued Exceptions: A notarial act may be performed at the request of the
parties in the following sites located within his territorial
4. Must be a member of the Philippine Bar in good standing with
jurisdiction:
clearances from the Office of the Bar Confidant of the
a. Public offices, convention halls and similar places where
Supreme Court and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
oaths of office may be administered;
5. Must not have been convicted in the first instance of any
b. Public function areas in hotels and similar places for the
crime involving moral turpitude (Rule III, Section 1)
signing of instruments or documents requiring notarization;
c. Hospitals and medical institutions where a party to the
Jurisdiction and Term
instrument or document is confined for treatment; and
A notary public may perform notarial acts in any place within the territorial
jurisdiction of the commissioning court for a period of two (2) years d. Any place where a party to the instrument or document
commencing on the 1st day of January of the year in which the requiring notarization is under detention.
commissioning is made UNLESS earlier revoked or the notary public has
resigned according to these Rules and the Rules of Court (Rule III, A person shall not perform a notarial act if:
Section 11). 1. the person involved as signatory to the instrument or document-
a. Is not in the notarys presence at the time of the notarization;
Powers and Limitations of Notaries Public and
Powers b. Is not personally known to the notary public or otherwise
A notary public is empowered to do the following acts: identified by the notary public through competent evidence of
(JAOSAC) identity as defined by these Rules (Rule IV, Section 2).
1. Acknowledgments; 2. the certificate containing an information known or believed to be
2. Oaths and affirmations; false; and
3. Jurats; 3. he shall not affix an official signature or seal on a notarial certificate
4. Signature witnessings; that is incomplete (Rule IV, Section 5).
5. Copy certifications; and
6. Any other act authorized by these Rules. Disqualifications
A notary public is authorized to certify the affixing of a A notary public is disqualified from performing a notarial if he:
signature by thumb or other mark on an instrument or 1) Is a party to the instrument or document;
document presented for notarization if: 2) Will receive, as a direct or indirect result any commission, fee,
1. The thumb or other mark is affixed in the presence of the advantage, right, title, interest, cash, property, or other
notary public and of two (2) disinterested and unaffected consideration, except as provided that is to be notarized;
witnesses to the instrument or document; 3) Is a spouse, common-law partner, ancestor, descendant, or
2. Both witnesses sign their own names in addition to the thumb relative by affinity or consanguinity of the principal within the
or other mark; fourth civil degree (Rule IV, Section 3).
3. The notary public writes below the thumb or other mark:
Thumb or Other Mark affixed by (name of signatory by mark) When notary public may refuse to notarize even if appropriate fee
in the presence of (names and addresses of witnesses) and is tendered:
undersigned notary public, and 1) When the notary knows or has good reason to believe
4. The notary public notarizes the signature by thumb or other that the notarial act or transaction is unlawful or
immoral.
Page 49

mark through an acknowledgment, jurat or signature


witnessing.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
2) When the signatory shows a demeanor which The Executive Judge shall cause the prosecution of any person who:
engenders in the mind of the notary public reasonable 1) Knowingly acts or otherwise impersonates a
doubt as to the formers knowledge of the notary public;
consequences of the transaction requiring a notarial act. 2) Knowingly obtains, conceals, defaces, or destroys
3) If in the notarys judgment, the signatory is not acting in the seal, notarial register, or official records of a
his/her own free will (Rule IV, Section 4). notary public; and
4) If the document or instrument to be notarized is Knowingly solicits, coerces, or in any way influences a notary public to
considered as an improper document by these Rules. commit official misconduct (Rule XII, Section 1).

A.C. No. 5838. January 17, 2005]


NOTE: A blank or incomplete instrument or document OR an
SPOUSES BENJAMIN SANTUYO AND EDITHA SANTUYO,
instrument or document without appropriate notarial certification is
complainants, vs. ATTY. EDWIN A. HIDALGO, respondent.
considered an Improper Instrument/Document (Rule IV, Section 6).
RESOLUTION
Notarial Certificates
CORONA, J.:
Contents of the Concluding part of the Notarial Certificate:
In a verified complaint-affidavit dated September 18, 2001,[1] spouses
1) The name of the notary public as exactly indicated in the
Benjamin Santuyo and Editha Santuyo accused respondent Atty. Edwin
commission;
A. Hidalgo of serious misconduct and dishonesty for breach of his
2) The serial number of the commission of the notary public; lawyers oath and the notarial law.
3) The words Notary Public and the province or city where the Complainants stated that sometime in December 1991, they purchased
notary public is commissioned, the expiration date of the a parcel of land covered by a deed of sale. The deed of sale was
commission and the office address of the notary public; and allegedly notarized by respondent lawyer and was entered in his notarial
4) The Roll of Attorneys number, the Professional Tax Receipt register as Doc. No. 94 on Page No. 19 in Book No. III, Series of 1991.
number and the place and date of issuance thereof and the Complainant spouses averred that about six years after the date of
IBP Membership number (Rule VIII, Section 2). notarization, they had a dispute with one Danilo German over the
ownership of the land. The case was estafa through falsification of a
Revocation of Commission public document.
The Executive Judge shall revoke a commission for any ground on which During the trial of the case, German presented in court an affidavit
an application for a commission may be denied. executed by respondent denying the authenticity of his signature on the
In addition, the Executive Judge may revoke the commission of or deed of sale. The spouses allegedly forged his notarial signature on said
impose sanctions upon any notary public who: deed.[2]
1) Fails to keep a notarial register; According to complainants, respondent overlooked the fact that the
2) Fails to make the appropriate entry or entries in his disputed deed of sale contained all the legal formalities of a duly
notarial register concerning his notarial acts; notarized document, including an impression of respondents notarial dry
3) Fails to send the copy of the entries to the Executive seal. Not being persons who were learned in the technicalities
Judge within the first ten (10) days of the month surrounding a notarial act, spouses contended that they could not have
forged the signature of herein respondent. They added that they had no
following;
access to his notarial seal and notarial register, and could not have made
4) Fails to affix to acknowledgments the date of expiration
any imprint of respondents seal or signature on the subject deed of sale
of his commission;
or elsewhere.[3]
5) Fails to submit his notarial register, when filled, to the In his answer[4] to the complaint, respondent denied the allegations
Executive Judge; against him. He denied having notarized any deed of sale covering the
6) Fails to make his report, within a reasonable time, to disputed property. According to respondent, he once worked as a junior
the Executive Judge concerning the performance of his lawyer at Carpio General and Jacob Law Office where he was asked to
duties, as may be required by the Judge; apply for a notarial commission. While he admitted that he notarized
7) Fails to require the presence of the principal at the time several documents in that office, these, however, did not include the
of the notarial act; subject deed of sale. He explained that, as a matter of office procedure,
8) Fails to identify a principal on the basis of personal documents underwent scrutiny by the senior lawyers and it was only
knowledge or competent evidence; when they gave their approval that notarization was done. He claimed
9) Executes a false or incomplete certificate under that, in some occasions, the secretaries in the law firm, by themselves,
Section 5, Rule IV; would affix the dry seal of the junior associates on documents relating to
10) Knowingly performs or fails to perform any other act cases handled by the law firm. Respondent added that he normally
prohibited or mandated by these Rules; and required the parties to exhibit their community tax certificates and made
them personally acknowledge the documents before him as notary
11) Commits any other dereliction or act which in the
public. He would have remembered complainants had they actually
judgment of the Executive Judge constitutes good
appeared before him. While he admitted knowing complainant Editha
cause for the revocation of the commission or
Santuyo, he said he met the latters husband and co-complainant only on
imposition of administrative sanction (Rule XI, Section November 5, 1997, or about six years from the time that he purportedly
1). notarized the deed of sale. Moreover, respondent stressed that an
Page 50

examination of his alleged signature on the deed of sale revealed that it


Punishable Acts

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
was forged; the strokes were smooth and mild. He suspected that a lady and is hereby SUSPENDED from his commission as a notary public for
was responsible for forging his signature. a period of two years, if he is commissioned, or if he is not, he is
To further refute the accusations against him, respondent stated that, at disqualified from an appointment as a notary public for a period of two
the time the subject deed of sale was supposedly notarized, on years from finality of this resolution, with a warning that a repetition of
December 27, 1991, he was on vacation. He surmised that complainants similar negligent acts would be dealt with more severely.
must have gone to the law office and enticed one of the secretaries, with SO ORDERED.
the concurrence of the senior lawyers, to notarize the document. He Panganiban, (Chairman), Sandoval-Gutierrez, Carpio-Morales, and
claimed he was a victim of a criminal scheme motivated by greed. Garcia, JJ., concur.
The complaint was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)
for investigation, report and recommendation. In a report[5] it submitted A.C. No. 5864 April 15, 2005
to the Court, the IBP noted that the alleged forged signature of ARTURO L. SICAT, Complainant,
respondent on the deed of sale was different from his signatures in other vs.
documents he submitted during the investigation of the present case.[6] ATTY. GREGORIO E. ARIOLA, JR., respondent.
However, it ruled that respondent was also negligent because he allowed
the office secretaries to perform his notarial functions, including the RESOLUTION
safekeeping of his notarial dry seal and notarial register.[7]It thus PER CURIAM:
recommended: In an affidavit-complaint,1 complainant Arturo L. Sicat, a Board Member
WHEREFORE[,] in view of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Rizal, charged respondent Atty.
that respondents commission as notary public be revoked for two (2) Gregorio E. Ariola, the Municipal Administrator of Cainta, Rizal, with
years if he is commissioned as such; or he should not be granted a violation of the Code of Professional Responsibility by committing fraud,
commission as notary public for two (2) years upon receipt hereof.[8] deceit and falsehood in his dealings, particularly the notarization of a
After going over the evidence submitted by the parties, complainants did Special Power of Attorney (SPA) purportedly executed by a one Juanito
not categorically state that they appeared before respondent to have the C. Benitez. According to complainant, respondent made it appear that
deed of sale notarized. Their appearance before him could have Benitez executed the said document on January 4, 2001 when in fact the
bolstered this allegation that respondent signed the document and that it latter had already died on October 25, 2000.
was not a forgery as he claimed. The records show that complainants He alleged that prior to the notarization, the Municipality of Cainta had
themselves were not sure if respondent, indeed, signed the document; entered into a contract with J.C. Benitez Architect and Technical
what they were sure of was the fact that his signature appeared thereon. Management, represented by Benitez, for the construction of low-cost
They had no personal knowledge as well as to who actually affixed the houses. The cost of the architectural and engineering designs amounted
signature of respondent on the deed. to P11,000,000 and two consultants were engaged to supervise the
Furthermore, complainants did not refute respondents contention that he project. For the services of the consultants, the Municipality of Cainta
only met complainant Benjamin Santuyo six years after the alleged issued a check dated January 10, 2001 in the amount of P3,700,000,
notarization of the deed of sale. Respondents assertion was payable to J.C. Benitez Architects and Technical Management and/or
corroborated by one Mrs. Lyn Santy in an affidavit executed on Cesar Goco. The check was received and encashed by the latter by
November 17, 2001[9] wherein she stated that complainant Editha virtue of the authority of the SPA notarized by respondent Ariola.
Santuyo had to invite respondent to her house on November 5, 1997 to Complainant further charged respondent with the crime of falsification
meet her husband since the two had to be introduced to each other. The penalized under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code by making it
meeting between complainant Benjamin Santuyo and respondent was appear that certain persons participated in an act or proceeding when in
arranged after the latter insisted that Mr. Santuyo personally fact they did not.
acknowledge a deed of sale concerning another property that the In his Comment,2 respondent explained that, as early as May 12, 2000,
spouses bought. Benitez had already signed the SPA. He claimed that due to
In finding respondent negligent in performing his notarial functions, the inadvertence, it was only on January 4, 2001 that he was able to notarize
IBP reasoned out: it. Nevertheless, the SPA notarized by him on January 4, 2001 was not
xxx xxx xxx. at all necessary because Benitez had signed a similar SPA in favor of
Considering that the responsibility attached to a notary public is sensitive Goco sometime before his death, on May 12, 2000. Because it was no
respondent should have been more discreet and cautious in the longer necessary, the SPA was cancelled the same day he notarized it,
execution of his duties as such and should not have wholly entrusted hence, legally, there was no public document that existed. Respondent
everything to the secretaries; otherwise he should not have been prayed that the complaint be dismissed on the ground of forum-shopping
commissioned as notary public. since similar charges had been filed with the Civil Service Commission
For having wholly entrusted the preparation and other mechanics of the and the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon. According to him,
document for notarization to the secretary there can be a possibility that the complaints were later dismissed based on findings that the assailed
even the respondents signature which is the only one left for him to do act referred to violations of the implementing rules and regulations of PD
can be done by the secretary or anybody for that matter as had been the 1594,3 PD 1445,4 RA 71605 and other pertinent rules of the Commission
case herein. on Audit (COA). He stressed that no criminal and administrative charges
As it is respondent had been negligent not only in the supposed were recommended for filing against him.
notarization but foremost in having allowed the office secretaries to make In a Resolution dated March 12, 2003,6 the Court referred the complaint
the necessary entries in his notarial registry which was supposed to be to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
done and kept by him alone; and should not have relied on somebody recommendation. On August 26, 2003, the IBP submitted its
else.[10] investigation report:
Page 51

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Edwin A. Hidalgo is hereby found x x x it is evident that respondent notarized the Special Power of Attorney
GUILTY of negligence in the performance of his duties as notary public dated 4 January 2001 purportedly executed by Juanito C. Benitez long

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
after Mr. Benitez was dead. It is also evident that respondent cannot of the very Municipality of which he was the Administrator. According to
feign innocence and claim that he did not know Mr. Benitez was already the COA Special Task Force:
dead at the time because respondent, as member of the Prequalification Almost all acts of falsification of public documents as enumerated in
and Awards Committee of the Municipality of Cainta, personally knew Article 171 in relation to Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code were
Mr. Benitez because the latter appeared before the Committee a number evident in the transactions of the Municipality of Cainta with J.C. Benitez
of times. It is evident that the Special Power of Attorney dated 4 January & Architects Technical Management for the consultancy services in the
2001 was part of a scheme of individuals to defraud the Municipality of conduct of Detailed Feasibility Study and Detailed Engineering Design
Cainta of money which was allegedly due them, and that respondent by of the Proposed Construction of Cainta Municipal Medium Rise Low Cost
notarizing said Special Power of Attorney helped said parties succeed in Housing, in the contract amount of P11,000,000. The agent resorted to
their plans.7 misrepresentation, manufacture or fabrication of fictitious document,
The IBP recommended to the Court that respondent's notarial untruthful narration of facts, misrepresentation, and counterfeiting or
commission be revoked and that he be suspended from the practice of imitating signature for the purpose of creating a fraudulent contract. All
law for a period of one year.8 these were tainted with deceit perpetrated against the government
After a careful review of the records, we find that respondent never resulting to undue injury. The first and partial payment, in the amount
disputed complainant's accusation that he notarized the SPA purportedly of P3,700,000.00 was made in the absence of the required outputs. x x
executed by Benitez on January 4, 2001. He likewise never took issue x15
with the fact that on said date, Benitez was already dead. His act was a We need not say more except that we are constrained to change the
serious breach of the sacred obligation imposed upon him by the Code penalty recommended by the IBP which we find too light.
of Professional Responsibility, specifically Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, which WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Gregorio E. Ariola, Jr., is found guilty of
prohibited him from engaging in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful gross misconduct and is hereby DISBARRED from the practice of law.
conduct. As a lawyer and as an officer of the court, it was his duty to Let copies of this Resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant
serve the ends of justice,9 not to corrupt it. Oath-bound, he was expected and entered in the records of respondent, and brought to the immediate
to act at all times in accordance with law and ethics, and if he did not, he attention of the Ombudsman.
would not only injure himself and the public but also bring reproach upon SO ORDERED.
an honorable profession.10
In the recent case of Zaballero v. Atty. Mario J. Montalvan,11 where the RULE 1.01: A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest,
respondent notarized certain documents and made it appear that the immoral or deceitful conduct.
deceased father of complainant executed them, the Court declared the
respondent there guilty of violating Canon 10, Rule 10.01 of the Code of [A.C. No. 3319. June 8, 2000]
Professional Responsibility.12 The Court was emphatic that lawyers LESLIE UI, complainant, vs. ATTY. IRIS BONIFACIO, respondent.
commissioned as notaries public should not authenticate documents DECISION
unless the persons who signed them are the very same persons who DE LEON, JR., J.:
executed them and personally appeared before them to attest to the Before us is an administrative complaint for disbarment against Atty. Iris
contents and truth of what are stated therein. The Court added that Bonifacio for allegedly carrying on an immoral relationship with Carlos L.
notaries public must observe utmost fidelity, the basic requirement in the Ui, husband of complainant, Leslie Ui.
performance of their duties, otherwise the confidence of the public in the The relevant facts are:
integrity of notarized deeds and documents will be undermined. On January 24, 1971 complainant Leslie Ui married Carlos L. Ui at the
In the case at bar, the records show that Benitez died on October 25, Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Quezon City[1] and as a result of their
2000. However, respondent notarized the SPA, purportedly bearing the marital union, they had four (4) children, namely, Leilani, Lianni, Lindsay
signature of Benitez, on January 4, 2001 or more than two months after and Carl Cavin, all surnamed Ui. Sometime in December 1987, however,
the latter's death. The notarial acknowledgement of respondent declared complainant found out that her husband, Carlos Ui, was carrying on an
that Benitez "appeared before him and acknowledged that the instrument illicit relationship with respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio with whom he begot
was his free and voluntary act." Clearly, respondent lied and intentionally a daughter sometime in 1986, and that they had been living together at
perpetuated an untruthful statement. Notarization is not an empty, No. 527 San Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang Village in Muntinlupa City.
meaningless and routinary act.13 It converts a private document into a Respondent who is a graduate of the College of Law of the University of
public instrument, making it admissible in evidence without the necessity the Philippines was admitted to the Philippine Bar in 1982.
of preliminary proof of its authenticity and due execution.14 Carlos Ui admitted to complainant his relationship with the respondent.
Neither will respondent's defense that the SPA in question was Complainant then visited respondent at her office in the later part of June
superfluous and unnecessary, and prejudiced no one, exonerate him of 1988 and introduced herself as the legal wife of Carlos Ui. Whereupon,
accountability. His assertion of falsehood in a public document respondent admitted to her that she has a child with Carlos Ui and
contravened one of the most cherished tenets of the legal profession and alleged, however, that everything was over between her and Carlos Ui.
potentially cast suspicion on the truthfulness of every notarial act. As the Complainant believed the representations of respondent and thought
Municipal Administrator of Cainta, he should have been aware of his things would turn out well from then on and that the illicit relationship
great responsibility not only as a notary public but as a public officer as between her husband and respondent would come to an end.
well. A public office is a public trust. Respondent should not have caused However, complainant again discovered that the illicit relationship
disservice to his constituents by consciously performing an act that between her husband and respondent continued, and that sometime in
would deceive them and the Municipality of Cainta. Without the December 1988, respondent and her husband, Carlos Ui, had a second
fraudulent SPA, the erring parties in the construction project could not child. Complainant then met again with respondent sometime in March
have encashed the check amounting to P3,700,000 and could not have 1989 and pleaded with respondent to discontinue her illicit relationship
Page 52

foisted on the public a spurious contract all to the extreme prejudice with Carlos Ui but to no avail. The illicit relationship persisted and

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
complainant even came to know later on that respondent had been 1987 when she and respondent Carlos were still living at No. 26 Potsdam
employed by her husband in his company. Street, Northeast Greenhills, San Juan, MetroManila and they,
A complaint for disbarment, docketed as Adm. Case No. 3319, was then admittedly, continued to live together at their conjugal home up to early
filed on August 11, 1989 by the complainant against respondent Atty. Iris (sic) part of 1989 or later 1988, when respondent Carlos left the same.
Bonifacio before the Commission on Bar Discipline of the Integrated Bar From the above, it would not be amiss to conclude that altho (sic) the
of the Philippines (hereinafter, Commission) on the ground of immorality, relationship, illicit as complainant puts it, had been prima facie
more particularly, for carrying on an illicit relationship with the established by complainants evidence, this same evidence had failed to
complainants husband, Carlos Ui. In her Answer,[2] respondent averred even prima facie establish the "fact of respondents cohabitation in the
that she met Carlos Ui sometime in 1983 and had known him all along concept of husband and wife at the 527 San Carlos St., Ayala Alabang
to be a bachelor, with the knowledge, however, that Carlos Ui had house, proof of which is necessary and indispensable to at least create
children by a Chinese woman in Amoy, China, from whom he had long probable cause for the offense charged. The statement alone of
been estranged. She stated that during one of their trips abroad, Carlos complainant, worse, a statement only of a conclusion respecting the fact
Ui formalized his intention to marry her and they in fact got married in of cohabitation does not make the complainants evidence thereto any
Hawaii, USA in 1985[3]. Upon their return to Manila, respondent did not better/stronger (U.S. vs. Casipong and Mongoy, 20 Phil. 178).
live with Carlos Ui. The latter continued to live with his children in their It is worth stating that the evidence submitted by respondents in support
Greenhills residence because respondent and Carlos Ui wanted to let of their respective positions on the matter support and bolster the
the children gradually to know and accept the fact of his second marriage foregoing conclusion/recommendation.
before they would live together.[4] WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant
In 1986, respondent left the country and stayed in Honolulu, Hawaii and complaint be dismissed for want of evidence to establish probable cause
she would only return occasionally to the Philippines to update her law for the offense charged.
practice and renew legal ties. During one of her trips to Manila sometime RESPECTFULLY SUBMITTED.[8]
in June 1988, respondent was surprised when she was confronted by a Complainant appealed the said Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of
woman who insisted that she was the lawful wife of Carlos Ui. Hurt and Rizal to the Secretary of Justice, but the same was dismissed [9] on the
desolate upon her discovery of the true civil status of Carlos Ui, ground of insufficiency of evidence to prove her allegation that
respondent then left for Honolulu, Hawaii sometime in July 1988 and respondent and Carlos Ui lived together as husband and wife at 527 San
returned only in March 1989 with her two (2) children. On March 20, Carlos Street, Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa, Metro Manila.
1989, a few days after she reported to work with the law firm [5] she was In the proceedings before the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline,
connected with, the woman who represented herself to be the wife of complainant filed a Motion to Cite Respondent in Contempt of the
Carlos Ui again came to her office, demanding to know if Carlos Ui has Commission [10] wherein she charged respondent with making false
been communicating with her. allegations in her Answer and for submitting a supporting document
It is respondents contention that her relationship with Carlos Ui is not which was altered and intercalated. She alleged that in the Answer of
illicit because they were married abroad and that after June 1988 when respondent filed before the Integrated Bar, respondent averred, among
respondent discovered Carlos Uis true civil status, she cut off all her ties others, that she was married to Carlos Ui on October 22, 1985 and
with him. Respondent averred that Carlos Ui never lived with her in attached a Certificate of Marriage to substantiate her averment.
Alabang, and that he resided at 26 Potsdam Street, Greenhills, San However, the Certificate of Marriage [11] duly certified by the State
Juan, Metro Manila. It was respondent who lived in Alabang in a house Registrar as a true copy of the record on file in the Hawaii State
which belonged to her mother, Rosalinda L. Bonifacio; and that the said Department of Health, and duly authenticated by the Philippine
house was built exclusively from her parents funds.[6] By way of Consulate General in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA revealed that the date of
counterclaim, respondent sought moral damages in the amount of Ten marriage between Carlos Ui and respondent Atty. Iris Bonifacio was
Million Pesos (Php10,000,000.00) against complainant for having filed October 22, 1987, and not October 22, 1985 as claimed by respondent
the present allegedly malicious and groundless disbarment case against in her Answer. According to complainant, the reason for that false
respondent. allegation was because respondent wanted to impress upon the said IBP
In her Reply[7] dated April 6, 1990, complainant states, among others, that the birth of her first child by Carlos Ui was within the wedlock.[12] It is
that respondent knew perfectly well that Carlos Ui was married to the contention of complainant that such act constitutes a violation of
complainant and had children with her even at the start of her relationship Articles 183[13] and 184[14] of the Revised Penal Code, and also contempt
with Carlos Ui, and that the reason respondent went abroad was to give of the Commission; and that the act of respondent in making false
birth to her two (2) children with Carlos Ui. allegations in her Answer and submitting an altered/intercalated
During the pendency of the proceedings before the Integrated Bar, document are indicative of her moral perversity and lack of integrity
complainant also charged her husband, Carlos Ui, and respondent with which make her unworthy to be a member of the Philippine Bar.
the crime of Concubinage before the Office of the Provincial Fiscal of In her Opposition (To Motion To Cite Respondent in
Rizal, docketed as I.S. No. 89-5247, but the same was dismissed for Contempt),[15] respondent averred that she did not have the original copy
insufficiency of evidence to establish probable cause for the offense of the marriage certificate because the same was in the possession of
charged. The resolution dismissing the criminal complaint against Carlos Ui, and that she annexed such copy because she relied in good
respondent reads: faith on what appeared on the copy of the marriage certificate in her
Complainants evidence had prima facie established the existence of the possession.
"illicit relationship" between the respondents allegedly discovered by the Respondent filed her Memorandum [16] on February 22, 1995 and raised
complainant in December 1987. The same evidence however show that the lone issue of whether or not she has conducted herself in an immoral
respondent Carlos Ui was still living with complainant up to the latter part manner for which she deserves to be barred from the practice of law.
of 1988 and/or the early part of 1989. Respondent averred that the complaint should be dismissed on two (2)
Page 53

It would therefore be logical and safe to state that the "relationship" of grounds, namely:
respondents started and was discovered by complainant sometime in

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
(i) Respondent conducted herself in a manner consistent with the mother knew Carlos Ui to be a married man does not prove that such
requirement of good moral character for the practice of the legal information was made known to respondent.
profession; and Hearing on the case ensued, after which the Commission on Bar
(ii) Complainant failed to prove her allegation that respondent conducted Discipline submitted its Report and Recommendation, finding that:
herself in an immoral manner.[17] In the case at bar, it is alleged that at the time respondent was courted
In her defense, respondent contends, among others, that it was she who by Carlos Ui, the latter represented himself to be single. The Commission
was the victim in this case and not Leslie Ui because she did not know does not find said claim too difficult to believe in the light of contemporary
that Carlos Ui was already married, and that upon learning of this fact, human experience.
respondent immediately cut-off all her ties with Carlos Ui. She stated that Almost always, when a married man courts a single woman, he
there was no reason for her to doubt at that time that the civil status of represents himself to be single, separated, or without any firm
Carlos Ui was that of a bachelor because he spent so much time with commitment to another woman. The reason therefor is not hard to
her, and he was so open in his courtship.[18] fathom. By their very nature, single women prefer single men.
On the issue of the falsified marriage certificate, respondent alleged that The records will show that when respondent became aware the (sic) true
it was highly incredible for her to have knowingly attached such marriage civil status of Carlos Ui, she left for the United States (in July of 1988).
certificate to her Answer had she known that the same was altered. She broke off all contacts with him. When she returned to the Philippines
Respondent reiterated that there was no compelling reason for her to in March of 1989, she lived with her brother, Atty. Teodoro Bonifacio, Jr.
make it appear that her marriage to Carlos Ui took place either in 1985 Carlos Ui and respondent only talked to each other because of the
or 1987, because the fact remains that respondent and Carlos Ui got children whom he was allowed to visit. At no time did they live together.
married before complainant confronted respondent and informed the Under the foregoing circumstances, the Commission fails to find any act
latter of her earlier marriage to Carlos Ui in June 1988. Further, on the part of respondent that can be considered as unprincipled or
respondent stated that it was Carlos Ui who testified and admitted that disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree. To be sure, she was
he was the person responsible for changing the date of the marriage more of a victim that (sic) anything else and should deserve compassion
certificate from 1987 to 1985, and complainant did not present evidence rather than condemnation. Without cavil, this sad episode destroyed her
to rebut the testimony of Carlos Ui on this matter. chance of having a normal and happy family life, a dream cherished by
Respondent posits that complainants evidence, consisting of the pictures every single girl.
of respondent with a child, pictures of respondent with Carlos Ui, a x..........................x..........................x"
picture of a garage with cars, a picture of a light colored car with Plate Thereafter, the Board of Governors of the Integrated Bar of the
No. PNS 313, a picture of the same car, and portion of the house and Philippines issued a Notice of Resolution dated December 13, 1997, the
ground, and another picture of the same car bearing Plate No. PNS 313 dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
and a picture of the house and the garage,[19] does not prove that she RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby ADOPTED and
acted in an immoral manner. They have no evidentiary value according APPROVED, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating
to her. The pictures were taken by a photographer from a private security Commissioner in the above-entitled case, herein made part of this
agency and who was not presented during the hearings. Further, the Resolution/Decision as Annex "A", and, finding the recommendation fully
respondent presented the Resolution of the Provincial Fiscal of Pasig in supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules,
I.S. Case No. 89-5427 dismissing the complaint filed by Leslie Ui against the complaint for Gross Immorality against Respondent is DISMISSED
respondent for lack of evidence to establish probable cause for the for lack of merit. Atty. Iris Bonifacio is REPRIMANDED for knowingly and
offense charged [20] and the dismissal of the appeal by the Department willfully attaching to her Answer a falsified Certificate of Marriage with a
of Justice [21]to bolster her argument that she was not guilty of any stern warning that a repetition of the same will merit a more severe
immoral or illegal act because of her relationship with Carlos Ui. In fine, penalty."
respondent claims that she entered the relationship with Carlos Ui in We agree with the findings aforequoted.
good faith and that her conduct cannot be considered as willful, flagrant, The practice of law is a privilege. A bar candidate does not have the right
or shameless, nor can it suggest moral indifference. She fell in love with to enjoy the practice of the legal profession simply by passing the bar
Carlos Ui whom she believed to be single, and, that upon her discovery examinations. It is a privilege that can be revoked, subject to the
of his true civil status, she parted ways with him. mandate of due process, once a lawyer violates his oath and the dictates
In the Memorandum [22] filed on March 20, 1995 by complainant Leslie of legal ethics. The requisites for admission to the practice of law are:
Ui, she prayed for the disbarment of Atty. Iris Bonifacio and reiterated a. he must be a citizen of the Philippines;
that respondent committed immorality by having intimate relations with a b. a resident thereof;
married man which resulted in the birth of two (2) children. Complainant c. at least twenty-one (21) years of age;
testified that respondents mother, Mrs. Linda Bonifacio, personally knew d. a person of good moral character;
complainant and her husband since the late 1970s because they were e. he must show that no charges against him involving moral turpitude,
clients of the bank where Mrs. Bonifacio was the Branch Manager.[23] It are filed or pending in court;
was thus highly improbable that respondent, who was living with her f. possess the required educational qualifications; and
parents as of 1986, would not have been informed by her own mother g. pass the bar examinations.[25] (Italics supplied)
that Carlos Ui was a married man. Complainant likewise averred that Clear from the foregoing is that one of the conditions prior to admission
respondent committed disrespect towards the Commission for to the bar is that an applicant must possess good moral character. More
submitting a photocopy of a document containing an intercalated date. importantly, possession of good moral character must be continuous as
In her Reply to Complainants Memorandum [24], respondent stated that a requirement to the enjoyment of the privilege of law practice, otherwise,
complainant miserably failed to show sufficient proof to warrant her the loss thereof is a ground for the revocation of such privilege. It has
disbarment. Respondent insists that contrary to the allegations of been held -
Page 54

complainant, there is no showing that respondent had knowledge of the If good moral character is a sine qua non for admission to the bar, then
fact of marriage of Carlos Ui to complainant. The allegation that her the continued possession of good moral character is also a requisite for

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
retaining membership in the legal profession. Membership in the bar may the Court will exercise its disciplinary powers only if she establishes her
be terminated when a lawyer ceases to have good moral character. case by clear, convincing and satisfactory evidence.[30] This, herein
(Royong vs. Oblena, 117 Phil. 865). complainant miserably failed to do.
A lawyer may be disbarred for "grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of On the matter of the falsified Certificate of Marriage attached by
his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude". A member of the bar respondent to her Answer, we find improbable to believe the averment
should have moral integrity in addition to professional probity. of respondent that she merely relied on the photocopy of the Marriage
It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to Certificate which was provided her by Carlos Ui. For an event as
what is "grossly immoral conduct" or to specify the moral delinquency significant as a marriage ceremony, any normal bride would verily recall
and obliquity which render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member the date and year of her marriage. It is difficult to fathom how a bride,
of the bar. The rule implies that what appears to be unconventional especially a lawyer as in the case at bar, can forget the year when she
behavior to the straight-laced may not be the immoral conduct that got married. Simply stated, it is contrary to human experience and highly
warrants disbarment. improbable.
Immoral conduct has been defined as "that conduct which is willful, Furthermore, any prudent lawyer would verify the information contained
flagrant, or shameless, and which shows a moral indifference to the in an attachment to her pleading, especially so when she has personal
opinion of the good and respectable members of the community." (7 knowledge of the facts and circumstances contained therein. In attaching
C.J.S. 959).[26] such Marriage Certificate with an intercalated date, the defense of good
In the case at bar, it is the claim of respondent Atty. Bonifacio that when faith of respondent on that point cannot stand.
she met Carlos Ui, she knew and believed him to be single. Respondent It is the bounden duty of lawyers to adhere unwaveringly to the highest
fell in love with him and they got married and as a result of such marriage, standards of morality. The legal profession exacts from its members
she gave birth to two (2) children. Upon her knowledge of the true civil nothing less. Lawyers are called upon to safeguard the integrity of the
status of Carlos Ui, she left him. Bar, free from misdeeds and acts constitutive of malpractice. Their
Simple as the facts of the case may sound, the effects of the actuations exalted positions as officers of the court demand no less than the highest
of respondent are not only far from simple, they will have a rippling effect degree of morality.
on how the standard norms of our legal practitioners should be defined. WHEREFORE, the complaint for disbarment against respondent Atty.
Perhaps morality in our liberal society today is a far cry from what it used Iris L. Bonifacio, for alleged immorality, is hereby DISMISSED.
to be before. This permissiveness notwithstanding, lawyers, as keepers However, respondent is hereby REPRIMANDED for attaching to her
of public faith, are burdened with a higher degree of social responsibility Answer a photocopy of her Marriage Certificate, with an altered or
and thus must handle their personal affairs with greater caution. The intercalated date thereof, with a STERN WARNING that a more severe
facts of this case lead us to believe that perhaps respondent would not sanction will be imposed on her for any repetition of the same or similar
have found herself in such a compromising situation had she exercised offense in the future.
prudence and been more vigilant in finding out more about Carlos Uis SO ORDERED.
personal background prior to her intimate involvement with him.
Surely, circumstances existed which should have at least aroused [SBC Case No. 519. July 31, 1997]
respondents suspicion that something was amiss in her relationship with PATRICIA FIGUEROA, complainant, vs. SIMEON BARRANCO,
Carlos Ui, and moved her to ask probing questions. For instance, JR., respondent.
respondent admitted that she knew that Carlos Ui had children with a RESOLUTION
woman from Amoy, China, yet it appeared that she never exerted the ROMERO, J.:
slightest effort to find out if Carlos Ui and this woman were indeed In a complaint made way back in 1971, Patricia Figueroa petitioned that
unmarried. Also, despite their marriage in 1987, Carlos Ui never lived respondent Simeon Barranco, Jr. be denied admission to the legal
with respondent and their first child, a circumstance that is simply profession. Respondent had passed the 1970 bar examinations on the
incomprehensible considering respondents allegation that Carlos Ui was fourth attempt, after unsuccessful attempts in 1966, 1967 and
very open in courting her. 1968. Before he could take his oath, however, complainant filed the
All these taken together leads to the inescapable conclusion that instant petition averring that respondent and she had been sweethearts,
respondent was imprudent in managing her personal affairs. However, that a child out of wedlock was born to them and that respondent did not
the fact remains that her relationship with Carlos Ui, clothed as it was fulfill his repeated promises to marry her.
with what respondent believed was a valid marriage, cannot be The facts were manifested in hearings held before Investigator Victor F.
considered immoral. For immorality connotes conduct that shows Sevilla in June and July 1971. Respondent and complainant were
indifference to the moral norms of society and the opinion of good and townmates in Janiuay, Iloilo. Since 1953, when they were both in their
respectable members of the community.[27] Moreover, for such conduct teens, they were steadies. Respondent even acted as escort to
to warrant disciplinary action, the same must be "grossly immoral," that complainant when she reigned as Queen at the 1953 town
is, it must be so corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so fiesta. Complainant first acceded to sexual congress with respondent
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[28] sometime in 1960. Their intimacy yielded a son, Rafael Barranco, born
We have held that "a member of the Bar and officer of the court is not on December 11, 1964.[1] It was after the child was born, complainant
only required to refrain from adulterous relationships x x x but must also alleged, that respondent first promised he would marry her after he
so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the passes the bar examinations. Their relationship continued and
belief that he is flouting those moral standards."[29] Respondents act of respondent allegedly made more than twenty or thirty promises of
immediately distancing herself from Carlos Ui upon discovering his true marriage. He gave only P10.00 for the child on the latters birthdays. Her
civil status belies just that alleged moral indifference and proves that she trust in him and their relationship ended in 1971, when she learned that
had no intention of flaunting the law and the high moral standard of the respondent married another woman.Hence, this petition.
Page 55

legal profession. Complainants bare assertions to the contrary deserve Upon complainants motion, the Court authorized the taking of
no credit. After all, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant, and testimonies of witnesses by deposition in 1972. On February 18, 1974,

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
respondent filed a Manifestation and Motion to Dismiss the case citing perpetual bond which should be entered into because of love, not for any
complainants failure to comment on the motion of Judge Cuello seeking other reason.
to be relieved from the duty to take aforesaid testimonies by We cannot help viewing the instant complaint as an act of revenge of a
deposition. Complainant filed her comment stating that she had woman scorned, bitter and unforgiving to the end. It is also intended to
justifiable reasons in failing to file the earlier comment required and that make respondent suffer severely and it seems, perpetually, sacrificing
she remains interested in the resolution of the present case. On June 18, the profession he worked very hard to be admitted into. Even assuming
1974, the Court denied respondents motion to dismiss. that his past indiscretions are ignoble, the twenty-six years that
On October 2, 1980, the Court once again denied a motion to dismiss on respondent has been prevented from being a lawyer constitute sufficient
the ground of abandonment filed by respondent on September 17, punishment therefor. During this time there appears to be no other
1979.[2] Respondents third motion to dismiss was noted in the Courts indiscretion attributed to him.[10] Respondent, who is now sixty-two years
Resolution dated September 15, 1982.[3] In 1988, respondent repeated of age, should thus be allowed, albeit belatedly, to take the lawyers oath.
his request, citing his election as a member of the Sangguniang Bayan WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED. Respondent
of Janiuay, Iloilo from 1980-1986, his active participation in civic Simeon Barranco, Jr. is ALLOWED to take his oath as a lawyer upon
organizations and good standing in the community as well as the length payment of the proper fees.
of time this case has been pending as reasons to allow him to take his SO ORDERED.
oath as a lawyer.[4]
On September 29, 1988, the Court resolved to dismiss the complaint for [A.C. No. 4585. November 12, 2004]
failure of complainant to prosecute the case for an unreasonable period MICHAEL P. BARRIOS, complainant, vs. ATTY. FRANCISCO P.
of time and to allow Simeon Barranco, Jr. to take the lawyers oath upon MARTINEZ, respondent
payment of the required fees.[5] DECISION
Respondents hopes were again dashed on November 17, 1988 when PER CURIAM:
the Court, in response to complainants opposition, resolved to cancel his This is a verified petition[1] for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco
scheduled oath-taking. On June 1, 1993, the Court referred the case to Martinez for having been convicted by final judgment in Criminal Case
the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and No. 6608 of a crime involving moral turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional
recommendation. Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.[2]
The IBPs report dated May 17, 1997 recommended the dismissal of the The dispositive portion of the same states:
case and that respondent be allowed to take the lawyers oath. WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty
We agree. beyond reasonable doubt of the crime for (sic) violation of Batas
Respondent was prevented from taking the lawyers oath in 1971 Pambansa Blg. 22 charged in the Information. He is imposed a penalty
because of the charges of gross immorality made by complainant. To of ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment and fine double the amount of the check
recapitulate, respondent bore an illegitimate child with his sweetheart, which is EIGHT THOUSAND (8,000.00) PESOS, plus payment of the tax
Patricia Figueroa, who also claims that he did not fulfill his promise to pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue Code and costs against
marry her after he passes the bar examinations. the accused.[3]
We find that these facts do not constitute gross immorality warranting the Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and
permanent exclusion of respondent from the legal profession. His the Entry of Judgment from this Court dated 20 March 1996.
engaging in premarital sexual relations with complainant and promises On 03 July 1996, we required[4] respondent to comment on said petition
to marry suggests a doubtful moral character on his part but the same within ten (10) days from notice. On 17 February 1997, we issued a
does not constitute grossly immoral conduct. The Court has held that to second resolution[5] requiring him to show cause why no disciplinary
justify suspension or disbarment the act complained of must not only be action should be imposed on him for failure to comply with our earlier
immoral, but grossly immoral. A grossly immoral act is one that is so Resolution, and to submit said Comment. On 07 July 1997, we imposed
corrupt and false as to constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled or a fine of P1,000 for respondents failure to file said Comment and required
disgraceful as to be reprehensible to a high degree.[6] It is a willful, him to comply with our previous resolution within ten days.[6] On 27 April
flagrant, or shameless act which shows a moral indifference to the 1998, we fined respondent an additional P2,000 and required him to
opinion of respectable members of the community.[7] comply with the resolution requiring his comment within ten days under
We find the ruling in Arciga v. Maniwang[8] quite relevant because mere pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of five (5) days or until his
intimacy between a man and a woman, both of whom possess no compliance.[7] Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost three years later,
impediment to marry, voluntarily carried on and devoid of any deceit on we declared respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec.
the part of respondent, is neither so corrupt nor so unprincipled as to 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure and ordered his imprisonment
warrant the imposition of disciplinary sanction against him, even if as a until he complied with the aforesaid resolutions.[8]
result of such relationship a child was born out of wedlock.[9] On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported[9] that
Respondent and complainant were sweethearts whose sexual relations respondent was arrested in Tacloban City on 26 March 1999, but was
were evidently consensual. We do not find complainants assertions that subsequently released after having shown proof of compliance with the
she had been forced into sexual intercourse, credible. She continued to resolutions of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998 by remitting the
see and be respondents girlfriend even after she had given birth to a son amount of P2,000 and submitting his long overdue Comment.
in 1964 and until 1971. All those years of amicable and intimate relations In the said Comment[10] dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that:
refute her allegations that she was forced to have sexual congress with 1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he
him. Complainant was then an adult who voluntarily and actively pursued was at that time undergoing medical treatment at Camp Ruperto
their relationship and was not an innocent young girl who could be easily Kangleon in Palo, Leyte;
led astray. Unfortunately, respondent chose to marry and settle 2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997;
Page 56

permanently with another woman. We cannot castigate a man for and


seeking out the partner of his dreams, for marriage is a sacred and

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is respectfully recommended
decided in respondents favor (as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent that respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez be disbarred and his name
avers that as a result of his moving for the execution of judgment in his stricken out from the Roll of Attorneys immediately.
favor and the eviction of the family of herein complainant Michael Barrios, On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a
the latter filed the present administrative case. Resolution[16] adopting and approving the report and recommendation of
In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the its Investigating Commissioner.
Provincial Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter[11] to the On 03 December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for
First Division Clerk of Court alleging that respondent Martinez also stood Reconsideration and/or Reinvestigation,[17] in the instant case alleging
charged in another estafa case before the Regional Trial Court of that:
Tacloban City, Branch 9, as well as a civil case involving the victims of 1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating
the Doa Paz tragedy in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Commissioner is tantamount to a deprivation of property without due
Samar, Branch 30 rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto process of law, although admittedly the practice of law is a privilege;
having been dismissed by the Court of Appeals. 2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and
In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of allowed to adduce evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely
Basey, Samar,[12] it appears that herein respondent Atty. Martinez different from that arrived at by the Investigating Commissioner; and
offered his legal services to the victims of the Doa Paz tragedy for 3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in
free. However, when the plaintiff in the said civil case was issued a check various capacities (from acting city judge to Municipal Judges League
for P90,000 by Sulpicio Lines representing compensation for the deaths Leyte Chapter President) for almost 17 years prior to resuming his law
of his wife and two daughters,Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse practice.
said check, which was then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, On 14 January 2004, we required[18] complainant to file a comment within
Atty. Martinezs wife. When plaintiff asked for his money, he was only ten days. On 16 February 2004, we received a Manifestation and
able to recover a total of P30,000. Atty. Martinez claimed the remaining Motion[19] from complainants daughter, Diane Francis Barrios Latoja,
P60,000 as his attorneys fees. Holding that it was absurd and totally alleging that they had not been furnished with a copy of respondents
ridiculous that for a simple legal service he would collect 2/3 of the money Motion, notwithstanding the fact that respondent ostensibly lives next
claim, the trial court ordered Atty. Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the door to complainants family. Required to Comment on 17 May 2004,
amount of P60,000 with interest, P5,000 for moral and exemplary respondent has until now failed to do so.
damages, and the costs of the suit. The records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of
Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinezs dilatory tactics said Motion to herein complainant. The records also show that
during the trial, citing fourteen (14) specific instances thereof. Martinezs respondent was given several opportunities to present evidence by this
appeal from the above judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals Court[20] as well as by the IBP.[21] Indeed, he only has himself to blame,
for his failure to file his brief, despite having been granted three thirty for he has failed to present his case despite several occasions to do so. It
(30)-day extensions to do so.[13] is now too late in the day for respondent to ask this court to receive his
On 16 June 1999, we referred[14] the present case to the Integrated Bar evidence.
of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and recommendation. This court, moreover, is unwilling to exercise the same patience that it
The report[15] of IBP Investigating Commissioner Winston D. Abuyuan did when it waited for his comment on the original petition. At any rate,
stated in part that: after a careful consideration of the records of the instant case, we find
Several dates for the hearing of the case were scheduled but none of the the evidence on record sufficient to support the IBPs findings.
parties appeared before the Commission, until finally it was considered Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may
submitted for resolution last 27 June 2002. On the same date respondent be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
filed a motion for the dismissal of the case on the ground that the Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
complainant died sometime in June 1997 and that dismissal is warranted office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime
because the case filed by him does not survive due to his demise; as a involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is
matter of fact, it is extinguished upon his death. required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience
We disagree with respondents contention. of any lawful order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 139-B of the Revised Rules of Court, the appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority to do so.
Honorable Supreme Court or the IBP may motu proprio initiate the In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by
proceedings when they perceive acts of lawyers which deserve final judgment for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check
sanctions or when their attention is called by any one and a probable in the amount of P8,000. The issue with which we are now concerned is
cause exists that an act has been perpetrated by a lawyer which requires whether or not the said crime is one involving moral turpitude. [22]
disciplinary sanctions. Moral turpitude includes everything which is done contrary to justice,
As earlier cited, respondent lawyers propensity to disregard or ignore honesty, modesty, or good morals.[23] It involves an act of baseness,
orders of the Honorable Supreme Court for which he was fined twice, vileness, or depravity in the private duties which a man owes his fellow
arrested and imprisoned reflects an utter lack of good moral character. men, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary
Respondents conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude (estafa rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct contrary to
and/or violation of BP Blg. 22) clearly shows his unfitness to protect the justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals.[24]
administration of justice and therefore justifies the imposition of In People of the Philippines v. Atty. Fe Tuanda,[25] where the erring
sanctions against him (see In re: Abesamis, 102 Phil. 1182; In lawyer was indefinitely suspended for having been convicted of three
re: Jaramillo, 101 Phil. 323; In re: Vinzon, 19 SCRA 815; Medina vs. counts of violation of B.P. Blg. 22, we held that conviction by final
Bautista, 12 SCRA 1, People vs. Tuanda, Adm. Case No. 3360, 30 Jan. judgment of violation of B.P. Blg. 22 involves moral turpitude and stated:
Page 57

1990). We should add that the crimes of which respondent was convicted
also import deceit and violation of her attorney's oath and the Code of

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Professional Responsibility under both of which she was bound to "obey him, the court may be justified in suspending or removing him from the
the laws of the land." Conviction of a crime involving moral office of attorney.[30]
turpitude might not (as in the instant case, violation of B.P. Blg. 22 does The argument of respondent that to disbar him now is tantamount to a
not) relate to the exercise of the profession of a lawyer; however, deprivation of property without due process of law is also untenable. As
itcertainly relates to and affects the good moral character of a person respondent himself admits, the practice of law is a privilege. The purpose
convicted of such offense[26] (emphasis supplied) of a proceeding for disbarment is to protect the administration of justice
Over ten years later, we reiterated the above ruling in Villaber v. by requiring that those who exercise this important function shall be
Commission on Elections[27] and disqualified a congressional candidate competent, honorable and reliable; men in whom courts and clients may
for having been sentenced by final judgment for three counts of violation repose confidence.[31] A proceeding for suspension or disbarment is not
of B.P. Blg. 22 in accordance with Sec. 12 of the Omnibus Election Code, in any sense a civil action where the complainant is plaintiff and the
which states: respondent lawyer is a defendant. Disciplinary proceedings involve no
SEC. 12. Disqualifications. Any person who has been declared by private interest and afford no redress for private grievance. They are
competent authority insane or incompetent, or has been sentenced by undertaken and prosecuted solely for the public welfare, and for the
final judgment for subversion, insurrection, rebellion, or for any offense purpose of preserving courts of justice from the official ministrations of
for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen persons unfit to practice them.[32] Verily, lawyers must at all times
months, or for a crime involving moral turpitude, shall be disqualified to faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to
be a candidate and to hold any office, unless he has been given plenary their clients. Their conduct must always reflect the values and norms of
pardon or granted amnesty. (emphasis supplied) the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Enumerating the elements of that crime, we held that the act of a person Responsibility. On these considerations, the Court may disbar or
in issuing a check knowing at the time of the issuance that he or she suspend lawyers for any professional or private misconduct showing
does not have sufficient funds in, or credit with, the drawee bank for the them to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity and good
check in full upon its presentment, is a manifestation of moral demeanor or to be unworthy to continue as officers of the Court.[33]
turpitude. Notwithstanding therein petitioners averment that he was not Nor are we inclined to look with favor upon respondents plea that if given
a lawyer, we nevertheless applied our ruling in People v. Tuanda, to the another chance to have his day in court and to adduce evidence, the
effect that result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at. We note
(A) conviction for violation of B.P. Blg. 22, imports deceit and certainly with displeasure the inordinate length of time respondent took in
relates to and affects the good moral character of a person. [Indeed] the responding to our requirement to submit his Comment on the original
effects of the issuance of a worthless check, as we held in the landmark petition to disbar him.These acts constitute a willful disobedience of the
case of Lozano v. Martinez, through Justice Pedro L. Yap, transcends lawful orders of this Court, which under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules
the private interests of the parties directly involved in the transaction and of Court is in itself a cause sufficient for suspension or disbarment.Thus,
touches the interests of the community at large. The mischief it creates from the time we issued our first Resolution on 03 July 1996 requiring
is not only a wrong to the payee or holder, but also an injury to the public him to submit his Comment, until 16 March 1999, when he submitted
since the circulation of valueless commercial papers can very well pollute said Comment to secure his release from arrest, almost three years had
the channels of trade and commerce, injure the banking system and elapsed.
eventually hurt the welfare of society and the public interest. Thus, It is revealing that despite the unwarranted length of time it took
paraphrasing Black's definition, a drawer who issues an unfunded check respondent to comply, his Comment consists of all of two pages, a copy
deliberately reneges on his private duties he owes his fellow men or of which, it appears, he neglected to furnish complainant.[34] And while
society in a manner contrary to accepted and customary rule of right and he claims to have been confined while undergoing medical treatment at
duty, justice, honesty or good morals.[28] (emphasis supplied) the time our Resolution of 17 February 1997 was issued, he merely
In the recent case of Barrientos v. Libiran-Meteoro,[29] we stated that: reserved the submission of a certification to that effect. Nor, indeed, was
(T)he issuance of checks which were later dishonored for having been he able to offer any explanation for his failure to submit his Comment
drawn against a closed account indicates a lawyers unfitness for the trust from the time we issued our first Resolution of 03 July 1996 until 16
and confidence reposed on her. It shows a lack of personal honesty and March 1999. In fact, said Comment alleged, merely, that the
good moral character as to render her unworthy of public confidence. complainant, Michael Barrios, passed away sometime in June 1997, and
[Cuizon v. Macalino, A.C. No. 4334, 07 July 2004] The issuance of a imputed upon the latter unsupported ill-motives for instituting the said
series of worthless checks also shows the remorseless attitude of Petition against him, which argument has already been resolved
respondent, unmindful to the deleterious effects of such act to the public squarely in the abovementioned IBP report.
interest and public order. [Lao v. Medel, 405 SCRA 227] It also manifests Moreover, the IBP report cited the failure of both parties to appear before
a lawyers low regard for her commitment to the oath she has taken when the Commission as the main reason for the long delay, until the same
she joined her peers, seriously and irreparably tarnishing the image of was finally submitted for Resolution on 27 June 2002. Respondent,
the profession she should hold in high esteem. [Sanchez v. Somoso, therefore, squandered away seven years to have his day in court and
A.C. No. 6061, 03 October 2003] adduce evidence in his behalf, which inaction also unduly delayed the
Clearly, therefore, the act of a lawyer in issuing a check without sufficient courts prompt disposition of this petition.
funds to cover the same constitutes such willful dishonesty and immoral In Pajares v. Abad Santos,[35] we reminded attorneys that there must be
conduct as to undermine the public confidence in law and lawyers. And more faithful adherence to Rule 7, Section 5 of the Rules of Court [now
while the general rule is that a lawyer may not be suspended or Rule 7, Section 3] which provides that the signature of an attorney
disbarred, and the court may not ordinarily assume jurisdiction to constitutes a certificate by him that he has read the pleading and that to
discipline him for misconduct in his non-professional or private capacity, the best of his knowledge, information and belief, there is good ground
where, however, the misconduct outside of the lawyer's professional to support it; and that it is not interposed for delay, and expressly
Page 58

dealings is so gross a character as to show him morally unfit for the office admonishes that for a willful violation of this rule an attorney may be
and unworthy of the privilege which his licenses and the law confer on subjected to disciplinary action.[36] It is noteworthy that in the past, the

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Court has disciplined lawyers and judges for willful disregard of its orders 4. In In Re: Disbarment Proceedings Against Atty. Diosdado Q.
to file comments or appellants briefs, as a penalty for disobedience Gutierrez,[48] Atty. Gutierrez was convicted for murder. After serving a
thereof. [37] portion of the sentence, he was granted a conditional pardon by the
For the same reasons, we are disinclined to take respondents old age President. Holding that the pardon was not absolute and thus did not
and the fact that he served in the judiciary in various capacities in his reach the offense itself but merely remitted the unexecuted portion of his
favor. If at all, we hold respondent to a higher standard for it, for a judge term, the court nevertheless disbarred him.
should be the embodiment of competence, integrity, and 5. In In Re: Atty. Isidro P. Vinzon,[49] Atty. Vinzon was convicted of the
independence,[38] and his conduct should be above reproach.[39] The fact crime of estafa for misappropriating the amount of P7,000.00, and was
that respondent has chosen to engage in private practice does not mean subsequently disbarred. We held thus:
he is now free to conduct himself in less honorable or indeed in a less Upon the other hand, and dealing now with the merits of the case, there
than honorable manner. can be no question that the term moral turpitude includes everything
We stress that membership in the legal profession is a which is done contrary to justice, honesty, or good morals. In essence
privilege,[40] demanding a high degree of good moral character, not only and in all respects, estafa, no doubt, is a crime involving moral turpitude
as a condition precedent to admission, but also as a continuing because the act is unquestionably against justice, honesty and good
requirement for the practice of law.[41] Sadly, herein respondent falls morals (In re Gutierrez, Adm. Case No. 263, July 31, 1962; Bouvier's
short of the exacting standards expected of him as a vanguard of the Law Dictionary; In re Basa, 41 Phil. 275-76). As respondent's guilt
legal profession. cannot now be questioned, his disbarment is inevitable. (emphasis
The IBP Board of Governors recommended that respondent be supplied)[50]
disbarred from the practice of law. We agree. 6. In In Re: Attorney Jose Avancea,[51] the conditional pardon extended
We come now to the matter of the penalty imposable in this case. In Co to the erring lawyer by the Chief Executive also failed to relieve him of
v. Bernardino and Lao v. Medel, we upheld the imposition of one years the penalty of disbarment imposed by this court.
suspension for non-payment of debt and issuance of worthless checks, 7. In In Re Disbarment of Rodolfo Pajo,[52] a lawyer was charged and
or a suspension of six months upon partial payment of the found guilty of the crime of falsification of public document for having
obligation.[42] However, in these cases, for various reasons, none of the prepared and notarized a deed of sale of a parcel of land knowing that
issuances resulted in a conviction by the erring lawyers for the supposed affiant was an impostor and that the vendor had been dead
either estafa or B.P. Blg. 22. Thus, we held therein that the issuance of for almost eight years. We ruled that disbarment follows as a
worthless checks constitutes gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may consequence of a lawyer's conviction by final judgment of a crime
be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of law. involving moral turpitude, and since the crime of falsification of public
In the instant case, however, herein respondent has been found document involves moral turpitude, we ordered respondents name
guilty and stands convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral stricken off the roll of attorneys.
turpitude. In People v. Tuanda, which is similar to this case in that both 8. In Adelina T. Villanueva v. Atty. Teresita Sta. Ana,[53] we upheld the
respondents were convicted for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 which we have recommendation of the IBP Board of Governors to disbar a lawyer who
held to be such a crime, we affirmed the order of suspension from the had been convicted of estafa through falsification of public documents,
practice of law imposed by the Court of Appeals, until further orders. because she was totally unfit to be a member of the legal profession.[54]
However, in a long line of cases, some of which were decided 9. In Victoriano P. Resurreccion v. Atty. Ciriaco C. Sayson,[55] a lawyer
after Tuanda, we have held disbarment to be the appropriate penalty for was disbarred for having been convicted of estafa by final judgment for
conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral turpitude. Thus: misappropriating the funds of his client.
1. In In The Matter of Disbarment Proceedings v. Narciso N. In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. Of
Jaramillo,[43] we disbarred a lawyer convicted of estafa without all classes and professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold
discussing the circumstances behind his conviction. We held that: the laws. He is their sworn servant; and for him, of all men in the world,
There is no question that the crime of estafa involves moral turpitude. to repudiate and override the laws, to trample them underfoot and to
The review of respondent's conviction no longer rests upon us. The ignore the very bands of society, argues recreancy to his position and
judgment not only has become final but has been executed. No elaborate office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous
argument is necessary to hold the respondent unworthy of the privilege elements of the body politic.[56]
bestowed on him as a member of the bar. Suffice it to say that, by his WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez is
conviction, the respondent has proved himself unfit to protect the hereby DISBARRED and his name is ORDERED STRICKEN from the
administration of justice.[44] Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in the
2. In In Re: Dalmacio De Los Angeles,[45] a lawyer was convicted of the respondents record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be
crime of attempted bribery in a final decision rendered by the Court of served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the
Appeals. And since bribery is admittedly a felony involving moral Court Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.
turpitude (7 C.J.S., p. 736; 5 Am. Jur. p. 428), this Court, much as it SO ORDERED.
sympathizes with the plight of respondent, is constrained to decree his
disbarment as ordained by Section 25 of Rule 127.[46] A.C. No. 9115 September 17, 2014
3. In Ledesma De Jesus-Paras v. Quinciano Vailoces,[47] the erring REBECCA MARIE UY YUPANGCO-NAKPIL, Complainant,
lawyer acknowledged the execution of a document purporting to be a last vs.
will and testament, which later turned out to be a forgery. He was found ATTY. ROBERTO L. UY, Respondent.
guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of falsification of public RESOLUTION
document, which the Court held to be a crime involving moral turpitude, PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
said act being contrary to justice, honesty and good morals, and was This is an administrative case against respondent Atty. Roberto L. Uy
Page 59

subsequently disbarred. (respondent) for unprofessional and unethical conduct, stemming from a
complaint filed by private complainant Rebecca Marie Uy Yupangco-

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Nakpil (Rebecca), represented by her attorney-in-fact, Bella Asuncion respondent. As basis, he cites Section 5, Rule 139-B of the Rules of
Pollo (Bella). Court which provides that "[n]o investigation shall be interrupted or
The Facts terminated by reason of the desistance, settlement, compromise,
Rebecca is the natural niece and adopted daughter of the late Dra. restitution, withdrawal of the charges, or failure of the complainant to
Pacita Uy y Lim (Pacita).1 She was adjudged as the sole and exclusive prosecute the same." Separately, the Investigating Commissioner
legal heir of Paci ta by virtue of an Order2 dated August 10, 1999 issued denied the claim of forum shopping, noting that disciplinary cases are sui
by the Regional Trial Court of Manila, Branch 34 in SPEC. PROC. No. generis and may, therefore, proceed independently.22
95-7520 l (SP 95-75201). At the time of her death, Pacita was a On the merits of the charge, the Investigating Commissioner observed
stockholder in several corporations primarily engaged in acquiring, that respondent lacked the good moral character required from members
developing, and leasing real properties, namely, Uy Realty Company, of the Bar when the latter failed to comply with the demands of Rebecca
Inc. (URCI), Jespajo Realty Corporation, Roberto L. Uy Realty and under the subject trust agreement, not to mention his unworthy and
Development Corporation, Jesus Uy Realty Corporation, Distelleria La deceitful acts of mortgaging the subject property without the formers
Jarolina, Inc., and Pacita Lim Uy Realty, Inc.3 consent. In fine, respondent was found guilty of serious misconduct in
In her Complaint4 filed on May 9, 2005,5 Rebecca, through her attorney- violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code, for which the above-stated
in fact, Bella, averred that respondent, her alleged illegitimate penalty was recommended.23
halfcousin,6 continuously failed and refused to comply with the court In a Resolution24 dated November 10, 2007, the IBP Board of Governors
order in SP 95-75201 declaring her as the successor-in-interest to all of adopted and approved the Investigating Commissioners Report and
Pacitas properties, as well as her requests for the accounting and Recommendation.
delivery of the dividends and other proceeds or benefits coming from The Issue Before the Court
Pacitas stockholdings in the aforementioned corporations.7 She added The basic issue in this case is whether or not respondent should be held
that respondent mortgaged a commercial property covered by Transfer administratively liable.
Certificate of Title No. T-133606 (subject property) in favor of Philippine The Courts Ruling
Savings Bank in the total amount of 54,000,000.00,8 despite an existing Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code, as itis applied to the members of the
Trust Agreement9 executed on October 15, 1993 (subject Trust legal profession, engraves an overriding prohibition against any form of
Agreement) wherein respondent, in his capacity as President of URCI, misconduct, viz.:
already recognized her to be the true and beneficial owner of the CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY
same.10 Accordingly, she demanded that respondent return the said THE LAWS OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND
property by executing the corresponding deed of conveyance in her favor LEGAL PROCESSES.
together with an inventory and accounting of all the proceeds therefrom, Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
but to no avail.11 In this relation, Rebecca claimed that it was only on deceitful conduct.
September 2, 2005 or after she had already instituted various legal The gravity of the misconduct determinative as it is of the errant
actions and remedies that respondent and URCIagreed to transfer the lawyers penalty depends on the factual circumstances of each case.
subject property to her pursuant to a compromise agreement.12 Here, the Court observes that the squabble which gave rise to the
In his Answer With Compulsory Counterclaim,13 respondent denied present administrative case largely constitutes an internal affair, which
Rebeccas allegations and raised the affirmative defenses of forum had already been laid to rest by the parties. This is clearly exhibited by
shopping and prescription. He pointed out that Rebecca had filed several Rebeccas motion to withdraw filed in this case as well as the
cases raising the single issue on the correct interpretation of the subject compromise agreement forged in Civil Case No. 04-108887 which
trust agreement. He also contended that the parties transactions in this involves the subject propertys alleged disposition in violation of the
case were made way back in 1993 and 1995 without a complaint having subject trust agreement. As the Court sees it, his failure to complywith
been filed until Bella came into the picture and instituted various suits the demands of Rebecca which she takes as an invocation of her rights
covering the same issue.14 As such, he sought the dismissal of the under the subject trust agreement as well as respondents acts of
complaint, and further prayed for the payment of moral damages and mortgaging the subject property without the formers consent, sprung
attorneys fees by way of counterclaim.15 from his own assertion of the rights he believed he had over the subject
On September 8, 2005, Rebecca filed a Motion to Withdraw property. The propriety of said courses of action eludes the Courts
Complaint16 in CBD Case No. 05-1484 for the reason that "the facts determination,for that matter had never been resolved on its merits in
surrounding the same arose out of a misunderstanding and view of the aforementioned settlement. Rebecca even states in her
misapprehension of the real facts surrounding their dispute."17 motion to withdraw that the allegations she had previously made arose
However, on October 6, 2005, Bella filed a Manifestation with Leave of out of a "misapprehension of the real facts surrounding their dispute" and
Court to File Motion for Intervention,18praying that the investigation of the even adds that respondent "had fully explained to [her] the real nature
charges against respondent continue in order to weed out erring and extent of her inheritance x x x toher entire satisfaction," leading her
members of the legal profession.19 to state that she is "now fully convinced that [her] complaint has no basis
The Report and Recommendation of the IBP in fact and in law."25 Accordingly, with the admitted misstatement of facts,
On October 8, 2007, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) the observations of the Investigating Commissioner, as adopted by the
Investigating Commissioner issuedhis Report and IBP, hardly hold water so as to support the finding of "serious
Recommendation,20 finding respondent guilty of serious misconduct in misconduct" which would warrant its recommended penalty.1wphi1
violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility Be that as it may, the Court, nonetheless, finds that respondent
(Code), and, thus, recommended the penalty of suspension for a period committed some form of misconduct by, as admitted, mortgaging the
of six (6) months.21 subject property, notwithstanding the apparent dispute over the same.
On matters of procedure, the Investigating Commissioner opined that Regardless of the merits of his own claim, respondent should have
Page 60

Rebeccas motion to withdraw did notserve as a bar for the further exhibited prudent restraint becoming of a legal exemplar. He should not
consideration and investigation ofthe administrative case against have exposed himself even to the slightest risk of committing a property

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
violation nor any action which would endanger the Bar's reputation. D. For this purpose, I prepared, among others, the OCCUPANCY
Verily, members of the Bar are expected at all times to uphold the AGREEMENT, recognizing Mr. Stiers free and undisturbed use of the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession and refrain from any act or property for his residence and business operations. The OCCUPANCY
omission which might lessen the trust and confidence reposed by the AGREEMENT was tied up with a loan which Mr. Stier had extended to
public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the legal profession.26 By Mr. Donton.6
no insignificant measure, respondent blemished not only his integrity as Complainant averred that respondents act of preparing the Occupancy
a member of the Bar, but also that of the legal profession. In other words, Agreement, despite knowledge that Stier, being a foreign national, is
his conduct fell short of the exacting standards expected of him as a disqualified to own real property in his name, constitutes serious
guardian of law and justice. Although to a lesser extent as compared to misconduct and is a deliberate violation of the Code. Complainant
what has been ascribed by the IBP, the Court still holds respondent guilty prayed that respondent be disbarred for advising Stier to do something
of violating Rule 1. 01, Canon 1 of the Code. Considering that this is his in violation of law and assisting Stier in carrying out a dishonest scheme.
first offense as well as the peculiar circumstances of this case, the Court In his Comment dated 19 August 2003, respondent claimed that
believes that a fine of P15,000.00 would suffice. complainant filed the disbarment case against him upon the instigation
WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Roberto L. Uy is found GUILTY of of complainants counsel, Atty. Bonifacio A. Alentajan,7 because
violating Rule 1.01, Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. respondent refused to act as complainants witness in the criminal case
Accordingly, he is ordered to pay a FINE of P15,000.00 within ten (10) against Stier and Maggay. Respondent admitted that he "prepared and
days from receipt of this Resolution. Further, he is STERNLY WARNED notarized" the Occupancy Agreement and asserted its genuineness and
that a repetition of the same or similar acts will be dealt with more due execution.
severely. In a Resolution dated 1 October 2003, the Court referred the matter to
Let a copy of this Resolution be attached to respondent's record in this the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
Court as attorney. Further, let copies of this Resolution be furnished the recommendation.
Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court The IBPs Report and Recommendation
Administrator, which is directed to circulate them to all the courts in the In her Report dated 26 February 2004 ("Report"), Commissioner
country for their information and guidance. Milagros V. San Juan ("Commissioner San Juan") of the IBP
SO ORDERED. Commission on Bar Discipline found respondent liable for taking part in
RULE 1.02: NOT TO COUNSEL OR DEFY LAW a "scheme to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against foreign
A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at defiance of ownership of land in the Philippines." Commissioner San Juan
the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. recommended respondents suspension from the practice of law for two
A.C. No. 6057 June 27, 2006 years and the cancellation of his commission as Notary Public.
PETER T. DONTON, Complainant, In Resolution No. XVI-2004-222 dated 16 April 2004, the IBP Board of
vs. Governors adopted, with modification, the Report and recommended
ATTY. EMMANUEL O. TANSINGCO, Respondent. respondents suspension from the practice of law for six months.
DECISION On 28 June 2004, the IBP Board of Governors forwarded the Report to
CARPIO, J.: the Court as provided under Section 12(b), Rule 139-B8 of the Rules of
The Case Court.
This is a disbarment complaint against respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. On 28 July 2004, respondent filed a motion for reconsideration before
Tansingco ("respondent") for serious misconduct and deliberate violation the IBP. Respondent stated that he was already 76 years old and would
of Canon 1,1 Rules 1.012 and 1.023 of the Code of Professional already retire by 2005 after the termination of his pending cases. He also
Responsibility ("Code"). said that his practice of law is his only means of support for his family
The Facts and his six minor children.
In his Complaint dated 20 May 2003, Peter T. Donton ("complainant") In a Resolution dated 7 October 2004, the IBP denied the motion for
stated that he filed a criminal complaint for estafa thru falsification of a reconsideration because the IBP had no more jurisdiction on the case as
public document4 against Duane O. Stier ("Stier"), Emelyn A. Maggay the matter had already been referred to the Court.
("Maggay") and respondent, as the notary public who notarized the The Ruling of the Court
Occupancy Agreement. The Court finds respondent liable for violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02
The disbarment complaint arose when respondent filed a counter-charge of the Code.
for perjury5 against complainant. Respondent, in his affidavit-complaint, A lawyer should not render any service or give advice to any client which
stated that: will involve defiance of the laws which he is bound to uphold and obey.9 A
5. The OCCUPANCY AGREEMENT dated September 11, 1995 was lawyer who assists a client in a dishonest scheme or who connives in
prepared and notarized by me under the following circumstances: violating the law commits an act which justifies disciplinary action against
A. Mr. Duane O. Stier is the owner and long-time resident of a real the lawyer.10
property located at No. 33 Don Jose Street, Bgy. San Roque, Murphy, By his own admission, respondent admitted that Stier, a U.S. citizen, was
Cubao, Quezon City. disqualified from owning real property.11Yet, in his motion for
B. Sometime in September 1995, Mr. Stier a U.S. citizen and thereby reconsideration,12 respondent admitted that he caused the transfer of
disqualified to own real property in his name agreed that the property ownership to the parcel of land to Stier. Respondent, however, aware of
be transferred in the name of Mr. Donton, a Filipino. the prohibition, quickly rectified his act and transferred the title in
C. Mr. Stier, in the presence of Mr. Donton, requested me to prepare complainants name. But respondent provided "some safeguards" by
several documents that would guarantee recognition of him being the preparing several documents,13including the Occupancy Agreement,
actual owner of the property despite the transfer of title in the name of that would guarantee Stiers recognition as the actual owner of the
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Mr. Donton. property despite its transfer in complainants name. In effect, respondent

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
advised and aided Stier in circumventing the constitutional prohibition with the organization of the "Centro Bellas Artes" Club were of such a
against foreign ownership of lands14 by preparing said documents. nature and character as to warrant his suspension from practice.
Respondent had sworn to uphold the Constitution. Thus, he violated his The promoting of organizations, with knowledge of their objects, for the
oath and the Code when he prepared and notarized the Occupancy purpose of violating or evading the laws against crime constitutes such
Agreement to evade the law against foreign ownership of lands. misconduct on the part of an attorney, an officer of the court, as amounts
Respondent used his knowledge of the law to achieve an unlawful end. to malpractice or gross misconduct in his office, and for which he may be
Such an act amounts to malpractice in his office, for which he may be removed or suspended. (Code of Civil Procedure, sec. 21.) The assisting
suspended.15 of a client in a scheme which the attorney knows to be dishonest, or the
In Balinon v. De Leon,16 respondent Atty. De Leon was suspended from conniving at a violation of law, are acts which justify disbarment.
the practice of law for three years for preparing an affidavit that virtually In this case, however, inasmuch as the defendant in the case of the
permitted him to commit concubinage. In In re: Santiago,17 respondent United States, vs. Terrell was acquitted on the charge of estafa, and has
Atty. Santiago was suspended from the practice of law for one year for not, therefore, been convicted of crime, and as the acts with which he is
preparing a contract which declared the spouses to be single again after charged in this proceeding, while unprofessional and hence to be
nine years of separation and allowed them to contract separately condemned, are not criminal in their nature, we are of opinion that the
subsequent marriages. ends of justice will be served by the suspension of said Howard D. Terrell
WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Emmanuel O. from the practice of law in the Philippine Islands for the term of one year
Tansingco GUILTY of violation of Canon 1 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of from the 7th day of February, 1903.
Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we SUSPEND respondent It is therefore directed that the said Howard D. Terrell be suspended from
Atty. Emmanuel O. Tansingco from the practice of law for SIX the practice of law for a term of one year from February 7, 1903. It is so
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision. ordered.
Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant [G.R. No. 159486-88. November 25, 2003]
to be appended to respondents personal record as an attorney, the PRESIDENT JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA, petitioner, vs. THE
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Department of Justice, and all HONORABLE SANDIGANBAYAN [SPECIAL DIVISION], HON.
courts in the country for their information and guidance. MINITA CHICO-NAZARIO, HON. EDILBERTO SANDOVAL, HON.
SO ORDERED. TERESITA LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and THE PEOPLE OF THE
G.R. No. 1203, In re Terrell, 2 Phil. 266 PHILIPPINES, respondents.
Republic of the Philippines RESOLUTION
SUPREME COURT PER CURIAM:
Manila On 23 September 2003, this Court issued its resolution in the above-
EN BANC numbered case; it read:
The case for consideration has been brought to this Court via a Petition
In the matter of the suspension of HOWARD D. TERRELL from the for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court filed by Joseph Ejercito
practice of law. Estrada, acting through his counsel Attorney Alan F. Paguia, against the
Solicitor-General Araneta for Government. Sandiganbayan, et al. The Petition prays
W. A. Kincaid for defendant. 1. That Chief Justice Davide and the rest of the members of the
PER CURIAM: Honorable Court disqualify themselves from hearing and deciding this
Howard D. Terrell, an attorney-at-law, was ordered to show cause in the petition;
Court of First Instance, in the city of Manila, on the 5th day of February, 2. That the assailed resolutions of the Sandiganbayan be vacated and
1903, why he should not be suspended as a member of the bar of the set aside; and
city of Manila for the reasons: 3. That Criminal Cases No. 26558, No. 26565 and No. 26905 pending
First, that he had assisted in the organization of the "Centro Bellas Artes" before the Sandiganbayan be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.
Club, after he had been notified that the said organization was made for Attorney Alan F. Paguia, speaking for petitioner, asserts that the
the purpose of evading the law then in force in said city; and, inhibition of the members of the Supreme Court from hearing the petition
Secondly, for acting as attorney for said "Centro Bellas Artes" during the is called for under Rule 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct prohibiting
time of and after its organization, which organization was known to him justices or judges from participating in any partisan political activity which
to be created for the purpose of evading the law. proscription, according to him, the justices have violated by attending the
The accused appeared on the return day, and by his counsel, W. A. EDSA 2 Rally and by authorizing the assumption of Vice-President
Kincaid, made answer to these charges, denying the same, and filed Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to the Presidency in violation of the 1987
affidavits in answer thereto. After reading testimony given by said Constitution. Petitioner contends that the justices have thereby
Howard D. Terrell, in the case of the United States vs. H. D. prejudged a case that would assail the legality of the act taken by
Terrell,1 wherein he was charged with estafa, and after reading the said President Arroyo. The subsequent decision of the Court in Estrada v.
affidavits in his behalf, and hearing his counsel, the court below found, Arroyo (353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA 108) is, petitioner states, a patent
and decided as a fact, that the charges aforesaid made against Howard mockery of justice and due process.
D. Terrell were true, and thereupon made an order suspending him from Attorney Paguia first made his appearance for petitioner when he filed
his office as a lawyer in the Philippine Islands, and directed the clerk of an Omnibus Motion on 19 May 2003, before the Sandiganbayan, asking
the court to transmit to this court a certified copy of the order of that the appointment of counsels de officio (sic) be declaredfunctus
suspension, as well as a full statement of the facts upon which the same officio and that, being the now counsel de parte, he be notified of all
was based. subsequent proceedings in Criminal Cases No. 26558, No. 26565 and
We have carefully considered these facts, and have reached the No. 26905 pending therein. Finally, Attorney Paguia asked that all the
Page 62

conclusion that they were such as to justify the court below in arriving at foregoing criminal cases against his client be dismissed.
the conclusion that the knowledge and acts of the accused in connection

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
During the hearing of the Omnibus Motion on 30 May 2003, petitioner and the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July 2003.) of 25 July 2003,
presented to the court several portions of the book, entitled Reforming denying petitioners motion for disqualification of 14 July 2003; viz:
the Judiciary, written by Justice Artemio Panganiban, to be part of the WHEREFORE, prescinding from all the foregoing, the Court, for want of
evidence for the defense. On 9 June 2003, petitioner filed a motion merit, hereby DENIES the Motion for Disqualification. (Rollo, p. 48.)
pleading, among other things, that The instant petition assailing the foregoing orders must be DISMISSED
a) x x x President Estrada be granted the opportunity to prove the truth for gross insufficiency in substance and for utter lack of merit. The
of the statements contained in Justice Artemio Panganibans book, Sandiganbayan committed no grave abuse of discretion, an
REFORMING THE JUDICIARY, in relation to the prejudgment indispensable requirement to warrant a recourse to the extraordinary
committed by the Supreme Court justices against President Estrada in relief of petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Civil
the subject case/s of Estrada v. Arroyo, 353 SCRA 452 and 356 SCRA Procedure. On the one hand, petitioner would disclaim the authority and
108; and, jurisdiction of the members of this tribunal and, on the other hand, he
b) A subpoena ad testificandum and duces tecum be issued to Justice would elevate the petition now before it to challenge the two resolutions
Artemio Panganiban, Justice Antonio Carpio, Justice Renato Corona, of the Sandiganbayan. He denounces the decision as being a patent
Secretary Angelo Reyes of the Department of National Defense, Vice mockery of justice and due process. Attorney Pagula went on to state
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Senator Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., and that-
Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr. for them to testify and bring whatever The act of the public officer, if LAWFUL, is the act of the public office.
supporting documents they may have in relation to their direct and But the act of the public officer, if UNLAWFUL, is not the act of the public
indirect participation in the proclamation of Vice President Gloria office. Consequently, the act of the justices, if LAWFUL, is the act of the
Macapagal Arroyo on January 20, 2001, as cited in the book of Justice Supreme Court. But the act of the justices, if UNLAWFUL, is not the act
Panganiban, including the material events that led to that proclamation of the Supreme Court. It is submitted that the Decision in ESTRADA vs.
and the ruling/s in the Estrada vs. Arroyo, supra. (Rollo, pp. 6-7.) ARROYO being patently unlawful in view of Rule 5.10 of the CODE OF
The truth referred to in paragraph a) of the relief sought in the motion of JUDICIAL CONDUCT, is not the act of the Supreme Court but is merely
petitioner pertains to what he claims should have been included in the the wrong or trespass of those individual Justices who falsely spoke and
resolution of the Sandiganbayan; viz: acted in the name of the Supreme Court. (Urbano vs. Chavez, 183 SCRA
The request of the movant is simply for the Court to include in its Joint [347]). Furthermore, it would seem absurd to allow the Justices to use
Resolution the TRUTH of the acts of Chief Justice Davide, et al., last the name of the Supreme Court as a shield for their UNLAWFUL act.
January 20, 2001 in: (Petition, Rollo, p. 11.)
a) going to EDSA 2; Criticism or comment made in good faith on the correctness or
b) authorizing the proclamation of Vice-President Arroyo as President on wrongness, soundness or unsoundness, of a decision of the Court would
the ground of permanent disability even without proof of compliance with be welcome for, if well-founded, such reaction can enlighten the court
the corresponding constitutional conditions, e.g., written declaration by and contribute to the correction of an error if committed. (In Re Sotto, 82
either the President or majority of his cabinet; and Phil 595.)
c) actually proclaiming Vice-President Arroyo on that same ground of The ruling in Estrada v. Arroyo, being a final judgment, has long put to
permanent disability. end any question pertaining to the legality of the ascension of Arroyo into
It is patently unreasonable for the Court to refuse to include these the presidency. By reviving the issue on the validity of the assumption of
material facts which are obviously undeniable. Besides, it is the only Mme. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the presidency, Attorney Paguia is
defense of President Estrada. (Petition, Rollo, pp. 13-14.) vainly seeking to breathe life into the carcass of a long dead issue.
On 2 July 2003, the Sandiganbayan issued an order denying the Attorney Paguia has not limited his discussions to the merits of his clients
foregoing motion, as well as the motion to dismiss, filed by petitioner. case within the judicial forum; indeed, he has repeated his assault on the
Forthwith, petitioner filed a Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon of the Court in both broadcast and print media. Rule 13.02 of the Code of
foregoing order. According to Attorney Paguia, during the hearing of Professional Responsibility prohibits a member of the bar from making
his Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon on 11 June 2003, the three justices such public statements on any pending case tending to arouse public
of the Special Division of the Sandiganbayan made manifest their bias opinion for or against a party. By his acts, Attorney Paguia may have
and partiality against his client. Thus, he averred, Presiding Justice stoked the fires of public dissension and posed a potentially dangerous
Minita V. Chico-Nazario supposedly employed foul and disrespectful threat to the administration of justice.
language when she blurted out, Magmumukha naman kaming It is not the first time that Attorney Paguia has exhibited similar conduct
gago, (Rollo, p. 13.) and Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro towards the Supreme Court. In a letter, dated 30 June 2003, addressed
characterized the motion as insignificant even before the prosecution to Chief Justice Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and Associate Justice Artemio V.
could file its comments or opposition thereto, (Rollo, p. 12.) remarking in Panganiban, he has demanded, in a clearly disguised form of forum
open court that to grant Estradas motion would result in chaos and shopping, for several advisory opinions on matters pending before the
disorder. (Ibid.) Prompted by the alleged bias and partial attitude of the Sandiganbayan. In a resolution, dated 08 July 2003, this Court has
Sandiganbayan justices, Attorney Paguia filed, on 14 July 2003, a strongly warned Attorney Alan Paguia, on pain of disciplinary sanction,
motion for their disqualification. On 31 July 2003, petitioner received the to desist from further making, directly or indirectly, similar submissions
two assailed resolutions, i.e., the resolution (Promulgated on 30 July to this Court or to its Members. But, unmindful of the well-meant
2003.) of 28 July 2003, denying petitioners motion for reconsideration admonition to him by the Court, Attorney Paguia appears to persist on
of 6 July 2003; viz: end.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, accused-movant Joseph Ejercito WHEREFORE, the instant petition for certiorari is DISMISSED, and the
Estradas Mosyong Pangrekonsiderasyon (Na tumutukoy sa Joint Court hereby orders Attorney Alan Paguia, counsel for petitioner Joseph
Resolution ng Hulyo 2, 2003) dated July 6, 2003 is DENIED for lack of Ejercito Estrada, to SHOW CAUSE, within ten days from notice hereof,
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merit. (Rollo, p. 37.) why he should not be sanctioned for conduct unbecoming a lawyer and
an officer of the Court.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
On 10 October 2003, Atty. Paguia submitted his compliance with the unconstitutional and void. The rudiments of fair play were not observed.
show-cause order. In a three-page pleading, Atty. Paguia, in an obstinate There was no fair play since it appears that when President Estrada filed
display of defiance, repeated his earlier claim of political partisanship his petition, Chief Justice Davide and his fellow justices had already
against the members of the Court. committed to the other party - GMA - with a judgment already made and
Canon 5.10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, which Atty. Paguia has waiting to be formalized after the litigants shall have undergone the
tirelessly quoted to give some semblance of validity for his groundless charade of a formal hearing. After the justices had authorized the
attack on the Court and its members, provides - proclamation of GMA as president, can they be expected to voluntarily
Rule 5.10. A judge is entitled to entertain personal views on political admit the unconstitutionality of their own act?
questions. But to avoid suspicion of political partisanship, a judge shall Unrelentingly, Atty. Paguia has continued to make public statements of
not make political speeches, contribute to party funds, publicly endorse like nature.
candidates for political office or participate in other partisan political The Court has already warned Atty. Paguia, on pain of disciplinary
activities. sanction, to become mindful of his grave responsibilities as a lawyer and
Section 79(b) of the Omnibus Election Code defines the term partisan as an officer of the Court. Apparently, he has chosen not to at all take
political activities; the law states: heed.
The term election campaign or partisan political activity refers to an act WHEREFORE, Attorney Alan Paguia is hereby indefinitely suspended
designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or from the practice of law, effective upon his receipt hereof, for conduct
candidates to a public office which shall include: unbecoming a lawyer and an officer of the Court.
(1) Forming organizations, associations, clubs, committees or other Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant,
groups of persons for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or undertaking the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts of the land through
any campaign for or against a candidate; the Office of the Court Administrator.
(2) Holding political caucuses, conferences, meetings, rallies, parades, SO ORDERED.
or other similar assemblies, for the purpose of soliciting votes and/or
undertaking any campaign or propaganda for or against a candidate. RULE 1.03: NOT TO ENCOURAGE LAWSUIT OR PROCEEDINGS
(3) Making speeches, announcements or commentaries, or holding A lawyer shall not, for any corrupt motive or interest, encourage
interviews for or against the election of any candidate for public office; any suit or proceeding or delay any man's cause.
(4) Publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed [A.C. No. 4497. September 26, 2001]
to support or oppose the election of any candidate; or MR. and MRS. VENUSTIANO G. SABURNIDO, complainants, vs.
(5) Directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges or support for or against ATTY. FLORANTE E. MADROO,[1] respondent.
a candidate. DECISION
It should be clear that the phrase partisan political activities, in its QUISUMBING, J.:
statutory context, relates to acts designed to cause the success or the For our resolution is the administrative complaint[2] for disbarment of
defeat of a particular candidate or candidates who have filed certificates respondent, Atty. Florante E. Madroo, filed by spouses Venustiano and
of candidacy to a public office in an election. The taking of an oath of Rosalia Saburnido. Complainants allege that respondent has been
office by any incoming President of the Republic before the Chief Justice harassing them by filing numerous complaints against them, in addition
of the Philippines is a traditional official function of the Highest to committing acts of dishonesty.
Magistrate. The assailed presence of other justices of the Court at such Complainant Venustiano Saburnido is a member of the Philippine
an event could be no different from their appearance in such other official National Police stationed at Balingasag, Misamis Oriental, while his wife
functions as attending the Annual State of the Nation Address by the Rosalia is a public school teacher. Respondent is a former judge of the
President of the Philippines before the Legislative Department. Municipal Circuit Trial Court, Balingasag-Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental.
The Supreme Court does not claim infallibility; it will not denounce Previous to this administrative case, complainants also filed three
criticism made by anyone against the Court for, if well-founded, can truly separate administrative cases against respondent.
have constructive effects in the task of the Court, but it will not In A. M. No. MTJ-90-383,[3] complainant Venustiano Saburnido filed
countenance any wrongdoing nor allow the erosion of our peoples faith charges of grave threats and acts unbecoming a member of the judiciary
in the judicial system, let alone, by those who have been privileged by it against respondent. Respondent was therein found guilty of pointing a
to practice law in the Philippines. high-powered firearm at complainant, who was unarmed at the time,
Canon 11 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that the during a heated altercation. Respondent was accordingly dismissed from
lawyer should observe and maintain the respect due to the courts and the service with prejudice to reemployment in government but without
judicial officers and, indeed, should insist on similar conduct by others. forfeiture of retirement benefits.
In liberally imputing sinister and devious motives and questioning the Respondent was again administratively charged in the consolidated
impartiality, integrity, and authority of the members of the Court, Atty. cases of Sealana-Abbu v. Judge Madrono, A.M. No. 92-1-084-RTC
Paguia has only succeeded in seeking to impede, obstruct and pervert and Sps. Saburnido v. Judge Madrono, A.M. No. MTJ-90-486.[4]In the
the dispensation of justice. first case, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Florencia Sealana-Abbu
The attention of Atty. Paguia has also been called to the mandate of Rule charged that respondent granted and reduced bail in a criminal case
13.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility prohibiting a member of without prior notice to the prosecution. In the second case, the spouses
the bar from making such public statements on a case that may tend to Saburnido charged that respondent, in whose court certain confiscated
arouse public opinion for or against a party. Regrettably, Atty. Paguia smuggled goods were deposited, allowed other persons to take the
has persisted in ignoring the Courts well-meant admonition. goods but did not issue the corresponding memorandum receipts. Some
On the 7th September 2003 issue of the Daily Tribune, Atty. Paguia of the goods were lost while others were substituted with damaged
wrote to say - goods. Respondent was found guilty of both charges and his retirement
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What is the legal effect of that violation of President Estradas right to due benefits were forfeited.
process of law? It renders the decision in Estrada vs. Arroyo

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
In the present case, the spouses Saburnido allege that respondent has in his behalf during said hearing. Neither did respondent submit his
been harassing them by filing numerous complaints against them, memorandum as directed by the IBP.
namely: After evaluating the evidence before it, the IBP concluded that
1. Adm. Case No. 90-0755,[5] for serious irregularity, filed by respondent complainants submitted convincing proof that respondent indeed
against Venustiano Saburnido. Respondent claimed that Venustiano committed acts constituting gross misconduct that warrant the imposition
lent his service firearm to an acquaintance who thereafter extorted of administrative sanction. The IBP recommends that respondent be
money from public jeepney drivers while posing as a member of the then suspended from the practice of law for one year.
Constabulary Highway Patrol Group. We have examined the records of this case and find no reason to
2. Adm. Case No. 90-0758,[6] for falsification, filed by respondent against disagree with the findings and recommendation of the IBP.
Venustiano Saburnido and two others. Respondent averred that A lawyer may be disciplined for any conduct, in his professional or private
Venustiano, with the help of his co-respondents in the case, inserted an capacity, that renders him unfit to continue to be an officer of the
entry in the police blotter regarding the loss of Venustianos firearm. court.[11] Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility commands
3. Crim. Case No. 93-67,[7] for evasion through negligence under Article all lawyers to at all times uphold the dignity and integrity of the legal
224 of the Revised Penal Code, filed by respondent against Venustiano profession. Specifically, in Rule 7.03, the Code provides:
Saburnido. Respondent alleged that Venustiano Saburnido, without Rule 7.03. -- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects
permission from his superior, took into custody a prisoner by final on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he whether in public or private life,
judgment who thereafter escaped. behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
4. Adm. Case No. 95-33,[8] filed by respondent against Rosalia Clearly, respondents act of filing multiple complaints against herein
Saburnido for violation of the Omnibus Election Code. Respondent complainants reflects on his fitness to be a member of the legal
alleged that Rosalia Saburnido served as chairperson of the Board of profession. His act evinces vindictiveness, a decidedly undesirable trait
Election Inspectors during the 1995 elections despite being related to a whether in a lawyer or another individual, as complainants were
candidate for barangay councilor. instrumental in respondents dismissal from the judiciary. We see in
At the time the present complaint was filed, the three actions filed against respondents tenacity in pursuing several cases against complainants not
Venustiano Saburnido had been dismissed while the case against the persistence of one who has been grievously wronged but the
Rosalia Saburnido was still pending. obstinacy of one who is trying to exact revenge.
Complainants allege that respondent filed those cases against them in Respondents action erodes rather than enhances public perception of
retaliation, since they had earlier filed administrative cases against him the legal profession. It constitutes gross misconduct for which he may be
that resulted in his dismissal from the judiciary. Complainants assert that suspended, following Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, which
due to the complaints filed against them, they suffered much moral, provides:
mental, physical, and financial damage. They claim that their children SEC. 27. Disbarment or suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court,
had to stop going to school since the family funds were used up in grounds therefor. -- A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended
attending to their cases. from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
For his part, respondent contends that the grounds mentioned in the malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
administrative cases in which he was dismissed and his benefits forfeited conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
did not constitute moral turpitude. Hence, he could not be disbarred turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
therefor. He then argues that none of the complaints he filed against before admission to practice, or for a wilful disobedience appearing as
complainants was manufactured. He adds that he was so unlucky that an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. xxx
Saburnido was not convicted.[9] He claims that the complaint for serious Complainants ask that respondent be disbarred. However, we find that
irregularity against Venustiano Saburnido was dismissed only because suspension from the practice of law is sufficient to discipline respondent.
the latter was able to antedate an entry in the police blotter stating that The supreme penalty of disbarment is meted out only in clear cases of
his service firearm was lost. He also points out that Venustiano was misconduct that seriously affect the standing and character of the lawyer
suspended when a prisoner escaped during his watch. As for his as an officer of the court.[12] While we will not hesitate to remove an erring
complaint against Rosalia Saburnido, respondent contends that by attorney from the esteemed brotherhood of lawyers, where the evidence
mentioning this case in the present complaint, Rosalia wants to deprive calls for it, we will also not disbar him where a lesser penalty will suffice
him of his right to call the attention of the proper authorities to a violation to accomplish the desired end.[13] In this case, we find suspension to be
of the Election Code. a sufficient sanction against respondent. Suspension, we may add, is not
In their reply, complainants reiterate their charge that the cases against primarily intended as a punishment, but as a means to protect the public
them were meant only to harass them. In addition, Rosalia Saburnido and the legal profession.[14]
stressed that she served in the BEI in 1995 only because the supposed WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Florante E. Madroo is found GUILTY of
chairperson was indisposed. She stated that she told the other BEI gross misconduct and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for one
members and the pollwatchers that she was related to one candidate year with a WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar act will be
and that she would desist from serving if anyone objected.Since nobody dealt with more severely. Respondents suspension is effective upon his
objected, she proceeded to dispense her duties as BEI chairperson. She receipt of notice of this decision. Let notice of this decision be spread in
added that her relative lost in that election while respondents son won. respondents record as an attorney in this Court, and notice of the same
In a resolution dated May 22, 1996,[10] we referred this matter to the served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and on the Office of the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report, and Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts concerned.
recommendation. SO ORDERED.
In its report submitted to this Court on October 16, 2000, the IBP noted PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, A.C. No. 6672
that respondent and his counsel failed to appear and present evidence Complainant,
Page 65

in the hearing of the case set for January 26, 2000, despite notice. Thus, - v e r s u s -.
respondent was considered to have waived his right to present evidence ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO,

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Respondent. canons[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover,
Promulgated: he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or
September 4, 2009 through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138 [12] of
the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be
x-----------------------------------------x reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a
heavier penalty.
RESOLUTION We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent
but we modify the recommended penalty.
CORONA, J.: The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent
into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the
CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said
This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to,
Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known.
services. Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie
Labiano, convinced his clients[2] to transfer legal representation. CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES
Respondent promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND
collection on their claims.[4] To induce them to hire his services, he OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
persistently called them and sent them text messages. Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a
profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents
To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn as merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his
affidavit[5] of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the
him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently
respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000. render that high character of service to which every member of the bar
Complainant also attached respondents calling card:[6] is called.[14]

Front Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides:

NICOMEDES TOLENTINO RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE


LAW OFFFICE ANY ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS.
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers.[15] Such
Fe Marie L. Labiano actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.[16]
Paralegal
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 Tel: 362-7820 provides:
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Fax: (632) 362-7821
Grace Park, Caloocan City Cel.: (0926) 2701719 RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE
OR INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR
DELAY ANY MANS CAUSE.

Back
SERVICES OFFERED: This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN order to gain employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT, from barratry and champerty.[18]
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to
ABROAD. respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal
(emphasis supplied) business as well as profited from referrals suits.
Hence, this complaint.
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he
printing and circulation of the said calling card.[7] later admitted it during the mandatory hearing.
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited.
recommendation.[8] Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result.
Page 66

and recommendation,[9] found that respondent had encroached on the


professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02[10] and other

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment (d) telephone number and
violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section (e) special branch of law practiced.[28]
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is
the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance.
the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had
reduced fees for his services.[20] Again the Court notes that respondent representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance
never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their
benefits from Labianos referrals. Furthermore, he never denied Labianos original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and
connection to his office.[21] Respondent committed an unethical, emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity
predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the
liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR. absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible
borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04: for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating
clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of
independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses Court is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one
in a legal matter he is handling for the client. year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the
exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary future shall be dealt with more severely.
expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of
stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of
matter that he is handling for the client. the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so Administrator to be circulated to all courts.
that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.[22] It
seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well SO ORDERED.
as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends
money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in RULE 1.04: ENCOURAGE CLIENT TO AVOID CONTROVERSY
effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an A lawyer shall encourage his clients to avoid, end or settle a
additional stake in its outcome.[23] Either of these circumstances may controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement.
lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client,
or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict G.R. No. 104599 March 11, 1994
to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to JON DE YSASI III, petitioner,
the clients cause.[24] vs.
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS COMMISSION (FOURTH DIVISION),
malpractice[25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary CEBU CITY, and JON DE YSASI,respondents.
powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions F.B. Santiago, Nalus & Associates for petitioner.
for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining Ismael A. Serfino for private respondent.
employment.[26] Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect
the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers REGALADO, J.:
and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession. The adage that blood is thicker than water obviously stood for naught in
this case, notwithstanding the vinculum of paternity and filiation between
Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of the parties. It would indeed have been the better part of reason if herein
the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended petitioner and private respondent had reconciled their differences in an
by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed extrajudicial atmosphere of familial amity and with the grace of reciprocal
penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings. concessions. Father and son opted instead for judicial intervention
despite the inevitable acrimony and negative publicity. Albeit with
A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by distaste, the Court cannot proceed elsewise but to resolve their dispute
petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for with the same reasoned detachment accorded any judicial proceeding
professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and before it.
conduct.[27] For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their The records of this case reveal that petitioner was employed by his
services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional father, herein private respondent, as farm administrator of Hacienda
cards. Manucao in Hinigaran, Negros Occidental sometime in April, 1980. Prior
Professional calling cards may only contain the following details: thereto, he was successively employed as sales manager of Triumph
International (Phil.), Inc. and later as operations manager of Top Form
(a) lawyers name; Manufacturing (Phil.), Inc. His employment as farm administrator was on
Page 67

(b) name of the law firm with which he is connected; a fixed salary, with other allowances covering housing, food, light, power,
(c) address; telephone, gasoline, medical and dental expenses.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
As farm administrator, petitioner was responsible for the supervision of Before proceeding with a discussion of the issues, the observation of the
daily activities and operations of the sugarcane farm such as land labor arbiter is worth noting:
preparation, planting, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting, dealing with third This case is truly unique. What makes this case unique is the fact that
persons in all matters relating to the hacienda and attending to such because of the special relationship of the parties and the nature of the
other tasks as may be assigned to him by private respondent. For this action involved, this case could very well go down (in) the annals of the
purpose, he lived on the farm, occupying the upper floor of the house Commission as perhaps the first of its kind. For this case is an action
there. filed by an only son, his father's namesake, the only child and therefore
Following his marriage on June 6, 1982, petitioner moved to Bacolod City the only heir against his own father. 9
with his wife and commuted to work daily. He suffered various ailments Additionally, the Solicitor General remarked:
and was hospitalized on two separate occasions in June and August, . . . After an exhaustive reading of the records, two (2) observations were
1982. In November, 1982, he underwent fistulectomy, or the surgical noted that may justify why this labor case deserves special
removal of the fistula, a deep sinuous ulcer. During his recuperation considerations. First, most of the complaints that petitioner and private
which lasted over four months, he was under the care of Dr. Patricio Tan. respondent had with each other, were personal matters affecting father
In June, 1983, he was confined for acute gastroenteritis and, thereafter, and son relationship. And secondly, if any of the complaints pertain to
for infectious hepatitis from December, 1983 to January, 1984. their work, they allow their personal relationship to come in the way. 10
During the entire periods of petitioner's illnesses, private respondent took I. Petitioner maintains that his dismissal from employment was illegal
care of his medical expenses and petitioner continued to receive because of want of just cause therefor and non-observance of the
compensation. However, in April, 1984, without due notice, private requirements of due process. He also charges the NLRC with grave
respondent ceased to pay the latter's salary. Petitioner made oral and abuse of discretion in relying upon the findings of the executive labor
written demands for an explanation for the sudden withholding of his arbiter who decided the case but did not conduct the hearings thereof.
salary from Atty. Apolonio Sumbingco, private respondent's auditor and Private respondent, in refutation, avers that there was abandonment by
legal adviser, as well as for the remittance of his salary. Both demands, petitioner of his functions as farm administrator, thereby arming private
however, were not acted upon. respondent with a ground to terminate his employment at Hacienda
Petitioner then filed an action with the National Labor Relations Manucao. It is also contended that it is wrong for petitioner to question
Commission (NLRC, for brevity), Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI, the factual findings of the executive labor arbiter and the NLRC as only
Bacolod City, on October 17, 1984, docketed therein as RAB Case No. questions of law may be appealed for resolution by this Court.
0452-84, against private respondent for illegal dismissal with prayer for Furthermore, in seeking the dismissal of the instant petition, private
reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and payment of full back respondent faults herein petitioner for failure to refer to the
wages, thirteenth month pay for 1983, consequential, moral and corresponding pages of the transcripts of stenographic notes,
exemplary damages, as well as attorney's fees. erroneously citing Sections 15(d) and 16(d), Rule 44 (should be Section
On July 31, 1991, said complaint for illegal dismissal was dismissed by 16[c] and [d],
the NLRC, 1 holding that petitioner abandoned his work and that the Rule 46 and Section 1[g], Rule 50) of the Rules of Court, which provide
termination of his employment was for a valid cause, but ordering private that want of page references to the records is a ground for dismissal of
respondent to pay petitioner the amount of P5,000.00 as penalty for his an appeal.
failure to serve notice of said termination of employment to the Prefatorily, we take advertence of the provisions of Article 221 of the
Department of Labor and Employment as required by Batas Pambansa Labor Code that technical rules of evidence prevailing in courts of law
Blg. 130 and consonant with this Court's ruling in Wenphil Corporation and equity shall not be controlling, and that every and all reasonable
vs. National Labor Relations Commission, et al. 2 On appeal to the means to speedily and objectively ascertain the facts in each case shall
Fourth Division of the NLRC, Cebu City, said decision was affirmed in be availed of, without regard to technicalities of law or procedure in the
toto. 3 interest of due process.
His motion for reconsideration 4 of said decision having been denied for It is settled that it is not procedurally objectionable for the decision in a
lack of merit, 5 petitioner filed this petition presenting the following issues case to be rendered by a judge, or a labor arbiter for that matter, other
for resolution: (1) whether or not the petitioner was illegally dismissed; than the one who conducted the hearing. The fact that the judge who
(2) whether or not he is entitled to reinstatement, payment of back heard the case was not the judge who penned the decision does not
wages, thirteenth month pay and other benefits; and (3) whether or not impair the validity of the judgment, 11 provided that he draws up his
he is entitled to payment of moral and exemplary damages and decision and resolution with due care and makes certain that they truly
attorney's fees because of illegal dismissal. The discussion of these and accurately reflect conclusions and final dispositions on the bases of
issues will necessarily subsume the corollary questions presented by the facts of and evidence submitted in the case. 12
private respondent, such as the exact date when petitioner ceased to Thus, the mere fact that the case was initially assigned to Labor Arbiter
function as farm administrator, the character of the pecuniary amounts Ricardo T. Octavio, who conducted the hearings therein from December
received by petitioner from private respondent, that is, whether the same 5, 1984 to July 11, 1985, and was later transferred to Executive Labor
are in the nature of salaries or pensions, and whether or not there was Arbiter Oscar S. Uy, who eventually decided the case, presents no
abandonment by petitioner of his functions as farm administrator. procedural infirmity, especially considering that there is a presumption of
In his manifestation dated September 14, 1992, the Solicitor General regularity in the performance of a public officer's functions, 13 which
recommended a modification of the decision of herein public respondent petitioner has not successfully rebutted.
sustaining the findings and conclusions of the Executive Labor Arbiter in We are constrained to heed the underlying policy in the Labor Code
RAB Case No. 0452-84, 6 for which reason the NLRC was required to relaxing the application of technical rules of procedure in labor cases in
submit its own comment on the petition. In compliance with the Court's the interest of due process, ever mindful of the long-standing legal
resolution of November 16, 1992, 7 NLRC filed its comment on February precept that rules of procedure must be interpreted to help secure, not
Page 68

12, 1992 largely reiterating its earlier position in support of the findings defeat, justice. For this reason, we cannot indulge private respondent in
of the Executive Labor Arbiter. 8 his tendency to nitpick on trivial technicalities to boost his arguments.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The strength of one's position cannot be hinged on mere procedural from work during the period of October 1982 to December 1982. In any
niceties but on solid bases in law and jurisprudence. event, such absence does not warrant outright dismissal without notice
The fundamental guarantees of security of tenure and due process and hearing.
dictate that no worker shall be dismissed except for just and authorized xxx xxx xxx
cause provided by law and after due process. 14 Article 282 of the Labor The elements of abandonment as a ground for dismissal of an employee
Code enumerates the causes for which an employer may validly are as follows:
terminate an employment, to wit: (1) failure to report for work or absence without valid or justifiable reason;
(a) serious misconduct or willful disobedience by the employee of the and (2) clear intention to sever the employer-employee tie (Samson
lawful orders of his employer or representative in connection with his Alcantara, Reviewer in Labor and Social Legislation, 1989 edition, p.
work; (b) gross and habitual neglect by the employee of his duties; (c) 133).
fraud or willful breach by the employee of the trust reposed in him by his This Honorable Court, in several cases, illustrates what constitute
employer or duly authorized representative; (d) commission of a crime abandonment. In Dagupan Bus Company v. NLRC (191 SCRA 328), the
or offense by the employee against the person of his employer or any Court rules that for abandonment to arise, there must be a concurrence
immediate member of his family or his duly authorized representative; of the intention to abandon and some overt act from which it may be
and (e) other causes analogous to the foregoing. inferred that the employee has no more interest to work. Similarly,
The employer may also terminate the services of any employee due to in Nueva Ecija I Electric Cooperative, Inc. v. NLRC(184 SCRA 25), for
the installation of labor saving devices, redundancy, retrenchment to abandonment to constitute a valid cause for termination of employment,
prevent losses or the closing or cessation of operation of the there must be a deliberate, unjustified refusal of the employee to resume
establishment or undertaking, unless the closing is for the purpose of his employment. . . Mere absence is not sufficient; it must be
circumventing the pertinent provisions of the Labor Code, by serving a accompanied by overt acts unerringly pointing to the fact that the
written notice on the workers and the Department of Labor and employee simply does not want to work anymore.
Employment at least one (1) month before the intended date thereof, with There are significant indications in this case, that there is no
due entitlement to the corresponding separation pay rates provided by abandonment. First, petitioner's absence and his decision to leave his
law.15 Suffering from a disease by reason whereof the continued residence inside Hacienda Manucao, is justified by his illness and
employment of the employee is prohibited by law or is prejudicial to his strained family relations. Second he has some medical certificates to
and his co-employee's health, is also a ground for termination of his show his frail health. Third, once able to work, petitioner wrote a letter
services provided he receives the prescribed separation pay. 16 On the (Annex "J") informing private respondent of his intention to assume again
other hand, it is well-settled that abandonment by an employee of his his employment. Last, but not the least, he at once instituted a complaint
work authorizes the employer to effect the former's dismissal from for illegal dismissal when he realized he was unjustly dismissed. All these
employment. 17 are indications that petitioner had no intention to abandon his
After a careful review of the records of this case, we find that public employment. 20
respondent gravely erred in affirming the decision of the executive labor The records show that the parties herein do not dispute the fact of
arbiter holding that petitioner abandoned his employment and was not petitioner's confinement in the hospital for his various afflictions which
illegally dismissed from such employment. For want of substantial bases, required medical treatment. Neither can it be denied that private
in fact or respondent was well aware of petitioner's state of health as the former
in law, we cannot give the stamp of finality and conclusiveness normally admittedly shouldered part of the medical and hospital bills and even
accorded to the factual findings of an administrative agency, such as advised the latter to stay in Bacolod City until he was fit to work again.
herein public respondent NLRC, 18 as even decisions of administrative The disagreement as to whether or not petitioner's ailments were so
agencies which are declared "final" by law are not exempt from judicial serious as to necessitate hospitalization and corresponding periods for
review when so warranted. 19 recuperation is beside the point. The fact remains that on account of said
The following perceptive disquisitions of the Solicitor General on this illnesses, the details of which were amply substantiated by the attending
point deserve acceptance: physician, 21 and as the records are bereft of any suggestion of
It is submitted that the absences of petitioner in his work from October malingering on the part of petitioner, there was justifiable cause for
1982 to December 1982, cannot be construed as abandonment of work petitioner's absence from work. We repeat, it is clear, deliberate and
because he has a justifiable excuse. Petitioner was suffering from unjustified refusal to resume employment and not mere absence that is
perennial abscess in the peri-anal around the anus and fistula under the required to constitute abandonment as a valid ground for termination of
medical attention of Dr. Patricio Tan of Riverside Medical Center, Inc., employment. 22
Bacolod City (Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, February 19, 1986 at 20-44). With his position as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao, petitioner
This fact (was) duly communicated to private respondent by medical bills unmistakably may be classified as a managerial employee 23 to whom
sent to Hacienda Manucao (Tsn, Vol. III, Dr. Tan, January 22, 1987 at the law grants an amount of discretion in the discharge of his duties. This
49-50). is why when petitioner stated that "I assigned myself where I want to
During the period of his illness and recovery, petitioner stayed in Bacolod go," 24 he was simply being candid about what he could do within the
City upon the instruction(s) of private respondent to recuperate thereat sphere of his authority. His duties as farm administrator did not strictly
and to handle only administrative matters of the hacienda in that city. As require him to keep regular hours or to be at the office premises at all
a manager, petitioner is not really obliged to live and stay 24 hours a day times, or to be subjected to specific control from his employer in every
inside Hacienda Manucao. aspect of his work. What is essential only is that he runs the farm as
xxx xxx xxx efficiently and effectively as possible and, while petitioner may definitely
After evaluating the evidence within the context of the special not qualify as a model employee, in this regard he proved to be quite
circumstances involved and basic human experience, petitioner's illness successful, as there was at least a showing of increased production
Page 69

and strained family relation with respondent Jon de Ysasi II may be during the time that petitioner was in charge of farm operations.
considered as justifiable reason for petitioner Jon de Ysasi III's absence

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
If, as private respondent contends, he had no control over petitioner or justifiable reason, and (2) a clear intention to sever the employer-
during the years 1983 to 1984, this is because that was the period when employee relationship, with the second element as the more
petitioner was recuperating from illness and on account of which his determinative factor and being manifested by some overt acts. Such
attendance and direct involvement in farm operations were irregular and intent we find dismally wanting in this case.
minimal, hence the supervision and control exercisable by private It will be recalled that private respondent himself admitted being unsure
respondent as employer was necessarily limited. It goes without saying of his son's plans of returning to work. The absence of petitioner from
that the control contemplated refers only to matters relating to his work since mid-1982, prolonged though it may have been, was not
functions as farm administrator and could not extend to petitioner's without valid causes of which private respondent had full knowledge. As
personal affairs and activities. to what convinced or led him to believe that petitioner was no longer
While it was taken for granted that for purposes of discharging his duties returning to work, private respondent neither explains nor substantiates
as farm administrator, petitioner would be staying at the house in the by any reasonable basis how he arrived at such a conclusion.
farm, there really was no explicit contractual stipulation (as there was no Moreover, private respondent's claim of abandonment cannot be given
formal employment contract to begin with) requiring him to stay therein credence as even after January, 1983, when private respondent
for the duration of his employment or that any transfer of residence would supposedly "became convinced" that petitioner would no longer work at
justify the termination of his employment. That petitioner changed his the farm, the latter continued to perform services directly required by his
residence should not be taken against him, as this is undeniably among position as farm administrator. These are duly and correspondingly
his basic rights, nor can such fact of transfer of residence per se be a evidenced by such acts as picking up some farm machinery/equipment
valid ground to terminate an employer-employee relationship. from G.A. Machineries, Inc., 28 claiming and paying for additional farm
Private respondent, in his pleadings, asserted that as he was yet equipment and machinery shipped by said firm from Manila to Bacolod
uncertain of his son's intention of returning to work after his confinement through Zip Forwarders, 29 getting the payment of the additional cash
in the hospital, he kept petitioner on the payroll, reported him as an advances for molasses for crop year 1983-1984 from Agrotex
employee of thehacienda for social security purposes, and paid his Commodities, Inc., 30 and remitting to private respondent through
salaries and benefits with the mandated deductions therefrom until the Atty. Sumbingco the sums collected along with receipts for medicine and
end of December, 1982. It was only in January, 1983 when he became oil. 31
convinced that petitioner would no longer return to work that he It will be observed that all of these chores, which petitioner took care of,
considered the latter to have abandoned his work and, for this reason, relate to the normal activities and operations of the farm. True, it is a
no longer listed him as an employee. According to private respondent, father's prerogative to request or even command his child to run errands
whatever amount of money was given to petitioner from that time until for him. In the present case, however, considering the nature of these
April, 1984 was in the nature of a pension or an allowance or mere transactions, as well as the property values and monetary sums
gratuitous doles from a father to a son, and not salaries as, in fact, none involved, it is unlikely that private respondent would leave the matter to
of the usual deductions were made therefrom. It was only in April, 1984 just anyone. Prudence dictates that these matters be handled by
that private respondent completely stopped giving said pension or someone who can be trusted or at least be held accountable therefor,
allowance when he was angered by what he heard petitioner had been and who is familiar with the terms, specifications and other details
saying about sending him to jail. relative thereto, such as an employee. If indeed petitioner had
Private respondent capitalizes on the testimony of one Manolo Gomez abandoned his job or was considered to have done so by private
taken on oral deposition regarding petitioner's alleged statement to him, respondent, it would be awkward, or even out of place, to expect or to
"(h)e quemado los (p)ue(n)tes de Manucao" ("I have burned my bridges oblige petitioner to concern himself with matters relating to or expected
with Manucao") as expressive of petitioner's intention to abandon his job. of him with respect to what would then be his past and terminated
In addition to insinuations of sinister motives on the part of petitioner in employment. It is hard to imagine what further authority an employer can
working at the farm and thereafter abandoning the job upon have over a dismissed employee so as to compel him to continue to
accomplishment of his objectives, private respondent takes the novel perform work-related tasks:
position that the agreement to support his son after the latter abandoned It is also significant that the special power of attorney 32 executed
the administration of the farm legally converts the initial abandonment to by private respondent on June 26, 1980 in favor of petitioner, specifically
implied voluntary resignation. 25 stating
As earlier mentioned, petitioner ripostes that private respondent xxx xxx xxx
undoubtedly knew about petitioner's illness and even paid for his hospital That I, JON de YSASI, Filipino, of legal age, married, and a resident of
and other medical bills. The assertion regarding abandonment of work, Hda. Manucao, hereinafter called and referred to as PRINCIPAL, am a
petitioner argues, is further belied by his continued performance of sugarcane planter, BISCOM Mill District, and a duly accredited planter-
various services related to the operations of the farm from May to the member of the BINALBAGAN-ISABELA PLANTERS' ASSOCIATION,
last quarter of 1983, his persistent inquiries from his father's accountant INC.;
and legal adviser about the reason why his pension or allowance was That as such planter-member of BIPA, I have check/checks with BIPA
discontinued since April, 1984, and his indication of having recovered representing payment for all checks and papers to which I am entitled to
and his willingness and capability to resume his work at the farm as (sic) as such planter-member;
expressed in a letter dated September 14, 1984. 26 With these, petitioner That I have named, appointed and constituted as by these presents
contends that it is immaterial how the monthly pecuniary amounts are I HEREBY NAME, APPOINT AND CONSTITUTE as my true and lawful
designated, whether as salary, pension or allowance, with or without ATTORNEY-IN-FACT
deductions, as he was entitled thereto in view of his continued service JON de YSASI III
as farm administrator. 27 whose specimen signature is hereunder affixed, TO GET FOR ME and
To stress what was earlier mentioned, in order that a finding of in my name, place and stead, my check/checks aforementioned, said
Page 70

abandonment may justly be made there must be a concurrence of two ATTORNEY-IN-FACT being herein given the power and authority to sign
elements, viz.: (1) the failure to report for work or absence without valid for me and in my name, place and stead, the receipt or receipts or payroll

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
for the said check/checks. PROVIDED, HOWEVER, that my said enumerated under Article 282 of the Labor Code, but not to the situation
ATTORNEY-IN-FACT cannot cash the said check/checks, but to turn the obtaining in this case where private respondent did not dismiss petitioner
same over to me for my proper disposition. on any ground since it was petitioner who allegedly abandoned his
That I HEREBY RATIFY AND CONFIRM the acts of my employment. 40
Attorney-in-Fact in getting the said check/checks and signing the The due process requirements of notice and hearing applicable to labor
receipts therefor. cases are set out in Rule XIV, Book V of the Omnibus Rules
That I further request that my said check/checks be made a "CROSSED Implementing the Labor Code in this wise:
CHECK". Sec. 2. Notice of Dismissal. Any employer who seeks to dismiss a
xxx xxx xxx worker shall furnish him a written notice stating the particular acts or
remained in force even after petitioner's employment was supposed to omission(s) constituting the grounds for his dismissal. In cases of
have been terminated by reason of abandonment. Furthermore, abandonment of work, notice shall be served at the worker's last known
petitioner's numerous requests for an explanation regarding the address.
stoppage of his salaries and benefits, 33 the issuance of withholding tax xxx xxx xxx
reports, 34 as well as correspondence reporting his full recovery and Sec. 5. Answer and hearing. The worker may answer the allegations
readiness to go back to work, 35 and, specifically, his filing of the as stated against him in the notice of dismissal within a reasonable
complaint for illegal dismissal are hardly the acts of one who has period from receipt of such notice. The employer shall afford the worker
abandoned his work. ample opportunity to be heard and to defend himself with the assistance
We are likewise not impressed by the deposition of Manolo Gomez, as of his representative, if he so desires.
witness for private respondent, ascribing statements to petitioner Sec. 6. Decision to dismiss. The employer shall immediately notify a
supposedly indicative of the latter's intention to abandon his work. We worker in writing of a decision to dismiss him stating clearly the reasons
perceive the irregularity in the taking of such deposition without the therefor.
presence of petitioner's counsel, and the failure of private respondent to Sec. 7. Right to contest dismissal. Any decision taken by the employer
serve reasonably advance notice of its taking to said counsel, thereby shall be without prejudice to the right of the worker to contest the validity
foreclosing his opportunity to or legality of his dismissal by filing a complaint with the Regional Branch
cross-examine the deponent. Private respondent also failed to serve of the Commission.
notice thereof on the Regional Arbitration Branch No. VI of the NLRC, as xxx xxx xxx
certified to by Administrative Assistant Celestina G. Ovejera of said Sec. 11. Report of dismissal. The employer shall submit a monthly
office. 36 Fair play dictates that at such an important stage of the report to the Regional Office having jurisdiction over the place of work at
proceedings, which involves the taking of testimony, both parties must all dismissals effected by him during the month, specifying therein the
be afforded equal opportunity to examine and cross-examine a witness. names of the dismissed workers, the reasons for their dismissal, the
As to the monthly monetary amounts given to petitioner, whether dates of commencement and termination of employment, the positions
denominated as salary, pension, allowance orex gratia handout, there is last held by them and such other information as may be required by the
no question as to petitioner's entitlement thereto inasmuch as he Ministry for policy guidance and statistical purposes.
continued to perform services in his capacity as farm administrator. The Private respondent's argument is without merit as there can be no
change in description of said amounts contained in the pay slips or in the question that petitioner was denied his right to due process since he was
receipts prepared by private respondent cannot be deemed to be never given any notice about his impending dismissal and the grounds
determinative of petitioner's employment status in view of the peculiar therefor, much less a chance to be heard. Even as private respondent
circumstances above set out. Besides, if such amounts were truly in the controverts the applicability of the mandatory twin requirements of
nature of allowances given by a parent out of concern for his child's procedural due process in this particular case, he in effect admits that no
welfare, it is rather unusual that receipts therefor 37 should be necessary notice was served by him on petitioner. This fact is corroborated by the
and required as if they were ordinary business expenditures. certification issued on September 5, 1984 by the Regional Director for
Neither can we subscribe to private respondent's theory that petitioner's Region VI of the Department of Labor that no notice of termination of the
alleged abandonment was converted into an implied voluntary employment of petitioner was submitted thereto. 41
resignation on account of the father's agreement to support his son after Granting arguendo that there was abandonment in this case, it
the latter abandoned his work. As we have determined that no nonetheless cannot be denied that notice still had to be served upon the
abandonment took place in this case, the monthly sums received by employee sought to be dismissed, as the second sentence of Section 2
petitioner, regardless of designation, were in consideration for services of the pertinent implementing rules explicitly requires service thereof at
rendered emanating from an employer-employee relationship and were the employee's last known address, by way of substantial compliance.
not of a character that can qualify them as mere civil support given out While it is conceded that it is the employer's prerogative to terminate an
of parental duty and solicitude. We are also hard put to imagine how employee, especially when there is just cause therefor, the requirements
abandonment can be impliedly converted into a voluntary resignation of due process cannot be lightly taken. The law does not countenance
without any positive act on the part of the employee conveying a desire the arbitrary exercise of such a power or prerogative when it has the
to terminate his employment. The very concept of resignation as a effect of undermining the fundamental guarantee of security of tenure in
ground for termination by the employee of his employment38 does not favor of the employee. 42
square with the elements constitutive of abandonment. On the executive labor arbiter's misplaced reliance on the Wenphil case,
On procedural considerations, petitioner posits that there was a violation the Solicitor General rejoins as follows:
by private respondent of the due process requirements under the Labor The Labor Arbiter held thus:
Code for want of notice and hearing. 39 Private respondent, in opposition, While we are in full agreement with the respondent as to his defense of
argues that Section 2, Rule XIV, Book V of the Omnibus Rules implied resignation and/or abandonment, records somehow showed that
Page 71

Implementing the Labor Code applies only to cases where the employer he failed to notify the Department of
seeks to terminate the services of an employee on any of the grounds Labor and Employment for his sons' (sic)/complainants' (sic)

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
aba(n)donment as required by BP 130. And for this failure, the other Honorable Court held that when it comes to reinstatement, differences
requisite for a valid termination by an employer was not complied with. should be made between managers and the ordinary workingmen. The
This however, would not work to invalidate the otherwise (sic) existence Court concluded that a company which no longer trusts its managers
of a valid cause for dismissal. The validity of the cause of dismissal must cannot operate freely in a competitive and profitable manner. The NLRC
be upheld at all times provided however that sanctions must be imposed should know the difference between managers and ordinary
on the respondent for his failure to observe the notice on due process workingmen. It cannot imprudently order the reinstatement of managers
requirement. (Wenphil Corp. v. NLRC, G.R. No. 80587). (Decision Labor with the same ease and liberality as that of rank and file workers who
Arbiter, at 11-12, Annex "C" Petition), . . . had been terminated. Similarly, a reinstatement may not be appropriate
This is thus a very different case from Wenphil Corporation v. NLRC, 170 or feasible in case of antipathy or antagonism between the parties
SCRA 69. In Wenphil, the rule applied to the facts is: once an employee (Morales, vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295).
is dismissed for just cause, he must not be rewarded In the present case, it is submitted that petitioner should not be reinstated
re-employment and backwages for failure of his employer to observe as farm administrator of Hacienda Manucao. The present relationship of
procedural due process. The public policy behind this is that, it may petitioner and private respondent (is) so strained that a harmonious and
encourage the employee to do even worse and render a mockery of the peaceful employee-employer relationship is hardly possible. 49
rules of discipline required to be observed. However, the employer must III. Finally, petitioner insists on an award of moral damages, arguing that
be penalized for his infraction of due process. In the present case, his dismissal from employment was attended by bad faith or fraud, or
however, not only was petitioner dismissed without due process, but his constituted oppression, or was contrary to morals, good customs or
dismissal is without just cause. Petitioner did not abandon his public policy. He further prays for exemplary damages to serve as a
employment because he has a justifiable excuse. 43 deterrent against similar acts of unjust dismissal by other employers.
II. Petitioner avers that the executive labor arbiter erred in disregarding Moral damages, under Article 2217 of the Civil Code, may be awarded
the mandatory provisions of Article 279 of the Labor Code which entitles to compensate one for diverse injuries such as mental anguish,
an illegally dismissed employee to reinstatement and back wages and, besmirched reputation, wounded feelings, and social humiliation,
instead, affirmed the imposition of the penalty of P5,000.00 on private provided that such injuries spring from a wrongful act or omission of the
respondent for violation of the due process requirements. Private defendant which was the proximate cause thereof. 50Exemplary
respondent, for his part, maintains that there was error in imposing the damages, under Article 2229, are imposed by way of example or
fine because that penalty contemplates the failure to submit the correction for the public good, in addition to moral, temperate, liquidated
employer's report on dismissed employees to the DOLE regional office, or compensatory damages. They are not recoverable as a matter of right,
as required under Section 5 (now, Section 11), Rule XIV of the it being left to the court to decide whether or not they should be
implementing rules, and not the failure to serve notice upon the adjudicated. 51
employee sought to be dismissed by the employer. We are well aware of the Court's rulings in a number of cases in the past
Both the Constitution and the Labor Code enunciate in no uncertain allowing recovery of moral damages where the dismissal of the
terms the right of every worker to security of tenure. 44 To give teeth to employee was attended by bad faith or fraud, or constituted an act
this constitutional and statutory mandates, the Labor Code spells out the oppressive to labor, or was done in a manner contrary to morals, good
relief available to an employee in case of its denial: customs or public policy, 52 and of exemplary damages if the dismissal
Art. 279. Security of Tenure. In cases of regular employment, the was effected in a wanton, oppressive or malevolent manner. 53 We do
employer shall not terminate the services of an employee except for a not feel, however, that an award of the damages prayed for in this petition
just cause or when authorized by this Title. An employee who is unjustly would be proper even if, seemingly, the facts of the case justify their
dismissed from work shall be entitled to reinstatement without loss of allowance. In the aforestated cases of illegal dismissal where moral and
seniority rights and other privileges and to his full backwages, inclusive exemplary damages were awarded, the dismissed employees were
of allowances, and to his other benefits of their monetary equivalent genuinely without fault and were undoubtedly victims of the erring
computed from the time his compensation was withheld from him up to employers' capricious exercise of power.
the time of actual reinstatement. In the present case, we find that both petitioner and private respondent
Clearly, therefore, an employee is entitled to reinstatement with full back can equally be faulted for fanning the flames which gave rise to and
wages in the absence of just cause for dismissal. 45 The Court, however, ultimately aggravated this controversy, instead of sincerely negotiating a
on numerous occasions has tempered the rigid application of said peaceful settlement of their disparate claims. The records reveal how
provision of the Labor Code, recognizing that in some cases certain their actuations seethed with mutual antagonism and the undeniable
events may have transpired as would militate against the practicability of enmity between them negates the likelihood that either of them acted in
granting the relief thereunder provided, and declares that where there good faith. It is apparent that each one has a cause for damages against
are strained relations between the employer and the employee, payment the other. For this reason, we hold that no moral or exemplary damages
of back wages and severance pay may be awarded instead of can rightfully be awarded to petitioner.
reinstatement, 46 and more particularly when managerial employees are On this score, we are once again persuaded by the validity of the
concerned. 47 Thus, where reinstatement is no longer possible, it is following recommendation of the Solicitor General:
therefore appropriate that the dismissed employee be given his fair and The Labor Arbiter's decision in RAB Case No. 0452-84 should be
just share of what the law accords him. 48 modified. There was no voluntary abandonment in this case because
We note with favor and give our imprimatur to the Solicitor General's petitioner has a justifiable excuse for his absence, or such absence does
ratiocination, to wit: not warrant outright dismissal without notice and hearing. Private
As a general rule, an employee who is unjustly dismissed from work shall respondent, therefore, is guilty of illegal dismissal. He should be ordered
be entitled to reinstatement without loss of seniority rights and to his to pay backwages for a period not exceeding three years from date of
backwages computed from the time his compensation was withheld up dismissal. And in lieu of reinstatement, petitioner may be paid separation
Page 72

to the time of his reinstatement. (Morales vs. NLRC, 188 SCRA 295). But pay equivalent to one (1) month('s) salary for every year of service, a
in Pacific Cement Company, Inc. vs. NLRC, 173 SCRA 192, this fraction of six months being considered as one (1) year in accordance

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
with recent jurisprudence (Tan, Jr. vs. NLRC, 183 SCRA 651). But all PASTOR D. AGO, LOURDES YU AGO and THE COURT OF
claims for damages should be dismissed, for both parties are equally at APPEALS, respondents.
fault. 54 Quijano and Arroyo for petitioners.
The conduct of the respective counsel of the parties, as revealed by the Jose M. Luison for respondents.
records, sorely disappoints the Court and invites reproof. Both counsel
may well be reminded that their ethical duty as lawyers to represent their CASTRO, J.:
clients with The parties in this case, except Lourdes Yu Ago, have been commuting
zeal 55 goes beyond merely presenting their clients' respective causes in to this Court for more than a decade.
court. It is just as much their responsibility, if not more importantly, to In 1955 the petitioners Venancio Castaeda and Nicetas Henson filed a
exert all reasonable efforts to smooth over legal conflicts, preferably out replevin suit against Pastor Ago in the Court of First Instance of Manila
of court and especially in consideration of the direct and immediate to recover certain machineries (civil case 27251). In 1957 judgment was
consanguineous ties between their clients. Once again, we reiterate that rendered in favor of the plaintiffs, ordering Ago to return the machineries
the useful function of a lawyer is not only to conduct litigation but to avoid or pay definite sums of money. Ago appealed, and on June 30, 1961 this
it whenever possible by advising settlement or withholding suit. He is Court, in Ago vs. Castaeda, L-14066, affirmed the judgment. After
often called upon less for dramatic forensic exploits than for wise counsel remand, the trial court issued on August 25, 1961 a writ of execution for
in every phase of life. He should be a mediator for concord and a the sum of P172,923.87. Ago moved for a stay of execution but his
conciliator for compromise, rather than a virtuoso of technicality in the motion was denied, and levy was made on Ago's house and lots located
conduct of litigation. 56 in Quezon City. The sheriff then advertised them for auction sale on
Rule 1.04 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly provides October 25, 1961. Ago moved to stop the auction sale, failing in which
that "(a) lawyer shall encourage his client to avoid, end or settle the he filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals. The appellate
controversy if it will admit of a fair settlement." On this point, we find that court dismissed the petition and Ago appealed. On January 31,1966 this
both counsel herein fell short of what was expected of them, despite their Court, in Ago vs. Court of Appeals, et al., L-19718, affirmed the
avowed duties as officers of the court. The records do not show that they dismissal. Ago thrice attempted to obtain a writ of preliminary injunction
took pains to initiate steps geared toward effecting a rapprochement to restrain the sheriff from enforcing the writ of execution "to save his
between their clients. On the contrary, their acerbic and protracted family house and lot;" his motions were denied, and the sheriff sold the
exchanges could not but have exacerbated the situation even as they house and lots on March 9, 1963 to the highest bidders, the petitioners
may have found favor in the equally hostile eyes of their respective Castaeda and Henson. Ago failed to redeem, and on April 17, 1964 the
clients. sheriff executed the final deed of sale in favor of the vendees Castaeda
In the same manner, we find that the labor arbiter who handled this and Henson. Upon their petition, the Court of First Instance
regrettable case has been less than faithful to the letter and spirit of the of Manila issued a writ of possession to the properties.
Labor Code mandating that a labor arbiter "shall exert all efforts towards However, on May 2, 1964 Pastor Ago, now joined by his wife, Lourdes
the amicable settlement of a labor dispute within his jurisdiction." 57 If he Yu Ago, as his co-plaintiff, filed a complaint in the Court of First Instance
ever did so, or at least entertained the thought, the copious records of of Quezon City (civil case Q-7986) to annul the sheriff's sale on the
the proceedings in this controversy are barren of any reflection of the ground that the obligation of Pastor Ago upon which judgment was
same. rendered against him in the replevin suit was his personal obligation, and
One final word. This is one decision we do not particularly relish having that Lourdes Yu Ago's one-half share in their conjugal residential house
been obliged to make. The task of resolving cases involving disputes and lots which were levied upon and sold by the sheriff could not legally
among members of a family leaves a bad taste in the mouth and an be reached for the satisfaction of the judgment. They alleged in their
aversion in the mind, for no truly meaningful and enduring resolution is complaint that wife Lourdes was not a party in the replevin suit, that the
really achieved in such situations. While we are convinced that we have judgment was rendered and the writ of execution was issued only against
adjudicated the legal issues herein squarely on the bases of law and husband Pastor, and that wife Lourdes was not a party to her husband's
jurisprudence, sanssentimentality, we are saddened by the thought that venture in the logging business which failed and resulted in the replevin
we may have failed to bring about the reconciliation of the father and son suit and which did not benefit the conjugal partnership.
who figured as parties to this dispute, and that our adherence here to law The Court of First Instance of Quezon City issued an ex parte writ of
and duty may unwittingly contribute to the breaking, instead of the preliminary injunction restraining the petitioners, the Register of Deeds
strengthening, of familial bonds. In fine, neither of the parties herein and the sheriff of Quezon City, from registering the latter's final deed of
actually emerges victorious. It is the Court's earnest hope, therefore, that sale, from cancelling the respondents' certificates of title and issuing new
with the impartial exposition and extended explanation of their respective ones to the petitioners and from carrying out any writ of possession. A
rights in this decision, the parties may eventually see their way clear to situation thus arose where what the Manila court had ordered to be
an ultimate resolution of their differences on more convivial terms. done, the Quezon City court countermanded. On November 1, 1965,
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent National Labor Relations however, the latter court lifted the preliminary injunction it had previously
Commission is hereby SET ASIDE. Private respondent is ORDERED to issued, and the Register of deeds of Quezon City cancelled the
pay petitioner back wages for a period not exceeding three (3) years, respondents' certificates of title and issued new ones in favor of the
without qualification or deduction, 58 and, in lieu of reinstatement, petitioners. But enforcement of the writ of possession was again
separation pay equivalent to one (1) month for every year of service, a thwarted as the Quezon City court again issued a temporary restraining
fraction of six (6) months being considered as one (1) whole year. order which it later lifted but then re-restored. On May 3, 1967 the court
SO ORDERED. finally, and for the third time, lifted the restraining order.
While the battle on the matter of the lifting and restoring of the restraining
G.R. No. L-28546 July 30, 1975 order was being fought in the Quezon City court, the Agos filed a petition
Page 73

VENANCIO CASTANEDA and NICETAS HENSON, petitioners, for certiorari and prohibition with this Court under date of May 26, 1966,
vs. docketed as L-26116, praying for a writ of preliminary injunction to enjoin

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
the sheriff from enforcing the writ of possession. This Court found no belongs to Lourdes Yu Ago, considering that (1) a wife is normally privy
merit in the petition and dismissed it in a minute resolution on June 3, to her husband's activities; (2) the levy was made and the properties
1966; reconsideration was denied on July 18, 1966. The respondents advertised for auction sale in 1961; (3) she lives in the very properties in
then filed on August 2, 1966 a similar petition for certiorari and prohibition question; (4) her husband had moved to stop the auction sale; (5) the
with the Court of Appeals (CA-G.R. 37830-R), praying for the same properties were sold at auction in 1963; (6) her husband had thrice
preliminary injunction. The Court of Appeals also dismissed the petition. attempted to obtain a preliminary injunction to restrain the sheriff from
The respondents then appealed to this Court (L-27140).1wph1.t We enforcing the writ of execution; (7) the sheriff executed the deed of final
dismissed the petition in a minute resolution on February 8, 1967. sale on April 17, 1964 when Pastor failed to redeem; (8) Pastor had
The Ago spouses repaired once more to the Court of Appeals where they impliedly admitted that the conjugal properties could be levied upon by
filed another petition for certiorari and prohibition with preliminary his pleas "to save his family house and lot" in his efforts to prevent
injunction (CA-G.R. 39438-R). The said court gave due course to the execution; and (9) it was only on May 2, 1964 when he and his wife filed
petition and granted preliminary injunction. After hearing, it rendered the complaint for annulment of the sheriff's sale upon the issue that the
decision, the dispositive portion of which reads: wife's share in the properties cannot be levied upon on the ground that
WHEREFORE, writ of preliminary injunction from enforcement of the writ she was not a party to the logging business and not a party to the replevin
of possession on and ejectment from the one-half share in the properties suit. The spouses Ago had every opportunity to raise the issue in the
involved belonging to Lourdes Yu Ago dated June 15, 1967 is made various proceedings hereinbefore discussed but did not; laches now
permanent pending decision on the merits in Civil Case No. Q-7986 and effectively bars them from raising it.
ordering respondent Court to proceed with the trial of Civil Case No. Q- Laches, in a general sense, is failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and
7986 on the merits without unnecessary delay. No pronouncement as to unexplained length of time, to do that which, by exercising due diligence,
costs. could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to
Failing to obtain reconsideration, the petitioners Castaeda and Henson assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the
filed the present petition for review of the aforesaid decision. party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. 2
1. We do not see how the doctrine that a court may not interfere with the 5. The decision of the appellate court under review suffers from two fatal
orders of a co-equal court can apply in the case at bar. The Court of First infirmities.
Instance of Manila, which issued the writ of possession, ultimately was (a) It enjoined the enforcement of the writ of possession to and ejectment
not interfered with by its co-equal court, the Court of First Instance of from the one-half share in the properties involved belonging to Lourdes
Quezon City as the latter lifted the restraining order it had previously Yu Ago. This half-share is not in esse, but is merely an inchoate interest,
issued against the enforcement of the Manila court's writ of possession; a mere expectancy, constituting neither legal nor equitable estate, and
it is the Court of Appeals that enjoined, in part, the enforcement of the will ripen into title when only upon liquidation and settlement there
writ. appears to be assets of the community. 3 The decision sets at naught the
2. Invoking Comilang vs. Buendia, et al., 1 where the wife was a party in well-settled rule that injunction does not issue to protect a right not in
one case and the husband was a party in another case and a levy on esse and which may never arise. 4
their conjugal properties was upheld, the petitioners would have Lourdes (b) The decision did not foresee the absurdity, or even the impossibility,
Yu Ago similarly bound by the replevin judgment against her husband for of its enforcement. The Ago spouses admittedly live together in the same
which their conjugal properties would be answerable. The case invoked house 5 which is conjugal property. By the Manila court's writ of
is not at par with the present case. In Comilang the actions were possession Pastor could be ousted from the house, but the decision
admittedly instituted for the protection of the common interest of the under review would prevent the ejectment of Lourdes. Now, which part
spouses; in the present case, the Agos deny that their conjugal of the house would be vacated by Pastor and which part would Lourdes
partnership benefited from the husband's business venture. continue to stay in? The absurdity does not stop here; the decision would
3. Relying upon Omnas vs. Rivera, 67 Phil. 419, the Court of Appeals actually separate husband and wife, prevent them from living together,
held that a writ of possession may not issue until the claim of a third and in effect divide their conjugal properties during coverture and before
person to half-interest in the property is adversely determined, the said the dissolution of the conjugal union.
appellate court assuming that Lourdes Yu Ago was a "stranger" or a 6. Despite the pendency in the trial court of the complaint for the
"third-party" to her husband. The assumption is of course obviously annulment of the sheriff's sale (civil case Q-7986), elementary justice
wrong, for, besides living with her husband Pastor, she does not claim demands that the petitioners, long denied the fruits of their victory in the
ignorance of his business that failed, of the relevant cases in which he replevin suit, must now enjoy them, for, the respondents Agos, abetted
got embroiled, and of the auction sale made by the sheriff of their by their lawyer Jose M. Luison, have misused legal remedies and
conjugal properties. Even then, the ruling in Omnas is not that a writ of prostituted the judicial process to thwart the satisfaction of the judgment,
possession may not issue until the claim of a third person is adversely to the extended prejudice of the petitioners. The respondents, with the
determined, but that the writ of possession being a complement of the assistance of counsel, maneuvered for fourteen (14) years to doggedly
writ of execution, a judge with jurisdiction to issue the latter also has resist execution of the judgment thru manifold tactics in and from one
jurisdiction to issue the former, unless in the interval between the judicial court to another (5 times in the Supreme Court).
sale and the issuance of the writ of possession, the rights of third parties We condemn the attitude of the respondents and their counsel who,
to the property sold have supervened. The ruling in Omnas is clearly far from viewing courts as sanctuaries for those who seek justice, have
inapplicable in the present case, for, here, there has been no change in tried to use them to subvert the very ends of justice. 6
the ownership of the properties or of any interest therein from the time Forgetting his sacred mission as a sworn public servant and his exalted
the writ of execution was issued up to the time writ of possession was position as an officer of the court, Atty. Luison has allowed himself to
issued, and even up to the present. become an instigator of controversy and a predator of conflict instead of
4. We agree with the trial court (then presided by Judge Lourdes P. San a mediator for concord and a conciliator for compromise, a virtuoso of
Page 74

Diego) that it is much too late in the day for the respondents Agos to technicality in the conduct of litigation instead of a true exponent of the
raise the question that part of the property is unleviable because it primacy of truth and moral justice.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
A counsel's assertiveness in espousing with candour and honesty his case 27251; and because of said acts, the Agos suffered P174,877.08
client's cause must be encouraged and is to be commended; what we in damages.
do not and cannot countenance is a lawyer's insistence despite the Anent this third cause of action, the sheriff was under no obligation to
patent futility of his client's position, as in the case at bar. require payment of the purchase price in the auction sale because "when
It is the duty of a counsel to advise his client, ordinarily a layman to the the purchaser is the judgment creditor, and no third-party claim has been
intricacies and vagaries of the law, on the merit or lack of merit of his filed, he need not pay the amount of the bid if it does not exceed the
case. If he finds that his client's cause is defenseless, then it is his amount of his judgment." (Sec. 23, Rule 39, Rules of Court)
bounden duty to advise the latter to acquiesce and submit, rather than The annotated mortgage in favor of the PNB is the concern of the
traverse the incontrovertible. A lawyer must resist the whims and vendees Castaedas but did not affect the sheriff's sale; the cancellation
caprices of his client, and temper his clients propensity to litigate. A of the annotation is of no moment to the Agoo.
lawyer's oath to uphold the cause of justice is superior to his duty to his Case L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the sum of P99,877.08 out
client; its primacy is indisputable. 7 of the amount of the judgment was dismissed by this Court on January
7. In view of the private respondents' propensity to use the courts for 31, 1966.
purposes other than to seek justice, and in order to obviate further delay This third cause of action, therefore, actually states no valid cause of
in the disposition of the case below which might again come up to the action and is moreover barred by prior judgment.
appellate courts but only to fail in the end, we have motu The fourth cause of action pertains to moral damages allegedly suffered
proprio examined the record of civil case Q-7986 (the mother case of the by the Agos on account of the acts complained of in the preceding
present case). We find that causes of action. As the fourth cause of action derives its life from the
(a) the complaint was filed on May 2, 1964 (more than 11 years ago) but preceding causes of action, which, as shown, are baseless, the said
trial on the merits has not even started; fourth cause of action must necessarily fail.
(b) after the defendants Castaedas had filed their answer with a The Counterclaim
counterclaim, the plaintiffs Agos filed a supplemental complaint where As a counterclaim against the Agos, the Castaedas aver that the action
they impleaded new parties-defendants; was unfounded and as a consequence of its filing they were compelled
(c) after the admission of the supplemental complaint, the Agos filed a to retain the services of counsel for not less than P7,500; that because
motion to admit an amended supplemental complaint, which impleads the Agos obtained a preliminary injunction enjoining the transfer of titles
an additional new party-defendant (no action has yet been taken on this and possession of the properties to the Castaedas, they were
motion); unlawfully deprived of the use of the properties from April 17, 1964, the
(d) the defendants have not filed an answer to the admitted supplemental value of such deprived use being 20% annually of their actual value; and
complaint; and that the filing of the unfounded action besmirched their feelings, the
(e) the last order of the Court of First Instance, dated April 20, 1974, pecuniary worth of which is for the court to assess.
grants an extension to the suspension of time to file answer. (Expediente, The Supplemental Complaint
p. 815) Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that after the filing of the
We also find that the alleged causes of action in the complaint, complaint, the defendants, taking advantage of the dissolution of the
supplemental complaint and amended supplemental complaint are all preliminary injunction, in conspiracy and with gross bad faith and evident
untenable, for the reasons hereunder stated. The Complaint intent to cause damage to the plaintiffs, caused the registration of the
Upon the first cause of action, it is alleged that the sheriff levied upon sheriff's final deed of sale; that, to cause more damage, the defendants
conjugal properties of the spouses Ago despite the fact that the judgment sold to their lawyer and his wife two of the parcels of land in question;
to be satisfied was personal only to Pastor Ago, and the business venture that the purchasers acquired the properties in bad faith; that the
that he entered into, which resulted in the replevin suit, did not redound defendants mortgaged the two other parcels to the Rizal Commercial
to the benefit of the conjugal partnership. The issue here, which is Banking Corporation while the defendants' lawyer and his wife also
whether or not the wife's inchoate share in the conjugal property is mortgaged the parcels bought by them to the Rizal Commercial Bank;
leviable, is the same issue that we have already resolved, as barred by and that the bank also acted in bad faith.
laches, in striking down the decision of the Court of Appeals granting The second cause of action consists of an allegation of additional
preliminary injunction, the dispositive portion of which was herein-before damages caused by the defendants' bad faith in entering into the
quoted. This ruling applies as well to the first cause of action of the aforesaid agreements and transactions.
complaint. The Amended Supplemental Complaint
Upon the second cause of action, the Agos allege that on January 5, The amendment made pertains to the first cause of action of the
1959 the Castaedas and the sheriff, pursuant to an alias writ of seizure, supplemental complaint, which is, the inclusion of a paragraph averring
seized and took possession of certain machineries, depriving the Agos that, still to cause damage and prejudice to the plaintiffs, Atty. & Mrs.
of the use thereof, to their damage in the sum of P256,000 up to May 5, Juan Quijano, in bad faith sold the two parcels of land they had
1964. This second cause of action fails to state a valid cause of action previously bought to Eloy Ocampo who acquired them also in bad faith,
for it fails to allege that the order of seizure is invalid or illegal. while Venancio Castaeda and Nicetas Henson in bad faith sold the two
It is averred as a third cause of action that the sheriff's sale of the other parcels to Juan Quijano (60%) and Eloy Ocampo (40%) who
conjugal properties was irregular, illegal and unlawful because the sheriff acquired them in bad faith and with knowledge that the properties are
did not require the Castaeda spouses to pay or liquidate the sum of the subject of a pending litigation.
P141,750 (the amount for which they bought the properties at the auction Discussion on The Causes of Action
sale) despite the fact that there was annotated at the back of the of The Supplemental Complaint And
certificates of title a mortgage of P75,000 in favor of the Philippine The Amended Supplemental Complaint
National Bank; moreover, the sheriff sold the properties for P141,750 Assuming hypothetically as true the allegations in the first cause of action
Page 75

despite the pendency of L-19718 where Pastor Ago contested the of the supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental
amount of P99,877.08 out of the judgment value of P172,923.37 in civil complaint, the validity of the cause of action would depend upon the

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
validity of the first cause of action of the original complaint, for, the Agos Before us is a verified Complaint[1] filed by Jonar Santiago, an employee
would suffer no transgression upon their rights of ownership and of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), for the
possession of the properties by reason of the agreements subsequently disbarment of Atty. Edison V. Rafanan. The Complaint was filed with the
entered into by the Castaedas and their lawyer if the sheriff's levy and Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) of the Integrated Bar of the
sale are valid. The reverse is also true: if the sheriff's levy and sale are Philippines (IBP) on January 16, 2001. It charged Atty. Rafanan with
invalid on the ground that the conjugal properties could not be levied deceit; malpractice or other gross misconduct in office under Section 27
of Rule 138[2] of the Rules of Court; and violation of Canons 1.01, 1.02
upon, then the transactions would perhaps prejudice the Agos, but, we
and 1.03[3], Canon 5[4], and Canons 12.07[5] and 12.08 of the Code of
have already indicated that the issue in the first cause of action of the
Professional Responsibility (CPR).
original complaint is barred by laches, and it must therefore follow that
the first cause of action of the supplemental complaint and the amended In his Report, IBP Investigating Commissioner Leland R. Villadolid Jr.
supplemental complaint is also barred. summarized the allegations of the complainant in this wise:
For the same reason, the same holding applies to the remaining cause
of action in the supplemental complaint and the amended supplemental x x x. In his Letter-Complaint, Complainant alleged, among others, that
complaint. Respondent in notarizing several documents on different dates failed
ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals under review is and/or refused to: a)make the proper notation regarding the cedula or
set aside. Civil case Q-7986 of the Court of First Instance of Rizal is community tax certificate of the affiants; b) enter the details of the
ordered dismissed, without prejudice to the re-filing of the petitioners' notarized documents in the notarial register; and c) make and execute
counterclaim in a new and independent action. Treble costs are the certification and enter his PTR and IBP numbers in the documents
assessed against the spouses Pastor Ago and Lourdes Yu Ago, which he had notarized, all in violation of the notarial provisions of the Revised
Administrative Code.
shall be paid by their lawyer, Atty. Jose M. Luison. Let a copy of this
decision be made a part of the personal file of Atty. Luison in the custody Complainant likewise alleged that Respondent executed an Affidavit in
of the Clerk of Court. favor of his client and offered the same as evidence in the case wherein
CANON 2: PROVIDE EFFICIENT AND CONVINIENT LEGAL he was actively representing his client. Finally, Complainant alleges that
SERVICES on a certain date, Respondent accompanied by several persons waited
A LAWYER SHALL MAKE HIS LEGAL SERVICES AVAILABLE IN AN for Complainant after the hearing and after confronting the latter
EFFICIENT AND CONVENIENT MANNER COMPATIBLE WITH THE disarmed him of his sidearm and thereafter uttered insulting words and
INDEPENDENCE, INTEGRITY AND EFFECTIVENESS OF THE veiled threats.[6]
PROFESSION.
RULE 2.01: A lawyer shall not reject, except for valid reasons, the
cause of the defenseless or the oppressed.
IBP Guidelines, Art.1, Sec. 1. Public Service: On March 23, 2001, pursuant to the January 19, 2001 Order of the
CBD,[7] Atty. Rafanan filed his verified Answer.[8] He admitted having
1. Legal aid is not a matter of charity but a public responsibility.
administered the oath to the affiants whose Affidavits were attached to
2. It is a means for correction of social imbalance. the verified Complaint. He believed, however, that the non-notation of
3. Legal aid offices must be so organized as to give maximum their Residence Certificates in the Affidavits and the Counter-affidavits
possible assistance to indigent and deserving members of the was allowed.
community and to forestall injustice.
He opined that the notation of residence certificates applied only to
Rule 2.02 - In such cases, even if the lawyer does not accept a case, documents acknowledged by a notary public and was not mandatory for
he shall not refuse to render legal advice to the person concerned affidavits related to cases pending before courts and other government
if only to the extent necessary to safeguard the latter's rights offices. He pointed out that in the latter, the affidavits, which were sworn
to before government prosecutors, did not have to indicate the residence
JONAR SANTIAGO, A.C. No. 6252 certificates of the affiants. Neither did other notaries public in Nueva Ecija
Complainant, -- some of whom were older practitioners -- indicate the affiants
- versus - residence certificates on the documents they notarized, or have entries
Atty. EDISON V. RAFANAN, in their notarial register for these documents.
Respondent.
October 5, 2004 As to his alleged failure to comply with the certification required by
Section 3 of Rule 112[9] of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, respondent
x -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- x explained that as counsel of the affiants, he had the option to comply or
not with the certification. To nullify the Affidavits, it was complainant who
DECISION was duty-bound to bring the said noncompliance to the attention of the
prosecutor conducting the preliminary investigation.
PANGANIBAN, J.:

Notaries public are expected to exert utmost care in the performance of As to his alleged violation of Rule 12.08 of the CPR, respondent argued
their duties, which are impressed with public interest. They are enjoined that lawyers could testify on behalf of their clients on substantial matters,
to comply faithfully with the solemnities and requirements of the Notarial in cases where [their] testimony is essential to the ends of justice.
Law. This Court will not hesitate to mete out appropriate sanctions to Complainant charged respondents clients with attempted murder.
those who violate it or neglect observance thereof. Respondent averred that since they were in his house when the alleged
__________________ crime occurred, his testimony is very essential to the ends of justice.
The Case and the Facts
Page 76

Respondent alleged that it was complainant who had threatened and


harassed his clients after the hearing of their case by the provincial

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
prosecutor on January 4, 2001. Respondent requested the assistance of place of issue and date as part of such certification.[21] They are also
the Cabanatuan City Police the following day, January 5, 2001, which required to maintain and keep a notarial register; to enter therein all
was the next scheduled hearing, to avoid a repetition of the incident and instruments notarized by them; and to give to each instrument executed,
to allay the fears of his clients. In support of his allegations, he submitted sworn to, or acknowledged before [them] a number corresponding to the
Certifications[10] from the Cabanatuan City Police and the Joint one in [their] register [and to state therein] the page or pages of [their]
Affidavit[11] of the two police officers who had assisted them. register, on which the same is recorded.[22] Failure to perform these
duties would result in the revocation of their commission as notaries
Lastly, he contended that the case had been initiated for no other public.[23]
purpose than to harass him, because he was the counsel of Barangay
Captain Ernesto Ramos in the cases filed by the latter before the These formalities are mandatory and cannot be simply neglected,
ombudsman and the BJMP against complainant. considering the degree of importance and evidentiary weight attached to
notarized documents. Notaries public entering into their commissions are
After receipt of respondents Answer, the CBD, through Commissioner presumed to be aware of these elementary requirements.
Tyrone R. Cimafranca, set the case for hearing on June 5, 2001, at two
oclock in the afternoon. Notices[12] of the hearing were sent to the In Vda. de Rosales v. Ramos,[24] the Court explained the value and
parties by registered mail. On the scheduled date and time of the meaning of notarization as follows:
hearing, only complainant appeared.Respondent was unable to do so,
apparently because he had received the Notice only on June 8, 2001.[13] The importance attached to the act of notarization cannot be
The hearing was reset to July 3, 2001 at two oclock in the afternoon. overemphasized. Notarization is not an empty, meaningless, routinary
act. It is invested with substantive public interest, such that only those
On the same day, June 5, 2001, complainant filed his Reply[14] to the who are qualified or authorized may act as notaries public. Notarization
verified Answer of respondent. The latters Rejoinder was received by the converts a private document into a public document thus making that
CBD on July 13, 2001.[15] It also received complainants Letter- document admissible in evidence without further proof of its authenticity.
Request[16] to dispense with the hearings. Accordingly, it granted that A notarial document is by law entitled to full faith and credit upon its face.
request in its Order[17] dated July 24, 2001, issued through Courts, administrative agencies and the public at large must be able to
Commissioner Cimafranca. It thereby directed the parties to submit their rely upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and
respective memoranda within fifteen days from receipt of the Order, after appended to a private instrument.
which the case was to be deemed submitted for resolution.

The CBD received complainants Memorandum[18] on September 26, For this reason, notaries public should not take for granted the solemn
2001. Respondent did not file any. duties pertaining to their office. Slipshod methods in their performance
of the notarial act are never to be countenanced. They are expected to
The IBPs Recommendation exert utmost care in the performance of their duties,[25] which are
dictated by public policy and are impressed with public interest.
On September 27, 2003, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution
No. XVI-2003-172[19] approving and adopting the Investigating It is clear from the pleadings before us -- and respondent has readily
Commissioners Report that respondent had violated specific admitted -- that he violated the Notarial Law by failing to enter in the
requirements of the Notarial Law on the execution of a certification, the documents notations of the residence certificate, as well as the entry
entry of such certification in the notarial register, and the indication of the number and the pages of the notarial registry.
affiants residence certificate. The IBP Board of Governors found his
excuse for the violations unacceptable. It modified, however, the Respondent believes, however, that noncompliance with those
recommendation[20] of the investigating commissioner by increasing the requirements is not mandatory for affidavits relative to cases pending
fine to P3,000 with a warning that any repetition of the violation will be before the courts and government agencies. He points to similar
dealt with a heavier penalty. practices of older notaries in Nueva Ecija.

The other charges -- violation of Section 27 of Rule 138 of the Rules of We cannot give credence to, much less honor, his claim. His belief that
Court; and Canons 1.01 to 1.03, 12.07 and 12.08 of the CPR -- were the requirements do not apply to affidavits is patently irrelevant. No law
dismissed for insufficiency of evidence. dispenses with these formalities. Au contraire, the Notarial Law makes
no qualification or exception. It is appalling and inexcusable that he did
The Courts Ruling away with the basics of notarial procedure allegedly because others
were doing so. Being swayed by the bad example of others is not an
acceptable justification for breaking the law.
We note further that the documents attached to the verified Complaint
We agree with the Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors. are the Joint Counter-Affidavit of respondents clients Ernesto Ramos
and Rey Geronimo, as well as their witnesses Affidavits relative to
Criminal Case No. 69-2000 for attempted murder, filed by complainants
Respondents Administrative Liability brother against the aforementioned clients. These documents became
the basis of the present Complaint.

Violation of the Notarial Law As correctly pointed out by the investigating commissioner, Section 3 of
Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure expressly requires
respondent as notary -- in the absence of any fiscal, state prosecutor or
The Notarial Law is explicit on the obligations and duties of notaries government official authorized to administer the oath -- to certify that he
public. They are required to certify that the party to every document has personally examined the affiants and that he is satisfied that they
Page 77

acknowledged before them has presented the proper residence voluntarily executed and understood their affidavits. Respondent failed
certificate (or exemption from the residence tax); and to enter its number, to do so with respect to the subject Affidavits and Counter-Affidavits in

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
the belief that -- as counsel for the affiants -- he was not required to thinking, and if their sympathies are against the lawyers client, they will
comply with the certification requirement. have an opportunity, not likely to be neglected, for charging, that as a
witness he fortified it with his own testimony. The testimony of the lawyer
It must be emphasized that the primary duty of lawyers is to obey the becomes doubted and is looked upon as partial and untruthful.[33]
laws of the land and promote respect for the law and legal processes.[26]
They are expected to be in the forefront in the observance and Thus, although the law does not forbid lawyers from being witnesses and
maintenance of the rule of law. This duty carries with it the obligation to at the same time counsels for a cause, the preference is for them to
be well-informed of the existing laws and to keep abreast with legal refrain from testifying as witnesses, unless they absolutely have to; and
developments, recent enactments and jurisprudence.[27] It is imperative should they do so, to withdraw from active management of the case.[34]
that they be conversant with basic legal principles.Unless they faithfully
comply with such duty, they may not be able to discharge competently Notwithstanding this guideline and the existence of the Affidavit executed
and diligently their obligations as members of the bar. Worse, they may by Atty. Rafanan in favor of his clients, we cannot hastily make him
become susceptible to committing mistakes. administratively liable for the following reasons:
First, we consider it the duty of a lawyer to assert every remedy and
Where notaries public are lawyers, a graver responsibility is placed upon defense that is authorized by law for the benefit of the client, especially
them by reason of their solemn oath to obey the laws.[28] No custom or in a criminal action in which the latters life and liberty are at stake.[35] It
age-old practice provides sufficient excuse or justification for their failure is the fundamental right of the accused to be afforded full opportunity to
to adhere to the provisions of the law. In this case, the excuse given by rebut the charges against them. They are entitled to suggest all those
respondent exhibited his clear ignorance of the Notarial Law, the Rules reasonable doubts that may arise from the evidence as to their guilt; and
of Criminal Procedure, and the importance of his office as a notary public. to ensure that if they are convicted, such conviction is according to law.
Nonetheless, we do not agree with complainants plea to disbar
respondent from the practice of law. The power to disbar must be Having undertaken the defense of the accused, respondent, as defense
exercised with great caution.[29] Disbarment will be imposed as a counsel, was thus expected to spare no effort to save his clients from a
penalty only in a clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the wrong conviction. He had the duty to present -- by all fair and honorable
standing and the character of the lawyer as an officer of the court and a means -- every defense and mitigating circumstance that the law
member of the bar. Where any lesser penalty can accomplish the end permitted, to the end that his clients would not be deprived of life, liberty
desired, disbarment should not be decreed.[30] Considering the nature or property, except by due process of law.[36]
of the infraction and the absence of deceit on the part of respondent, we
believe that the penalty recommended by the IBP Board of Governors is The Affidavit executed by Atty. Rafanan was clearly necessary for the
a sufficient disciplinary measure in this case. defense of his clients, since it pointed out the fact that on the alleged
date and time of the incident, his clients were at his residence and could
Lawyer as Witness for Client not have possibly committed the crime charged against them. Notably,
in his Affidavit, complainant does not dispute the statements of
Complainant further faults respondent for executing before Prosecutor respondent or suggest the falsity of its contents.
Leonardo Padolina an affidavit corroborating the defense of alibi
proffered by respondents clients, allegedly in violation of Rule 12.08 of Second, paragraph (b) of Rule 12.08 contemplates a situation in which
the CPR: A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client. lawyers give their testimonies during the trial. In this instance, the
Affidavit was submitted during the preliminary investigation which, as
Rule 12.08 of Canon 12 of the CPR states: such, was merely inquisitorial.[37] Not being a trial of the case on the
Rule 12.08 A lawyer shall avoid testifying in behalf of his client, except: merits, a preliminary investigation has the oft-repeated purposes of
securing innocent persons against hasty, malicious and oppressive
a) on formal matters, such as the mailing, authentication or prosecutions; protecting them from open and public accusations of crime
custody of an instrument and the like; and from the trouble as well as expense and anxiety of a public trial; and
protecting the State from useless and expensive prosecutions.[38]The
b) on substantial matters, in cases where his testimony is investigation is advisedly called preliminary, as it is yet to be followed by
essential to the ends of justice, in which event he must, during his the trial proper.
testimony, entrust the trial of the case to another counsel.
Nonetheless, we deem it important to stress and remind respondent to
refrain from accepting employment in any matter in which he knows or
has reason to believe that he may be an essential witness for the
Parenthetically, under the law, a lawyer is not disqualified from being a prospective client. Furthermore, in future cases in which his testimony
witness,[31] except only in certain cases pertaining to privileged may become essential to serve the ends of justice, the canons of the
communication arising from an attorney-client relationship.[32] profession require him to withdraw from the active prosecution of these
cases.
The reason behind such rule is the difficulty posed upon lawyers by the
task of dissociating their relation to their clients as witnesses from that No Proof of Harassment
as advocates. Witnesses are expected to tell the facts as they recall
them. In contradistinction, advocates are partisans -- those who actively The charge that respondent harassed complainant and uttered insulting
plead and defend the cause of others. It is difficult to distinguish the words and veiled threats is not supported by evidence. Allegation is
fairness and impartiality of a disinterested witness from the zeal of an never equivalent to proof, and a bare charge cannot be equated with
advocate. The question is one of propriety rather than of competency of liability.[39] It is not the self-serving claim of complainant but the version
the lawyers who testify for their clients. of respondent that is more credible, considering that the latters
Acting or appearing to act in the double capacity of lawyer and witness allegations are corroborated by the Affidavits of the police officers and
for the client will provoke unkind criticism and leave many people to the Certifications of the Cabanatuan City Police.
Page 78

suspect the truthfulness of the lawyer because they cannot believe the
lawyer as disinterested. The people will have a plausible reason for

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
WHEREFORE, Atty. Edison V. Rafanan is found guilty of violating the To support his allegations, complainant presented the sworn
Notarial Law and Canon 5 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and affidavit[5] of James Gregorio attesting that Labiano tried to prevail upon
is herebyFINED P3,000 with a warning that similar infractions in the him to sever his lawyer-client relations with complainant and utilize
future will be dealt with more severely. respondents services instead, in exchange for a loan of P50,000.
SO ORDERED. Complainant also attached respondents calling card:[6]
Exceptions: Canon 14, Rule 14.01 and 14.02
Front
Rule 14.01 - A lawyer shall not decline to represent a person solely
on account of the latter's race, sex. creed or status of life, or
NICOMEDES TOLENTINO
because of his own opinion regarding the guilt of said person.
LAW OFFFICE
Rule 14.02 - A lawyer shall not decline, except for serious and
CONSULTANCY & MARITIME SERVICES
sufficient cause, an appointment as counsel de officio or as amicus
W/ FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE
curiae, or a request from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines or
any of its chapters for rendition of free legal aid.
Fe Marie L. Labiano
Exception to the Exception: Canon 14, rule 14.03
Paralegal
Rule 14.03 - A lawyer may not refuse to accept representation of an
indigent client if:
1st MIJI Mansion, 2nd Flr. Rm. M-01 Tel: 362-7820
(a) he is not in a position to carry out the work effectively or
6th Ave., cor M.H. Del Pilar Fax: (632) 362-7821
competently;
Grace Park, Caloocan City Cel.: (0926) 2701719
(b) he labors under a conflict of interest between him and the
prospective client or between a present client and the prospective
client.
Back
Rule 2.03: A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act
SERVICES OFFERED:
designed primarily to solicit legal business.
CONSULTATION AND ASSISTANCE
Rule 138 sec 27 ROC: Attorneys removed or suspended by
TO OVERSEAS SEAMEN
Supreme Court on what grounds. A member of the bar may be
REPATRIATED DUE TO ACCIDENT,
removed or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme
INJURY, ILLNESS, SICKNESS, DEATH
Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in
AND INSURANCE BENEFIT CLAIMS
such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
ABROAD.
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation
(emphasis supplied)
of the oath which he is required to take before the admission to
Hence, this complaint.
practice, or for a wilfull disobedience of any lawful order of a
Respondent, in his defense, denied knowing Labiano and authorizing the
superior court, or for corruptly or willful appearing as an attorney
printing and circulation of the said calling card.[7]
for a party to a case without authority so to do. The practice of
The complaint was referred to the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD)
soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice.
recommendation.[8]
Based on testimonial and documentary evidence, the CBD, in its report
PEDRO L. LINSANGAN, A.C. No. 6672
and recommendation,[9] found that respondent had encroached on the
Complainant,
professional practice of complainant, violating Rule 8.02[10] and other
-versus-
canons[11] of the Code of Professional Responsibility (CPR). Moreover,
ATTY. NICOMEDES TOLENTINO,
he contravened the rule against soliciting cases for gain, personally or
Respondent. Promulgated:
through paid agents or brokers as stated in Section 27, Rule 138 [12] of
September 4, 2009
the Rules of Court. Hence, the CBD recommended that respondent be
reprimanded with a stern warning that any repetition would merit a
x-----------------------------------------x
heavier penalty.
We adopt the findings of the IBP on the unethical conduct of respondent
RESOLUTION
but we modify the recommended penalty.
The complaint before us is rooted on the alleged intrusion by respondent
CORONA, J.:
into complainants professional practice in violation of Rule 8.02 of the
CPR. And the means employed by respondent in furtherance of the said
misconduct themselves constituted distinct violations of ethical rules.
This is a complaint for disbarment[1] filed by Pedro Linsangan of the
Canons of the CPR are rules of conduct all lawyers must adhere to,
Linsangan Linsangan & Linsangan Law Office against Atty. Nicomedes
including the manner by which a lawyers services are to be made known.
Tolentino for solicitation of clients and encroachment of professional
Thus, Canon 3 of the CPR provides:
services.
Complainant alleged that respondent, with the help of paralegal Fe Marie
CANON 3 - A LAWYER IN MAKING KNOWN HIS LEGAL SERVICES
Labiano, convinced his clients[2] to transfer legal representation.
SHALL USE ONLY TRUE, HONEST, FAIR, DIGNIFIED AND
Respondent promised them financial assistance[3] and expeditious
OBJECTIVE INFORMATION OR STATEMENT OF FACTS.
collection on their claims.[4] To induce them to hire his services, he
Page 79

Time and time again, lawyers are reminded that the practice of law is a
persistently called them and sent them text messages.
profession and not a business; lawyers should not advertise their talents

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
as merchants advertise their wares.[13] To allow a lawyer to advertise his stenographic notes, cash bond or premium for surety bond, etc.) for a
talent or skill is to commercialize the practice of law, degrade the matter that he is handling for the client.
profession in the publics estimation and impair its ability to efficiently
render that high character of service to which every member of the bar The rule is intended to safeguard the lawyers independence of mind so
is called.[14] that the free exercise of his judgment may not be adversely affected.[22] It
seeks to ensure his undivided attention to the case he is handling as well
Rule 2.03 of the CPR provides: as his entire devotion and fidelity to the clients cause. If the lawyer lends
money to the client in connection with the clients case, the lawyer in
RULE 2.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT DO OR PERMIT TO BE DONE effect acquires an interest in the subject matter of the case or an
ANY ACT DESIGNED PRIMARILY TO SOLICIT LEGAL BUSINESS. additional stake in its outcome.[23] Either of these circumstances may
lead the lawyer to consider his own recovery rather than that of his client,
Hence, lawyers are prohibited from soliciting cases for the purpose of or to accept a settlement which may take care of his interest in the verdict
gain, either personally or through paid agents or brokers.[15] Such to the prejudice of the client in violation of his duty of undivided fidelity to
actuation constitutes malpractice, a ground for disbarment.[16] the clients cause.[24]
As previously mentioned, any act of solicitation constitutes
Rule 2.03 should be read in connection with Rule 1.03 of the CPR which malpractice[25] which calls for the exercise of the Courts disciplinary
provides: powers. Violation of anti-solicitation statutes warrants serious sanctions
for initiating contact with a prospective client for the purpose of obtaining
RULE 1.03. A LAWYER SHALL NOT, FOR ANY CORRUPT MOTIVE employment.[26] Thus, in this jurisdiction, we adhere to the rule to protect
OR INTEREST, ENCOURAGE ANY SUIT OR PROCEEDING OR the public from the Machiavellian machinations of unscrupulous lawyers
DELAY ANY MANS CAUSE. and to uphold the nobility of the legal profession.

Considering the myriad infractions of respondent (including violation of


This rule proscribes ambulance chasing (the solicitation of almost any the prohibition on lending money to clients), the sanction recommended
kind of legal business by an attorney, personally or through an agent in by the IBP, a mere reprimand, is a wimpy slap on the wrist. The proposed
order to gain employment)[17] as a measure to protect the community penalty is grossly incommensurate to its findings.
from barratry and champerty.[18]
Complainant presented substantial evidence[19] (consisting of the sworn A final word regarding the calling card presented in evidence by
statements of the very same persons coaxed by Labiano and referred to petitioner. A lawyers best advertisement is a well-merited reputation for
respondents office) to prove that respondent indeed solicited legal professional capacity and fidelity to trust based on his character and
business as well as profited from referrals suits. conduct.[27] For this reason, lawyers are only allowed to announce their
services by publication in reputable law lists or use of simple professional
Although respondent initially denied knowing Labiano in his answer, he cards.
later admitted it during the mandatory hearing. Professional calling cards may only contain the following details:

Through Labianos actions, respondents law practice was benefited. (a) lawyers name;
Hapless seamen were enticed to transfer representation on the strength (b) name of the law firm with which he is connected;
of Labianos word that respondent could produce a more favorable result. (c) address;
Based on the foregoing, respondent clearly solicited employment (d) telephone number and
violating Rule 2.03, and Rule 1.03 and Canon 3 of the CPR and Section (e) special branch of law practiced.[28]
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.
With regard to respondents violation of Rule 8.02 of the CPR, settled is
the rule that a lawyer should not steal another lawyers client nor induce Labianos calling card contained the phrase with financial assistance.
the latter to retain him by a promise of better service, good result or The phrase was clearly used to entice clients (who already had
reduced fees for his services.[20] Again the Court notes that respondent representation) to change counsels with a promise of loans to finance
never denied having these seafarers in his client list nor receiving their legal actions. Money was dangled to lure clients away from their
benefits from Labianos referrals. Furthermore, he never denied Labianos original lawyers, thereby taking advantage of their financial distress and
connection to his office.[21] Respondent committed an unethical, emotional vulnerability. This crass commercialism degraded the integrity
predatory overstep into anothers legal practice. He cannot escape of the bar and deserved no place in the legal profession. However, in the
liability under Rule 8.02 of the CPR. absence of substantial evidence to prove his culpability, the Court is not
Moreover, by engaging in a money-lending venture with his clients as prepared to rule that respondent was personally and directly responsible
borrowers, respondent violated Rule 16.04: for the printing and distribution of Labianos calling cards.

Rule 16.04 A lawyer shall not borrow money from his client unless the WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Nicomedes Tolentino for violating
clients interests are fully protected by the nature of the case or by Rules 1.03, 2.03, 8.02 and 16.04 and Canon 3 of the Code of
independent advice. Neither shall a lawyer lend money to a client except, Professional Responsibility and Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of
when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary expenses Court is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of one
in a legal matter he is handling for the client. year effective immediately from receipt of this resolution. He
The rule is that a lawyer shall not lend money to his client. The only is STERNLY WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar acts in the
Page 80

exception is, when in the interest of justice, he has to advance necessary future shall be dealt with more severely.
expenses (such as filing fees, stenographers fees for transcript of

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
Let a copy of this Resolution be made part of his records in the Office of promulgate a ruling that advertisement of legal services offered by a
the Bar Confidant, Supreme Court of the Philippines, and be furnished lawyer is not contrary to law, public policy and public order as long as it
to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court is dignified.
Administrator to be circulated to all courts. The case was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for
investigation, report and recommendation. On June 29, 2002, the IBP
SO ORDERED. Commission on Bar Discipline passed Resolution No. XV-2002-306,
finding respondent guilty of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of
RULE 15.08 A Lawyer Shall Make Clear Whether He Is Acting In
Court, and suspended him from the practice of law for one (1) year with
Another Capacity. the warning that a repetition of similar acts would be dealt with more
RULE 2.04: A lawyer shall not charge rates lower than those severely. The IBP Resolution was noted by this Court on November 11,
customarily prescribed unless the circumstances so warrant. 2002.
In the meantime, respondent filed an Urgent Motion for Reconsideration,
CANON 3 Information on Legal Services that is True, Honest, Fair, which was denied by the IBP in Resolution No. XV-2002-606 dated
Dignified and Objective October 19, 2002
Hence, the instant petition for certiorari, which was docketed as G.R. No.
Rule 3.01 A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false, 157053 entitled, Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo, Petitioner versus IBP
fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-auditory or Commission on Bar Discipline, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., Asst. Court
unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal Administrator and Chief, Public Information Office, Respondents. This
services. petition was consolidated with A.C. No. 5299 per the Courts Resolution
Violation of Rule 3.01 is unethical, whether done by him dated March 4, 2003.
personally or through another with his permission. In a Resolution dated March 26, 2003, the parties were required to
manifest whether or not they were willing to submit the case for resolution
on the basis of the pleadings. Complainant filed his Manifestation on April
[A.C. No. 5299. August 19, 2003] 25, 2003, stating that he is not submitting any additional pleading or
ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., Assistant Court Administrator and evidence and is submitting the case for its early resolution on the basis
Chief, Public Information Office, complainant, vs. ATTY. RIZALINO of pleadings and records thereof. Respondent, on the other hand, filed a
T. SIMBILLO, respondent. Supplemental Memorandum on June 20, 2003.
[G.R. No. 157053. August 19, 2003] We agree with the IBPs Resolutions Nos. XV-2002-306 and XV-2002-
ATTY. RIZALINO T. SIMBILLO, petitioner, vs. IBP COMMISSION ON 606.
BAR DISCIPLINE and ATTY. ISMAEL G. KHAN, JR., in his capacity Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility read:
as Assistant Court Administrator and Chief, Public Information Rule 2.03. A lawyer shall not do or permit to be done any act designed
Office, respondents. primarily to solicit legal business.
RESOLUTION Rule 3.01. A lawyer shall not use or permit the use of any false,
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.: fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or unfair
This administrative complaint arose from a paid advertisement that statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services.
appeared in the July 5, 2000 issue of the newspaper, Philippine Daily Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court states:
Inquirer, which reads: ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE Specialist 532- SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court,
4333/521-2667. grounds therefor. A member of the bar may be disbarred or suspended
Ms. Ma. Theresa B. Espeleta, a staff member of the Public Information from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
Office of the Supreme Court, called up the published telephone number malpractice or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral
and pretended to be an interested party. She spoke to Mrs. Simbillo, conduct or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral
who claimed that her husband, Atty. Rizalino Simbillo, was an expert in turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to take
handling annulment cases and can guarantee a court decree within four before the admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience appearing
to six months, provided the case will not involve separation of property as attorney for a party without authority to do so.
or custody of children. Mrs. Simbillo also said that her husband charges It has been repeatedly stressed that the practice of law is not a business.
a fee of P48,000.00, half of which is payable at the time of filing of the It is a profession in which duty to public service, not money, is the primary
case and the other half after a decision thereon has been rendered. consideration. Lawyering is not primarily meant to be a money-making
Further research by the Office of the Court Administrator and the Public venture, and law advocacy is not a capital that necessarily yields profits.
Information Office revealed that similar advertisements were published The gaining of a livelihood should be a secondary consideration. The
in the August 2 and 6, 2000 issues of the Manila Bulletin and August 5, duty to public service and to the administration of justice should be the
2000 issue of The Philippine Star. primary consideration of lawyers, who must subordinate their personal
On September 1, 2000, Atty. Ismael G. Khan, Jr., in his capacity as interests or what they owe to themselves. The following elements
Assistant Court Administrator and Chief of the Public Information Office, distinguish the legal profession from a business:
filed an administrative complaint against Atty. Rizalino T. Simbillo for 1. A duty of public service, of which the emolument is a by-product,
improper advertising and solicitation of his legal services, in violation of and in which one may attain the highest eminence without making much
Rule 2.03 and Rule 3.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility and money;
Rule 138, Section 27 of the Rules of Court. 2. A relation as an officer of the court to the administration of justice
In his answer, respondent admitted the acts imputed to him, but argued involving thorough sincerity, integrity and reliability;
that advertising and solicitation per se are not prohibited acts; that the 3. A relation to clients in the highest degree of fiduciary;
time has come to change our views about the prohibition on advertising 4. A relation to colleagues at the bar characterized by candor,
and solicitation; that the interest of the public is not served by the fairness, and unwillingness to resort to current business methods of
absolute prohibition on lawyer advertising; that the Court can lift the ban advertising and encroachment on their practice, or dealing directly with
on lawyer advertising; and that the rationale behind the decades-old their clients.
Page 81

prohibition should be abandoned. Thus, he prayed that he be There is no question that respondent committed the acts complained of.
exonerated from all the charges against him and that the Court He himself admits that he caused the publication of the advertisements.

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
While he professes repentance and begs for the Courts indulgence, his Let copies of this Resolution be entered in his record as attorney and be
contrition rings hollow considering the fact that he advertised his legal furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and all courts in the
services again after he pleaded for compassion and after claiming that country for their information and guidance.
he had no intention to violate the rules. Eight months after filing his SO ORDERED.
answer, he again advertised his legal services in the August 14, 2001 Vitug, (Acting Chairman),Carpio, and Azcuna, JJ., concur.
issue of the Buy & Sell Free Ads Newspaper. Ten months later, he Davide, Jr., C.J., (Chairman ), abroad, on official business.
caused the same advertisement to be published in the October 5, 2001
issue of Buy & Sell. Such acts of respondent are a deliberate and
contemptuous affront on the Courts authority. EN BANC
What adds to the gravity of respondents acts is that in advertising [B.M. No. 553. June 17, 1993.]
himself as a self-styled Annulment of Marriage Specialist, he wittingly MAURICIO C. ULEP, petitioner, vs. THE LEGAL CLINIC, INC.,
or unwittingly erodes and undermines not only the stability but also the respondent.
sanctity of an institution still considered sacrosanct despite the SYLLABUS
contemporary climate of permissiveness in our society. Indeed, in 1. LEGAL AND JUDICIAL ETHICS; PRACTICE OF LAW, MEANING
assuring prospective clients that an annulment may be obtained in four AND EXTENT OF. Practice of law means any activity, in or out of
to six months from the time of the filing of the case, he in fact encourages court, which requires the application of law, legal procedures,
people, who might have otherwise been disinclined and would have knowledge, training and experience. To engage in the practice of law is
refrained from dissolving their marriage bonds, to do so. to perform those acts which are characteristic of the profession.
Nonetheless, the solicitation of legal business is not altogether Generally, to practice law is to give advice or render any kind of service
proscribed. However, for solicitation to be proper, it must be compatible that involves legal knowledge or skill. The practice of law is not limited to
with the dignity of the legal profession. If it is made in a modest and the conduct of cases in court. It includes legal advice and counsel, and
decorous manner, it would bring no injury to the lawyer and to the bar. the preparation of legal instruments and contracts by which legal rights
Thus, the use of simple signs stating the name or names of the lawyers, are secured, although such matter may or may not be pending in a court.
the office and residence address and fields of practice, as well as In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally
advertisement in legal periodicals bearing the same brief data, are engages in three principal types of professional activity: legal advice and
permissible. Even the use of calling cards is now acceptable. Publication instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations,
in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the standards of preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal
conduct imposed by the canon, of brief biographical and informative data principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients
is likewise allowable. As explicitly stated in Ulep v. Legal Clinic, Inc.: before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine
Such data must not be misleading and may include only a statement of rights of life, liberty, and property according to law, in order to assist in
the lawyers name and the names of his professional associates; proper interpretation and enforcement of law. When a person
addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches of law participates in a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer, he is in the
practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools practice of law. One who confers with clients, advises them as to their
attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational legal rights and then takes the business to an attorney and asks the latter
distinctions; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal to look after the case in court, is also practicing law. Giving advice for
authorships; legal teaching positions; membership and offices in bar compensation regarding the legal status and rights of another and the
associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of law. One who
legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a statute, and
and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law.
of clients regularly represented. 2. ID.; ID.; LEGAL SUPPORT SERVICES IN CASE AT BAR
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that CONSTITUTE PRACTICE OF LAW. The practice of law, therefore,
purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, covers a wide range of activities in and out of court. Applying the
trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we agree with the perceptive
purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief findings and observations of the aforestated bar associations that the
biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade activities of respondent, as advertised, constitute "practice of law." The
journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services can
published in a law list the conduct, management, or contents of which neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is belied
are calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to by respondent's own description of the services it has been offering, to
lower dignity or standing of the profession. wit: . . . While some of the services being offered by respondent
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The corporation merely involve mechanical and technical know-how, such as
card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm the installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient
which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and
branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal
firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is
is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing
directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. (emphasis information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and
and italics supplied) adoptation, it strains the credulity of this Court that all that respondent
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, respondent RIZALINO T. corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the
SIMBILLO is found GUILTY of violation of Rules 2.03 and 3.01 of the client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys
Code of Professional Responsibility and Rule 138, Section 27 of the and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client
Rules of Court. He is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for ONE (1) the intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of
YEAR effective upon receipt of this Resolution. He is likewise STERNLY action to be taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its
WARNED that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt advertisements represent and for which services it will consequently
Page 82

with more severely. charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential
definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
fact that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the importance of
law practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely to the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation.
court appearances but extends to legal research, giving legal advice, 8. ID.; ID.; ID.; CHARACTER AND CONDUCT AS BEST
contract drafting, and so forth. The aforesaid conclusion is further ADVERTISEMENT. We repeat, the canons of the profession tell us
strengthened by an article published in the January 13, 1991 issue of the that the best advertising possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation
Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of the Philippine Star, entitled "Rx for for professional capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as
Legal Problems," where an insight into the structure, main purpose and the outcome of character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a
operations of respondent corporation was given by its own "proprietor," client as well as to the community has a way of publicizing itself and
Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales: . . . catching public attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; PARALEGAL OR LEGAL ASSISTANT; CONCEPT IN effective service which is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer
THE UNITED STATES. Paralegals in the United States are trained needs no artificial stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He
professionals. As admitted by respondent, there are schools and easily sees the difference between a normal by-product of able service
universities there which offer studies and degrees in paralegal education, and the unwholesome result of propaganda.
while there are none in the Philippines. As the concept of the "paralegal" 9. ID.; ID.; ID.; PROHIBITION ON ADVERTISEMENT OF TALENT OR
or "legal assistant" evolved in the United States, standards and SKILL. The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's
guidelines also evolved to protect the general public. One of the major advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics
standards or guidelines was developed by the American Bar Association of his profession, advertise his talents or skills as in a manner similar to
which set up Guidelines for the Approval of Legal Assistant Education a merchant advertising his goods. The proscription against advertising
Programs (1973). Legislation has even been proposed to certify legal of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the fundamental
assistants. There are also associations of paralegals in the United States postulate that the practice of law is a profession. . . .
with their own code of professional ethics, such as the National 10. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXCEPTIONS. The first of such exceptions is the
Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. and the American Paralegal publication in reputable law lists, in a manner consistent with the
Association. standards of conduct imposed by the canons, of brief biographical and
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CONCEPT IN THE PHILIPPINES. In the informative data. "Such data must not be misleading and may include
Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited acceptance of only a statement of the lawyer's name and the names of his professional
what may be considered as paralegal service. As pointed out by FIDA, associates; addresses, telephone numbers, cable addresses; branches
some persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have been allowed of law practiced; date and place of birth and admission to the bar; schools
limited representation in behalf of another or to render legal services, but attended with dates of graduation, degrees and other educational
such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by the law, rules distinction; public or quasi-public offices; posts of honor; legal
or regulations granting permission therefor. (Illustrations: . . .) authorships; legal teaching positions; memberships and offices in bar
5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PHILIPPINE JUDICIAL POLICY ON PARALEGAL. associations and committees thereof, in legal and scientific societies and
We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other reputable law lists; the names
the concept in the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate and addresses of references; and, with their written consent, the names
from the law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be of clients regularly represented." . . . The use of an ordinary simple
its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be a professional card is also permitted. The card may contain only a
matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption statement of his name, the name of the law firm which he is connected
as it has done. . . . Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial with, address, telephone number and special branch of law practiced.
policy that, in the absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a The publication of a simple announcement of the opening of a law firm
person who has not been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law or of changes in the partnership, associates, firm name or office address,
for the proper administration of justice cannot be hindered by the being for the convenience of the profession, is not objectionable. He may
unwarranted intrusion of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the likewise have his name listed in a telephone directory but not under a
practice of law. That policy should continue to be one of encouraging designation of special branch of law.
persons who are unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal 11. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; REQUIREMENT FOR LAW LIST. The law
assistance only from persons licensed to practice law in the state. list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that purpose; it
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; PRACTICE OF LAW IN CASE AT BAR CANNOT cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, trade
BE PERFORMED BY PARALEGALS; REASON. It should be noted journal or periodical which is published principally for other purposes. For
that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by private respondent that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief biographical and
which constitute practice of law cannot be performed by paralegals. Only informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade journal or society
a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or hereafter admitted as program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be published in a law list
such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Court, and who is the conduct, management or contents of which are calculated or likely to
in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law. . . . deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower the dignity or standing
7. ID.; ADVERTISEMENT BY LAWYER; RULE. Anent the issue on of the profession.
the validity of the questioned advertisements, the Code of Professional 12. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. Verily, taking into
Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making known his legal services consideration the nature and contents of the advertisements for which
shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and objective information or respondent is being taken to task, which even includes a quotation of the
statement of facts. He is not supposed to use or permit the use of any fees charged by said respondent corporation for services rendered, we
false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive, undignified, self-laudatory or find and so hold that the same definitely do not and conclusively cannot
unfair statement or claim regarding his qualifications or legal services. fall under any of the above-mentioned exceptions.
Nor shall he pay or give something of value to representatives of the 13. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; EXCEPTION IN BATES, ET AL. vs. STATE
mass media in anticipation of, or in return for, publicity to attract legal BAR OF ARIZONA (433 U.S. 350, 53 L Ed 2d 810, 97 S Ct. 2691) AS
business. Prior to the adoption of the Code of Professional TO PUBLICATION OF LEGAL FEES, NOT APPLICABLE; REASONS.
Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics had also warned that The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, which
lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements for professional is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by
employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments, or respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is
Page 83

procuring his photograph to be published in connection with causes in the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a
which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning the manner of lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation or integrity of the members of the bar and that, as a member of the legal
the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an estimate profession, he is ashamed and offended by the said advertisements,
of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such exception is hence the reliefs sought in his petition as herein before quoted. cdphil
provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of In its answer to the petition, respondent admits the fact of publication of
Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. said advertisements at its instance, but claims that it is not engaged in
Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso the practice of law but in the rendering of "legal support services" through
that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable in any state unless paralegals with the use of modern computers and electronic machines.
and until it is implemented by such authority in that state." This goes to Respondent further argues that assuming that the services advertised
show that an exception to the general rule, such as that being invoked are legal services, the act of advertising these services should be
by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons allowed supposedly in the light of the case of John R. Bates and Van
expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition O'Steen vs. State Bar of Arizona, 2 reportedly decided by the United
stands, as in the case at bar. It bears mention that in a survey conducted States Supreme Court on June 7, 1977.
by the American Bar Association after the decision in Bates, on the Considering the critical implications on the legal profession of the issues
attitude of the public about lawyers after viewing television commercials, raised herein, we required the (1) Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP),
it was found that public opinion dropped significantly with respect to (2) Philippine Bar Association (PBA), (3) Philippine Lawyers' Association
these characteristics of lawyers: . . . Secondly, it is our firm belief that (PLA), (4) U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle (WILOCI), (5) Women Lawyers
with the present situation of our legal and judicial systems, to allow the Association of the Philippines (WLAP), and (6) Federation International
publication of advertisements of the kind used by respondent would only de Abogadas (FIDA) to submit their respective position papers on the
serve to aggravate what is already a deteriorating public opinion of the controversy and, thereafter, their memoranda. 3 The said bar
legal profession whose integrity has consistently been under attack lately associations readily responded and extended their valuable services and
by media and the community in general. At this point in time, it is of cooperation of which this Court takes note with appreciation and
utmost importance in the face of such negative, even if unfair, criticisms gratitude.
at times, to adopt and maintain that level of professional conduct which The main issues posed for resolution before the Court are whether or not
is beyond reproach, and to exert all efforts to regain the high esteem the services offered by respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., as advertised
formerly accorded to the legal profession. by it constitutes practice of law and, in either case, whether the same
RESOLUTION can properly be the subject of the advertisements herein complained of.
REGALADO, J p: cdphil
Petitioner prays this Court "to order the respondent to cease and desist Before proceeding with an in-depth analysis of the merits of this case,
from issuing advertisements similar to or of the same tenor as that of we deem it proper and enlightening to present hereunder excerpts from
Annexes `A' and `B' (of said petition) and to perpetually prohibit persons the respective position papers adopted by the aforementioned bar
or entities from making advertisements pertaining to the exercise of the associations and the memoranda submitted by them on the issues
law profession other than those allowed by law." cdrep involved in this bar matter.
The advertisements complained of by herein petitioner are as follows: 1. Integrated Bar of the Philippines:
Annex A xxx xxx xxx
SECRET MARRIAGE? Notwithstanding the subtle manner by which respondent endeavored to
P560.00 for a valid marriage. distinguish the two terms, i.e., "legal support services" vis-a-vis "legal
Info on DIVORCE. ABSENCE. services", common sense would readily dictate that the same are
ANNULMENT. VISA. essentially without substantial distinction. For who could deny that
THE Please call: document search, evidence gathering, assistance to layman in need of
521-0767, basic institutional services from government or non-government
LEGAL 5217232, agencies like birth, marriage, property, or business registration, obtaining
5222041 documents like clearance, passports, local or foreign visas, constitute
CLINIC, INC. 8:30 am- practice of law?
6:00 pm xxx xxx xxx
7-Flr. The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) does not wish to make issue
Victoria Bldg. UN Ave., Mla. with respondent's foreign citations. Suffice it to state that the IBP has
Annex B made its position manifest, to wit, that it strongly opposes the view
GUAM DIVORCE espoused by respondent (to the effect that today it is alright to advertise
DON PARKINSON one's legal services).
an Attorney in Guam, is giving FREE BOOKS on Guam Divorce through The IBP accordingly declares in no uncertain terms its opposition to
The Legal Clinic beginning Monday to Friday during office hours. respondent's act of establishing a "legal clinic" and of concomitantly
Guam divorce. Annulment of Marriage. Immigration Problems, Visa Ext. advertising the same through newspaper publications.
Quota/Non-quota Res. & Special Retiree's Visa. Declaration of Absence. The IBP would therefore invoke the administrative supervision of this
Remarriage to Filipina Fiancees. Adoption. Investment in the Phil. Honorable Court to perpetually restrain respondent from undertaking
US/Foreign Visa for Filipina Spouse/Children. Call Marivic. highly unethical activities in the field of law practice as aforedescribed 4
THE 7 F Victoria .
Bldg. 429 UN Ave. xxx xxx xxx
LEGAL Ermita, A. The use of the name "The Legal Clinic, Inc." gives the impression that
Manila nr. US Embassy respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it renders
CLINIC, INC. 1 Tel. 521- legal services.
7232521-7251 While the respondent repeatedly denies that it offers legal services to the
522-2041; public, the advertisements in question give the impression that
521-0767 respondent is offering legal services. The Petition in fact simply assumes
It is the submission of petitioner that the advertisements above this to be so, as earlier mentioned, apparently because this (is) the effect
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reproduced are champertous, unethical, demeaning of the law that the advertisements have on the reading public.
profession, and destructive of the confidence of the community in the

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The impression created by the advertisements in question can be traced, Concepcion example alone confirms what the advertisements suggest.
first of all, to the very name being used by respondent "The Legal Here it can be seen that criminal acts are being encouraged or committed
Clinic, Inc." Such a name, it is respectfully submitted connotes the (a bigamous marriage in Hong Kong or Las Vegas) with impunity simply
rendering of legal services for legal problems, just like a medical clinic because the jurisdiction of Philippine courts does not extend to the place
connotes medical services for medical problems. More importantly, the where the crime is committed.
term "Legal Clinic" connotes lawyers, as the term medical clinic connotes Even if it be assumed, arguendo, that the "legal support services"
doctors. respondent offers do not constitute legal services as commonly
Furthermore, the respondent's name, as published in the advertisements understood, the advertisements in question give the impression that
subject of the present case, appears with (the) scale(s) of justice, which respondent corporation is being operated by lawyers and that it offers
all the more reinforces the impression that it is being operated by legal services, as earlier discussed. Thus, the only logical consequence
members of the bar and that it offers legal services. In addition, the is that, in the eyes of an ordinary newspaper reader, members of the bar
advertisements in question appear with a picture and name of a person themselves are encouraging or inducing the performance of acts which
being represented as a lawyer from Guam, and this practically removes are contrary to law, morals, good customs and the public good, thereby
whatever doubt may still remain as to the nature of the service or destroying and demeaning the integrity of the Bar.
services being offered. xxx xxx xxx
It thus becomes irrelevant whether respondent is merely offering "legal It is respectfully submitted that respondent should be enjoined from
support services" as claimed by it, or whether it offers legal services as causing the publication of the advertisements in question, or any other
any lawyer actively engaged in law practice does. And it becomes advertisements similar thereto. It is also submitted that respondent
unnecessary to make a distinction between "legal services" and "legal should be prohibited from further performing or offering some of the
support services," as the respondent would have it. The advertisements services it presently offers, or, at the very least, from offering such
in question leave no room for doubt in the minds of the reading public services to the public in general.
that legal services are being offered by lawyers, whether true or not. The IBP is aware of the fact that providing computerized legal research,
B. The advertisements in question are meant to induce the performance electronic data gathering, storage and retrieval, standardized legal
of acts contrary to law, morals, public order and public policy. forms, investigators for gathering of evidence, and like services will
It may be conceded that, as the respondent claims, the advertisements greatly benefit the legal profession and should not be stifled but instead
in question are only meant to inform the general public of the services encouraged. However, when the conduct of such business by non-
being offered by it. Said advertisements, however, emphasize a Guam members of the Bar encroaches upon the practice of law, there can be
divorce, and any law student ought to know that under the Family Code, no choice but to prohibit such business.
there is only one instance when a foreign divorce, is recognized, and that Admittedly, many of the services involved in the case at bar can be better
is: performed by specialists in other fields, such as computer experts, who
Article 26. . .Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner by reason of their having devoted time and effort exclusively to such field
is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad cannot fulfill the exacting requirements for admission to the Bar. To
by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino prohibit them from "encroaching" upon the legal profession will deny the
spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine Law. profession of the great benefits and advantages of modern technology.
It must not be forgotten, too, that the Family Code (defines) a marriage Indeed, a lawyer using a computer will be doing better than a lawyer
as follows: using a typewriter, even if both are (equal) in skill.
Article 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union between a Both the Bench and the Bar, however, should be careful not to allow or
man and a woman entered into in accordance with law for the tolerate the illegal practice of law in any form, not only for the protection
establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the foundation of the family of members of the Bar but also, and more importantly, for the protection
and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and of the public. Technological development in the profession may be
incidents are governed by law and not subject to stipulation, except that encouraged without tolerating, but instead ensuring prevention of, illegal
marriage settlements may fix the property relation during the marriage practice.
within the limits provided by this Code. There might be nothing objectionable if respondent is allowed to perform
By simply reading the questioned advertisements, it is obvious that the all of its services, but only if such services are made available exclusively
message being conveyed is that Filipinos can avoid the legal to members of the Bench and Bar. Respondent would then be offering
consequences of a marriage celebrated in accordance with our law, by technical assistance, not legal services. Alternatively, the more difficult
simply going to Guam for a divorce. This is not only misleading, but task of carefully distinguishing between which service may be offered to
encourages, or serves to induce, violation of Philippine law. At the very the public in general and which should be made available exclusively to
least, this can be considered "the dark side" of legal practice, where members of the Bar may be undertaken. This, however, may require
certain defects in Philippine laws are exploited for the sake of profit. At further proceedings because of the factual considerations involved.
worst, this is outright malpractice. LibLex It must be emphasized, however, that some of respondent's services
Rule 1.02. A lawyer shall not counsel or abet activities aimed at ought to be prohibited outright, such as acts which tend to suggest or
defiance of the law or at lessening confidence in the legal system. induce celebration abroad of marriages which are bigamous or otherwise
In addition, it may also be relevant to point out that advertisements such illegal and void under Philippine law. While respondent may not be
as that shown in Annex "A" of the Petition, which contains a cartoon of a prohibited from simply disseminating information regarding such matters,
motor vehicle with the words "Just Married" on its bumper and seems to it must be required to include, in the information given, a disclaimer that
address those planning a "secret marriage," if not suggesting a "secret it is not authorized to practice law, that certain course of action may be
marriage," makes light of the "special contract of permanent union," the illegal under Philippine law, that it is not authorized or capable of
inviolable social institution," which is how the Family Code describes rendering a legal opinion, that a lawyer should be consulted before
marriage, obviously to emphasize its sanctity and inviolability. Worse, deciding on which course of action to take, and that it cannot recommend
this particular advertisement appears to encourage marriages celebrated any particular lawyer without subjecting itself to possible sanctions for
in secrecy, which is suggestive of immoral publication of applications for illegal practice of law.
a marriage license. LLpr If respondent is allowed to advertise, advertising should be directed
If the article "Rx for Legal Problems" is to be reviewed, it can readily be exclusively at members of the Bar, with a clear and unmistakable
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concluded that the above impressions one may gather from the disclaimer that it is not authorized to practice law or perform legal
advertisements in question are accurate. The Sharon Cuneta-Gabby services. cdrep

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
The benefits of being assisted by paralegals cannot be ignored. But divorces, annulment of marriages, secret marriages, absence and
nobody should be allowed to represent himself as a "paralegal" for profit, adoption; Immigration Laws, particularly on visa related problems,
without such term being clearly defined by rule or regulation, and without immigration problems; the Investment Law of the Philippines and such
any adequate and effective means of regulating his activities. Also, law other related laws.
practice in a corporate form may prove to be advantageous to the legal Its advertised services unmistakably require the application of the
profession, but before allowance of such practice may be considered, aforesaid laws, the legal principles and procedures related thereto, the
the corporation's Articles of Incorporation and By-laws must conform to legal advises based thereon and which activities call for legal training,
each and every provision of the Code of Professional Responsibility and knowledge and experience.
the Rules of Court 5 Applying the test laid down by the Court in the aforecited Agrava Case,
2. Philippine Bar Association: the activities of respondent fall squarely and are embraced in what
xxx xxx xxx lawyers and laymen equally term as "the practice of law." 7
Respondent asserts that it "is not engaged in the practice of law but 4. U.P. Women Lawyers' Circle:
engaged in giving legal support services to lawyers and laymen, through In resolving the issues before this Honorable Court, paramount
experienced paralegals, with the use of modern computers and consideration should be given to the protection of the general public from
electronic machines" (pars. 2 and 3, Comment). This is absurd. the danger of being exploited by unqualified persons or entities who may
Unquestionably, respondent's acts of holding out itself to the public under be engaged in the practice of law.
the trade name "The Legal Clinic, Inc.," and soliciting employment for its At present, becoming a lawyer requires one to take a rigorous four-year
enumerated services fall within the realm of a practice which thus yields course of study on top of a four-year bachelor of arts or sciences course
itself to the regulatory powers of the Supreme Court. For respondent to and then to take and pass the bar examinations. Only then, is a lawyer
say that it is merely engaged in paralegal work is to stretch credulity. qualified to practice law.
Respondent's own commercial advertisement which announces a While the use of a paralegal is sanctioned in many jurisdictions as an aid
certain Atty. Don Perkinson to be handling the fields of law belies its to the administration of justice, there are in those jurisdictions, courses
pretense. From all indications, respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." is of study and/or standards which would qualify these paralegals to deal
offering and rendering legal services through its reserve of lawyers. It with the general public as such. While it may now be the opportune time
has been held that the practice of law is not limited to the conduct of to establish these courses of study and/or standards, the fact remains
cases in court, but includes drawing of deeds, incorporation, rendering that at present, these do not exist in the Philippines. In the meantime,
opinions, and advising clients as to their legal rights and then take them this Honorable Court may decide to take measures to protect the general
to an attorney and ask the latter to look after their case in court (See public from being exploited by those who may be dealing with the general
Martin, Legal and Judicial Ethics, 1948 ed., p. 39). public in the guise of being "paralegals" without being qualified to do so.
It is apt to recall that only natural persons can engage in the practice of In the same manner, the general public should also be protected from
law, and such limitation cannot be evaded by a corporation employing the dangers which may be brought about by advertising of legal services.
competent lawyers to practice for it. Obviously, this is the scheme or While it appears that lawyers are prohibited under the present Code of
device by which respondent "The Legal Clinic, Inc." holds out itself to the Professional Responsibility from advertising, it appears in the instant
public and solicits employment of its legal services. It is an odious vehicle case that legal services are being advertised not by lawyers but by an
for deception, especially so when the public cannot ventilate any entity staffed by "paralegals." Clearly, measures should be taken to
grievance for malpractice against the business conduit. Precisely, the protect the general public from falling prey to those who advertise legal
limitation of practice of law to persons who have been duly admitted as services without being qualified to offer such services." 8
members of the Bar (Sec. 1, Rule 138, Revised Rules of Court) is to A perusal of the questioned advertisements of Respondent, however,
subject the members to the discipline of the Supreme Court. Although seems to give the impression that information regarding validity of
respondent uses its business name, the persons and the lawyers who marriages, divorce, annulment of marriage, immigration, visa extensions,
act for it are subject to court discipline. The practice of law is not a declaration of absence, adoption and foreign investment, which are in
profession open to all who wish to engage in it nor can it be assigned to essence, legal matters, will be given to them if they avail of its services.
another (See 5 Am. Jur. 270). It is a personal right limited to persons who The Respondent's name The Legal Clinic, Inc. does not help
have qualified themselves under the law. It follows that not only matters. It gives the impression again that Respondent will or can cure
respondent but also all the persons who are acting for respondent are the legal problems brought to them. Assuming that Respondent is, as
the persons engaged in unethical law practice. 6 claimed, staffed purely by paralegals, it also gives the misleading
3. Philippine Lawyers' Association: impression that there are lawyers involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc., as
The Philippine Lawyers' Association's position, in answer to the issues there are doctors in any medical clinic, when only "paralegals" are
stated herein, are, to wit: involved in The Legal Clinic, Inc.
1. The Legal Clinic is engaged in the practice of law; Respondent's allegations are further belied by the very admissions of its
2. Such practice is unauthorized; President and majority stockholder, Atty. Nogales, who gave an insight
3. The advertisements complained of are not only unethical, but also on the structure and main purpose of Respondent corporation in the
misleading and patently immoral; and aforementioned "Starweek" article." 9
4. The Honorable Supreme Court has the power to suppress and punish 5. Women Lawyer's Association of the Philippines:
the Legal Clinic and its corporate officers for its unauthorized practice of Annexes "A" and "B" of the petition are clearly advertisements to solicit
law and for its unethical, misleading and immoral advertising. cases for the purpose of gain which, as provided for under the above
xxx xxx xxx cited law, (are) illegal and against the Code of Professional
Respondent posits that it is not engaged in the practice of law. It claims Responsibility of lawyers in this country.
that it merely renders "legal support services" to lawyers, litigants and Annex "A" of the petition is not only illegal in that it is an advertisement
the general public as enunciated in the Primary Purpose Clause of its to solicit cases, but it is illegal in that in bold letters it announces that the
Article(s) of Incorporation. (See pages 2 to 5 of Respondent's Comment). Legal Clinic, Inc., could work out/cause the celebration of a secret
But its advertised services, as enumerated above, clearly and marriage which is not only illegal but immoral in this country. While it is
convincingly show that it is indeed engaged in law practice, albeit outside advertised that one has to go to said agency and pay P560 for a valid
the court. marriage it is certainly fooling the public for valid marriages in the
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As advertised, it offers the general public its advisory services on Philippines are solemnized only by officers authorized to do so under the
Persons and Family Relations Law, particularly regarding foreign

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
law. And to employ an agency for said purpose of contracting marriage of industrial relations experts are the officers and business agents of the
is not necessary. labor unions and few of them are lawyers. Among the larger corporate
No amount of reasoning that in the USA, Canada and other countries the employers, it has been the practice for some years to delegate special
trend is towards allowing lawyers to advertise their special skills to responsibility in employee matters to a management group chosen for
enable people to obtain from qualified practitioners legal services for their practical knowledge and skill in such matters, and without regard to
their particular needs can justify the use of advertisements such as are legal training or lack of it. More recently, consultants like the defendant
the subject matter of this petition, for one (cannot) justify an illegal act have tendered to the smaller employers the same service that the larger
even by whatever merit the illegal act may serve. The law has yet to be employers get from their own specialized staff.
amended so that such as act could become justifiable. LLphil "The handling of industrial relations is growing into a recognized
We submit further that these advertisements that seem to project that profession for which appropriate courses are offered by our leading
secret marriages and divorce are possible in this country for a fee, when universities. The court should be very cautious about declaring [that] a
in fact it is not so, are highly reprehensible. widespread, well-established method of conducting business is unlawful,
It would encourage people to consult this clinic about how they could go or that the considerable class of men who customarily perform a certain
about having a secret marriage here, when it cannot nor should ever be function have no right to do so, or that the technical education given by
attempted, and seek advice on divorce, where in this country there is our schools cannot be used by the graduates in their business.
none, except under the Code of Muslim Personal Laws in the Philippines. "In determining whether a man is practicing law, we should consider his
It is also against good morals and is deceitful because it falsely work for any particular client or customer, as a whole. I can imagine
represents to the public to be able to do that which by our laws cannot defendant being engaged primarily to advise as to the law defining his
be done (and) by our Code of Morals should not be done. LLjur client's obligations to his employees, to guide his client along the path
In the case (of) In re Taguda, 53 Phil. 37, the Supreme Court held that charted by law. This, of course, would be the practice of the law. But
solicitation for clients by an attorney by circulars of advertisements, is such is not the fact in the case before me. Defendant's primary efforts
unprofessional and offenses of this character justify permanent are along economic and psychological lines. The law only provides the
elimination from the Bar. 10 frame within which he must work, just as the zoning code limits the kind
6. Federacion of building the architect may plan. The incidental legal advice or
International de Abogadas: information defendant may give, does not transform his activities into the
xxx xxx xxx practice of law. Let me add that if, even as a minor feature of his work,
1.7 That he performed services which are customarily reserved to members of the
entities admittedly not engaged in the practice of law, such as bar, he would be practicing law. For instance, if as part of a welfare
management consultancy firms or travel agencies, whether run by program, he drew employees' wills.
lawyers or not, perform the services rendered by Respondent does not "Another branch of defendant's work is the representation of the
necessarily lead to the conclusion that Respondent is not unlawfully employer in the adjustment of grievances and in collective bargaining,
practicing law. In the same vein, however, the fact that the business of with or without a mediator. This is not per se the practice of law. Anyone
respondent (assuming it can be engaged in independently of the practice may use an agent for negotiations and may select an agent particularly
of law) involves knowledge of the law does not necessarily make skilled in the subject under discussion, and the person appointed is free
respondent guilty of unlawful practice of law. to accept the employment whether or not he is a member of the bar.
". . . Of necessity, no one . . . acting as a consultant can render effective Here, however, there may be an exception where the business turns on
service unless he is familiar with such statutes and regulations. He must a question of law. Most real estate sales are negotiated by brokers who
be careful not to suggest a course of conduct which the law forbids. It are not lawyers. But if the value of the land depends on a disputed right-
seems . . . clear that (the consultant's) knowledge of the law, and his use of-way and the principal role of the negotiator is to assess the probable
of that knowledge as a factor in determining what measures he shall outcome of the dispute and persuade the opposite party to the same
recommend, do not constitute the practice of law . . .. It is not only opinion, then it may be that only a lawyer can accept the assignment. Or
presumed that all men know the law, but it is a fact that most men have if a controversy between an employer and his men grows from differing
considerable acquaintance with the broad features of the law . . .. Our interpretations of a contract, or of a statute, it is quite likely that defendant
knowledge of the law accurate or inaccurate moulds our conduct should not handle it. But I need not reach a definite conclusion here,
not only when we are acting for ourselves, but when we are serving since the situation is not presented by the proofs. cdphil
others. Bankers, liquor dealers and laymen generally possess rather "Defendant also appears to represent the employer before administrative
precise knowledge of the laws touching their particular business or agencies of the federal government, especially before trial examiners of
profession. A good example is the architect, who must be familiar with the National Labor Relations Board. An agency of the federal
zoning, building and fire prevention codes, factory and tenement house government, acting by virtue of an authority granted by the Congress,
statutes, and who draws plans and specifications in harmony with the may regulate the representation of parties before such agency. The
law. This is not practicing law. State of New Jersey is without power to interfere with such determination
"But suppose the architect, asked by his client to omit a fire tower, replies or to forbid representation before the agency by one whom the agency
that it is required by the statute. Or the industrial relations expert cites, admits. The rules of the National Labor Relations Board give to a party
in support of some measure that he recommends, a decision of the the right to appear `in person, or by counsel, or by other representative.'
National Labor Relations Board. Are they practicing law? In my opinion, Rules and Regulations, September 11th, 1946, S. 203.31. `Counsel'
they are not, provided no separate fee is charged for the legal advice or here means a licensed attorney, and `other representative' one not a
information, and the legal question is subordinate and incidental to a lawyer. In this phase of his work, defendant may lawfully do whatever
major non-legal problem. the Labor Board allows, even arguing questions purely legal."
"It is largely a matter of degree and of custom. (Auerbacher v. Wood, 53 A. 2d 800, cited in Statsky, Introduction to
"If it were usual for one intending to erect a building on his land to engage Paralegalism [1974], at pp. 154-156.).
a lawyer to advise him and the architect in respect to the building code 1.8 From the
and the like, then an architect who performed this function would foregoing, it can be said that a person engaged in a lawful calling (which
probably be considered to be trespassing on territory reserved for may involve knowledge of the law) is not engaged in the practice of law
licensed attorneys. Likewise, if the industrial relations field had been pre- provided that:
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empted by lawyers, or custom placed a lawyer always at the elbow of (a) The legal question is subordinate and incidental to a major non-legal
the lay personnel man. But this is not the case. The most important body problem;

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
(b) The services performed are not customarily reserved to members of separation, annulment of separation agreement sought and should be
the bar; affirmed." (State v. Winder, 348, NYS 2d 270 [1973], cited in Statsky,
(c) No separate fee is charged for the legal advice or information. supra at p. 101.)
All these must be considered in relation to the work for any particular 1.12. Respondent, of course, states that its services are "strictly non-
client as a whole. diagnostic, non-advisory." It is not controverted, however, that if the
1.9. If the person involved is both lawyer and non-lawyer, the Code of services "involve giving legal advice or counselling," such would
Professional Responsibility succinctly states the rule of conduct: constitute practice of law (Comment, par. 6.2). It is in this light that FIDA
"Rule 15.08 A lawyer who is engaged in another profession or submits that a factual inquiry may be necessary for the judicious
occupation concurrently with the practice of law shall make clear to his disposition of this case.
client whether he is acting as a lawyer or in another capacity." 2.10. Annex "A" may be ethically objectionable in that it can give the
1.10. In the present case, the Legal Clinic appears to render wedding impression (or perpetuate the wrong notion) that there is a secret
services (See Annex "A", Petition). Services on routine, straightforward marriage. With all the solemnities, formalities and other requisites of
marriages, like securing a marriage license, and making arrangements marriages (See Articles 2, et seq., Family Code), no Philippine marriage
with a priest or a judge, may not constitute practice of law. However, if can be secret.
the problem is as complicated as that described in Rx for Legal 2.11. Annex "B" may likewise be ethically objectionable. The second
Problems" on the Sharon Cuneta-Gabby Concepcion-Richard Gomez paragraph thereof (which is not necessarily related to the first paragraph)
case, then what may be involved is actually the practice of law. If a non- fails to state the limitation that only "paralegal services" or "legal support
lawyer, such as the Legal Clinic, renders such services, then it is services", and not legal services, are available." 11
engaged in the unauthorized practice of law. A prefatory discussion on the meaning of the phrase "practice of law"
1.11 The Legal Clinic also appears to give information on divorce, becomes exigent for a proper determination of the issues raised by the
absence, annulment of marriage and visas (See Annexes "A" and "B", petition at bar. On this score, we note that the clause "practice of law"
Petition). Purely giving informational materials may not constitute has long been the subject of judicial construction and interpretation. The
practice of law. The business is similar to that of a bookstore where the courts have laid down general principles and doctrines explaining the
customer buys materials on the subject and determines by himself what meaning and scope of the term, some of which we now take into account.
courses of action to take. LLjur
It is not entirely improbable, however, that aside from purely giving Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the
information, the Legal Clinic's paralegals may apply the law to the application of law, legal procedures, knowledge, training and experience.
particular problem of the client, and give legal advice. Such would To engage in the practice of law is to perform those acts which are
constitute unauthorized practice of law. characteristic of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give
"It cannot be claimed that the publication of a legal text which purports advice or render any kind of service that involves legal knowledge or skill.
to say what the law is amounts to legal practice. And the mere fact that 12 The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. It
the principles or rules stated in the text may be accepted by a particular includes legal advice and counsel, and the preparation of legal
reader as a solution to his problem does not affect this. . . . Apparently it instruments and contracts by which legal rights are secured, although
is urged that the conjoining of these two, that is, the text and the forms, such matter may or may not be pending in a court. 13
with advice as to how the forms should be filled out, constitutes the In the practice of his profession, a licensed attorney at law generally
unlawful practice of law. But that is the situation with many approved and engages in three principal types of professional activity: legal advice and
accepted texts. Dacey's book is sold to the public at large. There is no instructions to clients to inform them of their rights and obligations,
personal contact or relationship with a particular individual. Nor does preparation for clients of documents requiring knowledge of legal
there exist that relation of confidence and trust so necessary to the status principles not possessed by ordinary layman, and appearance for clients
of attorney and client. THIS IS THE ESSENTIAL OF LEGAL PRACTICE before public tribunals which possess power and authority to determine
THE REPRESENTATION AND ADVISING OF A PARTICULAR rights of life, liberty, and property according to law, inorder to assist in
PERSON IN A PARTICULAR SITUATION. At most the book assumes proper interpretation and enforcement of law. 14
to offer general advice on common problems, and does not purport to When a person participates in a trial and advertises himself as a lawyer,
give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a designated or he is in the practice of law. 15 One who confers with clients, advises
readily identified person. Similarly the defendant's publication does not them as to their legal rights and then takes the business to an attorney
purport `to give personal advice on a specific problem peculiar to a and asks the later to look after the case in court, is also practicing law.
designated or readily identified person in a particular situation in the 16 Giving advice for compensation regarding the legal status and rights
publication and sale of the kits, such publication and sale did not of another and the conduct with respect thereto constitutes a practice of
constitute the unlawful practice of law . . .. There being no legal law. 17 One who renders an opinion as to the proper interpretation of a
impediment under the statute to the sale of the kit, there was no proper statute, and receives pay for it, is, to that extent, practicing law. 18
basis for the injunction against defendant maintaining an office for the In the recent case of Cayetano vs. Monsod, 19 after citing the doctrines
purpose of selling to persons seeking a divorce, separation, annulment in several cases, we laid down the test to determine whether certain acts
or separation agreement any printed material or writings relating to constitute "practice of law," thus:
matrimonial law or the prohibition in the memorandum of modification of Black defines "practice of law" as:
the judgment against defendant having an interest in any publishing "The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of
house publishing his manuscript on divorce and against his having any legal principles and technique to serve the interest of another with his
personal contact with any prospective purchaser. The record does fully consent. It is not limited to appearing in court, or advising and assisting
support, however, the finding that for the charge of $75 or $100 for the in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of pleadings,
kit, the defendant gave legal advice in the course of personal contacts and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings,
concerning particular problems which might arise in the preparation and conveyancing, the preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the
presentation of the purchaser's asserted matrimonial cause of action or giving of all legal advice to clients. It embraces all advice to clients and
pursuit of other legal remedies and assistance in the preparation of all actions taken for them in matters connected with the law."
necessary documents (The injunction therefore sought to) enjoin The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land
conduct constituting the practice of law, particularly with reference to the Title Abstract and Trust Co. v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650).
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giving of advice and counsel by the defendant relating to specific A person is also considered to be in the practice of law when he:
problems of particular individuals in connection with a divorce,

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
". . . for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising as computerized legal research; encoding and reproduction of
persons, firms, associations or corporations as to their rights under the documents and pleadings prepared by laymen or lawyers; document
law, or appears in a representative capacity as an advocate in search; evidence gathering; locating parties or witnesses to a case; fact
proceedings, pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, finding investigations; and assistance to laymen in need of basic
referee, board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or institutional services from government or non-government agencies, like
authorized to settle controversies and there, in such representative birth, marriage, property, or business registrations; educational or
capacity, performs any act or acts for the purpose of obtaining or employment records or certifications, obtaining documentation like
defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated, one clearances, passports, local or foreign visas; giving information about
who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising laws of other countries that they may find useful, like foreign divorce,
clients as to their rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any marriage or adoption laws that they can avail of preparatory to emigration
act or acts either in court or outside of court for that purpose, is engaged to that foreign country, and other matters that do not involve
in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v. C.S. Dudley and Co., representation of clients in court; designing and installing computer
102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)." systems, programs, or software for the efficient management of law
This Court, in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v. Agrava (105 offices, corporate legal departments, courts, and other entities engaged
Phil. 173, 176-177), stated: in dispensing or administering legal services." 20
"The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in While some of the services being offered by respondent corporation
court; it embraces the preparation of pleadings and other papers incident merely involve mechanical and technical know-how, such as the
to actions and special proceedings, the management of, such actions installation of computer systems and programs for the efficient
and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts, and in management of law offices, or the computerization of research aids and
addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken materials, these will not suffice to justify an exception to the general rule.
for them in matters connected with the law incorporation services, What is palpably clear is that respondent corporation gives out legal
assessment and condemnation services contemplating an appearance information to laymen and lawyers. Its contention that such function is
before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage, enforcement of a non-advisory and non-diagnostic is more apparent than real. In providing
creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and information, for example, about foreign laws on marriage, divorce and
conducting proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and adoption, it strains the credulity of this Court that all that respondent
guardianship have been held to constitute law practice, as do the corporation will simply do is look for the law, furnish a copy thereof to the
preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the work done client, and stop there as if it were merely a bookstore. With its attorneys
involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of and so called paralegals, it will necessarily have to explain to the client
facts and conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). the intricacies of the law and advise him or her on the proper course of
"Practice of law under modern conditions consists in no small part of action to be taken as may be provided for by said law. That is what its
work performed outside of any court and having no immediate relation to advertisements represent and for which services it will consequently
proceedings in court. It embraces conveyancing, the giving of legal charge and be paid. That activity falls squarely within the jurisprudential
advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation and execution definition of "practice of law." Such a conclusion will not be altered by the
of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust fact that respondent corporation does not represent clients in court since
relations and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no law practice, as the weight of authority holds, is not limited merely to
direct connection with court proceedings, they are always subject to court appearances but extends to legal research, giving legal advice,
become involved in litigation. They require in many aspects a high contract drafting, and so forth.
degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great The aforesaid conclusion is further strengthened by an article published
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These in the January 13, 1991 issue of the Starweek/The Sunday Magazine of
customary functions of an attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate the Philippine Star, entitled "Rx for Legal Problems," where an insight
relation to the administration of justice by the courts. No valid distinction, into the structure, main purpose and operations of respondent
so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be drawn corporation was given by its own "proprietor," Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales:
between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance This is the kind of business that is transacted everyday at The Legal
in court and that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments Clinic, with offices on the seventh floor of the Victoria Building along U.N.
in his office. It is of importance to the welfare of the public that these Avenue in Manila. No matter what the client's problem, and even if it is
manifold customary functions be performed by persons possessed of as complicated as the Cuneta-Concepcion domestic situation, Atty.
adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all Nogales and his staff of lawyers, who, like doctors, are "specialists" in
times under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all various fields, can take care of it. The Legal Clinic, Inc. has specialists in
attorneys. (Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1973 ed.], taxation and criminal law, medico-legal problems, labor, litigation and
pp. 665-666, citing In Re Opinion of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, family law. These specialists are backed up by a battery of paralegals,
quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service Assoc. [R.I.] 179 counsellors and attorneys.
A. 139, 144)." Atty. Nogales set up The Legal Clinic in 1984. Inspired by the trend in
The practice of law, therefore, covers a wide range of activities in and the medical field toward specialization, it caters to clients who cannot
out of court. Applying the aforementioned criteria to the case at bar, we afford the services of the big law firms.
agree with the perceptive findings and observations of the aforestated The Legal Clinic has regular and walk-in clients. "When they come, we
bar associations that the activities of respondent, as advertised, start by analyzing the problem. That's what doctors do also. They ask
constitute "practice of law." you how you contracted what's bothering you, they take your
The contention of respondent that it merely offers legal support services temperature, they observe you for the symptoms, and so on. That's how
can neither be seriously considered nor sustained. Said proposition is we operate, too. And once the problem has been categorized, then it's
belied by respondent's own description of the services it has been referred to one of our specialists."
offering, to wit: There are cases which do not, in medical terms, require surgery or
"Legal support services basically consist of giving ready information by follow-up treatment. These The Legal Clinic disposes of in a matter of
trained paralegals to laymen and lawyers, which are strictly non- minutes. "Things like preparing a simple deed of sale or an affidavit of
diagnostic, non-advisory, through the extensive use of computers and loss can be taken care of by our staff or, if this were a hospital, the
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modern information technology in the gathering, processing, storage, residents or the interns. We can take care of these matters on a while
transmission and reproduction of information and communication, such you wait basis. Again, kung baga sa ospital, out-patient, hindi kailangang

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
ma-confine. It's just like a common cold or diarrhea," explains Atty. and degrees in paralegal education, while there are none in the
Nogales. Philippines. 28 As the concept of the "paralegal" or "legal assistant"
Those cases which require more extensive "treatment" are dealt with evolved in the United States, standards and guidelines also evolved to
accordingly. "If you had a rich relative who died and named you her sole protect the general public. One of the major standards, or guidelines was
heir, and you stand to inherit millions of pesos of property, we would refer developed by the American Bar Association which set up Guidelines for
you to a specialist in taxation. There would be real estate taxes and the Approval of Legal Assistant Education Programs (1973). Legislation
arrears which would need to be put in order, and your relative is even has even been proposed to certify legal assistants. There are also
taxed by the state for the right to transfer her property, and only a associations of paralegals in the United States with their own code of
specialist in taxation would be properly trained to deal with that problem. professional ethics, such as the National Association of Legal Assistants,
Now, if there were other heirs contesting your rich relative's will, then you Inc. and the American Paralegal Association. 29
would need a litigator, who knows how to arrange the problem for In the Philippines, we still have a restricted concept and limited
presentation in court, and gather evidence to support the case." 21 acceptance of what may be considered, as paralegal service. As pointed
That fact that the corporation employs paralegals to carry out its services out by FIDA, some persons not duly licensed to practice law are or have
is not controlling. What is important is that it is engaged in the practice of been allowed limited representation in behalf of another or to render legal
law by virtue of the nature of the services it renders which thereby brings services, but such allowable services are limited in scope and extent by
it within the ambit of the statutory prohibitions against the advertisements the law, rules or regulations granting permission therefor. 30
which it has caused to be published and are now assailed in this Accordingly, we have adopted the American judicial policy that, in the
proceeding. prcd absence of constitutional or statutory authority, a person who has not
Further, as correctly and appropriately pointed out by the U.P. WILOCI, been admitted as an attorney cannot practice law for the proper
said reported facts sufficiently establish that the main purpose of administration of justice cannot be hindered by the unwarranted intrusion
respondent is to serve as a one-stop-shop of sorts for various legal of an unauthorized and unskilled person into the practice of law. 31
problems wherein a client may avail of legal services from simple That policy should continue to be one of encouraging persons who are
documentation to complex litigation and corporate undertakings. Most of unsure of their legal rights and remedies to seek legal assistance only
these services are undoubtedly beyond the domain of paralegals, but from persons licensed to practice law in the state. 32
rather, are exclusive functions of lawyers engaged in the practice of law. Anent the issue on the validity of the questioned advertisements, the
22 Code of Professional Responsibility provides that a lawyer in making
It should be noted that in our jurisdiction the services being offered by known his legal services shall use only true, honest, fair, dignified and
private respondent which constitute practice of law cannot be performed objective information or statement of facts. 33 He is not supposed to
by paralegals. Only a person duly admitted as a member of the bar, or use or permit the use of any false, fraudulent, misleading, deceptive,
hereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of the Rules undignified, self-laudatory or unfair statement or claim regarding his
of Court, and who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice qualifications or legal services. 34 Nor shall he pay or give something of
law. 23 value to representatives of the mass media in anticipation of, or in return
Public policy requires that the practice of law be limited to those for, publicity to attract legal business. 35 Prior to the adoption of the
individuals found duly qualified in education and character. The Code of Professional Responsibility, the Canons of Professional Ethics
permissive right conferred on the lawyers is an individual and limited had also warned that lawyers should not resort to indirect advertisements
privilege subject to withdrawal if he fails to maintain proper standards of for professional employment, such as furnishing or inspiring newspaper
moral and professional conduct. The purpose is to protect the public, the comments, or procuring his photograph to be published in connection
court, the client and the bar from the incompetence or dishonesty of with causes in which the lawyer has been or is engaged or concerning
those unlicensed to practice law and not subject to the disciplinary the manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the
control of the court. 24 importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation. 36
The same rule is observed in the American jurisdiction where from The standards of the legal profession condemn the lawyer's
respondent would wish to draw support for his thesis. The doctrines there advertisement of his talents. A lawyer cannot, without violating the ethics
also stress that the practice of law is limited to those who meet the of his profession, advertise his talents or skills as in a manner similar to
requirements for, and have been admitted to, the bar, and various a merchant advertising his goods. 37 The proscription against
statutes or rules specifically so provide. 25 The practice of law is not a advertising of legal services or solicitation of legal business rests on the
lawful business except for members of the bar who have complied with fundamental postulate that the practice of law is a profession. Thus, in
all the conditions required by statute and the rules of court. Only those the case of The Director of Religious Affairs vs. Estanislao R. Bavot 38
persons are allowed to practice law who, by reason of attainments an advertisement, similar to those of respondent which are involved in
previously acquired through education and study, have been recognized the present proceeding, 39 was held to constitute improper advertising
by the courts as possessing profound knowledge of legal science or solicitation.
entitling them to advise, counsel with, protect, or defend the rights, The pertinent part of the decision therein reads:
claims, or liabilities of their clients, with respect to the construction, It is undeniable that the advertisement in question was a flagrant violation
interpretation, operation and effect of law. 26 The justification for by the respondent of the ethics of his profession, it being a brazen
excluding from the practice of law those not admitted to the bar is found, solicitation of business from the public. Section 25 of Rule 127 expressly
not in the protection of the bar from competition, but in the protection of provides among other things that "the practice of soliciting cases at law
the public from being advised and represented in legal matters by for the purpose of gain, either personally or thru paid agents or brokers,
incompetent and unreliable persons over whom the judicial department constitutes malpractice." It is highly unethical for an attorney to advertise
can exercise little control. 27 his talents or skill as a merchant advertises his wares. Law is a
We have to necessarily and definitely reject respondent's position that profession and not a trade. The lawyer degrades himself and his
the concept in the United States of paralegals as an occupation separate profession who stoops to and adopts the practices of mercantilism by
from the law profession be adopted in this jurisdiction. Whatever may be advertising his services or offering them to the public. As a member of
its merits, respondent cannot but be aware that this should first be a the bar, he defiles the temple of justice with mercenary activities as the
matter for judicial rules or legislative action, and not of unilateral adoption money-changers of old defiled the temple of Jehovah. The most worthy
as it has done. and effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, . . . is the
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Paralegals in the United States are trained professionals. As admitted by establishment of a well-merited reputation for professional capacity and
respondent, there are schools and universities there which offer studies

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LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced but must be the outcome of and until it is implemented by such authority in that state." 46 This goes
character and conduct." (Canon 27, Code of Ethics.) to show that an exception to the general rule, such as that being invoked
We repeat, the canons of the profession tell us that the best advertising by herein respondent, can be made only if and when the canons
possible for a lawyer is a well-merited reputation for professional expressly provide for such an exception. Otherwise, the prohibition
capacity and fidelity to trust, which must be earned as the outcome of stands, as in the case at bar. LLpr
character and conduct. Good and efficient service to a client as well as It bears mention that in a survey conducted by the American Bar
to the community has a way of publicizing itself and catching public Association after the decision in Bates, on the attitude of the public about
attention. That publicity is a normal by-product of effective service which lawyers after viewing television commercials, it was found that public
is right and proper. A good and reputable lawyer needs no artificial opinion dropped significantly 47 with respect to these characteristics of
stimulus to generate it and to magnify his success. He easily sees the lawyers:
difference between a normal by-product of able service and the Trustworthy from 71% to
unwholesome result of propaganda. 40 14%
Of course, not all types of advertising or solicitation are prohibited. The Professional from 71% to
canons of the profession enumerate exceptions to the rule against 14%
advertising or solicitation and define the extent to which they may be Honest from 65% to
undertaken. The exceptions are of two broad categories, namely, those 14%
which are expressly allowed and those which are necessarily implied Dignified from 45% to
from the restrictions. 41 14%
The first of such exceptions is the publication in reputable law lists, in a Secondly, it is our firm belief that with the present situation of our legal
manner consistent with the standards of conduct imposed by the canons, and judicial systems, to allow the publication of advertisements of the
of brief biographical and informative data. "Such data must not be kind used by respondent would only serve to aggravate what is already
misleading and may include only a statement of the lawyer's name and a deteriorating public opinion of the legal profession whose integrity has
the names of his professional associates; addresses, telephone consistently been under attack lately by media and the community in
numbers, cable addresses; branches of law practiced; date and place of general. At this point in time, it is of utmost importance in the face of such
birth and admission to the bar; schools attended with dates of graduation, negative, even if unfair, criticisms at times, to adopt and maintain that
degrees and other educational distinction; public or quasi-public offices; level of professional conduct which is beyond reproach, and to exert all
posts of honor; legal authorships; legal teaching positions; membership efforts to regain the high esteem formerly accorded to the legal
and offices in bar associations and committees thereof, in legal and profession.
scientific societies and legal fraternities; the fact of listings in other In sum, it is undoubtedly a misbehavior on the part of the lawyer, subject
reputable law lists; the names and addresses of references; and, with to disciplinary action, to advertise his services except in allowable
their written consent, the names of clients regularly represented." 42 instances 48 or to aid a layman in the unauthorized practice of law.
The law list must be a reputable law list published primarily for that 49 Considering that Atty. Rogelio P. Nogales, who is the prime
purpose; it cannot be a mere supplemental feature of a paper, magazine, incorporator, major stockholder and proprietor of The Legal Clinic, Inc. is
trade journal or periodical which is published principally for other a member of the Philippine Bar, he is hereby reprimanded, with a
purposes. For that reason, a lawyer may not properly publish his brief warning that a repetition of the same or similar acts which are involved
biographical and informative data in a daily paper, magazine, trade in this proceeding will be dealt with more severely.
journal or society program. Nor may a lawyer permit his name to be While we deem it necessary that the question as to the legality or
published in a law list the conduct, management or contents of which are illegality of the purpose/s for which the Legal Clinic, Inc. was created
calculated or likely to deceive or injure the public or the bar, or to lower should be passed upon and determined, we are constrained to refrain
the dignity or standing of the profession. 43 from lapsing into an obiter on that aspect since it is clearly not within the
The use of an ordinary simple professional card is also permitted. The adjudicative parameters of the present proceeding which is merely
card may contain only a statement of his name, the name of the law firm administrative in nature. It is, of course, imperative that this matter be
which he is connected with, address, telephone number and special promptly determined, albeit in a different proceeding and forum, since,
branch of law practiced. The publication of a simple announcement of under the present state of our law and jurisprudence, a corporation
the opening of a law firm or of changes in the partnership, associates, cannot be organized for or engage in the practice of law in this country.
firm name or office address, being for the convenience of the profession, This interdiction, just like the rule against unethical advertising, cannot
is not objectionable. He may likewise have his name listed in a telephone be subverted by employing some so-called paralegals supposedly
directory but not under a designation of special branch of law. 44 rendering the alleged support services. llcd
Verily, taking into consideration the nature and contents of the The remedy for the apparent breach of this prohibition by respondent is
advertisements for which respondent is being taken to task, which even the concern and province of the Solicitor General who can institute the
includes a quotation of the fees charged by said respondent corporation corresponding quo warranto action, 50 after due ascertainment of the
for services rendered, we find and so hold that the time definitely do not factual background and basis for the grant of respondent's corporate
and conclusively cannot fall under any of the above-mentioned charter, in light of the putative misuse thereof. That spin-off from the
exceptions. instant bar matter is referred to the Solicitor General for such action as
The ruling in the case of Bates, et al. vs. State Bar of Arizona, 45 which may be necessary under the circumstances.
is repeatedly invoked and constitutes the justification relied upon by ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to RESTRAIN and ENJOIN herein
respondent, is obviously not applicable to the case at bar. Foremost is respondent, The Legal Clinic, Inc., from issuing or causing the
the fact that the disciplinary rule involved in said case explicitly allows a publication or dissemination of any advertisement in any form which is of
lawyer, as an exception to the prohibition against advertisements by the same or similar tenor and purpose as Annexes "A" and "B" of this
lawyers, to publish a statement of legal fees for an initial consultation or petition, and from conducting, directly or indirectly, any activity, operation
the availability upon request of a written schedule of fees or an estimate or transaction proscribed by law or the Code of Professional Ethics as
of the fee to be charged for the specific services. No such exception is indicated herein. Let copies of this resolution be furnished the Integrated
provided for, expressly or impliedly, whether in our former Canons of Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and the Office of
Professional Ethics or the present Code of Professional Responsibility. the Solicitor General for appropriate action in accordance herewith.
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Besides, even the disciplinary rule in the Bates case contains a proviso Narvasa, C .J ., Cruz, Feliciano, Padilla, Bidin, Grio-Aquino, Davide, Jr.,
that the exceptions stated therein are "not applicable in any state unless Romero, Nocon, Bellosillo, Melo and Quiason, JJ ., concur.

Intelligentia et Scientia Semper Mea


LEGAL ETHICS PINEDAPCGRNMAN
amended by Act No. 2828 by adding at the end thereof the following:
March 23, 1929 "The practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either
In re LUIS B. TAGORDA, personally or through paid agents or brokers, constitutes malpractice."
Duran & Lim for respondent. The statute as amended conforms in principle to the Canons of
Attorney-General Jaranilla and Provincial Fiscal Jose for the Professionals Ethics adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908
Government. and by the Philippine Bar Association in 1917. Canons 27 and 28 of the
MALCOLM, J.: Code of Ethics provide:
The respondent, Luis B. Tagorda, a practising attorney and a member of 27. ADVERTISING, DIRECT OR INDIRECT. The most worthy and
the provincial board of Isabela, admits that previous to the last general effective advertisement possible, even for a young lawyer, and especially
elections he made use of a card written in Spanish and Ilocano, which, with his brother lawyers, is the establishment of a well-merited reputation
in translation, reads as follows: for professional capacity and fidelity to trust. This cannot be forced, but
LUIS B. TAGORDA must be the outcome of character and conduct. The publication or
Attorney circulation of ordinary simple business cards, being a matter of personal
Notary Public taste or local custom, and sometimes of convenience, is not per
CANDIDATE FOR THIRD MEMBER se improper. But solicitation of business by circulars or advertisements,
Province of Isabela or by personal communications or interview not warranted by personal
(NOTE. As notary public, he can execute for you a deed of sale for relations, is unprofessional. It is equally unprofessional to procure
the purchase of land as required by the cadastral office; can renew lost business by indirection through touters of any kind, whether allied real
documents of your animals; can make your application and final estate firms or trust companies advertising to secure the drawing of
requisites for your homestead; and can execute any kind of affidavit. As deeds or wills or offering retainers in exchange for executorships or
a lawyer, he can help you collect your loans although long overdue, as trusteeships to be influenced by the lawyer. Indirect advertisement for
well as any complaint for or against you. Come or write to him in his town, business by furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments concerning the
Echague, Isabela. He offers free consultation, and is willing to help and manner of their conduct, the magnitude of the interest involved, the
serve the poor.) importance of the lawyer's position, and all other like self-laudation, defy
The respondent further admits that he is the author of a letter addressed the traditions and lower the tone of our high calling, and are intolerable.
to a lieutenant of barrio in his home municipality written in Ilocano, which 28. STIRRING UP LITIGATION, DIRECTLY OR THROUGH AGENTS.
letter, in translation, reads as follows: It is unprofessional for a lawyer to volunteer advice to bring a lawsuit,
ECHAGUE, ISABELA, September 18, 1928 except in rare cases where ties of blood, relationship or trust make it his
MY DEAR LIEUTENANT: I would like to inform you of the approaching duty to do so. Stirring up strife and litigation is not only unprofessional,
date for our induction into office as member of the Provincial Board, that b