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Lawyer and Legal Profession

Evangeline Leda vs. Trebonian Tabang

FACTS:

Leda and Tabang contracted marriage at Tigbauan, Iloilo. The marriage, solemnized by Judge Jose T.
Tavarro of Tigbauan, was performed under Article 76 of the Civil Code as one of exceptional character.
The parties agreed to keep the fact of marriage a secret until after Tabang had finished his law studies
and taken the Bar. He finished his law studies in 1981 and thereafter applied to take the Bar. In his
application, he declared that he was “single." He then passed the examinations but Leda blocked him
from taking his Oath by instituting Bar Matter No. 78, claiming that Tabang had acted fraudulently in
filling out his application and, thus, was unworthy to take the lawyer's Oath for lack of good moral
character. Tabang claims that he had acted in good faith in declaring his status as "single" not only
because of his pact with Leda to keep the marriage under wraps but also because that marriage to the
Complainant was void from the beginning.

RULING:

Tabang was suspended from the practice of law until further Orders, the suspension to take effect
immediately. Respondent's lack of good moral character is only too evident. He has resorted to
conflicting submissions before this Court to suit himself. He has also engaged in devious tactics with
Complainant in order to serve his purpose. In so doing, he has violated Canon 10 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility, which provides that "a lawyer owes candor, fairness and good faith to the
court" as well as Rule 10.01 thereof which states that "a lawyer should do no falsehood nor consent to
the doing of any in Court; nor shall he mislead, or allow the court to be misled by any artifice." Courts
are entitled to expect only complete candor and honesty from the lawyers appearing and pleading
before them (Chavez v. Viola). Tabang through his actuations, has been lacking in the candor required of
him not only as a member of the Bar but also as an officer of the Court. It cannot be overemphasized
that the requirement of good moral character is not only a condition precedent to admission to the
practice of law; its continued possession is also essential for remaining in the practice of law (People v.
Tuanda).

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

IN RE: ARGOSINO

FACTS:

This is a matter for admission to the bar and oath taking of a successful bar applicant. Petitioner Al
Caparros Argosino was previously involved with hazing which caused the death of Raul Camaligan a
neophyte during fraternity initiation rites but he was convicted for Reckless Imprudence Resulting in
Homicide. He was sentenced with 2 years and 4 months of imprisonment where he applied a probation
thereafter which was approved and granted by the court. He took the bar exam and passed but was not
allowed to take the oath. He filed for a petition to allow him to take the lawyer’s oath of office and to
admit him to the practice of law averring that his probation was already terminated. The court note that
he spent only 10 months of the probation period before it was terminated.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Al Argosino may take the lawyer’s oath office and admit him to the practice of law.

HELD:

The practice of law is a privilege granted only to those who possess the STRICT, INTELLECTUAL and
MORAL QUALIFICATIONS required of lawyers who are instruments in the effective and efficient
administration of justice. The court upheld the principle of maintaining the good moral character of all
Bar members, keeping in mind that such is of greater importance so far as the general public and the
proper administration of justice are concerned. Hence he was asked by the court to produce evidence
that would certify that he has reformed and has become a responsible member of the community
through sworn statements of individuals who have a good reputation for truth and who have actually
known Mr. Argosino for a significant period of time to certify that he is morally fit to the admission of
the law profession. The petitioner is then allowed to take the lawyer’s oath, sign the Roll of Attorney’s
and thereafter to practice the legal profession.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

MALIGSA VS CABANTING

ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING is charged by Romana R. Maligsa in a verified affidavit-complaint for
disbarment with conduct unbecoming a lawyer for certifying under oath a Deed of Quitclaim dated 5
May 1992[1] over a piece of property subject of a pending civil case before the Regional Trial Court Br.
45, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, docketed as Civil Case No. U-5434.[2]

On 11 March 1996 we required respondent to comment on the complaint. He failed to comply despite
service upon him of our Resolution together with copy of the complaint.

On 22 October 1996 we considered the failure of respondent Atty. Arsenio Fer Cabanting to file his
comment as waiver of his right to do so and directed the case submitted for decision.

On the basis of the complaint and the supporting documents, this Court finds sufficient legal basis for
disciplinary action against respondent for making it appear in the Acknowledgment of the Deed of
Quitclaim in question that the affiant therein signed the document and acknowledged the contents
thereof before him as Notary Public on 5 May 1992 when in truth and in fact the affiant did not and
could not have done so.

The evidence clearly discloses that on 5 May 1992 a Deed of Quitclaim was purportedly executed by one
Irene Maligsa in favor of Juanito V. Abaoag over a parcel of land located in Cablong, Pozorrubio,
Pangasinan.[3] The subject document was notarized by respondent on the same date. The document
was apparently used as evidence against complainant in a pending civil case for annulment of OCT No. P-
31297, quieting of title with prayer for issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and/or temporary
restraining order plus damages.

The complainant alleges that the Deed of Quitclaim could not have been executed and notarized on 5
May 1992 because the affiant Irene Maligsa died on 21 April 1992 or sixteen (16) days earlier.[4]
Moreover, Irene Maligsa could not have signed the document because she "never knew how to write as
she uses the thumb mark in every transaction she entered." [5]

Section 1 of Public Act No. 2103 [6] provides

(a) The acknowledgment shall be made before a notary public or an officer duly authorized by law of the
country to take acknowledgments of instruments or documents in the place where the act is done. The
notary public or the officer taking the acknowledgment shall certify that the person acknowledging the
instrument or document is known to him and that he is the same person who executed it, and
acknowledged that the same is his free act and deed. The certificate shall be made under the official
seal, if he is by law required to keep a seal, and if not, his certificate shall so state.

Furthermore, the Acknowledgment contained in the questioned document specifically provides


"BEFORE ME personally appeared IRENE MALIGSA x x x x" [7] Clearly, the party acknowledging must
personally appear before the Notary Public or any other person authorized to take such
acknowledgment of instruments or documents.

In the case before us, it would have been physically and legally impossible for the affiant Irene Maligsa
to have executed the alleged Deed of Quitclaim on 5 May 1992 and to have personally subscribed to its
authenticity and validity before respondent notary public on the same date, affiant having died on 21
April 1992. Also, it behooves respondent as a notary public to require the personal appearance of the

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person executing a document to enable the former to verify the genuineness of the signature of the
affiant.

Quite importantly, this is not the first time that respondent has been involved in an act of malpractice in
violation of his oath as a lawyer and the Canons of Professional Ethics.

In the consolidated administrative cases of Valencia v. Cabanting,[8] the Court suspended respondent
Atty. Arsenio Fer Cabanting for six (6) months from the practice of law. In those cases respondent
purchased his client's property which was still the subject of a pending certiorari proceeding contrary to
the prohibition stated in Art. 1491 of the New Civil Code and Art. II of the Canons of Professional Ethics.
Under the circumstances, a recollection of the basic principles of professional ethics in the practice of
law is apropos.

A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The bar should
maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as of honesty and fair dealing. A lawyer brings
honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and
to his clients. To this end a member of the legal fraternity should refrain from doing any act which might
lessen in any degree the confidence and trust reposed by the public in the fidelity, honesty and integrity
of the legal profession. [9]

Notarization is not an empty routine; to the contrary, it engages public interest in a substantial degree
and protection of the interest requires preventing those who are not qualified or authorized to act as
notaries public from imposing upon the public and the courts and the administrative offices
generally.[10] Notarization of a private document converts the document into a public one making it
admissible in court without further proof of its authenticity.

As a lawyer commissioned as notary public, respondent is mandated to subscribe to the sacred duties
appertaining to his office, such duties being dictated by public policy and impressed with public interest.
Faithful observance and utmost respect of the legal solemnity of an oath in an acknowledgment or jurat
is sacrosanct. Simply put, such responsibility is incumbent upon respondent and failing therein, he must
now accept the commensurate consequences of his professional indiscretion. By his effrontery of
notarizing a fictitious or spurious document, he has made a mockery of the legal solemnity of the oath in
an Acknowledgment.

A lawyer may be disbarred or suspended for any misconduct, whether in his professional or private
capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral character, in honesty, probity and good demeanor or
unworthy to continue as an officer of the court. [11] Considering the serious nature of the instant
offense and in light of his prior misconduct hereinbefore mentioned for which he was penalized with a
six (6) month suspension from the practice of law, with a warning that repetition of the same or similar
act would be dealt with more severely, the contumacious behavior of respondent in the instant case
which grossly degrades the legal profession indeed warrants the imposition of a much graver penalty.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court finds respondent ATTY. ARSENIO FER CABANTING guilty of grave misconduct
rendering him unworthy of his continued membership in the legal profession; consequently, he is
ordered DISBARRED from the practice of law and his name stricken off the Roll of Attorneys effective
immediately.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

DUCAT JR VS VILLALON JR

Before us is a verified letter-complaint[1] for disbarment against Attys. Arsenio C. Villalon, Jr.; Andres
Canares, Jr. and Crispulo Ducusin for deceit and gross misconduct in violation of the lawyers oath.
Investigation proceeded only against respondent Villalon because it was discovered that Andres Canares
was not a lawyer while Atty. Crispulo Ducusin passed away on February 3, 1996.[2]

In the letter-complaint,[3] complainant alleged that on October 29, 1991, respondent Villalon, as
counsel for the family of complainant, spoke to the father of complainant and asked that he be given the
title over a property owned by complainant located in Pinugay, Antipolo, Rizal and covered by TCT No.
M-3023, Emancipation Patent No. 410414, because he allegedly had to verify the proper measurements
of the subject property. Sometime in November, 1991, however, complainant and his family were
surprised when several people entered the subject property and, when confronted by the companions
of complainant, the latter were told that they were workers of Canares and were there to construct a
piggery. Complainant complained to the barangay authorities in Pinugay and narrated the incident but
respondent Canares did not appear before it and continued with the construction of the piggery in the
presence of armed men who were watching over the construction. Complainant then went to
respondent Villalon to complain about the people of respondent Canares but nothing was done.

Complainant then filed a case for ejectment against respondent Canares. In his Reply however, the latter
answered that the subject property was already sold by complainant to respondent Canares in the
amount of P450,000.00 as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property dated December 5,
1991 and notarized by respondent Atty. Crispulo Ducusin. Complainant, however, averred that he never
sold the property, signed any document nor received any money therefor, and he also denied having
appeared before respondent Ducusin who was the notary public for the Deed of Absolute Sale.
Complainant discovered that respondent Villalon claimed that complainants father allegedly gave the
subject property to him (respondent Villalon) as evidenced by a document of sale purportedly signed by
complainant.

In his Comment,[4] respondent Villalon denied that allegations of the complainant and in turn, he
alleged that the property was given voluntarily by Jose Ducat, Sr. to him out of close intimacy and for
past legal services rendered. Thereafter, respondent Villalon, with the knowledge and consent of Jose
Ducat, Sr., allowed the subject property to be used by Andres Canares to start a piggery business
without any monetary consideration. A Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land was then signed by Jose Ducat, Sr.
to evidence that he has conveyed the subject property to respondent Villalon with the name of
respondent Canares included therein as protection because of the improvements to be introduced in
the subject property. Upon presenting the title covering the subject property, it was discovered that the
property was registered in the name of Jose Ducat, Jr. and not Jose Ducat, Sr., but the latter told
respondents Villalon and Canares not to worry because the land was actually owned by him and that he
merely placed the name of his son, Jose Ducat, Jr. Jose Ducat, Sr. then suggested that the subject
property be transferred directly from Jose Ducat, Jr. to respondent Canares; hence, he (Ducat, Sr.) got
the title and guaranteed that he would return the document already signed and notarized, which he did
the following day. According to respondent Canares, the trouble began when Jose Ducat, Sr. came to his
office demanding to know why he was not allowed to cut the trees inside the subject property by the
caretaker of respondent Canares.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

On January 21, 1993, Jose Ducat, Jr. wrote[5] to this Court and averred that he neither signed the Deed
of Sale covering the subject property nor did he appear before the notary public Crispulo Ducusin, who
notarized the same. He averred that respondents Villalon and Ducusin should be disbarred from the
practice of law and respondent Villalon be imprisoned for forging his signature and selling the subject
property without his consent.

In his Rejoinder[6], respondent Villalon denied the allegations of complainant and maintained that he is
a member of good standing of the Integrated Bar and that he has always preserved the high standards
of the legal profession. Respondent Villalon expressed his willingness to have the Deed of Sale examined
by the National Bureau of Investigation and reiterated that the subject property was orally given to him
by Jose Ducat, Sr. and it was only in October, 1991 that the conveyance was reduced in writing. He
added that the complainant knew that his father, Jose Ducat, Sr., was the person who signed the said
document for and in his behalf and that this was done with his consent and knowledge.

This Court referred[7] the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation, report and
recommendation.

On May 17, 1997, the IBP Board of Governors passed a resolution adopting and approving the report
and recommendation of its Investigating Commissioner who found respondent Atty. Villalon guilty, and
recommended his suspension from the practice of law for two (2) years and likewise directed
respondent Atty. Villalon to deliver to the complainant his TCT No. M-3023 within ten (10) days from
receipt of notice, otherwise, this will result in his disbarment.

The findings of IBP Investigating Commissioner Victor C. Fernandez are as follows:

Complainant and his witness, Jose Ducat, Sr., testified in a straightforward, spontaneous and candid
manner. The sincerity and demeanor they displayed while testifying before the Commission inspire
belief as to the truth of what they are saying. More importantly, respondent failed to impute any ill-
motive on the part of the complainant and his witness which can impel them to institute the instant
complaint and testify falsely against him. To be sure, the testimony of the complainant and his witness
deserves the Commissions full faith and credence.

Respondents evidence, on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. His defense (that he considered
himself the owner of the subject property which was allegedly given to him by Jose Ducat, Sr.) rings
hollow in the face of a welter of contravening and incontrovertible facts.

FIRST, the registered owner of the subject property is complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. Accordingly,
respondent (being a lawyer) knew or ought to know that Jose Ducat, Sr. could not possibly give to him
the said property unless the former is duly authorized by the complainant through a Special Power of
Attorney. No such authorization has been given. Moreover, Jose Ducat, Sr. has vigorously denied having
given the subject property to the respondent. This denial is not too difficult to believe considering the
fact that he (Jose Ducat, Sr.) is not the owner of said property.

SECOND, being a lawyer, respondent knew or ought to know that conveyance of a real property,
whether gratuitously or for a consideration, must be in writing. Accordingly, it is unbelievable that he
would consider himself the owner of the subject property on the basis of the verbal or oral giving of the
property by Jose Ducat, Sr. no matter how many times the latter may have said that.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

THIRD, the Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land (Exh. 1 for the respondent and Exh. A-2 for the complainant)
allegedly executed by Jose Ducat, Sr. in favor of respondent Atty. Arsenio Villalon and/or Andres
Canares, Jr. covering the subject parcel of land which respondent prepared allegedly upon instruction of
Jose Ducat, Sr. is of dubious character. As earlier adverted to, Jose Ducat, Sr. is not the owner of said
property. Moreover, said Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land is a falsified document as admitted by the
respondent himself when he said that the signature over the typewritten name Maria Cabrido (wife of
Jose Ducat, Sr.) was affixed by Jose Ducat, Sr. Being a lawyer, respondent knew or ought to know that
the act of Jose Ducat, Sr. in affixing his wifes signature is tantamount to a forgery. Accordingly, he should
have treated the said Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land has (sic) a mere scrap of worthless paper instead of
relying on the same to substantiate his claim that the subject property was given to him by Jose Ducat,
Sr. Again, of note is the fact that Jose Ducat, Sr. has vigorously denied having executed said document
which denial is not too difficult to believe in the light of the circumstances already mentioned.

FOURTH, the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property (Exh. 2 for the respondent and Exh. A-3 for the
complainant) allegedly executed by Jose Ducat, Jr. in favor of Andres Canares, Jr. over the subject
property (which respondent claims he prepared upon instruction of Jose Ducat, Sr.) is likewise of
questionable character. Complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. has vigorously denied having executed said
document. He claims that he has never sold said property to Andres Canares, Jr. whom he does not
know; that he has never appeared before Atty. Crispulo Ducusin to subscribe to the document; and that
he has never received the amount of P450,000.00 representing the consideration of said transaction.
More importantly, the infirmity of the said Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property was supplied by the
respondent no less when he admitted that there was no payment of P450,000.00 and that the same was
placed in the document only to make it appear that the conveyance was for a consideration.
Accordingly, and being a lawyer, respondent knew or ought to know the irregularity of his act and that
he should have treated the document as another scrap of worthless paper instead of utilizing the same
to substantiate his defense.[8]

After a careful consideration of the record of the instant case, it appears that the findings of facts and
observations of the Investigating Commissioner, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, which were all
adopted by its Board of Governors, are well-taken, the same being supported by the evidence adduced.

The ethics of the legal profession rightly enjoin lawyers to act with the highest standards of truthfulness,
fair play and nobility in the course of his practice of law. A lawyer may be disciplined or suspended for
any misconduct, whether in his professional or private capacity, which shows him to be wanting in moral
character, in honesty, in probity and good demeanor, thus rendering unworthy to continue as an officer
of the court.[9] Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a lawyer shall at all
times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The trust and confidence necessarily
reposed by clients require in the lawyer a high standard and appreciation of his duty to them. To this
end, nothing should be done by any member of the legal fraternity which might tend to lessen in any
degree the confidence of the public in the fidelity, honesty, and integrity of the profession.[10]

It has been established that the subject parcel of land, with an area of five (5) hectares located in Barrio
Pinugay, Antipolo, Rizal, is owned by and registered in the name of complainant herein, Jose Ducat, Jr.
Respondent Villalon insists nonetheless that the property was orally given to him by complainants
father, Jose Ducat, Sr., allegedly with the complete knowledge of the fact that the subject property
belonged to his son, Jose Ducat, Jr. It is basic law, however, that conveyance or transfer of any titled real

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property must be in writing, signed by the registered owner or at least by his attorney-in-fact by virtue
of a proper special power of attorney and duly notarized. Respondent Villalon, as a lawyer, is presumed
to know, or ought to know, this process. Worse, when the transfer was first reduced in writing in
October, 1991 per Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land,[11] purportedly in favor of Atty. Arsenio C. Villalon
and/or Andres Canares, Jr., respondent Villalon knew that it was Jose Ducat, Sr. who signed the said
document of sale without any Special Power of Attorney from the registered owner thereof, Jose Ducat,
Jr.; and that Jose Ducat, Sr. also signed it for his wife, Maria Cabrido, under the word Conforme. As
regards the subsequent Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property dated December 5, 1991, covering the
same property, this time purportedly in favor of Andres Canares, Jr. only, respondent Villalon admitted
that there was in fact no payment of P450,000.00 and that the said amount was placed in that
document only to make it appear that the conveyance was for a consideration.

All these taken together, coupled with complainant Jose Ducat, Jr.s strong and credible denial that he
allegedly sold the subject property to respondent Villalon and/or Andres Canares, Jr. and that he
allegedly appeared before respondent notary public Ducusin, convince us that respondent Villalons acts
herein complained of which constitute gross misconduct were duly proven.

Public confidence in law and lawyers may be eroded by the irresponsible and improper conduct of a
member of the Bar. Thus, every lawyer should act and comport himself in such a manner that would
promote public confidence in the integrity of the legal profession. Members of the Bar are expected to
always live up to the standards of the legal profession as embodied in the Code of Professional
Responsibility inasmuch as the relationship between an attorney and his client is highly fiduciary in
nature and demands utmost fidelity and good faith.[12]

We find, however, the IBPs recommended penalty of two (2) years suspension to be imposed upon
respondent Atty. Villalon too severe in the light of the facts obtaining in the case at bar. In Cesar V.
Roces vs. Atty. Jose G. Aportadera,[13] this Court suspended therein respondent Atty. Aportadera for a
period of two (2) years from the practice of law for two main reasons:

(i)....His dubious involvement in the preparation and notarization of the falsified sale of his clients
property merits the penalty of suspension imposed on him by the IBP Board of Governors; and

(ii)....The NBI investigation reveals that: (1) respondent misrepresented himself to Gregorio Licuanan as
being duly authorized by Isabel Roces to sell her property; (2) it was respondent who prepared the
various deeds of sale over Isabels subdivision lots; (3) Isabel was already confined at a hospital in Metro
Manila on January 4, 1980, the deeds date of execution; (4) respondent knew that Isabel was
hospitalized in Metro Manila when he subscribed the deed; (5) he knew that Isabel died in Metro Manila
soon after her confinement; and (6) he did not give the seller a copy of the questioned deed of sale.[14]

Unlike the circumstances prevailing in the said case of Aportadera, the record does not show that
respondent Villalon had any direct participation in the notarization by respondent notary public Crispulo
Ducusin of the Deed of Absolute Sale of Real Property dated December 5, 1991,[15] which was
supposedly signed by complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. who, however, strongly denied having signed the
same. The earlier Deed of Sale of Parcel of Land dated this ___day of October 1991, allegedly signed by
Jose S. Ducat, Sr., as vendor, covering the same property, in favor of respondent Arsenio S. Villalon

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and/or Andres Canares, Jr. was not notarized. The record also shows that Jose Ducat, Sr. and
complainant Jose Ducat, Jr. are father and son and that they live in the same house at 912 Leo Street,
Sampaloc, Manila. It is not also disputed that respondent Villalon has been the lawyer for a number of
years of the family of Jose Ducat, Sr.

WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. ARSENIO C. VILLALON, JR. is hereby found guilty of gross misconduct,
and he is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for a period of ONE (1) YEAR with a warning that a
repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. Respondent Villalon is further
directed to deliver to the registered owner, complainant Jose Ducat Jr., the latters TCT No. M-3023
covering the subject property within a period of sixty (60) days from receipt of this Decision, at his sole
expense; and that failure on his part to do so will result in his disbarment.

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ZALDIVAR VS SANDIGANBAYAN

FACTS:

Zaldivar was the governor of Antique and was charged before the Sandiganbayan for violations of the
Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act. Gonzales was the then Tanodbayan who was investigating the
case. Zaldivar then filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Certiorari, Prohibition and Mandamus
assailing the authority of the Tanodbayan to investigate graft cases under the 1987 Constitution. The
Supreme Court, acting on the petition issued a Cease and Desist Order against Gonzalez directing him to
temporarily restrain from investigating and filing informations against Zaldivar. Gonzales however
proceeded with the investigation and he filed criminal informations against Zaldivar. Respondent
Gonzalez has also asserted that the Court was preventing him from prosecuting "rich and powerful
persons," that the Court was in effect discrimination between the rich and powerful on the one hand
and the poor and defenseless upon the other, and allowing "rich and powerful" accused persons to go
"scot-free" while presumably allowing or affirming the conviction of poor and small offenders.

Zaldivar then filed a Motion for Contempt against Gonzalez. The Supreme Court then ordered Gonzalez
to explain his side. Gonzalez stated that the statements in the newspapers were true; that he was only
exercising his freedom of speech; that he is entitled to criticize the rulings of the Court, to point out
where he feels the Court may have lapsed into error.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Gonzalez is guilty of contempt.

HELD:

YES. The statements made by respondent Gonzalez clearly constitute contempt and call for the exercise
of the disciplinary authority of the Supreme Court. According to Canon 11: A lawyer shall observe and
maintain the respect due to the courts and to judicial officers and should insist on similar conduct by
others. It is one of the bounded duties of an attorney to observe and maintain the respect due to the
courts of justice and judicial officer (Section 20 [b], Rule 138 of the Rules of Court). His statements
necessarily imply that the justices of the Supreme Court betrayed their oath of office. Such statements
very clearly debase and degrade the Supreme Court and, through the Court, the entire system of
administration of justice in the country. Gonzalez is entitled to the constitutional guarantee of free
speech. What Gonzalez seems unaware of is that freedom of speech and of expression, like all
constitutional freedoms, is not absolute and that freedom of expression needs on occasion to be
adjusted to and accommodated with the requirements of equally important public interests. One of
these fundamental public interests is the maintenance of the integrity and orderly functioning of the
administration of justice. There is no antinomy between free expression and the integrity of the system
of administering justice.

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Gonzalez, apart from being a lawyer and an officer of the court, is also a Special Prosecutor who owes
duties of fidelity and respect to the Republic and to the Supreme Court as the embodiment and the
repository of the judicial power in the government of the Republic. The responsibility of Gonzalez to
uphold the dignity and authority of the Supreme Court and not to promote distrust in the administration
of justice is heavier than that of a private practicing lawyer.

Gonzalez is also entitled to criticize the rulings of the court but his criticisms must be bona fide. In the
case at bar, his statements, particularly the one where he alleged that members of the Supreme Court
approached him, are of no relation to the Zaldivar case.

The Court concludes that respondent Gonzalez is guilty both of contempt of court in facie curiae and of
gross misconduct as an officer of the court and member of the Bar.

ACCORDINGLY, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND Atty. Raul M. Gonzalez from the practice of law
indefinitely and until further orders from this Court, the suspension to take effect immediately.

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Yared v. Ilarde

FACTS:

Estrella Yared, substituted by Carmen Tiongco because the former is now dead, and Jose Tiongco were
opposing parties to a property in litigation. Carmen directly filed a Motion for Reconsideration to the
Supreme Court because Judge Ilarde of the RTC ordered the cancellation of annotation of notices of lis
pendens. The Supreme Court noticed and commented that Carmen has failed to comply with the
principle of judicial hierarchy and that she should have filed the petition in the CA first. However, the
Supreme Court also noticed the improper and unethical language employed by Jose Tiangco, who was
also a counsel for the private respondents, in his pleadings and motions filed both in SC and lower court.
He described the counsel of the petitioner, Atty. Marciana Deguma, ―a rambunctious wreastler-type
female of 52 who does not wear a dress which is not red, and who stampedes into the court room like a
mad fury and who speaks slang English to conceal her faulty grammar.‖ Jose Tiongco alleged that Atty.
Deguma does that ―to please and tenderize and sweeten towards her own self the readily available
Carmelo Tiongco, an unmarried mestizo who lives with Carmen.‖ He further described Atty. Deguma as
―an unmarried maiden of certain age‖ and a ―love-crazed female Apache who is ready to skin the
defendant alive for not being a bastard‖ and a ―horned spinster and man-hungry virago and female bull
of an Amazon.‖ He also stated that Atty. Deguma is using PAO as a ―marriage bureau for her own
benefit.‖

ISSUE/S:

W/N Jose Tiongco, being also one of the counsels of the defendants, violated the Code of Professional
Responsibility

HELD:

Yes. With the language that he employed, he obviously violated Canon 8-A Rule 8.01 which states that a
lawyer shall not, in his professional dealings, use languages which is abusive, offensive, or otherwise
improper. He also violated Rule 11.03 which says that a lawyer shall abstain from scandalous, offensive,
or menacing language before the courts. The SC also cited Romero vs Valle, ―although allowed some
latitude of remarks or comment in furtherance of the cause he upholds, his arguments, both written or
oral, should be gracious to both court and opposing counsel and be of such words as may be properly
addressed by one gentleman to another.‖ Jose Tiongco was merely warned. Note: In the first part of the
case, even the title of the case, it was not mentioned whether Jose Tiongco is a lawyer or not. Then,
there‘s one sentence which addressed him ―Atty. Jose Tiongco.‖

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Atty. Casiano Laput vs Atty. Francisco Remotigue

Laput used to be the counsel for Nieves Barrera until the latter discharged her because she lost trust and
confidence in him due to dubious transactions that Laput handled while representing her in a testate
proceeding. One of the lawyers retained by Barrera to replace Laput was Remotigue. In September
1957, Remotigue, without notice to Laput, asked the court to direct Laput to turn over certain
documents and titles to Barrera so that the latter may properly disposed some estate properties. The
court granted the same. But Laput stubbornly kept the said documents as he claimed that said estate
properties are subject to his lien and that he needs to be paid first.

ISSUE:

Whether or not Laput has the right to keep said documents.

HELD:

No. It turns out that Laput’s attorney’s fees were already significantly paid while he was still the counsel
for Barrera (as backed by evidence presented by Remotigue) hence he no longer has a lien to the
properties of the estate. Therefore, he cannot retain the certificates of title in question. On another
note, he cannot now charge Remotigue with malice and bad faith when the latter filed without notice of
Laput motions to direct Laput to surrender said certificates because as records proved, even though no
notice was sent to him, he had regularly checked on the record of this case hence he would have come
across the same.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

JK. MERCADO AND SONS AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISES, INC., and SPOUSES JESUS and ROSARIO K.
MERCADO, complainants, vs. ATTY. EDUARDO C. DE VERA and JOSE RONGKALES BANDALAN

A complaint for disbarment against Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera was filed by J.K. Mercado and Sons
Agricultural Enterprises, Inc., and the spouses Jesus Mercado and Rosario Mercado. The complaint was
an offshoot of an action, entitled "Rosario P. Mercado (`R. Mercado') vs. Jesus R. Mercado (`J.
Mercado'), Mercado and Sons and Standard Fruits Corporation (`Stanfilco')," docketed Civil Case No.
17215, for dissolution and liquidation of conjugal partnership, accounting, support with support
pendente lite, annulment of contract, reconveyance or recovery of possession of conjugal share,
partition, damages and attorney's fees. The case was assigned to Branch 14 of the Regional Trial Court of
Davao City presided over by Judge Jose Bandalan. Rosario Mercado was represented by respondent
Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera.

On 15 December 1986, the case was decided in favor of Rosario Mercado who was awarded the sum of
a little over P9 million. A writ of execution was issued and notices of garnishment were served on Rizal
Commercial Banking Corporation ("RCBC") at Claveria, Davao City; RCBC at Tagum, Davao del Norte; and
Traders Royal Bank at R. Magsaysay Avenue, Davao City, where the total amount of P1,270,734.66 was
garnished.

On 26 February 1987, Rosario Mercado terminated the services of respondent and tendered the amount
of P350,000.00 by way of attorney's fees. She demanded an accounting and the turn-over of the money
still in the custody of respondent but the latter refused, claiming that he was entitled to P2,254,217.00
attorney's fees. Failing to recover the amount, Rosario Mercado filed a complaint for disbarment against
respondent.

The matter was referred to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines ("IBP") for investigation, report and
recommendation.

The IBP Board of Governors, on 23 March 1993, adopted Resolution No. X-93-41, recommending the
suspension for one (1) year of Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera from the practice of law.

The Court, in its resolution of 26 October 1999, affirmed the IBP recommendation with modification that
respondent Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera be suspended from the practice of law for only six (6) months.
Respondent was likewise ordered to return to Rosario Mercado the amount in excess of P350,000.00
still in his possession, without prejudice to whatever judicial action he might wish to take to recover his
unsatisfied attorney's fees, if any, the resolution directing at the same time that his suspension would
stand until he would have satisfactorily shown to the Court his compliance therewith.

Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration. The motion was denied with finality in the resolution of
the Court, dated 02 February 2000, a copy of which was received by respondent on 22 February 2000.

The following pleadings were thereafter filed before the Court:

a) An urgent motion, dated 13 March 2000, filed by respondent praying that the remaining period of his
suspension be lifted;

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

b) A motion for leave to file and admit a manifestation and motion for the issuance of a writ of
execution, dated 15 March 2000, filed by Rosario Mercado;

c) A manifestation and motion, dated 15 March 2000, filed by Rosario Mercado, praying that a writ of
execution be issued compelling respondent to pay or return to her the sum of P396,692.20;

d) A motion for leave to file and admit a manifestation, dated 27 March 2000, filed by Rosario Mercado,
praying for the imposition of appropriate sanction against respondent;

e) A letter, dated 11 February 2000, of Mr. Jose Elises, and another letter of 08 March 2000 of Capt.
Edward Ranada from Davao City, inquiring whether or not respondent could practice law pending the
resolution of his motion for reconsideration; and

f) A comment and opposition, dated 31 March 2000, filed by respondent relative to the manifestation
and motion for the issuance of a writ of execution filed by Rosario Mercado.

On 24 May 2000, respondent informed the Court that in compliance with its resolution of 26 October
1999, he had voluntarily returned to Rosario Mercado the amount of P114,042.28 or the excess of
P350,000.00 still in his possession.

On 12 July 2000, the Court issued a resolution to the effect that the effectivity of suspension of
respondent should be reckoned from his receipt on 22 February 2000 of the resolution, dated 2
February 2000, of the Court (denying with finality the motion for reconsideration). The Court took note
of the court appearances of, and pleadings signed by, respondent during his period of suspension from
the practice of law. Respondent was required to explain his infractions. Meanwhile, the Court resolved
to remand to the IBP the issue regarding the determination of the exact amount given by complainant
to respondent and the amount to be returned by respondent.

On 25 October 2000, the Court issued another resolution referring to the IBP, for investigation, report
and recommendation, the matter of respondent's alleged unauthorized practice of law.

The IBP, in its report of 08 October 2001, made the following findings:

As to the issue of how much money is still in respondent's possession -

"To summarize, respondent was able to disburse and/or account to complainant the following, to wit:

Amount deposited to complainant's TRB and Metrobank account P300,000.00

Additional amount received by complainant, as admitted 10,000.00

Amount received by complainant from CBC garnished funds 5,000.00

Amount received by complainant by way of BPI drafts & plane fare 52,000.00

Respondent's expenses in connection with Civil Case No. 17,215 and three

CA cases 57,832.67 P424,832.67

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

"Deducting said amount from the amount received by respondent by way of garnished funds from
several banks in Davao City would leave a balance of P845,901.89 (P1,270,734.56 minus P424,832.67).

"Since respondent was allowed to retain for himself the amount of P350,000.00 by way of attorney's
fees and respondent voluntarily paid and/or returned to complainant the amount P114,042.28 per BPI
Manager's Check 497289 in compliance with the Supreme Court directive, such amounts should be
deducted or applied against respondent's accountability of P845,901.89. Therefore, respondent still has
in his possession the amount of P381,859.61, after deducting the attorney's fees and the voluntary
payment by respondent. Thus,

Amount received by respondent by P1,270,734.56 way of garnished funds

Less: Disbursements/Deductions as 424,832.67 discussed above

Amount to be accounted for by P845,901.89 respondent

Less: (1) Respondent's attorney's fees P350,000.00

(2) Amount voluntarily returned by respondent 114,042.28 464,042.28

Amount still in respondent's P381,859.61 possession

"Respondent is obliged to deliver to complainant the amount of P381,859.61 pursuant to Rule 16.03 of
the Code of Professional Responsibility which provides that a lawyer shall deliver the funds and property
of his client when due or upon demand."

Anent the alleged unauthorized practice of law by respondent during the period of his suspension -

a) Re: His appearance before Home Insurance and Guaranty Corporation ("HIGC") and the filing of the
Manifestation on Amicable Settlement. -

"There is no doubt that respondent's appearance before the HIGC and his subsequent filing of the
Manifestation on Amicable Settlement constitute practice of law in violation of his suspension order. A
cursory reading of the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the proceedings before the HIGC on
24 February 2000 (Exhibit `D' to `D-14,' Complainant's Formal Offer of Documentary Evidence) reveal
that respondent's purpose in appearing before the HIGC is to attend the scheduled preliminary
conference. During the preliminary conference, the parties - Atty. De Vera, the Hearing Officer, and the
opposing counsel - discussed the facts and circumstances of the case. They also discussed the possibility
of an amicable settlement. These are acts which require legal expertise, training and experience.

"Respondent explained in his affidavit that he was at HIGC precisely to inform the hearing officer of his
suspension. Considering the delicate nature of his situation, respondent should have, at the start of the
preliminary conference, explicitly manifested in open court regarding his suspension. Assuming that
respondent did not really intend to appear as counsel in said preliminary conference, his appearance as
counsel was clearly evident when he subsequently filed the Manifestation on Offer of Amicable
Settlement. Practice of law includes signing and filing of pleadings."

b) Re: His appearance in People vs. Jailen Paul. -

"Respondent's ex-parte direct examination of Mrs. Eva Antipuesto was a flagrant and blatant violation of
his suspension order. Having been suspended effective 22 February 2000, respondent should have

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

refrained from performing acts constituting practice of law - which include conducting a direct
examination of a witness. Respondent's explanation that he was constrained to conduct a direct
examination because of constant pleas by complainant, Ms. Eva Antipuesto, to speed up the case cannot
justify respondent's violation of his suspension order. Besides, considering that he was under the control
and supervision of the public prosecutor, respondent should have allowed the public prosecutor Danilo
Bello, who was present on 29 February 2000 hearing, to conduct the direct examination. No amount of
explanation can change the fact [that] respondent conducted the direct examination knowing fully well
that he was suspended by Supreme Court from the practice of law. As to the Motion to Reset filed by
respondent in the said case, the same constitutes practice of law."

c) Re: His appearance in "People vs. Nilda Cuison Go and People vs. Neolito Egot" on 07 March 2001. -

"As regards to the alleged appearance by respondent in the `Nilda Cuison Go' case, complainant
Mercado was not able to show convincing proof that respondent actively practiced law by appearing as
private prosecutor in said case. The Certification issued by the Clerk of Court III cannot be considered a
proof that respondent actively practiced law. Respondent was able to explain fully that his appearance
was only to verify the case status of the case. However, respondent's appearance in the `Neolito Egot'
[case] is considered practice of law because he appeared before the court and represented himself as
private prosecutor. Respondent's subsequent desistance is of no moment because there was intent on
his part to appear as private prosecutor."

d) Re: His appearance in "People of the Phils. vs. Edgardo Estareja." -

"After a careful study of the parties' claims and defenses, respondent's appearance on 1 June 2000 for
the promulgation of Decision and the filing of the Motion for Reconsideration constitute practice of law
in defiance of the Supreme Court Resolution. It appears that respondent did not `merely attend' the
promulgation of the judgment, respondent acted and appeared as counsel for the accused and actively
participated in the proceedings. As a matter of fact, after the promulgation of the decision, respondent
manifested in open court their intention to appeal and respondent even gave his comments on the
Decision of the trial court. These are acts that can be performed only by a lawyer who is authorized to
practice law. Needless to say, he was also acting as counsel for the accused when he filed the Motion for
Reconsideration."

e) Re: His appearance as legal counsel of the LAKAS-NUCD before the Board of Canvasser on 17 May
2000. -

"Respondent admitted having appeared at the canvassing in question but claims that his participation
therein was `merely like that of a non-lawyer acting as representative of Governor Del Rosario and
Representative Floreindo.' When LAKAS-NUCD hired the services of respondent, he was hired not as a
mere representative of its candidates. Respondent was hired to protect the interest of its candidates in
accordance with the election laws. Reading from the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the
canvassing, there was an active and actual exercise of his legal knowledge and expertise. Thus, his
appearance constitutes practice of law."

f) Re: Complaint of Atty. Honesto Cabarroguis. -

"After a careful study of complainant's allegation, complainant Atty. Cabarroguis failed to provide this
Office convincing evidence that respondent actually passed on 'notes' to his son to guide the latter in his

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

direct examination. The act of passing a `piece of paper' inside the courtroom during the trial does not
involve legal expertise or the application of legal knowledge and therefore does not constitute practice
of law."

g) Re: Complaint of Mr. Jailen Paul. -

"Exhibit `EE' is a Manifestation dated 21 May 2001 signed by respondent requesting for a resetting of
the case. Exhibit `FF' is the transcript of stenographic notes taken during the hearing on 10 October 2000
of the case `People of the Philippines vs. Jailen Paul' before the Regional Trial Court of Davao City.
Exhibit `GG' is an Urgent Motion to Reset dated 3 October 2000 signed by Francis Arnold De Vera (for
Eduardo De Vera).

"The pleadings filed clearly show that respondent De Vera practiced law during his suspension. The
practice of law includes filing of pleadings before the courts.

h) Re: Pleadings filed by respondent during his suspension.-

"In the following cases, respondent violated his suspension order and practiced law when he signed the
following pleadings which were filed before the regular courts.

"Urgent Manifestation with motion to defer Issuance of Writ of Execution (Exhibit `T,' Complainant's
Formal Offer of Exhibit) dated 07 June 2000 in the case `Socorro Tiongko et al., vs. Loreto Rosca,' Civil
Case No. 3241-B-96;

"Urgent Ex-Parte Request Reiterating Urgent Prayer for 20-Day TRO (Exhibit `U') dated 7 June 2000 in
the case `Republic of the Philippines vs. Estate of Vicenta Tongko,' Civil Case No. 27-544-99;

"Defendant's Pre-Trial Brief (Exhibit `V') dated 30 May 2000 in the case `Alcrej Corporation vs. Raquel
Camisura and Cesar Camisura,' Civil Case No. 2815-F-96;

"Defendant's Pre-Trial Brief (Exhibit `W') dated 30 May 2000 in the case `Ricardo Gahol et al., versus
Eliseo Gatapia' Civil Case No. 2817-F-96;

"Defendant's Pre-Trial Brief (Exhibit `X') dated 30 May 2000 in the case `Ricardo Gahol, et al. vs. Eliseo
Gatapia' Civil Case No. 2818-F-96; and

"Ex-Parte Urgent Request to Set Continuation of Hearing Contempt Incident (Exhibit `Z') dated 23 June
2000 in the case `Panabo Public Market Vendors Estension Association, Inc. vs. Municipality of Panabo,'
Civil Case No. 89-23."

The IBP concluded that, in numerous occasions during the period of his suspension, respondent engaged
in the practice of law despite the absence of an order from the Supreme Court lifting his suspension and
that, on the basis of the evidence presented by the parties, respondent still had in his possession the
excess amount of P381,859.61 due and owing in favor of Rosario Mercado.

Practice of law embraces any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, as well as
legal principles, practice or procedure and calls for legal knowledge, training and experience.[1] One is
entitled to practice law if he has been duly admitted to the bar and there maintains a good standing.

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The findings of the IBP would disclose that respondent indeed actively engaged in the practice of law
during the period of his suspension. Respondent was suspended from the practice of law by this Court
for six months, which took effect on 22 February 2000 (date of receipt by respondent of the Court's
resolution of 2 February 2000). A review of the records would indicate that respondent was last
reported to have engaged in the unauthorized practice of law on 1 June 2000 (when he appeared in the
promulgation of decision in the case of People of the Philippines vs. Eduardo Estareja). Thereforth, it
would appear that he started to refrain from the practice of law. The Investigating Commissioner
reported that the exact sum still due from respondent to the complainant would amount to
P381,859.61, a finding amply supported by the records.

WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Eduardo C. de Vera is hereby DIRECTED to return to Rosario Mercado the
amount of P381,859.61, and his suspension from the practice of law shall be lifted once he would have
shown to the satisfaction of the Court his compliance therewith.

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Lawyer and Legal Profession

PAFLU VS BINALBAGAN

Facts:

Petitioners PAFLU, Entila and Tenazas were complainants in Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo in the Court of
Industrial Relations. The complainants were represented by Cipriano Cid & Associates thru Atty.
ANastacio Pacis and Quentin Muning, a non-layer. After trial, the court rendered a decision in favour of
the complainants; a portion of that order granted respondent Quentin Muning, a non-laywer attorney’s
fees for professional service. Thus a petition was filed seeking review of the order made by the Court of
Industrial Relations in Case No. 72-ULP-Iloilo.

Issue:

May a non-lawyer recover attorney’s fees for legal services rendered?

Holding:

Order under review is set aside.

Ratio: Lawyer-client relationship is only possible if one is a lawyer. Since respondent Muning is not one,
he cannot establish an attorney-client relationship with Enrique Entila and Victorino Tenezas or with
PAFLU and he cannot therefore, recover attorney’s fees.

Public policy demands that legal work in representation of party litigants should be entrusted only to
those possessing tested qualifications for the protection of the courts, clients and the public.

The permission of a non-lawyer to represent a party litigant in court does not by itself entitle the
representation to compensation. For Section 24 Rule 138, of the Rules of Court provides: Sec. 24.
Compensation of Attorney’s Agreement as to Fees – An attorney shall be entitled to have and recover
from his client no more than a reasonable compensation for his services, imports the existence of an
attorney-client relationship as a condition for recovery of attorney’s fees.

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