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ROLLY PENTECOSTES v. ATTY.

HERMENEGILDO A Privilege
529 SCRA 146 (2007) Good Moral Character

The clerk of court has the duty to safely keep all records, papers, files, exhibits and Parties:
public property. Complainants: Fr. Ranhilio C. Aquino(Academic Head of the Philippine Judicial
Academy) et al.

Atty. Hermenegildo Marasigan, Clerk of Court VI of the Office of the Clerk of Court of Respondent: Atty. Edwin Pascua (Notary Public in Cagayan)
the Regional Trial Court North Cotabato, was administratively charged with
grave misconduct and conduct unbecoming a public officer for the loss of a motorcycle- Facts:
subject matter of a criminal case which was placed under his care and custody.
Complainants:
The administrative case against Atty. Hermenegildo stemmed from a sworn affidavit In his letter-complaint, Father Aquino alleged that Atty. Pascua falsified two documents
complaint filed on November 11, 2004 by Rolly Pentecostes, the owner of committed as follows:
a Kawasaki motorcycle, which was recovered by members of the Philippine National
Police of M’lang, North Cotabato from suspected carnappers. (1) He made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one Joseph B.
Acorda entering the same as "Doc. No. 1213, Page No. 243, Book III, Series of 1998,
The release order for the motorcycle was issued but Pentecostes refused to receive it dated December 10, 1998".
because it was already ―cannibalized‖ and unserviceable.
(2) He also made it appear that he had notarized the "Affidavit-Complaint" of one
Remigio B. Domingo entering the same as "Doc. No. 1214, Page 243, Book III, Series
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) referred the case to the Executive Judge of RTC, of 1998, dated December 10, 1998.
Kabacan, North Cotabato, for investigation, report and recommendation. Judge Rabang
recommended that the administrative complaint against Atty. Hermenegildo be Father Aquino further alleged that on June 23 and July 26, 1999, Atty. Angel Beltran,
dismissed because there was no proof of Pentecostes’ claim that the vehicle was Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Tuguegarao, certified that none of the above
―cannibalized‖ from the time that it was under Atty. Hermenegildo’s custody until its entries appear in the Notarial Register of Atty. Pascua; that the last entry therein was
transfer to Philippine National Police (PNP) of Kabacan. The Office of the Court Document No. 1200 executed on December 28, 1998; and that, therefore, he could not
Administrator (OCA) affirmed the dismissal of the complaint. have notarized Documents Nos. 1213 and 1214 on December 10, 1998.

ISSUE: Lina M. Garan and other complainants contend that Atty. Pascua's omission was not
due to inadvertence but a clear case of falsification.
Whether or not the Atty. Hermenegildo is guilty of misconduct

Respondent:
HELD:
In his comment on the letter-complaint dated September 4, 1999, Atty. Pascua
It is the duty of the clerk of court to keep safely all records, papers, files, exhibits and admitted having notarized the two documents on December 10, 1998, but they were
public property committed to his charge.[12] Section D (4), Chapter VII of the not entered in his Notarial Register due to the oversight of his legal secretary, Lyn
1991 Manual For Clerks of Court (now Section E[2], paragraph 2.2.3, Chapter VI of the Elsie C. Patli, whose affidavit was attached to his comment
2002 Revised Manual for Clerks of Court) which provides all exhibits used as evidence
and turned over to the court and before the case/s involving such evidence shall have Issue:
been terminated shall be under the custody and safekeeping of the Clerk of Court. Whether or not the respondent is guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties.

Held:
From the above provisions, it is clear that as clerk of court of the RTC, Kabacan, Atty.
Atty. Pascua is guilty of misconduct in the performance of his duties while Atty. Pascua
Hermenegildo was charged with the custody and safekeeping of Pentecostes’
claims that the omission was not intentional but due to oversight of his staff. Whichever
motorcycle, and to keep it until the termination of the case, barring circumstances that
is the case, Atty. Pascua cannot escape liability. His failure to enter into his notarial
would justify its safekeeping elsewhere, and upon the prior authority of the trial court.
register the documents that he admittedly notarized is a dereliction of duty on his part
as a notary public and he is bound by the acts of his staff.
The Court said ―no explanation was offered by Atty. Hermenegildo, however, for
turning over the motorcycle. But whatever the reason was, Atty. Hermenegildo was The claim of Atty. Pascua that it was simple inadvertence is far from true.
mandated to secure prior consultations with and approval of the trial court.‖
The photocopy of his notarial register shows that the last entry which he notarized on
Moreover disconcerting is the fact that the acknowledgment receipt evidencing the December 28, 1998 is Document No. 1200 on Page 240. On the other hand, the two
turnover of the motorcycle from the trial court to the Kabacan police station was lost from affidavit-complaints allegedly notarized on December 10, 1998 are Document Nos.
the records, with nary a lead as to who was responsible for it. These circumstance are 1213 and 1214, respectively, under Page No. 243, Book III. Thus, Fr. Ranhilio and the
viewed with disfavor as it reflects badly on the safekeeping of court records, a duty other complainants are, therefore, correct in maintaining that Atty. Pascua falsely
entrusted to Atty. Hermenegildo as clerk of court. assigned fictitious numbers to the questioned affidavit-complaints, a clear dishonesty
on his part not only as a Notary Public, but also as a member of the Bar.
The Court has repeatedly emphasized that clerks of court are essential and ranking
This is not to mention that the only supporting evidence of the claim of inadvertence by
officers of our judicial system who perform delicate functions vital to the prompt and
Atty. Pascua is the affidavit of his own secretary which is hardly credible since the
proper administration of justice. Their duties include the efficient recording, filing and
latter cannot be considered a disinterested witness or party.
management of court records and, as previously pointed out, the safekeeping
of exhibits and public property committed to their charge.
Noteworthy also is the fact that the questioned affidavit of Acorda (Doc. No. 1213) was
submitted only when Domingo's affidavit (Doc. No. 1214) was withdrawn in the
administrative case filed by Atty. Pascua against Lina Garan, et al. with the CSC. This
circumstance lends credence to the submission of herein complainants that Atty.
Pascua ante-dated another affidavit-complaint making it appear as notarized on
December 10, 1998 and entered as Document No. 1213. It may not be sheer
coincidence then that both documents are dated December 10, 1998 and numbered
as 1213 and 1214.

WHEREFORE, Atty. Edwin Pascua is declared GUILTY of misconduct and is


SUSPENDED from the practice of law for three (3) months with a STERN WARNING
that a repetition of the same or similar act will be dealt with more severely. His notarial
commission, if still existing, is ordered REVOKED.

The case defined Misconduct:

"Misconduct" generally means wrongful, improper or unlawful conduct motivated by a


premeditated, obstinate or intentional purpose.[4] The term, however, does not
necessarily imply corruption or criminal intent.[5]
Re: Non-disclosure Before the Judicial and Bar Council of the Administrative BERNARDO vs. MEJIA
Case Filed Against Judge Jaime V. Quitain, in His Capacity as the then Asst.
Regional Director of the National Police Commission, Regional Office XI, Davao FACTS: On January 23, 1987, Rodolfo M. Bernardo, Jr. accused his retained attorney,
City. JBC No. Ismael F. Mejia, of the following administrative offenses:

FACTS: Judge Jaime Vega Quitain was appointed Presiding Judge of the Regional 1) Misappropriating and converting to his personal use:
Trial Court (RTC), Branch 10, Davao City. Subsequent thereto, the Office of the Court
Administrator (OCA) received confidential information that administrative and criminal a) part of the sum of P27,710.00 entrusted to him for payment of real estate taxes on
charges were filed against Judge Quitain in his capacity as then Assistant Regional property belonging to Bernardo, situated in a subdivision known as Valle Verde I; and
Director, National Police Commission (NAPOLCOM), Regional Office 11, Davao City, b) part of another sum of P40,000.00 entrusted to him for payment of taxes and
as a result of which he was dismissed from the service. This fact did not appear in his expenses in connection with the registration of title of Bernardo to another property in
Personal Data Sheet (PDS) submitted with his application as judge. Quitain explained a subdivision known as Valle Verde V;
that he was not aware of his administrative dismissal in NAPOLCOM. However, there
were newspaper articles that even featured his ouster and his subsequent appeal to 2) Falsification of certain documents, to wit:
clear his name. Thus, the OCA recommended that: (1) the instant administrative case
against respondent be docketed as an administrative matter; and (2) that he be a) a special power of attorney dated March 16, 1985, purportedly executed in his favor
dismissed from the service with prejudice to his reappointment to any position in the by Bernardo (Annex P, par. 51, complainant’s affidavit dates October 4, 1989);
government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, and with b) a deed of sale dated October 22, 1982 (Annex O, par. 48, id.); and
forfeiture of all retirement benefits except accrued leave credits. When the case c) a deed of assignment purportedly executed by the spouses Tomas and Remedios
reaches the Supreme Court, Quitain tendered his resignation which was accepted Pastor, in Bernardo’s favor (Annex Q, par. 52, id.);
without prejudice to the decision of the administrative case.
3) issuing a check, knowing that he was without funds in the bank, in payment of a
ISSUE#1: Does the resignation of the judge renders the administrative proceedings loan obtained from Bernardo in the amount of P50,000.00, and thereafter, replacing
against him moot and academic? said check with others known also to be insufficiently funded.

HELD#1: NO. ISSUE: Whether the applicant shall be reinstated in the Roll of Attorneys rests to a
[T]he resignation of Judge Quitain which was accepted by the Court without prejudice great extent on the sound discretion of the Court.
does not render moot and academic the instant administrative case. The jurisdiction
that the Court had at the time of the filing of the administrative complaint is not lost by HELD: The applicant must, like a candidate for admission to the bar, satisfy the Court
the mere fact that the respondent judge by his resignation and its consequent that he is a person of good moral character, a fit and proper person to practice law.
acceptance – without prejudice – by this Court, has ceased to be in office during the The Court will take into consideration the applicant’s character and standing prior to
pendency of this case. The Court retains its authority to pronounce the respondent the disbarment, the nature and character of the charge/s for which he was disbarred,
official innocent or guilty of the charges against him. A contrary rule would be fraught his conduct subsequent to the disbarment, and the time that has elapsed between the
with injustice and pregnant with dreadful and dangerous implications. Indeed, if disbarment and the application for reinstatement. The Court is inclined to grant the
innocent, the respondent official merits vindication of his name and integrity as he present petition. Fifteen years has passed since Mejia was punished with the severe
leaves the government which he has served well and faithfully; if guilty, he deserves to penalty of disbarment. Although the Court does not lightly take the bases for Mejia’s
receive the corresponding censure and a penalty proper and imposable under the disbarment, it also cannot close its eyes to the fact that Mejia is already of advanced
situation. years. While the age of the petitioner and the length of time during which he has
endured the ignominy of disbarment are not the sole measure in allowing a petition for
ISSUE#2: (Judicial Ethics) Can the judge be excused of his omission in the PDS? reinstatement, the Court takes cognizance of the rehabilitation of Mejia. Since his
disbarment in 1992, no other transgression has been attributed to him, and he has
HELD#2: NO. shown remorse. Obviously, he has learned his lesson from this experience, and his
We cannot overemphasize the need for honesty and integrity on the part of all those punishment has lasted long enough. Thus, while the Court is ever mindful of its duty to
who are in the service of the Judiciary. We have often stressed that the conduct discipline its erring officers, it also knows how to show compassion when the penalty
required of court personnel, from the presiding judge to the lowliest clerk of court, must imposed has already served its purpose. After all, penalties, such as disbarment, are
always be beyond reproach and circumscribed with the heavy burden of responsibility imposed not to punish but to correct offenders.
as to let them be free from any suspicion that may taint the Judiciary. We condemn,
and will never countenance any conduct, act or omission on the part of all those We reiterate, however, and remind petitioner that the practice of law is a privilege
involved in the administration of justice, which would violate the norm of public burdened with conditions. Adherence to the rigid standards of mental fitness,
accountability and diminish or even just tend to diminish the faith of the people in the maintenance of the highest degree of morality and faithful compliance with the rules of
Judiciary. the legal profession are the continuing requirements for enjoying the privilege to
practice law
Velez v. De Vera:* 2. Whether, in the course of his practice of law, Respondent Atty. de Vera
Succession to the IBP Presidency committed malpractice amounting to moral turpitude in the State Bar of California
and in the Philippines
The Facts
In AC No. 6697, Complainant Zoilo Antonio Velez sought the suspension or 3. Whether on May 13, 2005, the board of governors validly removed respondent
disbarment of Respondent Atty. Leonard de Vera (1) for misrepresentation from his positions as governor and EVP of the IBP
through his concealment of the suspension order rendered against him by the
State Bar of California; and (2) for violation of the “rotation rule” enunciated in 4. Whether Governor Salazar was validly elected as EVP on June 25, 2005,
Administrative Matter No. 491. and whether he could consequently assume the presidency of the IBP for the
term 2005-2007
The first ground concerned an administrative case filed against Atty. de Vera
before the State Bar of California. The action arose from an insurance case he The Court's Ruling
had handled involving Julius Wills III, who had figured in an automobile accident
in 1986. To settle the case amicably, Atty. de Vera received -- on his client’s First Issue:
behalf -- a $12,000 check, which he then deposited in his personal account.
Because of his irregular deposit of his client's funds, respondent was suspended Res Judicata
from the practice of law for three years, upon the recommendation of the hearing
referee. The case was not decided on the merits, because Atty. de Vera resigned The Court unanimously held in a per curiam Decision that AC No. 6052 did not
from the California Bar. Later, his resignation was accepted by the Supreme constitute a bar to the filing of AC No. 6697. The two administrative cases
Court of California. involved different subject matters and causes of action. In AC No. 6052, the
subject matter was the qualification of Atty. de Vera to run for the position of IBP
On the second ground, complainant averred that respondent’s transfer of governor for Eastern Mindanao. In the present Administrative Complaint, the
membership from the Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Muntinlupa (PPLM) IBP subject matter was his privilege to practice law.
Chapter to the Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter was a circumvention of the rotation
rule. Allegedly, Atty. de Vera made the transfer for the sole purpose of becoming The two aforementioned cases did not seek the same relief. In the first case, the
IBP national president. Complainant stressed that respondent neither resided in complainants sought to prevent respondent from assuming his post as IBP
Agusan governor for Eastern Mindanao; the cause of action referred to his alleged
del Sur nor held office there. violation of IBP bylaws. In the second case, what was principally sought was his
suspension or disbarment; the primary cause of action was his alleged violation of
A companion case, Bar Matter No. 1227, referred to the letter-request of the Lawyer's Oath and the Code of Professional Responsibility.
respondent, asking the Supreme Court to schedule his oath-taking as IBP
national president. On the other hand, AM No. 05-5-15-SC referred to the letter- Second Issue:
report of IBP National President Jose Anselmo I. Cadiz, furnishing the Court with
the May 13, 2005, IBP Resolution removing Atty. de Vera from the latter’s Moral Turpitude
positions as IBP board member and executive vice-president, for committing acts
inimical to the board and the IBP in general. In resolving the second issue, the Court cited Maquera,[5] according to which a
judgment of suspension against a Filipino lawyer in a foreign jurisdiction may
The controversy in these two consolidated cases started when the IBP board[1] transmute into a similar judgment of suspension in the Philippines, only if the
approved the withdrawal of a Petition[2] docketed at the Supreme Court as basis of the foreign court’s action included any of the grounds for disbarment or
“Integrated Bar of the Philippines et al v. Senate of the Philippines et al. - SC- suspension in our jurisdiction.
R165108. Subsequently, during the plenary session held at the 10th National IBP
Convention, [3] respondent allegedly made some untruthful statements, The Court opined that by insisting that he was authorized by his client’s father
innuendos, and blatant lies in connection with the IBP board's Resolution to and attorney-in-fact to use the funds, Atty. de Vera was impliedly admitting his
withdraw the Petition use of the Willis funds for his own personal use. Undoubtedly, his unauthorized
use of his client’s funds was highly unethical.
On May 12, 2005, IBP Governor Romulo A. Rivera wrote to IBP National
President Cadiz, praying for the removal of the IBP board membership of Atty. de Canon 16 of the Code of Professional Responsibility is emphatic about this
Vera, who had allegedly committed acts inimical to the board and the IBP in matter. The conduct of Atty. de Vera -- holding on to the money of his client
general. without the latter’s acquiescence -- was indicative of lack of integrity and
propriety.
The following day,[4] during its 20th regular meeting, the IBP board resolved by a
two-thirds vote to remove respondent from his positions as a member of the It was clear that by depositing the $12,000 check in his own bank account and
board of governors and as the executive vice-president (EVP) of the IBP. using it for his own benefit, respondent was guilty of malpractice, gross
misconduct, and unethical behavior. He violated his oath to conduct himself with
On June 13, 2005, the IBP board took note of the vacancy in the EVP position, all good fidelity to his client. Nevertheless, the Court decreed that, where any
brought about by the removal of Atty. de Vera. In his stead, IBP Governor Pura lesser penalty could accomplish the end desired, disbarment should not be
Angelica Y. Santiago was formally elected and declared as EVP. decreed. Considering the amount involved in this case, the Court considered the
penalty of suspension for two years appropriate.
On June 20, 2005, Atty. Santiago voluntarily relinquished that position. Thus, on
June 25, 2005, during its last regular meeting, the IBP board elected a new EVP The Court found that the transfer by Atty. de Vera of his membership to the
in the person of IBP Governor Jose Vicente B. Salazar. Agusan del Sur IBP Chapter was within his rights. He could not be deemed to be
guilty of unethical conduct or behavior. Neither the Code of Professional
On June 28, 2005, IBP National President Cadiz requested the Supreme Court's Responsibility nor the Lawyer’s Oath punished lawyers for aspiring to be the IBP
approval of Atty. Salazar's election and assumption of office as national national president or prohibited them from doing perfectly legal acts in
president, in the event that Atty. de Vera would be disbarred or suspended from accomplishing that goal.
the practice of law; or should his removal from his positions as member of the
2003-2005 board of governors and as EVP of the IBP be approved by the Court. Third Issue:

Validity of the Removal


Protesting the election of both Atty. Santiago and Atty. Salazar, respondent also The Court ruled that the constitutional provision on due process safeguarded life,
denied having committed acts inimical to the IBP and its board. He maintained liberty and property. The position of EVP of the IBP, however, was not a property
that his removal from his two positions had been done without due notice and due within the constitutional sense. Further, there was no right to security of tenure
process. over that position, as all that was required to remove any member of the board of
governors for cause was a resolution adopted by two thirds of the remaining
board members.
The Issues
Furthermore, in administrative proceedings, the essence of due process was
The issues were as follows: simply the opportunity to explain one’s side. The cross-examination of witnesses
was not indispensable to due process. Neither was an actual hearing always
1. Whether the judgment in AC No. 6052 constituted a bar to the filing of AC 6697 essential, especially under the factual milieu of this case. Atty. de Vera’s
actuations during the IBP National Convention in question had been witnessed by
all the members of the board, upon whose shoulders the determination of the
cause for removal of an IBP governor was placed, subject to the approval of the CRUZ VS MINA
Supreme Court.
Facts:
Atty. de Vera received a copy of the Complaint against him; indeed, he was Ferdinand A. Cruz filed before the MeTC a formal Entry of Appearance, as private
present in the meeting when the matter was taken up. From the transcript of prosecutor, where his father, Mariano Cruz, is the complaining witness.
stenographic notes of the meeting on May 13, 2005, in which he was removed, it
was patent that he had been given a fair opportunity to defend himself against the The petitioner, describing himself as a third year law student, justifies his
accusations of Atty. Rivera. appearance as private prosecutor on the bases of Section 34 of Rule 138 of the
Rules of Court and the ruling of the Court En Banc in Cantimbuhan v. Judge
Under the IBP rules, the expulsion of an IBP governor was done via a Resolution Cruz, Jr. that a non-lawyer may appear before the inferior courts as an agent or
adopted by two thirds of the remaining members. The phrase “remaining friend of a party litigant. The petitioner furthermore avers that his appearance was
members” excluded the complainant and the respondent. Of the 7 remaining with the prior conformity of the public prosecutor and a written authority of
members qualified to vote, 5 voted for expulsion, while 2 voted against it. The five Mariano Cruz appointing him to be his agent in the prosecution of the said
votes still added up to the two thirds vote required for expulsion. criminal case.

Removal for Cause However, in an Order dated February 1, 2002, the MeTC denied permission for
petitioner to appear as private prosecutor on the ground that Circular No. 19
Conflicts and disagreements of varying degrees of intensity are inherent in the governing limited law student practice in conjunction with Rule 138-A of the Rules
internal life of an organization. Like that of any other organization, however, the of Court (Law Student Practice Rule) should take precedence over the ruling of
effectiveness of the IBP would be diluted if the conflicts are brought outside its the Court laid down in Cantimbuhan; and set the case for continuation of trial.
governing body. The impression would be that the IBP, which speaks through its
board of governors, does not and cannot authoritatively speak for its members. Its Issue:
prestige and reputation with lawyers, as well as with the general public, would Whether the petitioner, a law student, may appear before an inferior court as an
diminish accordingly. agent or friend of a party litigant

Because of the importance of retaining group cohesiveness and unity, no fault Ruling:
was attributed to the expulsion from the board of Atty. de Vera, who had insisted The rule, however, is different if the law student appears before an inferior court,
on bringing to the public his disagreement with a policy/resolution approved by where the issues and procedure are relatively simple. In inferior courts, a law
the majority after due discussion. The cause for expulsion was legal, because the student may appear in his personal capacity without the supervision of a lawyer.
effectiveness of the board as a governing body was being lessened. Section 34, Rule 138 provides:

Fourth Issue: Sec. 34. By whom litigation is conducted. — In the court of a justice of the peace,
a party may conduct his litigation in person, with the aid of an agent or friend
Validity of Governor Salazar's appointed by him for that purpose, or with the aid of an attorney. In any other
court, a party may conduct his litigation personally or by aid of an attorney, and
Election as EVP his appearance must be either personal or by a duly authorized member of the
bar.
The removal of Atty. de Vera from his membership in the board of governors ipso
facto meant also his removal as EVP. The IBP board had shown no grave abuse Thus, a law student may appear before an inferior court as an agent or friend of a
of discretion; thus, the Court found no reason to interfere in the resolution to party without the supervision of a member of the bar. (Emphasis supplied)
remove him.

The board had specific and sufficient guidelines in its rules and bylaws on how to
fill the vacancies left by the removal of Atty. de Vera. The 2003-2005 IBP board of
governors’ election of a new EVP, who would assume the presidency for the term
2005-2007, was well within the authority and prerogative granted to the board by
the IBP bylaws.

According to Article VII, specifically Section 47, “[t]he EVP shall automatically
become president for the next succeeding term.” The phrase “for the next
succeeding term” necessarily implied that the EVP who should succeed Atty.
Cadiz as IBP president for the next succeeding term (2005-2007) should come
from the members of the 2003-2005 IBP board of governors. Accordingly, the
election of Governor Santiago, and later of Governor Salazar upon the former’s
relinquishment of her EVP position, was valid.

In Bar Matter 491, the Court said that it was the position of EVP that was actually
rotated among the nine regional governors. The rotation with respect to the
presidency was merely the result of the automatic succession rule of the IBP.
Thus, the rotation rule pertained in particular to the position of EVP; the automatic
succession rule, to the presidency.

Intrinsic to the IBP bylaws was the principle that one who was to assume the
highest position in its hierarchy must have been exposed to the demands and
responsibilities of national leadership. By electing the replacement EVP from
among the members of the 2003-2005 board of governors, the IBP stood to
benefit from the experience of the 2003-2005 EVP, who would have served in a
national capacity prior to the latter’s assumption of the highest position.
Therefore, in electing Atty. Salazar as EVP and thus ensuring a succession in the
leadership of the IBP, its board of governors acted in accordance with its bylaws.

* AC No. 6697, Velez v. De Vera; Bar Matter No. 1227, Re: Oath-taking of Atty.
Leonardo S. de Vera, Incoming President of the IBP; AMNo. 05-5-15-SC, In the
Matter of the Removal of Atty. Leonardo S. de Vera from the IBP Board of
Governors as EVP and Governor/In the Matter of the Letter-Complaint of Atty. de
Vera, July 25, 2006, per curiam.
Gatchalian Promotions Talent Pool, Inc. vs. Naldoza, 315 SCRA 406 VDA. DE BARRERA V. LAPUT
Gross Misconduct as ground for discipline of lawyer
Facts: (Lawyer suspended for intimidating his client to sign papers by placing his revolver on
his lap when she refused to do so)

The case at bar is a petition for disbarment against Atty. Primo L. Naldoza for
Facts:
appealing a decision which is final and executory, deceitfully obtaining $2,555
Respondent Atty. Laput represented petitioner Vda. de Barrera (Mrs.
from the client allegedly for “cash bond” in the appealed case, and issuing a
Barrera) in the estate proceedings of her late husband. Laput presented to her
spurious receipt to conceal the illegal act. Respondent denies that he persuaded
several papers or pleadings for her signature. However, Mrs. Barrera refused to sign
complainant to file an appeal and asserted that it was the latter who initiated the
the pleadings but requested Laput to leave them so that she may ask somebody to
action to delay the execution of POEA decision. He also denied the two other
translate the same for her (she was from Cebu). Laput got angry and drew his
charges. Trial procedures were instituted before the IBP.
revolver from its holster and placed it on his lap to intimidate the 72-year-old
woman into signing the papers. Mrs. Barrera was compelled to sign them, but is
Meanwhile, a criminal case based on the same facts was filed before RTC now before the court seeking the disbarment of Laput.
Makati, Branch 141. Although acquitted on reasonable doubt, he was declared
civilly liable in the amount of $2,555. Having been acquitted in the criminal case, Issue:
he manifested a Motion for Dismissal of the IBP case. W/N Laput should be disbarred for gross misconduct

Commissioner Jose brushed aside respondent's contention on the ground that Held:
the criminal case for estafa is completely different from the proceedings before Yes. The acts are inherently improper and censurable, more so

him. Acquittal in the former did not exonerate respondent in the latter. He further considering that they were performed by a man dealing with a 72-year-old woman.

noted that the RTC Decision itself hinted at the administrative liability of The offense is compounded by the circumstance that, being a member of the BAR,
the offender should have set an example of a man of peace and champion of the
respondent, since it found him civilly liable to herein complainant for $2,555. He
Rule of Law. Worse still is the fact that the offended party is the very person whom the
was suspended by the IBP for one (1) year. Thus, he appealed before the
offender had pledged to defend and protect – his client. He was suspended from the
Supreme Court.
practice of law for 1 year.

Issues:

154 VDA DE BARRERA v LAPUT


(1) Whether or not respondent should be freed of the administrative proceeding
since he was acquitted of the criminal charge. Facts:
 Casiano Laput was Nieves Rillas Vda de Barrera’s counsel in the
(2) Whether or not respondent is negligent when he appealed the decision of the settlement proceedings for the estate of de Barrera’s husband.
POEA knowing it to be final and executory.  One time, Laput presented a “Notice for Rendition of Final Accounting and
Partition of Estate” to de Barrera. Barrerra refused to signed and asked
Held: Laput to just leave the document in order that she may ask someone to
interpret it for her.
(1) Administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. They are  But Laput became angry and even placed a revolver on the lap of de
distinct from and they may proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. Barrera (who actually was 72 years old). This compelled the old lady to
sign the document.

xxx  Laput denied the charges…

Issue:
Thus, a criminal prosecution will not constitute a prejudicial question even if the
Should Laput be disciplined?
same facts and circumstances are attendant in the administrative proceedings.
It should be emphasized that a finding of guilt in the criminal case will not
Held:
necessarily result in a finding of liability in the administrative case. Conversely,
Naku po naman! Of course. Laput was suspended for 1 year.
respondent’s acquittal does not necessarily exculpate him administratively. In the
same vein, the trial court’s finding of civil liability against the respondent will not
It was found by the court that the documents were made by the counsel to end
inexorably lead to a similar finding in the administrative action before this Court. the proceedings and be able to collect his fees. The act of placing the gun on the
client’s lap cannot be interpreted other than as an act of threatening such client.
(2) Complainant has failed to present proof regarding the status of the appeal.
Neither has there been any showing that the appeal was dismissed on the ground Laput’s acts were improper and censurable (especially considering that de Barrerra
that the POEA Decision had become final and executory. Worse, there has been was 72 years old). Being a member of the Bar, Laput should have set the example as
no evidence that respondent knew that the case was unappealable. Indeed, the a man of peace and a champion of the Rule of Law. An attorney’s client is a person
records of this Court shows that the Petition for Review was dismissed for who is supposed to be defended and protected by such counsel.

petitioner's failure to submit an Affidavit of Service and a legible duplicate of the


assailed Order. Clearly, this charge has no leg to stand on.

xxx

WHEREFORE, Primo R. Naldoza is hereby DISBARRED. The Office of the Clerk


of Court is directed to strike out his name from the Roll of Attorneys and to inform
all courts of this Decision.
Barrientos vs. Daarol HILDA D. TABAS V. ATTY. BONIFACIO B. MANGIBIN
A.C. No. 1512
FACTS:
Facts: This is a disbarment case filed by Tabas against Atty. Mangibin for allegedly
1) Victoria Barrientos, was about 20 years old during the time of her relationship having committed forgery.
with respondent; while respondent Transfiguracion Daarol, married, General Tabas claims that in March 2001, a certain Galvan mortgaged to her a piece
Manager of Zamboanga del Norte Electric Cooperative, and 41 years old at the of real property to secure a P48,000 loan. The deed of the REM was registered and
time of the said relationship. annotated. On October 2001 however, a certain Castillejos, falsely representing herself
2) That respondent is married to Romualda A. Sumaylo with whom be has a son; as Tabas, appeared before Atty. Mangibin and asked him to prepare a discharge of the
and that said respondent had been separated from his wife for about 16 years at said mortgage and then notarize it afterwards.
the time of his relationship with complainant; Atty. Mangibin prepared the said discharge but he didn’t ask Castillejos for
3) The respondent promised to marry Victoria in six months of the in relationship. any other document other that a Community Tax Certificate. He later on notarized the
However, complainant became pregnant. said deed. Subsequently, the mortgagor Galvan was able to mortgage the same
4) They agreed that complainant would deliver her child in Manila, where Daarol property again with Rural Bank of Nauilian. When Tabas learned of the cancellation, she
admitted to her that he is not capacitated to marry because of the previous promptly informed Atty. Mangibin that her signature in the deed was forged. However,
marriage. But he promised to fix things. Later on, Victoria decided to deliver the he did not help her.
child in Cebu City in order to be nearer to Dipolog City. During her stay here in Atty. Mangibin admits of the discharge deed but denies liability for the
Manila and later in Cebu City, the respondent defrayed some of her expenses; falsification under a claim of good faith. He says he did not know of Castillejos’ fraudulent
that she filed an administrative case against respondent with the National intent and so, he cannot be faulted. He claims it is beyond the realm of his duty to
Electrification Administration; which complaint, however, was dismissed; and investigate the identity of persons appearing before him. And that as a matter of routine,
then she instituted the present disbarment proceedings against respondent. he only requires the CTCs of persons appearing before him.
ISSUE: IBP recommended to give respondent merely a warning, to be more careful
Should Daarol be disbarred? in the preparation of legal documents so that such situations may me avoided in the
future. Bar Confidant however recommended suspension. He was found guilty of gross
Holdings: negligence.

1) Victoria was never informed of the status of Daarol and was led to believ ISSUE: W/N Atty. Mangibin is liable for violating the Notarial Law and should be
that he is single. It was deception that Daarol promised to marry her when suspended from the practice of law.
he knew as an Attorney that he is not capacitated to marry.
2) Daarol’s claim that he embraced the Muslim religion does not excuse him HELD/RATIO:
since his first marriage is under the Christian religion, therefore it follows Yes, suspended for 2 years.
the Civil Code. This is also contradicting to his reason to Victoria that he A notarial document is, by law, entitled to full faith and credit upon its
will be charged with bigamy if he marries her. face. Courts, administrative agencies, and the public at large must be able to rely
3) Grounds for his disbarment: upon the acknowledgment executed by a notary public and appended to a private
a) Deceit and grossly immoral conduct under Section 27 of Rule 138 instrument.
b) Lack of good moral character under Section 2 of Rule 138. For this reason, notaries public must observe with utmost care the basic requirements
in the performance of their duties. Otherwise, the confidence of the public in the
integrity of public instruments would be undermined. A notary public should not
notarize a document unless the person who signed the same is the very same
person who executed and personally appeared before him to attest to the contents
and truth of matters stated in the document. The purpose of this requirement is
to enable the notary public to verify the genuineness of the signature of the
acknowledging party and to ascertain that the document is the party's free act and
deed.
The circumstances in this case indubitably show that respondent did not take even
ordinary precautions required in the premises. Respondent’s conduct showed serious
lack of due care in the performance of his duties as a notary public. Because of his
carelessness, respondent failed to notice the glaring difference in the signature
of mortgagee in the deed of real estate mortgage from her purported signature in
the questioned discharge of real estate mortgage. Hence, he breached Canon I
of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which requires lawyers to promote
respect for the law and legal processes as well as to uphold the Constitution and
obey the laws of the land.
GARCIA vs. SESBREÑO PEREZ VS. CATINDIG
FACTS:
Garcia filed a complaint for disbarment against Sesbreño before the Office of the Bar FACTS: Atty. Tristan A. Catindig admitted to Dr. Elmar Perez that he was already
Confidant. Garcia alleged that in 2005 while he was in Japan, Sesbreño, representing wed to Lily Corazon Gomez. Atty. Catindig told Dr. Perez that he was in the
Maria Margarita and Angie Ruth, filed an action for support against him and his sister process of obtaining a divorce in a foreign country to dissolve his marriage to
Milagros Garcia Soliman. At the time of the filing of the case, Maria Margarita was Gomez, and that he would eventually marry her once the divorce had been
already 39 years old while Angie Ruth was 35 years old. The case was dismissed. In decreed. Consequently, sometime in 1984, Atty. Catindig and Gomez obtained a
2007, Garcia returned from Japan. When Sesbreño and Garcia’s children learned divorce decree from the Dominican Republic.
about his return, Sesbreño filed a Second Amended Complaint against him.
Garcia alleged that he learned that Sesbreño was convicted by the Regional Trial On July 14, 1984, Atty. Catindig married Dr. Perez in the State of Virginia in the
Court of Cebu City, Branch 18, for Homicide in Criminal Case No. CBU-31733. Garcia United States of America (USA).
alleged that Sesbreño is only on parole. Garcia alleged that homicide is a crime
against moral turpitude; and thus, Sesbreño should not be allowed to continue his Years later, Dr. Perez came to know that her marriage to Atty. Catindig is a
practice of law. nullity since the divorce decree that was obtained from the Dominican Republic
In his answer to the complaint, Sesbreño alleged that his sentence was commuted and by the latter and Gomez is not recognized by Philippine laws. Sometime in 1997,
the phrase “with the inherent accessory penalties provided by law” was deleted. Dr. Perez reminded Atty. Catindig of his promise to legalize their union by filing a
Sesbreño argued that even if the accessory penalty was not deleted, the petition to nullify his marriage to Gomez.
disqualification applies only during the term of the sentence. Sesbreño further alleged
that homicide does not involve moral turpitude. Sesbreño claimed that Garcia’s Sometime in 2001, Dr. Perez alleged that she received an anonymous letter in
complaint was motivated by extreme malice, bad faith, and desire to retaliate against the mail informing her of Atty. Catindig’s scandalous affair with Atty. Baydo, and
him for representing Garcia’s daughters in court. that sometime later, she came upon a love letter written and signed by Atty. Catindig
for Atty. Baydo dated April 25, 2001. In the said letter, Atty. Catindig professed his love
ISSUES: 1. WON conviction for the crime of homicide involves moral turpitude. 2. to Atty. Baydo, promising to marry her once his “impediment is removed.”
WON Sesbreño should be disbarred
HELD: 1. YES. 2. YES.
On October 31, 2001, Atty. Catindig abandoned Dr. Perez and their son; he
RATIO:
moved to an upscale condominium in Salcedo Village, Makati City where Atty. Baydo
1. This is not to say that all convictions of the crime of homicide do not involve moral
was frequently seen.
turpitude. Homicide may or may not involve moral turpitude depending on the degree
of the crime. Moral turpitude is not involved in every criminal act and is not shown by
allawlibrary
every known and intentional violation of statute, but whether any particular conviction
Atty. Catindig, in his Comment, admitted that he married Gomez on May 18, 1968. He
involves moral turpitude may be a question of fact and frequently depends on all the
claimed, however, that immediately after the wedding, Gomez showed signs that she
surrounding circumstances. While x x x generally but not always, crimes mala in se
was incapable of complying with her marital obligations. Eventually, their irreconcilable
involve moral turpitude, while crimes mala prohibitado not, it cannot always be
differences led to their de facto separation in 1984.
ascertained whether moral turpitude does or does not exist by classifying a crime as
malum in se or as malum prohibitum, since there are crimes which are mala in se and
Atty. Catindig claimed that Dr. Perez knew of the foregoing, including the fact that the
yet rarely involve moral turpitude and there are crimes which involve moral turpitude
divorce decreed by the Dominican Republic court does not have any effect in the
and are mala prohibita only. It follows therefore, that moral turpitude is somewhat a
Philippines.
vague and indefinite term, the meaning of which must be left to the process of judicial
inclusion or exclusion as the cases are reached.
Atty. Catindig claimed that his relationship with Dr. Perez turned sour. Eventually, he
The IBP-CBD correctly stated that Amparado and Yapchangco were just at the wrong
left their home in October 2001 to prevent any acrimony from
place and time. They did not do anything that justified the indiscriminate firing done by
developing.anroblesvirtuallawlibrary
Sesbreño that eventually led to the death of Amparado.
We cannot accept Sesbreño’s argument that the executive clemency restored his full
He denied that Atty. Baydo was the reason that he left Dr. Perez.
civil and political rights. Sesbreño cited In re Atty. Parcasio to bolster his argument. In
For her part, Atty. Baydo denied that she had an affair with Atty. Catindig.
that case, Atty. Parcasio was granted “an absolute and unconditional pardon” which
restored his “full civil and political rights,” a circumstance not present in these cases.
IBP – recommended the disbarment of Atty. Catindig for gross immorality, violation of
Here, the Order of Commutation did not state that the pardon was absolute and
Rule 1.01, Canon 7 and Rule 7.03 of the Code of Professional Responsibility.
unconditional.
Complaint against Atty. Baydo – dismissed for dearth of evidence.
There are four acts of executive clemency that the President can extend: the President
can grant reprieves, commutations, pardons, and remit fines and forfeitures, after
ISSUE: WON the respondents committed gross immorality, which would warrant their
conviction by final judgment. In this case, the executive clemency merely “commuted
disbarment.
to an indeterminate prison term of 7 years and 6 months to 10 years imprisonment” the
penalty imposed on Sesbrefio. Commutation is a mere reduction of
HELD: YES. RATIO: The Code of Professional Responsibility provides: chan
penalty. Commutation only partially extinguished criminal liability. The penalty for
Robles virtual Law library
Sesbrefio’ s crime was never wiped out. He served the commuted or reduced penalty,
Rule 1.01 – A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or
for which reason he was released from prison.
deceitful conduct.
Canon 7 – A lawyer shall at all times uphold the integrity and dignity of the legal
2. Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court states that a member of the bar
profession and support the activities of the Integrated Bar.
may be disbarred or suspended as attorney by this Court by reason of his conviction of
Rule 7.03 – A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his
a crime involving moral turpitude. This Court has ruled that disbarment is the
fitness to practice law, nor should he, whether in public or private life, behave in
appropriate penalty for conviction by final judgment for a crime involving moral
a scandalous manner to the discredit of the legal profession.cralawred
turpitude. Moral turpitude is an act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private
duties which a man owes to his fellow men or to society in general, contraryto justice,
In this regard, Section 27, Rule 138 of the Rules of Court provides that a lawyer
honesty, modesty, or good morals.
may be removed or suspended from the practice of law, inter alia, for grossly
immoral conduct.
DISPOSITION: Respondent Raul H. Sesbreno is DISBARRED.
“A lawyer may be suspended or disbarred for any misconduct showing any fault or
deficiency in his moral character, honesty, probity or good demeanor.” Immoral
conduct involves acts that are willful, flagrant, or shameless, and that show a moral ATTY. ROY B. ECRAELA, Complainant, v. ATTY. IAN RAYMOND A.
indifference to the opinion of the upright and respectable members of the community. PANGALANGAN, Respondent.
Immoral conduct is gross when it is so corrupt as to constitute a criminal act, or so Facts: This is a case for disbarment against Atty. Pangalangan for his illicit relations,
unprincipled as to be reprehensible to a high degree, or when committed under such chronic womanizing, abuse of authority as an educator, and "other unscrupulous
scandalous or revolting circumstances as to shock the community’s sense of decency. activities" which cause "undue embarrassment to the legal profession."
The Court makes these distinctions, as the supreme penalty of disbarment arising from
conduct requires grossly immoral, not simply immoral, conduct.roblesvirtuallawlibrary Complainant and respondent were best friends and both graduated from the University
Contracting a marriage during the subsistence of a previous one amounts to a of the Philippines (UP) College of Law in 1990, where they were part of a peer group
grossly immoral conduct. or barkada with several of their classmates. After passing the bar examinations and
The facts gathered from the evidence adduced by the parties and, ironically, being admitted as members of the Bar in 1991, they were both registered with the IBP
from Atty. Catindig’s own admission, indeed establish a pattern of conduct that Quezon City.
is grossly immoral; it is not only corrupt and unprincipled, but reprehensible to a
high degree. Respondent was formerly married to Sheila P. Jardiolin (Jardiolin) with whom he has
three (3) children. Complainant avers that while married to Jardiolin, respondent had a
Moreover, assuming arguendo that Atty. Catindig’s claim is true, it matters not that Dr. series of adulterous and illicit relations with married and unmarried women between
Perez knew that their marriage is a nullity. The fact still remains that he resorted to the years 1990 to 2007. These alleged illicit relations involved:
various legal strategies in order to render a façade of validity to his otherwise invalid
marriage to Dr. Perez. Such act is, at the very least, so unprincipled that it is 1. AAA, who is the spouse of a colleague in the UP College of Law, from
reprehensible to the highest degree. 1990 to 1992, which complainant had personal knowledge of such illicit
Further, after 17 years of cohabiting with Dr. Perez, and despite the various legal relations;
actions he resorted to in order to give their union a semblance of validity, Atty. Catindig 2. BBB, sometime during the period from 1992 to 1994 or from 1994 to 1996,
left her and their son. It was only at that time that he finally decided to properly seek despite being already married to Jardiolin;
the nullity of his first marriage to Gomez. Apparently, he was then already entranced
3. CCC, despite being married to Jardiolin and while also being romantically
with the much younger Atty. Baydo, an associate lawyer employed by his firm.
involved with DDD;
While the fact that Atty. Catindig decided to separate from Dr. Perez to pursue Atty.
4. DDD, sometime during the period from 2000 to 2002, despite still being
Baydo, in itself, cannot be considered a grossly immoral conduct, such fact forms part
married to Jardiolin and while still being romantically involved with CCC;
of the pattern showing his propensity towards immoral conduct. Lest it be
misunderstood, the Court’s finding of gross immoral conduct is hinged not on 5. EEE, who is related to complainant, sometime during the period from May

Atty. Catindig’s desertion of Dr. Perez, but on his contracting of a subsequent 2004 until the filing of the Petition, while still being romantically involved with

marriage during the subsistence of his previous marriage to Gomez. CCC.

Atty. Catindig’s subsequent marriage during the subsistence of his previous one Issue: Should Atty. Pangalangan be disbarred?
definitely manifests a deliberate disregard of the sanctity of marriage and the
marital vows protected by the Constitution and affirmed by our laws. By his own Ruling: Atty. Pangalangan was disbarred by the SC for grossly immoral conduct.
admission, Atty. Catindig made a mockery out of the institution of marriage, CANON 1 - A LAWYER SHALL UPHOLD THE CONSTITUTION, OBEY THE LAWS
taking advantage of his legal skills in the process. He exhibited a deplorable lack OF THE LAND AND PROMOTE RESPECT FOR LAW AND LEGAL PROCESSES.
of that degree of morality required of him as a member of the bar, which thus
warrant the penalty of disbarment. Rule 1.01 - A lawyer shall not engage in unlawful, dishonest, immoral or deceitful
conduct.
There is insufficient evidence to prove the affair between the respondents.
As it is, the evidence that was presented by Dr. Perez to prove her claim was mere CANON 7 - A LAWYER SHALL AT ALL TIMES UPHOLD THE INTEGRITY AND
allegation, an anonymous letter informing her that the respondents were indeed having DIGNITY OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION AND SUPPORT THE ACTIVITIES OF THE
an affair and the purported love letter to Atty. Baydo that was signed by Atty. Catindig. INTEGRATED BAR.
The Court has consistently held that in suspension or disbarment proceedings against
lawyers, the lawyer enjoys the presumption of innocence, and the burden of proof Rule 7.03 - A lawyer shall not engage in conduct that adversely reflects on his fitness
rests upon the complainant to prove the allegations in his complaint. The evidence to practice law, nor shall he, whether in public or private life. behave in a scandalous
required in suspension or disbarment proceedings is preponderance of evidence. manner to the discredit of the legal profession.
The practice of law is a privilege given to those who possess and continue to possess
the legal qualifications for the profession. Good moral character is not only required for
admission to the Bar, but must also be retained in order to maintain one's good
standing in this exclusive and honored fraternity.

In the case at bar, complainant alleged that respondent carried on several adulterous
and illicit relations with both married and unmarried women between the years 1990 to
2007, including complainant's own wife. Through documentary evidences in the form
of email messages, as well as the corroborating testimonies of the witnesses
presented, complainant was able to establish respondent's illicit relations with DOD
and CCC by preponderant evidence.

In sum, Atty. Pangalangan displayed deplorable arrogance by making a mockery out


of the institution of marriage, and taking advantage of his legal skills by attacking the
Petition through technicalities and refusing to participate in the proceedings. His
actions showed that he lacked the degree of morality required of him as a member of
the bar, thus warranting the penalty of disbarment.
HEIRS OF ZAULDA vs. ZAULDA

FACTS: This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules
of Court assailing the February 11, 2011 Resolutio of the Court of Appeals (CA), in CA
G.R. SP No. 05379, dismissing the petition for review of the petitioners, and its March
6, 2012 Resolution, denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration.

A perusal of the Petition revealed there were impediments to the Court's subsequent
action thereon:

1. the Petition was not filed in the nick of time inasmuch as the Court could not have
pursued action on or before September 9, 2010 which was supposedly the last day
specified on the Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition for Review dated August
23, 2010, postmarked August 24, 2010, and received by this Court on September 13,
2010 for the simple reason that this Division apparently received a copy of the Motion
only on September 14, 2010, and the Rollo was forwarded to the Office of the ponente
only on January 5, 2011. Certainly, parties and counsel should not assume that Courts
are bound to grant the time they pray for. By parity of reasoning, a motion that is not
acted upon in due time is deemed denied.

2. there was no competent evidence regarding petitioners’ identity on the attached


Verification and Certification Against Forum Shopping as required by Section 12, Rule
II of the 2004 Rules on Notarial Practice which now requires a photocopy of
petitioners’ competent evidence of identity.

Accordingly, petitioners’ Petition for Review dated September 9, 2010 is hereby


DISMISSED.

ISSUE: Whether or not the CA erred in dismissing the petition for being filed out of
time despite the motion for extension of time having been timely filed

RULING:Records show that on March 10, 2010, petitioners timely filed a motion for
reconsideration and/or new trial of the RTC decision (dated January 20, 2010,
received by petitioners on February 25, 2010), but the same was denied in the RTC
Order, dated August 4, 2010, copy of which was received by petitioners on August 10,
2010. Thus, they had until August 25, 2010 within which to file a petition for review
pursuant to said Section 1, Rule 42.

On August 24, 2010, petitioners filed their Motion for Extension of Time to File Petition
for Review before the CA, paying the docket and other lawful fees and deposit for
costs and prayed for an additional period of fifteen (15) days from August 25, 2010 or
until September 9, 2010, within which to file the said petition.

On September 9, 2010, they filed the Petition for Review.

The Court notes that the petition for review before the CA was filed within the
additional fifteen (15) day period prayed for in their motion for extension of time to file
it, which was filed on time by registered mail. To repeat, the petition was filed on
September 9, 2010, within the fifteen (15) day period requested in their motion for
extension of time to file the petition.

As earlier stated, the Motion For Extension Of Time To File Petition For Review, which
was filed through registered mail on August 24, 2010, was filed on time. It was
physically in the appellate court’s possession long before the CA issued its Resolution
on February 11, 2011, dismissing the petition for review for being filed out of time. The
record shows that 1] the CA received the motion for extension of time to file petition for
review on September 13, 2010; 2] the CA Division received the motion on September
14, 2010; and 3] the ponente’s office received it on January 5, 2011.

Indeed, there was a delay, but it was a delay that cannot be attributed at all to the
petitioners. The almost four (4) months that lapsed before the records reached the
ponente’s office was caused by the gross incompetence and inefficiency of the division
personnel at the CA. It was the height of injustice for the CA to dismiss a petition just
because the motion for extension reached the ponente’s office beyond the last date
prayed for. Clearly, the petitioners were unreasonably deprived of their right to be
heard on the merits because of the CA’s unreasonable obsession to reduce its load. In
allowing the petitioners to be fatally prejudiced by the delay in the transmittal
attributable to its inept or irresponsible personnel, the CA committed an unfortunate
injustice.

The petitioners could not also be faulted that the motion for extension of time was
received by the CA on September 13, 2010. The rules allow parties to file a pleading
by registered mail. They are not required to ensure that it would be received by the
court on or before the last day of the extended period prayed for. Though no party can
assume that its motion for extension would be granted, any denial thereof should be
reasonable.