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G.R. No.

100113 September 3, 1991

RENATO CAYETANO, petitioner,

HON. GUILLERMO CARAGUE, in his capacity as Secretary of Budget and
Management, respondents.

Renato L. Cayetano for and in his own behalf.

Sabina E. Acut, Jr. and Mylene Garcia-Albano co-counsel for petitioner.


We are faced here with a controversy of far-reaching proportions. While ostensibly only legal issues
are involved, the Court's decision in this case would indubitably have a profound effect on the
political aspect of our national existence.

The 1987 Constitution provides in Section 1 (1), Article IX-C:

There shall be a Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and six Commissioners

who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their appointment, at
least thirty-five years of age, holders of a college degree, and must not have been
candidates for any elective position in the immediately preceding -elections. However, a
majority thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have
been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (Emphasis supplied)

The aforequoted provision is patterned after Section l(l), Article XII-C of the 1973 Constitution which
similarly provides:

There shall be an independent Commission on Elections composed of a Chairman and eight

Commissioners who shall be natural-born citizens of the Philippines and, at the time of their
appointment, at least thirty-five years of age and holders of a college degree. However, a majority
thereof, including the Chairman, shall be members of the Philippine Bar who have been engaged in
the practice of law for at least ten years.' (Emphasis supplied)

Regrettably, however, there seems to be no jurisprudence as to what constitutes practice of law as a

legal qualification to an appointive office.

Black defines "practice of law" as:

The rendition of services requiring the knowledge and the application of legal principles and
technique to serve the interest of another with his consent. It is not limited to appearing in
court, or advising and assisting in the conduct of litigation, but embraces the preparation of
pleadings, and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, conveyancing, the
preparation of legal instruments of all kinds, and the giving of all legal advice to clients. It
embraces all advice to clients and all actions taken for them in matters connected with the
law. An attorney engages in the practice of law by maintaining an office where he is held out
to be-an attorney, using a letterhead describing himself as an attorney, counseling clients in
legal matters, negotiating with opposing counsel about pending litigation, and fixing and
collecting fees for services rendered by his associate. (Black's Law Dictionary, 3rd ed.)

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases in court. (Land Title Abstract and Trust Co.
v. Dworken, 129 Ohio St. 23, 193 N.E. 650) A person is also considered to be in the practice of law
when he:

... for valuable consideration engages in the business of advising person, firms, associations
or corporations as to their rights under the law, or appears in a representative capacity as an
advocate in proceedings pending or prospective, before any court, commissioner, referee,
board, body, committee, or commission constituted by law or authorized to settle
controversies and there, in such representative capacity performs any act or acts for the
purpose of obtaining or defending the rights of their clients under the law. Otherwise stated,
one who, in a representative capacity, engages in the business of advising clients as to their
rights under the law, or while so engaged performs any act or acts either in court or outside
of court for that purpose, is engaged in the practice of law. (State ex. rel. Mckittrick v..C.S.
Dudley and Co., 102 S.W. 2d 895, 340 Mo. 852)

This Court in the case of Philippine Lawyers Association v.Agrava, (105 Phil. 173,176-177) stated:

The practice of law is not limited to the conduct of cases or litigation in court; it embraces the
preparation of pleadings and other papers incident to actions and special proceedings, the
management of such actions and proceedings on behalf of clients before judges and courts,
and in addition, conveying. In general, all advice to clients, and all action taken for them in
matters connected with the law incorporation services, assessment and condemnation
services contemplating an appearance before a judicial body, the foreclosure of a mortgage,
enforcement of a creditor's claim in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings, and conducting
proceedings in attachment, and in matters of estate and guardianship have been held to
constitute law practice, as do the preparation and drafting of legal instruments, where the
work done involves the determination by the trained legal mind of the legal effect of facts and
conditions. (5 Am. Jr. p. 262, 263). (Emphasis supplied)

Practice of law under modem conditions consists in no small part of work performed outside
of any court and having no immediate relation to proceedings in court. It embraces
conveyancing, the giving of legal advice on a large variety of subjects, and the preparation
and execution of legal instruments covering an extensive field of business and trust relations
and other affairs. Although these transactions may have no direct connection with court
proceedings, they are always subject to become involved in litigation. They require in many
aspects a high degree of legal skill, a wide experience with men and affairs, and great
capacity for adaptation to difficult and complex situations. These customary functions of an
attorney or counselor at law bear an intimate relation to the administration of justice by the
courts. No valid distinction, so far as concerns the question set forth in the order, can be
drawn between that part of the work of the lawyer which involves appearance in court and
that part which involves advice and drafting of instruments in his office. It is of importance to
the welfare of the public that these manifold customary functions be performed by persons
possessed of adequate learning and skill, of sound moral character, and acting at all times
under the heavy trust obligations to clients which rests upon all attorneys.
(Moran, Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 3 [1953 ed.] , p. 665-666, citing In re Opinion
of the Justices [Mass.], 194 N.E. 313, quoted in Rhode Is. Bar Assoc. v. Automobile Service
Assoc. [R.I.] 179 A. 139,144). (Emphasis ours)
The University of the Philippines Law Center in conducting orientation briefing for new lawyers
(1974-1975) listed the dimensions of the practice of law in even broader terms as advocacy,
counselling and public service.

One may be a practicing attorney in following any line of employment in the profession. If
what he does exacts knowledge of the law and is of a kind usual for attorneys engaging in
the active practice of their profession, and he follows some one or more lines of employment
such as this he is a practicing attorney at law within the meaning of the statute. (Barr v.
Cardell, 155 NW 312)

Practice of law means any activity, in or out of court, which requires the application of law, legal
procedure, knowledge, training and experience. "To engage in the practice of law is to perform those
acts which are characteristics of the profession. Generally, to practice law is to give notice or render
any kind of service, which device or service requires the use in any degree of legal knowledge or
skill." (111 ALR 23)

The following records of the 1986 Constitutional Commission show that it has adopted a liberal
interpretation of the term "practice of law."

MR. FOZ. Before we suspend the session, may I make a manifestation which I forgot to do
during our review of the provisions on the Commission on Audit. May I be allowed to make a
very brief statement?


The Commissioner will please proceed.

MR. FOZ. This has to do with the qualifications of the members of the Commission on Audit.
Among others, the qualifications provided for by Section I is that "They must be Members of
the Philippine Bar" — I am quoting from the provision — "who have been engaged in the
practice of law for at least ten years".

To avoid any misunderstanding which would result in excluding members of the Bar who are now
employed in the COA or Commission on Audit, we would like to make the clarification that this
provision on qualifications regarding members of the Bar does not necessarily refer or involve actual
practice of law outside the COA We have to interpret this to mean that as long as the lawyers who
are employed in the COA are using their legal knowledge or legal talent in their respective work
within COA, then they are qualified to be considered for appointment as members or commissioners,
even chairman, of the Commission on Audit.

This has been discussed by the Committee on Constitutional Commissions and Agencies and we
deem it important to take it up on the floor so that this interpretation may be made available
whenever this provision on the qualifications as regards members of the Philippine Bar engaging in
the practice of law for at least ten years is taken up.

MR. OPLE. Will Commissioner Foz yield to just one question.

MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. OPLE. Is he, in effect, saying that service in the COA by a lawyer is equivalent to the
requirement of a law practice that is set forth in the Article on the Commission on Audit?
MR. FOZ. We must consider the fact that the work of COA, although it is auditing, will
necessarily involve legal work; it will involve legal work. And, therefore, lawyers who are
employed in COA now would have the necessary qualifications in accordance with the
Provision on qualifications under our provisions on the Commission on Audit. And, therefore,
the answer is yes.

MR. OPLE. Yes. So that the construction given to this is that this is equivalent to the practice
of law.

MR. FOZ. Yes, Mr. Presiding Officer.

MR. OPLE. Thank you.

... ( Emphasis supplied)

Section 1(1), Article IX-D of the 1987 Constitution, provides, among others, that the Chairman and
two Commissioners of the Commission on Audit (COA) should either be certified public accountants
with not less than ten years of auditing practice, or members of the Philippine Bar who have been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years. (emphasis supplied)

Corollary to this is the term "private practitioner" and which is in many ways synonymous with the
word "lawyer." Today, although many lawyers do not engage in private practice, it is still a fact that
the majority of lawyers are private practitioners. (Gary Munneke, Opportunities in Law Careers [VGM
Career Horizons: Illinois], [1986], p. 15).

At this point, it might be helpful to define private practice. The term, as commonly understood,
means "an individual or organization engaged in the business of delivering legal services." (Ibid.).
Lawyers who practice alone are often called "sole practitioners." Groups of lawyers are called
"firms." The firm is usually a partnership and members of the firm are the partners. Some firms may
be organized as professional corporations and the members called shareholders. In either case, the
members of the firm are the experienced attorneys. In most firms, there are younger or more
inexperienced salaried attorneyscalled "associates." (Ibid.).

The test that defines law practice by looking to traditional areas of law practice is essentially
tautologous, unhelpful defining the practice of law as that which lawyers do. (Charles W.
Wolfram, Modern Legal Ethics [West Publishing Co.: Minnesota, 1986], p. 593). The practice of law
is defined as the performance of any acts . . . in or out of court, commonly understood to be the
practice of law. (State Bar Ass'n v. Connecticut Bank & Trust Co., 145 Conn. 222, 140 A.2d 863, 870
[1958] [quoting Grievance Comm. v. Payne, 128 Conn. 325, 22 A.2d 623, 626 [1941]). Because
lawyers perform almost every function known in the commercial and governmental realm, such a
definition would obviously be too global to be workable.(Wolfram, op. cit.).

The appearance of a lawyer in litigation in behalf of a client is at once the most publicly familiar role
for lawyers as well as an uncommon role for the average lawyer. Most lawyers spend little time in
courtrooms, and a large percentage spend their entire practice without litigating a case. (Ibid., p.
593). Nonetheless, many lawyers do continue to litigate and the litigating lawyer's role colors much
of both the public image and the self perception of the legal profession. (Ibid.).

In this regard thus, the dominance of litigation in the public mind reflects history, not reality. (Ibid.).
Why is this so? Recall that the late Alexander SyCip, a corporate lawyer, once articulated on the
importance of a lawyer as a business counselor in this wise: "Even today, there are still uninformed
laymen whose concept of an attorney is one who principally tries cases before the courts. The
members of the bench and bar and the informed laymen such as businessmen, know that in most
developed societies today, substantially more legal work is transacted in law offices than in the
courtrooms. General practitioners of law who do both litigation and non-litigation work also know that
in most cases they find themselves spending more time doing what [is] loosely desccribe[d] as
business counseling than in trying cases. The business lawyer has been described as the planner,
the diagnostician and the trial lawyer, the surgeon. I[t] need not [be] stress[ed] that in law, as in
medicine, surgery should be avoided where internal medicine can be effective." (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).

In the course of a working day the average general practitioner wig engage in a number of legal
tasks, each involving different legal doctrines, legal skills, legal processes, legal institutions, clients,
and other interested parties. Even the increasing numbers of lawyers in specialized practice wig
usually perform at least some legal services outside their specialty. And even within a narrow
specialty such as tax practice, a lawyer will shift from one legal task or role such as advice-giving to
an importantly different one such as representing a client before an administrative agency.
(Wolfram, supra, p. 687).

By no means will most of this work involve litigation, unless the lawyer is one of the relatively rare
types — a litigator who specializes in this work to the exclusion of much else. Instead, the work will
require the lawyer to have mastered the full range of traditional lawyer skills of client counselling,
advice-giving, document drafting, and negotiation. And increasingly lawyers find that the new skills of
evaluation and mediation are both effective for many clients and a source of employment. (Ibid.).

Most lawyers will engage in non-litigation legal work or in litigation work that is constrained in very
important ways, at least theoretically, so as to remove from it some of the salient features of
adversarial litigation. Of these special roles, the most prominent is that of prosecutor. In some
lawyers' work the constraints are imposed both by the nature of the client and by the way in which
the lawyer is organized into a social unit to perform that work. The most common of these roles are
those of corporate practice and government legal service. (Ibid.).

In several issues of the Business Star, a business daily, herein below quoted are emerging trends in
corporate law practice, a departure from the traditional concept of practice of law.

We are experiencing today what truly may be called a revolutionary transformation in

corporate law practice. Lawyers and other professional groups, in particular those members
participating in various legal-policy decisional contexts, are finding that understanding the
major emerging trends in corporation law is indispensable to intelligent decision-making.

Constructive adjustment to major corporate problems of today requires an accurate

understanding of the nature and implications of the corporate law research function
accompanied by an accelerating rate of information accumulation. The recognition of the
need for such improved corporate legal policy formulation, particularly "model-making" and
"contingency planning," has impressed upon us the inadequacy of traditional procedures in
many decisional contexts.

In a complex legal problem the mass of information to be processed, the sorting and
weighing of significant conditional factors, the appraisal of major trends, the necessity of
estimating the consequences of given courses of action, and the need for fast decision and
response in situations of acute danger have prompted the use of sophisticated concepts of
information flow theory, operational analysis, automatic data processing, and electronic
computing equipment. Understandably, an improved decisional structure must stress the
predictive component of the policy-making process, wherein a "model", of the decisional
context or a segment thereof is developed to test projected alternative courses of action in
terms of futuristic effects flowing therefrom.

Although members of the legal profession are regularly engaged in predicting and projecting
the trends of the law, the subject of corporate finance law has received relatively little
organized and formalized attention in the philosophy of advancing corporate legal education.
Nonetheless, a cross-disciplinary approach to legal research has become a vital necessity.

Certainly, the general orientation for productive contributions by those trained primarily in the
law can be improved through an early introduction to multi-variable decisional context and
the various approaches for handling such problems. Lawyers, particularly with either a
master's or doctorate degree in business administration or management, functioning at the
legal policy level of decision-making now have some appreciation for the concepts and
analytical techniques of other professions which are currently engaged in similar types of
complex decision-making.

Truth to tell, many situations involving corporate finance problems would require the services
of an astute attorney because of the complex legal implications that arise from each and
every necessary step in securing and maintaining the business issue raised. (Business Star,
"Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11, 1989, p. 4).

In our litigation-prone country, a corporate lawyer is assiduously referred to as the "abogado

de campanilla." He is the "big-time" lawyer, earning big money and with a clientele
composed of the tycoons and magnates of business and industry.

Despite the growing number of corporate lawyers, many people could not explain what it is
that a corporate lawyer does. For one, the number of attorneys employed by a single
corporation will vary with the size and type of the corporation. Many smaller and some large
corporations farm out all their legal problems to private law firms. Many others have in-house
counsel only for certain matters. Other corporation have a staff large enough to handle most
legal problems in-house.

A corporate lawyer, for all intents and purposes, is a lawyer who handles the legal affairs of a
corporation. His areas of concern or jurisdiction may include, inter alia: corporate legal
research, tax laws research, acting out as corporate secretary (in board meetings),
appearances in both courts and other adjudicatory agencies (including the Securities and
Exchange Commission), and in other capacities which require an ability to deal with the law.

At any rate, a corporate lawyer may assume responsibilities other than the legal affairs of the
business of the corporation he is representing. These include such matters as determining
policy and becoming involved in management. ( Emphasis supplied.)

In a big company, for example, one may have a feeling of being isolated from the action, or
not understanding how one's work actually fits into the work of the orgarnization. This can be
frustrating to someone who needs to see the results of his work first hand. In short, a
corporate lawyer is sometimes offered this fortune to be more closely involved in the running
of the business.

Moreover, a corporate lawyer's services may sometimes be engaged by a multinational

corporation (MNC). Some large MNCs provide one of the few opportunities available to
corporate lawyers to enter the international law field. After all, international law is practiced in
a relatively small number of companies and law firms. Because working in a foreign country
is perceived by many as glamorous, tills is an area coveted by corporate lawyers. In most
cases, however, the overseas jobs go to experienced attorneys while the younger attorneys
do their "international practice" in law libraries. (Business Star, "Corporate Law Practice,"
May 25,1990, p. 4).

This brings us to the inevitable, i.e., the role of the lawyer in the realm of finance. To borrow
the lines of Harvard-educated lawyer Bruce Wassertein, to wit: "A bad lawyer is one who
fails to spot problems, a good lawyer is one who perceives the difficulties, and the excellent
lawyer is one who surmounts them." (Business Star, "Corporate Finance Law," Jan. 11,
1989, p. 4).

Today, the study of corporate law practice direly needs a "shot in the arm," so to speak. No
longer are we talking of the traditional law teaching method of confining the subject study to
the Corporation Code and the Securities Code but an incursion as well into the intertwining
modern management issues.

Such corporate legal management issues deal primarily with three (3) types of learning: (1)
acquisition of insights into current advances which are of particular significance to the
corporate counsel; (2) an introduction to usable disciplinary skins applicable to a corporate
counsel's management responsibilities; and (3) a devotion to the organization and
management of the legal function itself.

These three subject areas may be thought of as intersecting circles, with a shared area
linking them. Otherwise known as "intersecting managerial jurisprudence," it forms a unifying
theme for the corporate counsel's total learning.

Some current advances in behavior and policy sciences affect the counsel's role. For that
matter, the corporate lawyer reviews the globalization process, including the resulting
strategic repositioning that the firms he provides counsel for are required to make, and the
need to think about a corporation's; strategy at multiple levels. The salience of the nation-
state is being reduced as firms deal both with global multinational entities and simultaneously
with sub-national governmental units. Firms increasingly collaborate not only with public
entities but with each other — often with those who are competitors in other arenas.

Also, the nature of the lawyer's participation in decision-making within the corporation is
rapidly changing. The modem corporate lawyer has gained a new role as a stakeholder — in
some cases participating in the organization and operations of governance through
participation on boards and other decision-making roles. Often these new patterns develop
alongside existing legal institutions and laws are perceived as barriers. These trends are
complicated as corporations organize for global operations. ( Emphasis supplied)

The practising lawyer of today is familiar as well with governmental policies toward the
promotion and management of technology. New collaborative arrangements for promoting
specific technologies or competitiveness more generally require approaches from industry
that differ from older, more adversarial relationships and traditional forms of seeking to
influence governmental policies. And there are lessons to be learned from other countries. In
Europe, Esprit, Eureka and Race are examples of collaborative efforts between
governmental and business Japan's MITI is world famous. (Emphasis supplied)

Following the concept of boundary spanning, the office of the Corporate Counsel comprises
a distinct group within the managerial structure of all kinds of organizations. Effectiveness of
both long-term and temporary groups within organizations has been found to be related to
indentifiable factors in the group-context interaction such as the groups actively revising their
knowledge of the environment coordinating work with outsiders, promoting team
achievements within the organization. In general, such external activities are better
\predictors of team performance than internal group processes.

In a crisis situation, the legal managerial capabilities of the corporate lawyer vis-a-vis the
managerial mettle of corporations are challenged. Current research is seeking ways both to
anticipate effective managerial procedures and to understand relationships of financial
liability and insurance considerations. (Emphasis supplied)

Regarding the skills to apply by the corporate counsel, three factors are apropos:

First System Dynamics. The field of systems dynamics has been found an effective tool for
new managerial thinking regarding both planning and pressing immediate problems. An
understanding of the role of feedback loops, inventory levels, and rates of flow, enable users
to simulate all sorts of systematic problems — physical, economic, managerial, social, and
psychological. New programming techniques now make the system dynamics principles
more accessible to managers — including corporate counsels. (Emphasis supplied)

Second Decision Analysis. This enables users to make better decisions involving complexity
and uncertainty. In the context of a law department, it can be used to appraise the settlement
value of litigation, aid in negotiation settlement, and minimize the cost and risk involved in
managing a portfolio of cases. (Emphasis supplied)

Third Modeling for Negotiation Management. Computer-based models can be used directly
by parties and mediators in all lands of negotiations. All integrated set of such tools provide
coherent and effective negotiation support, including hands-on on instruction in these
techniques. A simulation case of an international joint venture may be used to illustrate the

[Be this as it may,] the organization and management of the legal function, concern three
pointed areas of consideration, thus:

Preventive Lawyering. Planning by lawyers requires special skills that comprise a major part
of the general counsel's responsibilities. They differ from those of remedial law. Preventive
lawyering is concerned with minimizing the risks of legal trouble and maximizing legal rights
for such legal entities at that time when transactional or similar facts are being considered
and made.

Managerial Jurisprudence. This is the framework within which are undertaken those activities
of the firm to which legal consequences attach. It needs to be directly supportive of this
nation's evolving economic and organizational fabric as firms change to stay competitive in a
global, interdependent environment. The practice and theory of "law" is not adequate today
to facilitate the relationships needed in trying to make a global economy work.

Organization and Functioning of the Corporate Counsel's Office. The general counsel has
emerged in the last decade as one of the most vibrant subsets of the legal profession. The
corporate counsel hear responsibility for key aspects of the firm's strategic issues, including
structuring its global operations, managing improved relationships with an increasingly
diversified body of employees, managing expanded liability exposure, creating new and
varied interactions with public decision-makers, coping internally with more complex make or
by decisions.
This whole exercise drives home the thesis that knowing corporate law is not enough to
make one a good general corporate counsel nor to give him a full sense of how the legal
system shapes corporate activities. And even if the corporate lawyer's aim is not the
understand all of the law's effects on corporate activities, he must, at the very least, also gain
a working knowledge of the management issues if only to be able to grasp not only the basic
legal "constitution' or makeup of the modem corporation. "Business Star", "The Corporate
Counsel," April 10, 1991, p. 4).

The challenge for lawyers (both of the bar and the bench) is to have more than a passing
knowledge of financial law affecting each aspect of their work. Yet, many would admit to
ignorance of vast tracts of the financial law territory. What transpires next is a dilemma of
professional security: Will the lawyer admit ignorance and risk opprobrium?; or will he feign
understanding and risk exposure? (Business Star, "Corporate Finance law," Jan. 11, 1989,
p. 4).

Respondent Christian Monsod was nominated by President Corazon C. Aquino to the position of
Chairman of the COMELEC in a letter received by the Secretariat of the Commission on
Appointments on April 25, 1991. Petitioner opposed the nomination because allegedly Monsod does
not possess the required qualification of having been engaged in the practice of law for at least ten

On June 5, 1991, the Commission on Appointments confirmed the nomination of Monsod as

Chairman of the COMELEC. On June 18, 1991, he took his oath of office. On the same day, he
assumed office as Chairman of the COMELEC.

Challenging the validity of the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments of Monsod's

nomination, petitioner as a citizen and taxpayer, filed the instant petition for certiorari and Prohibition
praying that said confirmation and the consequent appointment of Monsod as Chairman of the
Commission on Elections be declared null and void.

Atty. Christian Monsod is a member of the Philippine Bar, having passed the bar examinations of
1960 with a grade of 86-55%. He has been a dues paying member of the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines since its inception in 1972-73. He has also been paying his professional license fees as
lawyer for more than ten years. (p. 124, Rollo)

After graduating from the College of Law (U.P.) and having hurdled the bar, Atty. Monsod worked in
the law office of his father. During his stint in the World Bank Group (1963-1970), Monsod worked as
an operations officer for about two years in Costa Rica and Panama, which involved getting
acquainted with the laws of member-countries negotiating loans and coordinating legal, economic,
and project work of the Bank. Upon returning to the Philippines in 1970, he worked with the Meralco
Group, served as chief executive officer of an investment bank and subsequently of a business
conglomerate, and since 1986, has rendered services to various companies as a legal and
economic consultant or chief executive officer. As former Secretary-General (1986) and National
Chairman (1987) of NAMFREL. Monsod's work involved being knowledgeable in election law. He
appeared for NAMFREL in its accreditation hearings before the Comelec. In the field of advocacy,
Monsod, in his personal capacity and as former Co-Chairman of the Bishops Businessmen's
Conference for Human Development, has worked with the under privileged sectors, such as the
farmer and urban poor groups, in initiating, lobbying for and engaging in affirmative action for the
agrarian reform law and lately the urban land reform bill. Monsod also made use of his legal
knowledge as a member of the Davide Commission, a quast judicial body, which conducted
numerous hearings (1990) and as a member of the Constitutional Commission (1986-1987), and
Chairman of its Committee on Accountability of Public Officers, for which he was cited by the
President of the Commission, Justice Cecilia Muñoz-Palma for "innumerable amendments to
reconcile government functions with individual freedoms and public accountability and the party-list
system for the House of Representative. (pp. 128-129 Rollo) ( Emphasis supplied)

Just a word about the work of a negotiating team of which Atty. Monsod used to be a member.

In a loan agreement, for instance, a negotiating panel acts as a team, and which is
adequately constituted to meet the various contingencies that arise during a negotiation.
Besides top officials of the Borrower concerned, there are the legal officer (such as the legal
counsel), the finance manager, and an operations officer (such as an official involved in
negotiating the contracts) who comprise the members of the team. (Guillermo V. Soliven,
"Loan Negotiating Strategies for Developing Country Borrowers," Staff Paper No. 2, Central
Bank of the Philippines, Manila, 1982, p. 11). (Emphasis supplied)

After a fashion, the loan agreement is like a country's Constitution; it lays down the law as far
as the loan transaction is concerned. Thus, the meat of any Loan Agreement can be
compartmentalized into five (5) fundamental parts: (1) business terms; (2) borrower's
representation; (3) conditions of closing; (4) covenants; and (5) events of default. (Ibid., p.

In the same vein, lawyers play an important role in any debt restructuring program. For aside
from performing the tasks of legislative drafting and legal advising, they score national
development policies as key factors in maintaining their countries' sovereignty. (Condensed
from the work paper, entitled "Wanted: Development Lawyers for Developing Nations,"
submitted by L. Michael Hager, regional legal adviser of the United States Agency for
International Development, during the Session on Law for the Development of Nations at the
Abidjan World Conference in Ivory Coast, sponsored by the World Peace Through Law
Center on August 26-31, 1973). ( Emphasis supplied)

Loan concessions and compromises, perhaps even more so than purely renegotiation
policies, demand expertise in the law of contracts, in legislation and agreement drafting and
in renegotiation. Necessarily, a sovereign lawyer may work with an international business
specialist or an economist in the formulation of a model loan agreement. Debt restructuring
contract agreements contain such a mixture of technical language that they should be
carefully drafted and signed only with the advise of competent counsel in conjunction with
the guidance of adequate technical support personnel. (See International Law Aspects of the
Philippine External Debts, an unpublished dissertation, U.S.T. Graduate School of Law,
1987, p. 321). ( Emphasis supplied)

A critical aspect of sovereign debt restructuring/contract construction is the set of terms and
conditions which determines the contractual remedies for a failure to perform one or more
elements of the contract. A good agreement must not only define the responsibilities of both
parties, but must also state the recourse open to either party when the other fails to
discharge an obligation. For a compleat debt restructuring represents a devotion to that
principle which in the ultimate analysis is sine qua non for foreign loan agreements-an
adherence to the rule of law in domestic and international affairs of whose kind U.S.
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said: "They carry no banners, they
beat no drums; but where they are, men learn that bustle and bush are not the equal of quiet
genius and serene mastery." (See Ricardo J. Romulo, "The Role of Lawyers in Foreign
Investments," Integrated Bar of the Philippine Journal, Vol. 15, Nos. 3 and 4, Third and
Fourth Quarters, 1977, p. 265).
Interpreted in the light of the various definitions of the term Practice of law". particularly the modern
concept of law practice, and taking into consideration the liberal construction intended by the framers
of the Constitution, Atty. Monsod's past work experiences as a lawyer-economist, a lawyer-manager,
a lawyer-entrepreneur of industry, a lawyer-negotiator of contracts, and a lawyer-legislator of both
the rich and the poor — verily more than satisfy the constitutional requirement — that he has been
engaged in the practice of law for at least ten years.

Besides in the leading case of Luego v. Civil Service Commission, 143 SCRA 327, the Court said:

Appointment is an essentially discretionary power and must be performed by the officer in

which it is vested according to his best lights, the only condition being that the appointee
should possess the qualifications required by law. If he does, then the appointment cannot
be faulted on the ground that there are others better qualified who should have been
preferred. This is a political question involving considerations of wisdom which only the
appointing authority can decide. (emphasis supplied)

No less emphatic was the Court in the case of (Central Bank v. Civil Service Commission, 171
SCRA 744) where it stated:

It is well-settled that when the appointee is qualified, as in this case, and all the other legal
requirements are satisfied, the Commission has no alternative but to attest to the
appointment in accordance with the Civil Service Law. The Commission has no authority to
revoke an appointment on the ground that another person is more qualified for a particular
position. It also has no authority to direct the appointment of a substitute of its choice. To do
so would be an encroachment on the discretion vested upon the appointing authority. An
appointment is essentially within the discretionary power of whomsoever it is vested, subject
to the only condition that the appointee should possess the qualifications required by law. (
Emphasis supplied)

The appointing process in a regular appointment as in the case at bar, consists of four (4) stages: (1)
nomination; (2) confirmation by the Commission on Appointments; (3) issuance of a commission (in
the Philippines, upon submission by the Commission on Appointments of its certificate of
confirmation, the President issues the permanent appointment; and (4) acceptance e.g., oath-taking,
posting of bond, etc. . . . (Lacson v. Romero, No. L-3081, October 14, 1949; Gonzales, Law on
Public Officers, p. 200)

The power of the Commission on Appointments to give its consent to the nomination of Monsod as
Chairman of the Commission on Elections is mandated by Section 1(2) Sub-Article C, Article IX of
the Constitution which provides:

The Chairman and the Commisioners shall be appointed by the President with the consent of
the Commission on Appointments for a term of seven years without reappointment. Of those
first appointed, three Members shall hold office for seven years, two Members for five years,
and the last Members for three years, without reappointment. Appointment to any vacancy
shall be only for the unexpired term of the predecessor. In no case shall any Member be
appointed or designated in a temporary or acting capacity.

Anent Justice Teodoro Padilla's separate opinion, suffice it to say that his definition of the
practice of law is the traditional or stereotyped notion of law practice, as distinguished
from the modern concept of the practice of law, which modern connotation is exactly what
was intended by the eminent framers of the 1987 Constitution. Moreover, Justice Padilla's
definition would require generally a habitual law practice, perhaps practised two or three
times a week and would outlaw say, law practice once or twice a year for ten consecutive
years. Clearly, this is far from the constitutional intent.

Upon the other hand, the separate opinion of Justice Isagani Cruz states that in my written opinion, I
made use of a definition of law practice which really means nothing because the definition says that
law practice " . . . is what people ordinarily mean by the practice of law." True I cited the definition but
only by way of sarcasm as evident from my statement that the definition of law practice by
"traditional areas of law practice is essentially tautologous" or defining a phrase by means of the
phrase itself that is being defined.

Justice Cruz goes on to say in substance that since the law covers almost all situations, most
individuals, in making use of the law, or in advising others on what the law means, are actually
practicing law. In that sense, perhaps, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Mr. Monsod is a
lawyer, a member of the Philippine Bar, who has been practising law for over ten years. This is
different from the acts of persons practising law, without first becoming lawyers.

Justice Cruz also says that the Supreme Court can even disqualify an elected President of the
Philippines, say, on the ground that he lacks one or more qualifications. This matter, I greatly doubt.
For one thing, how can an action or petition be brought against the President? And even assuming
that he is indeed disqualified, how can the action be entertained since he is the incumbent

We now proceed:

The Commission on the basis of evidence submitted doling the public hearings on Monsod's
confirmation, implicitly determined that he possessed the necessary qualifications as required by
law. The judgment rendered by the Commission in the exercise of such an acknowledged power is
beyond judicial interference except only upon a clear showing of a grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 Constitution). Thus, only where such
grave abuse of discretion is clearly shown shall the Court interfere with the Commission's judgment.
In the instant case, there is no occasion for the exercise of the Court's corrective power, since no
abuse, much less a grave abuse of discretion, that would amount to lack or excess of jurisdiction
and would warrant the issuance of the writs prayed, for has been clearly shown.

Additionally, consider the following:

(1) If the Commission on Appointments rejects a nominee by the President, may the
Supreme Court reverse the Commission, and thus in effect confirm the appointment?
Clearly, the answer is in the negative.

(2) In the same vein, may the Court reject the nominee, whom the Commission
has confirmed? The answer is likewise clear.

(3) If the United States Senate (which is the confirming body in the U.S. Congress) decides
to confirm a Presidential nominee, it would be incredible that the U.S. Supreme Court would
still reverse the U.S. Senate.

Finally, one significant legal maxim is:

We must interpret not by the letter that killeth, but by the spirit that giveth life.
Take this hypothetical case of Samson and Delilah. Once, the procurator of Judea asked Delilah
(who was Samson's beloved) for help in capturing Samson. Delilah agreed on condition that —

No blade shall touch his skin;

No blood shall flow from his veins.

When Samson (his long hair cut by Delilah) was captured, the procurator placed an iron rod burning
white-hot two or three inches away from in front of Samson's eyes. This blinded the man. Upon
hearing of what had happened to her beloved, Delilah was beside herself with anger, and fuming
with righteous fury, accused the procurator of reneging on his word. The procurator calmly replied:
"Did any blade touch his skin? Did any blood flow from his veins?" The procurator was clearly relying
on the letter, not the spirit of the agreement.

In view of the foregoing, this petition is hereby DISMISSED.


G.R. No. 154207 April 27, 2007

FERDINAND A. CRUZ, Petitioner,

LAGUILLES, Respondents.



Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, grounded on pure
questions of law, with Prayer for Preliminary Injunction assailing the Resolution dated May 3, 2002
promulgated by the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 116, Pasay City, in Civil Case No. 02-0137,
which denied the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against the Metropolitan Trial Court
(MeTC), Branch 45, Pasay City, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705;1 and the RTC’s Order dated June 5,
2002 denying the Motion for Reconsideration. No writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this

The antecedents:

On September 25, 2000, Ferdinand A. Cruz (petitioner) filed before the MeTC a formal Entry of
Appearance, as private prosecutor, in Criminal Case No. 00-1705 for Grave Threats, where his
father, Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.

The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his appearance as private
prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule 138 of the Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court
En Banc in Cantimbuhan v. Judge Cruz, Jr.2 that a non-lawyer may appear before the inferior courts
as an agent or friend of a party litigant. The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was
with the prior conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of Mariano Cruz appointing
him to be his agent in the prosecution of the said criminal case.
However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied permission for petitioner to appear
as private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. 19 governing limited law student practice in
conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should take
precedence over the ruling of the Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation
of trial.3

On February 13, 2002, petitioner filed before the MeTC a Motion for Reconsideration seeking to
reverse the February 1, 2002 Order alleging that Rule 138-A, or the Law Student Practice Rule,
does not have the effect of superseding Section 34 of Rule 138, for the authority to interpret the rule
is the source itself of the rule, which is the Supreme Court alone.

In an Order dated March 4, 2002, the MeTC denied the Motion for Reconsideration.

On April 2, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus with
Prayer for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order against the private respondent
and the public respondent MeTC.

After hearing the prayer for preliminary injunction to restrain public respondent MeTC Judge from
proceeding with Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the Certiorari proceedings, the RTC, in a
Resolution dated May 3, 2002, resolved to deny the issuance of an injunctive writ on the ground that
the crime of Grave Threats, the subject of Criminal Case No. 00-1705, is one that can be prosecuted
de oficio, there being no claim for civil indemnity, and that therefore, the intervention of a private
prosecutor is not legally tenable.

On May 9, 2002, the petitioner filed before the RTC a Motion for Reconsideration. The petitioner
argues that nowhere does the law provide that the crime of Grave Threats has no civil aspect. And
last, petitioner cites Bar Matter No. 730 dated June 10, 1997 which expressly provides for the
appearance of a non-lawyer before the inferior courts, as an agent or friend of a party litigant, even
without the supervision of a member of the bar.

Pending the resolution of the foregoing Motion for Reconsideration before the RTC, the petitioner
filed a Second Motion for Reconsideration dated June 7, 2002 with the MeTC seeking the reversal of
the March 4, 2002 Denial Order of the said court, on the strength of Bar Matter No. 730, and a
Motion to Hold In Abeyance the Trial dated June 10, 2002 of Criminal Case No. 00-1705 pending the
outcome of the certiorari proceedings before the RTC.

On June 5, 2002, the RTC issued its Order denying the petitioner’s Motion for Reconsideration.

Likewise, in an Order dated June 13, 2002, the MeTC denied the petitioner’s Second Motion for
Reconsideration and his Motion to Hold in Abeyance the Trial on the ground that the RTC had
already denied the Entry of Appearance of petitioner before the MeTC.

On July 30, 2002, the petitioner directly filed with this Court, the instant Petition and assigns the
following errors:


the respondent regional trial court abused its discretion when it resolved to deny the prayer for the
writ of injunction of the herein petitioner despite petitioner having established the necessity of
granting the writ;








This Court, in exceptional cases, and for compelling reasons, or if warranted by the nature of the
issues reviewed, may take cognizance of petitions filed directly before it.5

Considering that this case involves the interpretation, clarification, and implementation of Section 34,
Rule 138 of the Rules of Court, Bar Matter No. 730, Circular No. 19 governing law student practice
and Rule 138-A of the Rules of Court, and the ruling of the Court in Cantimbuhan, the Court takes
cognizance of herein petition.

The basic question is whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an inferior court as
an agent or friend of a party litigant.

The courts a quo held that the Law Student Practice Rule as encapsulated in Rule 138-A of the
Rules of Court, prohibits the petitioner, as a law student, from entering his appearance in behalf of
his father, the private complainant in the criminal case without the supervision of an attorney duly
accredited by the law school.

Rule 138-A or the Law Student Practice Rule, provides:

RULE 138-A

Section 1. Conditions for Student Practice. – A law student who has successfully completed his 3rd
year of the regular four-year prescribed law curriculum and is enrolled in a recognized law school's
clinical legal education program approved by the Supreme Court, may appear without compensation
in any civil, criminal or administrative case before any trial court, tribunal, board or officer, to
represent indigent clients accepted by the legal clinic of the law school.
Sec. 2. Appearance. – The appearance of the law student authorized by this rule, shall be under the
direct supervision and control of a member of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines duly accredited by
the law school. Any and all pleadings, motions, briefs, memoranda or other papers to be filed, must
be signed by the supervising attorney for and in behalf of the legal clinic.

However, in Resolution6 dated June 10, 1997 in Bar Matter No. 730, the Court En Banc clarified:

The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court, where the issues
and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law student may appear in his personal
capacity without the supervision of a lawyer. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. - In the court of a 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 aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by
aid of an attorney, and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of
the bar.

Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a party without the
supervision of a member of the bar.7 (Emphasis supplied)

The phrase "In the court of a justice of the peace" in Bar Matter No. 730 is subsequently changed to
"In the court of a municipality" as it now appears in Section 34 of Rule 138, thus:8

SEC. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. — In the Court of a municipality 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
aid of an attorney. In any other court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an
attorney and his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the bar.
(Emphasis supplied)

which is the prevailing rule at the time the petitioner filed his Entry of Appearance with the MeTC on
September 25, 2000. No real distinction exists for under Section 6, Rule 5 of the Rules of Court, the
term "Municipal Trial Courts" as used in these Rules shall include Metropolitan Trial Courts,
Municipal Trial Courts in Cities, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts.

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 agent or friend of a party litigant, is expressly
allowed, while the latter rule provides for conditions when a law student, not as an agent or a friend
of a party litigant, may appear before the courts.

Petitioner expressly anchored his appearance on Section 34 of Rule 138. The court a quo must have
been confused by the fact that petitioner referred to himself as a law student in his entry of
appearance. Rule 138-A should not have been used by the courts a quo in denying permission to
act as private prosecutor against petitioner for the simple reason that Rule 138-A is not the basis for
the petitioner’s appearance.

Section 34, Rule 138 is clear that appearance before the inferior courts by a non-lawyer is allowed,
irrespective of whether or not he is a law student. As succinctly clarified in Bar Matter No. 730, by
virtue of Section 34, Rule 138, a law student may appear, as an agent or a friend of a party litigant,
without the supervision of a lawyer before inferior courts.
Petitioner further argues that the RTC erroneously held that, by its very nature, no civil liability may
flow from the crime of Grave Threats, and, for this reason, the intervention of a private prosecutor is
not possible.

It is clear from the RTC Decision that no such conclusion had been intended by the RTC. In denying
the issuance of the injunctive court, the RTC stated in its Decision that there was no claim for civil
liability by the private complainant for damages, and that the records of the case do not provide for a
claim for indemnity; and that therefore, petitioner’s appearance as private prosecutor appears to be
legally untenable.

Under Article 100 of the Revised Penal Code, every person criminally liable for a felony is also civilly
liable except in instances when no actual damage results from an offense, such as espionage,
violation of neutrality, flight to an enemy country, and crime against popular representation.9 The
basic rule applies in the instant case, such that when a criminal action is instituted, the civil action for
the recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged shall be deemed instituted with criminal
action, unless the offended party waives the civil action, reserves the right to institute it separately or
institutes the civil action prior to the criminal action.10

The petitioner is correct in stating that there being no reservation, waiver, nor prior institution of the
civil aspect in Criminal Case No. 00-1705, it follows that the civil aspect arising from Grave Threats
is deemed instituted with the criminal action, and, hence, the private prosecutor may rightfully
intervene to prosecute the civil aspect.

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The assailed Resolution and Order of the Regional Trial
Court, Branch 116, Pasay City are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Metropolitan Trial Court,
Branch 45, Pasay City is DIRECTED to ADMIT the Entry of Appearance of petitioner in Criminal
Case No. 00-1705 as a private prosecutor under the direct control and supervision of the public

No pronouncement as to costs.


B.M. No. 1678 December 17, 2007


BENJAMIN M. DACANAY, petitioner.



This bar matter concerns the petition of petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay for leave to resume the
practice of law.

Petitioner was admitted to the Philippine bar in March 1960. He practiced law until he migrated to
Canada in December 1998 to seek medical attention for his ailments. He subsequently applied for
Canadian citizenship to avail of Canada’s free medical aid program. His application was approved
and he became a Canadian citizen in May 2004.
On July 14, 2006, pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9225 (Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act
of 2003), petitioner reacquired his Philippine citizenship.1 On that day, he took his oath of allegiance
as a Filipino citizen before the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto, Canada. Thereafter, he
returned to the Philippines and now intends to resume his law practice. There is a question,
however, whether petitioner Benjamin M. Dacanay lost his membership in the Philippine bar when
he gave up his Philippine citizenship in May 2004. Thus, this petition.

In a report dated October 16, 2007, the Office of the Bar Confidant cites Section 2, Rule 138
(Attorneys and Admission to Bar) of the Rules of Court:

SECTION 2. Requirements for all applicants for admission to the bar. – Every applicant for
admission as a member of the bar must be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one
years of age, of good moral character, and a resident of the Philippines; and must produce
before the Supreme Court satisfactory evidence of good moral character, and that no
charges against him, involving moral turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in
the Philippines.

Applying the provision, the Office of the Bar Confidant opines that, by virtue of his reacquisition of
Philippine citizenship, in 2006, petitioner has again met all the qualifications and has none of the
disqualifications for membership in the bar. It recommends that he be allowed to resume the practice
of law in the Philippines, conditioned on his retaking the lawyer’s oath to remind him of his duties
and responsibilities as a member of the Philippine bar.

We approve the recommendation of the Office of the Bar Confidant with certain modifications.

The practice of law is a privilege burdened with conditions.2 It is so delicately affected with public
interest that it is both a power and a duty of the State (through this Court) to control and regulate it in
order to protect and promote the public welfare.3

Adherence to rigid standards of mental fitness, maintenance of the highest degree of morality,
faithful observance of the rules of the legal profession, compliance with the mandatory continuing
legal education requirement and payment of membership fees to the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines (IBP) are the conditions required for membership in good standing in the bar and for
enjoying the privilege to practice law. Any breach by a lawyer of any of these conditions makes him
unworthy of the trust and confidence which the courts and clients repose in him for the continued
exercise of his professional privilege.4

Section 1, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:

SECTION 1. Who may practice law. – Any person heretofore duly admitted as a member of
the bar, or thereafter admitted as such in accordance with the provisions of this Rule, and
who is in good and regular standing, is entitled to practice law.

Pursuant thereto, any person admitted as a member of the Philippine bar in accordance with the
statutory requirements and who is in good and regular standing is entitled to practice law.

Admission to the bar requires certain qualifications. The Rules of Court mandates that an applicant
for admission to the bar be a citizen of the Philippines, at least twenty-one years of age, of good
moral character and a resident of the Philippines.5 He must also produce before this Court
satisfactory evidence of good moral character and that no charges against him, involving moral
turpitude, have been filed or are pending in any court in the Philippines.6
Moreover, admission to the bar involves various phases such as furnishing satisfactory proof of
educational, moral and other qualifications;7 passing the bar examinations;8 taking the lawyer’s
oath9 and signing the roll of attorneys and receiving from the clerk of court of this Court a certificate
of the license to practice.10

The second requisite for the practice of law ― membership in good standing ― is a continuing
requirement. This means continued membership and, concomitantly, payment of annual
membership dues in the IBP;11 payment of the annual professional tax;12 compliance with the
mandatory continuing legal education requirement;13 faithful observance of the rules and ethics of
the legal profession and being continually subject to judicial disciplinary control.14

Given the foregoing, may a lawyer who has lost his Filipino citizenship still practice law in the
Philippines? No.

The Constitution provides that the practice of all professions in the Philippines shall be limited to
Filipino citizens save in cases prescribed by law.15 Since Filipino citizenship is a requirement for
admission to the bar, loss thereof terminates membership in the Philippine bar and, consequently,
the privilege to engage in the practice of law. In other words, the loss of Filipino citizenship ipso
jure terminates the privilege to practice law in the Philippines. The practice of law is a privilege
denied to foreigners.16

The exception is when Filipino citizenship is lost by reason of naturalization as a citizen of another
country but subsequently reacquired pursuant to RA 9225. This is because "all Philippine citizens
who become citizens of another country shall be deemed not to have lost their Philippine
citizenship under the conditions of [RA 9225]."17Therefore, a Filipino lawyer who becomes a citizen
of another country is deemed never to have lost his Philippine citizenship if he reacquires it in
accordance with RA 9225. Although he is also deemed never to have terminated his membership
in the Philippine bar, no automatic right to resume law practice accrues.

Under RA 9225, if a person intends to practice the legal profession in the Philippines and he
reacquires his Filipino citizenship pursuant to its provisions "(he) shall apply with the proper authority
for a license or permit to engage in such practice."18 Stated otherwise, before a lawyer who
reacquires Filipino citizenship pursuant to RA 9225 can resume his law practice, he must first secure
from this Court the authority to do so, conditioned on:

(a) the updating and payment in full of the annual membership dues in the IBP;

(b) the payment of professional tax;

(c) the completion of at least 36 credit hours of mandatory continuing legal education; this is
specially significant to refresh the applicant/petitioner’s knowledge of Philippine laws and
update him of legal developments and

(d) the retaking of the lawyer’s oath which will not only remind him of his duties and
responsibilities as a lawyer and as an officer of the Court, but also renew his pledge to
maintain allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines.

Compliance with these conditions will restore his good standing as a member of the Philippine bar.
WHEREFORE, the petition of Attorney Benjamin M. Dacanay is hereby GRANTED, subject to
compliance with the conditions stated above and submission of proof of such compliance to the Bar
Confidant, after which he may retake his oath as a member of the Philippine bar.


A.M. No. 35 September 30, 1949

In re Attorney FELIX P. DAVID, petitioner.

Felix P. David in his own behalf.

Office of the Solicitor General Felix Angelo Bautista and Solicitor Estrella Abad Santos for the


The respondent, Felix P. David, a member of a Philippine Bar, is charged with the malpractice for
misappropriating funds entrusted to him by his client, the complainant Briccio S. Henson.
Respondent having answered denying the charge, the complaint was referred to the Solicitor
General for investigation. After the investigation the Solicitor General rendered his report finding the
respondent guilty of professional misconduct and recommending disciplinary action. The Solicitor
General reports the following facts to have been conclusively established:

. . . that on February 15, 1947, respondent obtained P840 from his client Briccio Henson to
be applied to the payment of inheritance and real estate taxes due from the estate of
Esteban Henson for 1945, 1946 and 1947 (p. 3, t. s. n.), for which he signed a receipt
(Annex 'A'; p. 3, t. s. n.). On several occasions, complainant asked the respondent to show
him the official tax receipt evidencing the payment of said taxes, to which the latter answered
that he had already paid them, but the receipts were left with his friend in San Fernando.
Respondent promised to give the receipt later. Complainant waited patiently for it but it was
never delivered. After the respondent had failed to deliver the receipt, complainant became
suspicious and inquired from the provincial treasurer of Pampanga about the matter. Said
official gave the information that the taxes were never paid. Consequently, complainant
requested the respondent to refund the money given him for the payment of said taxes (p. 7,
t. s. n., OSG), but he failed to do so. Respondent made several promises to return the
money which he never complied. Neither had he done anything to transfer the titles of the
land in the name of the heirs of Esteban Henson up to the present (p. 9, t. s. n.). In view of
this failure of the respondent, the complainant was ultimately forced to pay the taxes out of
his own pocket (p. 8, t.s.n.).

Required to answer the complaint formulated by the Solicitor General on the basis of his report,
respondent failed to do so. And despite due notice he likewise failed to appear at the hearing before
this Court. Indeed, we note from the Solicitor General's report that respondent, instead of welcoming
every opportunity for hearing, seems to have wanted to avoid it. On this point the report says:

At the hearing held on May 26, 1948, both parties appeared and the complainant had
testified, the hearing was set for continuance the following day. Both parties agreed in the
presence of the investigator to postpone said hearing for June 5, 1948. On June 5, 1948,
complainant appeared, but respondent did not show up, so to give the respondent a chance,
the investigator postponed the continuation of the hearing to June 17. Both parties were duly
subpoenaed (attached to the records). On June 15th, respondent sent a letter (attached to
the records) to Assistant Solicitor General Ruperto Kapunan, asking that the hearing be
postponed to June 25, 1948. According to the request, both parties were again duly
subpoenaed for June 25, 1948 (attached to the record). In the subpoena sent to respondent,
his attention was invited to Rule 127, section 28, of the Rules of Court, which provides that if
he fails to appear and answer the charge, the Solicitor in charge will proceed to hear the
case ex parte. In spite of this, on the morning of June 25, he again sent another letter
(attached to the records) to Assistant Solicitor General Kapunan, asking that the hearing be
transferred to July 7, or 8, 1948. In order that the respondent be given all the chances to
defend himself, his request was granted. In the subpoena sent him setting the hearing for
July 8, 1948, as requested, the following remark was stated:

Failure on your part to appear will cause the investigator to proceed with the investigation
and to file the corresponding recommendation to the Supreme Court. No further
postponement will be entertained.

It is worthwhile mentioning that every time the case was set for hearing the complainant
made his appearance.

On the morning of July 8, 1948, both parties appeared; respondent made a formal request in
person to the investigator asking that the hearing be postponed to 2 o'clock p.m. of the same
day. Out of consideration to him, even to the discomfiture of complainant, respondent's
request was again granted. But contrary to his assurance, the respondent again failed to

There is no question that respondent received from complainant the sum of P840 for the
specific purpose of applying the same to the payment of taxes due from the estate which he
was engaged to settle. The receipt which he issued for said amount as well as for the sum of
P110 and a sack of rice paid to him for his expenses and fee reads as follows: . . .

February 15, 1947.

Received from Mr. Briccio S. Henson the sum of eight hundred and forty (P840)
pesos to be paid as follows:

P210 -Inheritance tax of the heirs of the late

Don Esteban Henson.
P630 -Land taxes for 1945-1947.

Failure on my part to deliver to him the official receipts corresponding to the above
mentioned amount, I promise to return to him the whole amount of P840 not later
than April 16, 1947 without any obligation on his part.

A separate amount of one hundred and ten (P110) pesos and a sack of rice was paid
to me for my expenses and fee.

(Sgd.) Atty. FELIX DAVID.

Respondent did not care to testify. But through his unverified answer, he would make it appear that
he was entitled to and had been promised a legal fee for his services and that, as this promise was
not complied with, he "saw it fit to withhold said amount (the P840 for taxes) until he is paid." This
explanation is obviously an afterthought and clearly unfounded. For the established fact is that
respondent at first made complainant believe that the sum in question had already been applied by
him to the payment of taxes, and, as testified to by complainant, for the little that respondent was
able to do in connection with the case entrusted to him, he has already received his fee as shown by
the above-copied receipt. The conclusion is therefore irresistible that respondent misappropriated
the money of his client. This makes him guilty of unprofessional conduct.

In view of the gravity of the misconduct committed, the respondent Felix P. David is hereby ordered
suspended from the practice of law for a period of five years from the date this decision become
final, without prejudice to a more severe action if the sum misappropriated is not refunded within one
month from the same date.

Moran, C. J., Ozaeta, Feria, Bengzon, Padilla, Tuason, Montemayor, and Torres, JJ., concur.

A.M. No. L-363 July 31, 1962


Victoriano A. Savellano for complaint.

Nestor M. Andrada for respondent.


Respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez is a member of the Philippine Bar, admitted to it on October 5,

1945. In criminal case No. R-793 of the Court of First Instance of Oriental Mindoro he was convicted
of the murder of Filemon Samaco, former municipal mayor of Calapan, and together with his co-
conspirators was sentenced to the penalty of death. Upon review by this Court the judgment of
conviction was affirmed on June 30, 1956 (G.R. No. L-17101), but the penalty was changed
to reclusion perpetua. After serving a portion of the sentence respondent was granted a conditional
pardon by the President on August 19, 1958. The unexecuted portion of the prison term was
remitted "on condition that he shall not again violate any of the penal laws of the Philippines."

On October 9, 1958 the widow of the deceased Filemon Samaco, victim in the murder case, filed a
verified complaint before this Court praying that respondent be removed from the roll of lawyers
pursuant to Rule 127, section 5. Respondent presented his answer in due time, admitting the facts
alleged by complainant regarding pardon in defense, on the authority of the decision of this Court in
the case of In re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.

Under section 5 of Rule 127, a member of the bar may be removed suspended from his office as
attorney by the Supreme Court by reason of his conviction of a crime insolving moral turpitude.
Murder is, without doubt, such a crime. The term "moral turpitude" includes everything which is done
contrary to justice, honesty, modesty or good morals. In re Carlos S. Basa, 41 Phil. 275. As used in
disbarment statutes, it means an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social
duties which a man owes to his fellowmen or to society in general, contrary to the accepted rule of
right and duty between man and man. State ex rel. Conklin v. Buckingham, 84 P. 2nd 49; 5 Am. Jur.
Sec. 279. pp. 428-429.

The only question to be resolved is whether or not the conditional pardon extended to respondent
places him beyond the scope of the rule on disbarment aforecited. Reliance is placed by him
squarely on the Lontok case. The respondent therein was convicted of bigamy and thereafter
pardoned by the Governor-General. In a subsequent viction, this Court decided in his favor and held:
"When proceedings to strike an attorney's name from the rolls the fact of a conviction for a felony
ground for disbarment, it has been held that a pardon operates to wipe out the conviction and is a
bar to any proceeding for the disbarment of the attorney after the pardon has been granted."

It is our view that the ruling does not govern the question now before us. In making it the Court
proceeded on the assumption that the pardon granted to respondent Lontok was absolute. This is
implicit in the ratio decidendi of the case, particularly in the citations to support it, namely. In Re
Emmons, 29 Cal. App. 121; Scott vs. State, 6 Tex. Civ. App. 343; and Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 380.
Thus in Scott vs. State the court said:

We are of opinion that after received an unconditional pardon the record of the felony
conviction could no longer be used as a basis for the proceeding provided for in article 226.
The record, when offered in evidence, was met with an unconditional pardon, and could not,
therefore, properly be said to afford "proof of a conviction of any felony." Having been thus
cancelled, all its force as a felony conviction was taken away. A pardon falling short of this
would not be a pardon, according to the judicial construction which that act of executive
grace was received. Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 344; Knote v. U.S., 95 U.S. 149, and cases
there cited; Young v. Young, 61 Tex. 191.

And the portion of the decision in Ex parte Garland quoted with approval in the Lontok case is as

A pardon reaches both the punishment prescribed for the offense and the guilt of the
offender; and when the pardon is full, it releases the punishment and blots out the existence
of guilt, so that in the eye of the law the offender is as innocent as if he had never committed
the offense. It granted before conviction, it prevents any of the penalties and disabilities,
consequent upon conviction, from attaching; if granted after conviction, it removes the
penalties and disabilities, and restores him to all his civil rights it makes him, as it were, a
new man, and gives him a new credit and capacity.

The pardon granted to respondent here is not absolute but conditional, and merely remitted the
unexecuted portion of his term. It does not reach the offense itself, unlike that in Ex parte Garland,
which was "a full pardon and amnesty for all offense by him committed in connection with rebellion
(civil war) against government of the United States."

The foregoing considerations rendered In re Lontok are inapplicable here. Respondent Gutierrez
must be judged upon the fact of his conviction for murder without regard to the pardon he invokes in
defense. The crime was qualified by treachery and aggravated by its having been committed in
hand, by taking advantage of his official position (respondent being municipal mayor at the time) and
with the use of motor vehicle. People vs. Diosdado Gutierrez, supra. The degree of moral turpitude
involved is such as to justify his being purged from the profession.

The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to certain rigid standards
of mental and moral fitness. For the admission of a candidate to the bar the Rules of Court not only
prescribe a test of academic preparation but require satisfactory testimonials of good moral
character. These standards are neither dispensed with nor lowered after admission: the lawyer must
continue to adhere to them or else incur the risk of suspension or removal. As stated in Ex
parte Wall, 107 U.S. 263, 27 Law ed., 552, 556: "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 under foot and to ignore the very bonds of society,
argues recreancy to his position and office and sets a pernicious example to the insubordinate and
dangerous elements of the body politic.

WHEREFORE, pursuant to Rule 127, Section 5, and considering the nature of the crime for which
respondent Diosdado Q. Gutierrez has been convicted, he is ordered disbarred and his name
stricken from the roll of lawyers.

G.R. No. 169517 March 14, 2006





Before us is an original petition1 for contempt filed by petitioners Rogelio Tan, Norma Tan and
Maliyawao Pagayokan against respondent Benedicto Balajadia.

Petitioners allege that on May 8, 2005, respondent filed a criminal case against them with the Office
of the City of Prosecutor of Baguio City for usurpation of authority, grave coercion and violation of
city tax ordinance due to the alleged illegal collection of parking fees by petitioners from respondent.
In paragraph 5 of the complaint-affidavit, respondent asserted that he is a "practicing lawyer based
in Baguio City with office address at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio
City."2 However, certifications issued by the Office of the Bar Confidant3 and the Integrated Bar of the
Philippines4 showed that respondent has never been admitted to the Philippine Bar. Hence,
petitioners claim that respondent is liable for indirect contempt for misrepresenting himself as a

In his Comment,5 respondent avers that the allegation in paragraph 5 of the complaint-affidavit that
he is a practicing lawyer was an honest mistake. He claims that the secretary of Atty. Paterno
Aquino prepared the subject complaint-affidavit which was patterned after Atty. Aquino’s complaint-
affidavit.6 It appears that Atty. Aquino had previously filed a complaint-affidavit against petitioners
involving the same subject matter.

Respondent claims that two complaint-affidavits were drafted by the same secretary; one for the
May 5, 2005 parking incident at 10:00 o’clock in the morning and another for the parking incident on
the same date but which occurred at 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon. Respondent insists that the
complaint-affidavit regarding the 1:00 o’clock parking incident correctly alleged that he is "a
businessman with office address at Room B-204, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio
City."7 However, the complaint-affidavit regarding the 10:00 o’clock parking incident, which is the
subject of the instant petition, erroneously referred to him as a practicing lawyer because Atty.
Aquino’s secretary copied verbatim paragraph 5 of Atty. Aquino’s complaint-affidavit. Hence, it was
inadvertently alleged that respondent is a "practicing lawyer based in Baguio City with office address
at Room B-207, 2/F Lopez Building, Session Road, Baguio City," which statement referred to the
person of Atty. Aquino and his law office address.

Liza Laconsay, Atty. Aquino’s secretary, executed an affidavit8 admitting the mistake in the
preparation of the complaint-affidavit. Respondent alleged that he did not read the complaint-affidavit
because he assumed that the two complaint-affidavits contained the same allegations with respect
to his occupation and office address. Respondent claims that he had no intention of misrepresenting
himself as a practicing lawyer.

In their Reply,9 petitioners reiterate that respondent should be made liable for indirect contempt for
having made untruthful statements in the complaint-affidavit and that he cannot shift the blame to
Atty. Aquino’s secretary.

The sole issue for resolution is whether respondent is liable for indirect contempt.

Section 3(e), Rule 71 of the Rules of Court provides:

Section 3. Indirect contempt to be punished after charge and hearing. – After a charge in writing has
been filed, and an opportunity given to the respondent to comment thereon within such period as
may be fixed by the court and to be heard by himself or counsel, a person guilty of any of the
following acts may be punished for indirect contempt:


(e) Assuming to be an attorney or an officer of a court, and acting as such without authority;

x x x x.

In several cases,10 we have ruled that the unauthorized practice of law by assuming to be an
attorney and acting as such without authority constitutes indirect contempt which is punishable by
fine or imprisonment or both. The liability for the unauthorized practice of law under Section 3(e),
Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is in the nature of criminal contempt and the acts are punished
because they are an affront to the dignity and authority of the court, and obstruct the orderly
administration of justice. In determining liability for criminal contempt, well-settled is the rule that
intent is a necessary element, and no one can be punished unless the evidence makes it clear that
he intended to commit it.11

In the case at bar, a review of the records supports respondent’s claim that he never intended to
project himself as a lawyer to the public. It was a clear inadvertence on the part of the secretary of
Atty Aquino. The affidavit of Liza Laconsay attesting to the circumstances that gave rise to the
mistake in the drafting of the complaint-affidavit conforms to the documentary evidence on record.
Taken together, these circumstances show that the allegation in paragraph 5 of respondent’s
complaint-affidavit was, indeed, the result of inadvertence.

Respondent has satisfactorily shown that the allegation that he is a practicing lawyer was the result
of inadvertence and cannot, by itself, establish intent as to make him liable for indirect contempt. In
the cases where we found a party liable for the unauthorized practice of law, the party was guilty of
some overt act like signing court pleadings on behalf of his client;12 appearing before court hearings
as an attorney;13 manifesting before the court that he will practice law despite being previously
denied admission to the bar;14 or deliberately attempting to practice law and holding out himself as
an attorney through circulars with full knowledge that he is not licensed to do so.15

In the case at bar, no evidence was presented to show that respondent acted as an attorney or that
he intended to practice law. Consequently, he cannot be made liable for indirect contempt
considering his lack of intent to illegally practice law.
However, while the evidence on record failed to prove respondent’s deliberate intent to misrepresent
himself as an attorney and act as such without authority, he is hereby warned to be more careful and
circumspect in his future actions.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED. Respondent is WARNED to be more careful and

circumspect in his future actions.


EMMA T. DANTES, complainant, vs. ATTY. CRISPIN G.

DANTES, respondent.


Despite variations in the specific standards and provisions, one requirement

remains constant in all the jurisdictions where the practice of law is regulated:
the candidate must demonstrate that he or she has good moral character, and
once he becomes a lawyer he should always behave in accordance with the
standard. In this jurisdiction too, good moral character is not only a condition
precedent to the practice of law, but an unending requirement for all the

members of the bar. Hence, when a lawyer is found guilty of grossly immoral
conduct, he may be suspended or disbarred. [2]

In an Affidavit-Complaint dated June 6, 2001, filed with the Integrated Bar


of the Philippines (IBP), Emma T. Dantes, sought the disbarment of her

husband, Atty. Crispin G. Dantes on the ground of immorality, abandonment,
and violation of professional ethics and law. The case was docketed as CBD
Case No. 01-851.
Complainant alleged that respondent is a philanderer. Respondent
purportedly engaged in illicit relationships with two women, one after the other,
and had illegitimate children with them. From the time respondents illicit affairs
started, he failed to give regular support to complainant and their children, thus
forcing complainant to work abroad to provide for their childrens
needs. Complainant pointed out that these acts of respondent constitute a
violation of his lawyers oath and his moral and legal obligation to be a role model
to the community.
On July 4, 2001, the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline issued
an Order requiring respondent to submit his answer to the Affidavit-Complaint.
Respondent submitted his Answer on November 19, 2001. Though

admitting the fact of marriage with the complainant and the birth of their
children, respondent alleged that they have mutually agreed to separate
eighteen (18) years before after complainant had abandoned him in their
Balintawak residence and fled to San Fernando, Pampanga. Respondent
claimed that when complainant returned after eighteen years, she insisted that
she be accommodated in the place where he and their children were
residing. Thus, he was forced to live alone in a rented apartment.
Respondent further alleged that he sent their children to the best school he
could afford and provided for their needs. He even bought two lots in Pampanga
for his sons, Dandelo and Dante, and gave complainant adequate financial
support even after she had abandoned him in 1983.
Respondent asserted that complainant filed this case in order to force him
to remit seventy percent (70%) of his monthly salary to her.
Subsequently, the IBP conducted its investigation and hearings on the
complaint. Complainant presented her evidence, both oral and
documentary, to support the allegations in her Affidavit-Complaint.

From the evidence presented by the complainant, it was established that

on January 19, 1979, complainant and respondent were married and lived with[7]

the latters mother in Balintawak. At that time, respondent was just a fourth year
law student. To make ends meet, complainant engaged in the buy and sell
business and relied on dole-outs from the respondents mother.
Three children were born to the couple, namely, Dandelo, Dante and Daisy,
who were born on February 20, 1980, October 14, 1981 and August 11,
[8] [9]

1983, respectively. Complainant narrated that their relationship was marred


by frequent quarrels because of respondents extra-marital affairs. Sometime [11]

in 1983, she brought their children to her mother in Pampanga to enable her to
work because respondent had failed to provide adequate support. From 1986
to 2001, complainant worked abroad as a domestic helper.
Denying that there was a mutual agreement between her and respondent
to live separately, complainant asseverated that she was just compelled to work
abroad to support their children. When she returned to the Philippines, she
learned that respondent was living with another woman. Respondent, then
bluntly told her, that he did not want to live with her anymore and that he
preferred his mistresses.
Complainant presented documentary evidence consisting of the birth
certificates of Ray Darwin, Darling, and Christian Dave, all surnamed Dantes,

and the affidavits of respondent and his paramour to prove the fact that
respondent sired three illegitimate children out of his illicit affairs with two
different women. Letters of complainants legitimate children likewise support
the allegation that respondent is a womanizer. [14]

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

Subsequently, on May 29, 2003, respondent submitted a Motion to Adopt

Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism. Respondents motion was denied
because it was filed after the complainant had already presented her
evidence. Respondent was given a final chance to present his evidence

on July 11, 2003. Instead of presenting evidence, respondent filed a Motion for
Reconsideration with Motion to Dismiss, which was likewise denied for being a
prohibited pleading under the Rules of Procedure of the Commission on Bar
Discipline. Respondent submitted his Position Paper on August 4, 2003.
In respondents Position Paper, he reiterated the allegations in

his Answer except that this time, he argued that in view of the resolution of the
complaint for support with alimony pendente lite filed against him by the

complainant before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, the instant

administrative case should be dismissed for lack of merit.

On July 7, 2004, the IBP submitted to us through the Office of the Bar
Confidant its Report and Resolution No. XVI-2004-230 involving CBD Case

No. 01-851. The IBP recommended that the respondent be suspended


indefinitely from the practice of law.

Except for the penalty, we find the above recommendation well-taken.
The Code of Professional Responsibility provides:

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

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

Rule 7.03- A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a
scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
The Code of Professional Responsibility forbids lawyers from engaging in
unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct. Immoral conduct has been
defined as that conduct which is so willful, flagrant, or shameless as to show
indifference to the opinion of good and respectable members of the
community. To be the basis of disciplinary action, the lawyers conduct must

not only be immoral, but grossly immoral.That is, it must be so corrupt as to

constitute a criminal act or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
degree or committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to

shock the common sense of decency. [24]

In Barrientos vs. Daarol, we ruled that as officers of the court, lawyers


must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be seen to be of
good moral character and leading lives in accordance with the highest moral
standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and officer
of the court is not only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or
keeping mistresses but must also so behave himself as to avoid scandalizing
the public by creating the belief that he is flouting those moral standards. If the
practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideals,
those enrolled in its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but
should also, in their lives, accord continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of
good moral character is of much greater import, as far as the general public is
concerned, than the possession of legal learning.
It should be noted that the requirement of good moral character has three
ostensible purposes, namely: (i) to protect the public; (ii) to protect the public
image of lawyers; and (iii) to protect prospective clients.A writer added a fourth:
to protect errant lawyers from themselves. [26]

Lawyers are expected to abide by the tenets of morality, not only upon
admission to the Bar but also throughout their legal career, in order to maintain
their good standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity. They may be

suspended from the practice of law or disbarred for any misconduct, even if it
pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral
character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. [28]

Undoubtedly, respondents acts of engaging in illicit relationships with two

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

In Toledo vs. Toledo, we disbarred respondent for abandoning his lawful


wife and cohabiting with another woman who had borne him a child. Likewise,
in Obusan vs. Obusan, we ruled that abandoning ones wife and resuming

carnal relations with a paramour fall within that conduct which is willful, flagrant,
or shameless, and which shows moral indifference to the opinion of the good
and respectable members of the community.
We reiterate our ruling in Cordova vs. Cordova, that moral delinquency

which affects the fitness of a member of the bar to continue as such, includes
conduct that outrages the generally accepted moral standards of the community
as exemplified by behavior which makes a mockery of the inviolable social
institution of marriage.
The power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and only in a
clear case of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and character of
the lawyer as an officer of the Court and as a member of the bar. Where a [33]

lesser penalty, such as temporary suspension, could accomplish the end

desired, disbarment should never be decreed. However, in the present case,

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

A.C. No. 407 August 15, 1967


J. Gonzales and Orense for respondent.

Office of the Solicitor General for complainant.


On January 12, 1951, the Supreme Court entered a resolution as follows:

In Administrative Case No. 407, In re Atty. Jose Avanceña, it appearing that respondent was
convicted in criminal case No. 10220 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, entitled People
of the Philippines vs. Jose Avanceña, of the crime of falsification of public document under
Art. 172 of the Revised Penal Code, and that in the decision rendered to that effect the Court
has found that said respondent has taken advantage of the law profession in committing said
crime to defraud his clients, the Court ordered that respondent be, as he is hereby,
provisionally suspended from the practice of law, pending final termination of the criminal
case No. 10220, now pending appeal in the Court of Appeals.

Jose Avanceña, a member of the Bar, was charged with falsification of public document before the
Court of First Instance of Manila, in criminal case No. 10220. After trial, he was found guilty as
charged and was sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of two years to six years of prision
correccional, to pay a fine of P5,000.00, with subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency, and to
pay the costs. The trial court also found that he took advantage of the law profession in committing
the crime of falsification of public document to defraud his clients. A copy of the decision was sent to
the Supreme Court for whatever the action it may deem appropriate to take in the premises.
Conformably thereto, the Supreme Court adopted the resolution hereinabove quoted.

From the decision of the lower court, Jose Avanceña appealed to the Court of Appeals. On February
28, 1962, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower court.

On a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court, the latter
Court, on June 13, 1962, dismissed the petition for lack of merit.

On January 21, 1963, Jose Avanceña was committed to prison at the National Penitentiary. 1äwphï1.ñët

On September 25, 1963, the President of the Philippines extended conditional pardon to Jose

On October 1, 1963, Jose Avanceña was discharged from confinement.

In the decision of the trial court, the following is said:

The evidence on record conclusively establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable
doubt as the author of the falsification of the Power of Attorney (Exhibit A), with grave abuse
of confidence. The accused is a lawyer and has taken advantage of the law profession in
committing the crime of falsification of a public document to defraud his clients. A lawyer of
the type of the accused is a disgrace to the law profession and should be disbarred.

In affirming the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals said:

A la vista de los datos expuestos el Juzgado cree y asi concluye que el apelante no ha
explicado satisfactoriamente como Ilego a su posesion el poder especial Exhibito A; la
presuncion es concluyente que aquel es el autor de la falsification de las firmas de los
hermanos Joa que aparecen en el poder especial Exhibito A. (People vs. Astudillo, 60 Phil.

La conclusion es, pues, que el apelante fue quien preparo el exhibito A; fue quien falsifico
las firmas de los hermanos Jao que aparecen en dicho document; y, fue quien Ilevo dicho
documento a la oficina del notario Tumblos para su ratificacion.
EN SU VIRTUD, habiendose probado fuera de toda duda racional la culpabilidad del
apelante, y la decision apelada estando de conformidad con las pruebas y la ley, la misma
se confirmation in toto, con las costas contra el apelante.

There can, therefore, be no doubt, that Jose Avanceña has committed the crime of falsification of
public document against his clients with grave abuse of confidence, having been found guilty thereof
by final judgment of competent jurisdiction. His acts amount to deceit, malpractice or misconduct in
office as an attorney, which constitute grounds for removal from office under Section 27, Rule 138 of
the Rules of Court, not to mention conviction by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude.

The fact that the respondent was extended conditional pardon by the Chief Executive is of no
moment. Such conditional pardon merely partially relieved him of the penal consequences of his act,
but did not operate as a bar to his disbarment, especially so when he is being disbarred on the
ground of professional misconduct for which he had been convicted by final judgment. (Cf. In
re Lontok, 43 Phil. 293.)

Wherefore, judgment is hereby entered declaring Jose Avanceña disbarred from the practice of law,
and striking his name from the roll of attorneys.

G.R. No. 147824 August 2, 2007

ROSA YAP PARAS, petitioner,

JUSTO J. PARAS, respondent.



This case presents another occasion to reiterate this Court’s ruling that the Guidelines set forth in
Republic v. Court of Appeals and Ronidel Olaviano Molina1 "do not require that a physician should
examine the person to be declared psychologically incapacitated. What is important is the presence
of evidence that can adequately establish the party’s psychological condition."2

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
as amended, are the (a) Decision3 dated December 8, 2000 and (b) Resolution4 dated April 5, 2001
of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49915, entitled "Rosa Yap-Paras, Plaintiff-Appellant vs.
Justo J. Paras, Defendant-Appellee."

On May 21, 1964, petitioner Rosa Yap married respondent Justo J. Paras in Bindoy, Negros
Oriental. They begot four (4) children, namely: Raoul (+), Cindy Rose (+), Dahlia, and Reuel.

Twenty-nine (29) years thereafter, or on May 27, 1993, Rosa filed with the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 31, Dumaguete City, a complaint for annulment of her marriage with Justo, under
Article 36 of the Family Code, docketed as Civil Case No. 10613. She alleged that Justo is
psychologically incapacitated to exercise the essential obligations of marriage as shown by the
following circumstances:

(a) he dissipated her business assets and forged her signature in one mortgage transaction;

(b) he lived with a concubine and sired a child with her;

(c) he did not give financial support to his children; and

(d) he has been remiss in his duties both as a husband and as a father.

To substantiate her charges, Rosa offered documentary and testimonial evidence.

This is her story. She met Justo in 1961 in Bindoy. She was then a student of San Carlos University,
Cebu City.5 He courted her, frequently spending time at her "Botica."6 Eventually, in 1964, convinced
that he loved her, she agreed to marry him. Their wedding was considered one of the "most
celebrated" marriages in Bindoy.7

After the wedding, she and Justo spent one (1) week in Davao for their honeymoon.8 Upon returning
to Bindoy, they resided at her parents’ house. It was their residence for three (3) years until they
were able to build a house of their own.9 For the first five (5) years of their marriage, Justo did not
support her and their children because he shouldered his sister’s schooling.10 Consequently, she
was the one who spent for all their family needs, using the income from her "Botica" and store.11

Justo lived the life of a bachelor.12 His usual routine was to spend time with his "barkadas" until the
wee hours of the morning. Oftentimes, he would scold her when she sent for him during
lunchtime.13 He also failed to provide for their children’s well-being.14 Sometime in 1975, their
daughter Cindy Rose was afflicted with leukemia. It was her family who paid for her medication.
Also, in 1984, their son Raoul was electrocuted while Justo was in their rest house with his
"barkadas." He did not heed her earlier advice to bring Raoul in the rest house as the latter has the
habit of climbing the rooftop.15

To cope with the death of the children, the entire family went to the United States. Her sisters
supported them throughout their two-year stay there. However, after three months, Justo abandoned
them and left for the Philippines. Upon her return to the Philippines, she was shocked to find her
"Botica" and other businesses heavy in debt. She then realized Justo was a profligate. At one time,
he disposed without her consent a conjugal piece of land.16 At other times, he permitted the
municipal government to take gasoline from their gas station free of charge.

She endured all of Justo’s shortcomings, but his act of maintaining a mistress and siring an
illegitimate child was the last straw that prompted her to file the present case. She found that after
leaving their conjugal house in 1988, Justo lived with Jocelyn Ching. Their cohabitation resulted in
the birth of a baby girl, Cyndee Rose, obviously named after her (Rosa) and Justo‘s deceased
daughter Cindy Rose Paras.17

As expected, Justo has a different version of the story.

He met Rosa upon his return to Bindoy after taking the bar examinations in Manila.18 He frequently
spent time in her store.19 Believing he loved her, he courted her and later on, they became
sweethearts. In 1963, they decided to get married. However, it was postponed because her family
demanded a dowry. Their marriage took place in 1964 upon his mother’s signing a deed of
conveyance involving 28 hectares of coconut land in favor of Rosa.20

He blamed the subsequent dissipation of their assets from the slump of the price of sugar and not to
his alleged profligacy.21 Due to his business ventures, he and Rosa were able to acquire a 10-room
family house, expand their store, establish their gasoline station, and purchase several properties.
He also denied forging her signature in one mortgage transaction. He maintained that he did not
dispose of a conjugal property and that he and Rosa personally signed the renewal of a sugar crop
loan before the bank’s authorized employee.22
As to their marital relationship, he noticed the change in Rosa’s attitude after her return from the
United States. She became detached, cold, uncaring, and overly focused on the family’s
businesses.23 He tried to reach her but Rosa was steadfast in her "new attitudinal outlook." Before
other people, he merely pretended that their relationship was blissful.24

He did not abandon his family in the United States. It happened that they only had tourist visas.
When they were there, their children’s tourist visas were converted into study visas, permitting them
to stay longer. For his part, he was granted only three (3) months leave as municipal mayor of
Bindoy, thus, he immediately returned to the Philippines.25

He spent for his children’s education. At first, he resented supporting them because he was just
starting his law practice and besides, their conjugal assets were more than enough to provide for
their needs. He admitted though that there were times he failed to give them financial support
because of his lack of income.26

What caused the inevitable family break-out was Rosa’s act of embarrassing him during his birthday
celebration in 1987. She did not prepare food for the guests. When confronted, she retorted that she
has nothing to do with his birthday. This convinced him of her lack of concern.27 This was further
aggravated when she denied his request for engine oil when his vehicle broke down in a
mountainous and NPA-infested area.28

As to the charge of concubinage, he alleged that Jocelyn Ching is not his mistress, but her secretary
in his Law Office. She was impregnated by her boyfriend, a certain Grelle Leccioness. Cyndee Rose
Ching Leccioness is not his daughter.

After trial or on February 28, 1995, the RTC rendered a Decision upholding the validity of the
marriage. It found that: (a) Justo did not abandon the conjugal home as he was forced to leave after
Rosa posted guards at the gates of their house;29 (b) the conjugal assets were sufficient to support
the family needs, thus, there was no need for Justo to shell out his limited salary;30 and (c) the
charge of infidelity is unsubstantiated.31 The RTC observed that the relationship between the parties
started well, negating the existence of psychological incapacity on either party at the time of the
celebration of their marriage.32 And lastly, it ruled that there appeared to be a collusion between
them as both sought the declaration of nullity of their marriage.33

Justo interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals.

In the interim, Rosa filed with this Court a petition for disbarment against Justo, docketed as A.C.
No. 5333, premised on the same charges alleged in her complaint for declaration of nullity of
marriage. On October 18, 2000, this Court rendered its Decision finding him guilty of falsifying
Rosa’s signature in bank documents, immorality, and abandonment of his family. He was
suspended from the practice of law, thus:

In the light of the foregoing, respondent is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law
for SIX (6) MONTHSon the charge of falsifying his wife’s signature in bank documents
and other related loan instruments; and for ONE (1) YEAR from the practice of law on the
charges of immorality and abandonment of his own family, the penalties to be served
simultaneously. Let notice of this Decision be spread in respondent’s record as an attorney,
and notice of the same served on the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and on the Office of
the Court Administrator for circulation to all the courts concerned.

On December 8, 2000 or nearly two months after this Court promulgated the Decision in A.C. No.
5333, the Court of Appeals affirmed the RTC Decision in the present case, holding that "the
evidence of the plaintiff (Rosa) falls short of the standards required by law to decree a nullity of
marriage." It ruled that Justo’s alleged defects or idiosyncracies "were sufficiently explained by the
evidence," thus:

Certainly, we cannot ignore what is extant on the record – first, the income which supported
their children came from the earnings of their conjugal properties and not singularly from
Rosa’s industry; second, Justo gave his share of the support to his children in the form of
allowances, albeit smaller than that derived from the conjugal property; third, he was booted
out from their conjugal dwelling after he lost his bid for re-election and as such did not
voluntarily abandon his home; and fourth, although unjustifiable in the eyes of the law and
morality, Justo’s alleged infidelity came after he was driven out of his house by Rosa. x x x.

The Court of Appeals likewise held that Rosa’s inability to offer the testimony of a psychologist is
fatal to her case, being in violation of the tenets laid down by this Court in Molina.34 Thus, she failed
to substantiate her allegation that Justo is psychologically incapacitated from complying with the
essential obligations of marriage.35

Rosa filed a motion for reconsideration but it was denied. Hence, the instant petition for review
on certiorari.

Rosa contends that this Court’s factual findings in A.C. No. 5333 for disbarment are conclusive on
the present case. Consequently, the Court of Appeals erred in rendering contrary factual findings.
Also, she argues that she filed the instant complaint sometime in May, 1993, well before this Court’s
pronouncement in Molina relied upon by the Court of Appeals. She states that she could have
presented an expert to prove the root cause of Justo’s psychological incapacity had she been
required to do so. For relief, she prays that her marriage with Justo be annulled on the bases of the
Court’s conclusive factual findings in A.C. No. 5333; or in the alternative, remand this case to the
court a quo for reception of expert testimony in the interest of due process.

In his comment on the petition, Justo asserts that the present case is a "new matter completely
foreign and removed" from A.C. No. 5333; hence, the factual findings of this Court therein are not
conclusive on this case. Besides, no hearing was conducted in A.C. No. 5333 as it was decided
merely on the bases of pleadings and documents.

The parties’ opposing contentions lead us to the following three (3) vital issues:

first, whether the factual findings of this Court in A.C. No. 5333 are conclusive on the present

second, whether a remand of this case to the RTC for reception of expert testimony on the
root cause of Justo’s alleged psychological incapacity is necessary; and

third, whether the totality of evidence in the case shows psychological incapacity on the part
of Justo.

The petition is bereft of merit.

Whether the factual findings of this Court in
A.C. No. 5333 are conclusive on the present case.

Rosa, sad to say, had made much ado about nothing. A reading of the Court of Appeals’ Decision
shows that she has no reason to feel aggrieved. In fact, the appellate court even assumed that her
charges "are true," but concluded that they are insufficient to declare the marriage void on the
ground of psychological incapacity. The pertinent portion of the Decision reads:

Applying these parameters to the sifted evidence, we find that even if we assume Justo’s
alleged infidelity, failure to support his family and alleged abandonment of their family
home are true, such traits are at best indicators that he is unfit to become an ideal husband
and father. However, by themselves, these grounds are insufficient to declare the marriage void due
to an incurable psychological incapacity. These grounds, we must emphasize, do not manifest that
he was truly incognitive of the basic marital covenants that he must assume and discharge as a
married person. While they may manifest the "gravity" of his alleged psychological incapacity, they
do not necessarily show ‘incurability’, such that while his acts violated the covenants of marriage,
they do not necessarily show that such acts show an irreparably hopeless state of psychological
incapacity which prevents him from undertaking the basic obligations of marriage in the future.36

The Court of Appeals pointed this out in its Resolution denying Rosa’s motion for reconsideration,

Even as we are fully cognizant of the findings of the Supreme Court in the disbarment case
appellant filed against her husband, namely, appellee’s falsification of documents to obtain
loans and his infidelity, these facts, by themselves, do not conclusively establish appellee’s
psychological incapacity as contemplated under Article 36 of the Family Code. In fact, we
already went as far as to presume the existence of such seeming depravities in
appellee’s character in our earlier judgment. However, as we emphasized in our
Decision, the existence of such eventualities is not necessarily conclusive of an
inherent incapacity on the part of appellee to discern and perform the rudiments of
marital obligations as required under Article 36.37

Clearly, Rosa’s insistence that the factual findings in A.C. No. 5333 be considered "conclusive" on
the present case is unmeritorious. The Court of Appeals already "went as far as to presume the
existence" of Justo’s depravities, however, even doing so could not bring about her (Rosa’s) desired
result. As Rosa’s prayer for relief suggests, what she wants is for this Court to annul her marriage on
the bases of its findings in A.C. No. 5333.38 Obviously, she is of the impression that since her
charges in A.C. No. 5333 were found to be true, justifying the suspension of Justo from the practice
of law, the same charges are also sufficient to prove his psychological incapacity to comply with the
essential marital obligations.

Her premise is of course non-sequitur.

Jurisprudence abounds that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own.
They are distinct from and may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. The basic
premise is that criminal and civil cases are altogether different from administrative matters,
such that the disposition in the first two will not inevitably govern the third
and vice versa.39 The Court’s exposition in In re Almacen40 is instructive, thus:

x x x Disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely
criminal, they do not involve a trial of an action or a suit, but are rather investigations by the
Court into the conduct of one of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they
are] in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a
prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their]
primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is
still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its
disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for
his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity
of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging
the profession of members who by their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no
longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the
office of an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a
complainant or a prosecutor.

Accordingly, one’s unfitness as a lawyer does not automatically mean one’s unfitness as
a husband or vice versa.41 The yardsticks for such roles are simply different. This is why the
disposition in a disbarment case cannot be conclusive on an action for declaration of nullity of
marriage. While Rosa’s charges sufficiently proved Justo’s unfitness as a lawyer, however, they may
not establish that he is psychologically incapacitated to perform his duties as a husband. In the
disbarment case, "the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit
person to be allowed the privileges as such." Its purpose is "to protect the court and the public from
the misconduct of officers of the court." On the other hand, in an action for declaration of nullity of
marriage based on the ground of psychological incapacity, the question for determination is whether
the guilty party suffers a grave, incurable, and pre-existing mental incapacity that renders him truly
incognitive of the basic marital covenants. Its purpose is to free the innocent party from a
meaningless marriage. In this case, as will be seen in the following discussion, Justo’s acts are not
sufficient to conclude that he is psychologically incapacitated, albeit such acts really fall short of what
is expected from a lawyer.


Whether a remand of this case to the RTC is necessary.

The presentation of an expert witness to prove psychological incapacity has its origin in
Molina.42 One of the Guidelines set forth therein states:

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically
identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts, and (d) clearly
explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be
psychological -- not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical.
The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, was mentally or
psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no
example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the
provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be
identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert
evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

In the 2000 case of Marcos v. Marcos,43 the Court clarified that the above Guideline does not require
that the respondent should be examined by a physician or psychologist as a condition sine qua
non for the declaration of the nullity of marriage. What is important is "the presence of evidence
that can adequately establish the party’s psychological condition."
Interestingly, in the same year (2000) that Marcos was decided, the Court backtracked a bit when it
held in Republic v. Dagdag44 that, "the root cause of psychological incapacity must be medically
or clinically identified and sufficiently proven by experts" and this requirement was not deemed
complied with where no psychiatrist or medical doctor testified on the alleged psychological
incapacity of one party.

Significantly, the New Rules on Declaration of Absolute Nullity of Void Marriages and Annulment of
Voidable Marriages,45 promulgated by this Court on March 15, 2003, geared towards the relaxation
of the requirement of expert opinion. Section 2, paragraph (d) states:

(d) What to allege.- A petition under Article 36 of the Family Code shall specifically allege the
complete facts showing that either or both parties were psychologically incapacitated from
complying with the essential marital obligations of marriage at the time of the celebration of
marriage even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its celebration.

The complete facts should allege the physical manifestations, if any, as are indicative
of psychological incapacity at the time of the celebration of the marriage but expert
opinion need not be alleged.

In Barcelona v. Court of Appeals,46 this Court categorically explained that under the New Rules, a
petition for declaration of nullity under Article 36 of the Family Code need not allege expert opinion
on the psychological incapacity or on its root cause. What must be alleged are the physical
manifestations indicative of said incapacity. The Court further held that the New Rules, being
procedural in nature, apply to actions pending and unresolved at the time of their adoption.

Later, in 2005, the Court reiterated the Marcos doctrine in Republic v. Iyoy.47 Thus:

A later case, Marcos v. Marcos, further clarified that there is no requirement that the
defendant/respondent spouse should be personally examined by a physician or
psychologist as a condition sine qua non for the declaration of nullity of marriage
based on psychological incapacity. Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to allege expert
opinion in a petition under Article 36 of the Family Code of the Philippines. Such
psychological incapacity, however, must be established by the totality of the
evidence presented during the trial.

Significantly, the present case is exactly akin to Pesca v. Pesca.48 Pesca stemmed from a complaint
for declaration of nullity of marriage under Article 36 filed by a battered wife sometime in April 1994.
The trial court, in its Decision dated November 15, 1995, decreed the marriage void ab initio on the
ground of psychological incapacity on the part of the husband. The Court of Appeals reversed the
trial court’s Decision, applying the Guidelines set forth in Santos v. Court of
Appeals49 and Molina.50 When the matter was brought to this Court, the wife argued
that Santos and Molina should not have retroactive application, the Guidelines being merely advisory
and not mandatory in nature. She submitted that the proper application
of Santos and Molina warranted only a remand of her case to the trial court for further proceedings,
not a dismissal. The Court declined to remand Pesca51 on the premise that
the Santosand Molina Guidelines "constitute a part of the law as of the date the statute is
enacted," thus:

The ‘doctrine of stare decisis,’ ordained in Article 8 of the Civil Code, expresses that judicial
decisions applying or interpreting the law shall form part of the legal system of the
Philippines. The rule follows the settled legal maxim – ‘legis interpretado legis vim obtinet’
that the interpretation placed upon the written law by a competent court has the force of
law. The interpretation or construction placed by the courts establishes the
contemporaneous legislative intent of the law. The latter as so interpreted and
construed would thus constitute a part of the law as of the date the statute is enacted.
It is only when a prior ruling of this Court finds itself later overruled, and a different view is
adopted, that the new doctrine may have to be applied prospectively in favor of parties who
have relied on the old doctrine and have acted in good faith in accordance therewith under
the familiar rule of ‘lex prospicit, non replicit.’

The Court then opted to examine the evidence. It affirmed that the wife failed, both in her allegations
in the complaint and in her evidence, to make out a case of psychological incapacity on the part of
her husband. The Court then concluded that "emotional immaturity and irresponsibility" cannot
be equated with psychological incapacity.

Applying the foregoing cases, Marcos, Barcelona, Iyoy, and Pesca, to the instant case, there is no
reason to remand it to the trial court. The records clearly show that there is sufficient evidence to
establish the psychological condition of Justo.


Whether the totality of evidence in the case

shows psychological incapacity on the part of Justo
as to justify the declaration of nullity of marriage.

The last issue left for this Court’s consideration is whether the totality of the evidence is sufficient to
sustain a finding of psychological incapacity on the part of Justo so as to justify the dissolution of the
marriage in question.

At this juncture, it is imperative that the parties be reminded of the State’s policy on marriage. Article
XV of the Constitution mandates that:

SEC. 1. The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly,
it shall strengthen its solidarity and actively promote its total development.

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

This State policy on the inviolability of marriage has been enshrined in Article 1 of the Family Code
which states that:

ART. 1. Marriage is a special contract of permanent union, between a man and a woman
entered into in accordance with law for the establishment of conjugal and family life. It is the
foundation of the family and an inviolable social institution whose nature, consequences, and
incidents are governed by law, and not subject to stipulation, except that marriage
settlements may fix the property relations during the marriage within the limits provided by
this Code.

Given the foregoing provisions of constitutional and statutory law, this Court has held fast to the
position that any doubt as to the validity of a marriage is to be resolved in favor of its
validity.52 Semper praesumitur pro matrimonio.
Of course, the law recognizes that not all marriages are made in heaven. Imperfect humans more
often than not create imperfect unions. Thus, when the imperfection is psychological in nature and
renders a person incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations, the State provides
refuge to the aggrieved spouse under Article 36 of the Family Code which reads:

ART. 36. A marriage contracted by a party who, at the time of celebration, was
psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations of marriage
shall likewise be void even if such incapacity becomes manifest only after its solemnization.

In Molina,53 the Court laid down the Guidelines for the interpretation and application of Article 36,

(1) The burden of proof to show the nullity of the marriage belongs to the plaintiff. Any doubt
should be resolved in favor of the existence and continuation of the marriage and against its
dissolution and nullity. x x x.

(2) The root cause of the psychological incapacity must be (a) medically or clinically
identified, (b) alleged in the complaint, (c) sufficiently proven by experts and (d) clearly
explained in the decision. Article 36 of the Family Code requires that the incapacity must be
psychological -- not physical, although its manifestations and/or symptoms may be physical.
The evidence must convince the court that the parties, or one of them, were mentally or
psychically ill to such an extent that the person could not have known the obligations he was
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given valid assumption thereof. Although no
example of such incapacity need be given here so as not to limit the application of the
provision under the principle of ejusdem generis, nevertheless such root cause must be
identified as a psychological illness and its incapacitating nature fully explained. Expert
evidence may be given by qualified psychiatrists and clinical psychologists.

(3) The incapacity must be proven to be existing at "the time of the celebration" of the
marriage. The evidence must show that the illness was existing when the parties exchanged
their "I do’s." The manifestation of the illness need not be perceivable at such time, but the
illness itself must have attached at such moment, or prior thereto.

(4) Such incapacity must also be shown to be medically or clinically permanent or

incurable. Such incurability may be absolute or even relative only in regard to the other
spouse, not necessarily absolutely against everyone of the same sex. Furthermore, such
incapacity must be relevant to the assumption of marriage obligations, not necessarily to
those not related to marriage, like the exercise of a profession or employment in a job.
Hence, a pediatrician may be effective in diagnosing illnesses of children and prescribing
medicine to cure them but may not be psychologically capacitated to procreate, bear and
raise his/her own children as an essential obligation of marriage.

(5) Such illness must be grave enough to bring about the disability of the party to assume
the essential obligations of marriage. Thus, "mild characteriological peculiarities, mood
changes, occasional emotional outbursts" cannot be accepted as root causes. The illness
must be shown as downright incapacity or inability, not a refusal, neglect or difficulty, much
less ill will. In other words, there is a natal or supervening disabling factor in the person, an
adverse integral element in the personality structure that effectively incapacitates the person
from really accepting and thereby complying with the obligations essential to marriage.

(6) The essential marital obligations must be those embraced by Articles 68 up to 71 of the
Family Code as regards the husband and wife as well as Articles 220, 221 and 225 of the
same Code in regard to parents and their children. Such non-complied marital obligation(s)
must also be stated in the petition, proven by evidence and included in the text of the

(7) Interpretations given by the National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal of the Catholic
Church in the Philippines, while not controlling or decisive, should be given great respect by
our courts.

(8) The trial court must order the prosecuting attorney or fiscal and the Solicitor General to
appear as counsel for the state. No decision shall be handed down unless the Solicitor
General issues a certification, which will be quoted in the decision, briefly stating therein his
reasons for his agreement or opposition, as the case may be, to the petition. The Solicitor
General, along with the prosecuting attorney, shall submit to the court such certification
within fifteen (15) days from the date the case is deemed submitted for resolution of the
court. The Solicitor General shall discharge the equivalent function of the defensor
vinculi contemplated under Canon 1095.

The foregoing Guidelines incorporate the basic requirements mandated by the Court in Santos,54 to
reiterate: psychological incapacity must be characterized by (a) gravity; (b) juridical antecedence;
and (c) incurability.

A review of the complaint, as well as the testimonial and documentary evidence, shows that Rosa’s
main grounds in seeking the declaration of nullity of her marriage with Justo are his infidelity,
profligacy which includes the falsification of her signature in one of the loan documents,
failure to support the children, and abandonment of the family. Both the courts below found the
charges unsubstantiated and untrue. However, this Court, in A.C. No. 5333 for disbarment, found
the evidence sufficient to support Rosa’s charges of sexual infidelity, falsification of her signature,
and abandonment of family, thus:


The handwriting examination conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation on the signatures of
complainant Rosa Yap Paras and respondent Justo de Jesus Paras vis-à-vis the questioned
signature "Rosa Y. Paras" appearing in the questioned bank loan documents, contracts of mortgage
and other related instrument, yielded the following results:


1. The questioned and the standard sample signatures JUSTO J. PARAS were
written by one and the same person.

2. The questioned and the standard sample signatures ROSA YAP PARAS were not
written by one and the same person. (Annex "B", Rollo, p. 26, emphasis ours;)

The NBI did not make a categorical statement that respondent forged the signatures of
complainant. However, an analysis of the above findings lead to no other conclusion than
that the questioned or falsified signatures of complainant Rosa Y. Paras were authored by
respondent as said falsified signatures were the same as the sample signatures of
To explain this anomaly, respondent presented a Special Power of Attorney (SPA) executed
in his favor by complainant to negotiate for an agricultural or crop loan from the Bais Rural
Bank of Bais City. Instead of exculpating respondent, the presence of the SPA places him in
hot water. For if he was so authorized to obtain loans from the banks, then why did he have
to falsify his wife’s signatures in the bank loan documents? The purpose of an SPA is to
especially authorize the attorney-in-fact to sign for and on behalf of the principal using his
own name.


The evidence against respondent is overwhelming. The affidavit-statements of his children

and three other persons who used to work with him and have witnessed the acts indicative of
his infidelity more than satisfy this Court that respondent has strayed from the marital path.
The baptismal certificate of Cyndee Rose Paras where respondent was named as the father
of the child (Annex "J", Rollo, p. 108); his naming the child after his deceased first-born
daughter Cyndee Rose; and his allowing Jocelyn Ching and the child to live in their house in
Dumaguete City bolster the allegation that respondent is carrying on an illicit affair with Ms.
Ching, the mother of his illegitimate child.

While this Court is convinced that the charges hurled against Justo by Rosa, such as sexual
infidelity, falsification of her signature, abandonment and inadequate support of children, are
true, nonetheless, there is nothing in the records showing that they were caused by a psychological
disorder on his part. In other words, the totality of the evidence is not sufficient to show that Justo
is psychologically incapacitated to comply with the essential marital obligations.

The records indicate that the marriage between the parties had a good start, resulting in the birth of
their four (4) children. The early days of their cohabitation were blissful and harmonious. Justo was
deeply in love with Rosa, even persuading his mother to give her a dowry. They were able to build a
10-room family home and acquire several properties, thus, proving themselves to be responsible
couple. Even Rosa admitted that Justo took care of their children when they were young.
Unfortunately, the passage of time appeared to have taken its toll on their relationship. The acts
committed by Justo appeared to have been the result of irreconcilable differences between them
caused by the death of their two (2) children and financial difficulties due to his failure to win the
mayoralty election and to sustain his law practice. Furthermore, the superior business acumen of
Rosa, as well as the insolent attitude of her family towards Justo, busted his ego and lowered his

There is no evidence that Justo’s "defects" were present at the inception of the marriage. His
"defects" surfaced only in the latter years when these events took place; their two children died; he
lost in the election; he failed in his business ventures and law practice; and felt the disdain of his wife
and her family. Surely, these circumstances explain why Rosa filed the present case only after
almost 30 years of their marriage.

Equally important is that records fail to indicate that Justo’s "defects" are incurable or grave.

The following catena of cases provides an adequate basis why the marriage between Justo and
Rosa should not be annulled.

In Dedel v. Court of Appeals55 which involved a promiscuous wife who left her family to live with one
of her many paramours, this Court ruled that the acts of sexual infidelity and abandonment do not
constitute psychological incapacity absent a showing of the presence of such promiscuity at
the inception of the marriage, thus:
x x x. In this case, respondent’s sexual infidelity can hardly qualify as being mentally or
physically ill to such an extent that she could not have known the obligations she was
assuming, or knowing them, could not have given a valid assumption thereof. It appears
that respondent’s promiscuity did not exist prior to or at the inception of the marriage.
What is, in fact, disclosed by the records is a blissful marital union at its celebration,
later affirmed in church rites, and which produced four children.

Respondent’s sexual infidelity or perversion and abandonment do not by themselves

constitute psychological incapacity within the contemplation of the Family Code. Neither
could her emotional immaturity and irresponsibility be equated with psychological incapacity.
It must be shown that these acts are manifestations of a disordered personality which make
respondent completely unable to discharge the essential obligations of the marital state, not
merely due to her youth, immaturity, or sexual promiscuity.

In Carating-Siayngco v. Siayngco,56 the wife’s inability to conceive led her husband to other women
so he could fulfill his ardent wish to have a child of his own flesh and blood. This Court ruled that this
is not a manifestation of psychological incapacity in the contemplation of the Family Code. In Choa
v. Choa,57 this Court declared that a mere showing of irreconcilable differences and conflicting
personalities does not constitute psychological incapacity. And, again, in Iyoy,58 a Filipina left her
husband, married an American and had a family by him, which she flaunted to her former husband.
This Court ruled that these acts, while embarrassing and hurting to the latter, did not
satisfactorily establish a serious or grave psychological or mental defect of an incurable
nature present at the time of marriage; and that irreconcilable differences, conflicting
personalities, emotional immaturity, and irresponsibility, physical abuse, habitual alcoholism,
sexual infidelity or perversion, and abandonment per se do not warrant a finding of
psychological incapacity under Article 36.

What is clear in this case is a husband who has gone astray from the path of marriage because of a
conflicting relationship with his wife and her family and repeated life’s setbacks. While these do not
justify his sins, they are not sufficient to establish that he is psychologically incapacitated.

It is worthy to emphasize that Article 36 contemplates downright incapacity or inability to take

cognizance of and assume the basic marital obligations, not a mere refusal, neglect or difficulty,
much less, ill will, on the part of the errant spouse.59 As this Court repeatedly declares, Article 36 of
the Family Code is not to be confused with a divorce law that cuts the marital bond at the time the
causes thereof manifest themselves. It refers to a serious psychological illness afflicting a party even
before the celebration of the marriage. It is a malady so grave and so permanent as to deprive one
of awareness of the duties and responsibilities of the matrimonial bond one is about to assume.
These marital obligations are those provided under Articles 68 to 71, 220, 221 and 225 of the Family

Neither should Article 36 be equated with legal separation, in which the grounds need not be rooted
in psychological incapacity but on physical violence, moral pressure, moral corruption, civil
interdiction, drug addiction, sexual infidelity, and abandonment, and the like. At best the evidence
presented by petitioner refers only to grounds for legal separation, not for declaring a marriage

In sum, this Court finds no cogent reason to reverse the ruling of the Court of Appeals. While this
Court commiserates with Rosa’s plight, however, it has no choice but to apply the law. Dura lex sed
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 49915 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.


A.C. No. 266 April 27, 1963


ATTY. JESUS B. TOLEDO, respondent.


This is a disbarment proceedings under Rule 128 of the Rules of Court.

On 9 July 1956 Paz Arellano Toledo filed in this Court a sworn complaint in the form of a letter
alleging that she is the wife of Jesus B. Toledo, a member of the Bar;1 that they were married on 27
December 1946 while he was still a second year student of law; that she supported him and spent
for his studies; that after passing the bar examination and becoming a full-fledged member of the
Bar he abandoned her; that he is at present employed in the Bureau of Mines2 and stationed at
Cagayan de Oro City; and that he is cohabiting with another woman who had borne him three
children. She prayed that the respondent be disbarred from the practice of law. On 11, July 1956,
this Court directed the respondent to answer the complaint within ten days from receipt of notice and
a copy of the complaint.3The respondent mailed his answer in the form of a letter, which was
received in this Court on 4, October 1956, averring that the complaint was not in due form because
"It does not set out distinctly, clearly and concisely the legal causes for the suspension or disbarment
of a member of the Philippine Bar as provided in the Rules of Court hence his "answer could not be
made in the logical sequence of a formal pleading;" that there seems to be an irregularity in the filing
of the complaint because while the letter-complaint was dated 25, June 1956, and received at the
Docket Section of this Court on 2, July 1956, by an employee whose initials are "A.L."4 It was
subscribed and sworn to before a notary public on a later date, 5 July 1956; and the alleged
information furnished by Esperanza D. Almonte that the respondent was cohabiting with another
woman who had borne him three children is not true because her very informant, whose true name
is Leoncia D. Almonte, executed an affidavit to the effect that the respondent was employed in the
Bureau of Lands, not in the Bureau of Mines, and that the three children referred to by the
complainant were the children of Mr. and Mrs. Ruperto Ll. Jose, with whom the respondent was
boarding. Attached to his answer are the affidavit of Leoncia D. Almonte and a copy of his answer to
a complaint filed by the complainant with the Director of Lands for abandonment and immorality. In 9
October 1956, this Court referred the case to the Solicitor General for investigation, report and
recommendation and on 11 October 1956 the record of the case was received by the Office of the
Solicitor General. On 19 November 1956, 10 December 1956, 7, 8, 14, and 15 February 1957, 18
March 1957 and 5 August 1957, the office of the Solicitor General conducted hearings during which
the complainant presented her evidence both oral and documentary and the respondent, who
appeared in his own behalf, cross-examined her witnesses. The respondent did not present
evidence in his behalf but reserved the right to present it under the provisions of Section 6, Rule 128.
After finding that there is sufficient ground to proceed against the respondent, on 24 July 1958 the
Solicitor General filed a complaint in this Court charging the respondent with abandonment of his
wife and immorality for cohabiting with another woman by whom he has a child, and praying that he
be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law. On 30 July 1958 the Clerk of Court sent to the
respondent by mail a copy of the complaint filed by the Solicitor General and directed him to answer
the same within 15 days from receipt thereof, pursuant to Section 5, Rule 128. On 28 August 1958
the respondent filed in this Court a motion to dismiss the complaint on the ground "that the charges
contained therein are not based on and supported by the facts and evidence adduced at the
investigation conducted by the Office of the Solicitor General." On 2 September 1958 this Court set
the case for hearing on 17 September 1958 at 9:30 o'clock in the morning. On 13 September 1958
the respondent filed a motion praying that his motion to dismiss filed on 28 August 1958 be first
resolved or, that, should it be denied, he be given a period of ten days within which to file an answer;
that upon receipt of his answer the case be returned to the Solicitor General for reception of his
evidence pursuant to Section 6, Rule 128; and that the hearing of the case set for 17 September
1958 at 9:30 o'clock in the morning be held in abeyance pending resolution of his motion. At the
hearing of the case on 17 September 1958, counsel for the respondent appeared and was given a
period of 15 days within which to submit a written memorandum in lieu of oral argument, and the
Solicitor General the same period of time from receipt of a copy of the respondent's memorandum
within which to reply. On 22 October 1958, within the extension of time previously granted, the
respondent filed his memorandum and on 17 November 1958, also within the extension of time
previously granted, the Solicitor General, his memorandum in reply.

Section 6, Rule 128, provides:

The evidence produced before the Solicitor General in his investigation may be considered,
by the Supreme Court in the final decision of the case, if the respondent had an opportunity
to object and cross-examine. If in the respondent's answer no statement is made as to any
intention of introducing additional evidence, the case shall be set down for hearing, upon the
filing of such answer or upon the expiration of the time to file the same. (Emphasis supplied)

The above-quoted rule in no uncertain terms requires the respondent in disbarment or suspension
proceedings from the practice of law to file an answer to the complaint filed by the Solicitor General
after investigation and, should he desire to present evidence in his behalf, to expressly say so in the
answer. Instead of doing what the rule requires, the respondent filed a motion to dismiss without
stating that he intended to present evidence in his behalf, thereby waiving his right. The fact that at
the close of the hearing conducted by the Solicitor General, he made of record his desire to present
evidence in his behalf, is not sufficient. The correct manner and proper time for him to make known
his intention is by and in the answer seasonably filed in this Court.

The complainant testified as follows: On 27 December 1946 she, a dentist by profession, and the
respondent, then a second year law student, were married civilly in Camiling, Tarlac, by the Justice
of the Peace (Exhibit A). For a period of two weeks after their wedding, they lived in the house of her
parents at No. 76 General del Pilar street in Camiling. After two weeks, the respondent went to
Manila to resume his studies at the Far Eastern University,5 and she remained in Camiling to
practice her profession. While the respondent was still studying, he either returned to Camiling once
a week or she came to Manila twice a week to visit with each other. Sometimes the respondent
stayed with her in Camiling for a week, and when she came to Manila to buy dental materials she
slept with him at his boarding house or at the house on Economia street where he on lived with his
brother Cleto and Aniceto and cousin Felisa Bacera, who cooked their meals for them. They were in
good terms until about three or four months before his graduation. On the day of his graduation, he
showed her indifference and humiliated and embarrassed her by calling her a "provinciana" and
telling her that she was a nuisance whenever she came to see him. Nevertheless, being his wife,
she continued to see him while he was reviewing for the bar examinations. She specifically
mentioned that three days before the last examination, she came to see him. A week after the bar
examinations, she again came to see him. Since then they became actually separated and she
never saw him again until the hearing of the case. Through Mrs. Esperanza Almonte, she learned
that the respondent was employed in the Bureau of Lands and stationed at Cagayan de Oro City.
The respondent never wrote to her and asked her to follow him at his place of work and she did not
care to either.
Marina Payot gave the following testimony: From 28 February to 3 June 1955 she lived and worked
as maid, laundress and cook for the respondent, his family composed of himself, Mrs. Corazon
Toledo and their child in Malaybalay, Bukidnon. The respondent and Corazon Toledo lived as
husband and wife, and have a child named Angie who was less than a year old at the time she lived
with them. The couple slept together in the same room with their daughter Angie and ate their meals
together although sometimes Corazon ate alone when the respondent was out somewhere. The
respondent used to call Corazon "Honey" and Corazon used to call the respondent "Jess". Corazon
Toledo is not the same person as the complainant.

Wherefore, the parties respectfully pray that the foregoing stipulation of facts be admitted and
approved by this Honorable Court, without prejudice to the parties adducing other evidence to prove
their case not covered by this stipulation of facts.

Lino Domingo testified in the following manner: He is employed as operator-mechanic in the Bureau
of Public Highways in Malaybalay, Bukidnon, and has resided there since 1952. He knows the
respondent because he headed a survey party that surveyed public lands in Malaybalay for
distribution to the landless. Sometime in March 1955 he went to the respondent's place of residence
and office at Moreno street, where his friend Mr. Nieva, an Ilocano, also resided to apply for a parcel
of public land, and about ten times he went to the respondent's place of residence and office. Among
those who lived with the respondent were Mrs. Corazon Toledo, Mr. Nieva, a maid and Mr. Abad
(the latter only slept at the place whenever he was in town). He knew that Corazon Toledo, who is
not the same person as Paz Arellano Toledo, was the wife of the respondent. At the respondent's
place of residence and office, he saw a room where the respondent, Corazon and a baby slept and
where man's pajamas and shirts were hung. One day at about 2:00 o'clock in the afternoon, while
the respondent and his (the witness') friend Mr. Abad were repairing the front mudguard and seats of
a station wagon behind the respondent's place of residence and office, his friend Mr. Abad
introduced him to the respondent. He helped Abad place the seats of the station wagon in their
proper places and while he was helping Abad, he heard the respondent address Corazon as "Mama"
and ask her for money to buy cigarettes. His friends Nieva and Abad used to address Corazon as
"Mrs. Toledo."

The respondent admits that he is married to the complainant (p. 14, t.s.n.).The fact that he is
cohabiting with another woman who had borne him a child has been established by the testimony of
Marina Payot and Lino Domingo, whose sincerity and truthfulness have been put to a severe and
searching test by the investigating Solicitor in the presence of the respondent who appeared in his
own behalf and cross-examined the witnesses during the investigation. Asked by the investigating
Solicitor how she came to testify at the investigation, or whether anybody taught or coached her on
what to testify or whether she testified because of any promise of reward or consideration, Marina
Payot without hesitation and in a straight forward manner answered that the complainant, Mr.
Domingo and Mr. Reyes (the latter is the complainant's counsel) spoke to her and told her to tell
nothing but the truth about the respondent's affair with his paramour in Malaybalay; that nobody
taught or coached her on what to testify at the investigation; and that she was not promised anything
by way of reward or consideration or given money for testifying. Going further in his investigation, the
Solicitor asked the witness how she was treated by the respondent to find out if she harbors any ill-
feeling or grudge against him and his alleged paramour, which could be a motive for falsely testifying
against them, and she answered that she was well treated by the Toledos; that they considered her
a sister; that they paid regularly her salary of P15 a month; that they bought her a dress during the
town fiesta on May 15; that Corazon never scolded her for she was a woman of few words, was kind
and did not know how to get angry; and that the reason she left them was because she just felt
lonesome for her parents. Further testing her credibility, the Solicitor asked how the respondent's
paramour looked, and she described her as a woman of fair complexion. Comparing her (Corazon)
to the complainant, she said that the complainant was more beautiful but Corazon was not ugly and
that the latter had a nicer figure, because she was stouter and taller than the complainant. To find
out if it was another and not the respondent who lived with Corazon, the Solicitor asked her if she
had not seen Teodoro Nieva, who lived with the respondent and Corazon in the same house, kiss or
embrace Corazon, and she replied that she had not.

Testing the credibility of Lino Domingo, the investigating Solicitor asked him whether he was related
to Claudio Arellano, brother of the complainant, and Lino readily answered that he is his brother-in-
law and added that he (Lino) is the cousin of the wife of Claudio. Asked if he had been asked by the
complainant to testify at the hearing, he frankly answered in the affirmative. Questioned as to the
description of the respondent's paramour, the witness stated that Corazon is fair in complexion, five
feet tall; that she is taller and fairer in complexion, more beautiful and has a nicer figure than the

The testimony of these two witnesses are worthy of credence. Marina Payot is a simple girl of
eighteen years, a mere maid, scant in education, and understands little English. She did not even
finish the sixth grade of the elementary course. The sharp and incisive questions propounded to her
by the investigating Solicitor and the lengthy cross-examination to which she was subjected by the
respondent himself would have revealed herself if she was lying. The apparent inconsistencies in
her answers may be attributed to her innocence and simple-mindedness and her failure to
understand the questions propounded to her. Moreover, she could not be expected to remember the
dates asked of her in the same way that a person of more than average intelligence would. Add to
this the fact that she was subjected to a thorough examination by three lawyers and her confusion
was compounded. Lino Domingo's frank and ready answers to the questions propounded by the
Solicitor show sincerity and do not reveal any intention to pervert the truth. And even if his testimony
be discarded, still the testimony of Marina Payot stands unrebutted.

The annexes attached to the respondent's memorandum cannot be taken into consideration for they
were not properly introduced in evidence during the investigation.

The respondent, by abandoning his lawful wife and cohabiting with another woman who had borne
him a child, has failed to maintain the highest degree of morality expected and required of a member
of the Bar.6

THEREFORE, the respondent is disbarred from the practice of law.

A.M. No. 3249 November 29, 1989





In an unsworn letter-complaint dated 14 April 1988 addressed to then Mr. Chief Justice Claudio
Teehankee, complainant Salvacion Delizo charged her husband, Atty. Laurence D. Cordova, with
immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar. The letter-complaint was forwarded by the
Court to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Commission on Bar Discipline ("Commission"), for
investigation, report and recommendation.

The Commission, before acting on the complaint, required complainant to submit a verified
complaint within ten (10) days from notice. Complainant complied and submitted to the Commission
on 27 September 1988 a revised and verified version of her long and detailed complaint against her
husband charging him with immorality and acts unbecoming a member of the Bar.

In an Order of the Commission dated 1 December 1988, respondent was declared in default for
failure to file an answer to the complaint within fifteen (15) days from notice. The same Order
required complainant to submit before the Commission her evidence ex parte, on 16 December
1988. Upon the telegraphic request of complainant for the resetting of the 16 December 1988
hearing, the Commission scheduled another hearing on 25 January 1989. The hearing scheduled for
25 January 1989 was rescheduled two (2) more times-first, for 25 February 1989 and second, for 10
and 11 April 1989. The hearings never took place as complainant failed to appear. Respondent
Cordova never moved to set aside the order of default, even though notices of the hearings
scheduled were sent to him.

In a telegraphic message dated 6 April 1989, complainant informed the Commission that she and
her husband had already "reconciled". In an order dated 17 April 1989, the Commission required the
parties (respondent and complainant) to appear before it for confirmation and explanation of the
telegraphic message and required them to file a formal motion to dismiss the complaint within fifteen
(15) days from notice. Neither party responded and nothing was heard from either party since then.

Complainant having failed to submit her evidence ex parte before the Commission, the IBP Board of
Governors submitted to this Court its report reprimanding respondent for his acts, admonishing him
that any further acts of immorality in the future will be dealt with more severely, and ordering him to
support his legitimate family as a responsible parent should.

The findings of the IBP Board of Governors may be summed up as follows:

Complainant and respondent Cordova were married on 6 June 1976 and out of this marriage, two
(2) children were born. In 1985, the couple lived somewhere in Quirino Province. In that year,
respondent Cordova left his family as well as his job as Branch Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial
Court, Cabarroguis, Quirino Province, and went to Mangagoy, Bislig, Surigao del Sur with one Fely
G. Holgado. Fely G. Holgado was herself married and left her own husband and children to stay with
respondent. Respondent Cordova and Fely G. Holgado lived together in Bislig as husband and wife,
with respondent Cordova introducing Fely to the public as his wife, and Fely Holgado using the
name Fely Cordova. Respondent Cordova gave Fely Holgado funds with which to establish a sari-
sari store in the public market at Bislig, while at the same time failing to support his legitimate family.

On 6 April 1986, respondent Cordova and his complainant wife had an apparent reconciliation.
Respondent promised that he would separate from Fely Holgado and brought his legitimate family to
Bislig, Surigao del Sur. Respondent would, however, frequently come home from beerhouses or
cabarets, drunk, and continued to neglect the support of his legitimate family. In February 1987,
complainant found, upon returning from a trip to Manila necessitated by hospitalization of her
daughter Loraine, that respondent Cordova was no longer living with her (complainant's) children in
their conjugal home; that respondent Cordova was living with another mistress, one Luisita
Magallanes, and had taken his younger daughter Melanie along with him. Respondent and his new
mistress hid Melanie from the complinant, compelling complainant to go to court and to take back
her daughter by habeas corpus. The Regional Trial Court, Bislig, gave her custody of their children.
Notwithstanding respondent's promises to reform, he continued to live with Luisita Magallanes as her
husband and continued to fail to give support to his legitimate family.

Finally the Commission received a telegram message apparently from complainant, stating that
complainant and respondent had been reconciled with each other.

After a review of the record, we agree with the findings of fact of the IBP Board. We also agree that
the most recent reconciliation between complainant and respondent, assuming the same to be real,
does not excuse and wipe away the misconduct and immoral behavior of the respondent carried out
in public, and necessarily adversely reflecting upon him as a member of the Bar and upon the
Philippine Bar itself. An applicant for admission to membership in the bar is required to show that he
is possessed of good moral character. That requirement is not exhausted and dispensed with upon
admission to membership of the bar. On the contrary, that requirement persists as a continuing
condition for membership in the Bar in good standing.

In Mortel v. Aspiras,1 this Court, following the rule in the United States, held that "the continued
possession ... of a good moral character is a requisite condition for the rightful continuance in the
practice of the law ... and its loss requires suspension or disbarment, even though the statutes do
not specify that as a ground for disbarment. " 2 It is important to note that the lack of moral character
that we here refer to as essential is not limited to good moral character relating to the discharge of
the duties and responsibilities of an attorney at law. The moral delinquency that affects the fitness of
a member of the bar to continue as such includes conduct that outrages the generally accepted
moral standards of the community, conduct for instance, which makes "a mockery of the inviolable
social institution or marriage." 3 In Mortel, the respondent being already married, wooed and won the
heart of a single, 21-year old teacher who subsequently cohabited with him and bore him a son.
Because respondent's conduct in Mortel was particularly morally repulsive, involving the marrying of
his mistress to his own son and thereafter cohabiting with the wife of his own son after the marriage
he had himself arranged, respondent was disbarred.

In Royong v. Oblena, 4 the respondent was declared unfit to continue as a member of the bar by
reason of his immoral conduct and accordingly disbarred. He was found to have engaged in sexual
relations with the complainant who consequently bore him a son; and to have maintained for a
number of years an adulterous relationship with another woman.

In the instant case, respondent Cordova maintained for about two (2) years an adulterous
relationship with a married woman not his wife, in full view of the general public, to the humiliation
and detriment of his legitimate family which he, rubbing salt on the wound, failed or refused to
support. After a brief period of "reform" respondent took up again with another woman not his wife,
cohabiting with her and bringing along his young daughter to live with them. Clearly, respondent
flaunted his disregard of the fundamental institution of marriage and its elementary obligations
before his own daughter and the community at large.

WHEREFORE, the Court Resolved to SUSPEND respondent from the practice of law indefinitely
and until farther orders from this Court. The Court will consider lifting his suspension when
respondent Cordova submits proof satisfactory to the Commission and this Court that he has and
continues to provide for the support of his legitimate family and that he has given up the immoral
course of conduct that he has clung to.

A.M. No. 1334 November 28, 1989

ATTY. JOSE B. AZNAR, respondent.

Federico A. Blay for complainant.

Luciano Babiera for respondent.



This is a complaint for disbarment filed against respondent on the ground of gross immorality.

Complainant, a second year medical student of the Southwestern University (Cebu), alleged in her
verified complaint that respondent Atty. Jose B. Aznar, then chairman of said university, had carnal
knowledge of her for several times under threat that she would fail in her Pathology subject if she
would not submit to respondent's lustful desires. Complainant further alleged that when she became
pregnant, respondent, through a certain Dr. Gil Ramas, had her undergo forced abortion.

In compliance with the Resolution of the Court dated July 9, 1974, respondent filed his Answer
denying any personal knowledge of complainant as well as all the allegations contained in the
complaint and by way of special defense, averred that complainant is a woman of loose morality.

On September 2, 1974, the Court Resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor General for
investigation, report and recommendation.

The findings of the Solicitor General is summarized as follows:


Complainant Rosario delos Reyes testified that:

1) she was a second year medical student of the Southwestern

University, the Chairman of the Board of which was respondent Jose
B. Aznar (pp. 11, 15, tsn, June 6, 1975);

2) she however failed in her Pathology subject which prompted her to

approach respondent in the latter's house who assured her that she
would pass the said subject (pp. 15,16, 26, 33, tsn, June 6, 1975);

3) despite this assurance, however, she failed (p. 33, tsn, June 6,

4) sometime in February, 1973, respondent told her that she should

go with him to Manila, otherwise, she would flunk in all her subjects
(pp. 42, 50, tsn, June 6, 1975); ... ... ... ;
5) on February 12, 1973, both respondent and complainant boarded
the same plane (Exh. "A") for Manila; from the Manila Domestic
Airport, they proceeded to Room 905, 9th Floor of the Ambassador
Hotel where they stayed for three days (Exhs. "K", "K-1" to "K-6"; p.
55, tsn, June 6, 1 975);

6) after arriving at the Ambassador Hotel, they dined at a Spanish

restaurant at San Marcelino, Malate, Manila for around three hours
(pp 56-57, tsn, June 6, 1975);

7) they returned to the hotel at around twelve o'clock midnight, where

respondent had carnal knowledge of her twice and then thrice the
next morning (p. 59, tsn, June 6, 1975; pp. 154, 155 & 157, tsn, July
18, 1975);

8) complainant consented to the sexual desires of respondent

because for her, she would sacrifice her personal honor rather than
fail in her subjects (p.6l, tsn, June 6, 1975); ... ... ...;

9) sometime in March, 1973, complainant told respondent that she

was suspecting pregnancy because she missed her menstruation (p.
76, tsn, July 17, 1975); ... ... ...;

10) later, she was informed by Dr. Monsanto (an instructor in the
college of medicine) that respondent wanted that an abortion be
performed upon her (p.82, tsn, July l7, 1975); ... ... ... ;

11) thereafter, Ruben Cruz, a confidant of respondent, and Dr.

Monsato fetched her at her boarding house on the pretext that she
would be examined by Dr. Gil Ramas (pp. 87-88, tsn, July 17, 1975);

12) upon reaching the clinic of Dr. Ramas she was given an injection
and an inhalation mask was placed on her mouth and nose (pp. 88-
90, tsn, July 17, 1 975);

13) as a result, she lost consciousness and when she woke up, an
abortion had already been performed upon her and she was weak,
bleeding and felt pain all over her body (pp. 90-91, tsn, July 17,
1975); ... ... ... (Rollo, pp. 38-40)

Monica Gutierrez Tan testified that she met complainant and a man whom
complainant introduced as Atty. Aznar in front of the Ambassador Hotel (pp. 183-184,
tsn, Sept. 10, 1975; Rollo, p. 41).

Dr. Rebecca Gucor and Dr. Artemio Ingco, witnesses for the complainant, testified that abdominal
examinations and x-ray examination of the lumbro-sacral region of complainant showed no signs of
abnormality (Rollo, p. 42).

The evidence for the respondent as reported by the Solicitor General is summarized as follows:

Edilberto Caban testified that:

1. In December, 1972, respondent Atty. Aznar stayed at Ambassador
Hotel with his wife and children; respondent never came to Manila
except in December, 1972; (pp. 8-9,. tsn, Nov. 24, 1977);

2. He usually slept with respondent everytime the latter comes to

Manila (p. 13, tsn, Nov. 24, 1977; Rollo, pp. 42-43).

Oscar Salangsang, another witness for the respondent stated that:

1. In February, 1973, he went to Ambassador Hotel to meet

respondent; the latter had male companions at the hotel but he did
not see any woman companion of respondent Aznar;

2. He usually slept with respondent at the Ambassador Hotel and ate

with him outside the hotel together with Caban (pp. 8-9, 13-15, tsn,
Jan. 13, 1978; Rollo, p. 43).

The Court notes that throughout the period of the investigation conducted by the Solicitor General,
respondent Aznar was never presented to refute the allegations made against him.

In his Answer, respondent Aznar alleges that he does not have any knowledge of the allegations in
the complaint. As special defense, respondent further alleged that the charge levelled against him is
in furtherance of complainant's vow to wreck vengeance against respondent by reason of the latter's
approval of the recommendation of the Board of Trustees barring complainant from enrollment for
the school year 1973-1974 because she failed in most of her subjects. It is likewise contended that
the defense did not bother to present respondent in the investigation conducted by the Solicitor
General because nothing has been shown in the hearing to prove that respondent had carnal
knowledge of the complainant.

Contrary to respondent's averments, the Solicitor General made a categorical finding to the effect
that respondent had carnal knowledge of complainant, to wit:

From the foregoing, it is clear that complainant was compelled to go to Manila with
respondent upon the threat of respondent that if she failed to do so, she would flunk
in all her subjects and she would never become a medical intern (pp. 42, 50, tsn,
June 6, 1975). As respondent was Chairman of the College of Medicine, complainant
had every reason to believe him.

It has been established also that complainant was brought by respondent to

Ambassador Hotel in Manila for three days where he repeatedly had carnal
knowledge of her upon the threat that if she would not give in to his lustful desires,
she would fail in her Pathology subject (Exhs. "A", "K", "K-1" to "K-6" pp. 51, 52, 55-
59, tsn, June 6, 1975);

xxx xxx xxx

On the other hand, respondent did not bother to appear during the hearing. It is true
that he presented Edilberto Caban and Oscar Salangsang who testified that
respondent usually slept with them every time the latter came to Manila, but their
testimony (sic) is not much of help. None of them mentioned during the hearing that
they stayed and slept with respondent on February 12 to February 14, 1973 at
Ambassador Hotel. ... ... ... Besides, Edilberto Caban testified that respondent stayed
at Ambassador Hotel with his wife and children in December, 1972. The dates in
question, however, are February 12 to 14, 1973, inclusive. His (Caban's) testimony,
therefore, is immaterial to the present case" (Rollo, pp. 43-44).

In effect, the Solicitor General found that the charge of immorality against respondent Aznar has
been substantiated by sufficient evidence both testimonial and documentary; while finding
insufficient and uncorroborated the accusation of intentional abortion. The Solicitor General then
recommends the suspension of respondent from the practice of law for a period of not less than
three (3) years.

On March 16, 1989, the Court Resolved to require the parties to Move in the premises to determine
whether any intervening event occurred which would render the case moot and academic (Rollo, p.

On April 12, 1989, the Solicitor General filed a manifestation and motion praying that the case at bar
be considered submitted for decision on the bases of the report and recommendation previously
submitted together with the record of the case and the evidence adduced (Rollo, p. 75).

After a thorough review of the records, the Court agrees with the finding of the Solicitor General that
respondent Aznar, under the facts as stated in the Report of the investigation conducted in the case,
is guilty of "grossly immoral conduct" and may therefore be removed or suspended by the Supreme
Court for conduct unbecoming a member of the Bar (Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court).

Respondent failed to adduce evidence sufficient to engender doubt as to his culpability of the
offense imputed upon him. With the exception of the self-serving testimonies of two witnesses
presented on respondent's behalf, the records are bereft of evidence to exonerate respondent of the
act complained of, much less contradict, on material points, the testimonies of complainant herself.

While respondent denied having taken complainant to the Ambassador Hotel and there had sexual
intercourse with the latter, he did not present any evidence to show where he was at that date. While
this is not a criminal proceeding, respondent would have done more than keep his silence if he really
felt unjustly traduced.

It is the duty of a lawyer, whenever his moral character is put in issue, to satisfy this Court that he is
a fit and proper person to enjoy continued membership in the Bar. He cannot dispense with nor
downgrade the high and exacting moral standards of the law profession (Go v. Candoy, 21 SCRA
439 [1967]). As once pronounced by the Court:

When his integrity is challenged by evidence, it is not enough that he denies the
charges against him; he must meet the issue and overcome the evidence for the
relator (Legal and Judicial Ethics, by Malcolm, p. 93) and show proofs that he still
maintains the highest degree of morality and integrity, which at all times is expected
of him. ... In the case of United States v. Tria, 17 Phil. 303, Justice Moreland,
speaking for the Court, said:

An accused person sometimes owes a duty to himself if not to the State. If he does
not perform that duty, he may not always expect the State to perform it for him. If he
fails to meet the obligation which he owes to himself, when to meet it is the easiest of
easy things, he is hardy indeed if he demand and expect that same full and wide
consideration which the State voluntarily gives to those who by reasonable effort
seek to help themselves. This is particularly so when he not only declines to help
himself but actively conceals from the State the very means by which it may assist
him (Quingwa SCRA 439 [1967]).

The Solicitor General recommends that since the complainant is partly to blame for having gone with
respondent to Manila knowing fully well that respondent is a married man ,with children, respondent
should merely be suspended from the practice of law for not less than three (3) years (Rollo, p. 47).

On the other hand, respondent in his manifestation and motion dated April 18, 1989 alleges that
since a period of about ten (10) years had already elapsed from the time the Solicitor General made
his recommendation for a three (3) years suspension and respondent is not practicing his profession
as a lawyer, the court may now consider the respondent as having been suspended during the said
period and the case dismissed for being moot and academic.

We disagree.

Complainant filed the instant case for disbarment not because respondent reneged on a promise to
marry (Quingwa v. Puno, supra). More importantly. complainant's knowledge of of respondent's
marital status is not at issue in the case at bar. Complainant submitted to respondent's solicitation for
sexual intercourse not because of a desire for sexual gratification but because of respondent's moral
ascendancy over her and fear that if she would not accede, she would flunk in her subjects. As
chairman of the college of medicine where complainant was enrolled, the latter had every reason to
believe that respondent could make good his threats. Moreover, as counsel for respondent would
deem it "worthwhile to inform the the Court that the respondent is a scion of a rich family and a very
rich man in his own right and in fact is not practicing his profession before the court" (Rollo, p. 70),
mere suspension for a limited period, per se, would therefore serve no redeeming purpose. The fact
that he is a rich man and does not practice his profession as a lawyer, does not render respondent a
person of good moral character. Evidence of good moral character precedes admission to bar
(Sec.2, Rule 138, Rules of Court) and such requirement is not dispensed with upon admission
thereto. Good moral character is a continuing qualification necessary to entitle one to continue in the
practice of law. The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its members the highest
standard of morality (Quingwa v. Puno, supra).

Under Section 27, Rule 138, "(a) member of the bar may be removed or suspended from his office
as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit, malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such
office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or
for any violation of the oath which he is required to take before admission to practice, ... " In Arciga v.
Maniwang (106 SCRA 591, [1981]), this Court had occasion to define the concept of immoral
conduct, as follows:

A lawyer may be disbarred for grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his

conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude. A member of the bar should have
moral integrity in addition to professional probity.

It is difficult to state with precision and to fix an inflexible standard as to what is

grossly immoral conduct or to specify the moral delinquency and obliquity which
render a lawyer unworthy of continuing as a member of the bar. The rule implies that
what appears to be unconventional behavior to the straight-laced may not be the
immoral conduct that warrants disbarment.

Immoral conduct has been defined as 'that which is willful, flagrant, or shameless,
and which shows a moral indifference to the opinion of the good and respectable
members of the community' (7 C.J.S. 959).
Where an unmarried female dwarf possessing the intellect of a child became
pregnant by reason of intimacy with a married lawyer who was the father of six
children, disbarment of the attorney on the ground of immoral conduct was justified
(In re Hicks 20 Pac. 2nd 896).

In the present case, it was highly immoral of respondent, a married man with children, to have taken
advantage of his position as chairman of the college of medicine in asking complainant, a student in
said college, to go with him to Manila where he had carnal knowledge of her under the threat that
she would flunk in all her subjects in case she refused.

WHEREFORE, respondent Jose B. Aznar is hereby DISBARRED and his name is ordered stricken
off from the Roll of Attorneys.


A.C. No. 1512 January 29, 1993





In a sworn complaint filed with this Court on August 20, 1975, complainant Victoria C. Barrientos
seeks the disbarment of respondent Transfiguracion Daarol, ** a member of the Philippine Bar, on
grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct.

After respondent filed his answer (Rollo, p. 12), the Court Resolved to refer the case to the Solicitor
General for investigation, report and recommendation (Rollo, p. 18).

As per recommendation of the Solicitor General and for the convenience of the parties and their
witnesses who were residing in the province of Zamboanga del Norte, the Provincial Fiscal of said
province was authorized to conduct the investigation and to submit a report, together with transcripts
of stenographic notes and exhibits submitted by the parties, if any (Rollo, p. 20).

On November 9, 1987, the Office of the Solicitor General submitted its Report and
Recommendation, viz.:

Evidence of the complainant:

. . . complainant Victoria Barrientos was single and a resident of Bonifacio St.,

Dipolog City; that when she was still a teenager and first year in college she came to
know respondent Transfiguracion Daarol in 1969 as he used to go to their house
being a friend of her sister Norma; that they also became friends, and she knew the
respondent as being single and living alone in Galas, Dipolog City; that he was the
General Manager of Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ZANECO) and
subsequently transferred his residence to the ZANECO compound at Laguna Blvd. at
Del Pilar St., Dipolog City (pp. 109-111, tsn, September 30, 1976).

That on June 27, 1973, respondent came to their house and asked her to be one of
the usherettes in the Mason's convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City, from June 28 to
30, 1973 and, she told respondent to ask the permission of her parents, which
respondent did, and her father consented; that for three whole days she served as
usherette in the convention and respondent picked her up from her residence every
morning and took her home from the convention site at the end of each day (pp. 112-
114, tsn, id.).

That in the afternoon of July 1, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house and
invited her for a joy ride with the permission of her mother who was a former
classmate of respondent; that respondent took her to Sicayab in his jeep and then
they strolled along the beach, and in the course of which respondent proposed his
love to her; that respondent told her that if she would accept him, he would marry her
within six (6) months from her acceptance; complainant told respondent that she
would think it over first; that from then on respondent used to visit her in their house
almost every night, and he kept on courting her and pressed her to make her
decision on respondent's proposal; that on July 7, 1973, she finally accepted
respondent's offer of love and respondent continued his usual visitations almost
every night thereafter; they agreed to get married in December 1973 (pp. 115-119,
tsn, id.).

That in the morning of August 20, 1973, respondent invited her, with the consent of
her father, to a party at the Lopez Skyroom; that at 7:00 p.m. of that day respondent
fetched her from her house and went to the Lopez Skyroom (pp. 119-121, tsn, id);
that at about 10:00 p.m. of that evening they left the party at the Lopez Skyroom, but
before taking her home respondent invited her for a joy ride and took her to the
airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City; respondent parked the jeep by the beach where
there were no houses around; that in the course of their conversation inside the jeep,
respondent reiterated his promise to marry her and then started caressing her
downward and his hand kept on moving to her panty and down to her private parts
(pp. 121-122, tsn. id.); that she then said: "What is this Trans?", but he answered:
"Day, do not be afraid of me. I will marry you" and reminded her also that "anyway,
December is very near, the month we have been waiting for" ([p], 122, tsn, id.), then
he pleaded, "Day, just give this to me, do not be afraid" (ibid), and again reiterated
his promise and assurances, at the same time pulling down her panty; that she told
him that she was afraid because they were not yet married, but because she loved
him she finally agreed to have sexual intercourse with him at the back seat of the
jeep; that after the intercourse she wept and respondent again reiterated his
promises and assurances not to worry because anyway he would marry her; and at
about 12:00 midnight they went home (pp.
122-124, tsn, id.).

After August 20, 1973, respondent continued to invite her to eat outside usually at
the Honeycomb Restaurant in Dipolog City about twice or three times a week, after
which he would take her to the airport where they would have sexual intercourse;
that they had this sexual intercourse from August to October 1973 at the frequency of
two or three times a week, and she consented to all these things because she loved
him and believed in all his promises (pp. 125-127, tsn, id.).
Sometime in the middle part of September, 1973 complainant noticed that her
menstruation which usually occurred during the second week of each month did not
come; she waited until the end of the month and still there was no menstruation; she
submitted to a pregnancy test and the result was positive; she informed respondent
and respondent suggested to have the fetus aborted but she objected and
respondent did not insist; respondent then told her not to worry because they would
get married within one month and he would talk to her parents about their marriage
(pp. 129-132, tsn, id.).

On October 20, 1973, respondent came to complainant's house and talked to her
parents about their marriage; it was agreed that the marriage would be celebrated in
Manila so as not to create a scandal as complainant was already pregnant;
complainant and her mother left for Manila by boat on October 22, 1973 while
respondent would follow by plane; and they agreed to meet in Singalong, Manila, in
the house of complainant's sister Delia who is married to Ernesto Serrano (pp. 132-
135, tsn, id.).

On October 26, 1973, when respondent came to see complainant and her mother at
Singalong, Manila, respondent told them that he could not marry complainant
because he was already married (p. 137, tsn, id.); complainant's mother got mad and
said: "Trans, so you fooled my daughter and why did you let us come here in
Manila?" (p. 138, tsn, id.). Later on, however, respondent reassured complainant not
to worry because respondent had been separated from his wife for 16 years and he
would work for the annulment of his marriage and, subsequently marry complainant
(p. 139, tsn, id.); respondent told complainant to deliver their child in Manila and
assured her of a monthly support of P250.00 (p. 140, tsn, id.); respondent returned to
Dipolog City and actually sent the promised support; he came back to Manila in
January 1974 and went to see complainant; when asked about the annulment of his
previous marriage, he told complainant that it would soon be approved (pp. 141-142,
tsn, id.); he came back in February and in March 1974 and told complainant the
same thing (p. 142, tsn, id.); complainant wrote her mother to come to Manila when
she delivers the child, but her mother answered her that she cannot come as nobody
would be left in their house in Dipolog and instead suggested that complainant go to
Cebu City which is nearer; complainant went to Cebu City in April 1974 and, her
sister Norma took her to the Good Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill; she delivered a
baby girl on June 14, 1974 at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu City; and the
child was registered as "Dureza Barrientos" (pp. 143-148, tsn, id.).

In the last week of June 1974 complainant came to Dipolog City and tried to contact
respondent by phone and, thru her brother, but to no avail; as she was ashamed she
just stayed in their house; she got sick and her father sent her to Zamboanga City for
medical treatment; she came back after two weeks but still respondent did not come
to see her (tsn. 48-150, tsn, id.); she consulted a lawyer and filed an administrative
case against respondent with the National Electrification Administration; the case
was referred to the Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative (ZANECO) and it was
dismissed and thus she filed the present administrative case (pp. 150-151, tsn, id.).

Evidence for the Respondent

The evidence of the respondent consists of his sole testimony and one exhibit, the
birth certificate of the child (Exh. 1). Respondent declared substantially as follows:
that he was born on August 6, 1932 in Liloy, Zamboanga del Norte; that he married
Romualda Sumaylo in Liloy in 1955; that he had a son who is now 20 years old; that
because of incompatibility he had been estranged from his wife for 16 years; that in
1953 he was baptized as a moslem and thereby embraced the Islam Religion (pp.
173-180 tsn, Jan. 13, 1977); that he came to know complainant's father since 1952
because he was his teacher; likewise he knew complainant's mother because they
were former classmates in high school; that he became acquainted with complainant
when he used to visit her sister, Norma, in their house; they gradually became
friends and often talked with each other, and even talked about their personal
problems; that he mentioned to her his being estranged from his wife; that with the
consent of her parents he invited her to be one of the usherettes in the Masonic
Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City held on June 28-30, 1973 (pp. 185-192, tsn, id.);
that the arrangement was for him to fetch her from her residence and take her home
from the convention site; that it was during this occasion that they became close to
each other and after the convention, he proposed his love to her on July 7, 1973; that
(sic) a week of courtship, she accepted his proposal and since then he used to invite
her (pp. 193-194, tsn, id.).

That in the evening of August 20, 1973, respondent invited complainant to be his
partner during the Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom; that at about
10:00 p.m. of that evening after the affair, complainant complained to him of a
headache, so he decided to take her home but once inside the jeep, she wanted to
have a joy ride, so he drove around the city and proceeded to the airport; that when
they were at the airport, only two of them, they started the usual kisses and they
were carried by their passion; they forgot themselves and they made love; that
before midnight he took her home; that thereafter they indulged in sexual intercourse
many times whenever they went on joy riding in the evening and ended up in the
airport which was the only place they could be alone
(p. 195, tsn, id.).

That it was sometime in the later part of October 1973 that complainant told him of
her pregnancy; that they agreed that the child be delivered in Manila to avoid scandal
and respondent would take care of expenses; that during respondent's talk with the
parents of complainant regarding the latter's pregnancy, he told him he was married
but estranged from his wife; that when complainant was already in Manila, she asked
him if he was willing to marry her, he answered he could not marry again, otherwise,
he would be charged with bigamy but he promised to file an annulment of his
marriage as he had been separated from his wife for 16 years; that complainant
consented to have sexual intercourse with him because of her love to him and he did
not resort to force, trickery, deceit or cajolery; and that the present case was filed
against him by complainant because of his failure to give the money to support
complainant while in Cebu waiting for the delivery of the child and, also to meet
complainant's medical expenses when she went to Zamboanga City for medical
check-up (pp. 198-207, tsn, id.).


From the evidence adduced by the parties, the following facts are not disputed:

1. That the complainant, Victoria Barrientos, is single, a college student, and was
about 20 years and 7 months old during the time (July-October 1975) of her
relationship with respondent, having been born on December 23, 1952; while
respondent Transfiguracion Daarol is married, General Manager of Zamboanga del
Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the time of the said relationship,
having been born on August 6, 1932;

2. That respondent is married to Romualda A. Sumaylo with whom be has a son; that
the marriage ceremony was solemnized on September 24, 1955 at Liloy,
Zamboanga del Norte by a catholic priest, Rev. Fr. Anacleto Pellamo, Parish Priest
thereat; and that said respondent had been separated from his wife for about 16
years at the time of his relationship with complainant;

3. That respondent had been known by the Barrientos family for quite sometime,
having been a former student of complainant's father in 1952 and, a former
classmate of complainant's mother at the Andres Bonifacio College in Dipolog City;
that he became acquainted with complainant's sister, Norma in 1963 and eventually
with her other sisters, Baby and Delia and, her brother, Boy, as he used to visit
Norma at her residence; that he also befriended complainant and who became a
close friend when he invited her, with her parents' consent, to be one of the
usherettes during the Masonic Convention in Sicayab, Dipolog City from June 28 to
30, 1973, and he used to fetch her at her residence in the morning and took her
home from the convention site after each day's activities;

4. That respondent courted complainant, and after a week of courtship, complainant

accepted respondent's love on July 7, 1973; that in the evening of August 20, 1973,
complainant with her parents' permission was respondent's partner during the
Chamber of Commerce affair at the Lopez Skyroom in the Dipolog City, and at about
10:00 o'clock that evening, they left the place but before going home, they went to
the airport at Sicayab, Dipolog City and parked the jeep at the beach, where there
were no houses around; that after the usual preliminaries, they consummated the
sexual act and at about midnight they went home; that after the first sexual act,
respondent used to have joy ride with complainant which usually ended at the airport
where they used to make love twice or three times a week; that as a result of her
intimate relations, complainant became pregnant;

5. That after a conference among respondent, complainant and complainant's

parents, it was agreed that complainant would deliver her child in Manila, where she
went with her mother on October 22, 1973 by boat, arriving in Manila on the 25th
and, stayed with her brother-in-law Ernesto Serrano in Singalong, Manila; that
respondent visited her there on the 26th, 27th and 28th of October 1973, and again
in February and March 1974; that later on complainant decided to deliver the child in
Cebu City in order to be nearer to Dipolog City, and she went there in April 1974 and
her sister took her to the Good Shepherd Convent at Banawa Hill, Cebu City; that on
June 14, 1974, she delivered a baby girl at the Perpetual Succor Hospital in Cebu
City and, named her "Dureza Barrientos"; that about the last week of June 1974 she
went home to Dipolog City; that during her stay here in Manila and later in Cebu City,
the respondent defrayed some of her expenses; that she filed an administrative case
against respondent with the National Electrification Administration; which complaint,
however, was dismissed; and then she instituted the present disbarment proceedings
against respondent.

xxx xxx xxx

In view of the foregoing, the undersigned respectfully recommend that after hearing,
respondent Transfiguracion Daarol be disbarred as a lawyer. (Rollo, pp. 28-51).
After a thorough review of the case, the Court finds itself in full accord with the findings and
recommendation of the Solicitor General.

From the records, it appears indubitable that complainant was never informed by respondent
attorney of his real status as a married individual. The fact of his previous marriage was disclosed by
respondent only after the complainant became pregnant. Even then, respondent misrepresented
himself as being eligible to re-marry for having been estranged from his wife for 16 years and
dangled a marriage proposal on the assurance that he would work for the annulment of his first
marriage. It was a deception after all as it turned out that respondent never bothered to annul said
marriage. More importantly, respondent knew all along that the mere fact of separation alone is not a
ground for annulment of marriage and does not vest him legal capacity to contract another marriage.

Interestingly enough. respondent lived alone in Dipolog City though his son, who was also studying
in Dipolog City, lived separately from him. He never introduced his son and went around with friends
as though he was never married much less had a child in the same locality. This circumstance alone
belies respondent's claim that complainant and her family were aware of his previous marriage at the
very start of his courtship. The Court is therefore inclined to believe that respondent resorted to
deceit in the satisfaction of his sexual desires at the expense of the gullible complainant. It is not in
accordance with the nature of the educated, cultured and respectable, which complainant's family is,
her father being the Assistant Principal of the local public high school, to allow a daughter to have an
affair with a married man.

But what surprises this Court even more is the perverted sense of respondent's moral values when
he said that: "I see nothing wrong with this relationship despite my being married." (TSN, p. 209,
January 13, 1977; Rollo, p. 47) Worse, he even suggested abortion. Truly, respondent's moral sense
is so seriously impaired that we cannot maintain his membership in the Bar. In Pangan v.
Ramos (107 SCRA 1 [1981]), we held that:

(E)ven his act in making love to another woman while his first wife is still alive and
their marriage still valid and existing is contrary to honesty, justice, decency and
morality. Respondent made a mockery of marriage which is a sacred institution
demanding respect and dignity.

Finally, respondent even had the temerity to allege that he is a Moslem convert and as such, could
enter into multiple marriages and has inquired into the possibility of marrying complainant (Rollo, p.
15). As records indicate, however, his claim of having embraced the Islam religion is not supported
by any evidence save that of his self-serving testimony. In this regard, we need only to quote the
finding of the Office of the Solicitor General, to wit:

When respondent was asked to marry complainant he said he could not because he
was already married and would open him to a charge of bigamy (p. 200, tsn, January
13, 1977). If he were a moslem convert entitled to four (4) wives, as he is now
claiming, why did he not marry complainant? The answer is supplied by respondent
himself. He said while he was a moslem, but, having been married in a civil
ceremony, he could no longer validly enter into another civil ceremony without
committing bigamy because the complainant is a christian (p. 242, tsn, January 13,
1977). Consequently, if respondent knew, that notwithstanding his being a moslem
convert, he cannot marry complainant, then it was grossly immoral for him to have
sexual intercourse with complainant because he knew the existence of a legal
impediment. Respondent may not, therefore, escape responsibility thru his dubious
claim that he has embraced the Islam religion. (Rollo,
p. 49).
By his acts of deceit and immoral tendencies to appease his sexual desires, respondent Daarol has
amply demonstrated his moral delinquency. Hence, his removal for conduct unbecoming a member
of the Bar on the grounds of deceit and grossly immoral conduct (Sec. 27, Rule 138, Rules of Court)
is in order. Good moral character is a condition which precedes admission to the Bar (Sec. 2, Rule
138, Rules of Court) and is not dispensed with upon admission thereto. It is a continuing qualification
which all lawyers must possess (People v. Tuanda, 181 SCRA 682 [1990]; Delos Reyes v. Aznar,
179 SCRA 653 [1989]), otherwise, a lawyer may either be suspended or disbarred.

As we have held in Piatt v. Abordo (58 Phil. 350 [1933], cited in Leda v. Tabang, 206 SCRA 395

It cannot be overemphasized that the requirement of good 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, Adm. Case No.
3360, 30 January 1990, 181 SCRA 692). As aptly put by Mr. Justice George A.
Malcolm: "As good character is an essential qualification for admission of an attorney
to practice, when the attorney's character is bad in such respects as to show that he
is unsafe and unfit to be entrusted with the powers of an attorney, the court retains
the power to discipline him (Piatt v. Abordo, 58 Phil. 350 [1933]).

Only recently, another disbarment proceeding was resolved by this Court against a lawyer who
convinced a woman that her prior marriage to another man was null and void ab initio and she was
still legally single and free to marry him (the lawyer), married her, was supported by her in his
studies, begot a child with her, abandoned her and the child, and married another woman (Terre vs.
Terre, Adm. Case No. 2349, July 3, 1992).

Here, respondent, already a married man and about 41 years old, proposed love and marriage to
complainant, then still a 20-year-old minor, knowing that he did not have the required legal capacity.
Respondent then succeeded in having carnal relations with complainant by deception, made her
pregnant, suggested abortion, breached his promise to marry her, and then deserted her and the
child. Respondent is therefore guilty of deceit and grossly immoral conduct.

The practice of law is a privilege accorded only to those who measure up to the exacting standards
of mental and moral fitness. Respondent having exhibited debased morality, the Court is constrained
to impose upon him the most severe disciplinary action — disbarment.

The ancient and learned profession of law exacts from its members the highest standard of morality.
The members are, in fact, enjoined to aid in guarding the Bar against the admission of candidates
unfit or unqualified because deficient either moral character or education (In re Puno, 19 SCRA 439,
[1967]; Pangan vs. Ramos, 107 SCRA 1 [1981]).

As officers of the court, lawyers must not only in fact be of good moral character but must also be
seen to be of good moral character and must lead a life in accordance with the highest moral
standards of the community. More specifically, a member of the Bar and an officer of the Court is not
only required to refrain from adulterous relationships or the keeping of mistresses but must also
behave himself in such a manner as to avoid scandalizing the public by creating the belief that he is
flouting those moral standards (Tolosa vs. Cargo, 171 SCRA 21, 26 [1989], citing Toledo vs. Toledo,
7 SCRA 757 [1963] and Royong vs. Oblena, 7 SCRA 859 [1963]).

In brief, We find respondent Daarol morally delinquent and as such, should not be allowed continued
membership in the ancient and learned profession of law (Quingwa v. Puno, 19 SCRA 439 [1967]).
ACCORDINGLY, We find respondent Transfiguracion Daarol guilty of grossly immoral conduct
unworthy of being a member of the Bar and is hereby ordered DISBARRED and his name stricken
off from the Roll of Attorneys. Let copies of this Resolution be furnished to all courts of the land, the
Integrated Bar of the Philippines, the Office of the Bar Confidant and spread on the personal record
of respondent Daarol.


G.R. No. L-22304 July 30, 1968

SAMAR MINING CO., INC., petitioner-appellant,


Benedicto G. Arcinas for petitioner-appellant.

Villavieja and Zapanta for respondents-appellees.


Appeal from a decision of the Court of First Instance of Cebu, dismissing this case, with costs
against the petitioner, and lifting the writ of preliminary injunction therein issued.

Acting upon a claim for compensation, under Act No. 3428, filed by Rufino Abuyen, on June 18,
1956, for a disease allegedly contracted in the course of his employment, as foreman of the Samar
Mining Co., Inc. — hereinafter referred to as the petitioner — and docketed as WC Case No. R-VI-
217, decision was rendered, on October 14, 1958, by Pompeyo V. Tan — an officer of Regional
Office No. VI of the Department of Labor — sentencing petitioner herein:

1. To provide continued medical treatment and hospitalization to the claimant in accordance

with Section 13 of the Act until his tuberculosis is cured or arrested;

2. To pay to the claimant a lump sum of TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED TWENTY
THREE (P2,523.00) PESOS and a weekly compensation of P17.40 from date hereof until he
is cured or his pulmonary tuberculosis is arrested as certified by a competent physician but
the total compensation should not exceed P4,000.00; payment to be made, thru the Regional
Office No. VI of the Department of Labor;

3. To pay to the workmen's compensation fund the amount of P26.00 as administrative costs
pursuant to Section of 55 of Act 3428, as amended.

A reconsideration of said decision having been denied, on March 24, 1960, petitioner commenced
Civil Case No. 42836 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, for a writ of certiorari and prohibition,
with preliminary injunction, against Francisco P. Arnado, as Regional Administrator of said office,
Pompeyo V. Tan, as the writer of said decision, and claimant Abuyen, upon the ground that Tan had
acted without jurisdiction in hearing said claim and rendering decision thereon, and that Arnado had
committed a grave abuse of discretion in sustaining and upholding said acts of Tan. Sustaining
respondents' objection, upon the ground of wrong venue, the case was, however, dismissed by said
court, the decision of which was, on June 30, 1961, affirmed by Us.

On July 21, 1961, petitioner commenced, against the same respondents in said Case No. 42836, the
present action for certiorari and prohibition, with preliminary injunction, in the Court of First Instance
of Cebu. Upon the filing of the case, said court issued a restraining order, which was, later, followed
by a writ of preliminary injunction, upon the filing and approval of the requisite bond. After
appropriate proceedings, said court subsequently rendered the decision mentioned in the opening
paragraph hereof, dismissing the petition, upon the ground that respondent Tan had authority to
hear and pass upon the aforementioned claim of Abuyen, and dissolving the writ of preliminary
injunction issued meanwhile. Hence, this appeal by petitioner herein, who insists: 1) that, being
merely a labor attorney, respondent Tan had no authority to make the award complained of; 2) that
as Regional Administrator, respondent Arnado could not delegate said authority to respondent Tan;
and 3) that no such delegation of authority to him has been made.

It is not disputed that respondent Tan is a labor attorney, assigned to Regional Office No. VI of the
Department of Labor, and that, as such, he has no authority to hear claims for compensation under
Act No. 3428 and to render decisions thereon. Based, however, upon Plan No. 20-A, submitted to
the President of the Philippines by the Government Survey and Reorganization Commission, and
Executive Order No. 218, dated December 10, 1956, particularly section 32 thereof 1 as well as on
Rule 21, section 1, of the Rules of Procedure promulgated by the Workmen's Compensation
Commission, 2 pursuant to section 12, of Article III of said Plan No. 20-A, and section 45 of Act No.
3428, as amended by Republic Act No. 772,3 we have held, as early as August 21, 1961 —

... that a regional office of the Department of Labor has original jurisdiction to hear and
determine claims for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. If a claim is
controverted, it shall be heard and decided only by a regularly appointed hearing officer or
any other employee duly designated by the Regional Administrator to act as hearing
officer. But when the claim is uncontroverted and there is no necessity of requiring the
claimant to present further evidence, the Regional Administrator may enter an award or deny
the claim. Furthermore, an employer is duty bound to controvert a claim within 14 days from
the date of the accident or illness of the laborer or within 10 days after he or his
representative first acquired knowledge of the said accident or sickness. Failure to do so
within the period provided will result in the renunciation of his right to controvert the claim.
But an employer may reinstate his right to controvert the claim by filing a petition under oath
specifying the reasons for his failure to do so. 4 .

We have repeatedly reiterated this view,5 which is now well settled. In the case at bar, respondents-
appellees contend and have introduced evidence to the effect that Regional Administrator Arnado
had — by virtue of an office order, dated November 29, 1957, and marked as Exhibit 1 —
designated respondent Tan — who is a duly qualified Member of the Philippine Bar — "as Hearing
Officer in the case of Rufino Abuyen vs. Samar Mining Co., WCC Case No. 44238 (R-VI-217)." As a
consequence, the only issue for determination is whether or not there has been such designation in
his favor.

Petitioner assails the evidence thereon upon the theory:

1) that the lower court erred in reopening the case, after its submission for decision, for the reception
of said evidence; and 2) that the same is insufficient to establish the designation aforementioned.

As regards the first alleged error, it appears that petitioner had asked the lower court to render
judgment on the pleadings; that, thereafter, both parties submitted their respective memoranda; that,
in order to bolster up their contention, respondents attached to their Memorandum, as Annex 1, the
alleged designation of respondent Tan by Regional Administrator Arnado that petitioner, however,
objected to the consideration of said Annex 1; that, accordingly, the lower court deemed it best to
reopen the case for the introduction of additional evidence and the determination of the admissibility
in evidence of said Annex 1; and that the same was identified, marked and admitted as Exhibit 1 at
the rehearing.

In this connection, it should be noted that trial courts have discretionary power to reopen a case
either before or after rendition of judgment, for the introduction of additional evidence, so as to dispel
doubts on material points. Such power is controlled by no other rule than that of the paramount
interest of justice, and its exercise will not be reviewed on appeal in the absence of clear abuse
thereof.6 No such abuse has been committed in the case at bar. On the contrary, the exercise of said
power by his Honor, the trial Judge, served to promote the interest of justice, by clarifying the
question whether or not respondent Tan had been given the aforementioned designation.

As a matter of fact, said Exhibit 1 merely confirmed the allegation in respondents' answer to the
effect that respondent Tan had acted "not as Labor Attorney but as Hearing Officer designated
pursuant to the authority granted him by the previous Regional Labor Administrator to try and hear
the merits of the compensation case ... WCC Case No. R-VI-217, Rufino Abuyen vs. Samar Mining
Co., Inc." Moreover, pursuant to the very cases cited by petitioner,7 the truth of this allegation had
been deemed impliedly admitted by the petitioner, when it submitted the case for judgment on the

Independently of the foregoing, the second alleged error is obviously devoid of merit, the signature
of Regional Administrator Arnado on said Exhibit 1 having been identified by one of his
subordinates, who, as such, as familiar therewith.

One other point must be stressed. The illness on which Abuyen's claim is based took place in 1956.
Yet, — through the present case, and Civil Case No. 42836 of the Court of First Instance of Manila
— petitioner has succeeded in prolonging the litigation, for the compensation involved therein, for
twelve (12) years. What is more, petitioner's contention was based upon a theory that had been
rejected by this Court as early as August, 1961. Then again, the compensability of Abuyen's
disability had never been questioned by petitioner herein. Hence, it is manifest that the purpose of
this case, like the previous one, has been merely to delay, a policy "Often resorted to" — in the
language of Mr. Justice Reyes (J.B.L.) — "as a means of draining the resources of the poorer party"
— in this case a tuberculosis patient — "and of compelling it to submit out of sheer
exhaustion."9 Thus, the conduct of petitioner's counsel is hardly compatible with the duty of the Bar
to assist in the Administration of Justice, not to obstruct or defeat the same.

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed, with treble costs, jointly and
severally, against the petitioner and its counsel, Attorney Benedicto G. Arcinas and let certified copy
of this decision be attached to the personal record of the latter, as a Member of the Bar. It is so

A.C. No. 3056 August 16, 1991



This complaint for disbarment is related to the administrative case which complainant Attorney
Fernando T. Collantes, house counsel for V & G Better Homes Subdivision, Inc. (V & G for short),
filed against Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron, Register of Deeds of Tacloban City, for the latter's
irregular actuations with regard to the application of V & G for registration of 163 pro forma Deeds of
Absolute Sale with Assignment of lots in its subdivision. The present complaint charges the
respondent with the following offenses:

1. Neglecting or refusing inspite (sic) repeated requests and without sufficient justification, to
act within reasonable time (sic) the registration of 163 Deeds of Absolute Sale with
Assignment and the eventual issuance and transfer of the corresponding 163 transfer
certificates of titles to the GSIS, for the purpose of obtaining some pecuniary or material
benefit from the person or persons interested therein.

2. Conduct unbecoming of public official.

3. Dishonesty.

4. Extortion.

5. Directly receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself in connection with pending
official transaction before him.

6. Causing undue injury to a party, the GSIS [or] Government through manifest partiality,
evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.

7. Gross ignorance of the law and procedure. (p. 10, Rollo.)

As early as January 15, 1987, V & G had requested the respondent Register of Deeds to register
some 163 deeds of sale with assignment (in favor of the GSIS) of lots of the V & G mortgaged to
GSIS by the lot buyers. There was no action from the respondent.

Another request was made on February 16, 1987 for him to approve or deny registration of the
uniform deeds of absolute sale with assignment. Still no action except to require V & G to submit
proof of real estate tax payment and to clarify certain details about the transactions.

Although V & G complied with the desired requirements, respondent Renomeron suspended the
registration of the documents pending compliance by V & G with a certain "special arrangement"
between them, which was that V & G should provide him with a weekly round trip ticket from
Tacloban to Manila plus P2,000.00 as pocket money per trip, or, in lieu thereof, the sale of
respondent's Quezon City house and lot by V & G or GSIS representatives.

On May 19, 1987, respondent confided to the complainant that he would act favorably on the 163
registrable documents of V & G if the latter would execute clarificatory affidavits and send money for
a round trip plane ticket for him.

The plane fare amounting to P800 (without the pocket money of P2,000) was sent to respondent
through his niece.

Because of V & G's failure to give him pocket money in addition to plane fare, respondent imposed
additional registration requirements. Fed up with the respondent's extortionate tactics, the
complainant wrote him a letter on May 20, 1987 challenging him to act on all pending applications for
registration of V & G within twenty-four (24) hours.

On May 22, 1987, respondent formally denied registration of the transfer of 163 certificates of title to
the GSIS on the uniform ground that the deeds of absolute sale with assignment were ambiguous as
to parties and subject matter. On May 26, 1987, Attorney Collantes moved for a reconsideration of
said denial, stressing that:

... since the year 1973 continuously up to December 1986 for a period of nearly fifteen (15)
years or for a sum total of more than 2,000 same set of documents which have been
repeatedly and uniformly registered in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Tacloban City
under Attys. Modesto Garcia and Pablo Amascual Jr., it is only during the incumbency of
Atty. Vicente C. Renomeron, that the very same documents of the same tenor have been
refused or denied registration ... (p. 15, Rollo.)

On May 27, 1987, respondent elevated the matter en consulta to the Administrator, National Land
Titles and Deeds Registration Administration (NLTDRA) (now the Land Registration Authority [LRA]).
In a Resolution dated July 27,1987 (Consulta No. 1579), the NLTDRA ruled that the questioned
documents were registrable. Heedless of the NLTDRA's opinion, respondent continued to sit on V &
Gs 163 deeds of sale with assignment.

Exasperated by respondent's conduct, the complainant filed with the NLTDRA on June 4, 1987
administrative charges (docketed as Adm. Case No. 87-15), against respondent Register of Deeds.

Upon receipt of the charges, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio directed respondent to
explain in writing why no administrative disciplinary action should be taken against him. Respondent
was further asked whether he would submit his case on the basis of his answer, or be heard in a
formal investigation.

In his answer dated July 9, 1987, respondent denied the charges of extortion and of directly
receiving pecuniary or material benefit for himself in connection with the official transactions awaiting
his action.

Although an investigator was appointed by NLTDRA Administrator Bonifacio to hear Attorney

Collantes' charges against him, Attorney Renomeron waived his right to a formal investigation. Both
parties submitted the case for resolution based on the pleadings.

The investigator, Attorney Leonardo Da Jose, recommended dropping the charges of: (1)
dishonesty; (2) causing undue injury to a party through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross
inexcusable negligence; and (3) gross ignorance of the law and procedure. He opined that the
charge of neglecting or refusing, in spite repeated requests and without sufficient justification, to act
within a reasonable time on the registration of the documents involved, in order to extort some
pecuniary or material benefit from the interested party, absorbed the charges of conduct
unbecoming of a public official, extortion, and directly receiving some pecuniary or material benefit
for himself in connection with pending official transactions before him.

Brushing aside the investigator's recommendation, NLTDRA Administrator Teodoro G. Bonifacio on

February 22, 1988, recommended to Secretary of Justice Sedfrey A. Ordoñez that the respondent:
(1) be found guilty of simple neglect of duty: (2) be reprimanded to act with dispatch on documents
presented to him for registration; and (3) be warned that a repetition of similar infraction will be dealt
with more severely.
After due investigation of the charges, Secretary Ordoñez found respondent guilty of grave

Our study and consideration of the records of the case indicate that ample evidence supports
the Investigating Officer's findings that the respondent committed grave misconduct.

The respondent unreasonably delayed action on the documents presented to him for
registration and, notwithstanding representations by the parties interested for expeditious
action on the said documents, he continued with his inaction.

The records indicate that the respondent eventually formally denied the registration of the
documents involved; that he himself elevated the question on the registrability of the said
documents to Administrator Bonifacio after he formally denied the registration thereof, that
the Administrator then resolved in favor of the registrability of the said documents in
question; and that, such resolution of the Administrator notwithstanding, the respondent still
refused the registration thereof but demanded from the parties interested the submission of
additional requirements not adverted to in his previous denial.

xxx xxx xxx

In relation to the alleged 'special arrangement,' although the respondent claims that he
neither touched nor received the money sent to him, on record remains uncontroverted the
circumstance that his niece, Ms. de la Cruz, retrieved from him the amount of P800.00 earlier
sent to him as plane fare, not in the original denomination of P100.00 bills but in P50.00 bills.
The respondent had ample opportunity to clarify or to countervail this related incident in his
letter dated 5 September 1987 to Administrator Bonifacio but he never did so.

... We believe that, in this case, the respondent's being new in office cannot serve to mitigate
his liability. His being so should have motivated him to be more aware of applicable laws,
rules and regulations and should have prompted him to do his best in the discharge of his
duties. (pp. 17-18, Rollo.)

Secretary Ordoñez recommended to President Corazon C. Aquino that Renomeron be dismissed

from the service, with forfeiture of leave credits and retirement benefits, and with prejudice to re-
employment in the government service, effective immediately.

As recommended by the Secretary of Justice, the President of the Philippines, by Adm. Order No.
165 dated May 3, 1990, dismissed the respondent from the government service (pp. 1419, Rollo).

Less than two weeks after filing his complaint against Renomeron in the NLTDRA, Attorney
Collantes also filed in this Court on June 16, 1987, a disbarment complaint against said respondent.

The issue in this disbarment proceeding is whether the respondent register of deeds, as a lawyer,
may also be disciplined by this Court for his malfeasances as a public official. The answer is yes, for
his misconduct as a public official also constituted a violation of his oath as a lawyer.

The lawyer's oath (Rule 138, Section 17, Rules of Court; People vs. De Luna, 102 Phil. 968),
imposes upon every lawyer the duty to delay no man for money or malice. The lawyer's oath is a
source of his obligations and its violation is a ground for his suspension, disbarment or other
disciplinary action (Legal Ethics, Ruben E. Agpalo, 1983 Edition, pp. 66-67).
As the late Chief Justice Fred Ruiz Castro said:

A person takes an oath when he is admitted to the Bar which is designed to impress upon
him his responsibilities. He thereby becomes an "officer of the court" on whose shoulders
rests the grave responsibility of assisting the courts in the proper. fair, speedy, and efficient
administration of justice. As an officer of the court he is subject to a rigid discipline that
demands that in his every exertion the only criterion he that truth and justice triumph. This
discipline is what as given the law profession its nobility, its prestige, its exalted place. From
a lawyer, to paraphrase Justice Felix Frankfurter, are expected those qualities of truth-
speaking, a high sense of honor, full candor, intellectual honesty, and the strictest
observance of fiduciary responsibility— all of which, throughout the centuries, have been
compendiously described as moral character.

Membership in the Bar is in the category of a mandate to public service of the highest
order. A lawyer is an oath-bound servant of society whose conduct is clearly circumscribed
1âw phi 1

by inflexible norms of law and ethics, and whose primary duty is the advancement of the
quest of truth and justice, for which he has sworn to be a fearless crusader. (Apostacy in the
Legal Profession, 64 SCRA 784, 789- 790; emphasis supplied.)

The Code of Professional Responsibility applies to lawyers in government service in the discharge of
their official tasks (Canon 6). Just as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials
requires public officials and employees to process documents and papers expeditiously (Sec. 5,
subpars. [c] and [d] and prohibits them from directly or indirectly having a financial or material
interest in any transaction requiring the approval of their office, and likewise bars them from soliciting
gifts or anything of monetary value in the course of any transaction which may be affected by the
functions of their office (See. 7, subpars. [a] and [d]), the Code of Professional Responsibility forbids
a lawyer to engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct (Rule 1.01, Code of
Professional Responsibility), or delay any man's cause "for any corrupt motive or interest" (Rule

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

This Court has ordered that only those who are "competent, honorable, and reliable" may practice
the profession of law (Noriega vs. Sison, 125 SCRA 293) for every lawyer must pursue "only the
highest standards in the practice of his calling" (Court Administrator vs. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269,

The acts of dishonesty and oppression which Attorney Renomeron committed as a public official
have demonstrated his unfitness to practice the high and noble calling of the law (Bautista vs. Judge
Guevarra, 142 SCRA 632; Court Administrator vs. Rodolfo G. Hermoso, 150 SCRA 269). He should
therefore be disbarred.

WHEREFORE, it is hereby ordered that Attorney Vicente C. Renomeron be disbarred from the
practice of law in the Philippines, and that his name be stricken off the Roll of Attorneys