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Re: 2003 Bar Examinations

"The Committee finds that the leaked test questions in Mercantile Law were the questions
which the examiner, Attorney Marcial O. T. Balgos, had prepared and submitted to Justice
Jose C. Vitug, as chairman of the 2003 Bar Examinations Committee. The questions
constituted 82% of the questions asked in the examination in Mercantile Law in the
morning of September 21, 2003, Sunday, in some cases with slight changes which were
not substantial and in other cases exactly as proposed by Atty. Balgos. Hence, any bar
examinee who was able to get hold of the leaked questions before the mercantile law
examination and answered them correctly, would have been assured of passing the
examination with at least a grade of 82%.

"Atty. Balgos claimed that the leaked test questions were prepared by him on his
computer. Without any doubt, the source of the leaked test questions was Atty. Balgos'
computer. The culprit who stole or downloaded them from Atty. Balgos' computer without
the latter's knowledge and consent, and who faxed them to other persons, was Atty.
Balgos' legal assistant, Attorney Danilo De Guzman, who voluntarily confessed the deed
to the Investigating Committee. De Guzman revealed that he faxed the test questions,
with the help of his secretary Reynita Villasis, to his fraternity 'brods,' namely, Ronan
Garvida, Arlan (whose surname he could not recall), and Erwin Tan.

"In turn, Ronan Garvida faxed the test questions to Betans Randy Iigo and James Bugain.
"Randy Iigo passed a copy or copies of the same questions to another Betan, Alan
Guiapal, who gave a copy to the MLQU-Beta Sigma [Lambda's] Most Illustrious Brother,
Ronald F. Collado, who ordered the printing and distribution of 30 copies to the MLQU's 30
bar candidates.

Infractions:

"Attorney Danilo De Guzman's act of downloading Attorney Balgos' test questions in


mercantile law from the latter's computer, without his knowledge and permission, was a
criminal act of larceny. It was theft of intellectual property; the test questions were
intellectual property of Attorney Balgos, being the product of his intellect and legal
knowledge.

"Besides theft, De Guzman also committed an unlawful infraction of Attorney Balgos' right
to privacy of communication, and to security of his papers and effects against
unauthorized search and seizure rights zealously protected by the Bill of Rights of our
Constitution (Sections 2 and 3, Article III, 1987 Constitution).

"He transgressed the very first canon of the lawyers' Code of Professional Responsibility
which provides that '[a] lawyer shall uphold the Constitution, obey the laws of the land,
and promote respect for law and legal processes.'

"By transmitting and distributing the stolen test questions to some members of the Beta
Sigma Lambda Fraternity, possibly for pecuniary profit and to given them undue
advantage over the other examiners in the mercantile law examination, De Guzman
abetted cheating or dishonesty by his fraternity brothers in the examination, which is
violative of Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, as well as Canon 7 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility for members of the Bar, which provide:

Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct Canon 7 A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND
DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE INTEGRATED
BAR.

Recommendation:

(1) DISBAR Atty. DANILO DE GUZMAN from the practice of law effective upon his receipt of
this RESOLUTION;

(2) REPRIMAND Atty. MARCIAL O. T. BALGOS and DISENTITLE him from receiving any h o n
o r a riu m as an Examiner in Mercantile Law;

(3) Direct the National Bureau of Investigation (a) to undertake further investigation of
Danilo De Guzman, Cheryl Palma, Silvestre Atienza, Ronan Garvida, Erwin Tan, Randy
Iigo, James Bugain, Ronald Collado and Allan Guiapal with a view to determining their
participation and respective accountabilities in the bar examination leakage and to
conduct an investigation on how Danilo De Guzman was able to secure a copy of the
Supreme Court's CALR database.

Barrientos vs. Libiran-Meteoro

Before this Court is a complaint for disbarment filed against Atty. Elerizza A.
LibiranMeteoro for deceit and non-payment of debts. A letter-complaint dated May 21,
2001 was filed with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) under the names of Isidra
Barrientos and Olivia C. Mercado, which was signed, however, by Isidra only. It states
that: sometime in September of 2000, respondent issued several Equitable PCIBank
Checks in favor of both Isidra and Olivia, amounting to P67,000.00, and in favor of Olivia,
totaling P234,000.00, for the payment of a pre-existing debt; the checks bounced due to
insufficient funds thus charges for violation of B.P. 22 were filed by Isidra and Olivia with
the City Prosecutor of Cabanatuan; respondent sent text messages to complainants
asking for the deferment of the criminal charges with the promise that she will pay her
debt; respondent however failed to fulfill said promise; on May 16, 2001, respondent,
through her sister-in-law, tried to give complainants a title for a parcel of land in
exchange for the bounced checks which were in the possession of complainants; the title
covered an area of 5,000 square meters located at Bantug, La Torre, Talavera, Nueva
Ecija, registered in the name of Victoria Villamar which was allegedly paid to respondent
by a client; complainants checked the property and discovered that the land belonged to
a certain Dra. Helen Garcia, the sole heir of Victoria Villamar, who merely entrusted said
title to respondent pursuant to a transaction with the Quedancor; complainants tried to
get in touch with respondent over the phone but the latter was always unavailable, thus
the present complaint.

Respondent in her answer initially tried to deny having any obligation towards Isidra
Barrientos. Upon appearing before the IBP-CBD, however, respondent eventually
acknowledged her indebtedness to Isidra in the amount of P134,000.00, promising only to
pay in a staggered basis. Her attempt to evade her financial obligation runs counter to
the precepts of the Code of Professional Responsibility, above quoted, and violates the
lawyers oath which imposes upon every member of the bar the duty to delay no man for
money or malice.

After respondent acknowledged her debt to complainant, she committed herself to the
payment thereof. Yet she failed many times to fulfill said promise. She did not appear in
most of the hearings and merely submitted a motion for reconsideration on August 1,
2002 after the IBP-CBD Commissioner had already submitted the case for resolution. She
claimed that she got sick days before the hearing and asked for sixty days to finally settle
her account. Again, she failed to fulfill her promise and did not appear before the
Commission in the succeeding hearings despite due notice. After the case was submitted
anew for resolution on October 6, 2003, respondent filed another motion for
reconsideration, this time saying that she was in the province attending to personal
matters. Again she asked for another ninety days to settle her entire debt. This repeated
failure on her part to fulfill her promise puts in question her integrity and moral character.
Her failure to attend most of the hearings called by the commission and her belated pleas
for reconsideration also manifest her propensity to delay the resolution of the case and to
make full use of the mechanisms of administrative proceedings to her benefit.

She also could not deny that she issued several checks without sufficient funds, which
prompted Isidra and Olivia to file complaints before the prosecutors office in Cabanatuan
City. Her only excuse is that she was able to replace said checks and make arrangements
for the payment of her debt, which led to the dismissal of the criminal complaints against
her.

Held:

We have held that deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless
checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with
suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of
justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal
proficiency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that
the peoples faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. They must at all times
faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which
include prompt payment of financial obligations. They must conduct themselves in a
manner that reflect the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code
of Professional Responsibility. Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 explicitly states that: CANON 1
A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect
for law and for legal processes. Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

We reiterate that membership in the legal profession is a privilege and demands a high
degree of good moral character, not only as a condition precedent to admission, but also
as a continuing requirement for the practice of law
Basic is the principle that if the complainant, upon whom rests the burden of proving her
cause of action, fails to show in a satisfactory manner the facts upon which she bases her
claim, the respondent is under no obligation to prove her exception or defense. 27 27
Simply put, the burden is not on the respondent to prove her innocence but on the
complainants to prove her guilt. In this case, complainants submitted a photocopy of a
TCT in the name of Victoria Villamar together with their letter-complaint, which according
to complainants was the title respondent tried, through her sister-in-law, to negotiate with
them in exchange for the bounced checks in their possession. 28 28 No other evidence
or sworn statement was submitted in support of such allegation. Respondent in her
answer, meanwhile, denied having any knowledge regarding such matter and no further
discussion was made on the matter, not even in the hearings before the commission. 29
29 For this reason, we hold that respondent should not be held liable for the alleged
negotiation of a TCT to complainants for lack of sufficient evidence, but only for the non-
payment of debts and the issuance of worthless checks which were sufficiently proved
and which respondent herself admitted.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Elerizza A. Libiran-Meteoro is found guilty of gross misconduct and is


hereby SUSPENDED for six months from the practice of law, effective upon her receipt of
this Decision, and is ordered to pay complainant Isidra Barrientos the amount of
P84,000.00, as balance of her debt to the latter, plus 6% interest from date of finality of
herein decision.

Barrios vs Atty. Samson

This is a verified petition 1 1 for disbarment filed against Atty. Francisco Martinez for
having been convicted by final judgment in Criminal Case No. 6608 of a crime involving
moral turpitude by Branch 8 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City.

The dispositive portion of the same states:

WHEREFORE, this Court finds the accused Francisco Martinez guilty beyond reasonable
doubt of the crime for ( sic ) violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 charged in the
Information. He is imposed a penalty of ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment and fine double the
amount of the check which is EIGHT THOUSAND (8,000.00) PESOS, plus payment of the
tax pursuant to Section 205 of the Internal Revenue Code and costs against the accused.

Complainant further submitted our Resolution dated 13 March 1996 and the Entry of
Judgment from this Court dated 20 March 1996.

On 03 July 1996, we required respondent to comment on said petition within ten (10)
days from notice. On 17 February 1997, we issued a second resolutionrequiring him to
show cause why no disciplinary action should be imposed on him for failure to comply
with our earlier Resolution, and to submit said Comment. On 07 July 1997, we imposed a
fine of P1,000 for respondent's failure to file said Comment and required him to comply
with our previous resolution within ten days. On 27 April 1998, we fined respondent an
additional P2,000 and required him to comply with the resolution requiring his comment
within ten days under pain of imprisonment and arrest for a period of five (5) days or until
his compliance. Finally, on 03 February 1999, or almost three years later, we declared
respondent Martinez guilty of Contempt under Rule 71, Sec. 3[b] of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure and ordered his imprisonment until he complied with the aforesaid resolutions.

On 05 April 1999, the National Bureau of Investigation reported that respondent was
arrested in Tacloban City on 26 March 1999, but was subsequently released after having
shown proof of compliance with the resolutions of 17 February 1997 and 27 April 1998 by
remitting the amount of P2,000 and submitting his long overdue Comment.

In the said Comment dated 16 March 1999, respondent stated that:

1. He failed to respond to our Resolution dated 17 February 1997 as he was at that time
undergoing medical treatment at Camp Ruperto Kangleon in Palo, Leyte;

2. Complainant Michael Barrios passed away sometime in June 1997;

3. Said administrative complaint is an offshoot of a civil case which was decided in


respondent's favor (as plaintiff in the said case). Respondent avers that as a result of his
moving for the execution of judgment in his favor and the eviction of the family of herein
complainant Michael Barrios, the latter filed the present administrative case.

In the meantime, on 11 September 1997, a certain Robert Visbal of the Provincial


Prosecution Office of Tacloban City submitted a letter to the First Division Clerk of Court
alleging that respondent Martinez also stood charged in another e s t a f a case before
the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch 9, as well as a civil case involving the
victims of the Doa Paz tragedy in 1987, for which the Regional Trial Court of Basey,
Samar, Branch 30 rendered a decision against him, his appeal thereto having been
dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

In the said Decision of Branch 30 of the Regional Trial Court of Basey, Samar, 12 12 it
appears that herein respondent Atty. Martinez offered his legal services to the victims of
the Doa Paz tragedy for free. However, when the plaintiff in the said civil case was
issued a check for P90,000 by Sulpicio Lines representing compensation for the deaths of
his wife and two daughters, Atty. Martinez asked plaintiff to endorse said check, which
was then deposited in the account of Dr. Martinez, Atty. Martinez's wife. When plaintiff
asked for his money, he was only able to recover a total of P30,000. Atty. Martinez
claimed the remaining P60,000 as his attorney's fees. Holding that it was "absurd and
totally ridiculous that for a simple legal service . . . he would collect 2/3 of the money
claim," the trial court ordered Atty. Martinez to pay the plaintiff therein the amount of
P60,000 with interest, P5,000 for moral and exemplary damages, and the costs of the
suit.

Said trial court also made particular mention of Martinez's dilatory tactics during the trial,
citing fourteen (14) specific instances thereof. Martinez's appeal from the above
judgment was dismissed by the Court of Appeals for his failure to file his brief, despite
having been granted three thirty (30)-day extensions to do so.

On 27 September 2003, the IBP Board of Governors passed a Resolution 16 16 adopting


and approving the report and recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner. On 03
December 2003, respondent Martinez filed a Motion for .Reconsideration and/or
Reinvestigation, 17 17 in the instant case alleging that:

1. The Report and Recommendation of the IBP Investigating Commissioner is tantamount


to a deprivation of property without due process of law, although admittedly the practice
of law is a privilege;

2. If respondent is given another chance to have his day in court and allowed to adduce
evidence, the result/outcome would be entirely different from that arrived at by the
Investigating Commissioner; and

3. Respondent is now 71 years of age, and has served the judiciary in various capacities
(from acting city judge to Municipal Judges League Leyte Chapter President) for almost 17
years prior to resuming his law practice. On 14 January 2004, we required 18 18
complainant to file a comment within ten days.

On 16 February 2004, we received a Manifestation and Motion from complainant's


daughter, Diane Francis Barrios Latoja, alleging that they had not been furnished with a
copy of respondent's Motion, notwithstanding the fact that respondent ostensibly lives
next door to complainant's family.

Required to Comment on 17 May 2004, respondent has until now failed to do so. The
records show that respondent, indeed, failed to furnish a copy of said Motion to herein
complainant. The records also show that respondent was given several opportunities to
present evidence by this Court as well as by the IBP. Indeed, he only has himself to
blame, for he has failed to present his case despite several occasions to do so. It is now
too late in the day for respondent to ask this court to receive his evidence.

Held:

Under Sec. 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, a member of the Bar may be disbarred or
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice,
or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he
is required to take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful
order of a superior court, or for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party
to a case without authority to do so.

In the present case, respondent has been found guilty and convicted by final judgment
for violation of B.P. Blg. 22 for issuing a worthless check in the amount of P8,000. The
issue with which we are now concerned is whether or not the said crime is one involving
moral turpitude.

Moral turpitude "includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty,


modesty, or good morals." It involves "an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the
private duties which a man owes his fellow men, or to society in general, contrary to the
accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and woman, or conduct
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals."
In this case as well, we find disbarment to be the appropriate penalty. "Of all classes and
professions, the lawyer is most sacredly bound to uphold the laws. He is their sworn
servant; and for him, of all men in the world, to repudiate and override the laws, to
trample them underfoot and to ignore the very bands of society, argues recreancy to his
position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and dangerous
elements of the body politic."

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Francisco P. Martinez is hereby DISBARRED and his name is
ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys. Let a copy of this Decision be entered in
the respondent's record as a member of the Bar, and notice of the same be served on the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and on the Office of the Court Administrator for
circulation to all courts in the country.

A-1 Financial Services vs. Atty Laarni Valerio

On November 13, 2001, A-1 Financial Services, Inc., a nancing corporation, granted the
loan application of Atty. Valerio amounting to P50,000.00. To secure the payment of the
loan obligation, Atty. Valerio issued a postdated check, to wit: C h e c k N o . 0 0 0 0 0 1 2
7 2 5; d a t e d A p ril 1, 2 0 0 2, in t h e a m o u n t: P 5 0,0 0 0 .0 0 . However, upon
presentation at the bank for payment on its maturity date, the check was dishonored due
to insufcient funds. As of the ling of the instant case, despite repeated demands to pay
her obligation, Atty. Valerio failed to pay the whole amount of her obligation.

Thus, on November 10, 2003, complainant led a B.P . 22 case against Atty. Valerio,
docketed as Criminal Case No. 124779. Atty. Valerio's arraignment was scheduled for
August 31, 2004; however, she failed to appear despite due notice. 3 3 Subsequently, a
Warrant of Arrest was issued but Atty. Valerio posted no bail. On November 22, 2004,
complainant sent a letter 5 5 to Atty. Valerio calling her attention to the issuance of the
Warrant of Arrest against her and requested her to submit to the jurisdiction of the court
by posting bail. The said letter was received by Atty. Valerio, as evidenced by the postal
registry return cards. 6 6 Despite court orders and notices, Atty. Valerio refused to abide.

On January 18, 2006, complainant led an administrative complaint against Atty. Valerio
before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). On January 26, 2006, the IBP
Commission on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD) required Atty. Valerio to le an answer, but she did
not le any responsive pleading at all. However, in a letter dated March 16, 2006,
respondent's mother, Gorgonia N. Valerio (Mrs. Valerio), explained that her daughter had
been diagnosed with s c hiz o p h r e nia ; thus, could not properly respond to the
complaint against her. Furthermore, Mrs. Valerio undertook to personally settle her
daughter's obligation.

On September 13, 2007, the IBP-CBD directed Atty. Valerio to appear before the
mandatory conference. Atty. Valerio, again, failed to attend the conference. Subsequently,
in an Order dated November 15, 2007, the IBP ordered the parties to submit their position
papers. No position paper was submitted by Atty. Valerio.
Thus, in its Report and Recommendation dated September 16, 2008, the IBP-CBD
recommended that Atty. Valerio be suspended from the practice of law for a period of two
(2) years, having found her guilty of gross misconduct.

Held:

In B a r rie n t o s v. Lib ir a n- M e t e o r o,

we held that: . . . [the] deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless
checks constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with
suspension from the practice of law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of
justice and vanguards of our legal system. They are expected to maintain not only legal
prociency but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and fair dealing so that
the people's faith and condence in the judicial system is ensured. They must at all times
faithfully perform their duties to society, to the bar, the courts and to their clients, which
include prompt payment of nancial obligations. They must conduct themselves in a
manner that reects the values and norms of the legal profession as embodied in the Code
of Professional Responsibility. Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 explicitly states that: Canon 1
A lawyer shall uphold the constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for
law and for legal processes. Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful,
dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.

In N g a y a n v. T u g a d e, we ruled that "[a lawyer's] failure to answer the complaint


against him and his failure to appear at the investigation are evidence of his outing
resistance to lawful orders of the court and illustrate his despiciency for his oath of office
in violation of Section 3, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court.

We deem it reasonable to afrm the sanction imposed by the IBP-CBD, i.e., Atty. Valerio
was ordered suspended from the practice of law for two (2) years, because, aside from
issuing worthless checks and failing to pay her debts, she has also shown wanton
disregard of the IBP's and Court Orders in the course of the proceedings.

WHEREFORE, Resolution No. XVIII-2008-647 dated December 11, 2008 of the IBP , which
found respondent Atty. Laarni N. Valerio guilty of gross misconduct and violation of the
Code of Professional Responsibility, is AFFIRMED AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION
MODIFICATION. She is hereby SUSPENDED SUSPENDED for two (2) years from the practice
of law, effective upon the receipt of this Decision. She is warned that a repetition of the
same or a similar act will be dealt with more severely.

Cham vs. Atty. Moya

Before Us is a Complaint for disbarment filed by complainant Wilson Cham against


respondent Atty. Eva Paita-Moya, who he alleged committed deceit in occupying a leased
apartment unit and, thereafter, vacating the same without paying the rentals due.

According to the Complaint, on 1 October 1998, respondent entered into a Contract of


Lease with Greenville Realty and Development Corp. (GRDC), represented by complainant
as its President and General Manager, involving a residential apartment unit owned by
GRDC located at No. 61-C Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City, for a consideration of P8,000.00
per month for a term of one year.

Upon the expiration of said lease contract, respondent informed the complainant that she
would no longer renew the same but requested an extension of her stay at the apartment
unit until 30 June 2000 with a commitment that she would be paying the monthly rental
during the extension period. Complainant approved such request but increased the rental
rate to P8,650.00 per month for the period beginning 1 October 1999 until 30 June 2000.

Respondent stayed at the leased premises up to October 2000 without paying her rentals
from July to October 2000. She also failed to settle her electric bills for the months of
September and October 2000. The Statement of Account as of 15 October 2004 shows
that respondent's total accountability is P71,007.88. S

ometime in October 2000, a report reached complainant's office that respondent had
secretly vacated the apartment unit, bringing along with her the door keys. Also,
respondent did not heed complainant's repeated written demands for payment of her
obligations despite due receipt of the same, compelling complainant to file the present
Complaint.

In her Answer, respondent alleged that she had religiously paid her monthly rentals and
had not vacated the apartment unit surreptitiously. She also averred that she transferred
to another place because she was given notice by the complainant to vacate the
premises to give way for the repair and renovation of the same, but which never
happened until presently. Respondent actually wanted to ask that complainant to account
for her deposit for the apartment unit, but she could not do so since she did not know
complainant's address or contact number. For the same reason, she could not turn over
to the complainant the door keys to the vacated apartment unit.

A review of the records would reveal that respondent is, indeed, guilty of willful failure to
pay just debt. Complainant is able to fully substantiate that respondent has existing
obligations that she failed to settle.

Annex "D" 10 10 of the Complaint is a letter dated 11 September 2000 signed by


complainant and addressed to respondent demanding that she settle her unpaid rentals
for the period of three months, particularly, from 1 July to 30 September 2000. The letter
appears to have been received by one Purificacion D. Flores. Annex "H" of the same
Complaint is another letter dated 30 August 2004 by complainant reiterating his earlier
demand for respondent to settle her unpaid rentals, as well as her unpaid Meralco bills.

This second letter of demand was sent through registered mail and received by one Nonie
Catindig. Respondent did not expressly deny receipt of both letters of demand in her
Answer to the Complaint. Having failed to rebut the foregoing allegations, she must be
deemed to have admitted them. Section 11, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court, provides:
SEC. 11. Alle g a tio n s n o t s p e cific ally d e nie d d e e m e d a d mitt e d. Material
averment in the complaint, other than those as to the amount of unliquidated damage,
shall be deemed admitted when not specifically denied.
Respondent left the apartment unit without settling her unpaid obligations, and without
the complainant's knowledge and consent. Respondent's abandonment of the leased
premises to avoid her obligations for the rent and electricity bills constitutes deceitful
conduct violative of the Code of Professional Responsibility, particularly Canon I and
Rule 1.01 thereof, which explicitly state: "CANON 1 A lawyer shall uphold the
constitution, obey the laws of the land and promote respect for law and legal processes.
"Rule 1.01 A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct."

Held:

Accordingly, administrative sanction is warranted by respondent's gross misconduct. The


case at bar merely involves the respondent's deliberate failure to pay her just debts,
without her issuing a worthless check, which would have been a more serious offense.
The Investigating Commissioner of the IBP recommended that she be suspended from the
practice of law for three months, a penalty which this Court finds sufficient.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Eva Paita-Moya is found guilty of gross misconduct and is hereby
SUSPENDED for one month from the practice of law, effective upon her receipt of this
Decision. She is warned that a repetition of the same or a similar act will be dealt with
more severely.

Guarin vs. Atty. Limpin

In 2004, Guarin was hired by Mr. Celso G. de los Angeles as Chief Operating Officer and
thereafter as President of OneCard Company, Inc., a member of the Legacy Group of
Companies. He resigned from his post effective August 11, 2008 and transferred to St.
Luke's Medical Center as the Vice President for Finance.

On November 27, 2008, Atty. Limpin, the Corporate Secretary of Legacy Card, Inc. (LCI),
another corporation under the Legacy Group, filed with the SEC a GIS for LCI for
"updating purposes". The GIS 4 identified Guarin as Chairman of the Board of Directors
(BOD) and President.

Mired with allegations of anomalous business transactions and practices, on December


18, 2008, LCI applied for voluntary dissolution with the SEC. On July 22, 2009, Guarin filed
this complaint with the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commission on Bar Discipline
(IBP CBD) claiming that Atty. Limpin violated Canon 1 and Rule 1.01 of the CPR by
knowingly listing him as a stockholder, Chairman of the Board and President of LCI when
she knew that he had already resigned and had never held any share nor was he elected
as chairperson of the BOD or been President of LCI. He also never received any notice of
meeting or agenda where his appointment as Chairman would be taken up. He has never
accepted any appointment as Chairman and President of LCI.

Atty. Limpin admits that she filed the GIS with the SEC listing Guarin as a stockholder, the
Chairman of the BOD and President of LCI. She argued that the GIS was provisional to
comply with SEC requirements. It would have been corrected in the future but
unfortunately LCI filed for voluntary dissolution shortly thereafter. She averred that the
GIS was made and submitted in good faith and that her certification served to attest to
the information from the last BOD meeting held on March 3, 2008.

She asserted that Guarin knew that he was a stockholder. Atty. Limpin said that on
October 13, 2008, she sent Guarin a text message and asked him to meet with her so he
may sign a Deed of Assignment concerning shareholdings. Guarin responded in the
affirmative and said that he would meet with her on Friday, October 17, 2008. Guarin,
however, neglected to show up at the arranged time and place for reasons unknown to
Atty. Limpin. On the strength of Guarin's positive reply, Atty. Limpin filed the GIS on
November 27, 2008.

To belie the claim that LCI never held any board meeting, Atty. Limpin presented
Secretary's Certificates dated May 16, 2006, 6 May 22, 2006, 7 and June 13, 2007 8
bearing Guarin's signature.

Moreover, Atty. Limpin stated that there were pending criminal complaints against the
directors and officers of LCI, where she and Guarin are corespondents: Senator Roxas, et
al. v. Celso de los Angeles, et al. 9 and SEC v. Legacy Card, Inc. 10 In those proceedings,
Guarin raised as a defense that the November 27, 2008 GIS was spurious and/or perjured.
She averred that this Court held that "when the criminal prosecution based on the same
act charged is still pending in court, any administrative disciplinary proceedings for the
same act must await the outcome of the criminal case to avoid contradictory findings."
During the mandatory preliminary conference, however, both parties stipulated that the
complaint filed by Senator Roxas was dismissed as to Guarin.

Lastly, Atty. Limpin contends that Guarin failed to present sufficient evidence to warrant
disbarment. She stated that merely presenting the GIS does not constitute as proof of any
unethical conduct, harassment and malpractice.

Held:

We adopt the report and recommendation of the IBP . Atty. Limpin has violated Canon 1,
Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the CPR.

Disbarment proceedings are sui generis and can proceed independently of civil and
criminal cases. As Justice Malcolm stated "[t]he serious consequences of disbarment or
suspension should follow only where there is a clear preponderance of evidence against
the respondent. The presumption is that the attorney is innocent of the charges
pr[o]ferred and has performed his duty as an officer of the court in accordance with his
oath." 21 Grounds for such administrative action against a lawyer may be found in
Section 27, 22 Rule 138 of the Rules of Court. Among these are (1) the use of any deceit,
malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office and (2) any violation of the oath
which he is required to take before the admission to practice.

We also agree with the IBP that in allowing herself to be swayed by the business practice
of having Mr. de los Angeles appoint the members of the BOD and officers of the
corporation despite the rules enunciated in the Corporation Code with respect to the
election of such officers, Atty. Limpin has transgressed Rule 1.02 of the CPR.

WHEREFORE, we find respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin GUILTY of violation of Canon
1, Rule 1.01 and Rule 1.02 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. Accordingly, we
SUSPEND respondent Atty. Christine A.C. Limpin from the practice of law for SIX (6)
MONTHS effective upon finality of this Decision, with a warning that a repetition of the
same or similar act in the future will be dealt with more severely.