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Resolution March 18, 1954 in such subject or subjects and such grade or grades shall be included in computing the

in such subject or subjects and such grade or grades shall be included in computing the passing
general average that said candidate may obtain in any subsequent examinations that he may take.
In the Matter of the Petitions for Admission to the Bar of Unsuccessful Candidates of 1946 to 1953;
ALBINO CUNANAN, ET AL., petitioners. SEC. 3. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Jose M. Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R. Cornejo, and Antonio Enrile Inton for petitioners. Enacted on June 21, 1953, without the Executive approval.
Office of the Solicitor General Juan R. Liwag for respondent.
After its approval, many of the unsuccessful postwar candidates filed petitions for admission to the bar
DIOKNO, J.: invoking its provisions, while others whose motions for the revision of their examination papers were still
pending also invoked the aforesaid law as an additional ground for admission. There are also others who
In recent years few controversial issues have aroused so much public interest and concern as Republic Act have sought simply the reconsideration of their grades without, however, invoking the law in question. To
No. 972, popularly known as the "Bar Flunkers' Act of 1953." Under the Rules of Court governing avoid injustice to individual petitioners, the court first reviewed the motions for reconsideration,
admission to the bar, "in order that a candidate (for admission to the Bar) may be deemed to have passed irrespective of whether or not they had invoked Republic Act No. 972. Unfortunately, the court has found
his examinations successfully, he must have obtained a general average of 75 per cent in all subjects, no reason to revise their grades. If they are to be admitted to the bar, it must be pursuant to Republic Act
without falling below 50 per cent in any subject." (Rule 127, sec. 14, Rules of Court). Nevertheless, No. 972 which, if declared valid, should be applied equally to all concerned whether they have filed
considering the varying difficulties of the different bar examinations held since 1946 and the varying petitions or not. A complete list of the petitioners, properly classified, affected by this decision, as well as a
more detailed account of the history of Republic Act No. 972, are appended to this decision as Annexes I
degree of strictness with which the examination papers were graded, this court passed and admitted to the
bar those candidates who had obtained an average of only 72 per cent in 1946, 69 per cent in 1947, 70 per and II. And to realize more readily the effects of the law, the following statistical data are set forth:
cent in 1948, and 74 per cent in 1949. In 1950 to 1953, the 74 per cent was raised to 75 per cent.
(1) The unsuccessful bar candidates who are to be benefited by section 1 of Republic Act No. 972 total
1,168, classified as follows:
Believing themselves as fully qualified to practice law as those reconsidered and passed by this court, and
feeling conscious of having been discriminated against (See Explanatory Note to R.A. No. 972),
unsuccessful candidates who obtained averages of a few percentage lower than those admitted to the Bar 1946 (August) 206 121 18
agitated in Congress for, and secured in 1951 the passage of Senate Bill No. 12 which, among others,
reduced the passing general average in bar examinations to 70 per cent effective since 1946. The President 1946 (November) 477 228 43
requested the views of this court on the bill. Complying with that request, seven members of the court 1947 749 340 0
subscribed to and submitted written comments adverse thereto, and shortly thereafter the President vetoed
it. Congress did not override the veto. Instead, it approved Senate Bill No. 371, embodying substantially 1948 899 409 11
the provisions of the vetoed bill. Although the members of this court reiterated their unfavorable views on 1949 1,218 532 164
the matter, the President allowed the bill to become a law on June 21, 1953 without his signature. The law,
1950 1,316 893 26
which incidentally was enacted in an election year, reads in full as follows:
1951 2,068 879 196
REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972 1952 2,738 1,033 426
1953 2,555 968 284
AN ACT TO FIX THE PASSING MARKS FOR BAR EXAMINATIONS FROM
TOTAL 12,230 5,421 1,168
NINETEEN HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX UP TO AND INCLUDING NINETEEN
HUNDRED AND FIFTY-FIVE.
Of the total 1,168 candidates, 92 have passed in subsequent examination, and only 586 have filed either
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in motions for admission to the bar pursuant to said Republic Act, or mere motions for reconsideration.
Congress assembled:
(2) In addition, some other 10 unsuccessful candidates are to be benefited by section 2 of said Republic
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of section fourteen, Rule numbered one hundred Act. These candidates had each taken from two to five different examinations, but failed to obtain a passing
twenty-seven of the Rules of Court, any bar candidate who obtained a general average of seventy average in any of them. Consolidating, however, their highest grades in different subjects in previous
per cent in any bar examinations after July fourth, nineteen hundred and forty-six up to the examinations, with their latest marks, they would be sufficient to reach the passing average as provided for
August nineteen hundred and fifty-one bar examinations; seventy-one per cent in the nineteen by Republic Act No. 972.
hundred and fifty-two bar examinations; seventy-two per cent in the in the nineteen hundred and
fifty-three bar examinations; seventy-three per cent in the nineteen hundred and fifty-four bar (3) The total number of candidates to be benefited by this Republic Acts is therefore 1,094, of which only
examinations; seventy-four per cent in the nineteen hundred and fifty-five bar examinations 604 have filed petitions. Of these 604 petitioners, 33 who failed in 1946 to 1951 had individually presented
without a candidate obtaining a grade below fifty per cent in any subject, shall be allowed to take motions for reconsideration which were denied, while 125 unsuccessful candidates of 1952, and 56 of
and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as member of the Philippine Bar: Provided, 1953, had presented similar motions, which are still pending because they could be favorably affected by
however, That for the purpose of this Act, any exact one-half or more of a fraction, shall be Republic Act No. 972, — although as has been already stated, this tribunal finds no sufficient reasons to
considered as one and included as part of the next whole number. reconsider their grades

SEC. 2. Any bar candidate who obtained a grade of seventy-five per cent in any subject in any UNCONSTITUTIONALITY OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 972
bar examination after July fourth, nineteen hundred and forty-six shall be deemed to have passed
Having been called upon to enforce a law of far-reaching effects on the practice of the legal profession and NW, 441), the opinion of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in 1932 (81 ALR 1061), of Guariña (24
the administration of justice, and because some doubts have been expressed as to its validity, the court set Phil., 37), aside from the opinion of the President which is expressed in his vote of the original bill and
the hearing of the afore-mentioned petitions for admission on the sole question of whether or not Republic which the postponement of the contested law respects.
Act No. 972 is constitutional.
This law has no precedent in its favor. When similar laws in other countries had been promulgated, the
We have been enlightened in the study of this question by the brilliant assistance of the members of the bar judiciary immediately declared them without force or effect. It is not within our power to offer a precedent
who have amply argued, orally an in writing, on the various aspects in which the question may be gleaned. to uphold the disputed law.
The valuable studies of Messrs. E. Voltaire Garcia, Vicente J. Francisco, Vicente Pelaez and Buenaventura
Evangelista, in favor of the validity of the law, and of the U.P. Women's Lawyers' Circle, the Solicitor
To be exact, we ought to state here that we have examined carefully the case that has been cited to us as a
General, Messrs. Arturo A. Alafriz, Enrique M. Fernando, Vicente Abad Santos, Carlos A. Barrios, Vicente favorable precedent of the law — that of Cooper (22 NY, 81), where the Court of Appeals of New York
del Rosario, Juan de Blancaflor, Mamerto V. Gonzales, and Roman Ozaeta against it, aside from the
revoked the decision of the Supreme court of that State, denying the petition of Cooper to be admitted to
memoranda of counsel for petitioners, Messrs. Jose M. Aruego, M.H. de Joya, Miguel R. Cornejo and the practice of law under the provisions of a statute concerning the school of law of Columbia College
Antonio Enrile Inton, and of petitioners Cabrera, Macasaet and Galema themselves, has greatly helped us promulgated on April 7, 1860, which was declared by the Court of Appeals to be consistent with the
in this task. The legal researchers of the court have exhausted almost all Philippine and American Constitution of the state of New York.
jurisprudence on the matter. The question has been the object of intense deliberation for a long time by the
Tribunal, and finally, after the voting, the preparation of the majority opinion was assigned to a new
member in order to place it as humanly as possible above all suspicion of prejudice or partiality. It appears that the Constitution of New York at that time provided:

Republic Act No. 972 has for its object, according to its author, to admit to the Bar, those candidates who They (i.e., the judges) shall not hold any other office of public trust. All votes for either of them
suffered from insufficiency of reading materials and inadequate preparation. Quoting a portion of the for any elective office except that of the Court of Appeals, given by the Legislature or the
Explanatory Note of the proposed bill, its author Honorable Senator Pablo Angeles David stated: people, shall be void. They shall not exercise any power of appointment to public office. Any
male citizen of the age of twenty-one years, of good moral character, and who possesses the
requisite qualifications of learning and ability, shall be entitled to admission to practice in all the
The reason for relaxing the standard 75 per cent passing grade is the tremendous handicap which courts of this State. (p. 93).
students during the years immediately after the Japanese occupation has to overcome such as the
insufficiency of reading materials and the inadequacy of the preparation of students who took up
law soon after the liberation. According to the Court of Appeals, the object of the constitutional precept is as follows:

Of the 9,675 candidates who took the examinations from 1946 to 1952, 5,236 passed. And now it is Attorneys, solicitors, etc., were public officers; the power of appointing them had previously
claimed that in addition 604 candidates be admitted (which in reality total 1,094), because they suffered rested with the judges, and this was the principal appointing power which they possessed. The
from "insufficiency of reading materials" and of "inadequacy of preparation." convention was evidently dissatisfied with the manner in which this power had been exercised,
and with the restrictions which the judges had imposed upon admission to practice before them.
The prohibitory clause in the section quoted was aimed directly at this power, and the insertion
By its declared objective, the law is contrary to public interest because it qualifies 1,094 law graduates who of the provision" expecting the admission of attorneys, in this particular section of the
confessedly had inadequate preparation for the practice of the profession, as was exactly found by this Constitution, evidently arose from its connection with the object of this prohibitory clause. There
Tribunal in the aforesaid examinations. The public interest demands of legal profession adequate is nothing indicative of confidence in the courts or of a disposition to preserve any portion of
preparation and efficiency, precisely more so as legal problem evolved by the times become more difficult. their power over this subject, unless the Supreme Court is right in the inference it draws from the
An adequate legal preparation is one of the vital requisites for the practice of law that should be developed
use of the word `admission' in the action referred to. It is urged that the admission spoken of
constantly and maintained firmly. To the legal profession is entrusted the protection of property, life, honor must be by the court; that to admit means to grant leave, and that the power of granting
and civil liberties. To approve officially of those inadequately prepared individuals to dedicate themselves
necessarily implies the power of refusing, and of course the right of determining whether the
to such a delicate mission is to create a serious social danger. Moreover, the statement that there was an applicant possesses the requisite qualifications to entitle him to admission.
insufficiency of legal reading materials is grossly exaggerated. There were abundant materials. Decisions
of this court alone in mimeographed copies were made available to the public during those years and
private enterprises had also published them in monthly magazines and annual digests. The Official Gazette These positions may all be conceded, without affecting the validity of the act. (p. 93.)
had been published continuously. Books and magazines published abroad have entered without restriction
since 1945. Many law books, some even with revised and enlarged editions have been printed locally Now, with respect to the law of April 7, 1860, the decision seems to indicate that it provided that the
during those periods. A new set of Philippine Reports began to be published since 1946, which continued possession of a diploma of the school of law of Columbia College conferring the degree of Bachelor of
to be supplemented by the addition of new volumes. Those are facts of public knowledge. Laws was evidence of the legal qualifications that the constitution required of applicants for admission to
the Bar. The decision does not however quote the text of the law, which we cannot find in any public or
Notwithstanding all these, if the law in question is valid, it has to be enforced. accessible private library in the country.

The question is not new in its fundamental aspect or from the point of view of applicable principles, but the In the case of Cooper, supra, to make the law consistent with the Constitution of New York, the Court of
resolution of the question would have been easier had an identical case of similar background been picked Appeals said of the object of the law:
out from the jurisprudence we daily consult. Is there any precedent in the long Anglo-Saxon legal history,
from which has been directly derived the judicial system established here with its lofty ideals by the The motive for passing the act in question is apparent. Columbia College being an institution of
Congress of the United States, and which we have preserved and attempted to improve, or in our established reputation, and having a law department under the charge of able professors, the
contemporaneous judicial history of more than half a century? From the citations of those defending the students in which department were not only subjected to a formal examination by the law
law, we can not find a case in which the validity of a similar law had been sustained, while those against its committee of the institution, but to a certain definite period of study before being entitled to a
validity cite, among others, the cases of Day (In re Day, 54 NE 646), of Cannon (State vs. Cannon, 240
diploma of being graduates, the Legislature evidently, and no doubt justly, considered this permitted to practice before the courts was discussed. From the text of this decision we quote the following
examination, together with the preliminary study required by the act, as fully equivalent as a test paragraphs:
of legal requirements, to the ordinary examination by the court; and as rendering the latter
examination, to which no definite period of preliminary study was essential, unnecessary and This statute presents an assertion of legislative power without parallel in the history of the
burdensome.
English speaking people so far as we have been able to ascertain. There has been much
uncertainty as to the extent of the power of the Legislature to prescribe the ultimate
The act was obviously passed with reference to the learning and ability of the applicant, and for qualifications of attorney at law has been expressly committed to the courts, and the act of
the mere purpose of substituting the examination by the law committee of the college for that of admission has always been regarded as a judicial function. This act purports to constitute Mr.
the court. It could have had no other object, and hence no greater scope should be given to its Cannon an attorney at law, and in this respect it stands alone as an assertion of legislative power.
provisions. We cannot suppose that the Legislature designed entirely to dispense with the plain (p. 444)
and explicit requirements of the Constitution; and the act contains nothing whatever to indicate
an intention that the authorities of the college should inquire as to the age, citizenship, etc., of the Under the Constitution all legislative power is vested in a Senate and Assembly. (Section 1, art.
students before granting a diploma. The only rational interpretation of which the act admits is, 4.) In so far as the prescribing of qualifications for admission to the bar are legislative in
that it was intended to make the college diploma competent evidence as to the legal attainments character, the Legislature is acting within its constitutional authority when it sets up and
of the applicant, and nothing else. To this extent alone it operates as a modification of pre- prescribes such qualifications. (p. 444)
existing statutes, and it is to be read in connection with these statutes and with the Constitution
itself in order to determine the present condition of the law on the subject. (p.89)
But when the Legislature has prescribed those qualifications which in its judgment will serve the
purpose of legitimate legislative solicitude, is the power of the court to impose other and further
xxx xxx xxx exactions and qualifications foreclosed or exhausted? (p. 444)

The Legislature has not taken from the court its jurisdiction over the question of admission, that Under our Constitution the judicial and legislative departments are distinct, independent, and
has simply prescribed what shall be competent evidence in certain cases upon that question. coordinate branches of the government. Neither branch enjoys all the powers of sovereignty
(p.93) which properly belongs to its department. Neither department should so act as to embarrass the
other in the discharge of its respective functions. That was the scheme and thought of the people
From the foregoing, the complete inapplicability of the case of Cooper with that at bar may be clearly seen. setting upon the form of government under which we exist. State vs. Hastings, 10 Wis., 525;
Please note only the following distinctions: Attorney General ex rel. Bashford vs. Barstow, 4 Wis., 567. (p. 445)

(1) The law of New York does not require that any candidate of Columbia College who failed in the bar The judicial department of government is responsible for the plane upon which the
examinations be admitted to the practice of law. administration of justice is maintained. Its responsibility in this respect is exclusive. By
committing a portion of the powers of sovereignty to the judicial department of our state
(2) The law of New York according to the very decision of Cooper, has not taken from the court its government, under 42a scheme which it was supposed rendered it immune from embarrassment
jurisdiction over the question of admission of attorney at law; in effect, it does not decree the admission of or interference by any other department of government, the courts cannot escape responsibility
any lawyer. fir the manner in which the powers of sovereignty thus committed to the judicial department are
exercised. (p. 445)

(3) The Constitution of New York at that time and that of the Philippines are entirely different on the
matter of admission of the practice of law. The relation at the bar to the courts is a peculiar and intimate relationship. The bar is an attache
of the courts. The quality of justice dispense by the courts depends in no small degree upon the
integrity of its bar. An unfaithful bar may easily bring scandal and reproach to the administration
In the judicial system from which ours has been evolved, the admission, suspension, disbarment and of justice and bring the courts themselves into disrepute. (p.445)
reinstatement of attorneys at law in the practice of the profession and their supervision have been
disputably a judicial function and responsibility. Because of this attribute, its continuous and zealous
possession and exercise by the judicial power have been demonstrated during more than six centuries, Through all time courts have exercised a direct and severe supervision over their bars, at least in
which certainly "constitutes the most solid of titles." Even considering the power granted to Congress by the English speaking countries. (p. 445)
our Constitution to repeal, alter supplement the rules promulgated by this Court regarding the admission to
the practice of law, to our judgment and proposition that the admission, suspension, disbarment and After explaining the history of the case, the Court ends thus:
reinstatement of the attorneys at law is a legislative function, properly belonging to Congress, is
unacceptable. The function requires (1) previously established rules and principles, (2) concrete facts, Our conclusion may be epitomized as follows: For more than six centuries prior to the adoption
whether past or present, affecting determinate individuals. and (3) decision as to whether these facts are of our Constitution, the courts of England, concededly subordinate to Parliament since the
governed by the rules and principles; in effect, a judicial function of the highest degree. And it becomes Revolution of 1688, had exercise the right of determining who should be admitted to the practice
more undisputably judicial, and not legislative, if previous judicial resolutions on the petitions of these of law, which, as was said in Matter of the Sergeant's at Law, 6 Bingham's New Cases 235,
same individuals are attempted to be revoked or modified.
"constitutes the most solid of all titles." If the courts and judicial power be regarded as an entity,
the power to determine who should be admitted to practice law is a constituent element of that
We have said that in the judicial system from which ours has been derived, the act of admitting, entity. It may be difficult to isolate that element and say with assurance that it is either a part of
suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law in the practice of the profession is concededly the inherent power of the court, or an essential element of the judicial power exercised by the
judicial. A comprehensive and conscientious study of this matter had been undertaken in the case of State court, but that it is a power belonging to the judicial entity and made of not only a sovereign
vs. Cannon (1932) 240 NW 441, in which the validity of a legislative enactment providing that Cannon be institution, but made of it a separate independent, and coordinate branch of the government.
They took this institution along with the power traditionally exercise to determine who should
constitute its attorney at law. There is no express provision in the Constitution which indicates assisting in its work, and to protect itself in this respect from the unfit, those lacking in sufficient
an intent that this traditional power of the judicial department should in any manner be subject to learning, and those not possessing good moral character. Chief Justice Taney stated succinctly
legislative control. Perhaps the dominant thought of the framers of our constitution was to make and with finality in Ex parte Secombe, 19 How. 9, 13, 15 L. Ed. 565, "It has been well settled,
the three great departments of government separate and independent of one another. The idea by the rules and practice of common-law courts, that it rests exclusively with the court to
that the Legislature might embarrass the judicial department by prescribing inadequate determine who is qualified to become one of its officers, as an attorney and counselor, and for
qualifications for attorneys at law is inconsistent with the dominant purpose of making the what cause he ought to be removed." (p.727)
judicial independent of the legislative department, and such a purpose should not be inferred in
the absence of express constitutional provisions. While the legislature may legislate with respect In the case of Day and others who collectively filed a petition to secure license to practice the legal
to the qualifications of attorneys, but is incidental merely to its general and unquestioned power profession by virtue of a law of state (In re Day, 54 NE 646), the court said in part:
to protect the public interest. When it does legislate a fixing a standard of qualifications required
of attorneys at law in order that public interests may be protected, such qualifications do not
constitute only a minimum standard and limit the class from which the court must make its In the case of Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall, 333, 18 L. Ed. 366, the court, holding the test oath for
selection. Such legislative qualifications do not constitute the ultimate qualifications beyond attorneys to be unconstitutional, explained the nature of the attorney's office as follows: "They
which the court cannot go in fixing additional qualifications deemed necessary by the course of are officers of the court, admitted as such by its order, upon evidence of their possessing
the proper administration of judicial functions. There is no legislative power to compel courts to sufficient legal learning and fair private character. It has always been the general practice in this
admit to their bars persons deemed by them unfit to exercise the prerogatives of an attorney at country to obtain this evidence by an examination of the parties. In this court the fact of the
law. (p. 450) admission of such officers in the highest court of the states to which they, respectively, belong
for, three years preceding their application, is regarded as sufficient evidence of the possession
of the requisite legal learning, and the statement of counsel moving their admission sufficient
Furthermore, it is an unlawful attempt to exercise the power of appointment. It is quite likely true evidence that their private and professional character is fair. The order of admission is the
that the legislature may exercise the power of appointment when it is in pursuance of a
judgment of the court that the parties possess the requisite qualifications as attorneys and
legislative functions. However, the authorities are well-nigh unanimous that the power to admit counselors, and are entitled to appear as such and conduct causes therein. From its entry the
attorneys to the practice of law is a judicial function. In all of the states, except New Jersey (In re parties become officers of the court, and are responsible to it for professional misconduct. They
Reisch, 83 N.J. Eq. 82, 90 A. 12), so far as our investigation reveals, attorneys receive their hold their office during good behavior, and can only be deprived of it for misconduct ascertained
formal license to practice law by their admission as members of the bar of the court so admitting. and declared by the judgment of the court after opportunity to be heard has been afforded. Ex
Cor. Jur. 572; Ex parte Secombre, 19 How. 9,15 L. Ed. 565; Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333, 18 parte Hoyfron, admission or their exclusion is not the exercise of a mere ministerial power. It is
L. Ed. 366; Randall vs. Brigham, 7 Wall. 53, 19 L. Ed. 285; Hanson vs. Grattan, 48 Kan, 843, the exercise of judicial power, and has been so held in numerous cases. It was so held by the
115 P. 646, 34 L.R.A. 519; Danforth vs. Egan, 23 S. D. 43, 119 N.W. 1021, 130 Am. St. Rep. court of appeals of New York in the matter of the application of Cooper for admission. Re
1030, 20 Ann. Cas. 413. Cooper 22 N. Y. 81. "Attorneys and Counselors", said that court, "are not only officers of the
court, but officers whose duties relate almost exclusively to proceedings of a judicial nature; and
The power of admitting an attorney to practice having been perpetually exercised by the courts, hence their appointment may, with propriety, be entrusted to the court, and the latter, in
it having been so generally held that the act of the court in admitting an attorney to practice is the performing his duty, may very justly considered as engaged in the exercise of their appropriate
judgment of the court, and an attempt as this on the part of the Legislature to confer such right judicial functions." (pp. 650-651).
upon any one being most exceedingly uncommon, it seems clear that the licensing of an attorney
is and always has been a purely judicial function, no matter where the power to determine the We quote from other cases, the following pertinent portions:
qualifications may reside. (p. 451)

Admission to practice of law is almost without exception conceded everywhere to be the


In that same year of 1932, the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, in answering a consultation of the Senate
exercise of a judicial function, and this opinion need not be burdened with citations in this point.
of that State, 180 NE 725, said: Admission to practice have also been held to be the exercise of one of the inherent powers of the
court. — Re Bruen, 102 Wash. 472, 172 Pac. 906.
It is indispensible to the administration of justice and to interpretation of the laws that there be
members of the bar of sufficient ability, adequate learning and sound moral character. This arises Admission to the practice of law is the exercise of a judicial function, and is an inherent power
from the need of enlightened assistance to the honest, and restraining authority over the knavish, of the court. — A.C. Brydonjack, vs. State Bar of California, 281 Pac. 1018; See Annotation on
litigant. It is highly important, also that the public be protected from incompetent and vicious
Power of Legislature respecting admission to bar, 65, A.L. R. 1512.
practitioners, whose opportunity for doing mischief is wide. It was said by Cardoz, C.L., in
People ex rel. Karlin vs. Culkin, 242 N.Y. 456, 470, 471, 162 N.E. 487, 489, 60 A.L.R. 851:
"Membership in the bar is a privilege burden with conditions." One is admitted to the bar "for On this matter there is certainly a clear distinction between the functions of the judicial and legislative
something more than private gain." He becomes an "officer of the court", and ,like the court departments of the government.
itself, an instrument or agency to advance the end of justice. His cooperation with the court is
due "whenever justice would be imperiled if cooperation was withheld." Without such attorneys The distinction between the functions of the legislative and the judicial departments is that it is
at law the judicial department of government would be hampered in the performance of its the province of the legislature to establish rules that shall regulate and govern in matters of
duties. That has been the history of attorneys under the common law, both in this country and transactions occurring subsequent to the legislative action, while the judiciary determines rights
England. Admission to practice as an attorney at law is almost without exception conceded to be and obligations with reference to transactions that are past or conditions that exist at the time of
a judicial function. Petition to that end is filed in courts, as are other proceedings invoking the exercise of judicial power, and the distinction is a vital one and not subject to alteration or
judicial action. Admission to the bar is accomplish and made open and notorious by a decision of change either by legislative action or by judicial decree.
the court entered upon its records. The establishment by the Constitution of the judicial
department conferred authority necessary to the exercise of its powers as a coordinate
department of government. It is an inherent power of such a department of government The judiciary cannot consent that its province shall be invaded by either of the other departments
ultimately to determine the qualifications of those to be admitted to practice in its courts, for of the government. — 16 C.J.S., Constitutional Law, p. 229.
If the legislature cannot thus indirectly control the action of the courts by requiring of them The case of Guariña (1913) 24 Phil., 37, illustrates our criterion. Guariña took examination and failed by a
construction of the law according to its own views, it is very plain it cannot do so directly, by few points to obtain the general average. A recently enacted law provided that one who had been appointed
settling aside their judgments, compelling them to grant new trials, ordering the discharge of to the position of Fiscal may be admitted to the practice of law without a previous examination. The
offenders, or directing what particular steps shall be taken in the progress of a judicial inquiry. Government appointed Guariña and he discharged the duties of Fiscal in a remote province. This tribunal
— Cooley's Constitutional Limitations, 192. refused to give his license without previous examinations. The court said:

In decreeing the bar candidates who obtained in the bar examinations of 1946 to 1952, a general average of Relying upon the provisions of section 2 of Act No. 1597, the applicant in this case seeks
70 per cent without falling below 50 per cent in any subject, be admitted in mass to the practice of law, the admission to the bar, without taking the prescribed examination, on the ground that he holds the
disputed law is not a legislation; it is a judgment — a judgment revoking those promulgated by this Court office of provincial fiscal for the Province of Batanes.
during the aforecited year affecting the bar candidates concerned; and although this Court certainly can
revoke these judgments even now, for justifiable reasons, it is no less certain that only this Court, and not
Section 2 of Act No. 1597, enacted February 28, 1907, is as follows:
the legislative nor executive department, that may be so. Any attempt on the part of any of these
departments would be a clear usurpation of its functions, as is the case with the law in question.
Sec. 2. Paragraph one of section thirteen of Act Numbered One Hundred and ninety, entitled "An
Act providing a Code of Procedure in Civil Actions and Special Proceedings in the Philippine
That the Constitution has conferred on Congress the power to repeal, alter or supplement the rule
Islands," is hereby amended to read as follows:
promulgated by this Tribunal, concerning the admission to the practice of law, is no valid argument.
Section 13, article VIII of the Constitution provides:
1. Those who have been duly licensed under the laws and orders of the Islands under the
sovereignty of Spain or of the United States and are in good and regular standing as members of
Section 13. The Supreme Court shall have the power to promulgate rules concerning pleading,
the bar of the Philippine Islands at the time of the adoption of this code; Provided, That any
practice, and procedure in all courts, and the admission to the practice of law. Said rules shall be person who, prior to the passage of this act, or at any time thereafter, shall have held, under the
uniform for all courts of the same grade and shall not diminish, increase or modify substantive authority of the United States, the position of justice of the Supreme Court, judge of the Court of
rights. The existing laws on pleading, practice and procedure are hereby repealed as statutes, and First Instance, or judge or associate judge of the Court of Land Registration, of the Philippine
are declared Rules of Court, subject to the power of the Supreme Court to alter and modify the Islands, or the position of Attorney General, Solicitor General, Assistant Attorney General,
same. The Congress shall have the power to repeal, alter, or supplement the rules concerning assistant attorney in the office of the Attorney General, prosecuting attorney for the City of
pleading, practice, and procedure, and the admission to the practice of law in the Philippines. — Manila, city attorney of Manila, assistant city attorney of Manila, provincial fiscal, attorney for
Constitution of the Philippines, Art. VIII, sec. 13. the Moro Province, or assistant attorney for the Moro Province, may be licensed to practice law
in the courts of the Philippine Islands without an examination, upon motion before the Supreme
It will be noted that the Constitution has not conferred on Congress and this Tribunal equal responsibilities Court and establishing such fact to the satisfaction of said court.
concerning the admission to the practice of law. the primary power and responsibility which the
Constitution recognizes continue to reside in this Court. Had Congress found that this Court has not The records of this court disclose that on a former occasion this appellant took, and failed to pass
promulgated any rule on the matter, it would have nothing over which to exercise the power granted to it. the prescribed examination. The report of the examining board, dated March 23, 1907, shows
Congress may repeal, alter and supplement the rules promulgated by this Court, but the authority and
that he received an average of only 71 per cent in the various branches of legal learning upon
responsibility over the admission, suspension, disbarment and reinstatement of attorneys at law and their which he was examined, thus falling four points short of the required percentage of 75. We
supervision remain vested in the Supreme Court. The power to repeal, alter and supplement the rules does
would be delinquent in the performance of our duty to the public and to the bar, if, in the face of
not signify nor permit that Congress substitute or take the place of this Tribunal in the exercise of its this affirmative indication of the deficiency of the applicant in the required qualifications of
primary power on the matter. The Constitution does not say nor mean that Congress may admit, suspend, learning in the law at the time when he presented his former application for admission to the bar,
disbar or reinstate directly attorneys at law, or a determinate group of individuals to the practice of law. Its we should grant him license to practice law in the courts of these Islands, without first satisfying
power is limited to repeal, modify or supplement the existing rules on the matter, if according to its ourselves that despite his failure to pass the examination on that occasion, he now "possesses the
judgment the need for a better service of the legal profession requires it. But this power does not relieve necessary qualifications of learning and ability."
this Court of its responsibility to admit, suspend, disbar and reinstate attorneys at law and supervise the
practice of the legal profession.
But it is contented that under the provisions of the above-cited statute the applicant is entitled as
of right to be admitted to the bar without taking the prescribed examination "upon motion before
Being coordinate and independent branches, the power to promulgate and enforce rules for the admission to the Supreme Court" accompanied by satisfactory proof that he has held and now holds the office
the practice of law and the concurrent power to repeal, alter and supplement them may and should be of provincial fiscal of the Province of Batanes. It is urged that having in mind the object which
exercised with the respect that each owes to the other, giving careful consideration to the responsibility the legislator apparently sought to attain in enacting the above-cited amendment to the earlier
which the nature of each department requires. These powers have existed together for centuries without statute, and in view of the context generally and especially of the fact that the amendment was
diminution on each part; the harmonious delimitation being found in that the legislature may and should
inserted as a proviso in that section of the original Act which specifically provides for the
examine if the existing rules on the admission to the Bar respond to the demands which public interest admission of certain candidates without examination. It is contented that this mandatory
requires of a Bar endowed with high virtues, culture, training and responsibility. The legislature may, by
construction is imperatively required in order to give effect to the apparent intention of the
means of appeal, amendment or supplemental rules, fill up any deficiency that it may find, and the judicial legislator, and to the candidate's claim de jure to have the power exercised.
power, which has the inherent responsibility for a good and efficient administration of justice and the
supervision of the practice of the legal profession, should consider these reforms as the minimum standards
for the elevation of the profession, and see to it that with these reforms the lofty objective that is desired in And after copying article 9 of Act of July 1, 1902 of the Congress of the United States, articles 2, 16 and 17
the exercise of its traditional duty of admitting, suspending, disbarring and reinstating attorneys at law is of Act No. 136, and articles 13 to 16 of Act 190, the Court continued:
realized. They are powers which, exercise within their proper constitutional limits, are not repugnant, but
rather complementary to each other in attaining the establishment of a Bar that would respond to the Manifestly, the jurisdiction thus conferred upon this court by the commission and confirmed to it
increasing and exacting necessities of the administration of justice. by the Act of Congress would be limited and restricted, and in a case such as that under
consideration wholly destroyed, by giving the word "may," as used in the above citation from 1874." The amendment, so far as it appears in the enacting clause, consists in the addition to the
Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, or of any Act of Congress prescribing, defining or limiting the section of the following: "And every application for a license who shall comply with the rules of
power conferred upon the commission is to that extent invalid and void, as transcending its the supreme court in regard to admission to the bar in force at the time such applicant commend
rightful limits and authority. the study of law, either in a law or office or a law school or college, shall be granted a license
under this act notwithstanding any subsequent changes in said rules". — In re Day et al, 54 N.Y.,
Speaking on the application of the law to those who were appointed to the positions enumerated, and with p. 646.
particular emphasis in the case of Guariña, the Court held:
. . . After said provision there is a double proviso, one branch of which is that up to December
31, 1899, this court shall grant a license of admittance to the bar to the holder of every diploma
In the various cases wherein applications for the admission to the bar under the provisions of this
statute have been considered heretofore, we have accepted the fact that such appointments had regularly issued by any law school regularly organized under the laws of this state, whose
regular course of law studies is two years, and requiring an attendance by the student of at least
been made as satisfactory evidence of the qualifications of the applicant. But in all of those cases
we had reason to believe that the applicants had been practicing attorneys prior to the date of 36 weeks in each of such years, and showing that the student began the study of law prior to
their appointment. November 4, 1897, and accompanied with the usual proofs of good moral character. The other
branch of the proviso is that any student who has studied law for two years in a law office, or
part of such time in a law office, "and part in the aforesaid law school," and whose course of
In the case under consideration, however, it affirmatively appears that the applicant was not and study began prior to November 4, 1897, shall be admitted upon a satisfactory examination by the
never had been practicing attorney in this or any other jurisdiction prior to the date of his examining board in the branches now required by the rules of this court. If the right to admission
appointment as provincial fiscal, and it further affirmatively appears that he was deficient in the exists at all, it is by virtue of the proviso, which, it is claimed, confers substantial rights and
required qualifications at the time when he last applied for admission to the bar. privileges upon the persons named therein, and establishes rules of legislative creation for their
admission to the bar. (p. 647.)
In the light of this affirmative proof of his defieciency on that occasion, we do not think that his
appointment to the office of provincial fiscal is in itself satisfactory proof if his possession of the Considering the proviso, however, as an enactment, it is clearly a special legislation, prohibited
necessary qualifications of learning and ability. We conclude therefore that this application for by the constitution, and invalid as such. If the legislature had any right to admit attorneys to
license to practice in the courts of the Philippines, should be denied. practice in the courts and take part in the administration of justice, and could prescribe the
character of evidence which should be received by the court as conclusive of the requisite
In view, however, of the fact that when he took the examination he fell only four points short of learning and ability of persons to practice law, it could only be done by a general law, persons or
the necessary grade to entitle him to a license to practice; and in view also of the fact that since classes of persons. Const. art 4, section 2. The right to practice law is a privilege, and a license
that time he has held the responsible office of the governor of the Province of Sorsogon and for that purpose makes the holder an officer of the court, and confers upon him the right to
presumably gave evidence of such marked ability in the performance of the duties of that office appear for litigants, to argue causes, and to collect fees therefor, and creates certain exemptions,
that the Chief Executive, with the consent and approval of the Philippine Commission, sought to such as from jury services and arrest on civil process while attending court. The law conferring
retain him in the Government service by appointing him to the office of provincial fiscal, we such privileges must be general in its operation. No doubt the legislature, in framing an
think we would be justified under the above-cited provisions of Act No. 1597 in waiving in his enactment for that purpose, may classify persons so long as the law establishing classes in
case the ordinary examination prescribed by general rule, provided he offers satisfactory general, and has some reasonable relation to the end sought. There must be some difference
evidence of his proficiency in a special examination which will be given him by a committee of which furnishes a reasonable basis for different one, having no just relation to the subject of the
the court upon his application therefor, without prejudice to his right, if he desires so to do, to legislation. Braceville Coal Co. vs. People, 147 Ill. 66, 35 N.E. 62; Ritchie vs. People, 155 Ill.
present himself at any of the ordinary examinations prescribed by general rule. — (In re 98, 40 N.E. 454; Railroad Co. vs. Ellis, 165 U.S. 150, 17 Sup. Ct. 255.
Guariña, pp. 48-49.)
The length of time a physician has practiced, and the skill acquired by experience, may furnish a
It is obvious, therefore, that the ultimate power to grant license for the practice of law belongs exclusively basis for classification (Williams vs. People 121 Ill. 48, II N.E. 881); but the place where such
to this Court, and the law passed by Congress on the matter is of permissive character, or as other physician has resided and practiced his profession cannot furnish such basis, and is an arbitrary
authorities say, merely to fix the minimum conditions for the license. discrimination, making an enactment based upon it void (State vs. Pennyeor, 65 N.E. 113, 18
Atl. 878). Here the legislature undertakes to say what shall serve as a test of fitness for the
profession of the law, and plainly, any classification must have some reference to learning,
The law in question, like those in the case of Day and Cannon, has been found also to suffer from the fatal character, or ability to engage in such practice. The proviso is limited, first, to a class of persons
defect of being a class legislation, and that if it has intended to make a classification, it is arbitrary and who began the study of law prior to November 4, 1897. This class is subdivided into two classes
unreasonable. — First, those presenting diplomas issued by any law school of this state before December 31,
1899; and, second, those who studied law for the period of two years in a law office, or part of
In the case of Day, a law enacted on February 21, 1899 required of the Supreme Court, until December 31 the time in a law school and part in a law office, who are to be admitted upon examination in the
of that year, to grant license for the practice of law to those students who began studying before November subjects specified in the present rules of this court, and as to this latter subdivision there seems to
4, 1897, and had studied for two years and presented a diploma issued by a school of law, or to those who be no limit of time for making application for admission. As to both classes, the conditions of the
had studied in a law office and would pass an examination, or to those who had studied for three years if rules are dispensed with, and as between the two different conditions and limits of time are fixed.
they commenced their studies after the aforementioned date. The Supreme Court declared that this law was No course of study is prescribed for the law school, but a diploma granted upon the completion
unconstitutional being, among others, a class legislation. The Court said: of any sort of course its managers may prescribe is made all-sufficient. Can there be anything
with relation to the qualifications or fitness of persons to practice law resting upon the mere date
of November 4, 1897, which will furnish a basis of classification. Plainly not. Those who began
This is an application to this court for admission to the bar of this state by virtue of diplomas the study of law November 4th could qualify themselves to practice in two years as well as those
from law schools issued to the applicants. The act of the general assembly passed in 1899, under who began on the 3rd. The classes named in the proviso need spend only two years in study,
which the application is made, is entitled "An act to amend section 1 of an act entitled "An act to while those who commenced the next day must spend three years, although they would complete
revise the law in relation to attorneys and counselors," approved March 28, 1884, in force July 1,
two years before the time limit. The one who commenced on the 3rd. If possessed of a diploma, furthermore, must be based upon substantial distinctions. As the rule has sometimes avoided the
is to be admitted without examination before December 31, 1899, and without any prescribed constitutional prohibition, must be founded upon pertinent and real differences, as distinguished
course of study, while as to the other the prescribed course must be pursued, and the diploma is from irrelevant and artificial ones. Therefore, any law that is made applicable to one class of
utterly useless. Such classification cannot rest upon any natural reason, or bear any just relation citizens only must be based on some substantial difference between the situation of that class and
to the subject sought, and none is suggested. The proviso is for the sole purpose of bestowing other individuals to which it does not apply and must rest on some reason on which it can be
privileges upon certain defined persons. (pp. 647-648.) defended. In other words, there must be such a difference between the situation and
circumstances of all the members of the class and the situation and circumstances of all other
In the case of Cannon above cited, State vs. Cannon, 240 N.W. 441, where the legislature attempted by law members of the state in relation to the subjects of the discriminatory legislation as presents a just
to reinstate Cannon to the practice of law, the court also held with regards to its aspect of being a class and natural cause for the difference made in their liabilities and burdens and in their rights and
legislation: privileges. A law is not general because it operates on all within a clause unless there is a
substantial reason why it is made to operate on that class only, and not generally on all. (12 Am.
Jur. pp. 151-153.)
But the statute is invalid for another reason. If it be granted that the legislature has power to
prescribe ultimately and definitely the qualifications upon which courts must admit and license
those applying as attorneys at law, that power can not be exercised in the manner here attempted. Pursuant to the law in question, those who, without a grade below 50 per cent in any subject, have obtained
That power must be exercised through general laws which will apply to all alike and accord a general average of 69.5 per cent in the bar examinations in 1946 to 1951, 70.5 per cent in 1952, 71.5 per
equal opportunity to all. Speaking of the right of the Legislature to exact qualifications of those cent in 1953, and those will obtain 72.5 per cent in 1954, and 73.5 per cent in 1955, will be permitted to
desiring to pursue chosen callings, Mr. Justice Field in the case of Dent. vs. West Virginia, 129 take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as members of the Bar, notwithstanding that the rules
require a minimum general average of 75 per cent, which has been invariably followed since 1950. Is there
U.S. 114, 121, 9 S. Ct. 232, 233, 32 L. Ed. 626, said: "It is undoubtedly the right of every citizen
of the United States to follow any lawful calling, business or profession he may choose, subject any motive of the nature indicated by the abovementioned authorities, for this classification ? If there is
none, and none has been given, then the classification is fatally defective.
only to such restrictions as are imposed upon all persons of like age, sex, and condition." This
right may in many respects be considered as a distinguishing feature of our republican
institutions. Here all vocations are all open to every one on like conditions. All may be pursued It was indicated that those who failed in 1944, 1941 or the years before, with the general average indicated,
as sources of livelihood, some requiring years of study and great learning for their successful were not included because the Tribunal has no record of the unsuccessful candidates of those years. This
prosecution. The interest, or, as it is sometimes termed, the "estate" acquired in them — that is, fact does not justify the unexplained classification of unsuccessful candidates by years, from 1946-1951,
the right to continue their prosecution — is often of great value to the possessors and cannot be 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955. Neither is the exclusion of those who failed before said years under the same
arbitrarily taken from them, any more than their real or personal property can be thus taken. It is conditions justified. The fact that this Court has no record of examinations prior to 1946 does not signify
fundamental under our system of government that all similarly situated and possessing equal that no one concerned may prove by some other means his right to an equal consideration.
qualifications shall enjoy equal opportunities. Even statutes regulating the practice of medicine,
requiring medications to establish the possession on the part of the application of his proper To defend the disputed law from being declared unconstitutional on account of its retroactivity, it is argued
qualifications before he may be licensed to practice, have been challenged, and courts have that it is curative, and that in such form it is constitutional. What does Rep. Act 972 intend to cure ? Only
seriously considered whether the exemption from such examinations of those practicing in the from 1946 to 1949 were there cases in which the Tribunal permitted admission to the bar of candidates who
state at the time of the enactment of the law rendered such law unconstitutional because of did not obtain the general average of 75 per cent: in 1946 those who obtained only 72 per cent; in the 1947
infringement upon this general principle. State vs. Thomas Call, 121 N.C. 643, 28 S.E. 517; see,
and those who had 69 per cent or more; in 1948, 70 per cent and in 1949, 74 per cent; and in 1950 to 1953,
also, The State ex rel. Winkler vs. Rosenberg, 101 Wis. 172, 76 N.W. 345; State vs. Whitcom, those who obtained 74 per cent, which was considered by the Court as equivalent to 75 per cent as
122 Wis. 110, 99 N.W. 468.
prescribed by the Rules, by reason of circumstances deemed to be sufficiently justifiable. These changes in
the passing averages during those years were all that could be objected to or criticized. Now, it is desired to
This law singles out Mr. Cannon and assumes to confer upon him the right to practice law and to undo what had been done — cancel the license that was issued to those who did not obtain the prescribed
constitute him an officer of this Court as a mere matter of legislative grace or favor. It is not 75 per cent ? Certainly not. The disputed law clearly does not propose to do so. Concededly, it approves
material that he had once established his right to practice law and that one time he possessed the what has been done by this Tribunal. What Congress lamented is that the Court did not consider 69.5 per
requisite learning and other qualifications to entitle him to that right. That fact in no matter affect cent obtained by those candidates who failed in 1946 to 1952 as sufficient to qualify them to practice law.
the power of the Legislature to select from the great body of the public an individual upon whom Hence, it is the lack of will or defect of judgment of the Court that is being cured, and to complete the cure
it would confer its favors. of this infirmity, the effectivity of the disputed law is being extended up to the years 1953, 1954 and 1955,
increasing each year the general average by one per cent, with the order that said candidates be admitted to
A statute of the state of Minnesota (Laws 1929, c. 424) commanded the Supreme Court to admit the Bar. This purpose, manifest in the said law, is the best proof that what the law attempts to amend and
to the practice of law without examination, all who had served in the military or naval forces of correct are not the rules promulgated, but the will or judgment of the Court, by means of simply taking its
the United States during the World War and received a honorable discharge therefrom and who place. This is doing directly what the Tribunal should have done during those years according to the
(were disabled therein or thereby within the purview of the Act of Congress approved June 7th, judgment of Congress. In other words, the power exercised was not to repeal, alter or supplement the rules,
which continue in force. What was done was to stop or suspend them. And this power is not included in
1924, known as "World War Veteran's Act, 1924 and whose disability is rated at least ten per
cent thereunder at the time of the passage of this Act." This Act was held |unconstitutional on the what the Constitution has granted to Congress, because it falls within the power to apply the rules. This
power corresponds to the judiciary, to which such duty been confided.
ground that it clearly violated the quality clauses of the constitution of that state. In re
Application of George W. Humphrey, 178 Minn. 331, 227 N.W. 179.
Article 2 of the law in question permits partial passing of examinations, at indefinite intervals. The grave
A good summary of a classification constitutionally acceptable is explained in 12 Am. Jur. 151-153 as defect of this system is that it does not take into account that the laws and jurisprudence are not stationary,
and when a candidate finally receives his certificate, it may happen that the existing laws and jurisprudence
follows:
are already different, seriously affecting in this manner his usefulness. The system that the said law
prescribes was used in the first bar examinations of this country, but was abandoned for this and other
The general rule is well settled by unanimity of the authorities that a classification to be valid disadvantages. In this case, however, the fatal defect is that the article is not expressed in the title will have
must rest upon material differences between the person included in it and those excluded and, temporary effect only from 1946 to 1955, the text of article 2 establishes a permanent system for an
indefinite time. This is contrary to Section 21 (1), article VI of the Constitution, which vitiates and annuls 1. That (a) the portion of article 1 of Republic Act No. 972 referring to the examinations of 1946 to 1952,
article 2 completely; and because it is inseparable from article 1, it is obvious that its nullity affect the and (b) all of article 2 of said law are unconstitutional and, therefore, void and without force and effect.
entire law.
2. That, for lack of unanimity in the eight Justices, that part of article 1 which refers to the examinations
Laws are unconstitutional on the following grounds: first, because they are not within the legislative subsequent to the approval of the law, that is from 1953 to 1955 inclusive, is valid and shall continue to be
powers of Congress to enact, or Congress has exceeded its powers; second, because they create or establish in force, in conformity with section 10, article VII of the Constitution.
arbitrary methods or forms that infringe constitutional principles; and third, because their purposes or
effects violate the Constitution or its basic principles. As has already been seen, the contested law suffers Consequently, (1) all the above-mentioned petitions of the candidates who failed in the examinations of
from these fatal defects.
1946 to 1952 inclusive are denied, and (2) all candidates who in the examinations of 1953 obtained a
general average of 71.5 per cent or more, without having a grade below 50 per cent in any subject, are
Summarizing, we are of the opinion and hereby declare that Republic Act No. 972 is unconstitutional and considered as having passed, whether they have filed petitions for admission or not. After this decision has
therefore, void, and without any force nor effect for the following reasons, to wit: become final, they shall be permitted to take and subscribe the corresponding oath of office as members of
the Bar on the date or dates that the chief Justice may set. So ordered.
1. Because its declared purpose is to admit 810 candidates who failed in the bar examinations of 1946-
1952, and who, it admits, are certainly inadequately prepared to practice law, as was exactly found by this Bengzon, Montemayor, Jugo, Labrador, Pablo, Padilla, and Reyes, JJ., concur.
Court in the aforesaid years. It decrees the admission to the Bar of these candidates, depriving this Tribunal
of the opportunity to determine if they are at present already prepared to become members of the Bar. It
obliges the Tribunal to perform something contrary to reason and in an arbitrary manner. This is a manifest
encroachment on the constitutional responsibility of the Supreme Court.

2. Because it is, in effect, a judgment revoking the resolution of this Court on the petitions of these 810
candidates, without having examined their respective examination papers, and although it is admitted that
this Tribunal may reconsider said resolution at any time for justifiable reasons, only this Court and no other
may revise and alter them. In attempting to do it directly Republic Act No. 972 violated the Constitution.

3. By the disputed law, Congress has exceeded its legislative power to repeal, alter and supplement the
rules on admission to the Bar. Such additional or amendatory rules are, as they ought to be, intended to
regulate acts subsequent to its promulgation and should tend to improve and elevate the practice of law, and
this Tribunal shall consider these rules as minimum norms towards that end in the admission, suspension,
disbarment and reinstatement of lawyers to the Bar, inasmuch as a good bar assists immensely in the daily
performance of judicial functions and is essential to a worthy administration of justice. It is therefore the
primary and inherent prerogative of the Supreme Court to render the ultimate decision on who may be
admitted and may continue in the practice of law according to existing rules.

4. The reason advanced for the pretended classification of candidates, which the law makes, is contrary to
facts which are of general knowledge and does not justify the admission to the Bar of law students
inadequately prepared. The pretended classification is arbitrary. It is undoubtedly a class legislation.

5. Article 2 of Republic Act No. 972 is not embraced in the title of the law, contrary to what the
Constitution enjoins, and being inseparable from the provisions of article 1, the entire law is void.

6. Lacking in eight votes to declare the nullity of that part of article 1 referring to the examinations of 1953
to 1955, said part of article 1, insofar as it concerns the examinations in those years, shall continue in force.

RESOLUTION

Upon mature deliberation by this Court, after hearing and availing of the magnificent and impassioned
discussion of the contested law by our Chief Justice at the opening and close of the debate among the
members of the Court, and after hearing the judicious observations of two of our beloved colleagues who
since the beginning have announced their decision not to take part in voting, we, the eight members of the
Court who subscribed to this decision have voted and resolved, and have decided for the Court, and under
the authority of the same:
A.C. No. 10580 Resolutions of the IBP Board of Governors

SPOUSES GERALDY AND LILIBETH VICTORY, Complainants On March 20, 2013, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XX-2013-199, which reads:
vs.
ATTY. MARIAN JOS. MERCADO, Respondent RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner in the above-entitled
DECISION case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A ", and finding the recommendation fully supported
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules and considering Respondent's violation of
Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility for evading the settlement of her financial obligations
TIJAM, J.:
to the complainants and for not bothering to appear in the investigation of this case, Atty. Marian Jo S.
Mercado is hereby DISBARRED.9 (Emphasis supplied)
This is a disbarment case against respondent Atty. Marian Jo S. Mercado for violation of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and the Lawyer's Oath.
Respondent filed a motion for reconsideration,10 which was denied in Resolution No. XXI-2014-158, to
wit:
The Facts
RESOLVED to DENY Respondent's Motion for Reconsideration, there being no cogent reason to reverse
Sometime in 2009, Spouses Geraldy and Lilibeth Victory (Spouses Victory) were enticed by respondent to the findings of the Commission and it being a mere reiteration of the matters which had already been
enter into a financial transaction with her with a promise of good monetary returns. As respondent is a threshed out and taken into consideration. However, considering that Respondent is currently settling her
lawyer and a person of reputation, Spouses Victory entrusted their money to respondent to invest, manage, financial obligations to Complainants and very apologetic and granting her good faith in her investment
and administer into some financial transactions that would earn good profit for the parties.1 transaction with Complainants, Resolution No. XX-2013-199 dated March 20, 2013 is hereby AFFIRMED,
with modification, and accordingly the penalty earlier imposed on Atty. Marian Jo S. Mercado is hereby
Respondent called and asked Geraldy Victory (Geraldy) whether he wanted to invest his money. The reduced to SUSPENSION from the practice of law for one (1) year. 11 (Emphasis supplied)
respondent promised that for an investment of PhP 400,000, she will give Geraldy PhP 600,000 in 30 days;
and for PhP 500,000, she will give Geraldy PhP 625,000.2 Issue

The investment transactions went well for the first 10 months. Spouses Victory received the agreed return Should the respondent be held administratively liable based on the allegations in the pleadings of all parties
of profit. Some of such financial transactions were covered by Memoranda of Agreement.3 on record?

Later on, respondent became evasive in returning to Spouses Victory the money that the latter were Our Ruling
supposed to receive as part of the agreement. Respondent failed to settle and account the money entrusted
to her by Spouses Victory.4
Emphatically, a lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal profession. The bar
should maintain a high standard of legal proficiency as well as honesty and fair dealing. A lawyer brings
Spouses Victory alleged that the outstanding obligation of respondent is PhP 5 Million plus interest or a honor to the legal profession by faithfully performing his duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to
total of PhP 8.3 Million.5 his clients.12 Canon 1, Rule 1.01, and Canon 7 provides:

Spouses Victory filed a criminal complaint for estafa and violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 with the CANON 1 - A LA WYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE
Office of the City Prosecutor of Sta. Rosa, Laguna.6 LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES.

After the filing of said criminal case, respondent met with Spouses Victory. Respondent proposed to reduce Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
her obligation from PhP 8.3 Million to PhP 7.5 Million in staggered payments, to which Spouses Victory
agreed. Respondent then issued three postdated checks in the amount of PhP 300,000 each. However, said
checks bounced.7 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.

Report and Recommendation


Exercising its disciplinary authority over the members of the bar, this Court has imposed the penalty of
of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines
suspension or disbarment for any gross misconduct that a lawyer committed, whether it is in his
Commission on Bar Discipline
professional or in his private capacity. Good character is an essential qualification for the admission to and
continued practice of law. Thus, any wrongdoing, whether professional or non-professional, indicating
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP)-Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD) found that respondent unfitness for the profession justifies disciplinary action.13
indeed lured Spouses Victory in entering into a series of financial transactions with a promise of return of
profit. Respondent, however, failed to deliver such promise. On such premise, the IBP-CBD recommended
respondent's suspension, to wit: In this case, it is without dispute that respondent has an outstanding obligation with Spouses Victory, as the
latter's investments which they coursed through the respondent fell through. To make matters worse,
respondent issued several checks to settle her obligation; unfortunately, said checks bounced.
On the basis of the foregoing, it is respectfully recommended that respondent Atty. Marian Jo S. Mercado
be SUSPENDED for SIX (6) MONTHS from the practice of law.8
As a lawyer, respondent is expected to act with the highest degree of integrity and fair dealing. She is
expected to maintain not only legal proficiency, but also a high standard of morality, honesty, integrity and
fair dealing so that the people's faith and confidence in the judicial system is ensured. She must, at all
times, faithfully perform her duties to society, to the bar, to the courts and to her clients, which include
prompt payment of financial obligations.14

It must be considered that the deliberate failure to pay just debts and the issuance of worthless checks
constitute gross misconduct, for which a lawyer may be sanctioned with suspension from the practice of
law. Lawyers are instruments for the administration of justice and vanguards of our legal system.15

We cannot exempt respondent from liability just because she encountered financial difficulties in the
course of her investment deals. Respondent even admitted that she continued to do business despite such
financial hardships; as such, her monetary obligations with different investors accumulated at an alarming
rate. In an attempt to settle her obligations, respondent issued checks, which all bounced.

To Our mind, the actuations of respondent fell short of the exacting standards expected of every member of
the bar.

In this case, while respondent admitted her responsibility and signified her intention of complying with the
same, We cannot close our eyes to the fact that respondent committed infractions. To uphold the integrity
of the legal profession, We deem it proper to uphold the findings as well as the sanction imposed by the
IBP Board of Governors.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, We resolve to SUSPEND Atty. Marian Jo S. Mercado from the
practice of law for one (1) year to commence immediately from the receipt of this Decision, with a
WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will warrant a more severe penalty.

Let copies of this Decision be furnished all courts, the Office of the Bar Confidant, and the Integrated Bar
of the Philippines for their information and guidance. The Office of the Bar Confidant is directed to append
a copy of this Decision to respondent's record as member of the Bar.

SO ORDERED.
A.C. No. 5179 (Emphasis in the original)

DIONNIE RICAFORT, Complainant, Attached to Mayor Navarro's letter were two (2) pages containing the signatures of 19 Mayors of different
vs. municipalities in Surigao Del Norte.14 In his Comment, 15 respondent denied slapping complainant. He
ATTY. RENE O. MEDINA, Respondent. alleged that the incident happened while he was bringing his 10-year-old son to school. 16 He further
alleged that complainant's reckless driving caused complainant's tricycle to bump the fender of respondent's
car.17 When respondent alighted from his car to check the damage, complainant approached him in an
RESOLUTION
unfriendly manner. 18 Respondent pushed complainant on the chest to defend himself. 19 Sensing,
however, that complainant was not making a move against his son and himself, respondent asked
LEONEN, J.: complainant if his tricycle suffered any damage and if they should wait for a traffic officer.20 Both parties
agreed that they were both too busy to wait for a traffic officer who would prepare a sketch. 21 No traffic
Complainant Dionnie Ricafort filed a complaint for disbarment1 against respondent Atty. Rene 0. Medina officer was present during the incident.22
on December 10, 1999.2
Four or five days after the traffic incident, respondent became the subject of attacks on radio programs by
Complainant alleged that at about 7:30 a.m. on October 4, 1999, his tricycle sideswiped respondent's car the Provincial Governor's allies, accusing him of slapping the tricycle driver.23 He alleged that
along Sarvida Street in Surigao City.3 Respondent alighted from his car and confronted complainant. complainant's Affidavit was caused to be prepared by the Provincial Governor as it was prepared in the
Respondent allegedly snapped at complainant, saying: "Wa ka makaila sa aka?" ("Do you not know me?") English language, which was unknown to complainant.24 Respondent was identified with those who
Respondent proceeded to slap complainant, and then left.4 politically opposed the Provincial Governor.25

Later, Manuel Cuizon, a traffic aide, informed complainant of the plate number of respondent's car.5 According to respondent, the parties already settled whatever issue that might have arisen out of the
Complainant later learned that the driver of the car was Atty. Rene 0. Medina, a provincial board member incident during the conciliation proceedings before the Office of the Punong Barangay of Barangay
of Surigao del Norte.6 Washington, Surigao City. 26 During the proceedings, respondent explained that he pushed complainant
because of fear that complainant was carrying a weapon, as he assumed tricycle drivers did.27 On the other
hand, complainant explained that he went near respondent to check if there was damage to respondent's
According to complainant, he felt "hurt, embarrassed[,] and humiliated."7 Respondent's act showed car.28 As part of the settlement, respondent agreed to no longer demand any indemnity for the damage
arrogance and disrespect for his oath of office as a lawyer. Complainant alleged that this act constituted caused by the tricycle to his car.29
gross misconduct. 8
Attached to respondent's Comment was the Certification30 dated October 27, 2006 of the Officer-in-
Attached to complainant's letter were his Affidavit,9 Manuel Cuizon's Affidavit, 10 and a letter11 dated Charge Punong Barangay stating that the case had already been mediated by Punong Barangay Adriano F.
October 27, 1999 signed by Mayor Arlencita E. Navarro (Mayor Navarro), League of Mayors President of Laxa and was amicably settled by the parties.31
Surigao del Norte Chapter. In her letter, Mayor Navarro stated that respondent slapped complainant and
caused him great humiliation. 12 Thus, respondent should be administratively penalized for his gross
misconduct and abuse of authority: On December 5, 2006, this Court referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines for investigation,
report, and recommendation.32
Dear Mr. Chief Justice:
Only respondent appeared in the Mandatory Conference set by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines on July
20, 2007.33 Integrated Bar of the Philippines Commissioner Jose I. De La Rama, Jr. (Commissioner De La
This is to bring to your attention an incident that occurred last October 4, 1999 in Surigao City, committed Rama) noted the Certification from Barangay Washington, Surigao City attesting that the case between the
by Provincial Board Member Rene O. Medina. parties had already been settled. 34

The said public official slapped in full public view a certain Donnie Ricafort, a tricycle driver, causing Commissioner De La Rama supposed that this settlement "could be the reason why the complainant has not
great humiliation on the person. We believe that such conduct is very unbecoming of an elected official. been appearing in this case[.]"35 The Mandatory Conference was reset to September 21, 2007.36
Considering the nature and purpose of your Office, it is respectfully submitted that appropriate action be
taken on the matter as such uncalled for abuse consists of gross misconduct and abuse of authority.
In the subsequent Mandatory Conference on September 21, 2007, only respondent appeared.37 Hence, the
Commission proceeded with the case exparte.38
Attached herewith is a copy of the affidavit of the victim and the petition of the Municipal Mayors League
of Surigao del Norte.
In his Report39 dated July 4, 2008, Commissioner De La Rama recommended the penalty of suspension
from the practice of law for 60 days from notice for misconduct and violation of Canon 7, Rule 7 .03 of the
Thank you very much for your attention and more power. Code of Professional Responsibility, thus:

Very truly yours, WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, it is with deep regret to recommend for the suspension of Atty.
Rene O. Medina from the practice of law for a period of sixty ( 60) days from notice hereof due to
(Sgd.) misconduct and violation of Canon 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for behaving in an
Mayor ARLENCITA E. NAVARRO scandalous manner that tends to discredit the legal profession. 40 (Emphasis in the original)
Mayor's League President
Surigao del Norte Chapter13
Commissioner De La Rama found that contrary to respondent's claim, there was indeed a slapping The League of Mayors' letter, signed by no less than 19 Mayors, strengthened complainant's allegations.
incident.41 The slapping incident was witnessed by one Manuel Cuizon, based on: (1) the photocopy of Contrary to respondent's claim that it shows the political motive behind this case, the letter reinforced
Manuel Cuizon's Affidavit attached to complainant's complaint;42 and (2) the signatures on the League of complainant's credibility and motive. The presence of 19 Mayors' signatures only reinforced the appalling
Mayors' letter dated October 29, 1999 of the Surigao Mayors who believed that respondent was guilty of nature of respondent's act. It reflects the public's reaction to respondent's display of arrogance.
gross misconduct and abuse of authority and should be held administratively liable.43
The purpose of administrative proceedings is to ensure that the public is protected from lawyers who are no
On August 14, 2008, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of Governors issued the Resolution 44 longer fit for the profession. In this instance, this Court will not tolerate the arrogance of and harassment
adopting and approving with modification Commissioner De La Rama's recommendation, thus: committed by its officers.

RESOLVED to ADOPT and APPROVE, as it is hereby unanimously ADOPTED and APPROVED, with Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility provides:
modification, the Report and Recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner of the above-entitled
case, herein made part of this Resolution as Annex "A "; and, finding the recommendation fully supported Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor
by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and rules, and considering Respondent's misconduct and
shall he whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal
violation of Canon 7. 03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, for behaving in a scandalous manner, profession.
Atty. Rene O. Medina is hereby SUSPENDED from the practice of law for thirty (30) days.45 (Emphasis in
the original)
By itself, the act of humiliating another in public by slapping him or her on the face hints of a character that
disregards the human dignity of another.1awp++i1 Respondent's question to complainant, "Wa ka makaila
Respondent moved for reconsideration 46 of the Board of Governors' August 14, 2008 Resolution. The sa ako?"
Motion for Reconsideration was denied by the Board of Governors in the Resolution47 dated March 22,
2014.
("Do you not know me?") confirms such character and his potential to abuse the profession as a tool for
bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
We resolve whether respondent Atty. Rene O. Medina should be held administratively liable.

This arrogance is intolerable. It discredits the legal profession by perpetuating a stereotype that is
There is sufficient proof to establish that respondent slapped complainant. unreflective of the nobility of the profession. As officers of the court and of the law, lawyers are granted
the privilege to serve the public, not to bully them to submission.
Respondent's defense consists of his denial that the slapping incident happened.48 He stresses
complainant's seeming disinterest in and lack of participation throughout the case and hints that this Good character is a continuing qualification for lawyers. 62 This Court has the power to impose
administrative case is politically motivated.49 disciplinary sanctions to lawyers who commit acts of misconduct in either a public or private capacity if the
acts show them unworthy to remain officers of the court. 63
It is true that this Court does not tolerate the unceremonious use of disciplinary proceedings to harass its
officers with baseless allegations. This Court will exercise its disciplinary power against its officers only if This Court has previously established that disciplinary proceedings against lawyers are sui generis. 64
allegations of misconduct are established.50 A lawyer is presumed to be innocent of the charges against They are neither civil nor criminal in nature. They are not a determination of the parties' rights. Rather, they
him or her. He or she enjoys the presumption that his or her acts are consistent with his or her oath.51 Thus, are pursued as a matter of public interest and as a means to determine a lawyer's fitness to continue holding
the burden of proof still rests upon complainant to prove his or her claim.52 the privileges of being a court officer. In Tiaya v. Gacott:65

In administrative cases against lawyers, the required burden of proof is preponderance of evidence, 53 or Public interest is its primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the
evidence that is superior, more convincing, or of "greater weight than the other."54 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
In this case, complainant discharged this burden. Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest
administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have proved
During the fact-finding investigation, Commissioner De La Rama-as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of
Board of Governors also adoptedfound that the slapping incident actually occurred. 55 an attorney. In such posture, there can thus be no occasion to speak of a complainant or a prosecutor. 66

The slapping incident was not only alleged by complainant in detail in his signed and notarized As in criminal cases, complainants in administrative actions against lawyers are mere witnesses. They are
Affidavit;56 complainant's Affidavit was also supported by the signed and notarized Affidavit57 of a traffic not indispensable to the proceedings. It is the investigative process and the finding of administrative
aide present during the incident. It was even the traffic aide who informed complainant of respondent's liability that are important in disciplinary proceedings. 67
plate number.58
Hence, complainant's absence during the hearings before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines is not a bar
In finding that complainant was slapped by respondent,59 Commissioner De La Rama gave weight to the against a finding of administrative liability.
letter sent by the League of Mayors and ruled that "the people's faith in the legal profession eroded"60
because of respondent's act of slapping complainant.61 The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Board of WHEREFORE, the findings of fact of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines are ADOPTED and
Governors correctly affirmed and adopted this finding. APPROVED. Respondent Atty. Rene O. Medina is found to have violated Canon 7, Rule 7.03 of the Code
of Professional Responsibility, and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months.
Let copies of this Resolution be attached to the personal records of respondent as attorney, and be furnished
to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Office of the Court
Administrator for proper dissemination to all courts throughout the country.

SO ORDERED.

MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN


Associate Justice

WE CONCUR:
A.C. No. 8644 January 22, 2014 That when the title was released, it was kept in our files;
[Formerly CBD Case No. 11-2908]
That when I filed an annulment case against my wife which is now pending before the [RTC] of Bayugan, I
AIDA R. CAMPOS, ALISTAIR R. CAMPOS and CHARMAINE R. CAMPOS, Complainant, offered to my wife as a settlement to have our properties settled. One of [these properties] is this lot, which
vs. I asked to be sold and its proceeds be divided between us. I have learned that my wife refused to have that
ATTY. ELISEO M. CAMPOS, Respondent. property sold claiming that I could not sell the house and lot as it is in the name of our son, herein
complainant Alistair R. Campos;
RESOLUTION
xxxx
REYES, J.:
That my son’s statement in his complaint affidavit that the Owner’s Duplicate of the Title of the Lot has
Before this Court is a complain for disbarment1 on grounds of serious misconduct, immorality and long been in his actual, physical and personal possession, is utterly false, as the title was previously in our
dishonesty filed against Atty. Eliseo M. Campos (Eliseo), former presiding judge of the Municipal Trial possession in our files as the property is undersigned's own exclusive property. x x x
Court of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. The complainants herein are his wife, Aida R. Campos (Aida), and their
children, Alistair R. Campos (Alistair) and Charmaine R. Campos (Charmaine). That when I learned that together with my wife, he is going to apply for a loan making the title of the lot as
collateral, I decided to file a petition for cancellation of the title under my son's name Alistair R. Campos,
Antecedents and asked Mrs. Azucena A. Ortiz, to get a certified copy of the title from the Register of Deeds to be used
in the filing of a petition for cancellation of the title in my son’s name;

Eliseo and Aida were married in 1981. Alistair was born in 1982, and Charmaine, in 1986.
That I was told by Mrs. Ortiz, that she was told by the Register of Deeds, that I have to execute an affidavit
of loss so that I can be given a certified copy. Since the title is not in my possession after I left my
In 1999, Eliseo purchased by installment a 936-square meter lot (the property) in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur residence and I cannot find it from my files, I let Mrs. Ortiz prepare an affidavit of loss and I signed it. I
from a certain Renato Alimpoos. Eliseo thereafter applied for the issuance of a title in Alistair’s name. have also instructed her to [cause the annotation of the affidavit on the certificate of title] to protect my
Alistair was then a student without an income and a capacity to buy the property. In 2006, Original interest as the real owner of the lot, to counter or stop my wife and son from using the titles as collateral of
Certificate of Title (OCT) No. P-28258 covering the property was issued in Alistair’s name. Meanwhile, a loan;
Alistair got married and his wife and child likewise resided in Eliseo’s house until 2008.2
x x x x.10
On July 16, 2008, Eliseo filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, Branch 7,
a Petition3 for the Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. He alleged that both he and Aida are psychologically
incapacitated to comply with essential marital obligations. He claimed that during the first few days of their Subsequently, the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Agusan del Sur dismissed for lack of probable
marriage, he realized that he finds no gratification in engaging in sexual intercourse with his wife. He cause Alistair’s complaint for perjury against Eliseo.11 The resolution, which dismissed the complaint, in
alleged that he is a homosexual. He also averred that Aida experienced severe pain when she delivered part, reads:
Alistair. Consequently, Aida no longer wanted to bear children. He likewise ascribed acts of infidelity to
Aida. "[W]hen [Eliseo] found out that the title of the lot he bought was missing and could not be found in his
files, he did the proper actions to protect his rights thereto by executing an Affidavit of Loss.
On September 10, 2008, Eliseo executed an Affidavit of Loss4 wherein he represented himself as the
owner of the property covered by OCT No. P-28258. He declared that he unknowingly lost the owner’s x x x [W]hen [Eliseo] sensed that his wife is about to obtain a loan using the title as collateral without his
certificate of title which used to be in his files. On September 15, 2008, he caused the annotation5 of the consent and to protect his right as owner of the property, he went to the Register of Deeds to cancel his
said affidavit in the copy of OCT No. P-28258 kept in the Register of Deeds of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. son’s ownership over the lot in question with the intent to revert back its ownership in his name. However,
In the Affidavit of No Loss6 executed on October 21, 2008 and likewise inscribed7 in the certificate of when asked to produce a copy of its duplicate original, [Eliseo] could not present the same as it was already
title, Alistair refuted Eliseo’s representations. lost and could not be retrieved from his files. To prove its loss, an Affidavit of Loss was executed by
[Eliseo] attesting to the fact of its unavailability.
On November 26, 2008, Alistair filed before the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor of Bayugan, Agusan
del Sur a complaint for perjury8 against Eliseo. Alistair stated that the owner’s copy of OCT No. P-28258 x x x It can be deduced that the act of [Eliseo] was done in good faith. x x x The intent of [Eliseo] in
was in his possession. Eliseo was aware of such fact, but he still deliberately and maliciously asserted a executing the Affidavit is not tainted with a corrupt assertion of falsehood since there was a firm belief that
falsehood. indeed, the title is not anymore found in his files. It could not be located and the title is kept by [Alistair]
who took sides with [Aida] who has plans to enjoy the benefits from the title using it as a collateral in
In Eliseo’s Counter-Affidavit,9 he insisted that he is the sole owner of the property covered by OCT No. P- obtaining a loan from the lot covered by the said title. [Had Alistair been truthful to Eliseo, the former
28258. Eliseo continued: could have informed the latter of the] whereabouts of the title and could have sought permission from his
father when he took the copy of the title from [Eliseo’s] files. By not informing [Eliseo], he could not be
faulted for executing such Affidavit and neither can he be found guilty of perjury as there was no malice on
That when I applied for titling of said lot, I caused it to be registered in the name of [Alistair], who was still his part to do the same. x x x."12 (Citation omitted)
single, as I have some other properties (land) under my name;
On February 11, 2009, Aida filed a Complaint13 for Legal Separation, Support and Separation of Conjugal
That I never intended to give it to [Alistair] as he still has a sister; Properties against Eliseo. Aida alleged that Eliseo confessed under oath that he is a homosexual. However,
Eliseo, in effect, contradicted the said confession when he admitted to Alistair and Charmaine that he was
then intimately involved with another woman. Aida likewise claimed that Eliseo is temperamental and had had to calm down out of respect [for] the judge. There was no choking of Charmaine. But, this sight of
stopped giving support to their family. holding Charmaine by the shoulder was viewed differently by [Alistair] who flung with force and
recklessness a bag containing an unknown hard object to [Eliseo]. [Eliseo] was hit and in pain. At this
On April 6, 2009, Aida, Alistair and Charmaine filed before the Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) point, Charmaine suddenly held [Eliseo] from behind so he could not defend himself from the onslaught of
Alistaire (sic) who was poised to attack him. [Eliseo] was forced to elbow Charmaine to break free from
an administrative complaint14 for serious misconduct, immorality and dishonesty against Eliseo. Formal
investigation was thereafter conducted. her hold. There was a brief exchange of punches between Alistair and [Eliseo] before the Presiding Judge
broke the fray. This incident could not have happened if not for Charmaine’s own misdemeanor and initial
provocation.25
Pending the resolution of the above-mentioned administrative complaint against Eliseo, he resigned from
his judicial post on July 1, 2009.15
Aida, Alistair and Charmaine did not attend the hearing held on March 18, 2011, but Atty. Gener Sansaet
came to represent them. Eliseo appeared on his own behalf, with Atty. Alex Bacarro as collaborating
On September 14, 2009, after the conclusion of a hearing on Eliseo’s Petition for Declaration of Nullity of counsel.
Marriage before the RTC of Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, Judge Eduardo Casals (Judge Casals) called the
parties for a conference in his chamber. A scuffle ensued inside the chamber. The police blotter filed
promptly after the incident indicated that Eliseo choked Charmaine and attempted to box but failed to hit During the hearing, Eliseo insisted that the allegations against him of (a) immorality and psychological
incapacity in having extra-marital affairs; and (b) serious misconduct in the execution of the Affidavit of
Alistair.16
Loss need not be resolved anymore in the instant disbarment complaint since they are already the subjects
of other pending cases.26 He also expressed his doubt that Alistair is his biological son.27 He also alleged
On June 4, 2010, Aida, Alistair and Charmaine filed the instant complaint for disbarment17 against Eliseo. that Aida, who had served for three terms as a Provincial Board Member, had a lover, who was likewise a
They alleged that Eliseo committed acts of dishonesty, immorality and serious misconduct in (a) causing political figure.28 Aida harbored the impression that Eliseo’s filing of his Petition for the Declaration of
the issuance of OCT No. P-28258 in Alistair’s name; (b) subsequently misrepresenting himself as the real Nullity of Marriage caused the downfall of the former’s political career.29
owner of the lot covered by OCT No. P-28258; (c) falsely declaring under oath in the Affidavit of Loss
executed on September 10, 2008 that the owner’s copy of OCT No. P-28258 is missing despite his
knowledge that the said title is with Alistair; (d) stating in his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of The Report and Recommendation of the CBD
Marriage that he is a homosexual albeit admitting to his children that he has an intimate relation with
another woman; and (e) choking and boxing his children on September 14, 2009. On June 11, 2012, CBD Commissioner Romualdo A. Din, Jr. (Commissioner Din, Jr.) submitted his Report
and Recommendation30 to the IBP Board of Governors. Commissioner Din, Jr. recommended the
After Eliseo’s submission of his comment,18 the Court referred the complaint to the Integrated Bar of the dismissal of the instant disbarment complaint against Eliseo for lack of evidence. Commissioner Din, Jr.
Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and recommendation.19 ratiocinated that:

The main issue in the case at bar is whether or not [Eliseo] committed serious misconduct sufficient to
In Eliseo’s Position Paper20 filed with the IBP’s Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), he interposed the
following defenses: (a) the complainants are engaged in forum shopping in view of pending administrative cause his disbarment. The determination of [Eliseo’s] culpability is dependent on the following: 1. whether
and civil cases in all of which the issues of immorality and homosexuality have already been raised;21 (b) or not [Eliseo] was dishonest with regards to the statements he made in his Petition for Annulment.
the complaint is instituted merely to harass him as a consequence of his refusal to provide a monthly [Corollarily] whether or not [Eliseo] is guilty of immoral conduct; 2. Whether or not the statements raised
support of Php60,000.00 to his wife and children;22 (c) he has no extra-marital relation but he once told in the Affidavit of Loss concerning the certificate of title of the Campos’ property were untrue; and 3.
Alistair and Charmaine in jest that due to Aida’s infidelity, he intends to live separately with another Whether or not [Eliseo] choked his daughter, Charmaine, during the amicable settlement of the annulment
woman who may be more caring and loving than his wife;23 and (d) to protect his rights and prevent the case in the (sic) Judge Casal’s (sic) chambers.
complainants from using as a collateral for a loan the house and lot covered by OCT No. P-28258, he
executed the Affidavit of Loss on September 10, 2008 as a pre-requisite to his filing of an action in court The Commission finds in the negative. Gross or serious misconduct has been defined as "any inexcusable,
for the registration of the property in his name.24 Further, Eliseo refuted Alistair and Charmaine’s claims shameful and flagrant unlawful conduct on the part of the person concerned in the administration of justice
relative to the scuffle which occurred on September 14, 2009 inside the chamber of the judge hearing the which is prejudicial to the rights of the parties or to the right determination of a cause, a conduct that is
Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. Eliseo insists that if Alistair and Charmaine’s claims were generally motivated by a predetermined, obstinate or intentional purpose (Yumol, Jr. vs. Ferrer, Sr., 456
true, they could have presented independent witnesses to corroborate their version of the incident, and SCRA 457).
medical certificates to prove that they indeed sustained injuries. What follows is Eliseo’s account of what
had transpired: As a consequence of finding of gross misconduct has been held to be "a ground for the imposition of the
penalty of suspension or disbarment because good character is an essential qualification for the admission
[A]fter adjournment of the hearing of the annulment case, the judge called the parties to his chamber for a to the practice of law and for the continuance of such privilege." (Cham v. Atty. Paita-Moya[,] A.C. No.
conference. [Aida] however was reluctant to go unless her children would join her. The judge then called 7494, June 27, 2008).
all of them to the chamber. Once there, the Judge inquired about [Eliseo’s] proposal for settlement. While
[Eliseo] was explaining to the judge, [Charmaine] reacted by raising her voice uttering unprintable words to
In the same vein, the Supreme Court has likewise held that: "A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for
[Eliseo]. [Eliseo] requested her to calm down reminding her that they were still in court. But she continued any misconduct, even if it pertains to his private activities, as long as it shows him to be wanting in moral
her tirade at [Eliseo] with greater intensity even calling him a bad father, and that she despised him. x x x character, honesty, probity or good demeanor. Possession of good moral character is not only a good
Charmaine had already been ejected by the judge out of the court for lack of decorum and respect. The condition precedent to the practice of law but also a good qualification for all members of the bar (Manaois
order for her removal arose after she interrupted the court several times by shouting at [Eliseo]. When she v. Deciembre, A.M. Case No. 5564, August 20, 2008).
was already outside the court premises, she was even heard by a certain Samuel Pasagdan saying that
[Eliseo] should watch out after the hearing as she was going to attack him. The prior incident (where she
was thrown out of court) made her angrier in the chamber. So when she continued with her unpleasant and In the case at bar, the complainants’ averments of [Eliseo’s] alleged transgressions, i.e. the incongruence of
scandalous utterances by again interrupting [Eliseo] who was asked by the judge to talk about his proposal his homosexuality and the extramarital relation of [Eliseo] as grounds for annulment compared with the
for settlement, [Eliseo] walked to her and held her by her shoulder to put some sense to her that she really complainants’ allegation that [Eliseo] admitted that he has a mistress; the alleged choking of [Charmaine];
and the execution of the Affidavit of Loss despite knowledge of the fact that the certificate of title was with IV.
[Alistair] who is the registered owner of the subject property taken on their own is a valid ground to find
[Eliseo] guilty of gross misconduct.
Stating in his Petition for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage that he is a homosexual albeit
admitting to his children that he has an intimate relation with another woman; and
However, [Eliseo] has succinctly rebutted each and every single allegation of the complainants making the
case at fore a battle of opposing narration of facts. V.

More importantly, the pieces of evidence presented by the complainants are insufficient to prove their Choking and boxing his children on September 14, 2009.
claim beyond the degree of evidence required of them by law to satisfy and overcome.

This Court’s Ruling


Basic and fundamental is the rule that "the burden of proof is upon the complainant and the Court will
exercise the disciplinary power only if the former establishes the case by clear, convincing and satisfactory
evidence." Of the five issues raised herein, only the allegation of Eliseo’s engagement in the scuffle inside the
chamber of Judge Casals on September 14, 2009 shall be resolved. Anent the foregoing, this Court is
compelled to once again impose a fine upon Eliseo for violating Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of
xxxx Professional Responsibility when he conducted himself in a manner not befitting a member of the bar.

In the case at bar, [apart] from the allegations in the complaint, no other evidence was presented by the This Court affirms the findings of the IBP Board of Governors that Eliseo deserves to be sanctioned for his
complainants to bolster their claims. Aside from the statements made in the complaint, no other
unbecoming behavior.
corroborative or collaborating evidence documentary or testimonial from independent, third person was
presented to convince this Commission by clear, convincing and satisfactory proof that [Eliseo] is guilty of
the allegations contained therein.31 (Citation omitted) In recommending the imposition upon Eliseo of a penalty of two years of suspension from the practice of
law, the IBP Board of Governors considered all the three charges of immorality, dishonesty and
misconduct against the former.
The Resolution of the IBP Board of Governors

However, this Court, on February 8, 2012, in A.M. No. MTJ-10-1761, had already imposed upon Eliseo a
The IBP Board of Governors, however, reversed the findings of Commissioner Din, Jr. In the Extended fine of Php20,000.00 for simple misconduct in causing the issuance of OCT No. P-28258 in Alistair’s
Resolution issued on March 20, 2013, the Board suspended Eliseo from the practice of law for two years.
name when the subject property actually belongs to the former. The charges of (a) immorality in engaging
Thus: in extra-marital affairs; and (b) dishonesty in executing the Affidavit of Loss on September 10, 2008, were,
on the other hand, dismissed by the Court after finding either the evidence of the complainants as
[T]he Board, upon a thorough perusal of the records, finds sufficient evidence to sustain misconduct on the insufficient or the issues raised being already the subjects of Eliseo’s pending Petition for the Declaration
part of [Eliseo] as a lawyer, specifically his filing an Affidavit of Loss of Title to Real Property which Title of Nullity of Marriage.
was in the name of Alistair, his son, and which was in the latter’s possession, substantiated with annexes
and affidavits. The same holds true for the alleged choking incident in the Judge’s chamber which was
It is worth emphasizing that the instant disbarment complaint and A.M. No. MTJ-10-1761 are anchored
caused to be blottered, Annex "G". [Eliseo] also admitted his infidelity albeit he postulated the defense of upon almost the same set of facts, except that in the former, the issue of occurence of the scuffle on
homosexuality. All these, taken together, fall short of the ethical standards set forth for lawyers in the Code September 14, 2009 is raised as well. This Court does not intend to punish Eliseo twice for the same acts
of Professional Responsibility.32 especially since they pertain to his private life and were not actually committed in connection with the
performance of his functions as a magistrate before.
Issues
In Samson v. Caballero,33 the Court emphasized what "automatic conversion of administrative cases
Whether or not Eliseo committed acts of dishonesty, immorality and serious misconduct in: against justices and judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers" means, viz:

I. This administrative case against respondent shall also be considered as a disciplinary proceeding against
him as a member of the Bar, in accordance with AM. No. 02-9-02-SC. This resolution, entitled "Re:
Causing the issuance of OCT No. P-28258 in Alistair’s name; Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the
Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Them Both as Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar,"
II. provides:

Subsequently misrepresenting himself as the real owner of the lot covered by OCT No. P-28258; "Some administrative cases against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; judges of
regular and special courts; and the court officials who are lawyers are based on grounds which are likewise
III. grounds for the disciplinary action of members of the Bar for violation of the Lawyer’s Oath, the Code of
Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics, or for such other forms of breaches of
conduct that have been traditionally recognized as grounds for the discipline of lawyers.
Falsely declaring under oath in the Affidavit of Loss executed on September 10, 2008 that the
owner's copy of OCT No. P-28258 is missing despite his knowledge that the said title is with
Alistair;
In any of the foregoing instances, the administrative case shall also be considered a disciplinary action a higher level of decorum and restraint was then expected from Eliseo, whose conduct failed to show due
against the respondent justice, judge or court official concerned as a member of the Bar. x x x. Judgment in respect for the court and lend credit to the nobility of the practitioners of the legal profession.
both respects may be incorporated in one decision or resolution."
Further, albeit not raised as an issue, this Court views with disfavor Eliseo’s statement during the hearing
xxxx conducted by the CBD on March 18, 2011 that he doubts Alistair to be his biologiocal son.42 As a lawyer,
Eliseo is presumably aware that ascribing illegitimacy to Alistair in a proceeding not instituted for that
Under the same rule, a respondent "may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show specific purpose is nothing short of defamation.
cause why he should not also be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as member of
the Bar." xxx In other words, an order to comment on the complaint is an order to give an explanation on All told, Eliseo violated Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility when he conducted
why he should not be held administratively liable not only as a member of the bench but also as a member himself in a manner not befitting a member of the bar by engaging in the scuffle with his own children in
of the bar. This is the fair and reasonable meaning of "automatic conversion" of administrative cases the chamber of Judge Casals on September 14, 2009 and recklessly expressing his doubt anent the
against justices and judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers. This will also serve the legitimacy of his son Alistair during the hearing before the CBD.
purpose of A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC to avoid the duplication or unnecessary replication of actions by treating
an administrative complaint filed against a member of the bench also as a disciplinary proceeding against WHEREFORE, this Court finds that respondent Eliseo M. Campos violated Rule 7.03, Canon 7 of the
him as a lawyer by mere operation of the rule. Thus, a disciplinary proceeding as a member of the bar is
Code of Professional Responsibility. A FINE of Five Thousand Pesos (Php5,000.00) is hereby imposed
impliedly instituted with the filing of an administrative case against a justice of the Sandiganbayan, Court upon him, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of similar acts shall be dealt with more severely.
of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals or a judge of a first- or second-level court.34 (Citations and emphasis
omitted)
SO ORDERED.
The above-cited case suggests the superfluity of instituting a disbarment complaint against a lawyer when
an administrative case had been previously filed against him or her as a magistrate. Ideally therefore, the
instant disbarment complaint should have been consolidated with A.M. No. MTJ-10-1761. However, it is
well to note that Samson v. Caballero35 was promulgated by the Court on August 5, 2009 subsequent to
the filing of the instant disbarment complaint on April 6, 2009. Further, while all the allegations in A.M.
No. MTJ-10-1761 are replicated in the instant disbarment complaint, the last issue of engagement in the
scuffle is an addition to the latter. Hence, this Court shall now resolve the said issue to write finis to the
parties’ bickerings.

In the instant disbarment complaint, tirades and bare accusations were exchanged.1âwphi1 It bears
stressing that not one of the parties had presented even one independent witness to prove what transpired
inside the chamber of Judge Casals on September 14, 2009. That a scuffle took place is a fact, but the
question of who started what cannot be determined with much certainty.

While admitting his engagement in the scuffle, Eliseo vigorously attempts to justify his conduct as self-
defense on his part.36

While this Court finds credence and logic in Eliseo’s narration of the incident, and understands that the
successive acts of the parties during the tussle were committed at a time when passions ran high, he shall
not be excused for comporting himself in such an undignified manner.

Rule 7.03, Canon 737 of the Code of Professional Responsibility explicitly proscribes a lawyer from
engaging in conduct that "adversely reflects on his fitness to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or
private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession."

The case of Jamsani-Rodriguez v. Ong,38 on the other hand, is instructive anent what constitutes
unbecoming conduct, viz:

Unbecoming conduct "applies to a broader range of transgressions of rules not only of social behavior but
of ethical practice or logical procedure or prescribed method."39

Sans any descriptive sophistry, what Eliseo did was to engage in a brawl with no less than his own children
inside the chamber of a judge. This Court shall not countenance crude social behavior. Besides, the
courtroom is looked upon by people with high respect and is regarded as a sacred place where litigants are
heard, rights and conflicts settled, and justice solemnly dispensed.40 Misbehavior within or around the
vicinity diminishes its sanctity and dignity.41 Although Alistair and Charmaine were not entirely faultless,
A.C. No. 10031 July 23, 2014 The respondent promised to return the money but asked for a few weeks to do so. After two weeks, the
respondent turned over the amount of ₱100,000.00, representing the unspent portion of the money given to
him and promised to pay the balance of ₱250,000.00 as soon as possible. The respondent, however,
RAUL M. FRANCIA, Complainant,
vs. reneged on his promise and would not even advise the complainant of the reason for his failure to return the
money. Thus, the complainant was constrained to give his car to the union to settle the remaining balance
ATTY. REYNALDO V. ABDON, Respondent.
which the respondent failed to return.8

DECISION
To support his claims, the complainant submitted the following pieces of evidence: (1) a transcript of the
exchange of text messages between him and the respondent;9 (2) affidavit of Butch Pena (Pena),10 officer
REYES, J.: of the Association of Genuine Labor Organization (AGLO); (3) a transcript of the text message of a certain
Paulino Manongsong, confirming the respondent’s mobile number;11 (4) copy of the CA decision in CA-
In a verified complaint1 dated December 4, 2007 filed before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, G.R. SP No. 96096;12 and (5) affidavit of Shirley Demillo (Demillo).13
Committee on Bar Discipline (IBP-CBD), Raul M. Francia (complainant) prayed for the disbarment and
imposition of other disciplinary sanctions on Labor Arbiter (LA) Reynaldo V. Abdon (respondent) for For his part, the respondent denied that he made any representation to the complainant; that he had the
violation of the lawyer's oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility. capacity to facilitate the release of a favorable decision in the CA; and that he received money in exchange
therefor. He admitted that he had a chance meeting with the complainant at the Makati Cinema Square in
On February 4, 2008, the respondent filed his Answer2 vehemently denying the allegations in the December 2006. Since they have not seen each other for a long time, they had a short conversation over
complaint. snacks upon the complainant’s invitation. In the course of their conversation, the complainant asked if he
knew of the case involving the union of the NEECO III. He told him that he was not familiar with the
details but knew that the same is already pending execution before the office of LA Mariano Bactin. The
On August 13, 2008, both parties appeared at the mandatory conference. Upon its termination, the parties complainant told him that the properties of NEECO III were sold at public auction but the union members
were required to submit their respective position papers afterwhich the case was submitted for resolution. were yet to obtain the proceeds because of a temporary restraining order issued by the CA. He inquired if
he knew anyone from the CA who can help the union members in their case as he was assisting them in
In his position paper,3 the complainant alleged that in November 2006, he had a meeting with the following up their case. The respondent answered in the negative but told him that he can refer him to his
respondent at the Makati Cinema Square to seek his assistance with respect to a pending case in the Court former client, a certain Jaime "Jimmy" Vistan (Vistan), who may be able to help him. At that very moment,
of Appeals (CA) involving the labor union of Nueva Ecija III Electric Cooperative (NEECO III). The said he called Vistan using his mobile phone and relayed to him the complainant’s predicament. After giving
case was docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 96096 and raffled to the 6th Division then chaired by Justice Vistan a brief background of the case, he handed the mobile phone to the complainant, who expounded on
Rodrigo V. Cosico, with Justices Edgardo Sundiam (Justice Sundiam) and Celia Librea-Leagogo as the details. After their conversation,the complainant told him that he will be meeting Vistan on the
members. The respondent, who is a LA at the National Labor Relations Commission, San Fernando, following day and asked him if he could accompany him. He politely declined and just gave him Vistan’s
Pampanga, told the complainant that he can facilitate, expedite and ensure the release of a favorable mobile number so that they can directlycommunicate with each other.14
decision, particularly the award of assets and management of NEECO III to the union. To bolster his
representation, he told him that the same regional office where he was assigned had earlier rendered a Sometime thereafter, he received a call from Vistan who told him that he was given ₱350,000.00 as
decision in favor of the labor union and against the National Electrification Administration.4 With the facilitation fee. After their conversation, he never heard from Vistan again.15
respondent’s assurance, the complainant yielded.
In January 2007, he received a text from the complainant, asking him to call him through his landline. Over
In December 2006, the complainant met the respondent to discuss their plan and timetable in securing a the phone, the complainant told him about his arrangement with Vistan insecuring a favorable decision for
favorable ruling from the CA. The respondent told him that in order to facilitate the release of such the union but the latter failed to do his undertaking. The complainant blamed him for the misfortune and
favorable decision, the union must produce the amount of ₱1,000,000.00, a considerable portion of which even suspected that he was in connivance with Vistan, which he denied. The complainant then asked for his
is intended for Justice Sundiam, the ponente of the case and the two member justices of the division, while help to recover the money he gave to Vistan.16
a fraction thereof is allotted to his costs.5
When their efforts to locate Vistan failed, the complainant turned to him again and asked him to return the
Shortly thereafter, the complainant met the respondent again and handed him the amount of money because the union threatened him with physical harm. The respondent, however, maintained his
₱350,000.00,which was raised out of the individual contributions of the members of the union, as partial lack of involvement in their transaction. Still, the complainant insisted and even threatened he would cause
payment for the agreed amount and undertook to pay the balance as soon as the union is finally allowed to him miseryand pain should he not return the money. Offended by the innuendoof collusion in the
manage and operate the electric cooperative. In turn, the respondent assured him that a favorableruling will complainant’s language, the respondent yelled at him and told him, "Ano bang malaking kasalanan ko para
be rendered by the CA in no time.6 takutin mo ako ng ganyan?" before he hang up the phone. He never heard from the complainant thereafter.
Then, on December 18, 2007, he was surprised toreceive a copy of the complaint for disbarment filed by
A week before Christmas of the same year, the complainant made several follow-ups with the respondent the complainant against him.17
about the status of the decision. In response to his inquiries, the respondentwould tell him that: (1) the
decision is being routed for signature of the members of the three-man CA division; (2) the lady justice was In the Report and Recommendation18 of the IBP-CBD dated September 30, 2008, the Investigating
the only one left to sign; and (3) the lady justice went to a Christmas party and was not able to sign the Commissioner recommended for the dismissal of the complaint, holding that there is no proof that the
decision. Ultimately, the promised favorable decision before the end of that year was not issued by the CA, respondent received money from the complainant.19 The report reads, as follows:
with no explanation from the respondent.7
The case is dismissible.
On January 4, 2007, the union was advised by their counsel that the CA has already rendered a decision on
their case and the same was adverse to them. This infuriated the union members who then turned to the
complainant and demanded for the return of the 350,000.00 that they raised as respondent’s facilitation fee.
There is no proof that respondent Reynaldo Abdon received any amount of money from complainant Raul witnesses, although it does not mean that preponderance is necessarily with the greater number.28
Francia. (Citations omitted)

While it is true that respondentReynaldo Abdon admitted that he introduced the complainant to Jaime In the absence of preponderant evidence, the presumption of innocence of the lawyer subsists and the
Vistan, there is no proof that the respondent received any money from the complainant Raul Francia or complaint against him must be dismissed.29
from Jaime Vistan.
After a careful review of the facts and circumstances of the case, the Court finds that the evidence
The attached Annex "A" of the complaint is of no moment. As pointed out by the respondent it is easy to submitted by the complainant fell short of the required quantum of proof. Aside from bare allegations, no
manipulate and fabricate text messages. That complainant could have bought the said SIM card bearing the evidence was presented to convincingly establish that the respondent engaged in unlawful and dishonest
said telephone number and texted his other cellphone numbers to make it appear that such text messages conduct, particularly in extortion and influence-peddling.
came from the cellphone of the respondent. Those text messages are not reliable as evidence.
Firstly, the transcript of the alleged exchange of text messages between the complainant and the respondent
xxxx cannot be admitted in evidence since the same was not authenticatedin accordance with A.M. No. 01-7-01-
SC, pertaining to the Rules on Electronic Evidence. Without proper authentication, the text messages
WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is most respectfully recommended that the instant complaint be presented by the complainant have no evidentiary value.
dismissed for lack of merit.20
The Court cannot also give credence to the affidavits of Pena and Demillo which, on close examination, do
Upon review of the case, the IBP Board of Governors issued Resolution No. XVIII-2008-545,21 reversing not prove anything about the alleged transaction between the complainant and the respondent. In his
the recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner, disposing thus: affidavit, Pena, an officer of AGLO, the organization assisting the union members of NEECO III, alleged:

RESOLVED TO REVERSE as it is hereby REVERSED, the Report and Recommendation of the THAT, sometime in the first weekof November 2006, the former workers and employees of NEECO III
Investigating Commissioner, and APPROVE the SUSPENSIONfrom the practice of law for one (1) year of informed me of their desire to engage the services of a third party to help facilitate the expeditious release
Atty. Reynaldo V. Abdon and to Return the Amount of Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Pesos of a favorable decision from the Court of Appeals in CA-GR SP No. 96096, and that they already contacted
([P]250,000.00) within thirty (30) days from receipt of notice.22 a friend of mine, Mr. Raul Francia, who knows somebody who can help us work on the CA case;

On February 23, 2009, the respondent filed a Motion for Reconsideration23 but the IBP Board of THAT, in succeeding separate meetings with Mr. Francia, he intimated to me on various occasions that he
Governors denied the same in its Resolution No. XX-2013-55,24 which reads: had contracted a certain Atty. Reynaldo V. Abdon, a labor arbiter based in San Fernando, Pampanga to
facilitate the expeditious release of a favorable decision from the Court of Appeals;

RESOLVED to unanimously DENY Respondent’s Motion for Reconsideration there being no cogent
reason to reverse the findings of the Commission and it being a mere reiteration of the matters which had THAT, I gathered from Mr. Francia and based on the information given to me by the former workers and
already been threshed out and taken into consideration. Thus, Resolution No. XVIII-2008-545 dated employees of NEECO III, Labor Arbiter Abdon asked for [P]1 [M]illion to cover the amount to be given to
November 20, 2008 is hereby AFFIRMED.25 the justices of the Court of Appeals handling the case and facilitation and mobilization fees;

The case is now before thisCourt for confirmation. THAT, sometime towards the end of the first week of December, the former workers and employees of
NEECO III met with Mr. Francia at our office. They handed to him [P]350,000[.00] as downpayment for
the []1 [M]illion being demanded by Mr. Abdon, the balance of which would have been payable on a later
"It is well to remember that in disbarment proceedings, the burden of proof rests upon the complainant. For agreed period;
the Court to exercise its disciplinary powers, the case against the respondent must be established by
convincing and satisfactory proof."26
THAT, the [P]350,000[.00] was sourced by the former workers and employees of NEECO III from their
personal contributions; and
In Aba v. De Guzman, Jr.,27 the Court reiterated that a preponderance of evidence is necessary before a
lawyer maybe held administratively liable, to wit:
THAT, soon after the meeting with the former workers and employees of NEECO III, Mr. Francia left to
meet with Labor Arbiter Abdon to deliver the money[.]30
Considering the serious consequences of the disbarment or suspension of a member of the Bar, the Court
has consistently held that clearly preponderant evidence is necessary to justify the imposition of
administrative penalty on a member of the Bar. It is clear from the foregoing thatPena never had the opportunity to meet the respondent. He never knew the
respondent and did not actually see him receiving the money that the union members raised as facilitation
fee. His statement does not prove at all thatthe alleged illegal deal transpired between the complainant and
Preponderance of evidence means that the evidence adduced by one side is, as a whole, superior to or has the respondent.If at all, it only proved that the union members made contributions to raise the amount of
greater weight than that of the other. It means evidence which is more convincing to the court as worthy of money required as facilitation fee and that they gave it to the complainant for supposed delivery to the
belief than that which is offered in opposition thereto. Under Section 1 of Rule 133, in determining whether respondent. However, whether the money was actually delivered to the respondent was not known to Pena.
or not there is preponderance of evidence, the court may consider the following: (a) all the facts and
circumstances of the case; (b) the witnesses’ manner of testifying, their intelligence, their means and
opportunity of knowing the facts to which they are testifying, the nature of the facts to which they testify, The same observation holds true with respect to the affidavit of Demillo, an acquaintance of the
the probability or improbability of their testimony; (c) the witnesses’ interest or want of interest, and also complainant, who claims to have witnessed the transaction between the parties at the Makati Cinema
their personal credibility so far as the same may ultimately appear in the trial; and (d) the number of Square. She alleged that she saw the complainant handing a bulging brown supotto an unidentified man
while the two were at the open dining space of a café. Upon seeing the complainant again, she learned that A lawyer is an officer of the courts; he is, "like the court itself, an instrument or agency to advance the
the person he was talking to at the café was the respondent LA.31 endsof justice.["] [x x x] His duty is to uphold the dignity and authority of the courts to which he owes
fidelity, ["]not to promote distrust inthe administration of justice." [x x x] Faith in the courts a lawyer
Demillo’s affidavit, however, does not prove any relevant fact that will establish the respondent’s should seek to preserve. For, to undermine the judicial edifice "is disastrous to the continuity of the
government and to the attainment of the liberties of the people." [x x x] Thus has it been said of a lawyer
culpability.1âwphi1 To begin with, it was not established with certainty that the person whom she saw
talking with the complainant was the respondent. Even assuming that respondent’s identity was established, that "[a]s an officer of the court, it is his sworn and moral duty to help build and not destroy unnecessarily
that high esteem and regard towards the courts so essential to the proper administration of justice."37
Demillo could not have known about the complainant and respondent’s business by simply glancing at
them while she was on her way to the supermarket to run some errands. That she allegedly saw the
complainant handing the respondent a bulging brown supothardly proves any illegal transaction especially A strong and independent judiciary is one of the key elements in the orderly administration of justice. It
that she does not have knowledge about what may have been contained in the said bag. holds a revered status in the society as the public perceives it as the authority of what is proper and just, and
abides by its pronouncements. Thus, it must keep its integrity inviolable and this entails that the members
The complainant miserably failed tosubstantiate his claims with preponderant evidence. Surely, he cannot of the judiciary be extremely circumspect in their actions, whether in their public or personal dealings.
prove the respondent’s culpability by merely presenting equivocal statementsof some individuals or relying Nonetheless, the duty to safeguard the good name of the judiciary is similarly required from all the
on plain gestures that are capable of stirring the imagination. Considering the lasting effect of the members of the legal profession. The respondent, however, compromised the integrity of the judiciary by
imposition of the penalty of suspension or disbarment on a lawyer’s professional standing, this Court his association with a scoundrel who earns a living by dishonoring the court and maliciously imputing
cannot allow that the respondent be held liable for misconduct on the basis of surmises and imagined corrupt motives on its members.
possibilities. A mere suspicion cannot substitute for the convincing and satisfactory proof required to
justify the suspension or disbarment of a lawyer. The Court reiterates its directive tothe members of the Bar to be mindful of the sheer responsibilities
thatattach to their profession. They must maintain high standards of legal proficiency, aswell as morality
In Alitagtag v. Atty. Garcia,32 the Court emphasized, thus: including honesty, integrity and fair dealing. For, they are at all times subject to the scrutinizing eye of
publicopinion and community approbation. Needless to state, those whose conduct – both public and
private – fails this scrutiny would have to bedisciplined and, after appropriate proceedings, penalized
Indeed, the power to disbar must be exercised with great caution, and may be imposed only in a clear case accordingly.38
of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and the character ofthe lawyer as an officer of the Court
and as a member of the bar. Disbarment should never be decreed where any lesser penalty could
accomplish the end desired. Without doubt, a violation of the high moral standards of the legal profession WHEREFORE, for having committed an act which compromised the public’s trust in the justice system,
justifies the imposition of the appropriate penalty, including suspension and disbarment. However, the said Atty. Reynaldo V. Abdon is hereby SUSPENDEDfrom the practice of law for a period of ONE (1)
penalties are imposed with great caution, because they are the most severe forms of disciplinary action and MONTH effective upon receipt of this Decision, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or
similar act in the future shall be dealt with severely.
their consequences are beyond repair.33 (Citations omitted)

The respondent, however, is not entirely faultless. He has, nonetheless, engendered the suspicion that he is Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Office of the Court
engaged in an illegal deal when he introduced the complainant to Vistan, who was the one who allegedly Administrator which shall circulate the same in all courts in the country, and attached to the personal
records of Atty. Reynaldo V. Abdon in the Office of the Bar Confidant.
demanded ₱1,000,000.00 infacilitation fee from the union members. The records bearout that the
complainant, at the outset, made clear his intention to seek the respondent’s assistance in following up the
union’s case in the CA. The respondent, however, instead of promptly declining the favor sought in order SO ORDERED.
to avoid any appearance of impropriety, even volunteered to introduce the complainant to Vistan, a former
client who allegedly won a case in the CA in August 2006. It later turned out that Vistan represented to the
complainant that he has the capacity to facilitate the favorable resolution of cases and does this for a fee.
This fact was made known to him by Vistan himself duringa telephone conversation when the latter told
him he was given ₱350,000.00 as facilitation fee.34 His connection with Vistan was the reason why the
complainant had suspected that he was in connivance with him and that he got a portion of the loot. His
gesture of introducing the complainant to Vistan precipitated the idea that what the latter asked of him was
with his approval. It registered a mistaken impression on the complainant that his case can be expeditiously
resolved by resorting to extraneous means or channels. Thus, while the respondent may not have received
money from the complainant, the fact is that he has made himself instrumental to Vistan’s illegal activity.
In doing so, he has exposed the legal profession to undeserved condemnation and invited suspicion on the
integrity of the judiciary for which he must be imposed with a disciplinary sanction.

Canon 7 of the Code of Professional Responsibility mandates that a "lawyer shall at all times uphold the
integrity and dignity of the legal profession." For, the strength of the legal profession lies in the dignity and
integrity of its members.35 It is every lawyer’s duty to maintain the high regard to the profession by
staying trueto his oath and keeping his actions beyond reproach.

Also, the respondent, as a member of the legal profession, has a further responsibility to safeguard the
dignity of the courts which the public perceives as the bastion of justice. Hemust at all times keep its good
name untarnished and not be instrumental to its disrepute. In Berbano v. Atty. Barcelona,36 the Court
reiterated the bounden duty of lawyers to keep the reputation of the courts unscathed, thus:
A.C. No. 6732, October 22, 2013 The NBI invited the respondent to explain his side,9 but he invoked his constitutional right to remain silent.
The NBI also issued subpoenas to Shirley Quioyo and Dy Quioyo but only the latter appeared and gave his
sworn statement.
ATTY. OSCAR L. EMBIDO, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NATIONAL BUREAU OF
INVESTIGATION, WESTERN VISAYAS, REGIONAL OFFICE (NBI-WEVRO), FOR SAN
After conducting its investigation, the NBI forwarded to the Office of the Ombudsman for Visayas the
PEDRO, ILOILO CITY, Complainant, v. ATTY. SALVADOR N. PE, JR., ASSISTANT
PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR, SAN JOSE, ANTIQUE, Respondent. records of the investigation, with a recommendation that the respondent be prosecuted for falsification of
public document under Article 171, 1 and 2, of the Revised Penal Code, and for violation of Section 3(a) of
Republic Act 3019 (The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act).10 The NBI likewise recommended to the
DECISION Office of the Court Administrator that disbarment proceedings be commenced against the respondent.11
Then Court Administrator Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. (now a Member of the Court) officially endorsed the
BERSAMIN, J.: recommendation to the Office of the Bar Confidant.12

Upon being required by the Court, the respondent submitted his counter-affidavit,13 whereby he denied any
A lawyer who forges a court decision and represents it as that of a court of law is guilty of the gravest participation in the falsification. He insisted that Dy Quioyo had sought his opinion on Shirley’s petition
misconduct and deserves the supreme penalty of disbarment. for the annulment of her marriage; that he had given advice on the pertinent laws involved and the different
grounds for the annulment of marriage; that in June 2004, Dy Quioyo had gone back to him to present a
The Case copy of what appeared to be a court decision;14 that Dy Quioyo had then admitted to him that he had caused
the falsification of the decision; that he had advised Dy Quioyo that the falsified decision would not hold
Before this Court is the complaint for disbarment against Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Atty. Salvador N. up in an investigation; that Dy Quioyo, an overseas Filipino worker (OFW), had previously resorted to
Pe, Jr. (respondent) of San Jose, Antique for his having allegedly falsified an inexistent decision of Branch people on Recto Avenue in Manila to solve his documentation problems as an OFW; and that he had also
64 of the Regional Trial Court stationed in Bugasong, Antique (RTC) instituted by the National Bureau of learned from Atty. Angeles Orquia, Jr. that one Mrs. Florencia Jalipa, a resident of Igbalangao, Bugasong,
Investigation (NBI), Western Visayas Regional Office, represented by Regional Director Atty. Oscar L. Antique, had executed a sworn statement before Police Investigator Herminio Dayrit with the assistance of
Embido. Atty. Orquia, Jr. to the effect that her late husband, Manuel Jalipa, had been responsible for making the
falsified document at the instance of Dy Quioyo.15
Antecedent
Thereafter, the Court issued its resolution16 treating the respondent’s counter-affidavit as his comment, and
On July 7, 2004, Atty. Ronel F. Sustituya, Clerk of Court of the RTC, received a written communication referred the case to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) for investigation, report and
from Mr. Ballam Delaney Hunt, a Solicitor in the United Kingdom (UK). The letter requested a copy of the recommendation.
decision dated February 12, 1997 rendered by Judge Rafael O. Penuela in Special Proceedings Case No.
084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna, whose petitioner was The IBP’s Report and Recommendation
one Shirley Quioyo.1
In a report and recommendation dated June 14, 2006,17 Atty. Lolita A. Quisumbing, the IBP Investigating
On September 9, 2004, the RTC received another letter from Mr. Hunt, reiterating the request for a copy of Commissioner, found the respondent guilty of serious misconduct and violations of the Attorney’s Oath
the decision in Special Proceedings Case No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive and Code of Professional Responsibility, and recommended his suspension from the practice of law for one
Death of Rey Laserna.2 year. She concluded that the respondent had forged the purported decision of Judge Penuela by making it
appear that Special Proceedings No. 084 concerned a petition for declaration of presumptive death of Rey
Judge Penuela instructed the civil docket clerk to retrieve the records of Special Proceedings Case No. 084 Laserna, with Shirley Quioyo as the petitioner, when in truth and in fact the proceedings related to the
entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna. It was then discovered that petition for declaration of presumptive death of Rolando Austria, with Serena Catin Austria as the
the RTC had no record of Special Proceedings No. 084 wherein Shirley Quioyo was the petitioner. Instead, petitioner;18 and that the respondent had received P60,000.00 from Dy Quioyo for the falsified decision.
the court files revealed that Judge Penuela had decided Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter She rationalized her conclusions thusly:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rolando Austria, whose petitioner was one Serena Catin
Austria. Respondent’s denials are not worthy of merit. Respondent contends that it was one Manuel Jalipa
3
(deceased) who facilitated the issuance and as proof thereof, he presented the sworn statement of the
Informed that the requested decision and case records did not exist, Mr. Hunt sent a letter dated October widow of Florencia Jalipa (sic). Such a contention is hard to believe. In the first place, if the decision was
12, 2004 attaching a machine copy of the purported decision in Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the obtained in Recto, Manila, why was it an almost verbatim reproduction of the authentic decision on file in
Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey Laserna that had been presented by Shirley Quioyo Judge Penuela’s branch except for the names and dates? Respondent failed to explain this. Secondly,
in court proceedings in the UK.4 respondent did not attend the NBI investigation and merely invoked his right to remain silent. If his side of
the story were true, he should have made this known in the investigation. His story therefore appears to
After comparing the two documents and ascertaining that the document attached to the October 12, 2004 have been a mere afterthought. Finally, there is no plausible reason why Dy Quioyo and his sister, Mary
letter was a falsified court document, Judge Penuela wrote Mr. Hunt to apprise him of the situation. 5 Rose Quioyo would falsely implicate him in this incident.19
The discovery of the falsified decision prompted the Clerk of Court to communicate on the situation in
writing to the NBI, triggering the investigation of the falsification. 6 In its Resolution No. XVII-2007-063 dated February 1, 2007,20 the IBP Board of Governors adopted and
approved, with modification, the report and recommendation of the Investigating Commissioner by
In the meanwhile, Dy Quioyo, a brother of Shirley Quioyo, executed an affidavit on March 4, 2005, 7 suspending the respondent from the practice of law for six years.
wherein he stated that it was the respondent who had facilitated the issuance of the falsified decision in
Special Proceedings No. 084 entitled In the Matter of the Declaration of Presumptive Death of Rey On December 11, 2008, the IBP Board of Governors passed Resolution No. XVIII-2008-70921 denying the
Laserna for a fee of P60,000.00. The allegations against the respondent were substantially corroborated by respondent’s motion for reconsideration and affirming Resolution No. XVII-2007-063. The IBP Board of
Mary Rose Quioyo, a sister of Shirley Quioyo, in an affidavit dated March 20, 2005. 8 Governors then forwarded the case to the Court in accordance with Section 12(b), Rule 139-B22 of the
Rules of Court.
delay no man for money or malice, and x x x conduct [themselves as lawyers] according to the best of
On January 11, 2011, the Court resolved: (1) to treat the respondent’s comment/opposition as his appeal by [their] knowledge and discretion with all good fidelity as well to the courts as to [their] clients x x x.
petition for review; (2) to consider the complainant’s reply as his comment on the petition for review; (3) to
require the respondent to file a reply to the complainant’s comment within 10 days from notice; and (4) to
No lawyer should ever lose sight of the verity that the practice of the legal profession is always a privilege
direct the IBP to transmit the original records of the case within 15 days from notice.
that the Court extends only to the deserving, and that the Court may withdraw or deny the privilege to him
who fails to observe and respect the Lawyer’s Oath and the canons of ethical conduct in his professional
Ruling and private capacities. He may be disbarred or suspended from the practice of law not only for acts and
omissions of malpractice and for dishonesty in his professional dealings, but also for gross misconduct not
We affirm the findings of the IBP Board of Governors. Indeed, the respondent was guilty of grave directly connected with his professional duties that reveal his unfitness for the office and his unworthiness
misconduct for falsifying a court decision in consideration of a sum of money. of the principles that the privilege to practice law confers upon him. 27 Verily, no lawyer is immune from
the disciplinary authority of the Court whose duty and obligation are to investigate and punish lawyer
The respondent’s main defense consisted in blanket denial of the imputation. He insisted that he had had no misconduct committed either in a professional or private capacity.28 The test is whether the conduct shows
hand in the falsification, and claimed that the falsification had been the handiwork of Dy Quioyo. He the lawyer to be wanting in moral character, honesty, probity, and good demeanor, and whether the conduct
implied that Dy Quioyo had resorted to the shady characters in Recto Avenue in Manila to resolve the renders the lawyer unworthy to continue as an officer of the Court. 29ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
problems he had encountered as an OFW, hinting that Dy Quioyo had a history of employing unscrupulous
means to achieve his ends. WHEREFORE, the Court FINDS AND PRONOUNCES ASST. PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR
SALVADOR N. PE, JR. guilty of violating Rule 1.01 of Canon 1, and Rule 7.03 of Canon 7 of the Code
However, the respondent’s denial and his implication against Dy Quioyo in the illicit generation of the of Professional Responsibility, and DISBARS him effective upon receipt of this decision.
falsified decision are not persuasive. Dy Quioyo’s categorical declaration on the respondent’s personal
responsibility for the falsified decision, which by nature was positive evidence, was not overcome by the The Court DIRECTS the Bar Confidant to remove the name of ASST. PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR
respondent’s blanket denial, which by nature was negative evidence. 23 Also, the imputation of wrongdoing SALVADOR N. PE, JR. from the Roll of Attorneys.
against Dy Quioyo lacked credible specifics and did not command credence. It is worthy to note, too, that
the respondent filed his counter-affidavit only after the Court, through the en banc resolution of May 10, This decision is without prejudice to any pending or contemplated proceedings to be initiated against
2005, had required him to comment.24 The belatedness of his response exposed his blanket denial as ASST. PROVINCIAL PROSECUTOR SALVADOR N. PE, JR.
nothing more than an afterthought.
Let copies of this decision be furnished to the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Office of the Court
The respondent relied on the sworn statement supposedly executed by Mrs. Jalipa that declared that her Administrator for dissemination to all courts of the country, and to the Integrated Bar of the
deceased husband had been instrumental in the falsification of the forged decision. But such reliance was Philippines.chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
outrightly worthless, for the sworn statement of the wife was rendered unreliable due to its patently hearsay
character. In addition, the unworthiness of the sworn statement as proof of authorship of the falsification by SO ORDERED.
the husband is immediately exposed and betrayed by the falsified decision being an almost verbatim
reproduction of the authentic decision penned by Judge Penuela in the real Special Proceedings Case No.
084.

In light of the established circumstances, the respondent was guilty of grave misconduct for having
authored the falsification of the decision in a non-existent court proceeding. Canon 7 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility demands that all lawyers should uphold at all times the dignity and integrity of
the Legal Profession. Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility states that “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.” Lawyers are further
required by Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility not to engage in any unlawful, dishonest
and immoral or deceitful conduct.

Gross immorality, conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or fraudulent transactions can justify a
lawyer’s disbarment or suspension from the practice of law.25 Specifically, the deliberate falsification of the
court decision by the respondent was an act that reflected a high degree of moral turpitude on his part.
Worse, the act made a mockery of the administration of justice in this country, given the purpose of the
falsification, which was to mislead a foreign tribunal on the personal status of a person. He thereby became
unworthy of continuing as a member of the Bar.

It then becomes timely to remind all members of the Philippine Bar that they should do nothing that may in
any way or degree lessen the confidence of the public in their professional fidelity and integrity. 26 The
Court will not hesitate to wield its heavy hand of discipline on those among them who wittingly and
willingly fail to meet the enduring demands of their Attorney’s Oath for them
to:chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary

x x x support [the] Constitution and obey the laws as well as the legal orders of the duly constituted
authorities therein; xxx do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court; x x x not wittingly or
willingly promote or sue on groundless, false or unlawful suit, nor give aid nor consent to the same; x x x
ELPIDIO P. TIONG, A.C. No. 4428 1993. Respondent likewise admitted the relationship. Subsequently, at a meeting initiated by respondent
and held at the Salibao Restaurant in Burnham Park, Baguio City, respondent and complainant's wife, Ma.
Elena, confessed anew to their illicit affair before their respective spouses.
Complainant

On May 15, 1995, the parties met again at the Mandarin Restaurant in Baguio City and, in the presence of a
Notary Public, Atty. Liberato Tadeo, respondent and Ma. Elena executed and signed an affidavit 2 attesting
to their illicit relationship and seeking their respective spouses' forgiveness, as follows:
- versus - Present:
"WE, GEORGE M. FLORENDO, a resident of Baguio City and of legal age and MA. ELENA T. TIONG,
VELASCO, JR., Chairperson, likewise a resident of Baguio City, of legal age, depose and state:

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

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

ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO, This document consists of four (4) typewritten copies and each party has been furnished a copy and this
document shall have no validity unless signed by all the parties.
Respondent.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we have set out hands this 15th day of May 1995 at Baguio City, Philippines.
Promulgated:
(SIGNED) (SIGNED)
December 12, 2011
GEORGE M. FLORENDO ELPIDIO TIONG

(SIGNED) (SIGNED)
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

MA. ELENA T. TIONG ELIZABETH F. FLORENDO"


DECISION

Notwithstanding, complainant instituted the present suit for disbarment on May 23, 1995 charging
PERLAS-BERNABE, J.:
respondent of gross immorality and grave misconduct. In his Answer 3, respondent admitted the material
allegations of the complaint but interposed the defense of pardon.
Before the Court is an administrative complaint1 for disbarment filed by Elpidio P. Tiong against Atty.
George M. Florendo for gross immorality and grave misconduct.
In the Resolution4 dated September 20, 1995, the Court resolved to refer the case to the Integrated Bar of
the Philippines (IBP) for investigation and decision.
The facts of the case are as follows:
Finding merit in the complaint, the Commission on Bar Discipline (CBD), through Commissioner
Complainant Elpidio P. Tiong, an American Citizen, and his wife, Ma. Elena T. Tiong, are real estate Agustinus V. Gonzaga, submitted its Report and Recommendation5 dated September 21, 2007 for the
lessors in Baguio City. They are likewise engaged in the assembly and repair of motor vehicles in Paldit, suspension of respondent from the practice of law for one (1) year, which was adopted and approved by the
Sison, Pangasinan. In 1991, they engaged the services of respondent Atty. George M. Florendo not only as IBP Board of Governors in its Resolution6 dated October 19, 2007. Respondent's Motion for
legal counsel but also as administrator of their businesses whenever complainant would leave for the Reconsideration7 therefrom was denied in the Resolution8 dated June 26, 2011.
United States of America (USA).
Hence, the instant petition on the sole issue whether the pardon extended by complainant in the Affidavit
Sometime in 1993, complainant began to suspect that respondent and his wife were having an illicit affair. dated May 15, 1995 is sufficient to warrant the dismissal of the present disbarment case against respondent
His suspicion was confirmed in the afternoon of May 13, 1995 when, in their residence, he chanced upon a for gross immoral conduct.
telephone conversation between the two. Listening through the extension phone, he heard respondent utter
the words "I love you, I'll call you later". When confronted, his wife initially denied any amorous
involvement with respondent but eventually broke down and confessed to their love affair that began in
After due consideration, the Court resolves to adopt the findings and recommendation of the IBP-CBD However, considering the circumstances of this case, the Court finds that a penalty of suspension from the
except as to the penalty imposed. practice of law for six (6) months, instead of one (1) year as recommended by the IBP-CBD, is adequate
sanction for the grossly immoral conduct of respondent.
The pertinent provisions in the Code of Professional Responsibility provide, thus:
WHEREFORE, respondent ATTY. GEORGE M. FLORENDO is hereby found GUILTY of Gross
"CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE Immorality and is SUSPENDED from the practice of law for SIX (6) MONTHS effective upon notice
LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES. hereof, with a STERN WARNING that a repetition of the same or similar offense will be dealt with more
severely.

Rule 1.01. - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful conduct.
Let copies of this Decision be entered in the personal record of respondent as a member of the Philippine
Bar and furnished the Office of the Bar Confidant, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and the Court
xxxx Administrator for circulation to all courts in the country.

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

xxxx

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

It has been consistently held by the Court that possession of good moral character is not only a condition
for admission to the Bar but is a continuing requirement to maintain one's good standing in the legal
profession. It is the bounden duty of law practitioners to observe the highest degree of morality in order to
safeguard the integrity of the Bar.9 Consequently, any errant behaviour on the part of a lawyer, be it in his
public or private activities, which tends to show him deficient in moral character, honesty, probity or good
demeanor, is sufficient to warrant his suspension or disbarment.

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

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

Respondent, however, maintains that he cannot be sanctioned for his questioned conduct because he and
Ma. Elena had already been pardoned by their respective spouses in the May 15, 1995 Affidavit 14.

The Court disagrees.

It bears to stress that a case of suspension or disbarment is sui generis and not meant to grant relief to a
complainant as in a civil case but is intended to cleanse the ranks of the legal profession of its undesirable
members in order to protect the public and the courts. It is not an investigation into the acts of respondent
as a husband but on his conduct as an officer of the Court and his fitness to continue as a member of the
Bar.15 Hence, the Affidavit dated March 15, 1995, which is akin to an affidavit of desistance, cannot have
the effect of abating the instant proceedings.16
MAELOTISEA S. GARRIDO, A.C. No. 6593 one of my daughters told me that sometime on August 1990, she saw my husband strolling at the
Complainant, Robinsons Department Store at Ermita, Manila together with a woman and a child who was later identified
Present: as Atty. Ramona Paguida Valencia and Angeli Ramona Valencia Garrido, respectively x x x
PUNO, C.J.,
CARPIO, 5. xxxx
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES, 6. That I did not stop from unearthing the truth until I was able to secure the Certificate of Live Birth of
velasco, JR., the child, stating among others that the said child is their daughter and that Atty. Angel Escobar Garrido
NACHURA, and Atty. Romana Paguida Valencia were married at Hongkong sometime on 1978.
- versus - leonardo-de castro,
brion, 7. That on June 1993, my husband left our conjugal home and joined Atty. Ramona Paguida Valencia at
PERALTA, their residence x x x
BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO, 8. That since he left our conjugal home he failed and still failing to give us our needed financial support
ABAD, to the prejudice of our children who stopped schooling because of financial constraints.
VILLARAMA, JR.,
perez, and xxxx
ATTYS. ANGEL E. GARRIDO and ROMANA P. mendoza, JJ.
VALENCIA, Promulgated: That I am also filing a disbarment proceedings against his mistress as alleged in the same affidavit, Atty.
Respondents. ______________ Romana P. Valencia considering that out of their immoral acts I suffered not only mental anguish but also
besmirch reputation, wounded feelings and sleepless nights; x x x

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION In his Counter-Affidavit,3[3] Atty. Garrido denied Maelotiseas charges and imputations. By way of
defense, he alleged that Maelotisea was not his legal wife, as he was already married to Constancia David
PER CURIAM: (Constancia) when he married Maelotisea. He claimed he married Maelotisea after he and Constancia
parted ways. He further alleged that Maelotisea knew all his escapades and understood his bad boy image
Maelotisea Sipin Garrido filed a complaint-affidavit1 and a supplemental affidavit2[2] for disbarment before she married him in 1962. As he and Maelotisea grew apart over the years due to financial problems,
against the respondents Atty. Angel E. Garrido (Atty. Garrido) and Atty. Romana P.Valencia (Atty. Atty. Garrido met Atty. Valencia. He became close to Atty. Valencia to whom he confided his difficulties.
Valencia) before the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Committee on Discipline charging them with Together, they resolved his personal problems and his financial difficulties with his second family. Atty.
gross immorality. The complaint-affidavit states: Garrido denied that he failed to give financial support to his children with Maelotisea, emphasizing that all
his six (6) children were educated in private schools; all graduated from college except for Arnel Victorino,
1. That I am the legal wife of Atty. Angel E. Garrido by virtue of our marriage on June 23, 1962 at San who finished a special secondary course.4[4] Atty. Garrido alleged that Maelotisea had not been employed
Marcelino Church, Ermita, Manila which was solemnized by Msgr. Daniel Cortes x x x and had not practiced her profession for the past ten (10) years.

2. That our marriage blossomed into having us blessed with six (6) children, namely, Mat Elizabeth, Atty. Garrido emphasized that all his marriages were contracted before he became a member of the bar on
Arnel Angelito, Madeleine Eloiza, Arnel Angelo, Arnel Victorino and Madonna Angeline, all surnamed May 11, 1979, with the third marriage contracted after the death of Constancia on December 26, 1977.
Garrido; Likewise, his children with Maelotisea were born before he became a lawyer.

3. xxxx

4. That on May, 1991, during my light moments with our children, one of my daughters, Madeleine
confided to me that sometime on the later part of 1987, an unknown caller talked with her claiming that the
former is a child of my husband. I ignored it and dismissed it as a mere joke. But when May Elizabeth, also
In her Counter-Affidavit,5[5] Atty. Valencia denied that she was the mistress of Atty. Garrido. She
explained that Maelotisea was not the legal wife of Atty. Garrido since the marriage between them was Atty. Garrido moved to reconsider this resolution, but the IBP Commission on Bar Discipline
void from the beginning due to the then existing marriage of Atty. Garrido with Constancia. Atty. Valencia denied his motion under Resolution No. XVII-2007-038 dated January 18, 2007.
claimed that Maelotisea knew of the romantic relationship between her and Atty. Garrido, as they
(Maelotisea and Atty. Valencia) met in 1978. Maelotisea kept silent about her relationship with Atty. Atty. Garrido now seeks relief with this Court through the present petition for review. He
Garrido and had maintained this silence when she (Atty. Valencia) financially helped Atty. Garrido build a submits that under the circumstances, he did not commit any gross immorality that would warrant his
house for his second family. Atty. Valencia alleged that Maelotisea was not a proper party to this suit disbarment. He also argues that the offenses charged have prescribed under the IBP rules.
because of her silence; she kept silent when things were favorable and beneficial to her. Atty. Valencia also
alleged that Maelotisea had no cause of action against her. Additionally, Atty. Garrido pleads that he be allowed on humanitarian considerations to retain his
profession; he is already in the twilight of his life, and has kept his promise to lead an upright and
In the course of the hearings, the parties filed the following motions before the IBP Commission on Bar irreproachable life notwithstanding his situation.
Discipline:
In compliance with our Resolution dated August 25, 2009, Atty. Alicia A. Risos-Vidal (Atty. Risos-Vidal),
First, the respondents filed a Motion for Suspension of Proceedings6[6] in view of the criminal complaint Director of the Commission on Bar Discipline, filed her Comment on the petition. She recommends a
for concubinage Maelotisea filed against them, and the Petition for Declaration of Nullity7[7] (of marriage) modification of the penalty from disbarment to reprimand, advancing the view that disbarment is very
Atty. Garrido filed to nullify his marriage to Maelotisea. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline denied harsh considering that the 77-year old Atty. Garrido took responsibility for his acts and tried to mend his
this motion for lack of merit. ways by filing a petition for declaration of nullity of his bigamous marriage. Atty. Risos-Vidal also notes
that no other administrative case has ever been filed against Atty. Garrido.
Second, the respondents filed a Motion to Dismiss8[8] the complaints after the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City declared the marriage between Atty. Garrido and Maelotisea an absolute nullity. Since
Maelotisea was never the legal wife of Atty. Garrido, the respondents argued that she had no personality to THE COURTS RULING
file her complaints against them. The respondents also alleged that they had not committed any immoral act
since they married when Atty. Garrido was already a widower, and the acts complained of were committed
before his admission to the bar. The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline also denied this motion.9[9] After due consideration, we resolve to adopt the findings of the IBP Board of Governors against Atty.
Garrido, and to reject its recommendation with respect to Atty. Valencia.
Third, Maelotisea filed a motion for the dismissal of the complaints she filed against the respondents,
arguing that she wanted to maintain friendly relations with Atty. Garrido, who is the father of her six (6) General Considerations
children.10[10] The IBP Commission on Bar Discipline likewise denied this motion.11[11]
Laws dealing with double jeopardy or with procedure such as the verification of pleadings and
On April 13, 2004, Investigating Commissioner Milagros V. San Juan (Investigating Commissioner San prejudicial questions, or in this case, prescription of offenses or the filing of affidavits of desistance by the
Juan) submitted her Report and Recommendation for the respondents disbarment.12[12] The Commission complainant do not apply in the determination of a lawyers qualifications and fitness for membership in the
on Bar Discipline of the IBP Board of Governors (IBP Board of Governors) approved and adopted this
recommendation with modification under Resolution No. XVI-2004-375 dated July 30, 2004. This
resolution in part states:

x x x finding the recommendation fully supported by the evidence on record and the applicable laws and
rules, and considering that Atty. Garrido exhibited conduct which lacks the degree of morality required as
members of the bar, Atty. Angel E. Garrido is hereby DISBARRED for gross immorality. However, the
case against Atty. Romana P. Valencia is hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit of the complaint.
Bar.13[13] We have so ruled in the past and we see no reason to depart from this ruling.14[14] First, presented her evidence; her evidence are now available for the Courts examination and consideration, and
admission to the practice of law is a component of the administration of justice and is a matter of public their merits are not affected by her desistance. We cannot fail to note, too, that Mealotisea filed her
interest because it involves service to the public.15[15] The admission qualifications are also qualifications affidavit of desistance, not to disown or refute the evidence she had submitted, but solely becuase of
for the continued enjoyment of the privilege to practice law. Second, lack of qualifications or the violation compassion (and, impliedly, out of concern for her personal financial interest in continuing friendly
of the standards for the practice of law, like criminal cases, is a matter of public concern that the State may relations with Atty. Garrido).
inquire into through this Court. In this sense, the complainant in a disbarment case is not a direct party
whose interest in the outcome of the charge is wholly his or her own;16[16] effectively, his or her Immoral conduct involves acts that are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral indifference to
participation is that of a witness who brought the matter to the attention of the Court. the opinion of the upright and respectable members of the community.20[20] Immoral conduct is gross
when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high
As applied to the present case, the time that elapsed between the immoral acts charged and the filing of the degree, or when committed under such scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the communitys
complaint is not material in considering the qualification of Atty. Garrido when he applied for admission to sense of decency.21[21] We make these distinctions as the supreme penalty of disbarment arising from
the practice of law, and his continuing qualification to be a member of the legal profession. From this conduct requires grossly immoral, not simply immoral, conduct.22[22]
perspective, it is not important that the acts complained of were committed before Atty. Garrido was
admitted to the practice of law. As we explained in Zaguirre v. Castillo,17[17] the possession of good In several cases, we applied the above standard in considering lawyers who contracted an unlawful second
moral character is both a condition precedent and a continuing requirement to warrant admission to the bar marriage or multiple marriages.
and to retain membership in the legal profession. Admission to the bar does not preclude a subsequent
judicial inquiry, upon proper complaint, into any question concerning the mental or moral fitness of the In Macarrubo v. Macarrubo,23[23] the respondent lawyer entered into multiple marriages and
respondent before he became a lawyer.18[18] Admission to the practice only creates the rebuttable subsequently used legal remedies to sever them. We ruled that the respondents pattern of misconduct
presumption that the applicant has all the qualifications to become a lawyer; this may be refuted by clear undermined the institutions of marriage and family institutions that this society looks up to for the rearing
and convincing evidence to the contrary even after admission to the Bar.19[19] of our children, for the development of values essential to the survival and well-being of our communities,
and for the strengthening of our nation as a whole. In this light, no fate other than disbarment awaited the
Parenthetically, Article VIII Section 5(5) of the Constitution recognizes the disciplinary authority of the wayward respondent.
Court over the members of the Bar to be merely incidental to the Court's exclusive power to admit
applicants to the practice of law. Reinforcing the implementation of this constitutional authority is Section In Villasanta v. Peralta,24[24] the respondent lawyer married the complainant while his marriage with his
27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court which expressly states that a member of the bar may be disbarred or first wife was subsisting. We held that the respondents act of contracting the second marriage was contrary
suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for, among others, any deceit, grossly immoral to honesty, justice, decency and morality. The lack of good moral character required by the Rules of Court
conduct, or violation of the oath that he is required to take before admission to the practice of law. disqualified the respondent from admission to the Bar.
In light of the public service character of the practice of law and the nature of disbarment proceedings as a
public interest concern, Maelotiseas affidavit of desistance cannot have the effect of discontinuing or
abating the disbarment proceedings. As we have stated, Maelotisea is more of a witness than a complainant
in these proceedings. We note further that she filed her affidavits of withdrawal only after she had
Similar to Villasanta was the case of Conjuangco, Jr. v. Palma,25[25] where the respondent secretly Lastly, Atty. Garrido petitioned for the nullity of his marriage to Maelotisea. Contrary to the position
contracted a second marriage with the daughter of his client in Hongkong. We found that the respondent advanced by Atty. Alicia A. Risos-Vidal, this was not an act of facing up to his responsibility or an act of
exhibited a deplorable lack of that degree of morality required of members of the Bar. In particular, he mending his ways. This was an attempt, using his legal knowledge, to escape liability for his past actions
made a mockery of marriage a sacred institution that demands respect and dignity. We also declared his act by having his second marriage declared void after the present complaint was filed against him.
of contracting a second marriage contrary to honesty, justice, decency and morality.
By his actions, Garrido committed multiple violations relating to the legal profession,
In this case, the undisputed facts gathered from the evidence and the admissions of Atty. Garrido specifically, violations of the bar admission rules, of his lawyers oath, and of the ethical rules of the
established a pattern of gross immoral conduct that warrants his disbarment. His conduct was not only profession.
corrupt or unprincipled; it was reprehensible to the highest degree.
He did not possess the good moral character required of a lawyer at the time of his admission to the
First, Atty. Garrido admitted that he left Constancia to pursue his law studies; thereafter and during the Bar.27[27] As a lawyer, he violated his lawyers oath,28[28] Section 20(a) of Rule 138 of the Rules of
marriage, he had romantic relationships with other women. He had the gall to represent to this Court that Court,29[29] and Canon 1 of the Code of Professional Responsibility,30[30] all of which commonly
the study of law was his reason for leaving his wife; marriage and the study of law are not mutually require him to obey the laws of the land. In marrying Maelotisea, he committed the crime of bigamy, as he
exclusive. entered this second marriage while his first marriage with Constancia was subsisting. He openly admitted
his bigamy when he filed his petition to nullify his marriage to Maelotisea.
Second, he misrepresented himself to Maelotisea as a bachelor, when in truth he was already married to
Constancia.26[26] This was a misrepresentation given as an excuse to lure a woman into a prohibited He violated ethical rules of the profession, specifically, Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional
relationship. Responsibility, which commands that he shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct; Canon 7 of the same Code, which demands that [a] lawyer shall at all times uphold the
Third, Atty. Garrido contracted his second marriage with Maelotisea notwithstanding the subsistence of his integrity and dignity of the legal profession; Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which
first marriage. This was an open admission, not only of an illegal liaison, but of the commission of a crime. provides that, [a] lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness to practice
law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in a scandalous manner to the discredit
Fourth, Atty. Garrido engaged in an extra-marital affair with Atty. Valencia while his two marriages were of the legal profession.
in place and without taking into consideration the moral and emotional implications of his actions on the
two women he took as wives and on his six (6) children by his second marriage. As a lawyer, his community looked up to Atty. Garrido with the expectation and that he would
set a good example in promoting obedience to the Constitution and the laws. When he violated the law and
Fifth, instead of making legal amends to validate his marriage with Maelotisea upon the death of distorted it to cater to his own personal needs and selfish motives, he discredited the legal profession and
Constancia, Atty. Garrido married Atty. Valencia who bore him a daughter. created the public impression that laws are mere tools of convenience that can be used, bended and abused
to satisfy personal whims and desires. In this case, he also used the law to free him from unwanted
Sixth, Atty. Garrido misused his legal knowledge and convinced Atty. Valencia (who was not then a relationships.
lawyer) that he was free to marry, considering that his marriage with Maelotisea was not valid.
The Court has often reminded the members of the bar to live up to the standards and norms expected of the
Seventh, as the evidence on record implies, Atty. Garrido married Atty. Valencia in Hongkong in an legal profession by upholding the ideals and principles embodied in the Code of Professional
apparent attempt to accord legitimacy to a union entered into while another marriage was in place. Responsibility.31[31] Lawyers are bound to maintain not only a high standard of legal proficiency, but also
of morality, including honesty, integrity and fair dealing.32[32] Lawyers are at all times subject to the
Eighth, after admission to the practice of law, Atty. Garrido simultaneously cohabited and had sexual
relations with two (2) women who at one point were both his wedded wives. He also led a double life with
two (2) families for a period of more than ten (10) years.
watchful public eye and community approbation.33[33] Needless to state, those whose conduct both public Atty. Valencias presence and willingness, Atty. Garrido even left his second family and six children for a
and private fail this scrutiny have to be disciplined and, after appropriate proceedings, accordingly third marriage with her. This scenario smacks of immorality even if viewed outside of the prism of law.
penalized.34[34]
We are not unmindful of Atty. Valencias expressed belief that Atty. Garridos second marriage to
Atty. Valencia Maelotisea was invalid; hence, she felt free to marry Atty. Garrido. While this may be correct in the strict
legal sense and was later on confirmed by the declaration of the nullity of Atty. Garridos marriage to
We agree with the findings of Investigating Commissioner San Juan that Atty. Valencia should Maelotisea, we do not believe at all in the honesty of this expressed belief.
be administratively liable under the circumstances for gross immorality:
The records show that Atty. Valencia consented to be married in Hongkong, not within the country. Given
x x x The contention of respondent that they were not yet lawyers in March 27, 1978 when they got that this marriage transpired before the declaration of the nullity of Atty. Garridos second marriage, we can
married shall not afford them exemption from sanctions, for good moral character is required as a condition only call this Hongkong marriage a clandestine marriage, contrary to the Filipino tradition of celebrating a
precedent to admission to the Bar. Likewise there is no distinction whether the misconduct was committed marriage together with family. Despite Atty. Valencias claim that she agreed to marry Atty. Garrido only
in the lawyers professional capacity or in his private life. Again, the claim that his marriage to complainant after he showed her proof of his capacity to enter into a subsequent valid marriage, the celebration of their
was void ab initio shall not relieve respondents from responsibility x x x Although the second marriage of marriage in Hongkong39[39] leads us to the opposite conclusion; they wanted to marry in Hongkong for
the respondent was subsequently declared null and void the fact remains that respondents exhibited conduct the added security of avoiding any charge of bigamy by entering into the subsequent marriage outside
which lacks that degree of morality required of them as members of the Bar.35[35] Philippine jurisdiction. In this regard, we cannot help but note that Atty. Valencia afterwards opted to retain
and use her surname instead of using the surname of her husband. Atty. Valencia, too, did not appear to
Moral character is not a subjective term but one that corresponds to objective reality.36[36] To have good mind that her husband did not live and cohabit with her under one roof, but with his second wife and the
moral character, a person must have the personal characteristics of being good. It is not enough that he or family of this marriage. Apparently, Atty. Valencia did not mind at all sharing her husband with another
she has a good reputation, i.e., the opinion generally entertained about a person or the estimate in which he woman. This, to us, is a clear demonstration of Atty. Valencias perverse sense of moral values.
or she is held by the public in the place where she is known.37[37] The requirement of good moral
character has four general purposes, namely: (1) to protect the public; (2) to protect the public image of Measured against the definition of gross immorality, we find Atty. Valencias actions grossly immoral. Her
lawyers; (3) to protect prospective clients; and (4) to protect errant lawyers from themselves.38[38] Each actions were so corrupt as to approximate a criminal act, for she married a man who, in all appearances,
purpose is as important as the other. was married to another and with whom he has a family. Her actions were also unprincipled and
reprehensible to a high degree; as the confidante of Atty. Garrido, she preyed on his vulnerability and
Under the circumstances, we cannot overlook that prior to becoming a lawyer, Atty. Valencia already knew engaged in a romantic relationship with him during the subsistence of his two previous marriages. As
that Atty. Garrido was a married man (either to Constancia or to Maelotisea), and that he already had a already mentioned, Atty. Valencias conduct could not but be scandalous and revolting to the point of
family. As Atty. Garridos admitted confidante, she was under the moral duty to give him proper advice; shocking the communitys sense of decency; while she professed to be the lawfully wedded wife, she helped
instead, she entered into a romantic relationship with him for about six (6) years during the subsistence of the second family build a house prior to her marriage to Atty. Garrido, and did not object to sharing her
his two marriages. In 1978, she married Atty. Garrido with the knowledge that he had an outstanding husband with the woman of his second marriage.
second marriage. These circumstances, to our mind, support the conclusion that she lacked good moral
character; even without being a lawyer, a person possessed of high moral values, whose confidential advice We find that Atty. Valencia violated Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, as
was sought by another with respect to the latters family problems, would not aggravate the situation by her behavior demeaned the dignity of and discredited the legal profession. She simply failed in her duty as
entering into a romantic liaison with the person seeking advice, thereby effectively alienating the other
persons feelings and affection from his wife and family.

While Atty. Valencia contends that Atty. Garridos marriage with Maelotisea was null and void,
the fact remains that he took a man away from a woman who bore him six (6) children. Ordinary decency
would have required her to ward off Atty. Garridos advances, as he was a married man, in fact a twice-
married man with both marriages subsisting at that time; she should have said no to Atty. Garrido from the
very start. Instead, she continued her liaison with Atty. Garrido, driving him, upon the death of Constancia,
away from legitimizing his relationship with Maelotisea and their children. Worse than this, because of
a lawyer to adhere unwaveringly to the highest standards of morality.40[40] In Barrientos v. Daarol,41[41]
ADMINISTRATOR,
we held that lawyers, as officers of the court, must not only be of good moral character but must also be
Complainant,
seen to be of good moral character and must lead lives in accordance with the highest moral standards of
the community. Atty. Valencia failed to live up to these standards before she was admitted to the bar and Present:
after she became a member of the legal profession. CORONA, C.J.,
Conclusion CARPIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
Membership in the Bar is a privilege burdened with conditions. As a privilege bestowed by law through the LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
Supreme Court, membership in the Bar can be withdrawn where circumstances concretely show the BRION,
lawyers lack of the essential qualifications required of lawyers. We resolve to withdraw this privilege from - versus - PERALTA,
Atty. Angel E. Garrido and Atty. Rowena P. Valencia for this reason. BERSAMIN,
DEL CASTILLO,
In imposing the penalty of disbarment upon the respondents, we are aware that the power to disbar is one to ABAD,
be exercised with great caution and only in clear cases of misconduct that seriously affects the standing and VILLARAMA, JR.,
character of the lawyer as a legal professional and as an officer of the Court.42[42] PEREZ,
MENDOZA,
We are convinced from the totality of the evidence on hand that the present case is one of them. The JUDGE CADER P. INDAR, SERENO,
records show the parties pattern of grave and immoral misconduct that demonstrates their lack of mental Presiding Judge and Acting REYES, and
and emotional fitness and moral character to qualify them for the responsibilities and duties imposed on Presiding Judge of the Regional PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.
lawyers as professionals and as officers of the court. Trial Court, Branch 14, Cotabato
City and Branch 15, Shariff
While we are keenly aware of Atty. Garridos plea for compassion and his act of supporting his children Aguak, Maguindanao, respectively, Promulgated:
with Maelotisea after their separation, we cannot grant his plea. The extent of his demonstrated violations Respondent. April 10, 2012
of his oath, the Rules of Court and of the Code of Professional Responsibility overrides what under other x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
circumstances are commendable traits of character.

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

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Court resolves to:


This is an administrative complaint for gross misconduct and dishonesty against respondent Judge Cader P.
Indar, Al Haj (Judge Indar), Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 14, Cotabato City
(1) DISBAR Atty. Angel E. Garrido from the practice of law for gross immorality, violation of the and Acting Presiding Judge of the RTC, Branch 15, Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao.
Lawyers Oath; and violation of Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional
Responsibility; and
This case originated from reports by the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and Quezon City to the Office of
the Court Administrator (OCA) that they have received an alarming number of decisions, resolutions, and
orders on annulment of marriage cases allegedly issued by Judge Indar.
(2) DISBAR Atty. Romana P. Valencia from the practice of law for gross immorality, violation of Canon 7
and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility. To verify the allegations against Judge Indar, the OCA conducted a judicial audit in RTC-Shariff Aguak,
Branch 15, where the Audit Team found that the list of cases submitted by the Local Civil Registrars of
Let a copy of this Decision be attached to the personal records of Atty. Angel E. Garrido and Atty. Romana Manila and Quezon City do not appear in the records of cases received, pending or disposed by RTC-
P. Valencia in the Office of the Bar Confidant, and another copy furnished the Integrated Bar of the Shariff Aguak, Branch 15. Likewise, the annulment decisions did not exist in the records of RTC-Cotabato,
Philippines. Branch 14. The Audit Team further observed that the case numbers in the list submitted by the Local Civil
Registrars are not within the series of case numbers recorded in the docket books of either RTC-Shariff
Aguak or RTC-Cotabato.
The Clerk of Court is directed to strike out the names of Angel E. Garrido and Rowena P. Valencia from
the Roll of Attorneys. SO ORDERED. At the same time, the Audit Team followed-up Judge Indars compliance with Deputy Court Administrator
OFFICE OF THE COURT A.M. No. RTJ-10-2232 (DCA) Jesus Edwin A. Villasors 1st Indorsement, dated 15 February 2010, relative to the letter1 of Ms.
Miren Galloway, Manager-Permanent Entry Unit, Australian Embassy, Manila (Australian Embassy letter),
asking confirmation on the authenticity of Judge Indars decision, dated 23 May 2007, in Spec. Proc. No. Gonzalo Javier St., Rosary Heights, Cotabato City. The LBC report indicated that the Order was received
06-581, entitled Chona Chanco Aguiling v. Alan V. Aguiling, for Declaration of Nullity of Marriage. As by a certain Mrs. Asok.
regards this case, the Audit Team found that Spec. Proc. No. 06-584 does not exist in the records of cases
filed, pending or disposed by RTC-Shariff Aguak. Justice Gacutan also sent a letter dated 23 July 2010 addressed to Atty. Umaima L. Silongan (Atty.
Silongan), Acting Clerk of Court of RTC-Cotabato, directing her to serve the notice of hearing scheduled
on 10 and 11 August 2010 to Judge Indar and to report the steps taken to effect service of the same. Atty.
Subsequently, the Audit Team made the following conclusions: Silongan submitted a Return of Service, informing that the notices sent to Judge Indar had remained
unserved, as the latter left Cotabato City in April 2010 and his location since then was unknown.
1. The list in Annexes A; A-1; A-2 and A-3 are not found in the list of cases filed, pending or decided in
the Regional Trial Court, Branch 15, Shariff Aguak [Maguindanao] which is based in Cotabato City, nor in In a Resolution of 28 September 2010, this Court directed Justice Gacutan to conduct further investigation
the records of the Office of the Clerk of Court of Regional Trial Court, Cotabato City; to determine the authenticity of the questioned decisions allegedly rendered by Judge Indar annulling
certain marriages. The Court required Justice Gacutan to ascertain whether the cases were properly filed in
2. There are apparently decisions of cases which are spurious, as these did not pass through the regular court, and who are the parties responsible for the issuance of the questioned decisions, and to submit a
process such as filing, payment of docket fees, trial, etc. which are now circulating and being registered in report thereon within 60 days from receipt of the Resolution.
Local Civil Registrars throughout the country, the extent of which is any bodys guess;
In compliance with the Courts Resolution, Justice Gacutan directed the Local Civil Registrars of Manila
3. The authenticity of the signatures appearing thereon could only be validated by handwriting experts of and Quezon City and Atty. Silongan to submit certified true copies of the questioned decisions and to
the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI); testify thereon.

4. The participation of any lower court officials and/or employees could not be ascertained except probably Only the Civil Registrars were present during the hearings on 4 and 5 November 2010. Their testimonies
through a more thorough discreet investigation and or entrapment; [and] are summarized as follows:

5. There is a possibility that more of this (sic) spurious documents may appear and cause damage to the Testimonies of Ma. Josefina Encarnacion A. Ocampo, City Civil Registrar of Manila
Courts Integrity.2 TSN, November 4, 2010

Meanwhile, in compliance with DCA Villasors Indorsement and in response to the Australian Embassy As City Civil Registrar, she is mandated to receive all registered documents that will affect the status of the
letter, Judge Indar explained, in a Letter dated 10 March 2010, that this court is a Court of General person like the birth, death and marriage contract, court decrees regarding annulment, adoption,
Jurisdiction and can therefore act even on cases involving Family Relations. Hence, the subject decision legitimization, the affidavit using the surname of the father, naturalization, the selection of citizenship, etc.
rendered by this Court annulling the marriage of your client is VALID and she is free to marry.3 The documents are forwarded to their office after they are being registered by the concerned parties.

In a Memorandum dated 26 April 2010, the OCA recommended that (1) the matter be docketed as a regular In the case of annulment of marriage, a copy of the decision is submitted to the Civil Registrar by the one
administrative matter; (2) the matter be assigned to a Court of Appeals Justice for Investigation, Report, who had his marriage annulled. Per administrative order, it is the duty of the Clerk of Court to furnish them
and Recommendation; and (3) Judge Indar be preventively suspended, pending investigation. a copy of the Decision. After the copies of decisions are submitted to them, they are mandated to verify the
authenticity of the decision by writing a verification letter to the Clerk of Court before making the
In a Resolution dated 4 May 2010, the Court En Banc (1) docketed this administrative matter as A.M. No. annotation or changing the parties status.
RTJ-10-2232,4 and (2) preventively suspended Judge Indar pending investigation of this case.
She identified the list of cases of annulment of marriages and petitions changing status of persons (annexes
The case was initially raffled to Justice Rodil V. Zalameda of the Court of Appeals, Manila for A-1 and A-2) which all came from a court in Cotabato. All the cases listed in A-2 have already been
investigation. The case was re-raffled to Justice Angelita A. Gacutan (Justice Gacutan) of the Court of confirmed or annotated in the records of the Manila Civil Registry. She affirmed that the said cases in the
Appeals, Cagayan de Oro due to its proximity to the Regional Trial Courts involved. list were certified true by the clerk of court. As their duty to annotate the said decrees to their records are
merely ministerial, they do not question the decrees however peculiar they may seem.
Justice Gacutan set the case for hearing on several dates and sent the corresponding notices of hearing to
Judge Indar at his known addresses, namely, his official stations in RTC-Cotabato and RTC-Shariff Aguak The cases listed in the document marked as Annex A-2 were also cases that came from Cotabato City for
and residence address. their annotation. Although these cases have been certified true by the Clerk of Court, their annotation and
confirmation were held in abeyance due to the on-going investigation of Judge Indar.
The first notice of hearing dated 21 June 2010, which was sent via registered mail and private courier LBC,
scheduled the hearings on 14, 15, and 16 July 2010 and directed Judge Indar to submit in affidavit form his Testimony of Salvador Cario,
explanation. The LBC records show that this notice, which was delivered to Judge Indars official stations, Chief of Records Division, City Civil Registrar of Quezon City
was received by one Mustapha Randang on 28 June 2010. TSN, November 4, 2010

The scheduled hearing was postponed and reset to 20, 21 and 22 July 2010. The notice of postponement He generally supervises the retrieval of all the records or documents in their office. He also signs certified
was sent to Judge Indar via registered mail on 6 July 2010 to his official stations and was received again by true copies of birth, marriage contract, death certificate and certified true copies of Courts decisions
Mustapha Randang on 8 July 2010. furnished to them by different courts.

Judge Indar failed to attend the hearing as rescheduled and to submit the affidavit as required. Thus, in an With regards the decisions issued by the Court in provinces, once the Judge issued the decision regarding
Order of 23 July 2010, Justice Gacutan directed Judge Indar to explain his non-appearance, and reset the the annulment, the parties concern should first register the decision to the Local Civil Registrar where the
hearing to 10 and 11 August 2010. The Order was sent to his residence address in M. Tan Subdivision, court is situated. After they receive the decision from the Administrative Division, they would call or write
the concerned Local Civil Registrar to authenticate or verify the records. He identified the cases coming notified of a scheduled hearing as calendared. There is also no record that a hearing was conducted. No
from a Cotabato court that were submitted to them for annotation. stenographic notes of the actual proceedings were also made. He could not also determine when the said
cases were submitted for decision as it was not calendared for that purpose.8

Judge Jabido also submitted a report, portions of which read:


The undersigned took extra efforts to locate any record of the cases involving the parties as enumerated in
the list. The undersigned even issued Memorandum to the Branch Clerk of Court, the docket clerk and
other responsible officers of the Court to produce and secure copies of any pleading/documents related to
The subject decisions listed in the annexes which were decided by a court in Cotabato City were already these cases enumerated in the list but his efforts proved futile, hence:
annotated and verified. However he could not ascertain who from the court verified the authenticity or
existence of such decisions as he was not the one who personally called to verify and authenticate them a) to this Court, there is no record on file of all the enumerated cases contained in the list.
from the court where the listed Decisions/Orders originate.5
b) to this Court, it is bereft of any evidence on whether the Hon. Judge Indar conducted a hearing in these
cases.
The Civil Registrar of Manila submitted copies of Decisions, Orders and Resolutions, all signed by Judge
Indar, in forty three (43) cases for annulment of marriage, correction of entry and other similar cases from xxxx
RTC-Cotabato City, Branch 15. All the decisions were accompanied by the corresponding Letter of Atty. There is absence of any record showing compliance of the same. It is hereby submitted that the manner
Silongan, affirming each of the decisions as true and authentic based on the records, while thirty six (36) of upon which the questioned annulment and correction cases, as contained herein in the attached list,
such decisions are accompanied by Atty. Silongans certification affirming the genuineness of Judge Indars allegedly decided by the Hon. Judge Indar were commenced are clearly doubtful.
signature affixed on the Decisions.6
Firstly, there is no showing of compliance on the rules prescribed.
On the other hand, the Civil Registrar of Quezon City submitted twenty five (25) Decisions, Orders, and
Resolutions issued by RTC-Cotabato City, Branch 15, which were transmitted to the Registrars office for xxxx
annotation and recording. All the Decisions were signed by Judge Indar, and accompanied by Certificates
of Finality affirming the genuineness of Judge Indars signature appearing above the name of Judge Cader There is no showing that a verified Petition was officially filed in writing and giving (sic) an opportunity
P. Indar. The Certificates of Finality were issued by Atty. Silongan and in one case, by Abie Amilil, the for the Respondents to be heard by himself or by counsel. x x x9
OIC-Branch Clerk of Court.7

Meanwhile, Atty. Silongan, despite notice, failed to attend the hearing. She explained in a Manifestation of To support his findings, Judge Jabido submitted: (1) copies of the Letters and Memoranda mentioned in the
8 November 2010 that she received the Notice only on 8 November 2010 because she was on leave from 1 report; (2) the Calendar of Cases in RTC-Cotabato, Branch 15, on various dates from the period starting
October 1 to 30 November 2010. Thus, the hearing was reset to 11 and 12 January 2011. However, on the April 2007 to 20 October 2009; and (3) the Docket Inventory in Civil Cases, Criminal Cases and Other
scheduled hearing, Atty. Silongan still failed to appear. Cases for the period of January to December 2009 in RTC-Cotabato, Branch 15.
Justice Gacutan sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to locate the
whereabouts of Judge Indar, as well as of Atty. Silongan. After several exchanges of correspondence, the
NBI, in a Letter dated 22 March 2011, provided the residence addresses of both Judge Indar and Atty. Subpoenas were sent to some of the parties in the questioned decisions, namely: Grace Elizarde Reyes
Silongan. (Special Case No. 1049), Buenaventura Mojica (Apl. Proc. No. 08-1931), Marie Christine N. Florendo
(Civil Case No. 519), Jesse Yamson Faune, Jr. (Special Civil Case 08-2366), Rosemarie Tongson Ramos
Meanwhile, Judge George C. Jabido (Judge Jabido), Acting Presiding Judge of RTC-Shariff Aguak, (Special Case No. 08-1871) and Melissa Sangan-Demafelis (Spl. Proc. 07-2262) to determine whether they
Branch 15, was directed to verify the authenticity of the records of the subject Decisions and to appear at filed the petitions for annulment of marriage and whether proceedings were actually had before Judge
the hearing on 29 March 2011. The hearing was canceled due to the judicial reorganization in the Court of Indars sala in relation to their cases. All the subpoenas were returned to the Court of Appeals.
Appeals.
In his Report dated 2 September 2011, Justice Borreta first determined whether the requirements of due
This administrative matter was re-raffled to Justice Abraham B. Borreta (Justice Borreta) since Justice process had been complied with since there was no proof that Judge Indar personally and actually received
Gacutan was reassigned to Manila effective 11 April 2011. Justice Borreta set the hearing on 27 to 29 June any of the notices sent to him in the course of the investigation.
2011. Notices of hearing were sent to Judge Indar and Atty. Silongan at the addresses provided by the NBI
and at their previous mailing addresses. The registered mails addressed to Judge Indar were returned for the Justice Borreta differentiated administrative due process with judicial due process. He stated that while a
following reasons: (1) addressee out of town, move to another place and (2) addressee unknown. The day in court is a matter of right in judicial proceedings, it is otherwise in administrative proceedings since
Notice sent to Atty. Silongan was also returned and per LBC report, the consignee has moved to an they rest upon different principles.
unknown address.
Justice Borreta noted that all possible means to locate Judge Indar and to personally serve the court notices
Judge Jabido, who was notified of the hearing, testified that: to him were resorted to. The notices of hearing were sent to Judge Indars known addresses, namely, his sala
in RTC-Cotabato Branch 14 and RTC-Shariff Aguak Branch 15, and at his residence address. However,
In compliance with the directive of the Investigating Justice to verify the authenticity of the records of the none of the notices appeared to have been personally received by Judge Indar.
listed decisions, judgments and orders, he issued memos to the officers of the Court, the Branch Clerk of Notwithstanding, Justice Borreta concluded that the requirements of due process have been complied with.
Court, the docket clerk, directing them to produce and secure copies of the minutes and other documents Justice Borreta stated that Judge Indar was aware of a pending administrative case against him. The notice
related therein. He personally checked the records of the RTC. The Records of the RTC are bereft of of this Courts Resolution of 4 May 2010, preventively suspending Judge Indar, was mailed and sent to him
evidence to show that regular and true proceedings were had on these cases. There is no showing that a at his sala in RTC-Shariff Aguak, Branch 15.
docket fee has been paid for each corresponding cases. There is also no showing that the parties were
Justice Borreta proceeded to determine Judge Indars administrative liability, and found the latter guilty of first two notices of hearing were received by one Mustapha Randang of the Clerk of Court, RTC-Cotabato,
serious misconduct and dishonesty. while one of the notices was received by a certain Mrs. Asok, who were presumably authorized and
capable to receive notices on behalf of Judge Indar.
According to Justice Borreta, Judge Indars act of issuing decisions on annulment of marriage cases without
complying with the stringent procedural and substantive requirements of the Rules of Court for such cases Further, Judge Indar cannot feign ignorance of the administrative investigation against him because aside
clearly violates the Code of Judicial Conduct. Judge Indar made it appear that the annulment cases from the fact that the Courts Resolution suspending him was mailed to him, his preventive suspension was
underwent trial, when the records show no judicial proceedings occurred. reported in major national newspapers.18 Moreover, Judge Indar was repeatedly sent notices of hearings to
his known addresses. Thus, there was due notice on Judge Indar of the charges against him. However,
Moreover, Judge Indars act of affirming in writing before the Australian Embassy the validity of a decision Judge Indar still failed to file his explanation and appear at the scheduled hearings. Consequently, the
he allegedly rendered, when in fact that case does not appear in the courts records, constitutes dishonesty. investigation proceeded ex parte in accordance with Section 4, Rule 140 of the Rules of Court.19
Public office is a public trust.20 This constitutional principle requires a judge, like any other public servant
Justice Borreta recommended the dismissal of Judge Indar from service, and the investigation of Atty. and more so because of his exalted position in the Judiciary, to exhibit at all times the highest degree of
Silongan, who is not included as respondent in this case, on her participation in the certification of the honesty and integrity.21 As the visible representation of the law tasked with dispensing justice, a judge
authenticity of the spurious Decisions. should conduct himself at all times in a manner that would merit the respect and confidence of the people. 22

The sole issue in this case is whether Judge Indar is guilty of gross misconduct and dishonesty. Judge Indar miserably failed to live up to these exacting standards.

We agree with the findings of the Investigating Justice. In Office of the Court Administrator v. Lopez,23 the Court explained the difference between simple
misconduct and grave misconduct, thus:
The Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service, which govern the conduct of disciplinary
and non-disciplinary proceedings in administrative cases, clearly provide that technical rules of procedure The Court defines misconduct as a transgression of some established and definite rule of action, more
and evidence do not strictly apply to administrative proceedings. Section 3, Rule I of the Uniform Rules particularly, unlawful behavior or gross negligence by a public officer. The misconduct is grave if it
states: involves any of the additional elements of corruption, willful intent to violate the law, or to disregard
established rules, which must be established by substantial evidence. As distinguished from simple
Section 3. Technical Rules in Administrative Investigations. Administrative investigations shall be misconduct, the elements of corruption, clear intent to violate the law, or flagrant disregard of established
conducted without necessarily adhering strictly to the technical rules of procedure and evidence applicable rule, must be manifest in a charge of grave misconduct.
to judicial proceedings.
In Cornejo v. Gabriel,10 the Court held that notice and hearing are not indispensable in administrative
investigations, thus: In this case, Judge Indar issued decisions on numerous annulment of marriage cases which do not exist in
the records of RTC-Shariff Aguak, Branch 15 or the Office of the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial
The fact should not be lost sight of that we are dealing with an administrative proceeding and not with a Court, Cotabato City. There is nothing to show that (1) proceedings were had on the questioned cases; (2)
judicial proceeding. As Judge Cooley, the leading American writer on constitutional Law, has well said, docket fees had been paid; (3) the parties were notified of a scheduled hearing as calendared; (4) hearings
due process of law is not necessarily judicial process; much of the process by means of which the had been conducted; or (5) the cases were submitted for decision. As found by the Audit Team, the list of
Government is carried on, and the order of society maintained, is purely executive or administrative, which case titles submitted by the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and Quezon City are not found in the list of
is as much due process of law, as is judicial process. While a day in court is a matter of right in judicial cases filed, pending or decided in RTC, Branch 15, Shariff Aguak, nor in the records of the Office of the
proceedings, in administrative proceedings it is otherwise since they rest upon different principles. In Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, Cotabato City. In other words, Judge Indar, who had sworn to
certain proceedings, therefore, of an administrative character, it may be stated, without fear of faithfully uphold the law, issued decisions on the questioned annulment of marriage cases, without any
contradiction, that the right to a notice and hearing are not essential to due process of law. x x x11 showing that such cases underwent trial and complied with the statutory and jurisprudential requisites for
(Emphasis supplied; citations omitted) voiding marriages. Such act undoubtedly constitutes gross misconduct.

The Court condemns Judge Indars reprehensible act of issuing Decisions that voided marital unions,
It is settled that technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied to administrative without conducting any judicial proceedings. Such malfeasance not only makes a mockery of marriage and
proceedings. Thus, administrative due process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial its life-changing consequences but likewise grossly violates the basic norms of truth, justice, and due
sense.12 It is enough that the party is given the chance to be heard before the case against him is decided. 13 process. Not only that, Judge Indars gross misconduct greatly undermines the peoples faith in the judiciary
Otherwise stated, in the application of the principle of due process, what is sought to be safeguarded is not and betrays public trust and confidence in the courts. Judge Indars utter lack of moral fitness has no place
lack of previous notice but the denial of the opportunity to be heard. 14 in the Judiciary. Judge Indar deserves nothing less than dismissal from the service.

The Court emphasized in Cornejo15 the Constitutional precept that public office is a public trust, 16 which is The Court defines dishonesty as:
the underlying principle for the relaxation of the requirements of due process of law in administrative
proceedings, thus: x x x a disposition to lie, cheat, deceive, or defraud; untrustworthiness; lack of integrity; lack of honesty,
probity or integrity in principle; lack of fairness and straightforwardness; disposition to defraud, deceive or
Again, for this petition to come under the due process of law prohibition, it would be necessary to consider betray.24
an office as property. It is, however, well settled in the United States, that a public office is not property
within the sense of the constitutional guaranties of due process of law, but is a public trust or In this case, Judge Indar issued Decisions on numerous annulment of marriage cases when in fact he did
agency.17 (Emphasis supplied) not conduct any judicial proceedings on the cases. Not even the filing of the petitions occurred. Judge Indar
made it appear in his Decisions that the annulment cases complied with the stringent requirements of the
Rules of Court and the strict statutory and jurisprudential conditions for voiding marriages, when quite the
In this case, Judge Indar was given ample opportunity to controvert the charges against him. While there is contrary is true, violating Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct which mandates that a judge perform
no proof that Judge Indar personally received the notices of hearing issued by the Investigating Justices, the official duties honestly.
CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND DIGNITY OF
As found by the Audit Team, the list of cases submitted by the Local Civil Registrars of Manila and THE LEGAL PROFESSION.
Quezon City do not appear in the records of cases received, pending, or disposed by RTC-Shariff Aguak,
Branch 15, which Judge Indar presided. The cases do not likewise exist in the docket books of the Office of In addition, Judge Indars dishonest act of issuing decisions making it appear that the annulment cases
the Clerk of Court, RTC-Cotabato. The Audit Team also noted that the case numbers in the list are not underwent trial and complied with the Rules of Court, laws, and established jurisprudence violates the
within the series of case numbers recorded in the docket books of either RTC-Shariff Aguak or RTC- lawyers oath to do no falsehood, nor consent to the doing of any in court. Such violation is also a ground
Cotabato. for disbarment. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides:

Moreover, Judge Jabido, Acting Presiding Judge of RTC-Shariff Aguak, Branch 15, verified the records of SEC. 27. Disbarment and suspension of attorneys by Supreme Court, grounds therefor. - A member of the
the trial court and found nothing to show that proceedings were had on the questioned annulment cases. bar may be disbarred or suspended from his office as attorney by the Supreme Court for any deceit,
There was nothing in the records to show that (1) petitions were filed; (2) docket fees were paid; (3) the malpractice, or other gross misconduct in such office, grossly immoral conduct, or by reason of his
parties were notified of hearings; (4) hearings were calendared and actually held; (5) stenographic notes of conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude, or for any violation of the oath which he is required to
the proceedings were taken; and (6) the cases were submitted for decision. take before admission to practice, or for a willful disobedience of any lawful order of a superior court, or
for corruptly or willfully appearing as an attorney for a party to a case without authority so to do. The
Among the questioned annulment decrees is Judge Indars Decision dated 23 May 2007, in Spec. Proc. No. practice of soliciting cases at law for the purpose of gain, either personally or through paid agents or
06-581, entitled Chona Chanco Aguiling v. Alan V. Aguiling. Despite the fact that no proceedings were brokers, constitutes malpractice. (Emphasis supplied)
conducted in the case, Judge Indar declared categorically, in response to the Australian Embassy letter, that
the Decision annulling the marriage is valid and that petitioner is free to marry. In effect, Judge Indar
confirms the truthfulness of the contents of the annulment decree, highlighting Judge Indars appalling In Samson v. Caballero,31 where the Court automatically disbarred the respondent judge, pursuant to the
dishonesty. provisions of AM. No. 02-9-02-SC, the Court held:

Under the same rule, a respondent may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show cause
The Court notes that this is not Judge Indars first offense. In A.M. No. RTJ-05-1953,25 the Court imposed why he should not also be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as member of the Bar.
on him a fine of P10,000 for violating Section 5, Rule 58 of the Rules of Court, when he issued a The rule does not make it mandatory, before respondent may be held liable as a member of the bar, that
preliminary injunction without any hearing and prior notice to the parties. In another case, A.M. No. RTJ- respondent be required to comment on and show cause why he should not be disciplinary sanctioned as a
07-2069,26 the Court found him guilty of gross misconduct for committing violations of the Code of lawyer separately from the order for him to comment on why he should not be held administratively liable
Judicial Conduct and accordingly fined him P25,000. as a member of the bench. In other words, an order to comment on the complaint is an order to give an
explanation on why he should not be held administratively liable not only as a member of the bench but
Since this is Judge Indars third offense, showing the depravity of his character and aggravating27 the serious also as a member of the bar. This is the fair and reasonable meaning of automatic conversion of
offenses of gross misconduct and dishonesty,28 the Court imposes on Judge Indar the ultimate penalty of administrative cases against justices and judges to disciplinary proceedings against them as lawyers. This
dismissal from the service, with its accessory penalties, pursuant to Section 11, Rule 140 of the Rules of will also serve the purpose of A.M. No. 02-9-02-SC to avoid the duplication or unnecessary replication of
Court.29 actions by treating an administrative complaint filed against a member of the bench also as a disciplinary
proceeding against him as a lawyer by mere operation of the rule. Thus, a disciplinary proceeding as a
This administrative case against Judge Indar shall also be considered as a disciplinary proceeding against member of the bar is impliedly instituted with the filing of an administrative case against a justice of the
him as a member of the Bar, in accordance with AM. No. 02-9-02-SC.30 This Resolution entitled Re: Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals and Court of Tax Appeals or a judge of a first- or second-level court.
Automatic Conversion of Some Administrative Cases Against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the
Sandiganbayan; Judges of Regular and Special Courts; and Court Officials Who are Lawyers as It cannot be denied that respondents dishonesty did not only affect the image of the judiciary, it also put his
Disciplinary Proceedings Against Them Both as Such Officials and as Members of the Philippine Bar, moral character in serious doubt and rendered him unfit to continue in the practice of law. Possession of
provides: good moral character is not only a prerequisite to admission to the bar but also a continuing requirement to
the practice of law. If the practice of law is to remain an honorable profession and attain its basic ideals,
Some administrative cases against Justices of the Court of Appeals and the Sandiganbayan; judges of those counted within its ranks should not only master its tenets and principles but should also accord
regular and special courts; and the court officials who are lawyers are based on grounds which are continuing fidelity to them. The requirement of good moral character is of much greater import, as far
likewise grounds for the disciplinary action of members of the Bar for violation of the Lawyers Oath, as the general public is concerned, than the possession of legal learning. (Emphasis supplied)
the Code of Professional Responsibility, and the Canons of Professional Ethics, or for such other forms of
breaches of conduct that have been traditionally recognized as grounds for the discipline of lawyers.
Considering that Judge Indar is guilty of gross misconduct and dishonesty, constituting violations of the
In any of the foregoing instances, the administrative case shall also be considered a disciplinary Lawyers Oath, and Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, Judge Indar
action against the respondent justice, judge or court official concerned as a member of the Bar. The deserves disbarment.
respondent may forthwith be required to comment on the complaint and show cause why he should not also
be suspended, disbarred or otherwise disciplinary sanctioned as a member of the Bar. Judgment in both
respects may be incorporated in one decision or resolution. (Emphasis supplied) In so far as Atty. Silongan, is concerned, we adopt Justice Borretas recommendation to conduct an
investigation on her alleged participation in the authentication of the questioned Decisions.
Indisputably, Judge Indars gross misconduct and dishonesty likewise constitute a breach of the following
Canons of the Code of Professional Responsibility: WHEREFORE, the Court finds respondent Judge Cader P. Indar, Al Haj, Presiding Judge of the RTC,
Branch 14, Cotabato City and Acting Presiding Judge of the RTC, Branch 15, Shariff Aguak,
CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS OF THE Maguindanao, guilty of Gross Misconduct and Dishonesty for which he is DISMISSED from the service,
LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND FOR LEGAL PROCESSES. with forfeiture of all benefits due him, except accrued leave benefits, if any, with prejudice to re-
employment in any branch of the government, including government-owned or controlled corporations.
Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful act.
Judge Indar is likewise DISBARRED for violation of Canons 1 and 7 and Rule 1.01 of the Code of
Professional Responsibility and his name ORDERED STRICKEN from the Roll of Attorneys.

Let a copy of this Decision be entered into Judge Indars 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.

The Office of the Court Administrator is ORDERED to investigate Atty. Umaima L. Silongan, Acting
Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court, Cotabato City, on her alleged participation in the authentication
of the questioned Decisions on the annulment of marriage cases issued by Judge Indar.

Let copies of this Decision be forwarded to the Local Civil Registrars of the City of Manila and Quezon
City, the same to form part of the records of Decisions of Judge Indar on the annulment of marriages filed
with their offices.
This Decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

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